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Thread: The Frisian Kings of Old

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    The Frisian Kings of Old

    After mentioning the Frisian king Audulf in my thread on the fibula of Wijnaldum I thought it would be a good idea to revisit the early medieval Frisian house of kings, and to see whether we can find some missing pieces. I will start with the last Frisian king and work my way to earlier days. Since we have few dates at our disposal, I will try to extrapolate birth years by assuming for now that the average Frisian king was about 25 years old when he begot his first son.


    Golden fibula from Frisia (dated 600-650)

    -

    Bobba (a.k.a. Bubo, a.k.a. Poppo)
    Died: 734
    Reign: 719 – 734
    Born: 674

    Rēdbād (a.k.a. Rādbōd)
    Died: 719
    Reign: 680 – 719
    Born: unknown; estimated at 650 (25 years before the birth of Bobba)

    Aldgīsl (a.k.a. Aldgils)
    Died: unknown; estimated at 680 (the first year of the reign of Rēdbād)
    Reign: unknown; estimated at 655 – 680
    Born: unknown; estimated at 625 (25 years before the birth of Rēdbād)

    unknown
    Died: unknown
    Reign: unknown; estimated at 630 – 655
    Born: unknown; estimated at 600 (25 years before the birth of Aldgīsl)

    Audulf
    Died: unknown
    Reign: unknown; estimated at 605 – 630, judging by the date of his coins
    Born: unknown; estimated at 575 (25 years before the birth of his son)

    *Possibly several kings in between.*

    Finn
    Died: unknown
    Reign: unknown
    Born: unknown

    Folcwald
    Died: unknown
    Reign: unknown
    Born: unknown

    -

    Some might say Folcwald and Finn ruled *after* Bobba, since according to legend (Beowulf) Finn was the brother-in-law of the Danish prince Hnæf, son of Hōc Half-Dane, and the latter two might be none other than the Alamannic noblemen Hnabi (d. 788) and Huoching (d. 744). The similarity in names might be merely coincidental, however. Or perhaps the Alamannic noblemen were named after ancestors or legendary figures who in turn can be identified as the aforementioned Hnæf and his father Hōc.

    Furthermore, we may wonder whether there would have been political 'room' for a well-known lord like Finn in the time that Frisia was under Frankish rule. We would surely expect Frankish or Christian scribes to have made mention of Finn. Alas, there is none. Rather, the events as described in Beowulf might stem from a time in which the ancestors of the Anglo-Saxons were still in Northern Germany, or else only recently in the British Isles.

    If Finn was Audulf's father, he might have been born around 550 and have ruled from 580 to 605. Otherwise the rule of Finn might rather be placed around the time that Angles, Saxons and Jutes were passing through Frisia in the 'run-up' to their migration to the British Isles, in the early fifth century, say 445 to 480. That would mean approximately *four* kings might have ruled between Audulf and Finn.

    Perhaps one such king was called Hada. For so goes a runic inscription on a cast gold solidus found in Harlingen, Fryslân, that is dated 575 – 625 (see image below). The runes are of the Anglo-Frisian futhorc. It is uncertain whether this artefact was actually used as an 'official' coin. If so, the name would rather point to the name of a king than to that of a runemaster.

    Last edited by Anlef; Thursday, April 14th, 2011 at 03:17 AM. Reason: Removed the kings after Bobba.

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    Senior Member Sybren's Avatar
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    This is the list as i know of it from oldest to youngest:

    Richoldus I Uffo (Reigned ? - ?)
    Odibaldus I (Reigned 435 - 470)
    Richoldus II (Reigned 470 - 533)
    Beroaldus (Reigned 533 - 590)
    Audulf (Reigned ? - 627)
    Arigis (Reigned ? - ?)
    Aldgisl I (Reigned 590 - 672)
    Radbod I (Reigned 672 - 719)
    Poppo/Hrodbad (Reigned 719 - 734)
    Aldgisl II (Reigned 723 en 737)
    (unknown king in between?)
    Aldgisl III/Gundebold (reigned 748 - 760)
    Radbod II (reigned 760 - 786)

    I don't say it is like this for sure, i just found it

    Not all were direct father-son relations. Sometimes an older brother died early, leaving the throne to his younger brother instead of his own son. It is also possible not all kings are even direct family of eachother because the direct relation isn't always known.

    The first king 'Richoldus I' supposedly had a wife named Odilba Haron. She came from a long line of Frisian dukes. This however is from very questionable sources.

    I have read from other sources king Richoldus II was not the son of Odibaldus I, but of Finn Folcwalding (son of Folcwalding) and Hildeburh (daughter of Hoc Healfdene).


    So it isn't clear at all unfortunately I hope one time some old texts/carvings are found that will explain a lot more

    Edit: i know see the dates don't quite add up around Audulf/Arigis. There probably was a lot of guessing these dates instead of actual proof.

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    Where did you find the names and dates of the kings before Aldgīsl? I couldn't find any sources pertaining to that older period. Also, the duration of the reign of each of those older kings is incredibly long. Compare them with the newer kings.

    You're right about the relationship between the kings. They need not all be father and son, so my proposed average 25 year jump between all the birth years is highly speculative. Still, I know of no other way to place them.

    By the way, Finn Folcwalding was the son of Folcwald, not of Folcwalding.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Anlef View Post
    Where did you find the names and dates of the kings before Aldgīsl? I couldn't find any sources pertaining to that older period. Also, the duration of the reign of each of those older kings is incredibly long. Compare them with the newer kings.
    Mostly from this: Pedigree: Ratbodus

    I think it is not unlikely someone mixed up reigning periods with birth/death dates. Also, a lot of guesswork from many people i think, sadly

    You're right about the relationship between the kings. They need not all be father and son, so my proposed average 25 year jump between all the birth years is highly speculative. Still, I know of no other way to place them.
    Indeed, sometimes you have to make a rough estimation. But i know it is said Poppo/Hrodbad for example was the brother of Aldgisl II, both sons of Radbod I.

    By the way, Finn Folcwalding was the son of Folcwald, not of Folcwalding.
    Hahah Yeah, messed that up

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    Thumbs Up Stunning Fibula!

    ...stunning fibula! and the images in the other thread blow my mind also...great data and info. too. Thanks a lot, y'all.

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    Sybren,

    I seriously doubt that Richoldus I, Odibaldus I, Richoldus II, Beroaldus and Arigis were actual Frisian kings.

    Some may have been historical figures, but as far as I can tell they owe their place in the Frisian dynasty specifically to chronicles that were debunked almost two centuries ago.

    A good example is the Croniicke, ende warachtige beschryvinghe van Vrieslant ('Chronicle, and truthful description of Frisia'). Supposedly it was written by one Ocko Scharlensis and ultimately revised by Andreas Cornelius (d. 1589). In truth this Ocko never existed, and the chronicle in question was mostly the fruit of the imagination of Andreas Cornelius.

    And with regard to my own initial list, I think for now we'd better scratch the top (i.e. newest) three: Aldgīsl II, Gundebold and Rēdbād II. In fact, I left them out initially and included them on second thought. On third thought I believe their existence or at least role as Frisian kings is dubious at best. They too are from a very dubious chronicle, namely that of Eggerik Beninga (d. 1562).

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    I believe that Bobba/Poppo was slain by the Franks and that was the end of the Frisian kings at least in western Frisia. The legends concerning Redbad II seem to originate almost solely in eastern Frisia, which remained unconquered about forty years longer, but there seems to be no evidence for his historical existence beyond those legends. In fact he appears to be rather more of a 'King Arthur' figure, symbolizing (eastern) Frisian identity in opposition to that of the later Frankish rulers.

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    Question ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Anlef View Post
    Some might say Folcwald and Finn ruled *after* Bobba, since according to legend (Beowulf) Finn was the brother-in-law of the Danish prince Hnæf, son of Hōc Half-Dane, and the latter two might be none other than the Alamannic noblemen Hnabi (d. 788) and Huoching (d. 744). The similarity in names might be merely coincidental, however. Or perhaps the Alamannic noblemen were named after ancestors or legendary figures who in turn can be identified as the aforementioned Hnæf and his father Hōc.
    I wonder whether the Danes and the Alamanni were aware of or knew each other in those days. I suppose that they didn't for several reasons including: the geographical space between them and the other tribes who lived between them, there is no record of the term 'Alamanni' in Anglo-Saxon records (unless I'm mistaken--I do have an Ang.-Sax. dictionary, and I've never found it), and I have a good, scholarly article (which is buried away in my physical files somewhere ) on how/why the old Germanic folk-tribes did not always know of each other much less recognize each other, etc. If anyone has any proof that the Danes and Ang.-Sax. knew who the Alamanni were in those days (8th Cent., e.g.), please let me know.

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    Quote Originally Posted by +Suomut+ View Post
    I wonder whether the Danes and the Alamanni were aware of or knew each other in those days. I suppose that they didn't for several reasons including: the geographical space between them and the other tribes who lived between them, there is no record of the term 'Alamanni' in Anglo-Saxon records (unless I'm mistaken--I do have an Ang.-Sax. dictionary, and I've never found it), and I have a good, scholarly article (which is buried away in my physical files somewhere ) on how/why the old Germanic folk-tribes did not always know of each other much less recognize each other, etc. If anyone has any proof that the Danes and Ang.-Sax. knew who the Alamanni were in those days (8th Cent., e.g.), please let me know.
    Looking back, I wonder why I even mentioned those Alamannic nobles at all, for it is pretty much established that Finn Folcwalding and Hnæf Hōcing lived around 400 AD. I do think however some Danes and Anglo-Saxons knew about the Alamanni (more than the other way around, at any rate). But I suppose further speculation in that direction is beyond the scope of this thread.

    I will add some more thoughts on the line of Frisian kings later today.

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    Alright, according to tradition, Hengist and his brother Horsa arrived in England in 449 AD at the invitation of the British king Vortigern. By that time, Hengist already had a daughter: Rowena. She was already old enough to scheme and seduce Vortigern. Let’s say she was 25 and her father Hengist 50. Keep in mind that Hengist and Horsa were already old enough to lead an army.

    There is every reason to believe this Hengist was the same Hengist who fought in the feud wherein Frisian king Finn Folcwalding was slain. This Hengist was a chief thane of Danish king Hnæf Hōcing, and had a retinue of his own. So he would probably be between 30 and 50. Let’s keep it in the middle and say he was 40. That would roughly mark 440 AD as the year of death of Finn.

    The year before Finn fell, his able son had already been slain in the same feud. That means Finn was probably at least 40 years old at the time of his death, possibly up to 60 years old. Let’s say he was 50, and mark 390 AD as the year of birth of Finn.

    Taking again an average of 25 years for every generation, we might estimate the birth of Finn’s father Folcwalda at 365 AD. Notice I called him Folcwald earlier. Yet the actual form was Folcwalda.

    Here is the revised list:

    -

    Bobba (a.k.a. Bubo, a.k.a. Poppo)
    Died: 734
    Reign: 719 – 734
    Born: 674

    Rēdbād (a.k.a. Rādbōd)
    Died: 719
    Reign: 680 – 719
    Born: unknown; estimated at 650 (25 years before the birth of Bobba)

    Aldgīsl (a.k.a. Aldgils)
    Died: unknown; estimated at 680 (the first year of the reign of Rēdbād)
    Reign: unknown; estimated at 655 – 680
    Born: unknown; estimated at 625 (25 years before the birth of Rēdbād)

    unknown
    Died: unknown
    Reign: unknown; estimated at 630 – 655
    Born: unknown; estimated at 600 (25 years before the birth of Aldgīsl)

    Audulf
    Died: unknown
    Reign: unknown; estimated at 605 – 630, judging by the date of his coins
    Born: unknown; estimated at 575 (25 years before the birth of his son)

    *Roughly 165 years of rule by unknown kings. That would translate as six to seven kings.*

    Finn
    Died: unknown; estimated at 440
    Reign: unknown; at least until his death
    Born: unknown; estimated at 390

    Folcwalda
    Died: unknown
    Reign: unknown
    Born: unknown; estimated at 365

    -

    The archeological record shows that Frisia was largely depopulated during the third century. Many of the Frisians are believed to have migrated south and perhaps joined with the Franks in the settlement of Belgium, Northern Gaul and possibly even South Eastern England (i.e. befóre the Anglo-Saxon invasion). The population of Frisia increased again in the fourth century, probably by an influx of Angles, Saxons and Jutes who mixed with the Frisians that had stayed put, creating in a sense a new Frisian people.

    If indeed the larger part of the original Frisians migrated south, then it is likely it included the elite. If so, then the royal line of Folcwalda originated among the nobles of the Angles, Saxons or Jutes. That is a moot point however.

    Keep in mind though that the Franks invaded the Roman Empire in the year 388, under the leadership of Marcomer, Genobaud and Sunno.

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