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Thread: History of the Frisian Folk

  1. #11
    Senior Member velvet's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Walders
    BTW i noticed that old anglo-saxon is relatively similar to the Dutch language.
    The book I'm reading right now often gives referencies in those old languages (old norse, anglo-saxon, etc), and I noticed that Anglo-Saxon is almost the same like today's Danish. The (only few) Frisian referencies are very similar to that.
    However, I have much less problems to read Danish than Dutch, although it works to a certain degree.


    What an interesting article. I didnt know all that, and since my (maternal) family stems from Friesland originally it was like reading my own history.
    Ein Leben ist nichts, deine Sprosse sind alles
    Aller Sturm nimmt nichts, weil dein Wurzelgriff zu stark ist
    und endet meine Frist, weiss ich dass du noch da bist
    Gefürchtet von der Zeit, mein Baum, mein Stamm in Ewigkeit

    my signature

  2. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dagna View Post
    [CENTER]

    The West Germanics can be divided, along religious lines, into three tribegroups, the Inguaeones, Istuaeones and Irminones. The Frisians belong to the Inguaeones. The name Inguaevones is derived from the god Inguz; the Frisians believed they descended from him. Inguz is another name for the Germanic god Freyr. Other tribes belonging to the Inguaeones were, the Jutes, Warns, Angles, and the Saxons. Of these tribes the Saxons were closest in kin to the Frisians. All Inguaeones lived in the coastal areas along the North Sea. The Chaukians, also a tribe that lived along the North Sea, belong to the Irminones.
    I know its off topic but... Its known that the frisians belonged to the inguaeones but does anyone know who the suebi belong to?

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    velvet: Probably dutch has some more French influence, making it more alien to you. Probably the local dialects are as easy/difficult as understanding Danish to you.

    oski: the Suebi probably mainly belonged to the Herminones (Elbe Germanics).

    About the Frisians: it seems the Frisii encountered by the Romans where of other descent than the later Frisians. After times of floodings the Frisii moved away (maybe to Jutland). Maybe a new group repopulated Frisia, or a group of which the Frisii were a smaller part. But the skulls are more round, like the Saxon skulls.

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    Pliny the Elder had this to say about the inhabitants of the Frisian Islands:
    ... what is nature and characterisations of living by people who live without trees or shrubs. We have indeed said that in the east, to the coasts of the ocean, a number of races in such needy conditions exist; but this also applies to the races of peoples which are called the large and small Ghaucen, which we have seen in the north. There, two times in each period of a day and a night, the ocean with a fast tide submerges an immense plain, thereby the hiding the secular fight of the Nature whether the area is sea or land. There this miserable race inhabits raised pieces ground or platforms, which they have moored by hand above the level of the highest known tide. Living in huts built on the chosen spots, they seem like sailors in ships if water covers the surrounding country, but like shipwrecked people when the tide has withdrawn itself, and around their huts they catch fish which tries to escape with the expiring tide. It is for them not possible to keep herds and live on milk such as the surrounding tribes, they cannot even fight with wild animals, because all the bush country lies too far away. They braid ropes of zegge and biezen from the marshes with which they make nets to be able to catch fish, and they dig up mud with their hands and dry it more in wind than in the sun, and with soil as fuel they heat their food and their own bodies, frozen in northern wind. Their only drink comes from storing rain water in tanks front of their houses. And these are the races which, if they were now conquered by the Roman nation, say that they will fall into slavery! It is only too true: Destiny saves people as a punishment.
    Source:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frisian_Islands

    A list of 10th century Frisian names:
    http://heraldry.sca.org/laurel/names/frisianmasc.html


    Pagan Frisia:
    http://www.i-friesland.com/pagan.htm

    Frisian law poem:
    http://www.i-friesland.com/Frisian_law.htm

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    The Finnsburg battle

    Battle of Finnsburg

    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    (Redirected from Battle of Finnburg)

    This article is about the battle. For the Anglo-Saxon poem, see Finnesburg Fragment.

    Battle of Finnsburg

    Part of the legends of the Germanic heroic age

    The Frisian lands, and neighbouring kingdoms, in the 5th century, showing an approximate territorial boundary within which the battle took place
    Date c. 450 AD



    short summary:

    Location Finnsburg, Frisia[1]
    Result Short lived peace treaty, followed by Danish victory
    Belligerents
    Frisians, and possibly Jutes Danish Hocings, with others such as a Secgan lord
    Commanders and leaders
    King Finn † of Frisia Prince Hnæf † of the Danish Hocings; Hengest
    Strength
    Unknown 60 men
    Casualties and losses
    Heavy losses in both phases Unknown, at least one death in phase one

    The Battle of Finnsburg (or Finnsburh) was a conflict in the Germanic heroic age between Frisians with a possible Jutish contingent, and a primarily Danish party. Described only in later Anglo-Saxon poetry, if the conflict had an historical basis it most likely occurred around 450 AD.[2]

    In the story, the young prince Hnæf, described as a Hocing, Half-Dane, and Scylding, was staying as an invited guest of the Frisian king Finn. For reasons unknown, a battle broke out between the two parties, probably started by the Frisian side,[3] and Hnæf was killed. Hnæf's retainer Hengest took command, and the sides engaged in a peace treaty; but Hengest and the Danes later avenged Hnæf's death and slaughtered the Frisians.

    The primary descriptive sources of the events are the fragmentary Finnsburg Fragment, and an allusive section of Beowulf. Since the battle is well represented amongst such a small corpus of Anglo-Saxon heroic poetry,[4] it was probably significant and once widely known. Due to the fragmentary and allusive condition of the sources, however, the story is difficult to reconstruct.

    Contents

    1 Sources
    1.1 Finnsburg Fragment
    1.2 Episode in Beowulf
    1.3 Other sources
    2 Background
    3 Battle phases
    3.1 Phase One: The siege battle
    3.2 Interim: Swearing of oaths
    3.3 Phase Two: The Frisian slaughter
    4 Eotena
    4.1 Jutes or giants?
    4.2 Arguments for giants
    4.3 Good faith
    5 See also
    6 Notes and references
    7 Bibliography
    8 External links

    Sources
    Finnsburg Fragment
    Main article: Finnsburg Fragment

    In 1705 a fragment of Anglo-Saxon epic poetry discovered in Lambeth Palace by George Hickes was published. Because of the fragmentary state of the manuscript, the action starts in medias res. It describes a young prince called Hnæf spurring his 60 men into battle, besieged inside a great hall. Some of his men are then named and their actions in battle followed. Two characters from the attacking force are also named, and one of these dies along with others in his force.

    The killed attacker is said to be of the Frisian Islands, hinting at a location for the battle, and the specific location is identified as Finnsburg. The action closes with prince Hnæf and his men having been besieged for five days of battle, without any fatalities on their side. The Finnsburg Fragment is short, at around 50 lines long, and almost entirely lacking in internal context. Most of the context must instead be derived from the parallel episode in Beowulf, which describes events that take place mainly after the action narrated in the Finnsburg Fragment.[5]



    Episode in Beowulf
    Wealhþeow, who "came forth / in her golden crown" after the Beowulf scop was finished narrating the Finnsburg story in Beowulf.[6]

    Beowulf as a poem primarily follows the exploits of its eponymous hero. After one of Beowulf's victories, a scop or court-poet narrates an old tale to the assembled guests. This tale narrates the events that follow after the story found in the Finnsburg Fragment.[5] The Beowulf poet, however, makes his scop give the account in an extremely compact and allusive way. The audience of the poem were probably expected to already know about the episode in some detail. Because of this, summarising the scenario described in Beowulf will necessarily involve an element of either fragmentation or interpretative reconstruction.

    The scop's story of the Freswæle (English: Frisian slaughter) begins with Hildeburh, daughter of Hoc, lamenting the loss of her son and brother.[7] Both factions involved in the battle are said to have suffered heavy losses, but especially the þegnas (English: thanes or barons) of Finn. Because of this, Finn enters into a peace treaty with the besieged party led now by Hengest.[8] Finn was to honour the Danes with feasts and gifts of treasure.[9]

    Hnæf and his unnamed nephew, said also to be Hildeburh's son, are placed on a funeral pyre. After this most of the Danish warriors leave, but Hengest and probably some of the Danes stay throughout winter. Eventually a figure referred to as the son of Hunlaf places a sword on Hengest's lap to remind him of his loyalties. Other Danes also return, and probably together they wreak havoc on the Frisians and slay king Finn. The Danes take the unnamed Frisian queen back to what appear to be her own people in Denmark,[10] identifying the Frisian queen as probably Danish.
    Other sources

    The Anglo-Saxon poem fragment Widsith mentions a Finn who is referred to by the patronymic Folcwalding,[11] probably explaining the patronymic allusion in Beowulf to "Folcwald's son" as a reference to Finn.[12] Widsith also mentions a Hnæf who is said to have ruled the Hocings.[13] Since Hildeburh is said in Beowulf to be the daughter of Hoc and the sister of Hnæf, and since Widsith mentions a Hnæf ruling the people of Hoc, it seems clear that Widsith refers to the same Hnæf of the Battle of Finnsburg. It also mentions a Sæferð or Sasferth who can be identified with one of Hnæf's men, Sigeferth.

    The only other source to perhaps allude to the battle is the Skáldskaparmál, where Snorri Sturluson mentions a coat of mail called Finnsleif (English: Finn's legacy).[14] The names of some of the characters in the Battle of Finnsburg are mentioned in other sources, usually in genealogies such as the reference to Folcwald and Finn in the Historia Brittonum. Hengest is mentioned in several works, but his identity and exploits are unclear. One argument, still supported by some recent scholars, is that he is the same figure as the Anglo-Saxon founder of the Kingdom of Kent.


    See also: Hildeburh

    Since the unnamed Frisian queen in Beowulf is probably said to be of the Danish people, it seems very likely that Hildeburh is this Frisian queen. This means that Hnæf was probably staying as an invited guest of Finn at his home, Finnsburg (English: fortified stronghold of Finn), in Frisia, with Hildeburh connecting the two factions together:

    She was clearly a Danish (or at least 'half-Danish') princess, who had married Finn, prince of the Frisians, doubtless a political move to secure peace between Danes and Frisians. Hildeburh had a brother, Hnæf, who apparently went to Finn with his Danish retinue in friendship.

    Though the identification of Hnæf and Finn being brothers-in-law makes the situation much clearer, it shifts the emphasis of explanation onto the reason behind the subsequent battle. The battle may reflect a reoccurrence of the tensions which Hildeburh's marriage may have been a diplomatic move to quell. If the identification between the characters holds, moreover, then the son of Hildeburh and nephew of Hnæf who dies in the battle is probably therefore the son of Finn; he may even have been heir to the Frisian kingdom. In this respect it is especially notable that Hildeburh's son is laid on Hnæf's pyre.[17] Tolkien suggested that Hildeburh's son was raised by Hnæf, and was being brought back to Finn at his coming of age; even that Hildeburh's son was one of the party besieged with Hnæf inside the great hall. Such a theory would add an extra layer of complexity, of a feeling of possible responsibility for filicide, to the already complicated psychological motivations of Finn.

    Battle phases

    Phase One: The siege battle
    “ But awake now, my warriors!
    take up your shields, think of valor
    fight in the vanguard, and be resolute! ”
    — Liuzza (2000), Hnæf, Finnsburg Fragment, p.163

    The siege is described primarily in the Finnsburg Fragment. Hnæf rouses his troops with a short but powerful speech. Two of his men, Sigeferth and Eaha go to one door (Door A), and another two of his men Ordlaf and Guthlaf go to another door (Door B) of the great hall in which they were trapped at Finnsburg. In Beowulf the pair "Guthlaf and Oslaf" are mentioned returning later to their home, so that Oslaf in Beowulf is probably to be identified with Ordlaf from the Finnsburg Fragment. Hengest follows Ordlaf/Oslaf and Guthlaf to Door B.

    Outside the great hall, Guthere is planning to launch the first attack. Garulf counsels him not to do so, saying that Guthere's life is too valuable. Guthere proceeds anyway, and asks who holds that door. Sigeferth replies to Guthere's taunt from within, showing that the attack is being mounted at Door A. Sigeferth is said to be a lord of the Secgena; in Widsith a Sæferð or Sasferth is said to be lord of the Sycges or Secgan, apparently referring to the same character. The two sides fight at that door, and Garulf, the counsellor, and many of the attackers die. It is not clear what happens to Guthere whom he counselled. Garulf the counsellor is said to be Guthlaf's son; it is not clear whether or not this is the same Guthlaf who holds the door as a defender at Door B.

    The battle continues for five days, and none of the besieged defenders of Hnæf and his men are killed. Then one of the defenders is wounded, and Hnæf asks the unnamed wounded defender how the other men are coping. There the Finnsburg Fragment ends. The narrative continues in Beowulf after the battle has ended; immediately Hnæf and his nephew are said to have been slain. On the attackers' side, the Beowulf scop says that "all of the thanes of Finn, except a few" were slain.[18] Hengest is now the commander of the defenders.

    Interim: Swearing of oaths
    “ They swore their pledges then on either side,
    a firm compact of peace. With unfeigned zeal
    Finn swore his oaths to Hengest ”
    — Liuzza (2000), Beowulf, p.87

    Since Finn had lost most of his thanes, he was unable to fight Hengest, and the Beowulf poet says that for this reason they drew up a peace treaty. Nicola Zocco clarifies that the "Frisians offer to come to terms with the Danes because they need to resolve the situation in a bloodless way, given that they cannot afford a military victory."[8] This gives the motivation for the attackers to enter into a peace bargain, but not for the motivation of the defenders. Perhaps the toll on them would also have been too large, that Hengest and his men would not have been able to break the deadlock of the siege. The peace treaty must have been reasonable to both commanders as the best way out of the stalemate.

    The fact that the two sides did not fight to the death may indicate that Finn felt some remorse for the rules of hospitality having been broken against his brother-in-law Hnæf and his men. Seiichi Suzuki points out that the Beowulf poet implies twice that Finn was to blame and was blamed.[19] Still, Finn may not have been a primary belligerent, only responsible in the capacity of a figurehead; and the picture is made more complex by the role of the eotena (see below). The Beowulf poet seems to allude to Finn's sincerity about the peace treaty when he says that Finn swore oaths to Hengest "with unfeigned zeal".[20]

    Not only were the peace terms probably offered by the Frisians to the Danes, but the Frisians were very submissive in the deal. Though under the treaty the Danes are not to complain about the death of Hnæf, Finn more extremely swears that any Frisian who provokes further violence would be, in the language of the poet, settled with the edge of the sword.[21] The defenders are also to be given half of a new building,[22] which, confusingly they are to share with Finn and the eotena sons (see below),[23] and also to be given feasts and treasure by Finn. The concessions by Finn may reflect his remorse at the events, or it may have been seen as a suitable weregild for the defenders not avenging the killing of Hnæf. The Beowulf poet describes how Finn stuck to his oath by giving treasure.

    Meanwhile, Hnæf and his nephew are placed on the funeral pyre and Hildeburh laments. Later most of the warriors go home, "to seek their native lands, / bereft of friends, to behold Frisia, / their homes and high fortresses."[24] Hengest, and some retainers, stayed however with Finn over the winter; it is not clear why they do so. Donald K. Fry contends that Hengest stayed "by his own choice, by his own design."[25]

    Phase Two: The Frisian slaughter
    “ So he did not refuse the world's custom
    when the son of Hunlaf placed a glinting sword,
    the best of battle-flames, upon his lap ”
    — Liuzza (2000), Beowulf, p.88

    Eventually a man described as the son of Hunlaf, but given no more specific name or description, places a sword on the lap of Hengest. The sword, a hildeleoma (English: battle-light) which may either be the name of the sword or a description of it, is said to be renowned to the eotenum (see eotena below). Olivieri suggests that probably "Hunlaf had died in the fight at the castle — the sword had been used with the Jutes — and his son asked for revenge."[26] Meanwhile, Guthlaf and Oslaf/Ordlaf, presumably the same pair who held Door A in the siege, go back to the Danish people and tell them what has occurred.

    The Beowulf poet says that as a consequence, without naming the antecedents, Finn and all the Frisians were slaughtered. Most likely the antecedents are both of the actions described above, that Hengest and a returning faction of Danes banded together in force to slaughter Finn and the remnants of his forces, avenge Hnæf, pillage Finnsburg, and return to the Danish people with Hildeburh. This is usually understood to mean that Hengest had been brooding over whether fealty or oaths were strongest, and that he and the Danes broke the terms of the peace treaty, though Zocco argues otherwise.[27]

    Eotena
    Jutes or giants?



    Illustration by J. R. Skelton of the giant Grendel from earlier in Beowulf. See also a list of artistic depictions of Grendel.

    The words eotena and eotenum in the Beowulf episode appear in several places to describe the opponents of the Danes:

    At the beginning of the episode, Hildeburh is said to have "had no need to praise" the eotena good faith (lines 1071–2).
    When a hall is cleared out for Hengest and his men to inhabit as part of the peace treaty terms, he is to share it with Folcwalda's son (Finn), and the eotena sons (line 1088).
    Hengest broods on revenge against the eotena sons, wanting to remind them of his sword (line 1141).
    When the hunlafing sword is placed on Hengest's lap, it is said to be "not unknown" to the eotenum (line 1145).

    This has given rise to three basic theories about the term eoten- in Beowulf:

    The term is a corrupted declension of *Eotan (English: Jutes).
    The term is a pun, meaning eoten (English: giant) but referring to Jutes.[28]
    The term is a metaphor, meaning eoten but referring to Frisians.

    The first theory was held by Tolkien in the early 20th century, and is now widely accepted amongst scholars.[29] But the second and third theories have seen increasing popularity; more recent dissenters include Williams, Kaske, Stuhmiller, Gwara, Vickrey, and Slade.[30] As three Beowulf editors wrote in 2008:

    The terms for Frisians and Jutes seem to be used interchangeably in the Episode (see Beo 1088 and 1093), but it is impossible to be certain, given the fragmentary and allusive nature of the evidence, and the alternate ways of construing the term eotenas that has been thought to designate the Jutes. Historically, scholarship has favored the assumption that MS eotena and eotenum refer to Jutes […], though quite a few scholars, especially in recent years, have seen here common nouns referring to giants[31]

    Arguments for giants

    The dissatisfaction with the first theory, of the Eotan or Jutes, can be perceived along two axes: morphological and semantic. Vickrey summarises the morphological evidence for a reading of giants, the numbers referring to Beowulf line numbers:

    the form eotena, the expected genitive plural of eoten 'giant' (eotena 421, 883), is anomalous as a declensional form of *Eote, *Eotan 'Jutes'; and the form eotenum, along with eotenum 902, the expected dative plural of eoten 'giant,' a disyllabic masculine noun with a short first syllable, is, as a dative plural of *Eote, *Eotan 'Jutes,' without parallel elsewhere in the poem either in weak nouns or i-nouns. […] On philological grounds, then, it is more likely that eoten- meant 'giant' and not 'Jute' in the Finn Episode: if 'Jute,' eoten- is suspect and doubtful; if 'giant,' expected and normal.[32]

    Vickrey's point about eotenum refers to line 1145, where the dative plural eotenum is used. The dative plural for Jutes would be eotum,[33] whereas eotenum is the correct dative plural for the sense of giants; despite this, the word in this line is still often translated "Jutes" in accordance with the first theory. Williams argued of eoten that "it is not fact but only possibility that the scribe confused therewith the tribal name, or that this tribal name had a dative Éotenum. A possibility cannot upset a fact!"[34] Benjamin Slade gives a summary of the semantic and contextual evidence, leaning towards the second theory, of a pun between giants and Jutes:

    The reading of 'giants' is difficult for it is hard to imagine that Germanic 'giants' could have non-antagonistic relations with any human people. It seems likely that there is perhaps intentional ambiguity here between 'giants' and 'Jutes/Frisians'. […] Stuhmiller makes the keen observation that after the Finn Episode, no form of eoten or eotan occurs in the poem, ambiguous or otherwise. This is striking because 'giants' certainly do not disappear from the poem at this point […]. The poet's song of Finn occurs immediately Beowulf has slain Grendel, the eotan who has been tormenting the Danes[35]

    Understanding whether the references are to Jutes or giants has a large bearing on the presented social dynamic of the battle. In a more cautious appraisal Fry summarises that "Whoever the eoten- are, they are probably not Danes and not subject to Hengest."[36]
    Good faith

    The eotena "good faith" referred to at the beginning of the Beowulf episode is puzzling, in any of the theorised senses of eotena. Though the peace treaty has not yet been mentioned by the narrator at that point in the text, this good faith may refer to the very submissive terms of the peace treaty. If so, this would indicate that it was not only Finn who swore the oath of peace "with unfeigned zeal" to Hengest, but that the eoten- force had good faith too. If so, then it is a particular disadvantage to have lost the description of what, and who, provoked the siege.
    weel nich will dieken dej mot wieken

  6. #16
    Senior Member Thorbrand's Avatar
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    I hope to visit Frisia soon, as an English and Afrikaans speaker it will be interesting to see how much I can understand and be understood.

    Re: the reference to the Eotena, it brings to mind Tolkien's Ettenmoors (the Troll fells in Middle Earth) and Jack Lewis's Ettinsmoor from the Narnia chronicles (the giant realm).
    “unless they know, mystically, that beneath the concrete lies the earth which has nourished their race for a thousand years and ... that it is their own earth from which their blood is shed and renewed, then they are a lost people, and easy prey for those who have lacked roots for many centuries"
    A. K. Chesterton

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