The Frisii were an ancient Germanic tribe living in the low-lying region between the Rhine–Meuse–Scheldt delta and the River Ems, and the presumed or possible ancestors of the modern-day ethnic Frisians.

The Frisii were among the migrating Germanic tribes that settled along the North Sea in the 4th century BC. They came to control the area from roughly present-day Bremen to Bruges, and conquered many of the smaller offshore islands. In the 1st century BC, the Frisii halted a Roman advance and thus managed to maintain their independence.[1] In the Germanic pre-Migration Period (i.e., before c. 300 AD) the Frisii and the related Chauci, Saxons, and Angles inhabited the Continental European coast from the Zuyder Zee to south Jutland.[2] All of these peoples shared a common material culture, and so cannot be defined archaeologically.[3] On the east they were originally bordered by the Ampsivarii who lived at the mouth of the Ems until AD 58,[4][5] at which time the Chauci expelled them and gained a border with the Frisii.

The Chauci to the east were eventually assimilated by their presumed descendants the Saxons in the 3rd century. Some or all of the Frisii may have joined into the Frankish and Saxon peoples in late Roman times, but they would retain a separate identity in Roman eyes until at least 296, when they were forcibly resettled as laeti [6] (i.e., Roman-era serfs) and thereafter disappear from recorded history. Their tentative existence in the 4th century is confirmed by archaeological discovery of a type of earthenware unique to 4th-century Frisia, called terp Tritzum, showing that an unknown number of Frisii were resettled in Flanders and Kent,[7] likely as laeti under the aforementioned Roman coercion.

The lands of the Frisii were largely abandoned by c. 400 due to Migration wars, climatic deterioration and flooding caused by sea level rise. They lay empty for one or two centuries, when changing environmental and political conditions made the region habitable again. At that time, settlers that came to be known as 'Frisians' repopulated the coastal regions. Medieval and later accounts of 'Frisians' refer to these 'new Frisians' rather than to the ancient Frisii.[8]

Map of the modern coastline of the Netherlands, Germany, and Denmark, showing the Germanic peoples that lived there c. 150 AD and shipbuilding techniques they used.
Regions with significant populations
An unattested ingvaeonic language
Germanic paganism
Related ethnic groups
Saxons, Angles, Chauci, Frisiavones


What little is known of the Frisii is provided by a few Roman accounts, most of them military. Pliny the Elder (AD 23–79) said their lands were forest-covered with tall trees growing up to the edge of the lakes.[9] They lived by agriculture[10] and raising cattle.[11] In the late 1st century the Romans referred to the 'Greater Frisii' as living to the east of the lake Flevo, and the 'Lesser Frisii' to the west of it, so-called for their proportional power, and with the settlements of both stretching along the border of the Rhine to the ocean.[12] (The shape of the Netherlands/Low Countries has varied extremely in the last 2000 years. Historic maps should always be used or modern maps should be adapted. Sea level rise and storm surges destroyed 900 000 hectares. 500 000 hectares were reclaimed since the year 1200.)

In his Germania Tacitus would describe all the Germanic peoples of the region as having elected kings with limited powers and influential military leaders who led by example rather than by authority. The people lived in spread-out settlements.[13] He specifically noted the weakness of Germanic political hierarchies in reference to the Frisii, when he mentioned the names of two kings of the 1st century Frisii and added that they were kings "as far as the Germans are under kings".[14]

Early Roman accounts of war and raiding do not mention the Frisii as participants, though the neighboring Canninefates (to the west and southwest, in the delta) and Chauci (to the east) are named in that regard. The earliest mention of the Frisii tells of Drusus' 12 BC war against the Rhine Germans and the Chauci. The Romans did not attack them after devastating the lands of the Rhine Germans, but merely passed through their territory and along their coast in order to attack the Chauci. The account says that the Frisii were "won over", suggesting a Roman suzerainty was imposed.[15]

Over the course of time the Frisii would provide Roman auxiliaries through treaty obligations, but the tribe would also appear in its own right in concert with other Germanic tribes, opposing the Romans. Accounts of wars therefore mention the Frisii on both sides of the conflict, though the actions of troops under treaty obligation were separate from the policies of the tribe.

Wars with the Romans

The Frisii were little more than occasional and incidental players in Roman accounts of history, which focus on Roman actions that were of interest to Roman readers. As a consequence, references to them are disjointed and offer little useful information about them.

When Drusus brought Roman forces through Frisii lands in 12 BC and "won them over", he placed a moderate tax on them. However, a later Roman governor raised the requirements and exacted payment, at first decimating the herds of the Frisii, then confiscating their land, and finally taking wives and children into bondage. By AD 28 the Frisii had had enough. They hanged the Roman soldiers collecting the tax and forced the governor to flee to a Roman fort, which they then besieged. The propraetor of Germania Inferior, Lucius Apronius, raised the siege and attacked the Frisii, but was defeated at the Battle of Baduhenna Wood after suffering heavy losses. For whatever reason, the Romans did not seek revenge and the matter was closed. The prestige of the Frisii among the neighboring Germanic tribes was raised considerably.[16]

After their experiences with the predatory Roman governor and Lucius Apronius, the Frisii became disaffected towards Rome. In AD 47, a certain Gannascus of the Canninefates led the Frisii and the Chauci to rebel. They raided along the then-wealthy coast of Gallia Belgica.[17] The Roman military commander, Corbulo, campaigned successfully against the Germanic tribes,[18] For the Chauci and for the Frisii this meant Roman occupation, with the Romans specifying where they must live, with a fort built among them, and forcing a Roman-style senate, magistrates, and constitution upon them.[19]

The Frisii are next mentioned in 54, when they occupied empty, Roman-controlled land near the Rhine, settling into houses and sowing and plowing fields. The Romans attempted to persuade them to leave, and even invited two Frisii kings to Rome to meet Nero, who ordered them to leave. The Frisii refused, whereupon a Roman military force coerced them, killing any who resisted.[20]

In AD 69 the Batavi and other tribes rose against Roman rule in the Revolt of the Batavi, becoming a general uprising by all the Germans in the region, including the Frisii. Things went well for the Germans at first. One of the early leaders, Brinno of the Canninefates tribe, quickly defeated a Roman force of two cohorts and took their camp.[21] The capable Civilis ultimately succeeded to leadership of the Germanic side and inflicted heavy casualties on the Romans, even besieging Roman strongholds such as Vetera.[22] On the sea, a Roman flotilla was captured by a Germanic one.[23] However, the war did not end well for the Germans. Led by Cerialis, the Romans ultimately forced a humiliating peace on the Batavi and stationed a legion on their territory.

In the course of the war, both the Frisii and the Chauci had auxiliaries serving under the Romans. In an assault by Civilis at Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensis (at modern Cologne), a cohort of Chauci and Frisii had been trapped and burned.[24][25]

Final demise of the ancient Frisii

The emperor Constantius Chlorus campaigned successfully against several Germanic peoples during the internecine civil wars that brought him to sole power over the Roman Empire. Among them were the Frisii and Chamavi, who were described in the Panegyrici Latini (Manuscript VIII) as being forced to resettle within Roman territory as laeti (i.e., Roman-era serfs) in c. 296.[6] This is the last reference to the ancient Frisii in the historical record. However, they appear once more, now in the archaeological record. The discovery of a type of earthenware unique to 4th century Frisia known as terp Tritzum shows that an unknown number of them were resettled in Flanders and Kent,[7] likely as laeti under the aforementioned Roman coercion.


If there were any Frisii left in Frisia, they fell victim to the whims of nature, civil strife and piracy. After several hundred years of favorable conditions, the natural environment in the low-lying coastal regions of northwestern Europe began to deteriorate c. 250 AD and gradually worsened over the next 200 years. Rising sea levels and storm surges combined to flood some areas. Many deserted village sites were silted over. The situation was probably aggravated by a shift to a cooler, wetter climate in the region as well as by the introduction of malaria and other epidemic diseases.[26][27][28][29][30]

In the 3rd and 4th centuries the population of Frisia steadily decreased, and by the 5th century it dropped dramatically. Archaeological surveys indicate that only small pockets of the original population stayed behind (e.g. in the Groningen coastal marshes).[31] The coastal lands remained largely unpopulated for the next one or two centuries. As soon as conditions improved, Frisia received an influx of new settlers, mostly from regions later characterized as Saxon, and these would eventually be referred to as 'Frisians', though they were not necessarily descended from the ancient Frisii. It is these 'new Frisians' who are largely the ancestors of the medieval and modern Frisians.[8] Their Old Frisian language, however, was more intricately related to Old English spoken by their relatives settling abroad, than to the Old Saxon language spoken by the people staying behind in Germany.

Suggested Roman references

Auxiliaries at Hadrian's Wall

One of the entries of the Notitia Dignitatum reads "Tribunus cohortis primae Frixagorum Vindobala",[32] referring to the office of a tribune of the first cohort of the 'Frixagi', once stationed at Vindobala (at modern Rudchester) on Hadrian's Wall. Efforts have sometimes been made to connect this auxiliary unit with the Frisii by supposing that the original document must have said "Frisiavonum" and a later copyist mistakenly wrote "Frixagorum".[33] Some works make the claim in passing, perhaps citing someone else's claim of a copyist's error as justification.[34]

The Frisiavones

The Frisiavones (or Frisiabones) are mentioned in Pliny the Elder's Natural History (AD 79). They are listed as a people of the islands in and near the Rhine River, as are the Frisii.[35] They also appear as a people of northern Gaul in the chapter on Gallia Belgica,[36] their name given between those of the Sunici and Betasi (not to be confused with the Batavi).

The inscription stone found at Melandra Castle

Tangible evidence of the existence of the Frisavones includes several inscriptions found in Britain, from Roman Manchester and from Melandra Castle near modern Glossop in Derbyshire. The Melandra Castle inscription reads "CHO. T. FRISIAVO C. VAL VITALIS", which may be expanded to become "Cohortis Primae Frisiauonum Centurio Valerius Vitalis", which may be translated as "Valerius Vitalis, Centurion of the First Cohort of the Frisiavones".[37]

Suggestions that the Frisiavones were actually the Frisii center on the similarity in names, combined with the Roman classification of 'Lesser Frisii' to the west of the Zuiderzee and 'Greater Frisii' to the east of it[12] (which provides a reason as to why the Frisii might have been known by two different names). However, Pliny's placement of the Frisiavones in northern Gaul is not near the known location of the Frisii, which is acceptable if the Frisavones are a separate people, but not if they are a part of a greater Frisian tribe.[38]

Theodor Mommsen (The Provinces of the Roman Empire from Caesar to Diocletian, 1885) believed that the Germanic tribes of the region consisted of two parts, one having come under Roman influence and the other having remained outside of Roman influence, and he concluded that the Frisiavones were the same people as the Frisii.[39] However, his reasoning parsed the accounts of Tacitus and Pliny selectively: he interpreted the 'Lesser Frisii' and 'Greater Frisii' of Tacitus to refer to the Roman-influenced Frisavones and the non-Roman-influenced Frisii; he considered Pliny's account that mentioned both the Frisiavones and the Frisii to be consistent with the model; and he rejected Pliny's account placing the Frisiavones in northern Gaul, saying that it "is beyond doubt incorrect".

Early medieval 'Frisian' references

The Panegyrici Latini in c. 297 is the last mention of the Frisii by that name. There is no mention of them by any other name for nearly three centuries, when the name re-emerges as 'Frisians'. These later references are all connected to the ascendancy of the Franks under the Merovingians, who referred to the people who had resettled the lands of the ancient Frisii as 'Frisians'.[40] The interpretation of these references to 'Frisians' as references to the ancient Frisii has occasionally been made.

The Byzantine scholar Procopius, writing c. 565 in his Gothic Wars (Bk IV, Ch 20), said that "Brittia" in his time (a different word from his more usual "Bretannia") was occupied by three peoples: Angles, Frisians and Britons.[41] Procopius said that he was relating information from an informant, likely a member of a Frankish delegation to the court at Byzantium,[42] and did not assert the information as fact. Other information that he related included the assertion that there were no horses in Britain, that Hadrian's Wall separated the temperate parts of the island from the uninhabitable parts, and that 'countless people' had attested that Britain was the home of dead souls.[43] His information about Britain, while occasionally useful, is not considered authoritative.[44][45]

Venantius Fortunatus was a poet to the Frankish Merovingian court and wrote a eulogy to the Merovingian king Chilperic, who had died in 584. A list of peoples who were said to fear Chilperic's power is given and includes the Frisians, as well as the Suebi, Goths, Basques, Danes, Jutes, Saxons, and Britons. The eulogies of this age were intended to praise the high status of the subject, and the sudden reappearance of a list of old tribal names fitted into poetic meters is given little historical value.[45] The context is poetic license rather than historical accuracy.

Coins with the obverse and reverse inscriptions 'AVDVLFVS FRISIA' and 'VICTVRIA AVDVLFO', as well as 'FRISIA' and 'AVDVLFVS' have been found at Escharen, a village in the Dutch province of North Brabant. The stylistic quality suggests that they are of Northern Frankish origin of that era rather than Frisian, besides which a local production using a self-descriptive country name (i.e., 'FRISIA') would be unheard of in that era.[46]

Other medieval 'Frisian' references

Frisia appears in the Old English heroic poem Beowulf, which tells a story of events of the early 6th century. In it, the Geatish king Hygelac is killed while raiding Frisia. It has been noted that Gregory of Tours (c. 538–594) mentioned a Danish king Chlochilaichus who was killed while invading Frankish territory in the early 6th century, suggesting that, in this instance, Beowulf might have a basis in historical facts. However, Gregory was writing little more than fifty years after the events and may have based his story on eyewitness accounts, yet he makes no mention of Frisia or the Frisians. The poem is not considered a rich source of historical facts by Beowulf scholars.[47]

The Historia Brittonum gives a list of 33 ancient cities of Britain, among them 'Cair Peris', its location unspecified. It also contains a reference to the Picts and Orkney and a place 'ultra mare Frenessicum'.[48] The 'Cair' in 'Cair Peris' is reasonably taken to be Welsh 'Caer' (fort), while 'Peris' is a matter of speculation and conjecture, including the supposition that it is a reference to 'Frisians'. In the context of the Historia, the 'mare Frenessicum' coincides nicely with the Firth of Forth. While the Historia is often useful to scholars, it is also the source of storyline details that have no discernible provenance. It was written more than 500 years after the last unambiguous reference to the ancient Frisii (the Panegyrici Latini in c. 297), and at a time when medieval Frisia and the Frisians were playing a dominant role in North Sea trade.


  1. ^ Minahan, James (2000). One Europe, many nations : a historical dictionary of European national groups. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press. p. 264. ISBN 9780313309847.
  2. ^ Haywood 1999:14, Dark Age Naval Power. Haywood uses the term 'North German' to distinguish them from the 'Rhine Germans' (the Caninnefates, Batavians, and "Frankish" tribes).
  3. ^ Haywood 1999:17–19, Dark Age Naval Power. Haywood cites Todd's The Northern Barbarians 100 BC–AD 300 (1987) for this conclusion.
  4. ^ Tacitus 117:253–254, The Annals, Bk XIII, Ch 55. Events of AD 54–58. The Germans under Arminius had wiped out 3 Roman legions under Varus at the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest in AD 9. The Ampsivarii had not supported the German cause and were ostracized as a result. Many years later, c. AD 58, the Chauci took the opportunity to expel them and occupy their land at the mouth of the River Ems.
  5. ^ Haywood 1999:17–19, Dark Age Naval Power. Haywood cites Tacitus as well as a number of other sources.
  6. ^ a b Grane, Thomas (2007), "From Gallienus to Probus - Three decades of turmoil and recovery", The Roman Empire and Southern Scandinavia–a Northern Connection! (PhD thesis), Copenhagen: University of Copenhagen, p. 109
  7. ^ a b Looijenga, Jantina Helena (1997), "History, Archaeology and Runes", in SSG Uitgeverij (ed.), Runes Around the North Sea and on the Continent AD 150–700; Texts and Contexts (PhD dissertation) (PDF), Groningen: Groningen University, p. 40, ISBN 90-6781-014-2. Looijenga cites Gerrets' The Anglo-Frisian Relationship Seen from an Archaeological Point of View (1995) for this contention.
  8. ^ a b Bazelmans 2009:321–337, The case of the Frisians.
  9. ^ Pliny the Elder & 79_3:340–341, Natural History, Bk XVI Ch 2: Wonders connected with trees in the northern regions.
  10. ^ Tacitus 117:253, The Annals, Bk XIII, Ch 54. Events of AD 54–58. This was confirmed by Tacitus when he said that in an incident where the Frisii had taken over land, they then settled into houses, sowed the fields, and cultivated the soil.
  11. ^ Tacitus 117:147–148, The Annals, Bk IV, Ch 72–74. Events of AD 15–16. Tacitus specifically refers to the herds of the Frisii.
  12. ^ a b Tacitus & 98:61–62, The Germany, XXXV.
  13. ^ Tacitus & 98:18–19, 23–24, 36–37, The Germany, Ch V, VII, XVI.
  14. ^ Tacitus 117:253, The Annals, Bk XIII, Ch 54. Events of AD 54–58.
  15. ^ Lucius Cassius Dio Cocceianus (229), "Book LIV, Ch 32", in Cary, Earnest (translator) (ed.), Dio's Roman History, VI, London: William Heinemann (published 1917), p. 365
  16. ^ Tacitus 117:147–148, The Annals, Bk IV, Ch 72–74. Events of AD 15–16.
  17. ^ Tacitus 117:189, The Annals, Bk XI, Ch 18–19. Events of AD 47–48.
  18. ^ Tacitus 117:400, The Annals, Bk XVI, Ch 17. Events of 65–66 (Rome and Parthia—Campaigns of Corbulo in the East). Tacitus makes the parenthetical comment that Corbulo had driven the Chauci out of the provinces of Lower Germany which they had invaded in AD 47.
  19. ^ Tacitus 117:189–190, The Annals, Bk XI, Ch 18–19. Events of AD 47–48.
  20. ^ Tacitus 117:253, The Annals, Bk XIII, Ch 55. Events of AD 54–58.
  21. ^ Tacitus 105:115, The Histories, Bk IV, Ch 14–15: Revolt of Civilis and the Batavi.
  22. ^ Tacitus 105:126, The Histories, Bk IV, Ch 23: The Siege of Vetera.
  23. ^ Haywood 1999:22–23, Dark Age Naval Power.
  24. ^ Tacitus 105:7, The Histories, Translator's Summary of Chief Events.
  25. ^ Tacitus 105:193, The Histories, Bk IV, Ch 79.
  26. ^ Berglund, Björn E. (2002), "Human impact and climate changes—synchronous events and a causal link?", Quaternary International, 105 (1), Elsevier (published 2003), p. 10
  27. ^ Ejstrud, Bo; et al. (2008), Ejstrud, Bo; Maarleveld, Thijs J. (eds.), The Migration Period, Southern Denmark and the North Sea, Esbjerg: Maritime Archaeology Programme, ISBN 978-87-992214-1-7
  28. ^ Issar, Arie S. (2003), Climate Changes during the Holocene and their Impact on Hydrological Systems, Cambridge: Cambridge University, ISBN 978-0-511-06118-9
  29. ^ Louwe Kooijmans, L. P. (1974), The Rhine/Meuse Delta. Four studies on its prehistoric occupation and Holocene geology (PhD Dissertation), Leiden: Leiden University Press, hdl:1887/2787
  30. ^ Knottnerus O S (2002). "Malaria Around the North Sea: A Survey". Gerold Wefer, Wolfgang H. Berger, Karl-Ernst Behre, Eynstein Jansen (ed.), Climatic Development and History of the North Atlantic Realm: Hanse Conference Report. Springer-Verlag: 339–353.
  31. ^ Knol, Egge (1993), De Noordnederlandse kustlanden in de Vroege Middeleeuwen, Groningen: PhD. University of Groningen
  32. ^ Seeck, Otto, ed. (1876), Notitia Dignitatum Accedunt Notitia Urbis Constantinopolitanae et Laterculi Prouinciarum, Berolini, p. 221
  33. ^ Jarrett, Michael G. (1994), "Non-Legionary Troops in Roman Britain: Part One, the Units", Britannia, 25, Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies, p. 60, for one modern example. The full text reads: "ND Oc. XL.36 places cohors I Frixagorum at Rudchester; it is presumed that this is a copyist's error for Frisiavonum. In the third century, Rudchester was held by a quingenary cohort, but its name does not survive; analogy would suggest that it was probably I Frisavonum."
  34. ^ Budge, E. A. Wallis (1907), "Appendix to Chapter X, The Roman Wall", An Account of the Roman Antiquities preserved in the Museum at Chesters Northumberland (2nd revised ed.), London: Gilbert & Rivington, p. 285, for example. A list of the stations on Hadrian's Wall is given, after which an appendix offers a summary and modern names. A translation of the Notitia Dignitatum entry "Tribunus cohortis primae Frixagorum Uindobala" is given as "The Tribune of the First Cohort of the Frixagi at Vindobala" (p. 282), after which is offered (p. 285): "4. VINDOBALA, which was garrisoned by the First Cohort of the Frixagi, is represented by RUTCHESTER; of the Frixagi nothing is known, but Böcking suggests that for Frixagorum we should read Frisiavonum, i.e., Frisians." The author is referring to Eduardus Böcking's 1853 work on the Notitia Dignitatum.
  35. ^ Pliny the Elder & 79_1:349, Natural History, Bk IV.Ch 29(.15)—Ninety-six islands of the Gallic ocean.
  36. ^ Pliny the Elder & 79_1:354, Natural History, Bk IV.Ch 31(.17)—Gallia Belgica.
  37. ^ Williamson, Harold (1905), "The Probable Date of the Roman Occupation of Melandra", in Conway, R. S. (ed.), Melandra Castle, Manchester: Manchester University Press (published 1906), pp. 122–123. The author asserts in passing and without explanation that this is a reference to the Frisians. The entire publication appeared as a reprint in the 1906-1907 publication of the Journal of the Derbyshire Archaeological and Natural History Society, volumes 29-30.
  38. ^ Schmitz:916, A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography, FRISIABONES.
  39. ^ Mommsen, Theodor (1885), "Roman Germany", in Dickson, William P. (authorized translator) (ed.), The Provinces of the Roman Empire from Caesar to Diocletian, I, New York: Charles Scribner's Sons (published 1887), p. 137. Mommsen's argument is in footnote 2.
  40. ^ Bazelmans 2009:328, The case of the Frisians.
  41. ^ Cameron, Averil (1985), Procopius and the Sixth Century, Berkeley: University of California Press, p. 214, ISBN 0-520-05517-9
  42. ^ Higham, Nicholas (1992), Rome, Britain and the Anglo-Saxons, London: B. A. Seaby, p. 162, ISBN 1-85264-022-7
  43. ^ Cameron 1985:214–215, Procopius and the Sixth Century.
  44. ^ Haywood 1999:39–40, Dark Age Naval Power.
  45. ^ a b Bazelmans 2009:329, The case of the Frisians.
  46. ^ Bazelmans 2009:330, The case of the Frisians.
  47. ^ Bazelmans 2009:331–332, The case of the Frisians.
  48. ^ Stevenson, Joseph (1838), Nennii Historia Britonum, London: English Historical Society, pp. 29, 62.


  • Bazelmans, Jos (2009), "The early-medieval use of ethnic names from classical antiquity: The case of the Frisians", in Derks, Ton; Roymans, Nico (eds.), Ethnic Constructs in Antiquity: The Role of Power and Tradition, Amsterdam: Amsterdam University, pp. 321–337, ISBN 978-90-8964-078-9
  • Galestin, Marjan C. (2007/08), "Frisii and Frisiavones", Palaeohistoria 49/50, pp. 687–708 Check date values in: |year= (help)
  • Haywood, John (1999), Dark Age Naval Power: Frankish & Anglo-Saxon Seafaring Activity (revised ed.), Frithgarth: Anglo-Saxon Books, ISBN 1-898281-43-2
  • Pliny the Elder (79), Bostock, John; Riley, H. T. (eds.), The Natural History of Pliny, I, Henry G. Bohn (published 1855) Check date values in: |year=, |date=, |year= / |date= mismatch (help)
  • Pliny the Elder (79), Bostock, John; Riley, H. T. (eds.), The Natural History of Pliny, III, George Bell and Sons (published 1892) Check date values in: |year=, |date=, |year= / |date= mismatch (help)
  • Schmitz, Leonhard (1853), "FRISII", in Smith, William (ed.), A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography, I, London: John Murray (published 1872), pp. 916–917
  • Tacitus, Publius Cornelius (98), The Germany and the Agricola of Tacitus (revised translation, with notes), C. M. Barnes Company (published 1897) Check date values in: |year= (help)
  • Tacitus, Publius Cornelius (105), Fyfe, W. Hamilton (translator) (ed.), The Histories, II, Oxford: Clarendon Press (published 1912)
  • Tacitus, Publius Cornelius (117), Church, Alfred John; Brodribb, William Jackson (eds.), Annals of Tacitus (translated into English), London: MacMillan and Co. (published 1895)
Batavian Revolution

The Batavian Revolution (Dutch: De Bataafse Revolutie) was a time of political, social and cultural turmoil at the end of the 18th century that marked the end of the Dutch Republic and saw the proclamation of the Batavian Republic. The period of Dutch history that followed the revolution is referred to as the "Batavian-French era" (1795–1813) even though the time spanned was only 20 years, of which three were under French occupation.

Battle of Baduhenna Wood

The Battle of Baduhenna Wood was a battle, possibly fought (but not proven) near Heiloo, Netherlands in 28 AD between the Frisii and a Roman army led by Roman General Lucius Apronius.The earliest mention of the Frisii tells of Drusus' 12 BC war against the Rhine Germans and the Chauci. The Romans did not attack them after devastating the lands of the Rhine Germans, but merely passed through their territory and along their coast in order to attack the Chauci. The account says that the Frisii were "won over", suggesting a Roman suzerainty was imposed. When Drusus brought Roman forces through Frisii lands in 12 BC and "won them over", he placed a moderate tax on them. However, a later Roman governor raised the requirements and exacted payment, at first decimating the herds of the Frisii, then confiscating their land, and finally taking wives and children into bondage. By AD 28 the Frisii had had enough. They hanged the Roman soldiers collecting the tax and forced the governor to flee to a Roman fort, which they then besieged.

According to Tacitus:

As soon as this was known to the propraetor of Lower Germany, Lucius Apronius, he summoned from the Upper province the legionary veterans, as well as some picked auxiliary infantry and cavalry. Instantly conveying both armies down the Rhine, he threw them on the Frisii, raising at once the siege of the fortress and dispersing the rebels in defence of their own possessions. Next, he began constructing solid roads and bridges over the neighbouring estuaries for the passage of his heavy troops, and meanwhile having found a ford, he ordered the cavalry of the Canninefates, with all the German infantry which served with us, to take the enemy in the rear. Already in battle array, they were beating back our auxiliary horse as well as that of the legions sent to support them, when three light cohorts, then two more, and after a while the entire cavalry were sent to the attack. They were strong enough, had they charged altogether, but coming up, as they did, at intervals, they did not give fresh courage to the repulsed troops and were themselves carried away in the panic of the fugitives. Apronius entrusted the rest of the auxiliaries to Cethegus Labeo, the commander of the fifth legion, but he too, finding his men's position critical and being in extreme peril, sent messages imploring the whole strength of the legions. The soldiers of the fifth sprang forward, drove back the enemy in a fierce encounter, and saved our cohorts and cavalry, who were exhausted by their wounds. But the Roman general did not attempt vengeance or even bury the dead, although many tribunes, prefects, and first-rank centurions had fallen. Soon afterwards it was ascertained from deserters that nine hundred Romans had been cut to pieces in a wood called Baduhenna's, after prolonging the fight to the next day, and that another body of four hundred, which had taken possession of the house of one Cruptorix, once a soldier in our pay, fearing betrayal, had perished by mutual slaughter. The Annals, Book 4.72 (23-28 CE)

For whatever reason, the Romans did not seek revenge and the matter was closed. The prestige of the Frisii among the neighboring Germanic tribes was raised considerably.

Caspian kutum

The Caspian kutum (Rutilus kutum) or Caspian white fish is a member of the family Cyprinidae from brackish water habitats of the Caspian Sea and from its freshwater tributaries. It is typically a medium-sized fish, reaching 45–55 cm in length, rarely 70 cm, and weighing up to 4.00 kg, rarely 5.00 kg. It used to be very common and was harvested commercially. The population seems to have collapsed due to overfishing and marine pollution. Its flesh and roe are enjoyed as food, and highly prized in the Gilan and Mazandaran provinces in Iran.


The Chamavi were a Germanic tribe of Roman imperial times whose name survived into the Early Middle Ages. They first appear under that name in the 1st century AD Germania of Tacitus as a Germanic tribe that lived to the north of the Lower Rhine. Their name probably survives in the region today called Hamaland, which is in the Gelderland province of the Netherlands, between the IJssel and Ems rivers.


Friesland (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈfrislɑnt] (listen); official, West Frisian: Fryslân [ˈfrislɔːn] (listen)), also historically known as Frisia, is a province of the Netherlands located in the northern part of the country. It is situated west of Groningen, northwest of Drenthe and Overijssel, north of Flevoland, northeast of North Holland, and south of the Wadden Sea. In 2015, the province had a population of 646,092 and a total area of 5,100 km2 (2,000 sq mi).

The capital and seat of the provincial government is the city of Leeuwarden (West Frisian: Ljouwert), a city with 91,817 inhabitants. Since 2017, Arno Brok is the King's Commissioner in the province. A coalition of the Labour Party, the Christian Democratic Appeal, and the Frisian National Party forms the executive branch. The province is divided into 18 municipalities. The area of the province was once part of the ancient, larger region of Frisia. The official languages of Friesland are West Frisian and Dutch.

Frisian Kingdom

The Frisian Kingdom (West Frisian: Fryske Keninkryk), also known as Magna Frisia, is a modern name for the Frisian realm in the period when it was at its largest (650-734). This empire was ruled by kings and emerged in the mid-7th century and probably ended with the Battle of the Boarn in 734 when the Frisians were defeated by the Frankish Empire. It lay mainly in what is now the Netherlands and – according to some 19th century authors – extended from the Zwin near Bruges in Belgium to the Weser in Germany. The center of power was the city of Utrecht. In medieval writings, the region is designated by the Latin term Frisia. There is a dispute among historians about the extent of this realm; There is no documentary evidence for the existence of a permanent central authority. Possibly Frisia consisted of multiple petty kingdoms, which transformed in time of war to a unit to resist invading powers, and then headed by an elected leader, the primus inter pares. It is possible that Redbad established an administrative unit. Among the Frisians at that time there was no feudal system.


The Frisiavones (also Frisævones or Frisiabones) were a tribe living near the northern border of Roman Gaul possibly related to the nearby Frisii, who in turn are traditionally considered to be ancestors of modern Frisians. There is very little known about them, but they appear to have resided in the area of modern southern Netherlands, possibly in two distinct areas, one in the islands of the river deltas of Holland, and one to the south of it.


The Hermunduri, Hermanduri, Hermunduli, Hermonduri, or Hermonduli were an ancient Germanic tribe, who occupied an area near the Elbe river, around what is now Thuringia, Bohemia, Saxony (in East Germany), and Franconia in northern Bavaria, from the first to the third century. At times, they apparently moved to the Danube frontier with Rome. The Thuringii may have been the descendants of the Hermunduri. Claudius Ptolemy mentions neither tribe in his geography but instead the Teuriochaemae, who may also be connected to both.


The Ingaevones [ɪŋ.ɡae̯.ˈwoː.neːs] were a West Germanic cultural group living along the North Sea coast in the areas of Jutland, Holstein, and Frisia in the classical period. Tribes in this area included the Frisii, Chauci, (later replaced by the Saxons) and Jutes.

The name is sometimes given by modern editors or translators as Ingvaeones, on the assumption that this is more likely to be the correct form, since an etymology can be formed for it as 'son of Yngvi', Yngvi occurring later as a Scandinavian divine name. Hence the postulated common group of closely related dialects of the "Ingvaeones" is called Ingvaeonic or North Sea Germanic.Tacitus' source categorized the Ingaevones near the ocean as one of the three tribal groups descended from the three sons of Mannus, son of Tuisto, progenitor of all the Germanic peoples, the other two being the Irminones and the Istaevones. According to the speculations of Rafael von Uslar, this threefold subdivision of the West Germanic tribes corresponds to archeological evidence from Late Antiquity. Pliny ca 80 CE in his Natural History (IV.28) lists the Ingaevones as one of the five Germanic races, the others being the Vandili, the Istvaeones, the Hermiones and the Bastarnae. According to him, the Ingaevones were made up of Cimbri, Teutons and Chauci.

Stripped of its Latin ending, the Ingvaeon are the Ingwine, "friends of Ing" familiar from Beowulf, where Hrothgar is "Lord of the Ingwine"—whether one of them or lord over them being ambiguous.

Ing, the legendary father of the Ingaevones/Ingvaeones derives his name from a posited proto-Germanic *Ingwaz, signifying "man" and "son of", as Ing, Ingo or Inguio, son of Mannus. This is also the name applied to the Viking era deity Freyr, known in Sweden as Yngvi-Freyr and mentioned as Yngvi-Freyr in Snorri Sturluson's Ynglinga saga. Jacob Grimm, in his Teutonic Mythology considers this Ing to have been originally identical to the obscure Scandinavian Yngvi, eponymous ancestor of the Swedish royal house of the Ynglinga, the "Inglings" or sons of Ing. Ing appears in the set of verses composed about the 9th century and printed under the title The Old English Rune Poem by George Hickes in 1705:

Ing wæs ærest mid Est-Denum

Gesewen secgum, oþ he siððan est

Ofer wæg gewat; wæn æfter ran;

Þus heardingas þone hæle nemdun.

An Ingui is also listed in the Anglo-Saxon royal house of Bernicia and was probably once seen as the progenitor of all Anglian kings. Since the Ingaevones form the bulk of the Anglo-Saxon settlement in Britain, they were speculated by Noah Webster to have given England its name, and Grigsby remarks that on the continent "they formed part of the confederacy known as the 'friends of Ing' and in the new lands they migrated to in the 5th and 6th centuries. In time, they would name these lands Angle-land, and it is tempting to speculate that the word Angle was derived from, or thought of as a pun on, the name of Ing."According to the Trojan genealogy of Nennius in the Historia Brittonum, Mannus becomes "Alanus" and Ing, his son, becomes Neugio. The three sons of Neugio are named Boganus, Vandalus and Saxo—from whom came the peoples of the Bogari, the Vandals, and the Saxons and Thuringii.

List of rulers of the Netherlands

The Netherlands, or Low Countries, possessed clearly delineated boundaries only after 1500. Still in many respects they demonstrated common traits and underwent similar development that differentiated them from surrounding countries. The social, economic and political similarities evident throughout most of the region stem from the High Middle Ages, when the Scheldt, Maas and Rhine delta area became an important center of trade. Next to Northern Italy, the Low Countries became the most urbanised and prosperous region in Europe.

Its political system exhibited, from relatively early on, a degree of representative government that differed from the more feudal arrangements then existent in much of Europe. Internationally, the region served both as a mediator for and a buffer to the surrounding great powers, France, England, and Germany.

Lucius Apronius

Lucius Apronius was a Roman senator, suffect consul in 8 AD, and military commander active during the reign of Tiberius. Apronius shared in the achievements of Gaius Vibius Postumus and earned the ornamenta triumphalia for his distinguished valor in Dalmatian revolt and Germanic Wars, along with Aulus Caecina Severus and Gaius Silius in 15 AD. Back in Rome, Apronius led a motion in 22 in the Senate that decreed that votive offerings should be made due to the successful prosecution of Gnaeus Calpurnius Piso, accused of murdering Germanicus in 20.In the year 23, Apronius, along with a former proconsul of Africa, Lucius Aelius Lamia, vouched for innocence of a man accused of supplying grain to Numidian insurgent Tacfarinas. However, as proconsul of Africa at the time, Apronius severely punished a cohort of Legio III Augusta, for their defeat at Tacfarinas' hands, by decimation. In 28, being a legatus of Lower Germany, Apronius led the combined forces from Upper Germany in raising the siege of a Roman fort by the Frisii, only to be defeated by them soon after in a pitched battle at Baduhenna Wood.He is known to have had at least three children: one son, Lucius Apronius Caesianus, consul of AD 39, and two daughters, one married to Gnaeus Cornelius Lentulus Gaetulicus, consul in 26, the other to Marcus Plautius Silvanus, praetor in AD 24.

Malorix and Verritus

Malorix and Verritus were chieftains of the Germanic Frisii in the 1st-century AD.

In 58 AD, they requested Roman emperor Nero to cede territory to the Frisii. Concurrently, Malorix and Verritus displayed their confidence by sitting down with their entourage at the Theatre of Pompey along with the Roman senators, without receiving permission to do so. They were granted Roman citizenship by Nero, but Frisian territory was ceded to Rome's allies.


The Marsaci or Marsacii - also known as Marezaten - were a tribe in Roman imperial times, who lived within the area of the Rhine–Meuse–Scheldt delta, under Roman domination. (The river Meuse is the Maas in Dutch, and this name is also often used in English. It Latin sources it is called the Mosa.)

The only relatively clear source concerning the location of this tribe is Pliny the Elder's Natural History. They are in a list of tribes living in the "Gaulish islands" within the river delta region between different mouths of the Rhine. First he mentions the islands of the Batavians and the Cananefates, and then he gives the list of people who he says are stretched out along 100 Roman miles, between the mouths Helinius and Flevus.Possibly related to this same tribe, he also mentions "Oromarsaci", possibly referring to an "ora" (boundary) of the Marsaci, near modern Boulognes-sur-mer, so they may have stretched down the Flemish coast.The Helinius (or Helinium) is understood to have been the main mouth of the Meuse, where the main water of the southern branch of the Rhine, the Waal (Latin Vacalis) also discharged. Flevus (or Flevum) was a Roman fortification on the Ocean, north of the Rhine, mentioned by Tacitus, and equated today with Velsen. Although the details are no longer clear there was apparently a northerly outlet of the Rhine here, north of the main Old Rhine. But the term Flevo was also used by Pomponius Mela to refer to the fresh water lakes which were in the area of the modern Zuiderzee, which Mela specifically says that the Rhine fed into, perhaps through an ancient version of the Vecht, or the IJssel. So the Rhine mouth mentioned by Pliny might have been a discharge into a lake, or perhaps water running to Flevum on the coast may have arrived from the Rhine, via the lakes.The tribes of this stretch of delta islands are mentioned in this order: Frisii, Chauci, Frisiavones, Sturii and Marsacii. Of these:-

The Frisii are traditionally treated as the ancestors of the modern Frisians, although this is questioned, and they also did not necessarily live in exactly the same part or parts of what is now the Netherlands. Pliny in this passage is describing them being far to the south of medieval and modern Frisia. Tacitus describes there being two populations of them, but still both north of the Rhine. In any case, this tribe in Pliny's list will have been on the north.

The Chauci were also to the north of the delta, and are thought to be ancestors of the later Saxons. According to Tacitus, the Chauci inhabited a large part of northwestern Germany. A part of their population stretched towards the northeast of the Rhine delta area, and had contact with the Roman empire.

The Frisiavones, perhaps related to the Frisii, appear twice in Pliny, once amongst the delta island dwellers, and once amongst the tribes living to the south, in Belgic Gaul. For this reason they appear to have lived in the southeast of the delta, towards modern Belgium, neighbouring the Batavians, the Tungri, and possibly the Betasii and Sunuci.The Sturii and the Marsacii therefore probably lived further from the Rhine border, to the south or east of the above 3 tribes, or the Batavi and Cananefates. Other records mention the Marsacii being effected by the Batavian revolt implying that they lived close to the Batavians. Also, the Roman emperors recruited their horse guard from a group of tribes including the Batavians, Cugerni, Frisiavones and the Marsacii.

It has been claimed on the one hand that there might be a link to an earlier named Germanic tribe, from far to the east, known as the Marsi. Somewhat more positively considered is the proposal that the name of the Marsacii is preserved in the name of a medieval gau which was named Marsna. This was to the north of the mouth of the Maas into the North Sea.

Nero Claudius Drusus

Nero Claudius Drusus Germanicus (January 14, 38 BC – summer of 9 BC), born Decimus Claudius Drusus, also called Drusus Claudius Nero, Drusus, Drusus I, Nero Drusus, or Drusus the Elder was a Roman politician and military commander. He was a patrician Claudian on his legal father's side but his maternal grandmother was from a plebeian family. He was the son of Livia Drusilla and the legal stepson of her second husband, the Emperor Augustus. He was also brother of the Emperor Tiberius, father to both the Emperor Claudius and general Germanicus, paternal grandfather of the Emperor Caligula, and maternal great-grandfather of the Emperor Nero.

He launched the first major Roman campaigns across the Rhine and began the conquest of Germania, becoming the first Roman general to reach the Weser and Elbe rivers. In 12 BC, Drusus led a successful campaign into Germania, subjugating the Sicambri. Later that year he led a naval expedition against Germanic tribes along the North Sea coast, conquering the Batavi and the Frisii, and defeating the Chauci near the mouth of the Weser. In 11 BC, he conquered the Usipetes and the Marsi, extending Roman control to the Upper Weser. In 10 BC, he launched a campaign against the Chatti and the resurgent Sicambri, subjugating both. The following year, while serving as consul, he conquered the Mattiaci and defeated the Marcomanni and the Cherusci, the latter near the Elbe. However, Drusus died later that year, depriving Rome of one of its best generals.

Netherlands in the Roman era

For around 450 years, from around 55 BC to around 410 AD, the southern part of the Netherlands was integrated into the Roman Empire. During this time the Romans in the Netherlands had an enormous influence on the lives and culture of the people who lived in the Netherlands at the time and (indirectly) on the generations that followed.

Rutilus frisii

Do not confuse it with another fish called the kutum, Rutilus kutum

Rutilus frisii, called the vyrezub, Black Sea roach, or kutum, is a species of fish in the family Cyprinidae, native to the basins of the Black Sea, Sea of Azov, and Sea of Marmara from the rivers of Bulgaria to western Transcaucasia and in Lake Iznik (Turkey).The related Caspian Sea fish Rutilus kutum (also called kutum, Caspian kutum) has been treated as a subspecies of R. frisii (i.e. R. frisii kutum.), but the name kutum is applied to R. frisii itself in FishBase, referring to official names of FAO and AFS.


The Seeache is a short river in Upper Austria. It is the natural outflow of the Mondsee (lake) and flows into the Attersee (lake), which is drained by the Ager, after 3 kilometres.

The rapid river possesses Grade A to B water quality and is often used for rafting (difficulty level: A to B). In the Seeache are now living perlfishes (Rutilus frisii meidingeri).

Terminology of the Low Countries

The Low Countries is the coastal Rhine–Meuse–Scheldt delta region in Western Europe whose definition usually includes the modern countries of Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands. Both Belgium and the Netherlands derived their names from earlier names for the region, due to nether meaning "low" and Belgica being the Latinized name for all the Low Countries, a nomenclature that went obsolete after Belgium's secession in 1830.

The Low Countries—and the Netherlands and Belgium—had in their history exceptionally many and widely varying names, resulting in equally varying names in different languages. There is diversity even within languages: the use of one word for the country and another for the adjective form is common. This holds for English, where Dutch is the adjective form for the country "the Netherlands". Moreover, many languages have the same word for both the country of the Netherlands and the region of the Low Countries, e.g., French (les Pays-Bas) and Spanish (los Países Bajos). The complicated nomenclature is a source of confusion for outsiders, and is due to the long history of the language, the culture and the frequent change of economic and military power within the Low Countries over the past 2000 years.

In general, the names for the language, for the region, and for the countries within the region, and the adjective forms can all be arranged in five main groups according to their origin: it is a reference to a non-Latin, Germanic language—þiudisk—(Dietsc, "Dutch", Nederduits), whose speakers are ancestral to local Germanic tribes (Belgae, Batavi, Frisii); these tribes dissolved into confederations (Franconian, Frisian) which consolidated into local, economic powerful polities (Flanders, Brabant, Holland) in the low-lying, down river land at the North Sea (Germania Inferior, Lower Lorraine, Low Countries, Netherlands).

History of the Low Countries
Frisii Belgae
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Gallia Belgica (55 BC – 5th c. AD)
Germania Inferior (83 – 5th c.)
Salian Franks Batavi
(4th–5th c.)
Saxons Salian Franks
(4th–5th c.)
Frisian Kingdom
(6th c.–734)
Frankish Kingdom (481–843)Carolingian Empire (800–843)
Austrasia (511–687)
Middle Francia (843–855) West

Kingdom of Lotharingia (855– 959)
Duchy of Lower Lorraine (959–)

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County of

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Bishopric of

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Duchy of

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Duchy of

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County of

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County of

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County of

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of Liège

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Duchy of

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Burgundian Netherlands (1384–1482)
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Habsburg Netherlands (1482–1795)
(Seventeen Provinces after 1543)
Dutch Republic
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Spanish Netherlands
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Austrian Netherlands
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United States of Belgium
R. Liège
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Batavian Republic (1795–1806)
Kingdom of Holland (1806–1810)
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associated with French First Republic (1795–1804)
part of First French Empire (1804–1815)
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Princip. of the Netherlands (1813–1815)
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Gr D. L.

Kingdom of the Netherlands (1839–)
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Kingdom of Belgium (1830–)
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History of the Germanic peoples
Pagan society
(until about
Early Middle Ages)
Netherlands articles

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