It is a well known fact the Frisians fought in foreign armies. Whether as foreign fighter in the Mediterranean and the Levant, or as mercenary of the Roman army in Britannia. Also their medieval kings committed war crimes. Early Frisian merchants were heavily involved in the profitable slave trade on the British Isles. Furthermore, individuals committed large-scale piracy at the North Sea, Wadden Sea, Zuyder Sea and in the German Bight. And, do not forget those that freely participated in Viking war bands.
Against this background there is much support among the people of the former Seven Sealands of Frisia to establish the International Criminal Tribunal for Frisia (ICTF). This in response to the committed (war) crimes against humanity by Frisian individuals, like army commanders, pirates, privateers, human smugglers, crusaders, terrorist fighters, mercenaries, espionage for foreign governments, et cetera. As one of the initiators put it:
We periodically fight about the statue of Governor Coen in the Westfrisian town of Hoorn, are still proud of our Crusade history, and still think Grutte Pier is a nice chap or big hero at least. This is total ignorance of our history, right?
The objective of the ICTF is to try those Frisian individuals who committed these serious crimes in the past. Therefore, it is limited to those who died without ever being tried by an independent and recognized court, and died before the establishment of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague in 2002. By bringing former deceased perpetrators to trial, the ICTF aims to render justice to Frisian history in general, and to strengthen and promote the rule of law internationally.
Trial of individuals already deceased is what the ICTF distinguishes from other criminal courts and tribunals. For this reason this tribunal will merely consider the question whether or not it can be proven the individual concerned indeed committed the war crimes or crimes against humanity. It will not additionally and symbolically impose a penalty post mortem. Therefore, the ICTF will not repeat the cadaver synod, the posthumous conviction of Pope Formosus in the ninth century.
The ICTF can also rule concerning the future of any statue of the person tried. If found guilty, the tribunal can rule that statues are taken away, or that they are taken from its pedestal and placed on street level. That way, these historic persons are symbolically leveled with ‘ordinary’ people. No longer to be admired from down below, but not to be forgotten either. You can look them in the eye. Of course, the ICTF can also rule (additionally) a sign is placed next to the statues, stating the atrocities the person committed.
The jurisdiction, not only limited till the year 2002 when the ICC in The Hague was established, is also restricted to those individuals born in an area that was Frisia at the time of birth of the suspect. Where on the world the crimes have been committed, is irrelevant.
Below political map of Frisia during in the High and Late Middle Ages with the Seven Sealands.
The proposed seat of the ICTF is the town of Aurich in region Ostfriesland in Germany. In the High Middle Ages, from 1156 till 1327, every year delegates and chosen judges from the Seven Sealands (see image above) gathered at Upstalsboom (also written as Opstallisbeam) on a mound near Aurich. Here at the first Tuesday after Pentecost, they proclaimed in open air new laws for the whole of Frisia. The Upstalsboom functioned as supreme court in legal matters and conflicts between Seven Sealands too. With the seat in the town of Aurich, the ICTF can -in some way- restore the gross shortcomings of the former supreme judges of the Upstalsboom. If interested in more backgrounds of the Upstalsboom treaty, read our blog post Upstalsboom: why solidarity is not the core of the collective.
Every person has the right to bring forward a case to the ICTF with the request to indict a deceased Frisian individual.
Below the provisional list of indictments.
third century AD
file nr. 374.8462.DG
Frisian chieftain, also known as Notfrid, or Hnaudifridus. Date and place of birth not exactly known, but early in the third century AD, from the northeast coast of present-day the Netherlands. Allegedly took service in a foreign (Roman) occupation army as commander of the Frisian cavalry force (cuneus Frisiorum) called the ‘Hnaudifridi’ after its leader. Allegedly fought against the Caledonii at fort Housesteads at Hadrian’s Wall in northern Britannia near the present-day town of Hexham. In our post more background on Frisian mercenaries in Britannia.
ca. AD 600
file nr. 759.8482.DJ
Master blacksmith, also known as Wayland the Smith. Possibly lived near Schweindorf in Ostfriesland (East Frisia) in Germany. Although he was maltreated by the King Niðhad of the Njars (i.e. his hamstrings were cut and he was imprisoned, his revenge was too cruel. Way beyond excessive self-defense. He allegedly murdered the two sons of the king, made goblets and jewelry out their corpses and he raped the daughter of the king. Read our post Weladu the flying blacksmith to run a full background check.
† AD 719
file nr. 247.0184.SN
King of (western) Frisia, also known as the Enemy of Christ. Exact date and place of birth unknown. Allegedly committed and/or ordered crimes against civilians of the cities of Utrecht, the Netherlands and of Cologne, Germany during the sieges of both cities in the year AD 714. Allegedly responsible as well for a policy of non-intervention concerning the slave trade of the Breton, the Frankish and the Slavish people. More about the battles of King Radbod in our blog post. For more backgrounds on early-medieval slave trade by Frisians, check our post Merciless medieval merchants.
Frederick of Utrecht
AD 780 – † ca. 838
file nr. 292.4901.DQ
Bishop of Utrecht between AD 815-838. Born in the village Sexbierum, province Friesland (Mid Frisia), the Netherlands. Allegedly destroyed temples of paganism at the Walcheren island in former West Frisia, and allegedly surpressed with force the freedom of religion. Frederick was assassinated in his church during service, possibly ordered by Empress Judith of Bavaria. Because Frederick of Utrecht is declared a saint by the Vatican, the ICTF will work out a bilateral agreement with the Vatican concerning its jurisdiction.
Ubba the Frisian
† AD 878
fil nr. 924.5295.CM
Frisian chieftain and Viking warlord. Date and place of birth not exactly known. Allegedly took service in a foreign (Viking) occupation army, and allegedly was one of the three commanders of the Great Heathen Army of the Vikings that raided and raped England for fourteen years. He had his stronghold at the Walcheren island in West Frisia, modern province Zeeland in the Netherlands. Read more about the career of this chief in our blog posts Foreign Fighters returning from Viking war bands and Island the Walcheren: Sodom and Gomorrah at the North Sea.
AD 955 – † 993
file nr. 402.5792.PA
Count of West Frisia, also known as Arnulf of Ghent as he was born in this town in Flanders. As count of West Frisia responsible for starting the Frisian civil war with the sovereign region Westfriesland (being the first of the Seven Sealands of tota Frisia) in AD 993 by invading this sealand with an army. A civil war that lasted until AD 1297 when Count Jan of West Frisia defeated the Westfrisians definitive. Although the attack of Arnulf was unsuccessful and Arnulf was killed himself at 18 September 993 by the Westfrisians, Arnulf has not been held responsible. To learn more about this civil war, read our post In debt to the beastly Westfrisians.
Popte or Poptetus Ulvinga
† AD 1147
file nr. 462.5292.NX
Commander and Frisian nobleman, also known as Heinricus or Hendrik van Bonn, and as saint worshiped in Portugal to date. Exact date and place of birth unknown but suspect originates from one of the shires of Westergo, Oostergo, Hunzingo or Fivelgo, all in Mid Frisia, modern province Friesland in the Netherlands. Allegedly fighting in a foreign army as crusader of the Second Crusade (AD 1147 – 1149) and allegedly ordered and/or committed crimes against civilians during the siege of the city of Ulixibona (modern Lisbon, Portugal). Read more about the atrocities crusading Frisians committed in our blog post Terrorist Fighters from the Wadden Sea.
thirdteenth century AD
file nr. 312.2238.XL
Exact date of birth and death unknown. Frisian nobleman born in the village Kempingaburen, shire Oostergo, Mid Frisia, province Friesland in the Netherlands. Allegedly fighting in foreign army as crusader of the Fifth Crusade (AD 1213 – 1221), allegedly crusaded three times. Committed crimes against civilians, including against those of the city of Dalmieta, modern Egypt. Read more about the atrocities crusading Frisians committed in our blog post Terrorist Fighters from the Wadden Sea.
thirteenth century AD
file nr. 292.5540.CP
Nephew of Dodo Kempinga. Later became monk of the convent Mariëngaarde, near the village of Hallum in shire Oostergo, Mid Frisia, province Friesland in the Netherlands. Same indictment as suspect Dodo Kempinga, see above. Read more about the atrocities crusading Frisians committed in our blog post Terrorist Fighters from the Wadden Sea.
Klaus Niklaus Störtebeker
† AD 1400
file nr. 384.2580.MC
Also known as Nicolao Stertebeker. Date of birth unknown. Place of birth disputed (Rotenburg, Wismar or the village of Termunten in shire Fivelgo part of the region Ommelanden of modern province Groningen). Leader of the so-called Likedelers and Vitalienbrüder, pirates meaning ‘those who share equally’. Allegedly committed huge-scale piracy first at the Baltic Sea and later at the North Sea and Wadden Sea, with their base in Mariënhafe, Ostfriesland (East Frisia), Germany. Read more about this pirate and so-called freedom fighter in our blog post It all began with piracy.
Ygo Gales Galema
ca. AD 1443 – † 1492
file nr. 570.7632.VV
Frisian nobleman, also known as the Forest Viking or -under his opponents- as the Forest Swine, referring to his brutal fighting methods. Born in the port town of Workum in shire Westergo, Mid Frisia, province Friesland in the Netherlands. Allegedly a warlord of the Vetkopers ‘fat buyers’ faction during the civil war in Frisia, and allegedly responsible for committing and ordering crimes against civilians.
Pier Gerlofs Donia
ca. AD 1480 – † 1520
file nr. 205.5630.LC
Farmer and commander of large rebel and mercenary army the Arumer Zwarte Hoop ‘Black Heap of Arum village’, also known as Grutte/ Greate Pier or as the Cross of the Dutchmen (Holland). Born in the terp-village of Kimswerd in shire Westergo, Mid Frisia. Allegedly committed large-scale piracy at the Zuyder Sea as commander of a pirate fleet during the period AD 1515-AD 1520. Allegedly committed and/or ordered crimes against civilians during the sieges, and looting of the several towns, among others of Amsterdam, Medemblik, Muiden and Naarden. The fact the village Kimswerd after 500 years has offered formal apologies for the havoc done to the town of Medemblik in 2017 is a sweet gesture but evidently not enough, if he is found guilty. Read more about this pirate and so-called freedom fighter in our blog post It all began with piracy.
Jan Pieterszoon Coen
AD 1587 – † 1729
file nr. 001.000.AA
High-ranking officer of the Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie (VOC) and Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies, born in the town of Hoorn in the region Westfriesland, West Frisia and present-day province Noord Holland. Allegedly ordered crimes against the population, both against the armed forces as civilians of the Banda Islands, modern Indonesia in the year AD 1621, as well as allegedly inferring in court proceedings in the case of Saartje Specx and Pieter Kortenhoef, city of Batavia in modern Indonesia in the year AD 1629. Also, after conquering the Banda Islands, he transported slaves to the empty islands to replace the population for labour.
AD 1610/11 – † 1672
file nr. 248.8102.KQ
High-ranking officer of the West-Indische Compagnie (WIC) and Governor-General of the New Netherland colony including the town of New Amsterdam (present-day New York City), also known as Peg Leg Pete or as Zilverbeen ‘silver leg’ for his wooden, decorated leg. Born in the village of Peperga, shire Stellingwerf, province Friesland (Mid Frisia), the Netherlands. Allegedly suppressed the native population of Manna-Ha-Ta island (modern Manhattan) in the present-day United States and the religious minorities the Quakers and the Jews -on racial grounds- during the period AD 1645-1664. Furthermore, after retirement he owned no less then forty slaves on his estate the Bowery, Manhattan. Prices of slaves at the auction of New Amsterdam around 1665 were: male negro between 315 and 615 florijn, a female negro between 260 and 335 florijn (Venema, 2003). Lastly, criminal offices during his studies at the Faculty of Theology at the University of Franeker, like having sex with the daughter of his landlady and stealing from her, and misbehaviour in a bar in the port town of Harlingen. Stuyvesant is known for his statement: “I value the blood of one Christian more than that of a hundred Indians.” Read our post History is written by the victors – a history of the credits to learn more about Stuyvesant and the New Netherland colony.
AD 1680 – † 1748
file nr. 85.3220.OL
High-ranking officer and Governor-General of the Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie (VOC) from 1741 till 1743. Born in the town of Friedrichstadt in Kreis Nordfriesland (North Frisia), Germany. At first a merchant in Japan, India and Batavia. Later joined the VOC. Allegedly responsible for the violent crack-down of the Chinese uprise in Batavia, Java in 1740. After the uprise the Chinese population was relocated south of the city Batavia in Glodok.
Gustaaf Willem Baron von Imhoff
AD 1705 – † 1750
file nr. 415.5001.LW
High-ranking officer of the Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie (VOC) and Governor-General of Ceylon (modern Sri Lanka) and Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies. Born in the town of Leer in the region Ostfriesland (East Frisia), Germany. Allegedly involved and/or (partly) responsible for the so-called Batavia Massacre or pogrom against the Chinese civilians in the year AD 1740, during which thousands of Chinese civilians were murdered at Java island, present-day Indonesia.
Margaretha Geertruida Zelle
AD 1840 – † 1910
file nr. 271.7750.JG
Courtesan and exotic dancer, also known as Mata Hari. Born in city of Leeuwarden in shire Oostergo, province Friesland (Mid Frisia), the Netherlands. Allegedly spied for foreign governments. Although already punished for this (i.e. executed), this was done by a foreign authority (French) and therefore not recognized.
Suggestions for further reading
- Abbott, J.S.C., Peter Stuyvesant. The Last Dutch Governor of New Amsterdam (1873)
- Gelder, van R., Het Oost-Indisch avontuur. Duitsers in dienst van de VOC (1600-1800) 1997
- Goor, van J., Jan Pieterszoon Coen. Koopman-koning in Azië. 1587-1629 (2015)
- Henkes, B., Sporen van het slavernijverleden in Fryslân (2021)
- Historiek, Jan Pieterszoon Coen (1587-1629). Stichter van Batavia (2019)
- Hondius, D., Jouwe, N., Stam, D. & Tosch, J., Dutch New York Histories. Connecting African, Native American and Slavery Heritage. Geschiedenissen van Nederlands New York (2017)
- Hondius, D., Jouwe, N., Stam, D. & Tosch, J., The Netherlands Slavery Heritage Guide (2019)
- Koops, E., Peter Stuyvesant (1612-1672). Gouverneur-generaal van Nieuw-Nederland. De calvinist met het Zilveren Veen (2020)
- Steensen, T. Nordfriesland. Menschen von A-Z (2020)
- Venema, J., Beverwijck. A Dutch Village on the American Frontier, 1652-1664 (2003)