Like Father, Unlike Son

The Battle of Tours in 732 turned out to be a turning point in the wars against the Umayyad Caliphate. The Caliphate was one of the biggest empires in history, but it lost this battle. At the confluence of the rivers Clain and Vienne, the Franks, led by statesman maior domo Charles Martel, only justContinue reading “Like Father, Unlike Son”

The Thing is…

The heart of western democracies is the joint assembly of parliament, cabinet and high councils of state. Its Germanic origin is the thing, also called ting, ding or þing in other languages. Today, national assemblies in Scandinavian countries still refer to this ancient tradition. For example, the parliament of Åland (autonomous region in Sweden) isContinue reading “The Thing is…”

A Frontier known as Watery Mess: the Coast of Flanders

At the end of the eighth century, under supervision of the wisemen Wlemar and Saxmund, customary law of the Frisians was codified, as was decreed by Charlemagne. It is the Lex Frisionum. Its jurisdiction was, among other, the land inter Flehum et Sincfalam fluvium ‘between Vlie and the River Sincfalam’. The River Flehum flowed intoContinue reading “A Frontier known as Watery Mess: the Coast of Flanders”

The Raider’s Portrait of Appels

In the year 1934, while dredging upstream the River Scheldt near the village of Appels in the region of Flanders, an extraordinary ship’s figurehead was found. It is dated around the year 400. Among scholars there seems agreement it is Germanic and originates from the southern North Sea coast. Hitherto, no people has claimed beingContinue reading “The Raider’s Portrait of Appels”

Wa bin ik, wa bist do en wa bin wy?

“If you don’t care about your own history, you may as well leave the classroom.” Words from the geography teacher at high school Simon Vestdijk in the port town of Harlingen in 1988. We, the two Frisian bastards, were about sixteen years old and in the fifth grade of the VWO (i.e. pre-university education). TheContinue reading “Wa bin ik, wa bist do en wa bin wy?”

More Flying Dutchmen

On the first of February 2020, one of the Frisian bastards of the Frisia Coast Trail tramped the trail section from the town of Bad Nieuweschans to the village of Termunten. It is a hike of 30 kilometres along the southern shores of the Dollart Bay. The day before, in the evening, the bastard arrivedContinue reading “More Flying Dutchmen”

Happy Hunting Grounds in the Arctic

If you want to find out who is responsible for killing the whale, the Frisia Coast Trail area is the prime spot to look. When you stop people on the streets to ask them if they have knowledge of who did it, they probably will respond with: “I hear nothing, I see nothing, I knowContinue reading “Happy Hunting Grounds in the Arctic”

Yet another wayward archipelago

Peoples of islands and archipelagos do not let others dictate how to live their life. One of those archipelagos that meets these criteria as well, is the Wadden Sea. For centuries it is from here where sea explorers, tax evaders, sturdy Arctic whalers, self-righteous women, pirates, privateers, and other vagabonds came from. An archipelago whichContinue reading “Yet another wayward archipelago”

With a Noose through the Norsemen’s Door

Although the conversion was a slow and cumbersome process, and only succeeded in-depth over the course of the tenth century, Frisia subsequently turned into the richest ecclesiastical area of Europe. Nowhere else were that many monasteries and churches packed together. Although nearly all the monasteries have been dismantled with the arrival of Protestantism, till thisContinue reading “With a Noose through the Norsemen’s Door”

Frisia, a Viking graveyard

When reading about the famous deeds of great Viking warriors, often not much attention is given to the moments of failure. Not much is written about where and when the glorious men, and women, died. As it turns out, the coast of Frisia is one big Viking graveyard. It is here, in the (still) smellyContinue reading “Frisia, a Viking graveyard”