Redbad, King of the Frisians

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Radbod
Redbad
king (or duke) of Frisia
Radboud doopvont.jpg
Embroidery depicting the legend in which the Frisian king Radbod is ready to be baptized by Wulfram (in this embroidery replaced by Willibrord), but at the last moment refuses. From the Museum Catharijneconvent, Utrecht
Reign c. 680 – 719
Predecessor Aldgisl
Successor Poppo
Died 719

Radbod (or Redbad) (died 719) was the king (or duke) of Frisia from c. 680 until his death. He is often considered the last independent ruler of Frisia before Frankish domination. He defeated Charles Martel at Cologne. Eventually, however, Charles prevailed and compelled the Frisians to submit. Radbod died in 719, but for some years his successors struggled against the Frankish power.

King or duke[edit]

What the exact title of the Frisian rulers was depends on the source. Frankish sources tend to call them dukes; other sources often call them kings. Being Germanic pagans, it is likely that they would have been called kings by their followers, where as the Christianized Franks, who had inherited the Latin literary tradition, would have referred to them as dukes.

Reign[edit]

While his predecessor, Aldgisl,[1] had welcomed Christianity into his realm, Radbod attempted to extirpate the religion and free the Frisians from subjugation to the Merovingian kingdom of the Franks. In 689, however, Radbod was defeated by Pippin of Herstal in the battle of Dorestad[2] and compelled to cede West Frisia (Frisia Citerior, meaning Nearer Frisia, from the Scheldt to the Vlie) to the Franks.

Between 690 and 692, Utrecht fell into the hands of Pippin of Herstal. This gave the Franks control of important trade routes on the Rhine to the North Sea. Some sources say that, following this defeat, Radbod retreated, in 697, to the island of Heligoland, others say he retreated to the part of the Netherlands that is still known as Friesland.

Around this time there was an Archbishopric or bishopric of the Frisians founded for Willibrord [3] and a marriage was held between Grimoald the Younger, the oldest son of Pippin, and Thiadsvind, the daughter of Radbod in 711.[4](p794)

On Pippin's death in 714, Radbod took the initiative again. He forced Saint Willibrord and his monks to flee and advanced as far as Cologne, where he defeated Charles Martel,[5] Pippin's natural son, in 716. Eventually, however, Charles prevailed and compelled the Frisians to submit. Radbod died in 719,[6](p90) but for some years his successors struggled against the Frankish power.

As an example of how powerful King Radbod still was at the end of his life, the news that he was engaged in assembling an army was enough to fill France with fear and trembling.[4](p794)

Relation with the Church[edit]

During the second journey of Saint Boniface to Rome, Wulfram (or Vulfran), a monk and ex-archbishop of Sens tried to convert Radbod, but not succeeding he returned to Fontenelle. It is said that Radbod was nearly baptised, but refused when he was told that he would not be able to find any of his ancestors in Heaven after his death, since he preferred spending eternity in Hell with his pagan ancestors than in Heaven with his enemies,[7] especially the Franks. This legend is also told with Wulfram being replaced with bishop Willibrord.

Willibrord tried this while on a Carolingian-sponsored mission into Frisia with the express purpose of trying to convert the pagan Frisians living there in the hope that, once they had converted to Christianity, the Franks could gain control of the important trade port Dorestad, which they had up to that point been unable to do.

In the arts[edit]

In Richard Wagner's Lohengrin a certain "Radbod, ruler of the Frisians" is mentioned as Ortrud's father. It is possible that Wagner was thinking of the historical Radbod, although he died more than 150 years before the birth of Henry the Fowler, another character in the opera, who could not, therefore, be contemporary of Radbod's daughter.

In Harry Harrison's The Hammer and the Cross series of novels, Radbod becomes the founder of "the Way", an organized pagan cult, created to combat the efforts of Christian missionaries.

Black metal band Ophidian Forest recorded a concept album Redbad[8] in 2007.

Dutch folk metal band 'Heidevolk' recorded a song 'Koning Radboud' (King Redbad) on their 2008 album 'Walhalla Wacht' singing about the legend of Wulfram and Redbad.

References[edit]

  1. ^ TeBrake, William H. (1978). "Ecology and Economy in Early Medieval Frisia". Viator 9: 1–30. doi:10.1484/J.VIATOR.2.301538. Retrieved 2013-08-30. 
  2. ^ Blok, Dirk P. (1968). De Franken : hun optreden in het licht der historie. Fibulareeks (in Dutch) 22. Bussum: Fibula-Van Dishoeck. pp. 32–34. OCLC 622919217. Retrieved 2014-09-17. 
  3. ^ it Liber Pontificalis (Corpus XXXVI 1, side 168) en Beda Venerabilis (Corpus XLVI9, page 218)
  4. ^ a b Halbertsma, Herrius (1982). "Summary". Frieslands Oudheid (Thesis) (in Dutch with English summary). Groningen: Rijksuniversiteit Groningen. pp. 791–798. OCLC 746889526. 
  5. ^ "Geschiedenis van het volk der Friezen". boudicca.de (in Dutch). 2003. Archived from the original on 2009-06-08. Retrieved 2009-01-22. [self-published source]
  6. ^ Halbertsma, Herrius (2000). Frieslands oudheid: het rijk van de Friese koningen, opkomst en ondergang (in Dutch with English summary) (New ed.). Utrecht: Matrijs. ISBN 9789053451670. 
  7. ^ Friese sagen & Terugkeer (2000), Conserve, Uitgeverij, Redbald en Wulfram. ISBN 978-90-5429-138-1
  8. ^ "Redbad". metal-archives.com. Retrieved 2013-08-30. 

Other sources[edit]

  • Public Domain This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. 
  • Petz, G. H. (ed). MGH Scriptures. (Hanover, 1892).

External links[edit]

See also[edit]

Preceded by
Aldegisel I
King of Frisia
680–719
Succeeded by
Poppo