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Ripuarian Franks (Latin: Ripuarii) is a distinction of the Frankish people made by a number of writers in the Latin language of the first several centuries of the Christian Era. It is generally conceded that, the lack of any reference whatever to the Franks under that name in any major or minor source, dating to before the Christian Era suggests the "Franks" and "Francia" are innovations dating to no earlier than the first few centuries of that era.
Once the term "Franks" appeared, authors of the Roman Empire made a general distinction between Salii, "Salian Franks," and Ripuarii or Riparii, "Ripuarian Franks," which are Latin language terms probably, but not certainly, referring to unknown Germanic originals. They are not known in this case. Before they were called "Franks," the Romans referred to them as Germani, "Germans." Strabo explains that "in the language of the Romans" "germani" means "genuine." Although genuine overlaps on the meaning of frank, there is no evidence etymological or otherwise to connect Frank with German.
Geography of origins 
The confederacy of the Germanic Franks came into being for certain in the early 3rd century among the tribes of the right bank of the Rhine: the Sicambri, Chamavi, Bructeri, Chatti, Chattuarii, Ampsivarii, Tencteri and Ubii. At the time they were being submerged in a new identity, the Franks, which superseded and took precedence over the older tribes. Tacitus had said of them as tribesmen:
"The Germans have no taste for peace; renown is easier won among perils, and you cannot maintain a large body of companions except by violence and war."
Julius Caesar offered a similar opinion over a century earlier:
"No disgrace attaches to armed robbery, provided it is committed outside the frontiers of the tribe ....When one of the chiefs announces at an assembly that he is going to lead a raid, and calls for volunteers, ... those who agree with the raid and approve of the men proposing it stand up ....If any of those men then fail to go with him, they are regarded as deserters and traitors and no one ever trusts them again in anything."
These independent Franks of the right bank seem to have typified those earlier views. With the assistance of tribes already on the left bank they crossed the Rhine frequently to establish bases there from which they raided to the south by sea and land. The Romans eventually bought peace by exchanging freedom to settle on the left bank for cooperation in maintaining the peace. Many of these Franks rose to high office in the empire. Also they became politically distinct according to the regions entrusted to their occupation and guardianship: the Salii, or "maritime people," and the Ripuarii, or "river people."
Apart from mention of some unknown Riparii by Jordanes in Getica who fought as auxiliaries of Flavius Aetius in the Battle of Chalons, 451, the first mention of the Ripuarii comes from Gregory of Tours, in Historia Francorum. He says that Clovis, first king of all the Franks and first king to convert to Christianity, subjected the previously independent Ripuarians. Some detective work is required to locate the Ripuarians in his sparse entries of the chronicle.
Gregory says "after the death of Theudebald (ca. 555), Lothar took over the lands of the Ripuarian Franks." Evidently Theudebald had possessed them. He was the son of Theudebert, who was the son of Theuderic, a son of Clovis, as was Lothar. Clovis (died 511) had left his kingdom to his four sons, Theuderic, Chlodomer, Childebert and Lothar. Part of that inheritance was the country of the Ripuarian Franks. The fact that it was attacked by Saxons, who entered it from their own country and "laid waste as far as the city of Deutz," the originally Frankish part of the Roman city of Cologne, identifies it at least in part as the country around Cologne. The latter had been built as an emporium with the Germans, located logically at Deutz (Deutsch).
After the death of Lothar (561) his four sons inherited the kingdom jointly. Sigibert received the share formerly Theuderic's (the Ripuarii) and set up a capital at Rheims. Presumably, the Ripuarians at that time occupied the country between Cologne and Rheims, both banks of the Rhine, as they had been attacked from well north of the Rhine.
The anglicized name Ripuarian, from a Latin original, Ripuarii, with variants Ripaurii and Riparii, to a speaker or writer of Latin and any Germanic language is an obvious compound of Latin ripa, "bank," "river," and Latinized Germanic -uarii, to mean people from the Rhine according to Perry and others. The specific nuance, in this view, is "river-dwelling" and would be used to differentiate them from the Salian Franks (the Franks of the Sal, the IJs-sel River, or the Franks of the "salty sea").
Of the three possible etymological reactions, one is that the entire word was Germanic but was made into a mixture in the culture of educated Latin writers. Accordingly Ripuarii might be restored as either *hreop-waren, *hrepa-waren or *hreop-wehren, *hrepa-wehren, corresponding to an Anglo-Saxon word, hreopseta, "settlement on a bank (or river)." The -waren would be from Germanic *weraz, "people," resulting in "river-people" or "bank-people." The -wehren would be from Germanic *warjan, "defend," resulting in "defenders of the shore." The latter title would be more likely to be conferred by the Romans in the hope that the Franks would live up to it than it would be a self-name of the Franks, who were not defending the shore against anything. The *hrepa- or *hreop- remains obscure. From context it must mean "bank."
A second point of view is that Ripuarian was originally Latin and was loaned into Germanic. This view is based on a word-pair given in the Summarium Heinrici, an 11th century revision of Isidore of Seville, stating the Old High German equivalents of some Latin words, including Ripuarii: Riphera. The latter is textually reconstructed to *ripfera, except that "phonetically *ripf- cannot come from rip-;" that is, Ripuarii, not being in the process leading to Old High German, is not Germanic. In this view, the Riparii of Jordanes, the first attestation of the word, if the Ripuarians were really meant, is the original. It is simply a plural noun formed from the adjective, Riparius, "of the bank" or "of the river." Ripuarii and Ripoari would be corruptions. Other attested forms of the adjective are Riparenses and Riparienses.
The remaining point of view in the logical series of three affirms that Ripuarian was a mixed word to begin with, one reconstruction being *ripwarjoz. It seems to be analogous to the later formation, Ribuarius, in which Gallo-Roman *ribbar replaces Roman ripa. From the Gallo-Roman came the French rive, "bank," and a group of words based on it. In this point of view, where the Romans used Riparii and later their own other Latin adjectives, the people of the Frankish frontier, living in a mixed culture from Cologne to Reims, were using a milieu vocabulary such as *ripwarjoz.
The early Frankish language is defined more by what it was not than by what it must have been. What it actually was is not known; there are no attestations of it. There are plenty of inscriptions along the Rhine from the first few centuries of the Christian Era, until the last known in 252, but they are all in Latin. Some of the names are of Germanic origin. Of some 1400 Latin inscriptions in Lower Germany a little over 100 are from the rural lands of the Frankish Ubii. The fact that these votive inscriptions were made by discharged veterans settling where they were discharged; i.e., in or near their native villages, indicates a strong Frankish element in the Roman army from the beginning of the Franks.The inscriptions are most frequent in the 3rd century. Most are from the major cities of Lower Germany.
The right bank of the Rhine was notably silent during that time inscriptionally. A native Germanic writing system, the Older Futhark, did exist in North Germany, Denmark, south Sweden and south Norway. The inscriptions began with the Meldorf Brooch of the mid-1st century and remained only in that northern precinct until about 200. Subsequently they go on there through the Viking Period but by 250 are known from most of the Germanic range. Anglo-Frisian runes are dated 450-1100; south Germanic, 550-750. For the Franks of 300, no evidence exists.
The historical linguists reconstruct a Proto-Germanic language between Indo-European and the specific Germanic languages. They further reconstruct a number of dialects and other stages between Proto-Germanic and modern languages, most of which are primarily theoretical and uncertain as to date and location. Proto-Germanic divided into East, North and West. The latter further subdivided into North Sea, Elbe and Rhine-Weser. Where the early Franks fall is not certain.
However, where they do not fall as far as stages of linguistic development are concerned is known. Linguists have defined a Second Consonant Shift creating Old High German (OHG) from which modern standard German descends. The shift occurred south of an east-west zone called the Benrath Line. The Rhine crosses it in the vicinity of Düsseldorf. However, that entire section of the Rhine including Cologne is the Rhenish Fan, where forms from both Plattdeutsch ("Low German") and Hochdeutsch ("High German") may be spoken. The High German dialects are dated 500-1200, far later than the early Franks. Their language cannot be High German.
The approximately 125 Older Futhark inscriptions, mainly two words each, from before 550 are insufficient to determine grammar, but some conclusions have been drawn from the phonetics. Features specific to western and northern Germanic do not appear until about 550, such as the change of Proto-Germanic *aê to â and the rhotacism of *z to r in some circumstances; e.g., Hlewagastir instead of *Hlewagastiz. Since the Second Consonant Shift was beginning to occur at this time, Robinson says:
"Thus many take the runic inscriptions from before about 550 as evidence for a surprisingly late breakup of Common Germanic (excluding East Germanic) into North and West Germanic...."
One answer to the problem of the missing common West Germanic is that by 300, five distinct but mutually intelligible dialects of Proto-Germanic existed. The grouping of tribes in Tacitus' Germania into Ingaevones, Istaevones and Herminones seems to support this view. The dialects are entirely linguistic speculation, but no evidence fills the gap.
The Ripuarian Franks, given an impetus toward social unity by the Roman-administered city of Cologne, must have been speakers of Proto-Germanic. The extension of an "Old Frankish" to any time before about 500 is anachronistic. This Frankish unity or the memory of it seems to have lasted well into the period when their range was linguistically divided between High and Low German. The Old High German began on the eastern part of their range where they bordered on the Alamanni. The two confederacies were kept distinct by the Romans as long as the latter maintained a base at Mainz. When it was no longer Roman the sound change spread downstream to Düsseldorf. Coincidentally the Ripuarian Franks lost their sovereignty to the Salians at about this time.
Lower Germany 
The Germanic confederacies of the 3rd century were formed mainly to better compete with each other militarily; i.e., the Franks were the endemic enemies of the Alamanni from the moment they first received tribal allegiance. With regard to southward migration, tribesmen from both territories had already crossed the Rhine and settled there. In the case of the Suebi (core of the Alamanni) the Romans had crossed the big bend to the south of the vicinity of Mainz and fortified the angle there. The main concern of Julius Caesar and the early emperors was to stop the Germanics from further migration. Having taken the Rhine away from the Celts, these immigrant Germans had chipped away at the lands of the Belgae, Celticised Germanics of even earlier immigrations.
When the Rhine was defined as the frontier under the early emperors, as a result of Roman military disasters against the ancestors of the Franks, the Romans created two provinces, populated essentially by Germanics or former Germanics on the left bank of the Rhine: Upper and Lower Germany. "Upper" meant upstream. The dividing line was marked and maintained by a major base at Mainz. The responsibility for keeping the upper Germans out of formerly Celtic Bavaria was mainly assigned to the base at Vindobona (Vienna). Moguntiacum (Mainz) was the court of last resort for lower Germany, later Germania Secunda, except that the lower end of the Rhine, between the IJssel and the other Rhine channels, was governed by the large and primarily naval base at Castra Vetera (Xanten).
Lands to the south of there, now among the most urban of the lowlands, were at that time mainly delta lands: marsh and islands, except for the large island of Batavia, populated by a branch of the Chatti (who had taken it away from the Celts) and held in subjection by a Roman city at Noviomagus (Nijmegen). The Batavi probably still spoke Germanic, along with the Mattiaci. Of the latter Tacitus says: "In geographical position they are on the German side, in heart and soul they are with us." Further to the south in the area later called Toxandria were the Nervii. In the Ardennes were the Treveri. Tacitus says that both of them "go out of their way to claim German descent." They spoke, however, Gallic. Caesar in fact had to subdue the Treveri when they allied with the Suebi across the Rhine. Augustus found it necessary to place a city, Augusta Treverorum (Trier) to keep the tribe in the Roman fold.
The Ubii, on the other hand, and their neighbors, the Tencteri, the former on both sides of the Rhine, originally asked for Caesar's help in their defense against the Suebi, perhaps the beginning of the conflict between the Franks and the Alamanni. Colonia Agrippinenses (Cologne) was placed among them to assist them "keep the gate against intruders." As the Ubii on the right bank were among the original Franks, Cologne might be said to be one of the first Frankish cities. Subsequent historians recording that Cologne "was taken" by the Franks only mean that politically the management of the city changed hands. Ethnically Cologne was Frankish all along. Regardless of who was in charge, the Ubii remained where they were.
First Frankish kings 
Gregory of Tours in researching material for the Historia Francorum found the topic of Frankish kingship puzzling. In his time (6th century) the Franks had Roman-style kings. They were known to have had war-leaders in earlier times, according to either Sulpicius Alexander or an otherwise unknown historian, Valentinus. Gregory uses the Latin titles duces and regales explicitly with regard to Sunno and Marcomer (ca. 388), observing, concerning Sulpicius,
"When he says 'regales,' or royal leaders, it is not clear if they were kings or if they merely exercised a kingly function."
Regarding the pursuit of Sunno and Marcomer to Cologne in 393, Sulpicius is still calling them regales. Arbogast, nephew of the emperor, not only restored Cologne to the Romans but subdued all the rest of the Ripuarian Franks, while Marcomer watched from the hills. Gregory states that subsequently Sulpicius refers openly to the king of the Franks (Latin rex) but does not state who the first one was. Subsequent passages suggest that the Frankish dynastic kingship was established by Frankish Roman emperors who doubled as emperors of Rome and kings of the Franks; moreover, from Roman consular records Gregory had a good idea who they were.
Loss of sovereignty 
Without naming the people as Ripuarian, but referring to Cologne and its vicinity, Gregory explains how they voluntarily gave up their sovereignty to Clovis. Gregory evidences a certain dualism. Acts that he finds reprehensible when committed by other Franks, when practiced by Clovis to spread the authority of the Catholic Church, are saintly.
The region of Cologne was under the rule of Sigobert the Lame, an old campaigner who had fought side by side with Clovis in the wars against the Alamanni. He was called "the lame" because of a wound he had received at the Battle of Tolbiac, 496, the same year as Clovis' conversion to Catholicism. Clovis believed he had won by calling on the name of Christ and now had a mandate from God to Christianize all Neustria. This was a long process not free from resistance.
In 509 he sent a messenger to Chloderic to state that if his father, Sigobert, were to die, he, Clovis, would ally himself to Chloderic. Whatever Clovis may have meant, as Sigobert was sleeping at noon in his tent in the forest across the Rhine from Cologne after a walk, Chloderic's hired assassins killed him. Chloderic sent to Clovis offering some of Sigobert's treasury as enticement. Clovis sent messengers refusing the treasure but asked to see it. Complying with their request to sink his arms into it so that they could see how deep it was, Chloderic was dispatched by the blow of an axe, unable to defend himself.
Arriving in person Clovis assembled the citizens of Cologne, denied the murders, saying "It is not for me to shed the blood of one of my fellow kings, for that is a crime ...." He advised them to place themselves under his protection, after which he was shouted into office by a voice vote and raised up on their shields in a ceremony of installation. Thus the independent kingdom of the Ripuarian Franks was voted out of existence by the people at a single assembly in 509.
Ripuarian laws 
In the first half of the 7th century the Ripuarians received the Ripuarian law (Lex Ripuaria), a law code applying only to them, from the dominating Salian Franks. The Salians, following the custom of the Romans before them, were mainly re-authorizing laws already in use by the Ripuarians, so that the latter could retain their local constitution.
See also 
- Geography, 7.1.2.
- Germania, Section 14.
- De Bello Gallico, VI.22.
- Paragraph 191.
- Perry 1857, p. 48.
- Zoepfl, Heinrich (1844). Deutsche Staats- und Rechtsgeschichte: Ein Lehrbuch in zwei Bänden (in German). Erster Band (2nd expanded & improved ed.). Stuttgart: Verlag von Adolph Krabbe. p. 30.
- Larned, Josephus Nelson; Reiley, Alan C. (1895). History for ready reference. Springfield, Ma.: The C. A. Nichols Co., Publishers. p. 1435.
- Köbler, Gerhard (2000). "*uei-(3)". Indogermanisches Wörterbuch (in German) (3rd ed.).
- Köbler, Gerhard (2000). "*uer-(5)". Indogermanisches Wörterbuch (in German) (3rd ed.).
- Köbler, Gerhard (1993). "Rifera". Althochdeutsches Wörterbuch (in German) (4th ed.).
- Springer, Matthias (1998), "Riparii - Ribuarier - Rheinfranken", in Geuenich, Dieter, Die Franken und die Alemannen bis zur "Schlacht bei Zülpich" (496/97) (in German), Berlin; New York: De Gruyter, p. 211 "Lautergesetzlich kann *ripf nicht aus rip entstanden sein."
- Springer, M. (1968-2007) , "Ribuarier", in Jankuhn, Herbert; Hoops, Johannes, Reallexikon der germanischen Altertumskunde (in German), Berlin: de Gruyter, p. 570
- The details of this paragraph are to be found in Derks, Ton; Jefferis, Christine (1998). Gods, temples and ritual practices: the transformation of religious ideas and values in Roman Gaul. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press. pp. 86–90.
- Thorsson, Edred (1987). Runelore: a handbook of esoteric runology. York Beach, Me: S. Weiser. pp. 11–12.
- Wiggers 2007, pp. 15–16.
- Wiggers 2007, p. 26.
- Robinson, Orrin W. (2005) . Old English and its closest relatives: a survey of the earliest Germanic languages. Taylor & Francos e-Library. London: Routledge. p. 82.
- Germania, Section 29.
- Germania, Section 28.
- In 1886 Omont and Collon noted 28 manuscripts of Historia Francorum, all different. Translations from them and other lost manuscripts had been ongoing for centuries before then, each unique: Gregory of Tours; Lewis Thorpe (1974). London: Penguin Books. pp. 53–54. Missing or empty
|title=(help). Gregory published two editions, an earlier 6-book and subsequent 10-book, which differ from each other in some of the detail: Poole, Reginald L (July, 1887). "Reviews of Books, on Omont's edition of Gregory's 6-book edition". The English Historical Review (London: Longmans, Green and Co.) II (VII): 606.. Consequently, there is no standard Historia Francorum nor any universally valid translation. The 6-book edition names Valentinus; the 10-book, Sulpicius. Neither can be verified as the histories of both authors are lost.
- Book II, Section 9.
- Rivers 1986:_?.
- Greenwood, Thomas (1836). The First Book of the History of the Germans: Barbaric period. London: Longman, Rees, Orne, and Co..
- Howorth, Henry H. (1884). "XVII. The Ethnology of Germany (Part VI). The Varini, Varangians and Franks. - Section II". Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute (London: Trübner & Co.) 13: 213–239.
- Perry, Walter Copland (1857). The Franks, from their first appearance in history to the death of King Pepin. London: Longman, Brown, Green, Longmans, and Roberts.
- Pfister, M. Christian (1911), "(B) The Franks Before Clovis", in Bury, J.B., The Cambridge Medieval History, Volume I: The Christian Roman Empire and the Foundation of the Teutonic Kingdoms, London: Cambridge University Press
- Rivers, Theodore John. (1986) Laws of the Salian and Ripuarian Franks. New York: AMS Press, 1986.
- Wiggers, Heiko (2007). Reevaluating diglossia: Data from Low German (Dissertation). Ann Arbor: ProQuest.
|Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article Franks.|