“Almost Like Family. Or Were They?” Vikings, Frisian Identity, and the Nordification of the Past

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In the course of the twentieth century, the glorified image of Viking Age Scandinavia exerted an increasing attraction on intellectuals and nation builders in remote parts of Europe, especially those which self-identified as peripheral, marginalized, and ‘northern’. In the Dutch province of Friesland, the cultivation of a Frisian national identity went hand in hand with an antagonizing process of self-contrastation vis-à-vis the urbanized heartland in the west of the country. Fueled by these anti-Holland sentiments, the adoption of Nordic identity models could serve to create alternative narrative molds in which to cast the Frisian past. In this article, I will chart this process of cultural “nordification” from its initial phase in the writings of Frisian Scandinavophiles to contemporary remediations of Frisian history in popular culture and public discourses. In this context, special attention will be paid to the reception history of the pagan King Redbad (d. 719) and his modern transformation from ‘God’s enemy’ to beloved national icon.
Original languageEnglish
Article number125
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 09 Oct 2022

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