Church Foundation and Parish Formation in Frisia in the Tenth and Eleventh Centuries: A Planned Development?

Onderzoeksoutput: Bijdrage aan wetenschappelijk tijdschrift/periodieke uitgaveArtikelWetenschappelijkpeer review


This paper reviews the efforts of the Church to establish and expand its power in the Frisian parts of the northern Netherlands, both before and after the disruption caused by the Vikings. The emphasis of the analysis lies on the Ottonian and Salian period, for which only a few written sources have been preserved. The chosen approach is to combine text study with archaeology by the help of spatial visualisation in GIS. The base data consist of dating results concerning the oldest wooden churches, information from early charters, a series of datable saints’ dedications, and spatial information on parish boundaries and the location of the landed property per church. These are researched for three cases on the formation of as many selected baptismal churches, followed by an assessment on the regional level of the pagi. The map projection of the data shows that the whole Frisian coastal area between Vlie and Ems witnessed the systematic foundation of a large number of baptismal churches, all equally spaced, as autonomous centers of separate landscape units. It is argued, that much of this process was guided by a top-down policy of the bishops of Utrecht and Munster. The process thus entailed at the same time a restoration and an extension and delineation of the parish system. There are strong indications that the latter was the result of fundraising under relatively small local sponsors on the gentry level. Involvement from great landowning magnates cannot be detected, which suggests that these were absent in Frisian society. Neither is there evidence that speaks for large donations from royal or episcopal property.
Originele taal-2Engels
Pagina's (van-tot)1-55
TijdschriftThe Medieval Low Countries. An Annual Review
Volume4 (2017)
StatusGepubliceerd - mrt 2018

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