Koning Redbad en zijn bewegingsruimte

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The extensive literature so far devoted to Redbad lacks a spatial approach. Our article wants to provide this, on the basis of the question where to look for the core goods of Redbad in Frisia and how his reign could have been built on them and around them. According to our analysis based on the boundaries of the first territorial parishes from the late tenth century, the oldest Frisia consisted of the residential areas along the coast. These formed the nuclei of pagus districts, the rear boundaries of which had been drawn across the original watersheds of the peat bogs behind them. For the Franks, Frisia around 700, seen from the south and east, could not have been any different from the North Sea coast lands behind the moorland wilderness. Frisia Citerior had to coincide with the then temporarily or permanently by Frisian kings controlled central Dutch river area on this side (east) of the peat bogs. When Redbad, the most famous of the Frisian kings, was defeated by Pepin of Herstal in a battle near Dorestad in 695, he lost his direct rule over Frisia Citerior. The fact that afterwards he remained upright as an independent monarch, means that he had his core area elsewhere. We locate this in West-Frisia north of the Maas estuary. Already early in the eighth century the Frankish king there favoured the Church with large parts of large estates that were acquired by confiscation. The (nuclei) of this pre-Franconian royal estate are not found east of the Vlie in that shape and size. This leads to the hypothesis that in the seventh century the most important West-Frisian landowner was able to extend his power range from the coastal zone to a part of the Central Rivers area. However, he was and remained a Frisian monarch, an independent ruler, who not only looked at the Frankish world but also had to take into account the rest of the coastal region east of the Vlie and other areas around the North Sea. This non-Christian world was of great importance to him culturally, economically and militarily, if only because he was considered king within it. This explains the historical ambivalence of Redbad. The Frisians from the areas east of the Vlie will have wanted to support him as a Frisian prince against the Frankish threat but at the same time expected that he would not convert to Christianity. Redbad, for his part, will not have wanted to alienate this strategic and tactical back-up, which attitude then manifested itself in his legendary rejection of baptism. It is likely that as long as Redbad lived, Pepin and Karel Martel were content with their dominance in the Scheldt and Meuse region, and they preferred an agreement with Redbad to a subjugation of all Frisians. They respected his non-Christian interests by directing Willibrord and his family to the areas south of the great rivers.
Originele taal-2Nederlands
Pagina's (van-tot)28-41
Aantal pagina's14
TijdschriftDe Vrije Fries
StatusGepubliceerd - 10 dec. 2020


  • early middle ages
  • Frisia
  • Kings and rulers

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