Friday, November 4, 2016

Frisian ("Dutch") participation in the Crusades


"Frisian *) participation in the Crusades is attested from the very beginning of the First Crusade, but their presence is only felt substantially during the Fifth Crusade. They participated in almost all the major Crusades and the Reconquista. The Frisians are almost always referred to collectively by contemporary chroniclers of the Crusades and few names of individual Frisian crusaders have come down to us. They generally composed a naval force in conjunction with other larger bodies of crusaders.

The first Frisians to participate in the First Crusade were part of the army which was led to the Holy Land by Godfrey of Bouillon and they are only mentioned in passing by Fulcher of Chartres, who mentions that the Frisian language was one of the many tongues spoken by the crusaders. William of Tyre, drawing his information from Fulcher, mentions Frisians as part of the troops led by Godfrey at the Siege of Antioch in 1097. According to Albert of Aix, there was also a fleet of pirates, hailing from Denmark, Frisia, and Flanders and led by Guynemer of Boulogne, who assisted Baldwin of Boulogne at Tarsus.

Although unsubstantiated by known contemporary writings, the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Frisian chroniclers Ocko Scharlensis and the monk Ubbo Emmius wrote in some detail of eight Frisian nobles who allegedly took up the cross and followed Peter the Hermit to the Holy Land during the Peasants' Crusade of 1096. Of the eight (Tjepke Forteman, Jarig Ludingaman, Feike Botnia, Elke and Sicco Lyauckama (cousins), Epe Hartman, Ige Galama, and Obboke (Ubbo) Hermana, son of Hessel) only two, Botnia and Sicco Lyauckama, were said to have survived the pilgrimage to Jerusalem."

*) At the time the northwestern part of the present day Low Countries (the Netherlands) was referred to as "Frisia". See the map to the right from this source,

source text and illustration: Wikipedia; caption of the illustration "Frisian crusaders attack the tower of Damietta during the Fifth Crusade (from the 13th-century Chronica Majora of Matthew Paris)"

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