Are Frisians the descendants of continental Saxons

1. The Old Saxons

The first mention of the Saxons was made by Ptolemy of Alexandria in the time around 150 AD. He probably used messages that were collected during Roman explorations in 5 AD (Capelle, 1999). According to Ptolemy, the "Saxones" are to be found as a tribal association north of the Elbe and south of the Cimbrian isthmus, i.e. in present-day Holstein (Rech, 2000). Ptolemy located the Chauken in the north of what is now Lower Saxony. However, it is highly probable that the separation in Saxony and Chauken did not correspond to the actual circumstances and that they were one and the same ethnic group, which is confirmed by archaeological findings (Rech, 2000; Capelle, 1998). With "Saxons" or "Sword comrades Sahsnôtas" possibly originally only a warrior association was referred to (Genrich, 1991; Rech, 2000), whose name goes back to the "Sax", a single-edged sword that was widespread among the Saxons. "The prestigious, sonorous name of the Saxons" (Böhme, 1999a) passed on to the entire people, so that the name of the Chauken disappeared in the 3rd century AD (Capelle, 1998), since then today's northern Lower Saxony has been undoubtedly Saxon. The Saxons were successful as pirates on the coasts of Gaul and Britain (von Hadel, 2004). As a result of the frequent appearance of the Saxons, who can be regarded as the forerunners of the Vikings, the coast of the English Channel was even referred to by the Romans as the "Litus Saxonicum", ie the "Saxon coast" (Johnson, 1978). To protect against Saxon attacks, the Roman Empire built fortifications on the Channel coast. Curiously, the Romans also recruited Saxons as mercenaries to protect these coasts (Genrich, 1991; Böhme, 1999a).

The constant expansion of the tribal association through the assimilation of neighboring tribes is characteristic of the history of the Saxons. "The numerous voyages across the sea, which were often enough crowned with success and ultimately led to the employment of Saxon mercenaries in the Roman army, made the name of the Saxons as bold, loyal seafarers so attractive even to originally non-affiliated population groups in the hinterland that they evidently received immigration on an ongoing basis "(Böhme, 1999a). In modern parlance, they would be called trendsetters of their time and region (Capelle, 1999). In the 4th century AD, the Saxon settlement area reached as far as the Wiehen Mountains, see map (Häßler, 1999). The heartland of the Saxon settlement area was in the Elbe-Weser triangle (Capelle, 1998).

Between 400 and 450 AD, a part of the coastal Saxons emigrated together with Angles and Jutes to Britain, which had been abandoned by the Romans, and they founded kingdoms there - as "Anglo-Saxons" - for example Wessex, Sussex and Essex (West Saxony, South Saxony and East Saxony). Although the emigration led to a sometimes considerable weakening of the settlement of continental Saxony, there was by no means a complete depopulation (Capelle, 1999). Archaeologists have often not been able to detect any interruption in settlement activity on the Geest (Behre, 2002). After a phase of persistence, there is a renewed, archaeologically verifiable, upswing in "old" Saxony (Capelle, 1999). In contrast to this, however, the marshland in northwestern Lower Saxony were completely abandoned by the Saxons, with increasing storm surges and a rise in sea level being important causes for emigration. It was not until the 7th and 8th centuries that these areas (today's East Frisia, Butjadingen and Wursten) were repopulated by the Frisians coming from the west (Behre, 2004). The Anglo-Saxons in Britain called the continental Saxons - with whom there were still contacts - from then on "Old Saxons". Until the 11th century there was a linguistic community between continental Saxons and Anglo-Saxons, while Saxons and the inhabitants of what is now southern Germany could only communicate with difficulty.

By the early 8th century, the Saxon tribal association was able to expand further to the south-west and reached its greatest expansion through the admission of the Cherusci, Angrivarians, Amsivarians and finally the Brukterer. According to recent research ("Alliance theory"), this expansion probably took place in a more peaceful way (Häßler, 1999). The majority of the Saxon area in the 8th century is occupied by today's federal state of Lower Saxony (with the state of Bremen) and Westphalia. Lower Saxony includes the older core area of ​​the Saxons (see map). The Lower Saxony area has been continuously inhabited by Saxons and their descendants until the present day (Capelle, 1998). The area of ​​today's Saxony-Anhalt belonged to the Thuringian Empire until the 6th century; In 531 the part west of the Elbe, Saale and Unstrut was conquered by the Saxons. The area of ​​today's federal state "Saxony", however, was settled by Slavic tribes.

An important characteristic of Saxon society in the 8th century were thing assemblies at which representatives of all classes were involved in decisions (Becher, 1999), which is why they are ascribed "characteristics of a primordial democracy" (Diwald, 1987). There was no king or similar system of sole ownership, as the Christian writers of the early Middle Ages pointed out with astonishment. A central meeting of things was possibly in "Marklô" on the Central Weser. Saxony was subdivided into the "dominions" of Westphalia (western part of today's Westphalia and western Lower Saxony), the Engern (along the Weser), the Ostfalen (eastern Lower Saxony and western Saxony-Anhalt) and the Nordliudi (Elbe-Weser triangle and Northern Elbe) (Wulf, 1991). It is possible that this subdivision into large groups did not arise until the Saxon Wars (Becher, 1999); The Elbe-Weser triangle, which was important in the early history of Saxony, includes the Old Saxon areas of Wigmodien and Haduloha.

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