Radboto - Radbod, King of the Frisians

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Radbod, King of the Frisians

Also Known As: "Radbod", "Radboud", "Ratboldo", "Ratbodus", "Ratboldus", "Redbadde", "Redbad", "Rotbald", "de Frise", "of Friesland Koning van Friesland"
Birthdate:
Birthplace: Denmark
Death: Died in Netherlands
Place of Burial: Frisian King
Immediate Family:

Son of Aldgisle - Eadgils van Friesland, I,
Husband of N.N. N.N., Konigin van Friesland
Father of Théodesinde ou Theudesinda van Friesland; Sindacilla Odrade van Friesland; Poppon van Friesland, I and Meili van Friesland

Occupation: Comte, de Frise, King of Friesland
Managed by: Justin Swanström
Last Updated:

About Radboto - Radbod, King of the Frisians

http://sjeltur.nl/remembering-king-redbad

(Translated from Dutch)

Nowadays Friesland is just a province of The Netherlands. But long ago Friesland, or Frisia, was an area much bigger, stretching from what is now part of Belgium, a large part of The Netherlands, northern Germany, up to Denmark. One of the Frisian cities, Dorestad, was one of the most important and flourishing trading places of northwestern Europe, during the early Middle Ages. It was fought over many times against the Franks, a Germanic tribe that later ruled over most of Europe under emperor Charlemagne. At the time christianization took place in Europe, the Franks were already converted to the new religion by the year 500, but the Frisians didn’t want to abandon their old pagan believes they had for a very long time. Around the year 700, Frisia was the only area in northwestern Europe that had not been converted yet. Defender of the old believes was a legendary king of the Frisians, king Redbad.

Redbad was born around the year 648, he became king around 679. During is reign he was in conflict with the Franks many times. The Franks conquered Dorestad in 689, his opponent was Frankish mayor Pepin of Herstal. Pepin conquered the city of Utrecht a few years later, and from that time on the Franks had full control over the important trade route on the Rhine to the North sea. Redbad was forced to retreat. In the following decade it came to a truce between the Frisians and the Franks, and later the daughter of Redbad even got married with a son of Pepin.

Because Frisia had not been converted yet to the Christian religion, the Church of Rome sent several people trying to complete the christianization of northwestern Europe. They were not very successful, the people stayed with their old believes. But a son of Redbad was converted, and Redbad too almost adopted the new religion. That would have been the completion of the christianization, according to the Church at the time an entire group of people was converted if the leader did. Either Wulfram or Willibrord was about to baptize the king, when Redbad asked: “Will I meet my ancestors in Heaven after I die?“, Wulfram or Willibrord responded: “No, they were not baptized, so they are in Hell.” Redbad replied: “Then I rather spend eternity in Hell with my ancestors than in Heaven with my enemies (the Franks).” From that moment on Redbad found new faith in his old pagan believes, and he also wanted the territories back he lost to the Franks.

Redbad had to wait a long time, but when Pepin died in 714, he launched his attack. Two years later he advanced as far as Cologne, where he defeated Charles Martel, a son of Pepin. Frisia would be free for almost twenty years after, and the people were able to keep their old pagan religion. But in 734 Charles Martel invaded Frisia, and the Christian religion was forced upon the population, destroying every pagan shrine. The story didn’t end there, though, even under Frankish rule the Frisians were reluctant to adopt the Christian religion. The Church later sent Boniface, he tried to force Christianity upon the Frisians with his armed, 50 men strong, private army. The Frisians then killed Boniface in 754 at Dokkum.

During his last years Redbad developed an illness and he died in the summer of 719, according to tradition on August 9, on the island of Helgoland. His body was transported to the mainland, and there are two locations where he might be buried, both in modern day Germany and close to the border with The Netherlands: the Rabbelsberg in Dunum, and the Plytenberg not far from the city of Leer.

Today king Redbad is hardly remembered in Friesland, the province of The Netherlands. But in Germany, the area called East Frisia (Ostfriesland), he lives on in many stories and legends, and plays an important part in local folklore. According to legend, so-called “little earthmen” (Erdmantjes) guarded the treasure that was buried with Redbad. When the locals tried to dig up the treasure, the little earthmen scared them away, but to keep the treasure safe, the little earthmen decided to transport the treasure somewhere else. But on the river Ems, the boat capsized and all drowned. The treasure is still on the bottom of the river… Nowadays a little earthman, called Plietje, is the mascot of the city of Leer.

The life of Redbad is an interesting one, and surrounded with many legends and folktales. It was even an inspiration for Richard Wagner when he wrote his opera Lohengrin. Besides the Germans in East Frisia, his memory is kept alive by modern day pagans, and August 9 is their day of remembrance for Redbad. Ten years from now it will exactly 1300 years ago that Redbad died, given his eventful life (I only described here a tiny bit of it) and the history of christianization at the time, it would be a perfect moment for a movie about the king. There are many movies about other people in history, but not one so far about king Redbad. I think he deserves one.

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Wyrd Designs – King Radbod and the Importance of the Ancestors August 10, 2011 By wyrddesigns

This week on August 9th many neopagans who celebrate the life and memory of the Frisian King Radbod (680-719 CE) as a hero representing loyalty and love of ancestors. Christian missionaries came close to baptizing King Radbod, but before carrying through with the ceremony and conversion he asked a question, “Where are my dead ancestors at present?” Wolfram the Christian missionary answered, “In Hell, with all other unbelievers.” Upon hearing this, Radbod changed his mind about converting and replied, “Then I would rather live there with my honourable ancestors than go to heaven with a parcel of beggars.” Beggars here refers to Christians as a whole, but also to the long-time enemies of the Frisians: the Franks who were by this point in time primarily Christian. Radbod then expelled the missionaries from the kingdom for no other reason than how important his ancestors were to him. He could not bear the thought of being separated from them. -------------------- http://www.ourfamilyhistories.org/getperson.php?personID=I172771&tree=00

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