Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Frisians, an historical Low German people, whose descendants still occupy much of the Dutch provinces of Friesland and Groningen, the neighbouring Prussian district of East Friesland with all the adjacent islands, and the North Frisian Archipelago on the west coast of Schleswig-Holstein. Their domain formerly comprised most of the coastlands along the shores of the German Ocean between Denmark and South Holland, and extended southwards to the Rhine estuary. Many Frisian tribes took part in the Germanic invasion of Britain in the 5th century, and the Frisian element undoubtedly enters largely into the constitution of the present populations of Great Britain. Kent, the Isle of Wight, Hampshire, and some other districts farther north are supposed to have been mainly repeopled by Frisian immigrants, and the Frisian language still shows marked affinities to the provincial dialects as far north as Northumbria. During the long struggle (6th to 9th century) between the Franks and Saxons the Frisians formed part of the Saxon League, but after the defeat of their last king, Radbod II., who took refuge in Denmark, they were incorporated in the empire of Charlemagne (775). On the reduction of the Saxons and the conversion of their king, Witikind, to Christianity (805), the Saxon and Frisian territories were divided into administrative districts (gaue or pagi) under the Frankish Empire. But all the Frisian states, whose delegates met annually near Aurich in the present province of Hanover, continued to enjoy practical "Home Rule" till 1522, when they were forced to recognise the authority of the German Emperor, represented by Charles of Austria, Count of Holland and Zealand. Since 1579, when the West Frisians joined the Union of Utrecht, the western section of the nation has followed the destinies of Holland, and here its racial purity, language, usages, and traditions have been best preserved. The Frisians are distinguished from their Dutch neighbours by their taller stature, slimmer and more shapely figures, more oval features, much lighter and more florid complexion with light blue or grey eyes and flaxen or brown hair. Most of them are now bilingual, speaking both Dutch and a very pure dialect of the Old Frisian, which differed "in several marked respects from Anglo-Saxon, Continental Saxon, and other neighbouring members of the Low German linguistic group. It is still (1890) the mother tongue of about 800,000 persons, of whom 600,000 are West Frieslanders (Holland) and 200,000 East Frieslanders (Germany and the islands). (Rask, Frisisk Sproglaere, 1825; Wiarde, Geschichte der Ost-Frieslandische, 1817; Lubach, Les Habitants de la Neerlande, in Bull, de la Soc. d'Anthropologie iv., 1863.)