Friesland, Frisians

Friesland, Frisians

— Friesland, in the wider sense of the word, was formerly the name of the whole north-western coast of Germany and the coast of Holland, embracing the country from the mouth of the Weser to the central mouth of the Rhine. It was divided by what is now called the Zuyder Zee into West Friesland and East Friesland. The latter was subsequently again divided into two parts, the country between the Zuyder Zee and the Ems, now forming the Dutch provinces of Friesland and Groningen, and the country between the Ems and the Weser, constituting the modern East- Friesland, which was until 1744 a separate principality, was then united with Prussia, fell in 1815 to Hanover, with the whole of which it was in 1866 again annexed to Prussia. A branch of the Frisians, the North Frisians, inhabited the western coast of Schleswigs and the islands of Heligoland, Fohr and Sylt.

The first Christian missionary among the Frisians was bishop, Amandus, who entered the country in the train of the conquering Fraiiks. He met with but little success, but established two convents at Ghent, Blandinum and Gandanum. In 636, Dagobert, king of the Franks, built the first Christian church of Friesland at Utrecht, at that time called Wiltenburg; and St. Eligius (q.v.), bishop of Noyon, made great efforts to gain a footing for Christianity among the people, but he had likewise but little success. About 675, Adgill I, who, ruled over that part of Friesland which was not conquered by the Franks, gave permission to the English bishop Wilfrid to preach. The defeat of his successor Radbod by Pepin of Heristal extended the territory of the Franks up to the Yssel and the Fly, and thus opened a wider field to the Christian missionary. The English monk Wilbrod was consecrated by pope Sergius I archbishop of the Frisians, and took up his residence at Wiltenburg. After the death of Pepin in 714, Radbod made an attempt to shake off the yoke of the Franks, and to expel Christianity from his territory, but he was again defeated by Charles Martel in 717, and had to become a Christian himself. He died, however, a pagan in 719. Poppa, the guardian of Radbod's minor son, Adgill II, was apparently friendly to Christianity, which found now a very zealous missionary in Winfred (St. Boniface, q.v.), but when a favorable opportunity seemed to offer he risked a new war against the Franks, in which, in 734, he lost his life. Adgill II, who received the title of king, but was a vassal of the Franks, openly professed Christianity, but the resistance of the people to the new doctrine continued. Adgill II was succeeded by his two sons: first Gundobald, and, later, Radbod II, the latter of whom was a violent opponent of Christianity, and was expelled from the country by Charlemagne, who embodied the whole of Friesland with his empire. Christianity at this time was firmly established in the southern part of Friesland. The successor of Wilbrod as bishop of Utrecht, Gregory, established in his episcopal city a theological school, in which many missionaries for Friesland and Northwestern Germany were educated. Among his assistants, Lebuin and Wilbrod are mentioned. The latter was subsequently appointed by Charlemagne bishop of Bremen, and in that position he zealously worked for the conversion of the Frisians. With him labored for seven years S. Liudger (q.v.), a native of Friesland, and pupil, of the school of Utrecht, when the rising of the Saxons under Wittekind was followed by a general revolt of the Frisians. The defeat of this revolt terminated the resistance of the Frisiansto the Franks and Christianity. Friesland was now regarded as a Christian country, but remnants of paganism maintained themselves until late in the Middle Ages.

At the time of the Reformation, West Friesland was a part of the Netherlands. Into East Friesland, which was ruled by a count, and a part of the German empire, the Reformation was introduced by count Edzard I, who, as early as 1519, became acquainted with the writings of Luther, and favored the Reformation, without, however, usings any coercive measures against those who preferred to remain in the Church of Rome. Among those who successfully labored in behalf of the Reformation was master Jorgen von der Dure (Magister Aportanus), who had been educated at Zwolle by the Brethren of the Common Life. After the death of Edzard, in February, 1528, his son Enno began to despoil the churches, suppress the convents, and introduce the Reformation by force. In 1529, Bugenhageg, - at the request of count Enno, sent two Lutheran preachers from Bremen to organize the new administration of the churches. But already, a number of the Protestant ministers and laity had come under the influences of the Anabaptists and Reformed (Zuinglian) views. Count Enno expelled Carlstadt, and ordered all the Anabaptists out of the country; but the clergy, in 1530, could not be prevailed upon to adopt the whole of the Lutheran Church discipline which was laid before them. Several other attempts to introduce Lutheranism by force failed, and the Reformed system of Zuinglius maintained the ascendency. In 1543, the widow of Enno, countess Anna, who, during the minority of her son, acted as regent, called a distinguished Reformed theologian, Johann a Lasco, SEE LASCO, to Friesland. He was appointed superintendent general, and under his administration the Reformed Church of Friesland attained a high degree of prosperity and reputation. As a refuse of many Protestant exiles from France, the Netherlands, ard Great Britain, it received the name "Refuge of thee oppressed and exiled Church of God. — Herzog, Real-Encylop. 4:607; Onno Klopp, Geschichte Ostfrieslands (Hanover, 1854-56, 2 volumes). (A.J.S.)

 
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