Aldegisel I, Duke of Friesland
(-680)
Radbod "the Pagan", Duke of Frisia
(-719)

 

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Radbod "the Pagan", Duke of Frisia

  • Died: 719, Belgium

   Research Notes:

He is often considered the last independent ruler of Frisia (or Friesland) before Frankish domination.

While his father, Duke Aldegisel (or Eadgils, Aldgisl which can be translated as 'Old Whip'), had welcomed Christianity into his realm, Radbod attempted to extirpate the religion and free the Frisians from subjugation to the Merovingian kingdom of the Franks. In 689, Radbod was, however, defeated by Pippin of Herstal in the battle of Dorestad and compelled to cede West Frisia (Frisia Citerior, meaning Nearer Frisia, from the Scheldt to the Vlie) to the Franks.

Between 690 and 692, Utrecht fell into the hands of Pippin of Herstal. This gave the Franks control of important trade routes on the Rhine to the North Sea. Some sources say that, following this defeat, Radbod retreated, in 697, to the island of Heligoland, others say he retreated to the part of Holland that is still known as Friesland.

On Pippin's death in 714, Radbod took the initiative again. He forced Saint Willibrord and his monks to flee and advanced as far as Cologne, where he defeated Charles Martel, Pippin's natural son, in 716. Eventually, however, Charles prevailed and compelled the Frisians to submit. Radbod died in 719, but for some years his successors struggled against the Frankish power.

During the second journey of Saint Boniface to Rome, Willibrord tried to convert Radbod, but not succeeding he returned to Fontenelle. It is said that Radbod was nearly baptised, but refused when he was told that he would not be able to find any of his ancestors in Heaven after his death, since he preferred spending eternity in Hell with his pagan ancestors than in Heaven with strangers. This legend is also told with Willibrord being replaced with Wulfram (or Vulfran), a monk and ex-archbishop of Sens.

Willibrord tried this while on a Carolingian-sponsored mission into Frisia with the express purpose of trying to convert the pagan Frisians living there in the hope that, once they had converted to Christianity, the Franks could gain control of the important trade port Dorestad, which they had up to that point been unable to do.

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