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  • Writer's pictureHans Faber

Guerrilla in the Polder. The Battle of Vroonen in 1297


School instruction plate depicting Count Floris V of Holland when taken prison during falconry in 1296, the year he was murdered, painted by J.H. Isings (1926)

What's the use of celebrating only the battles you have won? Feeling proud and superior as a nation above that of another, and the differences underlined in the process. Why not follow the example of the Scots? Celebrating each year their defeat on the battlefield of Culloden on April 16, 1746 - between the Jacobite Army and the British Army. An estimated 1,350 soldiers died that day. Women, children, and (old) men of villages in the surrounding not included because they were killed as well by government forces, regardless of whether they had been involved in the fighting. The Frisians have a similar disastrous battles to remember. Like the Battle of Langwarden in 1514, or the Battle of Boksum in 1586. The one we will highlight in this post is the Battle of Vroonen in 1297. The finale of an almost 170-years-long war with the county of Holland.


Interestingly, the Jacobite uprising was a direct consequence of the invasion of England by Stadtholder Willem Hendrik of Orange (1650-1702) from the United Provinces of the Netherlands. The so-called Glorious Revolution of 1688-1689. Willem Hendrik married Mary II and became king of England, Scotland and Ireland. From then on, he was (also) named King William III. Willem Hendrik was stadtholder of, among others, Province Holland. When Willem Hendrik took over power across the English Channel, King James II was deposed and fled to France. The Jacobite uprising in especially Scotland and Ireland wanted to restore the House of Stuart.


So, Holland imperialism all over the place.


The run-up to the Battle of Vroonen on March 27, 1297 begins in the year 1132 when Count Dirk VI of Holland attacks the region of Westfriesland. Westfriesland is the First of the so-called Seven Sealands of Frisia. In theory all Sealands were united in the treaty of the Upstalsboom. In a way, the whole violent conflict between Holland and Westfriesland was a civil war. Both came directly from mother Frisia’s tummy.


Until the year 1101, only thirty years before Count Dirk's military strike, the counts of the western coastal zone of the Netherlands still used the title comes Fresonum 'count of Frisia'. This whole coastal area (i.e. Zeeland, Holland), already ever since the Early Middle Ages, was known as (West) Frisia. In the course of the High Middle Ages, the counts of West Frisia were able to operate more and more independently from the Frankish kings and the bishops of Utrecht.


Parallel to the rise of Holland, the region of Westfriesland started to operate more independently from the increasingly powerful counts of West Frisia during the tenth and eleventh centuries. A political defragmentation process that took place everywhere at the marshlands along the Wadden Sea coast, from the region of Westfriesland all the way to that of Nordfriesland at the border of Germany and Denmark. Resulting in a long string of lordfree farmers republics. Any form of comital authority had disappeared in this coastal zone in the High Middle Ages.


Concerning the so-called lordfree farmers republics, one relativization of this rather romantic image is in order. It was not all equals linking arms and dancing in a conga line. Local leaders or headmen fulfilled de facto the role of nobility, albeit no longer under the auspices of counts, dukes, and whatnot. Headmen that are known as haadlings or Häuptlinge in other parts of Frisia. The only sovereign who was recognized by these local big men was the Holy Roman Emperor. Nothing in between. A period sometimes referred to as the Reichsunmittelbarkeit of Frisia. An exceptional status within the Frankish realm based on the freedom privileges the Frisians allegedly received from Charlemagne. Read, for starters, our post Magnus’ Choice. The Origins of the Frisian Freedom for more on this topic.


Halfway through the twelfth century, the two regions Westfriesland and Kennemerland, the latter known as Kinhem back then and what is the higher elevated coastal strip of dunes and sandy soils running parallel to the North Sea, drifted apart even physically, besides culturally. Yes, for those readers who did not know, also nature and landscape shape identities. Storm floods breached the dune row south of Callantsoog, which became an oog 'island', and the North Sea got free rein in the hinterland west and north of the region of Westfriesland. The hitherto small riverbed of the River Rekere (see map below), flowing from the Lake Schermer to the hamlet of Krabbendam, was widened by the sea and became a natural barrier between both Westfriesland and Kennemerland.


The result was that from the twelfth century the region of Westfriesland had become a separate and hostile region towards comital authority (Cordfunke 2018). While the ruling counts started to use the name Holland instead of Frisia, the people of Westfriesland stuck to their original name: Westfriezen ‘West-Frisians’.


In red icons the battlefield of the Battle of Vroonen. In black icons the five coercion castles of Count Floris V. An additional layer of the map shows more battles between Westfriesland and Holland.


Back to the year 1131 – when Count Dirk VI of Holland drew first blood by attacking Westfriesland with an army. It marks the start from when on the counts of Holland tried to incorporate by force the region of Westfriesland into their growing county. Initiating what would become a war of 170 years, characterized by military campaigns of Holland with well-organized armies. Armies that carried out either punitive expeditions or large-scale offensives. Armies of counts could number up in the hundreds. Of course, all depending on how rich or creditworthy the count was to support such an army, and the number of allies he could gather.


The West-Frisians' military strength, however, consisted of militias. Unlike Holland, there was, as said, no central power and organization. Therefore, villagers were responsible for both organizing the defence and the fighting itself. Every civilian was expected to have his own weaponry and, when called upon, to actually fight. The military strategy of the West-Frisians was a combination of guerrilla warfare and classic confrontation of standing armies. West-Frisian forces were able to lay waste to the town of Alkmaar several times. People nowadays who wonder why Frisia in general always was in military defence in medieval history and never posed an active or expanding threat to its neighbours, this is the reason. With only people's militias and absent or weak institutions you simply do not have the capability, and thus neither a choice.

Well, I pick up my axe and fight like a farmer, you know what I mean

Jimi Hendrix, 1970


The marsh landscape of the region of Westfriesland, with all its waterways, lakes, ditches, and clay soil in general, was an extremely difficult terrain for a heavy, traditional army. A landscape that looked like a mud flat during the wet autumn and winter months. Heavy armed Holland armies were ambushed by the lightly armed West-Frisian combatants. Militias moved fast and manoeuvrable through the landscape thanks to the advantage of knowing the landscape, and their four-meters-long pole vaults, called a springstok or, in the Old Frisian language, a kletsie. These poles served as a spear as well. A weapon sometimes dubbed the ‘forgotten weapon’. These jumping speers were common in the marsh lands along the southern coast of the North Sea. In the German language also known as Friesenspeer and, for example, depicted on the coat of arms of the region of Stadland in Landkreis Wesermarsch.


warfare with springstokken ‘pole vaults’ during the siege of the city of Leiden in 1574 (painter anonymous)

Part of the guerrilla warfare was raids carried out in the surrounding region of Kennemerland, sometimes all the way down to the River IJ area. Contemporary reports also mention that the West-Frisians possessed many boats and ships which they used in military operations. In addition to guerrilla warfare, the West-Frisians were capable to confront an army on the battlefield too. Estimations are that the whole adult male population of the region Westfriesland counted around 3,500 and 4,000 (Alders & Van der Linde 2011). We estimate that the West-Frisian armies sized about several hundred men. On occasion, the West-Frisians were supported with fighters by the bishop of Utrecht, who found in the counts of Holland a common enemy.


The territory of Westfriesland, besides offering a difficult terrain for the heavy Holland military, also had the advantage of being isolated - fully surrounded by water: rivers, marshes, lakes, and the sea. The only realistic access over land into Westfriesland for an army was from the town of Alkmaar via the village of Vroonen. For this reason, the counts had fortified the town of Alkmaar and built three castles: Toorenburg ('tower burh'), Middelburg ('middle burh'), and Nijenburg ('new burh'). Everything within a distance of only 1.5 kilometers of each other. The elevated road annex dyke - the current Frieseweg-Munnikeweg Rd. - through the marshy area between Alkmaar and the Vronergeest (i.e. elevated sandy ridge in the landscape; see map) and crossing the River Rekere, was constructed by the counts of Holland to facilitate the transport of armies. This purposely much bended road annex dyke was within firing range of these three castles.


Another peculiarity of the Westfriesland-Hollandic war was that fighting could take place in every season of the year, with winter the most 'favourite' season, whilst back then summer was the traditional time of year to go to battle in Europe (De Graaf 2004).


 

INTERMEZZO


The Miracle at the River Rekere – When King Radbod became the king of Frisia, after defeating the army of the Franks, people hoped that there finally would be peace from now on. During the thing assembly on the warf ‘mound’ of the village of Thosa, modern Opperdoes in the region of Westfriesland, the spoils of war were equally divided, including among women who had lost their husbands in the battle. Everyone left the folkmoot at Thosa with a small fortune. Throughout the lands of Frisia, people were in a spirit of joy.


When King Radbod rode home at dawn, he was of good cheer. He had chosen a Frankish, beautifully decorated sword. Then, suddenly, he saw on the black water of the River Rekere seven swans. Six were white and one was black and had eyes like diamonds. Radbod held his horse and watched the swans. The swans approached Radbod and walked up the riverbank. Here the black swan transformed into a heavily armed warrior with dark, long hair and blue-grey eyes like the sea. The other swans turned into gracious women.


The warrior pointed at the Frankish sword and started to speak. He said that long ago this sword had belonged to him. He had received it from the one who rules over all people. The warrior was also instructed, once the day had come when men had turned into slaves, to give this sword to the person who would defend dying mankind. He said:

King Radbod, give me that sword and I will give it to you. One day, this sword will return to me. Tell the people that when you die, the sword shall be thrown into the sea so that it can find me. I, the god of the sea, will know that it has fulfilled its task. After that, I shall give the sword to a leader, when all of life wants to be named human again. King Radbod, king of the Frisians, take this sword from my hands and fight! Asbran is its name.

After the warrior had spoken, he together with the six beautiful women, changed back into swans and flew to the west, to the North Sea. From then on, King Radbod wielded Asbran.


Tientôn-elfrib - There is another old saga about King Radbod in the region of Westfriesland. It tells how King Radbod as the bogeyman named Tientôn-elfrib ('ten toes and eleven ribs') haunts the village of Hoogwoud at night. A manlike creature with the head of a pike. His body covered with scales and fins instead of legs. The reason why he is half human half fish is because of the failed baptism. The font from where King Radbod withdraw his foot during the failed baptism was also split into two. One half is kept in the church of Hoogwoud. Therefore Redbod will never be able to become a Christian and fully human again. Read our post Finally, King Redbad made his point in the European Commission – via Facebook to learn more about the failed baptism. 

 

Another pivotal moment in the long war between Holland and Westfriesland was the death of Count William II of Holland in the year 1256. Count William was not a nobody. He played his part on the world stage. In the year 1247, he had been elected anti-king of the Romans. Kings of the Romans were crowned in the city of Aachen. However, the city of Aachen supported the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II who had been excommunicated by the Pope. Aachen therefore tried to prevent Count William's coronation to emperor. Count William laid siege to Aachen in 1248. It was Frisians, who fought alongside the count (!), who managed to conquer the city with, among others, ingenious water engineering techniques (Henstra 2012). Count William rewarded the Frisians in general with an official charter reconfirming the old privileges and liberties they allegedly received before from Charlemagne when they had freed the city of Rome in the Early Middle Ages:

omnia jura libertas ac privilegia concessa Frisionibus a Carolo Magno Imperator antessore nostro

coronation of Count William II of Holland to Roman King of Germany, Aachen, 1248

Finally, the West-Frisians could breathe a sigh. With this charter Holland would respect the independence and rights of all of Frisia, including the first of the seven Sealands the region of Westfriesland. Nothing was less true, however. Already in 1254, the ink on the parchment had scarcely had time to dry, Count William launched a military campaign. It was no success and the West-Frisians pushed the royal army back to the town of Alkmaar. Besides screwing the West-Frisians over after his solemn but false promises of Aachen, Count William was also a slow learner. A year later he launched a second campaign, again no success. Then, in January 1256, during a third attempt of the count, things had gotten too much for the West-Frisians. No more patience with William. They had tried the nice way for long enough. Count William was killed on the frozen lake not far from the village of Hoogwoud. Ambushed from the dead reeds.


Persistent folklore to this day (including semi-scholarly publications; Kuiper, et al 2011) saying the West-Frisians had no clue who they had clubbed to death on the ice and were in panic when they found out who they actually had killed, are surely Hollandic efforts to frame the West-Frisians as dumb and boorish. Killing a king of the Romans, or a count for that matter, was simply not civilized in the eyes of the Holland elite. You would take such important types captive and ask for a big ransom. And, of course, the West-Frisians did know who they had killed after a series of three campaigns in a row of Count William. In addition, Count William, Roman king, was not dressed in camouflage or walked barefoot like a beggar through Westfriesland on his own. With his bright colours, banners and horses he was as recognizable as a lighthouse at sea.


And who knows, for Dutch historians it is such a pity that the only Holy Roman Emperor ever from the Netherlands was killed so quickly after his coronation, and in such a sullen way.


 

INTERMEZZO


The Hoogwoud hoard – In the year 2021, detectorist Ruijter made a great discovery. He found a gold hoard in the vicinity of Hoogwoud, consisting of 39 silver coins, two pairs of large, golden ear pendants, and a golden ornament part of a tiara. The ear pendants date to 1000-1050. Production of the money coins is dated between 1197 and 1248. Therefore, the silver and gold was hoarded in the years not long after the year 1248. This happens to coincide with the troubled period when Count William II of Holland started his military campaigns from the year 1254 onward. Of course, the gold and silver might have been entrusted to the soil in the years before the conflict escalated and tensions were building up again (Schrickx & Ruijter 2023).


It is a unique find since such high-end jewellery from this early period is scarce. The ear pendants have the shape of a crescent moon. On it, Christian representations are depicted. Similar ear pendants have been found in (former) Frisia in the district of Opsterland in the province of Friesland, at the village of Haddien in the region of Ostfriesland, and at the village of Schellinkhout in the region of Westfriesland as well. Outside the territory of medieval Frisia, these crescent-moon-shaped pendants have been found at the village of Weerselo in the province of Overijssel, in Mainz in the state Rhineland-Palatinate, and in Cologne in the state North Rhine-Westphalia.


Lastly, also from (former) Frisia, there is the Hausbuch 'house book' of headman Unico Manninga from (also) the region of Ostfriesland with traditional, medieval costumes of Frisian women. It shows women wearing similar crescent-shaped ear pendants as well.  



(fLtR) the Hoogwoud hoard, a model demonstrating costume, the Wattenbach alter, Germany, ca. 1020 depicting crescent ear pendants, representation of Queen Kunigunda, Czech, ca. 1020 with crescent ear pendants, and a medieval Frisian woman wearing crescent ear pendants, from the Hausbuch Unico Manninga, Ostfriesland, 1561


How, notably the ear pendants which were ornaments worn by women belonging to the high class or even royalty (see images above), came into the possession of a family in Westfriesland, will probably always remain a mystery. Ornaments already two centuries old and out of fashion by the time they were buried in the ground.


All the details surrounding the village of Hoogwoud make you speculate that this settlement in the center of the region of Westfriesland was the epicentre of the militia resistance against the counts of Holland. Not only the spectacular gold that was found here, but also the drive and motivation of the counts to secure this small settlement. And, of course, why had the West-Frisians secretly buried Count William II at Hoogwoud, underneath the hearth of a farmer’s house? We like to fantasize that the leaders of the West-Frisians were discussing their guerrilla tactics, warmly next to the fireplace with their chairs on top of where their biggest trophy lay buried: oath breaker William, the Count of Holland and King of the Romans."

 

In the summer of 1272, young Count Floris V attacked the West-Frisians in order to avenge the death of his father William. But he was defeated by the West-Frisians there where he started, at the town of Alkmaar. The aforementioned road annex dyke Count Floris had constructed from Alkmaar to the Vronergeest for military strategic reasons, was demolished by the West-Frisians. The decade that followed was exceptionally turbulent for the counts of Holland. Not only did Westfriesland carry out attacks and raids in the county, but also the people of the region of Waterland, further to the south of Westfriesland, rebelled against the counts. At the same time, relations with the bishop of Utrecht were poor since the counts commercially exploited much of the land in Holland and the Sticht (the province of Utrecht), generating much wealth at the expense of the bishopric. At least, that is how the bishops looked at it. The massive peat exploitation in the provinces of Holland and Utrecht is known as the Grote Ontginning 'great exploitation' and started at the end of the tenth century and lasted until the thirteenth century (Kuipers, et al 2011).


After Count Floris more or less had pacified the Waterlanders between 1273 and 1275, and managed to gain control over both banks of the River IJ as well, he resumed his efforts in taking revenge on Westfriesland. In the year 1282, Count Floris gathered an army at Nuwewic, the modern town of Beverwijk, to start a second offensive since 1272. With a fleet of cog ships, he sailed to Wijdenes on the southeast coast of Westfriesland this time, where his army went ashore. This military offensive over water was the first time a count of Holland did not use the traditional land route at Alkmaar. After heavy battles at the villages of Schellinkhout and Hoogwoud, Count Floris managed to submit the West-Frisians for the first time in history. According to contemporary accounts, between 600 and 1,200 Frisians died.


During the operations, an old man sold out where Count William was buried, namely underneath the fireplace of a house of a farmer in the village of Hoogwoud. Twenty six years after his death, Floris could finally take daddy home. Floris was only two years old when his father was slain. He had the bones of his father removed from under the fireplace and purified. The remains of William were re-buried in the church of Middelburg Abbey in the province of Zeeland. As remembrance a chapel was built on the spot where Count William had been hid in Hoogwoud. If the reader has any details of the old man who snitched, we are interested to receive them so we can lay charges at the International Criminal Tribunal for Frisia (ICTF) at Aurich.


Immediately after Count Floris had prevailed over the West-Frisians, he had five coercion castles erected to secure control once and for all. These castles were Medemblik (today known as castle Radboud), Wijdenes, Nuwendore, Middelburg, and Nijenburg. On the overview map inserted in this post, these castles are marked with black icons. The latter two castles, near Vroonen, secured the land route into Westfriesland. All these deeply hated castles were built in the '80s of the thirteenth century. After the region of Westfriesland was also hit by storm floods in December 1287 and February 1288, including dykes being breached by the sea (Van Engelen 1995), the resistance was broken and the West-Frisians signed a treaty accepting Count Floris V as their lord.


Long after his death, in the fifteenth century, Floris received the nickname der keerlen god, meaning something like ‘a god to common people’. We are not sure if 'common people' included the West-Frisians. Probably not, because after his death, they tried to undo what this so-called god of the plebs had created. Moreover, the ruling elite of Holland described the West-Frisians either as bestiales Fresones ‘beastly Frisians’ or as infidelitas et iniuria ‘untrustworthy and offensive’. In other words, a West-Frisian was barely considered humanoid.


Count Floris’ sweet victory did not last for ever – in the year 1296 he was assassinated. His elimination had to do with geopolitical conflicts between the kingdoms of England and France, whereby the count switched sides, from the English to the French, and soon after he was cancelled (Koops 2019). Another, more trivial explanation is that Count Floris, der keerlen god, was killed by the nobleman Gherijt of Velsen because Floris had raped his wife. Whatever the reason, for the hard-ass West-Frisians the murder of Floris was the call to arms. Apparently, the freedom spirit and military strength of the West-Frisians had still not been broken, and they were able to raise in a short span of time a strong army. As though as their gingerbread Westfriese korstjes 'West-Frisian crust'. Coercion castles Wijdenes and Nuwendore were laid to waste. Coercion castle Medemblik was besieged but liberated just in time by Holland forces.



Behold, the fall of mother Frisia


A year after Count Floris’ death and the uprise of the West-Frisians, it was Count John II of Holland who launched an offensive. He had gathered a large army of Hollanders and Zeelanders. This time the Holland forces opted for the ‘classic’ attack route again, namely over land from Alkmaar to the Vronergeest with the villages Oudorp and, in particular, Vroonen located on it. Furthermore, the army of the count had the battlefield prepared and, which was a common tactic, broadened by filling ditches with straw and hey.


Battle of Vroonen, including burning down dwellings, by Charles Rochussen (1813-1894)

 

INTERMEZZO


Etymology of Vroonen – The first mention of Vroonen or Vrone(n) dates from the middle of the ninth century as Uranlo. Curtis ‘village’ Vroonen was part of a dominium. Also the name Vranlo, Vroenle, Vroenen, Vroonloo, indicates royal possessions. The word vroon- means ‘[property] of the lord’, hence ‘comital’ or ‘royal’. Compare the Old English word frae or the Old Frisian word frâna. The word -lo means ‘light’ or ‘open forest’ (Van Berkel & Samplonius 2018).


The village ceased to exist in 1297. At the end of the Middle Ages, a new village developed more or less on the location of Vroonen, namely Sint Pancras. Named after a chapel dedicated to Saint Pancras of Rome, often depicted as a young Roman soldier. Pancras was a boy living in Rome around AD 300 who was beheaded at the age of 14 for his faith. His feast day is on May 12.

 

In the first instance, Holland launched an attack on the Vronergeest area. When the West-Frisians countered, the Holland Army fell back and regrouped itself within range of the coercion castles Middelburg and Nijenburg. Then, according to contemporary writer Melis Stoke, Count John split his forces into three. The major force started an offensive near the village of Vroonen. The second force was transported with cog ships north over the Lake Vroonen and dropped off behind the lines of the West-Frisians. This force attacked the West-Frisians in the back (Alders & Van der Linde 2011). During the battle, a third force moved north on the east flank of the Vronergeest along the shores of the Lake Schermer to prevent West-Frisians from escaping. Fleeing Frisians were slaughtered.


The victory of Count John was total. Also according to Melis Stoke, about 3,000 West-Frisians were either killed or drowned in the lake. Since nobody kept the count and good old Melis Stoke was an adept of the Count of Holland, these numbers might be exaggerated. Still, it must have been an overwhelming number of deaths. Since this was a desperate, all-or-nothing battle for the West-Frisians, we estimate the size of their force around a 1,000 men. So, a quarter to a third of the total adult male population of the region. That the triumph of Holland was not a breeze is evident from the fact that in 1297 the remains of Floris, who was buried in the church of the town of Alkmaar, were transferred to the town of Rijnsburg farther to the south. Apparently, the fall of fortified Alkmaar was a scenario that Count John had to take into consideration.


After negotiations, a treaty was signed on November 6, 1299, whereby the West-Frisians accepted Count John as their lord. Moreover, they had to pay a sum of money amounting to 18,000 pounds to be paid in four years. In the eyes of Holland, this was equivalent to what we would call today war reparations. We also learned from modern history that victors should be careful demanding too much war reparations if they want to prevent the snake to bite its own tail.


Not only were West-Frisian combatants killed. Also civilians suffered, as is the case in modern warfare. Only see what happens in the Middle East today. It seems that the villagers of Vroonen had supported the West-Frisian uprising during, or in the run-up to the battle. At least, according to Count John, they had done so. For this, the villagers – men, women, and children – were severely punished. Firstly, the entire village was evacuated, the houses were torched, and everything was razed to the ground. All villagers were forcibly relocated west of the Lake Daal, to the village of Coedyc, modern Koedijk. Here, the count had a new church built. A way to have total control. Secondly, even more cruelly, many villagers were either brutally killed or left crippled.




remains of the old graveyard of Vroonen by Alders and Van der Linde, 2011


Excavations of a part of the medieval graveyard of Vroonen gave a unique insight into the horror of 1279 (Alders & Van der Linde 2011). In total 132 individuals were identified. Many victim of war. Among the burials were five so-called skull pits, each containing several decapitated heads. Concerning inflicted wounds on bones – evidence of flesh wounds from archaeological research is, of course, impossible – a total of 107 injuries were identified on 49 different bones. Weapons with which the wounds were inflicted, were arrows and swords. Often more than once the person was stabbed or hit. Whole chunks of skull were even smashed away. The skull of a woman contained even eight traumata.


Slaughtering the villagers of Vroonen was not all. Not everyone was killed. Many were mutilated too, regardless whether they were male or female. Villagers were purposely crippled. With swords they were repeatedly stabbed in the pelvis, knee and/or lower leg. The injuries were inflicted very systematically, suggesting the villagers were lined up and mutilated by the count's men.


Undoubtedly, the atrocities committed by the forces of the Holland against the villagers of Vroonen would be considered a war crime today. No need to make a case at the Peace Palace in The Hague. With obvious parallels with more recent imperialistic, colonial wars, like the massacre of the villagers of Rawagade in December 1947. Or the 'revenge' on the village of Prambon Wetan in August 1947. Both just two of a very long list of war crimes committed by the Royal Dutch Army in Indonesia, under the command of Major general Simon Spoor from Holland. A guerrilla war too, by the way. Moreover, even one of the bloodiest post-colonial wars ever in world history. Sadly, all world and former colonial powers have their own similar dark pages in modern history.


Between 1303 and 1530, a wooden cross stood on the old graveyard of Vroonen with the following text written on it: Ecce Cadit Mater Frisiae ‘behold, the fall of mother Frisia’ referring to the punishment of the West-Frisians when they had tried to defy the count of Holland. A less than subtle reminder to the West-Frisians better not to revolt against the authorities, their beneficial counts.


Guernica by Pablo Picasso (1937)

 


Note 1 – When after 170 years of war the counts of Holland finally had incorporated the First of the Seven Sealands of Frisia in their county, they tried to get their hands on the Second and Third Sealand as well, namely the territories of Westergo and Oostergo in the modern province of Friesland. In fact, the continuation of the Friso-Hollandic Wars, which would last until the beginning of the beginning of the fifteenth century. So, a war between Holland and Frisia that lasted more or less four centuries.


Note 2 – Some suggest that the West-Frisians started to raid the region of Kennemerland because of the increasing wealth of this region with rise of the power of the counts, suggesting even that the West-Frisians drew first blood. We think there is no support for this position since former, clay marshlands are actually very fertile and can support cattle and sheep husbandry. It would not be in line with the developments everywhere else along the Wadden Sea coast where foreign powers tried to get control over these marshlands, precisely for their great economic value. Read, for example, our post Joan of Arc an inspiration for Land Wursten. In addition, it is clear from history the counts of Holland had a long history of expansion policy and the region of Westfriesland was merely one of the many territories they gained control of.



Suggested hiking

Most straightforward option for a local hike is the Westfriese Omringdijk. This path follows the circular dyke system around the entire region of Westfriesland, and is about 150 kilometers long. Check the website of Wandelnet for directions and additional information (in Dutch only). It is a quite new path, opened in 2020. The Frisia Coast Trails also follows the Westfriese Omringdijk, between the village of Schoorldam and the town of Medemblik.


Another option, going from north to south through the province of Noord Holland, is the Noord-Hollandpad. This path is 284 kilometers long and crosses the region of Westfriesland between the village of Kolhorn and the village of Ursum. Check their website Noord-Hollandpad, available in the Dutch and German language.


Lastly, we suggest the long-distance trail Floris V pad. A path that is 245 kilometers long, running from the city of Amsterdam to the town of Bergen op Zoom. Check the website Floris V-pad. After reading this blog post, the reader knows this path should start at the village of Hoogwoud in the region of Westfriesland.


Suggested music

Paul Young, Love of the Common People (1983)

Queen, I Want To Break Free (1984)

Jimi Hendrix, Machine Gun (1970)



Further reading

Alders, G. & Linde, van der C., Dood en verderf in Vronen. Skeletonderzoek op een voormalig kerkhof (2013)

Alders, G. & Linde, van der C., Het Vroner Kerkhof te Sint-Pancras, gemeente Langedijk. Archeologisch onderzoek naar een middeleeuwse begraafplaats aan de Bovenweg (2011)

Amelsvoort, van J., Het spook van koning Radboud: de Tientôn-elfrib (2022)

Berkel, van G. & Samplonius, K., Nederlandse plaatsnamen verklaard. Reeks Nederlandse plaatsnamen, deel 12 (2018)

Bos, C., Is na vele eeuwen het kasteel van Floris de Vijfde gevonden bij Wijdenes? (2024)

Cordfunke, E.H.P., Begraven verleden. Hoven en kastelen in Kennemerland [850-1350] (2018)

Cordfunke, E.H.P., Een graafschap achter de duinen. Het ontstaan en de vorming van het graafschap Holland [850-1150] (2018)

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