Front Page Titles (by Subject) chapter iv: Of the Original of the Franks; who having possessed themselves of Gallia, changed its Name into that of Francia, or Francogallia - An Account of Denmark, With Francogallia and Some Considerations for the Promoting of Agriculture and Employing the Poor
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chapter iv: Of the Original of the Franks; who having possessed themselves of Gallia, changed its Name into that of Francia, or Francogallia - Robert Molesworth, An Account of Denmark, With Francogallia and Some Considerations for the Promoting of Agriculture and Employing the Poor 
An Account of Denmark, With Francogallia and Some Considerations for the Promoting of Agriculture and Employing the Poor, Edited and with an Introduction by Justin Champion (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2011).
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Of the Original of the Franks; who having possessed themselves of Gallia, changed its Name into that of Francia, or Francogallia
The Order of our Discourse requires, that we should now enquire into the Original of the Franks, and trace them from their first Habitations, or (as it were) their very Cradles: In which Disquisition ’tis very much to be admired, that no mention has been made of them by Ptolomy,Strabo, or even by Tacitus himself, who of all Writers was most accurate in describing the Names and Situations of all the German Nations: and ’tis plain, the Franks were a German People, who possessed most parts of Europe for many Years, with great Reputation; of which we will quote but a few Instances out of many.
First, Johannes Nauclerus says thus, “Charles the Great was call’d King of the Franks; which is as much as to say, King of Germany and France. Now ’tis demonstrable, that at that time all Gallia Transalpina, and all Germany from the Pyrenaean Mountains, as far as Hungary, was called Francia: This last was called Eastern France, the former Western France”;59 and in this all true Historians agree.
Eguinarthus, in his Life of Charlemain, says, “The Banks of the River Sala, which divides the Turingi from the Sorabi, were afterwards inhabited by those called the Eastern Franks.”;60Otto Frising. Chron. 5. cap. 4. speaking of King Dagobert’s Reign, “The Bounds of the Franks Dominions reach’d now (says he) from Spain, as far as Hungary, being two most noble Dukedoms, Aquitania and Bavaria”; but much more at large, lib. 6. cap. 17. And after him Godfrey of Viterbo, in his Chronic. part. 17. sub Anno 881. “Arnulphus (says he) ruled all Eastern Francia, which is now called the Teutonick Kingdom, or Germany; that is to say, Bavaria, Suabia, Saxonia, Turingia, Frisia, and Lotharingia: but Odo was King of Western France.” Again, sub Anno 913. “It is apparent by the Authority of many Writers, that the Kingdom of Germany, which the Emperor Frederick at present holds, is part of the Kingdom of the Franks; for there (on both Sides the Rhine) the first Franks were seated; which as far as to the Limits of Bavaria, is now called Eastern France: But Western France is that Kingdom which lies on both Sides the Rivers Seine and Loire.” And again he says, “In the time of Charles the Great, King of the Franks, all Gallia, that is, Celtica, Belgica, and Lugdunensis, and all Germany which reaches from the Rhine as far as Dalmatia, made but one Kingdom; which was called Francia.”; Almost all which Quotations have been taken out of Otto, as I said before. ’Tis to be noted, that Rhegino writes thus, in Chron. anni 577,61 “After the Death of King Pipin,Lewis his Son (who had been present at his Father’s Decease; and celebrated his Funerals) kept his Residence at Francfort, the principal Seat of the Eastern Kingdom.” Luitprandus Ticinensis says, lib. 1. cap. 6. “It was order’d that Wido should have for his Share, that which Men call the Roman France, and Berengarius should have Italy.” And a little after, “When he had march’d through the Territories of the Burgundians, he purposed to enter Roman France, etc.”; Now it was call’d Roman France, first, because the Franks had possessed themselves of that Gallia, which was under the Roman Obedience. Secondly, because the Roman Language prevail’d in that Country, as we formerly told you: Whence arose the Saying, Loqui Romanum, of such as used not the German or Frank, but the Latin Tongue. Otto Frisingius, chron. 4. cap. penult. says, “It seems to me, that those Franks who dwell in Gallia, borrowed the Language, which they make use of to this Day, from the Romans; for the others who stay’d about the Rhine, and in Germany use the Teutonick Tongue.” And in Imitation of him, Godfridus, part. 17. cap. 1. “The Franks (says he) seem to me to have learn’d the Language which they make use of to this Day, from the Romans, who formerly dwelt in those parts.” From all these ’tis apparent, that the Reputation and Power of the Franks was extraordinary great; as ’twas fitting for such as were Masters of a great Part of Europe.
Moreover we find, that those Germans which were transplanted by Emperor Frederick II into the Kingdoms of Naples and Sicily, and establish’d there as a presidiary Colony, were called Franks,Petrus de Vineis,lib. epist. 6. cap. 25.62 “Following (says he) the Law and Custom of the Franks, in this Instance, that the Eldest Brother to the Exclusion of all the Younger succeeds, even in the Camp it self.” Imp. Freder. 2. Neapolitan constitutions. lib. 2. tit. 32. speaking of those Franks, “who upon Occasion trusted the Fortune of their Lives, and of all their Estates, to the Event of a Duel, or single Combat.” And again, “The aforesaid manner of Proof which all who observe the Rites of the Franks made use of.” Also lib. 2. tit. 33. “which Law, our Will is, shall in all Causes be common both to the Franks and Longobards.”;
Matters being thus plain, ’tis strange that Gregory Bishop of Tours (who writ concerning the Original of the Franks 800 Years ago) should say, in the first Part of his History, That although he had made diligent Enquiry about the Rise and Beginning of the Franks, he could find nothing certain: notwithstanding he had seen an ancient Book of a certain Historian of theirs, called, Sulpitius Alexander; who affirms nothing, either of their first Habitations, or the Beginnings of their Domination.
But we have found out that these People originally came from that Country which lies between the Rhine and the Elb, and is bounded on the West by the Sea, almost in the same Tract where the greater and the lesser Chauci dwelt. “A People (says Tacitus) the most noble among all the Germans, who founded their Greatness and maintained it by Justice.”63 These were next Neighbours to the Batavians; for ’tis agreed on all Hands, that the Franks had their first Seats near the Sea-shore, in very marshy Grounds; and were the most skilful People in Navigation, and Sea-fights, known at that time: Whereof we have the following Testimonies. First, in Claudian, who congratulating Stilicon’s Victory, writes thus; “Ut jam trans fluvium non indignante Chayco Pascat Belga pecus, mediumque ingressa per Albin Gallica Francorum montes armenta pererrent.”;64 In which Place he makes use of a Poetical License, and calls those People Chayci, which the Geographers call Chauci. Now that they were seated near the Sea, that Panegyrical Oration made to Constantine the Great, is a Testimony: “Quid loquar rursus, etc. What should I speak more of those remote Nations of the Franks, transplanted not from Places which the Romans of old invaded; but plucked from their very original Habitations, and their farthest Barbarous Shores, to be planted in the waste Places of Gallia; where with their Husbandry, they may help the Roman Empire in time of Peace; and with their Bodies, supply its Armies in time of War.” And in another Panegyrick, by Eumenius the Rhetorician, we find this Passage, “Aut haec ipsa, etc. Or this Country, which was once overspread with the Fierceness of the Franks, more than if the Waters of their Rivers, or their Sea, had covered it; but now ceases to be barbarous, and is civilized.” To the same Purpose is Procopius’s Testimony, in his first Book of the Gothick War; For where he describes the place where the Rhine falls into the Ocean; “In these Parts (says he) there are great Marshes, where of old the Germans dwelt; a barbarous People, and at that time of small Reputation, which now are called Franks.”; And Zonarus, in the 3rd Tome of his Annals, quotes this very Passage of Procopius. Also Flavius Vopiscus, in his Life of Probus, tells us, “That the Franks were discomfited by Probus in their inaccessible Marshes. Testes sunt Franci inviis strati paludibus.”;65 Also Sidonius Apollinaris says thus; “Francorum & penitissimas paludes, Intrares venerantibus Sicambris.”;66
Now what we have said concerning the Neighbourhood of the Franks to the Chauci, may be plainly proved by comparing of Places, and the Descriptions of their particular Seats. Those of the Chauci are described by Pliny, lib. 16. cap. 1. Those of the Franks by the Rhetorician Panegyrist, above mentioned: For Pliny says thus, “We have seen in the Northern parts the Nations of the Chauci, called Majores & Minores, where twice every 24 Hours the Ocean is forcibly driven in a great way over the Land, through a vast Passage which is there, making it a perpetual Controversy of Nature; and a Doubt, whether it ought to be reckon’d part of the Land or of the Sea.”
The Panegyrist speaks in these Terms, “Quanquam illa Regio, etc. When thy noble Expeditions, O Caesar, have proceeded so far, as to clear and conquer that Country, which the Rhine runs through, with his cunning Meanders or Windings, [Meatibus callidis, for so it must be read, and not Scaldis, as in some Copies], and embraces in his Arms a Region, which I can scarce call Land; ’tis so soak’d with Water, that not only the Marshy part of it gives way, but even that which seems more firm, shakes when trod upon, and trembles at a Distance under the Weight of the Foot.”
We think therefore we have made it plain from what Seats the Nation of the Franks first came into Gallia; that is to say, from that marshy Country which lies upon the Ocean, between the Rivers Elb and Rhine: which may be further confirm’d by this Argument. That the Franks were very well skill’d in maritime affairs, and sail’d far and near all about those Coasts: For so says Eutropius, lib. 9. where he gives a short History of the Emperor Galenus. “After this time, when Carausius had in charge to scour the Sea coasts of Belgia and Armorica, then infested by the Franks and Saxons, etc.”; The very same thing Paulus Orosius mentions, lib. 7. Also what the Panegyrist, before cited, says in a certain Place, has reference to this. “The Franks (says he) are cruel above all others; the tide of whose warlike Fury surmounting that of their very Ocean it self, carried them to the Sea coasts of Spain, which they very much infested with their Depredations.” And therefore the Emperor Justinian, when he explains to the General Governor of Affrick the duty of his Office, makes mention of those Franks which were seated in a certain part of Gallia, bordering upon Spain.
But we find a very memorable Passage; which highly sets forth the great Glory of their warlike Achievements, in another place of that Pane-gyrick; viz. That a small Body of Franks, which Probus the Emperor had overcome and carried captive into Pontus, seiz’d on some Ships, wandered all about the Sea-coasts of Graecia and Asia, invaded Sicily, took Syracusa, and afterwards laden with Booty, return’d into the Ocean through the Streights of Gibraltar. “Recursabat in animos sub Divo Probo & paucorum ex Francis Captivorum incredibilis audacia, & indigna foelicitas: qui à Ponto usque correptis navibus, Graeciam Asiamque populari, nec impunè plerisque Lybiae littoribus appulsi, ipsas postremò navalibus quondam victoriis nobiles ceperant Syracusas: & immenso itinere permensi, Oceanum, qua terras rupit intraverant: atque ita eventu temeritatis ostenderant, nihil esse clausum piraticae desperationi quò navigiis pateret accessus.”;67
And, as farther Arguments of what I have been proving, may be added all those Places in several Authors, which inform us that the Habitations of the Franks were Bordering upon the Batavians. The same Rhetorician, in his Speeches to Maximianus and Constantine, says, “Many thousand Franks, who had crossed the Rhine, and invaded Batavia, with other Countries on this Side, were slain, driven out, or carried away captive.”
Besides there is a notable Instance in Corn. Tacitus, lib. 20. where speaking of the Neighbourhood of Frisia and Batavia to each other, he mixes the Caninefates among them, whose Custom in Electing their Kings was (as I shall hereafter shew) the very same with that of the Franks. “Ambassadors (says he) were sent to the Caninefates, to persuade them to enter into the Confederacy: That People inhabit one part of the Island, equal as to their Descent, Laws and Valour, to the Batavians; but inferior in Number.” And again “Brinnio being set upon a Shield (according to the Custom of the Country) and hoisted up on Men’s Shoulders, was chosen their Commander.” Which Words will prove of no small Authority for us, when we come hereafter to that Part of the Controversy.
The Case being so; I cannot forbear wondering at the Opinion of the Learned Andreas Turnebus, who despising the Authority of so many grave and ancient Writers, says that he thinks the Franks were originally of Scandinavia: because in Ptolomy he finds the Phirassi seated in that Peninsula, which Word he will needs suppose to be corrupted; and that, instead of it, the Word Franci ought to be there: but brings no Reason for his Opinion more than his own mere guess, though this Opinion differs manifestly from all other ancient Authors.
As to all those who are pleas’d with Fables, and have deduced the Original of the Franks from the Trojans, and from one Francion, a Son of Priam, we can only say, that they furnish Materials for Poets rather than Historians: And among such, William Bellay deserves the first Place, who, though he was a Person of singular Learning and extraordinary Ingenuity; yet in his Book, which treats of the Antiquities of Gallia and France, seems rather to have design’d a Romance, like that of Amadis, than a true History of the Francogallican Affairs.68
[59. ]GS Franc. identify this as Nauclerus, Chronica (1579), p. 683.
[60. ]GS Franc. (p. 182) identify this as from Einhard, Chronicon, ad 887.
[61. ]The original has 576.
[62. ]Note in margin, not found in the original: “These are only broken pieces of sentences, to prove, that the Germans (establish’d in Naples and Sicily) were called, and actually were Franks.”
[63. ]GS Franc. identify this as Tacitus, Germania (Loeb 312).
[64. ]GS Franc. (p. 191) translate as: “Beyond the river Beligian cattle feed; / gone are the Chayci who resisted them. / The Gallic herds that pass across the Elbe / Roam onwards over the mountains of the Franks.”
[65. ]GS Franc. translate this as “The mutilated Frankish corpses were scattered about amongst their inaccessible marshes.”
[66. ]GS Franc. translate this as “Enter, if you dare, the innermost Frankish marshes revered by the Sicambri.”
[67. ]The preceding passage rather summarizes the Latin extract: “How in the reign of the divine Probus a small band of captive Franks, with incredible daring and a good fortune they scarcely deserved, sailed from Pontus in vessels they had surreptitiously acquired as far as Greece and Asia, plundering as they went, and voyaged along much of the coast of Libya, though not without some loss. Finally, after several naval victories, they even took the noble city of Syracuse, and, having sailed on for a vast distance, entered the great ocean where it surges between the continents. By that foolhardy deed they showed that no place on earth where ships might sail was safe from the curse of piracy.” See GS Franc. p. 195.
[68. ]The work referred to is Du Bellay, Epitome de l’Antiquité des Gaules de France (1556).