Online Encyclopedia

FRANKS

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V11, Page 35 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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FRANKS. The name Franks seems to have been given in the 4th century to a group of Germanic peoples dwelling north of the Main and reaching as far as the shores of the North Sea; south of the Main was the home of the Alamanni. The names of some of these tribes have come down to us. On the Tabula Peutingeriana appear the " Chamavi qui et Pranci," which should doubtless read " qui et Franci"; these Chamavi apparently dwelt between the Yssel and the Ems. Later, we find them a little farther south, on the banks of the Rhine, in the district called Hamalant, and it is their customs which were brought together in the 9th century in the document known as the Lex Francorum Chamavorum. After the Chamavi we may mention the Attuarii or Chattuarii, who are referred to by Ammianus Marcellinus (xx. ro, 2): " Rheno exinde transmisso, regionem pervasit (Julianus) Francorum quos Atthuarios vocant." Later, the pages Attuariorum corresponds to the district of Emmerich and Xanten. It should be noted that this name occurs again in the middle ages in Burgundy, not far from Dijon; in all probability a detachment of this people had settled in that spot in the 5th or 6th century. The Bructeri, Ampsivarii and Chatti may also be classed among the Frankish tribes. They are mentioned in a celebrated passage of Sulpicius Alexander, which is cited by Gregory of Tours (Historia Francorum, ii. 9). Sulpicius shows the general Arbogast, a barbarian in the service of Rome, seeking to take vengeance on the Franks (392): " Collecto exercitu, transgressus Rhenum, Bricteros ripae proximos, pagum etiam quern Chamavi incolunt depopulatus est, nullo unquam occursante, nisi quod pauci ex Ampsivariis et Catthis Marcomere duce in ulterioribus collium jugis apparuere." It is evidently this Marcomeres, the chief of these tribes, who is regarded by later historians as the father of the legendary Faramund (Pharamund) although in fact Marcomeres has nothing to do with the Salian Franks. The earliest mention in history of the name Franks is the entry on the Tabula Peutingeriana, at least if we assume that the term " et Franci " is not a later emendation. The earliest occurrence of the name in any author is in the Vita Aureliani of Vopiscus (ch. vii.). When, in 241, Aurelian, who was then only a tribune, had just defeated some Franks in the neighbour-hood of Mainz and was marching against the Persians, his troops sang the following refrain: Mille Sarmatas, mille Francos, semel et semel occidimus; Mille Persas, quaerimus. All these Germanic tribes, which were known from the 3rd century onwards by the generic name of Franks, doubtless spoke a similar dialect and were governed by customs which must scarcely have differed from one another; but this was all they had in common. Each tribe was politically independent; they formed no confederations. Sometimes two or three tribes joined forces to wage a war; but, the struggle over, the bond was broken, and each tribe resumed its isolated life. Waitz holds with some show of probability that the Franks represent the ancient Istaevones of Tacitus, the Alamanni and the Saxons representing the Herminones and the Ingaevones. Of all these Frankish tribes one especially was to become prominent, the tribe of the Salians. They are mentioned for the first time in 358, by Ammianus Marcellinus (xvii. 8, 3), who says that the Caesar Julian " petit primos omnium Francos, videlicet eos quos consuetudo Salios appellavit." As to the origin of the name, it was long held to be derived from the river Yssel or Saal. It is more probable, however, that it arose from the fact that the Salians for a long period occupied the shores of the salt sea.1 The Salians inhabited the sea-coast, whereas the Ripuarians dwelt on the banks of the river Rhine. The Salians, at the time when they are mentioned by Ammianus, occupied Toxandria, i.e. the region south of the Meuse, between that river and the Scheldt. Julian defeated them completely, but allowed them to remain in Toxandria, not, as of old, as conquerors, but as foederati of the Romans. They perhaps paid tribute, and they certainly furnished Rome with 1 Their legends are connected with the sea, the name Meroveus signifying " sea-born."
End of Article: FRANKS
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An unofficial view upon the origin of the Franks: http://www.proto-english.org/etymolog.html
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