• Rebel Duke and Pagan King: The variety in early Carolingian depictions of Radbod of Frisia

    Ricky Broome (see profile)
    Early Medieval
    Europe, History, Hagiography, Historiography
    Item Type:
    Conference paper
    Conf. Title:
    Texts and Identities in the Early Middle Ages XVI
    Conf. Org.:
    Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften
    Conf. Loc.:
    Vienna, Austria
    Conf. Date:
    25/01/2013 - 27/01/2013
    Carolingian, Missionary history, Frisia, European history
    Permanent URL:
    Of all the antagonists to feature in the eighth- and ninth-century sources, Radbod of Frisia isone of the most prominent, featuring heavily in both historical and hagiographical texts.Because of his prominence, though, there was no fixed vision of Radbod, and he could be different things to different authors working at different times. Presentations of Radbod can be divided into two over-arching groups: the historical sources which portray him as a rebellious duke and antagonist of the Frankish mayors Pippin II and Charles Martel, and the hagiographical ones which portray him as a pagan king whose interactions with the Frisian mission were ambivalent at best, and hostile at worst. Yet even within these groups there was variation. The historical depictions are reasonably stable, but witnessed important narrative alterations which show how authors placed Radbod in a changing vision of the recent Frankish past. The hagiographical depictions are more varied, ranging from Willibald’s portrayal of Radbod as a pagan persecutor in Vita Bonifatii to the somewhat more human portrayal of the ruler in Vita Vulframni. After presenting the most important of these variations and some thoughts on them, this paper will address perhaps the most intriguing issue to emerge from them: the nature of Radbod’s title, and why he was dux to some but rex to others.
    Last Updated:
    7 years ago


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