Friesland ( , also
, ; official fry|Fryslân, ), historically known as Frisia, is a province
of the Netherlands
located in the northern part of the country. It is situated west of Groningen
, northwest of Drenthe
, north of Flevoland
, northeast of North Holland
, and south of the Wadden Sea
. As of January 2020, the province had a population of 649,944 and a total area of .
and seat of the provincial government is the city of Leeuwarden
(West Frisian: ''Ljouwert''), a city with 123,107 inhabitants. Other large municipalities in Friesland are Sneek
(pop. 33,512), Heerenveen
(pop. 50,257) and Drachten
(pop. 55,938). Since 2017, Arno Brok
is the King's Commissioner
in the province. A coalition of the Christian Democratic Appeal
, the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy
, the Labour Party
and the Frisian National Party
forms the executive branch. The province is divided into 18 municipalities. The area of the province was once part of the ancient, larger region of Frisia
. The official languages of Friesland are West Frisian
In 1996 the Provincial Council of Friesland
resolved that the official name of the province should follow the West Frisian
spelling rather than the Dutch spelling, resulting in "Friesland" being replaced by "Fryslân". In 2004 the Dutch government
confirmed this resolution, putting in place a three-year scheme to oversee the name change and associated cultural programme.
The province of Friesland is occasionally referred to as "Frisia" by, amongst others, Hanno Brand, head of the history and literature department at the Fryske Akademy
since 2009. However, the English-language webpage of the Friesland Provincial Council refers to the province as "Fryslân".
were among the migrating Germanic tribes that, following the breakup of Celtic Europe in the 4th century BC, settled along the North Sea. They came to control the area from roughly present-day Bremen
, and conquered many of the smaller offshore islands. What little is known of the Frisii is provided by a few Roman accounts, most of them military. Pliny the Elder
said their lands were forest-covered with tall trees growing up to the edge of the lakes. They lived by agriculture and raising cattle.
In his ''Germania
'', Tacitus would describe all the Germanic peoples of the region as having elected kings with limited powers and influential military leaders who led by example rather than by authority. The people lived in spread-out settlements. He specifically noted the weakness of Germanic political hierarchies in reference to the Frisii, when he mentioned the names of two kings of the 1st century Frisii and added that they were kings "as far as the Germans are under kings".
In the 1st century BC, the Frisii halted a Roman advance and thus managed to maintain their independence. Some or all of the Frisii may have joined into the Frankish and Saxon peoples in late Roman times, but they would retain a separate identity in Roman eyes until at least 296, when they were forcibly resettled as ''laeti
(Roman-era serfs) and thereafter disappear from recorded history. Their tentative existence in the 4th century is confirmed by archaeological discovery of a type of earthenware unique to 4th-century Frisia
, called ''terp
Tritzum'', showing that an unknown number of Frisii were resettled in Flanders
[. Looijenga cites Gerrets' ''The Anglo-Frisian Relationship Seen from an Archaeological Point of View'' (1995) for this contention.]
likely as ''laeti'' under the aforementioned Roman coercion. The lands of the Frisii were largely abandoned by c. 400 as a result of the conflicts of the Migration Period
, climate deterioration, and the flooding caused by a rise in the sea level.
Early Middle Ages
The area lay empty for one or two centuries, when changing environmental and political conditions made the region habitable again. At that time, during the Migration Period, "new" Frisians
(probably descended from a merging of Angles
and Frisii) repopulated the coastal regions.
[, ''The case of the Frisians''.]
These Frisians consisted of tribes with loose bonds, centred on war bands but without great power. The earliest Frisian records name four social classes, the (''nobiles
'' in Latin documents; ''adel'' in Dutch and German) and (''vrijen'' in Dutch and ''Freien'' in German), who together made up the "Free Frisians" who might bring suit at court, and the ''laten'' or ''liten'' with the slave
s, who were absorbed into the ''laten'' during the Early Middle Ages
, as slavery was not so much formally abolished, as evaporated. The ''laten'' were tenants of lands they did not own and might be tied to it in the manner of serf
s, but in later times might buy their freedom.
Under the rule of King Aldgisl
, the Frisians came in conflict with the Frankish mayor of the palace Ebroin
, over the old Roman border fortifications. Aldgisl could keep the Franks at a distance with his army. During the reign of Redbad
, however, the tide turned in favour of the Franks; in 690, the Franks were victorious in the Battle of Dorestad
. In 733, Charles Martel
sent an army against the Frisians. The Frisian army was pushed back to Eastergoa
. The next year the Battle of the Boarn
took place. Charles ferried an army across the Almere
with a fleet that enabled him to sail up to De Boarn. The Frisians were defeated in the ensuing battle,
and their last king Poppo
was killed. The victors began plundering and burning heathen sanctuaries. Charles Martel returned with much loot, and broke the power of the Frisian kings for good. The Franks annexed the Frisian lands between the Vlie
and the Lauwers
. They conquered the area east of the Lauwers in 785, when Charlemagne
. The Carolingians laid Frisia under the rule of ''grewan'', a title that has been loosely related to count
in its early sense of "governor" rather than "feudal overlord
About 100,000 Dutch drowned in a flood in 1228.
When, around 800, the Scandinavia
first attacked Frisia
, which was still under Carolingian
rule, the Frisians were released from military service on foreign territory in order to be able to defend themselves against the heathen Vikings. With their victory in the Battle of Norditi
in 884 they were able to drive the Vikings permanently out of East Frisia
, although it remained under constant threat. Over the centuries, whilst feudal lord
s reigned in the rest of Europe, no aristocratic structures emerged in Frisia. This 'Frisian freedom
' was represented abroad by ''redjeven'' who were elected from among the wealthier farmers or from elected representatives of the autonomous rural municipalities. Originally the ''redjeven'' were all judges, so-called ''Asega'', who were appointed by the territorial lords.
After significant territories were lost to Holland
in the Friso-Hollandic Wars
, Frisia saw an economic downturn in the mid-14th century. Accompanied by a decline in monasteries and other communal institutions, social discord led to the emergence of untitled nobles called ''haadlingen'' ("headmen"), wealthy landowners possessing large tracts of land and fortified homes who took over the role of the judiciary as well offering protection to their local inhabitants. Internal struggles between regional leaders resulted in bloody conflicts and the alignment of regions along two opposing parties: the Fetkeapers and Skieringers
. On 21 March 1498, a small group of Skieringers from Westergo secretly met with Albert III, Duke of Saxony
, the Governor of the Habsburg Netherlands
, in Medemblik
requesting his help. Albrecht, who had gained a reputation as a formidable military commander, accepted and soon conquered all Friesland. Emperor Maximilian of Habsburg
appointed Albrecht hereditary potestate and gubernator of Friesland in 1499.
In 1515, an army of peasant rebels and mercenaries known as the Arumer Zwarte Hoop
started a peasants' revolt against the Habsburg authorities.
The leader was the farmer Pier Gerlofs Donia
, whose farm had been burned down and whose kinfolk had been killed by a marauding ''Landsknecht'' regiment
. Since the regiment had been employed by the Habsburg
authorities to suppress the civil war of the Fetkeapers and Skieringers
, Donia put the blame on the authorities. After this he gathered angry peasants and some petty noblemen from Frisia and Gelderland and formed the ''Arumer Zwarte Hoop''.The rebels received financial support from Charles II, Duke of Guelders
, who claimed the Duchy of Guelders
in opposition to the House of Habsburg. Charles also employed mercenaries under command of his military commander Maarten van Rossum
in their support. However, when the tides turned against the rebels after the Donia's death in 1520, Charles withdrew his support, without which the rebels could no longer afford to pay their mercenary army.
The revolt was put to an end in 1523 and Frisia was incorporated into the Habsburg Netherlands
, bringing an end to the Frisian freedom.
, the Holy Roman Emperor, became the first lord of the Lordship of Frisia
. He appointed Georg Schenck van Toutenburg
, who had crushed the peasants' revolt, as Stadtholder
to rule over the province in his stead. When Charles abdicated in 1556, Frisia was inherited by Philip II of Spain
along with the rest of the Netherlands. In 1566, Frisia joined the Dutch Revolt
against Spanish rule.
In 1577, George de Lalaing, Count of Rennenberg
was appointed Stadtholder of Frisia and other provinces. A moderate, trusted by both sides, he tried to reconcile the rebels with the Crown. But in 1580, Rennenburg declared for Spain. The States of Frisia
raised troops and took his strongholds of Leeuwarden, Harlingen and Stavoren. Rennenburg was deposed and Frisia became the fifth Lordship to join the rebels' Union of Utrecht
. From 1580 onward, all stadtholders were members of the House of Orange-Nassau
. With the Peace of Münster
in 1648, Frisia became a full member of the independent Dutch Republic
, a federation of provincies. In economic and therefore also political importance, Friesland was next in rank to the provinces of Holland
In 1798, three years after the Batavian Revolution
, the provincial lordship of Frisia was abolished and its territory was divided between the Eems and Oude IJssel departments. This was short-lived, however, as Frisia was revived, however as a department in 1802. When the Netherlands were annexed by the First French Empire
in 1810, the department was in French renamed Frise
. After Napoleon
was defeated in 1813 and a new constitution was introduced in 1814, Friesland became a province of the Sovereign Principality of the United Netherlands
, then of the unitary Kingdom of the Netherlands
a year later.
File:Larus argentatus Fries wad.jpg|View of the northern coast of Friesland
Friesland is situated at in the northwest of the Netherlands
, west of the province of Groningen
, northwest of Drenthe
, north of Flevoland
, northeast of the IJsselmeer
and North Holland
, and south of the North Sea
. It is the largest province
of the Netherlands if one includes areas of water; in terms of land area only, it is the third-largest province.
Most of Friesland is on the mainland, but it also includes a number of West Frisian Islands
, including Vlieland
, which are connected to the mainland by ferry. The province's highest point is a dune at above sea level, on the island of Vlieland.
There are four national parks of the Netherlands
located in Friesland: Schiermonnikoog
, De Alde Feanen
(partially in Groningen), and Drents-Friese Wold
(also partially situated in Drenthe).
The ten urban areas in Friesland with the largest population are:
The province is divided into 18 municipalities
, each with local government (municipal council, mayor and aldermen).
The province of Friesland has an oceanic climate
(Köppen climate classification
In 2020, Friesland had a population
of 649,944 and a population density
The years 1880–1900 show slower population growth
due to a farm crisis
during which some 20,000 Frisians emigrated
to the United States
Since the late Middle Ages, Friesland has been renowned for the exceptional height of its inhabitants, who were deemed among the tallest groups of Indo-Europeans. Even early Renaissance poet Dante Alighieri
refers to the height of Frisians
in his ''Divine Comedy
'' when, in the canticle about Hell
, he talks about the magnitude of an infernal demon by stating that "not even three tall Frieslanders, were they set one upon the other, would have matched his height".
Friesland is mainly an agricultural province. The black and white Frisian cattle
, black and white Stabyhoun
and the black Frisian horse
originated here. Tourism
is another important source of income: the principal tourist destinations include the lakes in the southwest of the province and the islands in the Wadden Sea
to the north. There are 195 windmills
in the province of Friesland, out of a total of about 1200 in the entire country.
The Gross domestic product
(GDP) of the region was 19.8 billion € in 2018, accounting for 2.6% of the Netherlands economic output. GDP per capita adjusted for purchasing power was 26,700 € or 89% of the EU27 average in the same year.
Friesland is the only one of the twelve provinces of the Netherlands to have its own language that is recognized as such, West Frisian
. Before the 18th century, varieties of Frisian were also spoken in the provinces of North-Holland
, and together with the Frisian speakers in East-Friesland
a continuous linguistic area existed between Amsterdam and the present day Danish-German border.
According to a study carried out in 2007, West Frisian
is the native language of the 54.3% of the inhabitants of the province of Friesland, followed by Dutch
with 34.7%, and speakers of other regional languages, most of these restricted to Friesland, with 9.7%, and in the end other foreign languages with 1.4%. Frisian speakers are traditionally underrepresented in urban areas, and predominant in the countryside.
West-Frisian is also spoken in a small adjacent part of the province of Groningen
. Up to the 18th century Frisian was spoken in the, at that time Prussian and Hannoveran, lordships of Ost-Friesland
(East-Friesland). Since then the Ost-Frisian population switched to East Frisian (''Ostfriesisch'')
, a Low German
dialect. Only in some, formerly remoted, East-Frisian villages (Saterland
) a variety of historically East Frisian
(''Seeltersk'') is still in use but by an older generation. A collection of dialects named North Frisian
, is or was spoken in North Friesland
, alongside the North See Coast and on the islands of Slesvig-Holstein
. The named Frisian languages are historically related to Old English
, which points towards the fact that Angles
, eventually accompanied by Frisians, came from these areas.
, in south-east Friesland, a dialect of Low Saxon
The language policy in Friesland is preservation. West Frisian is a mandatory subject in Friesland in primary and secondary schools of the Frisian speaking districts. The bilingual (Dutch-Frisian) and trilingual (Dutch-English-Frisian) schools in the province of Friesland use in some lessons West-Frisian as a language of instruction, besides Dutch in most other lessons and next to them English. Literacy in Frisian however, is not often a core aim and that makes the number of Frisians speakers able to write in Frisian only 12%.
The provincial government takes various initiatives to preserve the West Frisian language. All parents in Friesland receive, at their children's birth, information about language and multilingualism (ex. 'taaltaske'). To support the use of Frisian in public and at public events, the province also invests in the development of speech pathology materials and strives to create information technology devices for the West Frisian language. The Frisian government subsidizes the Afûk organization, which offers language courses and actively promotes Frisian in all sectors of society as well as the corporate domain which as a rule is dominated by Dutch and Modern English. The province also promotes a wide range of art and entertainment in Frisian.
The province is famous for its speed skaters
, with mass participation in cross-country ice skating when weather conditions permit. When winters are cold enough to allow the freshwater canals to freeze hard, the province holds its traditional Elfstedentocht
(Eleven cities tour), a ice skating
tour. A traditional sport is Frisian handball
. Another Frisian practice is ''fierljeppen
'', a sport with some similarities to pole vaulting. A jump consists of an intense sprint to the pole (''polsstok''), jumping and grabbing it, then climbing to the top while trying to control the pole's forward and lateral movements over a body of water and finishing with a graceful landing on a sand bed opposite to the starting point. Because of all the diverse skills required in fierljeppen, fierljeppers are considered to be very complete athletes with superbly developed strength and coordination. In the warmer months, many Frisians practice ''wadlopen
'', the traditional art of wading across designated sections of the Wadden Sea
at low tide.
There are currently two top level football
clubs playing in Friesland: SC Cambuur
from Leeuwarden (home stadium Cambuur Stadion
) and SC Heerenveen
(home stadium Abe Lenstra Stadion
The King's Commissioner
of Friesland is Arno Brok
. The Provincial Council of Friesland
has 43 seats. The Provincial Executive
is a coalition of the Christian Democratic Appeal, the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy
, the Labour Party
and the Frisian National Party
|align="left"|Christian Democratic Appeal
|align="left"|Forum for Democracy
|align="left"|People's Party for Freedom and Democracy
|align="left"|Frisian National Party
|align="left"|Party for Freedom
|align="left"|Party for the Animals
!align="center" | 43
The four motorways in the province are A6
, and A32
The main railway station of Friesland is Leeuwarden
, which connects the railways Arnhem–Leeuwarden
, and Leeuwarden–Stavoren
which are all (partially) located in the province.
and Drachten Airfield
near Drachten are the two general aviation airports in the province. The Royal Netherlands Air Force
uses Vlieland Heliport
and the Leeuwarden Air Base
* Frisian Lakes
– consists of 24 lakes in central and southwest Friesland
* Helma Erkelens, Taal fen it hert. Language of the Heart. About Frisian Language and Culture
', Province of Fryslân, Leeuwarden 2004
* John Hines & Nelleke IJssennagger (eds.), ''Frisians and their North Sea Neighbours: From the Fifth Century to the Viking Age'', Boydell & Brewer, Woodbridge/Rochester 2017
* Goffe Jensma, 'Minorities and Kinships. The Case of Ethnolinguistic Nationalism in Friesland’, in: P. Broomans et al. (eds.), ''The Beloved Mothertongue. Ethnolinguistic Nationalism in Small Nations: Inventories and Reflections'', Peeters, Louvain-Paris-Dudley 2008, p. 63-78
* Horst Haider Munske (ed.), ''Handbuch des Friesischen / Handbook of Frisian Studies'', Max Niemeyer, Tübingen 2001
* Oebele Vries, 'Frisonica libertas: Frisian Freedom as an Instance of Medieval Liberty', in: ''Journal of Medieval History'' 41 (2015), nr. 2, p. 229-248
'' and ''Leeuwarder Courant
'' are daily newspapers mainly written in Dutch. Omrop Fryslân
is the public broadcaster with radio and TV programs mainly in Frisian.
[Oer de Omrop]
Omrop Fryslân. Retrieved on 27 April 2014.
Province of Fryslân
official government website
Provincial Tourist BoardFrisian Film Archive
Category:NUTS 2 statistical regions of the European Union
Category:Provinces of the Netherlands
Category:Regions of Europe with multiple official languages