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Frisian Freedom >> General Overview

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Government

Trade

Military

Current Situation


Frisian Freedom
Fryske Frijheid
Friese Vrijheid


Status

State of the Holy Roman Empire (de jure)

Capital

Ljouwert

Largest City

's-Gravenhage

Common Languages

Frisian, Dutch, German, Danish

Religion

Protestant



History

Great Peasant War begins (June 11, 1496)
Battle of Hemmingstedt (February 17, 1500)
Battle of Ljouwert (March-July 1511)
Punctuation of the Hague (December 19, 1940)
Peace of Lübeck (April 27, 1541)



Government

Confederation
Potestaat: Klaes Auwerk
Grand Syndic: Simeon Wynja
Bishop of Ljouwert: Sybraht fan Wyk



Population

~350,000

The Frisian Freedom (Frisian: Fryske Frijheid; Dutch: Friese Vrijheid; German: Friesische Freiheit), commonly called Greater Frisia, Republic of Frisia or just Frisia is a political organization of non-aristocratic republics primarily based in the coasts of the North Sea in Western-Central Europe. The true area under its control cannot be calculated by current means, but Frisia holds a total population of 350,000 people, more than 335 of which reside in European Frisia itself

Originally organized as a military alliance between the Frisian Freedom, Republic of East Frisia and the Peasant Republic in Ditmarsh, it formalized into a confederation during the Great Peasant War, and was given recognition as a Princely Estate of the Empire in the negotiations leading to the Peace of Lübeck which officially ended the war.

It is now reluctantly considered, as a whole, a Princely Estate of the Holy Roman Empire. Frisia borders the the County of branant, the county of Flanders and the Brandenburgian province of Kleves in the south, the prince-bishopric of Münster and the duchy of Oldenburg in the west. In North Frisia, it borders the Kingdom of Denmark in the north, the Duchy of Holstein in the west and the Free City of Hamburg in the south. In Rugen, it borders the Electorate of Brandenburg in the south and the Baltic Sea in the north. Their additional territories are all islands in the Caribbeans and the Ivory Coast which only border other colonies along the sea.

History
Early History

Frisian history is intertwined with its struggle against a possible forced change in identity and its long-standing struggle against both floods and feudalism. The people known as the Frisii came to settle in Frisia in the 6th century BCE. According to Pliny the Elder, the Frisii (and their close neighbors the Chauci) lived on terps, man-made hills, while others believe that Frisians lived along a broad expanse of the North Sea Coast. This view is possibly correct as the remaining Frisian peoples in Jutland and German North Sea Coast can demonstrate. The North Sea is often called the Frisian Sea as well.


Frisia Magna during the early 700s
Frisian presence during the Early Middle Ages has been documented from North-Western Flanders up to the Weser River Estuary. These Frisians, unlike the Frisii of the Roman times, were the descendants of Anglo-Saxon immigrants from the German Bight, arriving during the Great Migration. By the 8th century, ethnic Frisians also started to colonize the coastal areas North of the Eider River under Danish rule. The nascent Frisian languages were spoken all along the southern North Sea coast. That region is typically called 'Greater Frisia' or Frisia Magna.

Earlier in history, little distinction was made between Frisians and Saxons. The Byzantine Procopius described three peoples living in Great Britain: Angles, Frisians and Britons, and the Danish author of Knútsdrápa celebrating the 11th-century Canute the Great used "Frisians" as a synonym of "English". Evidence exists that Frisian culture was dominant in East Anglia since at least 5th century, as distinct land-holdings arrangements in carucates (these forming vills assembled in leets), partible inheritance patterns of common lands held in by kin, resistance to manorialization and other social institutions were all Frisian customs. Some East Anglian sources called the mainland inhabitants Warnii, rather than Frisians.

The entirety of the Low Countries was known as the Frisian Kingdom by the Franks in 7-8th century. This kingdom may have comprised the coastal areas form from the Scheldt River to the Weser River and further East. At that time, Frisians had four social classes: Ethelings (the nobility) and Frillings who made the Free Frisians who might bring suit at court, the laten and the liten. The liten were slaves, but were absorbed into the laten (who were the peasantry) by early Middle Ages as slavery essentially evaporated in Frisia. The laten, while somewhat similar to Serfs in other realms, had the right to buy their freedom.

The basic land-holding unit for assessment of taxes and military contributions was the ploegg (cf. "plow") or teen (cf. tithing, cf. "hundred"), which, however, also passed under other local names. The teen was pledged to supply ten men for the heer, or army. Ploegg or teen formed a unit of which the members were collectively responsible for the performance of any of the men. The ploegg was a compact holding that originated with a single lineage or kinship, whose men in early times went to war under their chief, and devolved in medieval times into a union of neighbors rather than kith and kin. Several, often three, ploeggs were grouped into a burar, whose members controlled and adjudicated the uses of pasturage (but not tillage) which the ploeggs held in common, and came to be in charge of roads, ditches and dikes. Twelve ploeggs made up a "long" hundred, responsible for supplying a hundred armed men, four of which made a go (cf. Gau).

In the 7th century, Frisians under the kings Aldgisl and Radboud had their center of power in the city of Utrecht. Its ancient customary law was drawn up as the Lex Frisionum in the late eighth century. The Frisian Kingdom's end came in 734 at the Battle of the Boarn, when the Frisians were defeated by the Franks, who then conquered the western part up to the Lauwers. Frankish troops conquered the area east of the Lauwers in 785, after Charlemagne defeated the Saxon leader Widukind. 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".

Under the Carolingian (later Holy Roman) Empire, Frisian merchants and skippers played an important part in the international luxury trade, establishing commercial districts in distant cities as Sigtuna, Hedeby, Ribe, York, London, Duisburg, Cologne, Mainz, and Worms.

Frisian coasts were raided by Danish vikings in the 840s. Vikings both raided, occupied, and in some regions settled peacefully in, Frisian lands. They built simple forts and cooperated in governorship and trade with the natives of Frisia. One of their famous leaders was Rorik of Dorestad.

During the 12th century, Frisian noblemen and the city of Groningen founded the Upstalsboom League under the slogan of 'Frisian freedom' to counter feudalizing tendencies. The league consisted of modern Friesland, Groningen, East Frisia, Harlingerland, Jever and Rüstringen. The Frisian districts in West Friesland West of the Zuiderzee did not participate, neither did the districts North of the Eider River along the Danish North Sea coast. The former were occupied by the count of Holland in 1289, and the latter were governed by the Duke of Schleswig and the king of Denmark. The same holds true for the district of Land Wursten East of the Weser River. The Upstalsboom League was revived in the early 14th century, but it collapsed after 1337. By then the non-Frisian city of Groningen took the lead of the independent coastal districts.

Frisian Unification

While Feudal lords reigned in most of Europe, Frisia was one of the few places where no aristocratic structures emerged. This 'Freedom' was, at the time, represented abroad by the redjeven who were elected representatives of the autonomous rural municipalities. In time, the power of the commonfolk diminished in favor of the rising burgher class, and the 'redjeven' eventually gave way to the Syndic class in the late 15th century.


Site of the Opostalboom
While many counts laid claims to Frisia, none could develop themselves as landlords as the second pillar of feudalism (that is to say, serfdom) was completely absent in Frisia. Unlike large parts of Europe under Feudalism, in Frisia there always remained a monetary economy. The Frisian farmers mainly practiced cattle breeding and combined this for centuries with trade. When manufactories of cloth became standardized, cloth because the primary subject of trade in Middle Ages Frisia. The serf's duties to their lord - the mandatory tributes of payment in kind - could be bought off with money by the Frisians. The Count of Holland could for some time still practice their power as judge, but lack of a local root of power eventually caused their demise. Instead, during times of crisis or dispute, potestaats were elected by the free men of Frisia. Potestaats led free Frisian armies against invading feudal lords, they also served to mediate disputes, however they held no centralized executive power of their own.

The absence of a manorial authority meant that Frisia had no central administration or legal and judicial system at the time. The various lands, referred to as provinces, were in reality autonomous areas controlled by their residents. To provide a systematic legal procedure, local leaders attempted to agree and apply local rules to all Frisia. This was facilitated by the Opstalboom in Aurich: A meeting where legal and political delegates from the various provinces came to judge, to make decisions and, if necessary, to defend their autonomy. These delegates were elected by their electorate in Easter and together called to a jury. The meetings took place once a year on the Tuesday after Pentecost. Later those meetings were also held in Grins. Land ownership played a major role: larger monasteries had a larger power in the Opstalboom. The lack of a central administration however meant the Opstalboom was effectively powerless to enforce its decisions at the time. The modern Diet is a spiritual continuation of the old practice.

West-Frisian War

West Frisians, a group of Frisians living outside the territorial integrity of the Frisian Freedom, were generally an oppressed group in the County of Holland. The numerous West Frisian Rebellions brought Frisia and Holland to a centuries-long conflict that only ended upon the dissolution of the County of Holland in the conclusion of the Frisian Wars. While conflict started as early as 1122, the earliest "Holland-Frisian War" began after William II, Count of Holland and Anti-King to the Holy Roman Emperor was killed by the Frisians while attempting to suppress a Frisian Revolt.

The West Frisian War was started by Floris, Count of Holland and William II's son, who attacked the Frisians in a first attempt to retrieve the body of his father in 1274, but was pushed back due to peasant revolts, noble uprisings and feudal wars back home. He attacked again in 1282, this time the Frisians in the north and after defeating them in Vronen retrieved the body of his father. Unlike his father and predecessors, he did not attack West Frisia from the south, but by building a fleet, sailing around the coast and attacking them from the rear. With this strategy, he succeeded in conquering several regions. It took the disastrous flood of 1287 and 1288 for him to finally break the resistance posed by the West Frisians. Floris V, Count of Holland succeeded in annexing West Frisia, but it was his successor John I, who achieved ultimate victory over the West Frisians in 1297. After John died without descendants in 1299, the heirs to the county of Holland were the house of Avesnes, who now controlled Hainult, Holland and Zeeland.

The next conflict came in 1309 when the Frisian count William III attempted to take over Frisia and end Frisian Freedom during his administration. He landed with a fleet of 1500 "heads" in Gaasterland, but his foe Hassel Martena the potestaat of the Frisians had him flee back to his ships. He attempted to reconcile with them in 1310, whereby the Frisians of Westergo acknowledged him as count and granted him certain rights in their territory in exchange for him recognising certain privileges of theirs. William III had thought he would be able to quietly assume more rights over time, but the Frisians had no intention of letting him do that, and he got nowhere. After the death of Martena on 16 August 1312 civil war erupted in Frisia between the Vetkopers and Schieringers

Friso-Hollandic War


Monument to the Battle of Warns. Better dead than a Slave
In 1323, the agreement between Frisians and the Dutch fell apart as William III of Holland got impatient with Frisian intransigence and the Frisians started expelling Hollanders and their Frisian supporters. There were open hostilities, mainly at sea, between the two estates of the Holy Roman Empire until 1327, but eventually a compromise was agreed between the Dutch and the Frisians mainly on the same terms as the one from 1310. Westergo used these concessions to break away from Holland after William III did. This again resulted in conflicts, but also in a century-long alliance between Frisians and the House of Valois in France, which was fighting the Hundred Years' War at the time. In 1344, the pro-Holland party in Staveren was defeated and Staveren also broke away from Holland. At that time, negotiations were attempted, but Frisians refused to make concessions, making another Dutch-Frisian war inevitable.

After the Dutch counts completed their conquest of West Frisia, they also attempted to take over Middle Frisia. In 1345, William IV called his knights and vassals together, crossed the Zuiderzee with a large fleet and with the help of Flemish and French knights made land in Frisia between Mirns and Laaksum. Before the battle, a party of knights, led by William's uncle, John of Beaumont, went ashore south of Staveren, and captured the Sint-Odulphus monastery which they planned to use as a fortification. The Dutch knights, wearing armor but without any horses, marched to Stavoren without their archers as William hoped to capture the city quickly. They reached St. Odulphusklooster, but were crushed fully and completely by a host of enraged Frisian farmers in Warns. The knights fled to the Red Cliffs, but were decisively beaten in a swamp where William IV was captured and later executed in Warns. The victory in Warns was the first of final victories for the Frisians until after the Great Frisian War ended.

The execution of William IV enraged Emperor Louis IV who repealed the Frisian Freedom and granted Frisia to his wife Empress Margaret II, Countess of Hainaut. Margaret's preconditions in ceding the three counties to her son William I, Duke of Bavaria led to a civil war between the Hooks an Cods in Frisia. The bourgeois, city-dwelling Cods hoped to bring William to the countship without any preconditions, while the conservative noble Hooks remained faithful to Margaret. It was clear that there could be no new attack on the Frisians under these circumstances, so apart from some confiscations of Frisian property in Holland, and a renewal of the hostilities at sea, the Frisian issue disappeared into the background, creating the period of Long Truce.

The chaos that came with the death of William IV forced Holland to come to negotiations. A truce came to effect on 22 Jun 1348 while the Cods delivered the countship of Frisia to William I, Duke of Bavaria. William IV was struck mad after his trip to England in 1357 which meant his younger brother Albert I of Bavaria was called to Holland to succeed him, which led to another flare-up in the civil war when a third brother, Louis the Roman, tried to take the countship for himself, with the support of the Hoek nobles. When the truce nearly ran to its end, negotiations were started to reach everlasting peace, but these led to nothing. Albert of Bavaria demanded effective control over all Frisia, while Frisians, having fought and won, countered by demanding that Albert go f-ck himself. This lack of conflict without de jure peace resulted in what is known as The Long Truce.

After 1361, an agreement between ten prominent cities, as well as many clergymen and landlords effectively renewed the covenant of the Opstalboom, making Groningen a permanent Diet for Frisia and giving it more powers. At the same time, a period of economic downturn diminished the power of monasteries, leading to the emergence of the haadlingen ("headmen"), wealthy landowners possessing large tracts of land and fortified homes. The Haadlingen, unlike most forms of European Nobility, did not derive their powre from land or title granted by another monarch. They took over the role of the judiciary and military protection of Frisians.

This resulted in a renewed era of conflict inside Frisia, creating the two opposing factions in Frisian politics: The Vetkopers and the Schieingers. At the same time, inner politics in Holland resulted in Albert I of Bavaria declaring war on Frisia, calling his vassals from all Low Countries to fight for his so-called feudal rights to Frisian territory. The bishop of Utrecht, Frederik III van Blankenheim, had also been more active. He captured the stronghold of Coevorden in Drenthe and Albert was scared the bishop might take over Frisia instead of him if he wasn't fast enough.

Albert I entered the war backed by France, England and Burgundy. The Vetkopers and Schieringers in Frisia briefly put aside their differences and elected a Juw Juwinga, headling from Bolsward as their potestaat. When an army of 9,000 led by Albert of Bavaria and William of Ostrevant landed near Kuinre in August 1396, Juwinga successfully defeated them by luring them into the Marshlands. Afterwards, the Frisians abandoned the battlefield and elected to let the marshy terrain kill the Dutch for them. This strategy worked perfectly. Albert of Bavaria remained in Kuinre for two months without any battles to show for it, and once he attempted to leave, he found it very difficult to operate in the marshy terrain with an army of knights. Furthermore, it started to rain all day, while the sea got more and more tempestuous. When he decided to give up and go home on September, the Frisians were waiting for him, and he too was taken to custody. Unlike his predecessor, he was not executed post-haste, instead thrown to dungeon to rot or be ransomed back to Holland.

Between 1396 and 1398, the Dutch attempted to liberate their duke multiple times. The Dutch attacked in August 18, 1397 from Hindelopen and Terschelling but ended inconclusively. In 1398, a second large-scale invasion was launched. This army, led by William of Ostrevant, landed without problems at Lemmer, and marched along the south coast of Friesland, which is sandy rather than marshy, to the city of Staveren. After a bloody battle, William was given a treaty by Vetkopers that would not only free Albert of Bavaria but also recognize him as Lord of Frisia in exchange for some gold. The Vetkopers responsible were executed in Frisia, but this treaty -unsigned- was made the primary evidence Holland would have for its claim to ownership over Frisia for the next century.

The reason the Hollanders failed to sign this treaty was the fact that an insurrection in West Frisian territories held by Holland shattered its stability in September 1398. Achtkarspelen, a small Frisian territory on the eastern border of Oostergo rose in rebellion. While the insurrection was quashed quickly, this demonstrated that Holland could not stop at the eastern borders of Oostergo as the free territories across the Lauwers river would always remain a threat to the count's rule. As such, Albert -now freed and back in Holland and holding a grudge- allied himself with the Vetkopers in major Frisian settlements between Lauwers and the Ems.

In April, while William of Ostrevant crossed the Zuiderzee to fight yet another insurrection in Achtkarspelen, the Frisians besieged Dokkum, a stronghold of major importance to the Hollanders in the north of Oostergo, not far from Achtkarspelen. William of Ostrevant sent Gerard of Heemskerk, Lord of Oosthuizen around the coast of Westergo and Oostergo to reinforce the garrison of Dokkum on 28 May and later he himself crossed overland on June 2. He defeated an abortive Frisian attack on his camp and relieved Dokkum the next day. He built a fortress in Ter Luine east of the city which became site of many battles as the Frisians fought to besiege Dokkum again.

Quickly realizing he couldn't defeat the Hollanders in Ter Luine, Juwinga attempted to wait the Dutch out. His plan worked: William of Ostrevant left to Staveren around 3-4 weeks later. This retreat was made around the Frisian coast, not overland as he had come and harried by Frisians every step of the way. At the same time, occupied Oostergo -including its capital in Ljouwert- suffered a state of rebellion against its Vetkoper and Dutch government. The Dutch were driven to retreat everywhere: Ter Luine was captured in August, besieged by a large Frisian force and stormed day and night, and when Ter Luine fell, so did Dokkum which surrendered in September. The castles of Cammingaburg and Rodnburg -both supporters of Albert in Frisia- fell to the Frisians and many Vetkoper burghers and headlings escaped to Holland alongside Albert himself.


Map of Stavoren
In the autumn of 1399, Frisians finally began the Siege of Staveren, the last city still under Hollander control. The Frisians lacked the manpower to take the city, while the Hollanders lacked the initiative to retake the countryside. Albert of Bavaria attempted, multiple times, to raise a force to push the Frisians back but he failed every time. This meant that a six-year truce was negotiated, which went into effect on 16 October 1401. In the next years, while naval skirmishes were common, land battles ended though the situation around Staveren remained tense.

Frederik III van Blankenheim of Utrecht decided this was the time to encroach into the north. He began conflict when Groningen, nominally a possession of the bishopric of Utrecht, held itself aloof from its overlord after any possibility of a siege had been averted. Allying himself with -as per usual- the Vetkopers, the bishop stepped into the gap left by the retreating Hollanders. This resulted in a renewed civil war in the cities of Hunsingo, Fivelgo and Oldambt, though this civil war resulted in a resounding victory for the Schieringers. In reaction, Frederik III called up his vassals and marched northward. In June 1401, he besieged Groningen but the large garrison of the city forced him to negotiate a truce three weeks later.

The truce between the Dutch and the Frisians ended in 1404, violated by latent hostilities mainly by the Frisians who wanted to retake Staveren. Albert of Bavaria died in 16 December 1404 and was replaced by William II of Bavaria as count of Holland, Zeeland and Hainaut. He waged a furious privateering war against Frisia for two years, until mediation by some Hanseatic cities in 1406 led to a one-year truce, which was again renewed four times until 1410. While hostilities at sea were resumed in 1410, opportunity came knocking for Frisians in the winter of 1410-11. The severity of the storms made travel across Zuiderzee impossible, and this meant Staveren could no longer be resupplied by Holland. In the night of 4 March 1411 some Frisians crossed the frozen moat, climbed the city walls and managed to open the gates to their army, liberating the last Hollandic stronghold in Middle Frisia. Fighting a naval war with a rival in Holland, William made truce with the Frisians in June 1411, which was renewed for three years in August.

Great Frisian War


Hostilities start in Groningen
While the Vetkopers and the Schieringers had been fighting since the two factions had formed, they came to their greatest conflict in 1413. Hostility started when the Vetkopers, exiled from Groningen over disputes a few months prior, took the city on October 1415. While Vetkopers had typically been the side supported by foreign forces, this time the Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund helped the Schieringers in their fight as they attempted to regroup in Westerlauwers Frisia. Battles between the two sides and their hosts occurred nearly consistently as each side attempted to take over cities held by the other. The two sides came face to face first in Oxwerderzijl in 1416 where the Schieringers were defeated. Then in 1417 where the Schieringers attempted to take back Groningen in June. The two fought in Okswerderzijl in June 18 where despite winning the battle, the Vetkoper leader Keno was killed in action.

Meanwhile, a succession war triggered by the death of William II of Bavaria forced that Sigismund reaffirm Frisian Freedom. Despite his support for the Freedom -and as such the Schieringers- he failed to send them any help, which meant that for more than a year, the Schieringers were dominated on land though they held supremacy at sea. The Vtkopers attacked Dokkum again in 1418, and burned it to the ground and destroyed its walls. Despite this victory, the Vetkopers failed to defeat the Schieringers as they had remained in the fortress of Ezumazijl stins where they were defeated only days before the Vetkopers were about to give up. The power of the Schieringers was as good as broken and they were willing to make peace, but the talks fell apart in 29 August 1420. when the Vetkopers were defeated soundly near the city of Franeker.

Bolstered by this victory, the Schieringers continued to push forward, taking Bolsard on April 30, 1420. The Vetkopers sailed a fleet through the Vlie to Hindeloopen where the two armies faced each other on May 12, resulting in yet another victory for the Vetkopers. Fearful of what this could mean, John III, William II's successor as Duke of Bavaria and Count of Holland sent a small army across the Zuiderzee on Novmber 1420. John III's support, though not militarily mighty, was the turning tide for the Vetkopers.

The Schieringers, backed by John III, took back Workum, Staveren, Bolsward and Dokkum. Inexplicably enough however John III betrayed his allies and concluded a treaty partitioning Frisia between himself and the Vetkopers. As a result, the Frisians in Hollander-occupied Frisia rose in full rebellion against John III. While fighting continued against the Vetkopers in unoccupied Frisia, the rebels marched towards West-Frisia. The fortress of Lemmer was captured on 18 January 1422 while Helder was taken on 23 July of the same year and Beverwyk on August 19. John III was forced to the negotiation table where he surrendered most of North Holland alongside those territories of Frisia that it had occupied. This peace in Groningen marked the first major victory against Holland in the 15th century and heralded its collapse. The fall of Beverwyk and with it Amsterdam forced all parties to meet in Groningen to find peace in 1423.

The County of Holland surrendered West-Frisia, alongside Amsterdam itself, to Frisia and relocated its capital to the Hague, rescinding all claims to Frisia in perpetuity. The Vetkopers and Schieringers both agreed on upholding Frisian Freedom and banning foreign officers form office in the city. This was the penultimate conflict between the Vetkopers and the Schieringers, though the final conflict is better understood as part of the Great Peasant War.

East Frisian Conflict


Battle of the Wild Ackers
Hostilities were resumed inside Frisia by 1426. Territorial disputes over ownership of a castle resulted in a peasants' uprising against the tom Brok family's rule over East Frisia. The bishopric of Münster sided with the rebelling Focko Ukena while the Archbishopric of Bremen sidd with the Brok family. Focko defeated the Broks in the battle of Datern, and pushed forward to the Wild Ackers where he defeated the army of Ocko tom Brok on 28 October of that same year. Ocko fled, but was arrested and imprisoned in Leer. Once he was victorious, Focko Ukena tried to merge East Friesland under one rule. Focko turned increasingly authoritarian and his high taxes quickly aroused opposition. In 1430, a failed attack on Bremen resulted in a popular revolt against Focko's rule, and he was forced to give up his claim on 2 November of the same year.

The peasants that had fought alongside him only four years earlier now turned against him in favor of the Cirksena family. Edzard Cirksena released Ocko tom Brok from prison and besieged Focko in his castle. Focko managed to escape by crossing the river Eem in a barrel, and he went to Münster. He began a campaign of robberies and plunder in the countryside and was eventually defeated in 1433, dying of unknown causes before 1436.

In 1456, the threat from Philip the Good of Burgundy, at that point Count of Holland, Flanders and Brabant, drove the foundation of a "council of the Frisian countries" on 15 August 1456, under a new covenant against all landlords. In 1459, attempts made by Hamburg to establish Edzard Cirksena as a noble lord over East Frisia started a rivalry between the Frisians and the Hanseatic League. When in 1464 Edzard Cirksena crowned himself count of East Frisia, this culminated into a war that continued until 1471. Eventually and after a lengthy siege on Hamburg, the Hanseatic League surrendered. Edzard and his family were arrested, tried and later executed, and East Frisia remained part of the Frisian realm.

Great Peasant War

The Great Peasant War was a conflict that clashed in the Holy Roman Empire between 1486 and 1541. At its core, it was a series of peasant revolts that occurred concurrently throughout the Empire. The peasantry had, for a long time, demanded economic, political and religious amendments, only to be refused every time. This dissatisfaction grew to such an extent that violent revolts started becoming common day practice. While outside of Frisia -which was for all intents and purposes a 'peasant republic' and the Peasant Republic in Ditmarsh it lacked central leadership or proper armament, the peasants posed a challenge to noble authority.

In Frisia, the Peasant Republic manifested in a conflict between the richer Vetkopers and the poorer, more popular Schieringers. Riots over the sale of beer -which the Vetkopers had prohibited- set Ljouwert aflame and started a battle on the streets that led to massacres of the unpopular Vetkopers in the city. The riots spread out throughout Middle Frisia, toppling Vetkopers from their position of power one-by-one. In response, the Vetkoper-aligned Potestaat Tjerk Walta asked Albert, Duke of Saxony and Stadholder-general of the Low Countries for help. The Shieringers called this a beach of the agreement made in the Peace of Groningen (1423) and took up arms.


Vetkopers betray Frisia for Albert of Saxony
On February 1498, a Saxon force of 1,500 marched from the County of Gelre -in which they had been fighting the count a few weeks earlier- and marched into Middle Frisia. Albert, who held all Southern Low Countries and wanted to extend his authority -and in turn the authority of the Holy Roman Emperor and King of Spain- to the rest of Northern Low Countries, defeated the Schieringers in Gelderland and marched further to Overijsel -a land belonging to the Bishop of Utrecht. An army, led by Neithard Fuchs defeated the small Saxon Army in Emmeloord, while diplomats opened negotiations with the Kings of England, Portugal and France for a temporary alliance against a common enemy in Spain.

The situation grew more grim. While Fuchs' army was holding the Saxon force back -if barely-, the Vetkoper government in Frisia actually agreed to recognize Albert as 'hereditary potestaat' and accepted to put an end to Frisian Freedom. In 1499, Albert himself arrived into the warzone with a host of 25,000. He easily captured Franeker and Ljouwert and then deployed his war force under the direction of Schaumberch towards Sandveld where the resistance was more intense. He was defeated in Terherne by the Frisians and retreated to Sneek.

From Sneek, the Saxon army marched for Starum and then to the High Cliff on June 10 1498. The main force of the Schieringers met the Saxon-Vetkoper force in Murnser Cliff and after defeating a numerically inferior Saxon Force, marched for Ljouwert. Ljouwert was liberated from Vetkoper control on August 3 of the same year, and an election was held -without the presence of Vetkopers- that appointed Juw Dekama as the new potestaat.

By 1500, the relatively successful campaign led by the Schieringers gave the discontent citizens of the Saxon-Vetkoper held cities to rise. The Ommelanden people as well as the city of Groningen massively revolted against the rule of Albert III. Albert's son Henry IV of Saxony had imposed various taxes and leases on Frisia and established his seat on Franeken. The Frisian population, not used to being taxed or living on leased land, did not want to know anything about it, and these taxes actively put tensions on the Vetkoper-Saxon agreement. Eventually, when Hessel Martena fined notable Frisians and burned entire villages that refused to pay, the Vetkopers broke ties with Albert and began a revolt in Bolsward. A Vetkoper-aligned force laid siege on Franeker on May 12, 1500. Despite what the Saxons expected, relatively well-trained soldiers under the mainly burgher Vetkopers did not run low or break apart. Franeker fell to the siege by July 3 of the same year and Henry IV of Saxony was taken into custody.

Upon hearing this, Albert, at that time residing in East Frisia, left with his force to help free his son. The Frisians tried to turn that army around and at the initiative of Groningen, a large army, led by yet another disgruntled Vetkoper Jancko Douwama, came to intercept. The battle occurred east of Groningen on July 14, and managed to push back the Saxons thanks to reinforcements from the city's garrison. Albert retreated towards Emden, pillaging the countryside until he died on September 12, 1500. As his second son -and preferred heir for the office of potestaat- was still in custody, George, his heir to the duchy of Saxony, took that office. By 1514, the de facto territory of the 'hereditary potestaat' was limited only to those parts of Frisia east of the Ems. As the Frisian Freedom was no longer recognized, many neighboring Princes attempted to take over the territory of Frisia through invasion: Frisians had to hold back attacks by Oldenburg, Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel, Gelre and Utrecht.

Hostilities resumed in 1516 when George of Saxony crossed the Ems to attack Wynskoat. George's Mercenaries in the Landsknecht Black Band made land in Westhook in Middle Frisia. They marchd for Kimswerd, somewhat southwest of Franeker, and burned it down with most of its inhabitants in the buildings on 29 January 1515. The Landsknecht mercenaries decisively defeated Frisian forces in West-Frisia and Middle Frisia, capturing Amsterdam and Ljouwert by early 1517 in a series of brutal campaigns that only made them -and both the Duke of Saxony and the Holy Roman Emperor that had allowed him to hire the Landsknecht in the first place- wholly unpopular to the Frisians. At this time, early in the Age of Reformation and only months after the official Schism between the Catholic Church and Martin Luther's creed, a Center of Reformation appeared inside Ljouwert. Thoughts of disapproval against the Roman Catholic Church had been spreading across Europe for more than a century at that point as a result of the increasing corruption of monks and clerics, and voices were raised questioning the current principles and greed of the Church. A cleric in Ljouwert named Pitter Widema became one of the many monks that formally broke communion with the Catholic Church in his declaration in 1517. This was followed by a period of internal strife where the commonfolk and the burghers attacked Catholic clergy inside Frisia and, backed by the converted Clergy that had followed Widema's lead, took over the catholic diocese and, monasteries and churches. In 1526, the conversion of Frisia finally found a conclusion when a mob of Protestant Zealots led by Widema himself laid siege to the Great Jacobin Church in Ljouwert and toppled the last Catholic stronghold in the country, with the Opstalboom following through and banning the Roman Catholic faith within Frisian territories.

This separation was viewed popularly inside Frisia itself, but was a double-edged sword in terms of its war against Saxony. Declaring its clerical secession as a case for war, the King of Spain -who was the true overlord for which the Duke of Saxony served in the Low Countries for- called for Reichskrieg against Frisia in his capacity as the Archduke of Austria and Holy Roman Emperor. At this time, the Great Peasant War had reached its zenith, with tens of thousands of peasants already in full rebellion against their noble lieges all over the Holy Roman Empire which meant that the majority of the Empire's princes were too busy fighting their own peasants to be able to deploy any meaningful aid whatsoever, but nonetheless many princes, most notable among them Bavaria, Palatinate and Utrecht, did in fact deploy forces to the Imperial War. In reaction Potestaat Jan Dykstra successfully brought in England and France to Frisia's aid. The main reasons for England and France's intervention in the Reichskrieg for Frisia was the fact that France's strategic interests demanded weakening Habsburg power in Europe while England primarily fought to aid a possible protestant ally against a definite Catholic enemy.

Treaty of Lübeck

With England and France's aid, Frisia's luck turned quickly. It decisively defeated the Imperial army in the Battle of Swol, pushed back the Spanish fleet in the Battle of Geirr's Sea bolstered by the English Channel Squadron and finally aided by the French managed to push through to both the Hague and later Rotterdam (Siege of Rotterdam, 1536). By 1539, the territories left to the Spanish County of Holland was fully under Frisian occupation, and the peasant republic of Ditmarsh had joined the Republic as the Province of North Frisia. It took until the final push in the Battle of Amersfort (10-13 June 1541) that Spain caved in. Negotiations began in the neutral city of Lübeck between Saxony and Spain on one side and Frisia, France and England on the other. Spain agreed to rescind any and all claims to the territories of the County of Holland and of Frisia, to release the prince-bishopric of Utrecht out of his immediate vassalage and to dismantle a number of forts along its border with France. In addition, Spain accepted to recognize Frisian Freedom as paramount inside Frisia and finally to revoke the ban on Frisia's princely status in the Holy Roman Empire. In exchange, Frisia paid an immediate amount of 500,000 Hollandic thalers as indemnity and a total of 2 million thalers as reparations through a period of 16 years, through which a truce would be held between all belligerent parties.

First Narrow Sea War


Grutte Widema faces Resolution, Sovereign

While Frisia and England enjoyed great relations during the latter years of the Great Peasant War, things went south after the former no longer had a war to worry about. With full control over the Ems and Rhine Estuaries and the natural harbor of Amsterdam, the Frisians were in a better position for trading in the Narrow Sea, and this ensuing rush for trade domination brought th former allies into conflict. The Frisians, having made peace with Spain, quickly replaced the English as dominant traders in the Champagne and Hanseatic trade nodes, and while the North Sea remained for the most part controlled by the English, the hostilities between the Catholic Dano-Norwegian monarchy and the Anglican monarchy of England meant that the only other competitors in the node were more willing to dock in Frisian harbors while trading from the Narrow Sea than they were the English.

After 1542, England took a belligerent stance on Frisian trade in the Narrow Sea. Even as early as April 1542 English ships were blockading Frisian ports and seizing merchant vessels flying a Frisian flag or sailing into Frisian ports. While Frisians had already discovered that a large mercantile fleet would be of absolute necessity given their maritime commerce, this was only barely in progress, and the events leading to the Narrow Sea War demonstrated the need for a powerful fleet in control of the Narrow Sea. The final cause for the First Narrow Sea War was the building of the first Flagship of the Frisian Navy, Grutte Widema. The 55-gunned Carrack was believed to be intended to break the blockade enforced by England, and its construction was finished on November 1544. In an attempt to put a stop to this before it could pose a future danger, the English Channel Squadron, already blockading Amsterdam, sailed to its harbor to sink the Frisian flagship. This brought forth the First Narrow Sea War.

A short war with only 3 battles, the First Narrow Sea War started with the Battle of Amsterdam Harbor in 19 December 1544 when two English Ships of the Line, aided by 5 Galleys engaged the Frisian Carrack and 2 light ships in port. Backed by the guns of the Fort of Amsterdam, Grutte Widema decisively defeated Resolution in a naval duel. Two of the English galleys were sunk the expense of Grins, one of the two Frisian light ships. Resolution, which was incapacitated by Grutte Widema's cannons, was boarded and captured by the crew of the Frisian flagship while Sovereign and its 3 remaining escorts retreated. The second battle of the war followed immediately. Grutte Widema, Resolution and Auwerk sailed to the Coast of Holland to chase the English blockade out of Frisian waters, and were quickly reinforced by 3 Heavy Ships, 10 Light Ships and 3 Galleys from other Frisian ports. The Battle of the Coast of Holland, also called the Three Day Battle, was fought on 13 January 1545. It was, as the name suggests, fought for three days between 18 Frisian and 23 English ships. The battle ended on January 16 1545 when Sovereign, the only surviving ship of the English Fleet, retreated west to the English Staple Port of Kales. Rather than chase it down, the Frisian fleet preferred to give the English a taste of their own medicine. The fleet sailed further north to London leading to the third and final battle of the war. The White Squadron, stationed in London's harbor, sailed to meet the Frisians in battle. The end result was catastrophic for both sides. 12 of the 16 English ships fighting the battle were sunk while Grutte Widema itself, alongside 9 other Frisian ships, was damned to the depths of sea due to cannon fire from the forts in London. The two sides immediately came to the negotiation table and agreed to a truce of 13 years and freedom of trade in the Narrow Sea for both countries.

Second Narrow Sea War

The inconclusive results of the First Narrow Sea War became the undoing of the Dykstra government. When the Opstalboom met in 1545, he was promptly removed from the office of Potestaat which he had held since 1536, and was instead replaced by a more war-minded Groninger delegate Durk Stadjer. Stadjer knew that a conflict between England and Frisia was inevitable as the two countries competed closely for domination of the Narrow Sea trade zone, and he intended to win the conflict -and with it domination of the node- on his terms. Quickly discovering that with England owning Kales and Dover, it would in essence dominate any form of trade that came from the New World. His solution to this problem was taking Kales from England. While he initially hoped to wrest it away from the English and annex it into the Frisian state, it quickly became obvious that France also viewed it as a province of vital interest. To that end, Stadjer drafted a treaty of temporary alliance in which France pledged to come to Frisia's aid in a potential war with England and Frisia in turn pledged to ensure the return of Calais to France in case of victory in that potential war against England.

The Frisians used the years of truce to build up their commercial fleet again, following its devastation in the First Narrow Sea War. Stadjer augmented the navy by adding many Heavy Ships, a few designed after the captured Resolute (now Lyts Hollân) and comparable in armament to the all but the largest English ones. Frisian Heavy Ships built between the two Narrow Sea Wars are marked for their relatively small size. While undoubtedly heavy, maneuverability and speed were given more attention than size or hull. In addition, Frisia began the policy of using hybrid ships for its cargo transports. Many civilian cargo transports in Frisia are outdated or discarded Light Ships and are capable of battle and escort, though not as strong as pure warships.

In the 10 years of peace, Frisia began economic warfare with England in the nodes it was more powerful in. Quickly enough, English commerce ground to a halt as they they lost access to the Hanseatic and Baltic nodes. Halfway into the peace, the English were in essentially the same position that they had begun: watching the Frisians outstrip their economy to become the premier European trade power. The English solution to this problem was pretty much just the same as what they had in the events leading to the first Narrow Sea War. They set a policy of reprisals against Frisian ships which were captured in significant numbers.

The English admiralty and many Catholic politicians argued in favour of war with Frisia. As enthusiasm for war rose among the English populace, privateers began to join navy ships in attacking Frisian ships, capturing them and taking them to English harbors. By 1554, more than 200 Frisian merchant ships had been brought to English ports.


Battle of the Thames
Hostilities rose between Frisia and England when Sir Samuel Bolt captured and burned the Frisian trading post of Kaap Ivoor in West Africa and confiscated several ships from the United Ivory Company which he claimed as reprisals for English ships captured by that company, and England refused any compensation for these captures, for disrupting that company's trading operations or for other hostile acts. In response, a fleet of 3 Heavy and 14 light ships under Jehannes Willema that recaptured their African trading posts and captured the English Fort Jamesburg (later Fort Frijheid) in Africa. After England attacked a Frisian trade fleet coming from the Mediterranean in Celtic Sea, the Frisians allowed their ships to open fire on any English warship they saw as of January 1554. War was formally declared by England on 16 February of the same year.

The War started in earnest when the Frisian Grey Fleet met the English Channel Squadron, reinforced by the Red and Blue Squadrons, once again in the Coast of Holland in what Frisians came to call Battle of the Wills (18-23 February 1554), a catastrophic battle for the both sides that destroyed a total of 30 Heavy Ships of the Line on the two sides. Immediately afterwards, the French monarchy fulfilled its own side of the secret treaty signed with Frisia by deploying Army of Normandy for the Staple Port of Kales. The English were taken by surprise by a large force of 25,000 against their small garrison of 2,500, but they managed to land a victory against the French in the English Channel in the Battle of the Strait, maintaining naval supremacy over the French and forcing their fledgling fleet back to harbor. The Siege continued for 11 months until the Frisian navy forced the English ships supplying the besieged city in early 1555.

Meanwhile, England managed to defeat Frisia in the Battle of the Isles north of Borkum and land a force of 16,000 in Flyland. The Army, led by Sir Edward Norton, ran a campaign of terror in Middle Frisia for 5 months before it was finally defeated in the Battle of Den Burg (17-19 August 1554) by the Army of West Frisia in the Frisian Army's only engagement in that war.


London Burns in the Fury of Frisians
In retaliation -and due to the high level of civilian casualty in Norton's Rampage- the Frisian Navy began blockading English coasts and openly capturing English merchant vessels. It is believed that more than 45 ships were captured in the 3 weeks between the conclusion of the Battle of Den Burg and the final phase of the war. Despite some losses, Frisian trade had recovered from the late Interwar period by middle 1554, while the English war effort and her economy suffered when the country was ravaged by plague.

Finally, the Frisian Navy and its newly-established Marine Corps put the final nail to the English coffin. The Frisian navy decisively defeated the English navy in the Second Battle of the Strait, boarding and capturing the enormous British flagship Sovereign, and then attacked the English capital in London. The fleet sailed through the Thames Estuary, broke through the defenses guarding Chatham Harbour, towed away 26 English Ships of the Line and burned every other ship moored in the harbor before moving forth deeper into London and beginning what would later be known as the Great Fire of London.

The hammerblow at Chatham and London had a major psychological impact throughout England. This, together with the cost of the war produced a rebellious atmosphere in London. The English king Charles II quickly opened negotiations with Frisia, and unlike the last time, Frisia was the clear winner.

War of the League of Fulda

War of the League of Fulda

Battle of Texel

Date

6 April 1572 - 17 September 1578
(6 years, 5 months, 1 week and 4 days)

Location

The Low Counties, France, North Germany, Scandinavia

Result

Peace of Nimweg

  • Frisian territorial gains

  • Brandenburgian territorial gains

  • Protestantism entrenched in the Rhineland

Territorial gains

Frisia annexes Utrecht
Brandenburg gains Pomerania
Scania restored to Denmark

Belligerents

Frisia
Thuringia
Saxony
Lorraine
Austria
Brandenburg
Denmark

France
Münster
Utrecht
Brabant
Flanders
Sweden
Pomerania
England

While the two Narrow Sea Wars were the first military conflicts the Frisian state fought in as an independent entity, its test of true strength came in the War of the League of Fulda. In 1556 when the second Narrow Sea War ended, Calais (until that point an English city) was restored to France. At that same time, France was burdened with a war with Spain in the South and was suffering a period of financial downturn.

Although France and Frisia concluded a military assistance treaty in 1556, opposition from Frisia against a division of the Spanish Low Countries convinced the French administration that achieving their aims required military action. While Frisia appreciated French support, it generally preferred a weak Spain as a neighbour to a strong France. Shortly after the end of the Narrow Sea War however, France found itself in a stronger position against Spain and while the war in the south was turning into a stalemate, it rapidly occupied most of Spanish Low Countries. For a period of 4 years, Spanish Low Countries remained under French occupation which used their trade centers and access to the Narrow Sea to its benefit. While the port of Andorf was nowhere as powerful as Amsterdam, add it to the already French trade centers along the node and this meant France was rising to become a threat to both England and Frisia. In 1558, Frisia and the court of Mary I of England began renegotiating the Treaty of London in favor of a potential alliance against France. This was supported by Spain who was also terrified of Spanish expansion.

The situation rapidly worsened after the Franco-Spanish War (1554-1561) when a series of revolts by the Calvinist majority in the Spanish Low Countries forced Spain to cut its losses in the increasingly-costly but hardly beneficial Low Countries and grant them independence in form of the counties of Limburg, Luxembourg, Flanders and Wallonia -all ruled by Habsburg Princes of course.

As talks between Frisia and England fell apart, so did the interests of the Spanish in the Narrow Sea. Frisia, along with Thuringia, Saxony, Brandenburg and Denmark formed the League of Fulda. In preparation for an attack on Frisia, Louis embarked on a series of diplomatic initiatives, the first being the Secret Treaty of Dover that pledged English support against the Dutch, though it contained secret clauses such as payment of exteensive sums of money from the French in exchange for a small part of their army. Agreements with the Bishopric of Münster and both Flanders and Brabant gave the French access to Frisia without need for other treaties, while Sweden and Pomerania both accepted to join the French alliance in exchange for parts of Pomerania claimed by Brandenburg.

The French offensive began on 4 May 1572. Two armies from Sedan and Namen met just south of Maastricht in Brabant, and advanced along the Rhine, supported by troops from Flanders, Wallonia and Münster. The fortresses intended to block a crossing of the Rhine were simultaneously besieged from 1 June onwards and taken quickly as they were undermanned. The French captured the Rhenish-Brandenburgian cities of Rheinbrg, Orsoy and Burick quickly and decisively defeated the small Brandenburgian garrison in Wesel on 5 June. Rees was the last to fall on June 9, and the bulk of the French army began crossing the river at Emmerich am Rhein.

While the French were preparing for advancing into Frisia, the situation was much more favorable at sea. On June 7, the Frisian ship commanded by Friso de Filt boldly attacked the Anglo-French fleet resupplying on the English coast at Southwold. The Battle of Solebay was a tactical draw but a strategic Frisian victory, as it prevented an attempted Anglo-French blockade which would have starved the largely urban Frisian population.

During the first year of the war, the French quickly marched through the Rhine and after being joined by the Prince-Bishopric of Utrecht began attacking the Frisian homeland. While capturing Middle or East Frisia would probably have been a strategically superior option, the French instead attacked West Frisia, intent on capturing Holland, Amsterdam and more importantly the Rhenish estuary. The Frisian forces made a last stand in the Battle of Gorinchem (19-23 July) but were defeated. The bulk of France's forces marched into West Frisia. It was at this time that the old Hollandic Water Lines were activated. Slowly but steadily, West Frisia was cut off from the rest of Europe wholesale, while a second Frisian Army, reinforced by Denmark and Brandenburg, besieged Utrecht and captured the territories of the Prince-Bishopric. From that point on forward, with 65% of the French army stuck in Holland and blocked from crossing the water lines by the Frisian navy, the conflict turned into a brutal war of attrition. Battles ceased to be the main operation and for much of the next year armies from the both sides resorted to looting and plundering the countryside. In late 1572, a decisive capture of the city of Münster forced the prince-bishopric to leave the war in August while the French-occupied city of Kleve was liberated by the army of Brandenburg. A decisive Frisian victory over a joint Anglo-French fleet in Texel (the largest naval battle of the war) forced England out of the war in the Treaty of Westminster (1573). Witnessing the victories made by the League of Fulda, the Habsburg domain of Austria joined in the war against France in December of the same year.


Battle of Ouistreham
In broad terms, after 1573, French strategy focused on getting out of Holland and forcing a decisive victory on the Frisians before the Imperial war machine could march into French territory. To this end, the threw fleet after fleet at the Frisians. The greatest of these short naval battles was the Battle of Ouistreham (15-19 August 1575) where the last surviving French Fleet was annihilated in battle. From that point on forward, French ports in the Narrow Sea remained under blockade until the war could end. Frisian ships sailed through the Seine, the marine corps raiding and pillaging multiple cities and settlements along the river. Rouen in particular was raided 3 times between 1574 and 1578. An attempt to capture Paris was made, but failed due to complications, and was never tried again. By April 1576 and with the official surrender of the French Army in Holland, the last batches of warfare inside of Frisia had ended and outside of heavy fighting between the Brandenburgian and Pomeranian soldiers inside Pomerania, warfare in all fronts had all but ceased and warfare was concentrated inside of France, in particular Champagne.

Peace talks began in Nimweg in 1576, and finally found a result in September 1578. The peace of Nimweg was a minor loss for the French, but a massive victory for the League of Fulda. Brandenburg occupied and annexed most of the small Pomeranian duchy, leaving them only small territories along Stettin (which would be annexed in the Great Hanseatic War of 1584-85), the Frisians took over all of Utrecht and the duchy of Scania was restored to Denmark after a period of 18 years' long occupation since the Sixth Dano-Swedish War. The war also demonstrated the naval supremacy of the Frisians over their primary rivals in the Narrow Sea and brought forth the age of the Merchant Empire.

Merchant Empire

First Caribbean War

Battle of Frisoland

Date

19 June 1584 - 3 July 1588
(4 years, 2 weeks and 1 day)

Location

The Caribbean Sea

Result

Treaty of Santiago

  • Spain cedes half of Hispaniola to France

  • Spain cedes parts of Honduras to England

  • Spain cedes Santiago to Frisia

Beligerents

Frisia
England
France
Denmark

Spain

Strength

20 Heavy ships
60 Light Ships
50 Galleys
17,500 infantry (French)
2,000 infantry (English)
4,000 marines (Frisian)

15 Heavy Ships
42 Light Ships
28 Galleys
16,500

Casualties

48 ships
6,900 (French)
673 marines (Frisian)
142 (English)

64 ships
6,200

Upon the conclusion of the War of the League of Fulda, a political reformation took place in Frisia. The office of the Potestaat was granted more power in terms of executive powers and control over the state's administrative and military affairs. The informal status quo accepted between Vetkopers and Schieringers to allow the potestaat to rule for life or until deemed unfit by a majority of the Opstalboom was made into actual law. On the other hand, the potestaat was forced to share his office with both the Bishop of Ljouwert (also primate in the Church of Frisia) and a newly-created office by the name of 'Grand Syndic' in the unofficial 'Triune of Ljouwert'. The Opstalboom was also made more centralized to properly serve the Frisians as a permanent diet of the realm.

With the domination of England and France, Frisia became the primary power in the Narrow Sea Charter and as such it became a directive of the Frisian establishment to increase the power and importance of that trade node. At the time, the three trade nodes of the Ligurian Sea, Adriatic Sea and the Narrow Sea were the 'end-nodes' in European trade. The Adriatic Sea node primarily received traders from Egypt, Anatolia and the Levant and as such was out of Frisia's reach. However, unlike the Adriatic Sea node, the Ligurian Sea node received its trade from coastal Mediterranean states and what poured downstream from the Hispanic charter. With the advent of Ottoman Empire in the Mediterranean Sea and the rise of barbery pirate states in the North African coast, the primary power of the trade came from what the Spanish and Portuguese Empires produced from their colonies in the Caribbean, South America and their trade in the Coast of Guinea. It became imperative therefore that Frisia form its own colonies in the Caribbean Sea and begin competing with the Hispanic monarchies over trade in that region so as to dominate the Triangular Trade and guide it to the Narrow Sea.

This created the age of merchantry. Trade companies increased their fleet and began scouting the Caribbean Sea for potential sites for a future colony, trading station or plantation. Between 1578 and 1585, the recently-captured Fort Jamesburg was expanded by adding a few trading settlements and factories in the general vicinity of the Gabu region while settlements and stations were built in the island of Bioko. By 1584, the five colonies of New Heligoland, New Ljouwert, New Ditmarsh, New Groningen, New Dykeland had already found their first few settlements, and the plantations of these colonies were already competing with the Spanish colonies of Cuba and Hispaniola in the Caribbean and for the most part out-trading the larger but more cumbersome Spanish colonies of New Spain and New Granada.

To this end, Frisia formed a coalition with France, England and Denmark to put a joint embargo on Spain. Each of these powers had colonies in the Caribbean -and intended to expand them as possible, and with hostilities formally having ended between England, Frisia and France, they all saw Spain as a natural threat. The embargo was put in effect on January 1584. Spain declared war to lift this embargo in June. This immediately led to what is now known as the First Caribbean War.

The War was for the most part a low intensity conflict. Spain and France were both facing precarious positions at the homeland and as such preferred to keep to their forts and wait for the other to attack first. Spain first attempted to put an end to the conflict by deploying its First Armada to the Narrow Sea but it was defeated by a joint English, French and Frisian fleet in the Battle of Brest (July-August 1584) while a counter attack led the three was defeated by the Spaniards in the Battle of Bermeo (January 1585), after which point freedom of navigation was established in the Bay of Biscay and the Narrow Sea due to the incapability of either side in enforcing a blockade on the other.

Denmark, France, England and Frisia fought Spain in the Caribbeans for 4 straight years. The majority of this time was spent by the four unlikely allies in capturing merchant ships flying a Spanish flag. Late in 1587, French and Spanish ambitions changed and they began transporting infantry to their colonies for the intention of an invasion. In July 1587 the French began planning the invasion of Hispaniola. To this interest, they offered the Frisians the Spanish colony of Santiago in exchange for their help in said invasion. The marine corps, at that point 4 regiments strong, laid an amphibious invasion of Santiago in 16 August 1587 and decisively ended after the capture of the Fortress in Villa de la Vega on 7 September of the same year. With Santiago secure, a joint Frisian-French expedition attacked Gonave Island and from there staged an amphibious assault on Santa Maria del Puerto. After capturing the city, the French marched further inland to capture territory while the Frisians simply debarked Hispaniola to secure the recently captured Santiago.

The English furthered the war by attacking the Spanish colony of Chetumal in New Spain (Battle of Chetumal, 15 January 1588). A small English army quickly began occupying the region while hoping to expand further inland. The war came to an end after the final major battle of the war came to be an allied victory. A Spanish attempt to take back the trade center of Santiago was halted when the guilty fleet was defeated by a Frisian and French fleet somewhat north of Hispaniola. The battle, known in Frisia as Admiral Filt's Battle, ended with a decisive victory over the Spanish and allied naval supremacy in the Caribbeans. Spain, seeing the futility of fighting any further without expanding the war into Europe itself, accepted to surrender some of Hispaniola including Santa Maria del Puerto to the French, the area around Belize to the English and the island of Santiago to the Frisians in the Peace of Santiago (signed 3 July 1588). France, England and Spain fought two more Caribbean Wars, the last of which resulted in the establishment of the colony of Haiti by the French in Hispaniola. In Frisia, Santiago was renamed Frisoland after Admiral Friso de Filt who retired to that very colony in 1590, becoming its first governor.

During the First Caribbean War, Frisia formally entered a military alliance with Denmark in hopes of evening the odds against a potential war with England, Spain or France. Unlike England and France, Denmark had retained relatively good relations with Frisia and the treaty of support the two had signed during the Great Peasant War had yet to be nulled. As part of this new alliance, Frisia fought alongside Denmark in what came to be known as the Danish-Scottish War in a purely naval capacity. It was first defeated in the Battle of Orkney by a larger Scottish Fleet in 1587, but decisively defeated the Scottish fleet in the Battle of the Tyne in 1589, after which it held most of the eastern Scottish sea board in a blockade.

After the two concurrent wars, Frisia entered an informal state of war with the pirates of the Baltic Sea which had been harming its trade, eventually discovering their base in Rugen and annexing the island under the pretext of fighting piracy.

Geography


European Frisia has a total area of 34,606 km2, all of it located in what is considered the European Low Countries (or the Netherlands). This region is geographically very low relative to sea level and is considered a flat country, with nearly a third of its area and about as much of its population located below sea level and half of its land exceeding only a meter above sea level. Most of the areas below sea level are man-made, caused by peat extraction or achieved through land reclamation. Since the late 16th century, large polder areas are preserved through elaborate drainage systems that include dikes, canals and pumping stations. 10% of the land's area is reclaimed from the sea and lakes.

The country was formed by the estuaries of some large European rivers: The Rhine, the Weser, the Ems and the Meuse. These rivers have historically formed most of Frisia's borders. The Rhine in particular divides Frisia from the rest of the Netherlands. Thes rivrs are typically called the Great Rivers. Another culturally significant branch of the Rhine, the IJssel, discharges into the Zuiderzee.

Floods


Polder in Workum
Over the centuries, the Frisian coastline, like other coastlines in the Low Countries, has changed considerably as a result of natural disasters and human intervention.

On December 14, 1287 the St. Lucia's flood affected the Low Countries and Germany, killing more than 50,000 people in one of the most destructive floods in recorded history. The St. Elizabeth flood of 1421 and the mismanagement in its aftermath destroyed a newly reclaimed polder, replacing it with the 72-square-kilometre in what was then Gelre.

The impact of disasters has to an extent been increased through human activity. Relatively high-lying swampland was drained to be used as farmland. The drainage caused the fertile peat to contract and ground levels to drop, upon which groundwater levels were lowered to compensate for the drop in ground level, causing the underlying peat to contract further. Additionally, peat is a major source of fuel and its mining further exacerbates the problem. Due to flooding, farming is difficult, which encourages foreign trade. As such, the Frisians are skilled artisans and manufacturers but low quality agriculture workers, as such they have been involved in global trade since early 14th century.

To guard against floods, a series of defenses against water are contrived. In the 1st millennia, villages and farmhouses were built on man-made hills called terps. Terps were later connected by dikes. By the 12th century, local government agencies called Wetterskips (Water boards)
started to appear, whose job it was to maintain the water level and to protect a region from floods; these agencies continue to exist. As the ground level dropped, the dikes by necessity grew and merged into an integrated system. By the 13th century windmills had come into use to pump water out of areas below sea level. The windmills were later used to drain lakes, creating the famous Low Countries polders.

Finances


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Income

The total income of the Frisian State surmounted to 2.32 million ducats in 1598. The majority of the state's income is made through trade while taxation is the smallest source of income.
Taxation

While it has a more urban landscape compared to most contemporary estates in Europe, the domination of the Burgher class and individual agreement -as well as traditional leanings of the Frisian Culture- means that taxation in Frisia is nearly non-existent. The provinces of East Frisia, Middle Frisia, North Frisia, Holland and the northern parts of West Frisia are fully exempt from tax except for the Cities of Amsterdam, the Hague, Groningen, Emden and Ljouwert. The province of Utrecht and the province of Rugen pay 34% of what income Frisia makes from taxation, in part due to the fact that they are relatively less urban.

The majority of Frisia's taxation comes in form of tariffs from its colonies in the New World. While they are relatively low on population, the colonies' location as natural trade hubs in the Caribbean Sea -itself the most powerful trade node in the New World- allows for high income in trade through the Triangle Trade between Africa, Europe and the Americas. In turn, the colonies pay a tariff rate of 22.5%.

Taxation makes an average 7% of the annual income in Frisia. In 1597, the money made from taxation amounted to 186.3 thousand ducats.

Production

Production is a catch-all term used to refer to internal trade and all income made out of the selling of what is produced inside Frisian territory. Cloth, sugarcane, livestock and Salt are the primary produce in Frisian territories.

Production makes an average 17% of the annual income in Frisia. In 1597, the money made from production amounted to 442.5 thousand ducats.

Trade

Frisia is a major trading power. It holds more power (63%) in the Narrow Sea trade node than all other competitors (England, France) combined, while it is a major competitor in the Hanseatic trade node (28%), the North Sea trade node (19%), the Rhineland trade node (13%) and the Baltic Sea trade node (7%) in Europe. Outside of the continent, it is a main competitor in the Guinea trade node (19%), the Amazon trade node (39%), the Caribbean trade node (31%) and the Panama trade node (15%). The primary trading goods traded by Frisia include clothes, tobacco, sugar, coffee, cocoa, livestock and salt.

Trade makes an average 65% of the annual income in Frisia and is known as the lifeblood of its economy. In 1597, Frisia made a total of 1.7 million ducats out of trading, which was the highest in the world at the time. The primary trading competitors of the Frisians are the English, the Spanish, the Portuguese and the entirety of the Hanseatic League.

Others

In addition to these sources of income, the Frisian state makes income by other ways. Mining of gold mines in the African colonies owned directly by the state, payment rendered for advisors in foreign states -in particular larger African tribes such as Mali and (most importantly) payment rendered by foreign states for military service done by Frisian soldiers that spend the majority of their terms of service as mercenaries in foreign wars. This makes 11% of the annual Frisian income, and in 1598 the state earned a total of 286.2 thousand ducats from these various services.

Expenses

The total expenses of the Frisian State surmounted to 1.65 million ducats last year. The majority of the expenses are paid to upkeep the republic's mighty navy while a smaller portion is used to maintain forts, pay for soldiers and their equipment on the land. Just as taxation is the smallest portion of the state's income, state maintenance is the smallest portion of the state's expenses.

State Maintenance

Part of the annual expenses of the Frisian realm comes from the cost required to maintain the state. While the republic is by no means bureaucratically complicated, the thalassocratic nature of the state, as well as the payment of politicians, guard force, infrastructural upkeep and communication puts somewhat of a cost on the state. Of the five states, West Frisia is the costliest, making 31% of the total maintenance cost. The colonies on the other hand cost only slightly less in upkeep than all the metropolitan states combined. The State maintanence cost a total of 64.2 thousand ducats in 1598, and on an average make 4% of the total expenses.

Army Maintenance

Du to strategic interests, the Frisian army is considerably small and primarily operates as a mercenary army to serve on missions outside Frisia. Made of 30 infantry regiments, 6 cavalry regiments and 8 artillery regiments, the state pays a total of 43 thousand ducats for maintaining the army. This cost can be used for training, weapon upkeep and upgrade and the military personnels' salary.

In truth, the bulk of the Army Maintanence cost comes from Frisia's 20 main forts. Of the six Frisian provinces, Middle Frisia holds the most (7) and the Frisian colonies put together have five forts, two of which are located in Africa (Bioko and Gabu) and the other three in the West Indies. Frisia pays a total of 0.17 million ducats per year for fort maintenance.

Army maintenance makes an average of 13.27% of the annual expenses of the Frisian State. In 1598, the state paid a total of 213 thousand ducats for army maintenance.

Navy Maintenance

The bulk of the state's expenses come from its navy. The navy being the largest part of the military by far, it is made of 100 ships, the largest portion of which being 40 light ships designed for trade protection and anti-pirate action in those nodes where Frisia is the most active. In total, naval maintenance makes 86.33% of the annual expenses. the state paid a total of 1.38 million ducats for naval maintenance.

Government


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Frisia is a republic. Due to its pre-enlightenment nature it is difficult to classify the state properly, but elements of direct democracy, limited suffrage and constitutionalism exist. Frisian politics and governance are characterized by an effort to achieve broad consensus on important issues, within both the political community and society as a whole.

Triune of Ljouwert

The office of the Head of State is filled by the so-called Triune of Ljouwert, a trio representing the three Estates of the realm. The Triune is made of the Potestaat, the Grand Syndic and the Bishop of Ljouwert, respectively representing the commonfolk, the Burgher class and the clergy of Frisia. The three are a deliberative organ and their government also includes a varying number of secretaries. The Triune is responsible to the Opstalboom.

Potestaat

Until the reforms immediately following the War of the League of Fulda, the Potestaat was a primus inter pares among the members of the Opstalboom, elected by that body of lawmakers to represent Frisians abroad. The reforms gave the potestaat more executive power and control over the state's military affairs. The Potestaat is appointed by the Opstalboom and serves indefinitely until he is deemed unfit for office, removed from office by popular vote in the Opstalboom, is otherwise incapacitated or passes away. The current Potestaat, Klaes Auwerk, was originally elected as delegate to the Opstalboom for Aurich, and was appointed potestaat after the previous potestaat died in 1591.

Grand Syndic

Just as the Potestaat represents the popular will and the landowning citizenry, the Grand Syndic (also called Burghermaster) represents the merchantry and the Burgher estate. He is elected from the merchants in Frisia's many trading companies and guilds and is in charge of all financial matters of the state: trade, taxation, production, tariffs and all else. Unlike the Potestaat, he does not serve for life and has to be elected by the guilds and companies once every three years, though he is not limited to term limits. The current Grand Syndic, Simeon Wynja of the Roosveld West Indies Company, has served for 5 terms since 1585.

Bishop of Ljouwert

The Bishop of Ljouwert is the official Head of the Church of Frisia. The primate of the church and bishop of the city of Ljouwert, he represents the clerical class. The Bishop represents the Frisian independence of religion, he is in charge of all clerical affairs in the state as well as the general, pan-national Frisian Church and represents Frisia to other Protestant Churches. He is appointed for life by a college of seven bishops. The current bishop, Sibraht fan Wyk, has served in that office since 1595 and is the most recent addition to the Triune of Ljouwert.

The Opstalboom

The Opstalboom is the closest thing Frisia has to a realm's diet, though it also has legislative powers. The 225 members of the Opstalboom are elected in direct elections by all land-owning folk in the country on a provincial basis. Elections are held once every three years by all landowning citizenry in the Republic in a weighted franchise.

The Opstalboom meets in formal fashion a year on the Tuesday after Pentecost at which point they decide on the annual policy. In addition, they are continuously in session in the Hall of the Estates in The Hague, where they debate on policy, make law, declare war and make peace, accept or refuse petitions for colonization and trade abroad, accept or appoint ambassadors and appoint or remove the Potestaat.

Military


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The Military is divided into three branches: The Frisian Navy, the Frisian Army and the Frisian Marines.

Frisia has one of the oldest standing armies in the World. It was first established as such by Potestaat Maurits Sibets in early 1500s during the Great Peasant War, and was at that time the only standing army between the hosts of mercenary companies, levies and knightly retinues that were norm in Europe. It is made of 45,000 soldiers divided into 30 infantry, 9 cavalry and 6 artillery regiments of 1,000 in a total of eight armies. The artillery regiments make a total of 300 guns while all the 9 cavalry regiments are fully horsed.

The navy has a total of 100 ships divided into 15 heavy ships, 40 light ships, 25 galleys and 20 transports in a total of six fleets. The Frisian navy has a total personnel of 8,500 sailors and a total of 2,820 guns on all its decks. The primary directive of the Frisian fleets is protection of trade in the nodes Frisia is the most active in and hunting pirates in nodes that privateering is the most rampant in. In reality, in addition to the 100 ships, at least as many ships are private ships may fly the Frisian flags and serve for Frisia without officially being part of the Navy. A large part of these ships are privateers or belong to the various Frisian trade companies or guilds.

The third and final branch of the military is the Marines. This branch is specifically trained for amphibious warfare. In particular active in the Frisian West Indies, it forms the bulk of Frisia's assault troops and is the only part of the so-called land component that does not serve in mercenary campaigns. The Frisian Military has 5 regiments of marines with a total personnel of 5,000, which is also attached to the Frisian Marine Component, a fleet of 5 transport ships with a total of 25 guns that can, depending on the operation, be transported on land to further aid marine operations.

The Republic of Grootfries Rijk

Edited:

RawReport