How old is English?


[1] Salic Franks: the name 'salic' is still very much disputed. We now believe that it were Franks who owned land and a farmhouse, called 'sele', 'zele' or 'sale', a word derived from the verb 'to saw' as the farmhouse was build with expensive square beams and thus much bigger and more important than the farmhouses of the landless tenant farmers. Salic Franks were hufners, sort of lord-farmers. It is likely that their tenant farmers had to join them in war. The word 'zele' became 'salle' in French.
Ripuarian Franks = (ripa = river border) local German traders/soldiers. They originated from the Rhine valley itself and various parts of the Germanic world. They were of various ethnicity. The distinction emerged after the fall of the Roman Empire.

[2] except in the battle of Chalons against Attila, AD 451, where the Salic Franks were a part of the western alliance, together with two North-Gaul legions, Alans and the West-Goth army. During the battle, a limited number of Ripuarians fought on Attila's side. Serveral contemporary authors attested the fact that Atilla's army was a mixed army of Huns and German allies. If one states that the Huns chased the German population to the west, then this alliance is at least strange. Some historians think that the number of German allies on Atilla's side was greater than the number of Huns.


Origin disputed (2)

As far as we know, all German migrations aimed to go south, where the sun is warm and harvests regular. The Salic Franks [1] were only interested in northern Belgium. This region is not very fertile and the climate is less good than upon the Rhine border. Given the military power of the Franks, they must have been stupid not to demand to be allowed to settle, for instance, in the pleasant south of Gaul (as the Goths would do later).

Another striking fact about the Franks is that no origin was ever given by the Romans. This can mean two things: or their origin was even for the Romans a mystery, which seems unlikely, or the Romans needn't to mention the origin, as it was well known for all contemporaries. This last possibility is the most likely one. For the Romans, there was probably no mystery, no need to mention an origin. The Franks themselves did not fill the historic gap, obviously saw no reason to clarify their origin. That is in contrast with e.g., the Goths. Clearly, their origin was known to their contemporaries.

During their history, the Salic Franks never formed alliances with other German tribes [2]. This contrasts with, for instance, the Burgunds who occupied eastern Gaul around AD 485. They obtained help from several German tribes during the battle against… the Franks. Clovis' army had obviously no problem to fight against the West-Goths (southwest Gaul) and the Burgunds, two supposedly ‘brother’ German tribes.

The Franks came into sight since AD 210 and it is known that in AD 350 they controlled politically modern Flanders (French historians say that the Franks imported the Flemish language - which is not true). A classic conquest was not reported. They seemed to have slowly infiltrated proto-Flanders. It is said that migrations occurred because invaders from the East (Huns?) pushed, chased the Germans to the West. That fact is applicable mainly for the Goths. It was never proven for other migrants like the Vandals, Burgunds, etc. and... Franks. Besides, the date 210 is early. The Empire was still very powerful at that time. Most migrations happened much later. It is clear that the Romans never succeeded to stop the Frankish infiltration. This is at least strange and the question is whether they ever tried to do so. The region is strategically important. The Romans had several cohorts permanently stationed in the Civitas Tungri (the modern town of Tongeren). Yet, the political takeover by the Franks is presented as if the Romans remained completely unaware of the developments, and that they must have been surprised when it happened.

The heartland of the northern Belgian tribes was called Nervia (or Nervana), the land of the Nervians. This region is called today Brabant. Tacitus stated clearly that the Nervians were of German origin (see below). All Belgians were reported by Julius Caesar to have an excellent reputation in fighting Germans (raiders). It is strange that no rebellion, caused by the Frankish infiltration and occupation, from within northern Belgium was ever cited. As if, during the Roman occupation, the Belgians had lost all their ancestral traditions, their fighting spirit..

This assumption is countered by the fact that the Roman Empire maintained and financed the Nervian cohorts for more than at least 300 years. All armies are costly. Had the Nervians become softies or unreliable, the emperors would have invested their money in other, better troops.

In AD 358 the Franks lost a battle against general Julianus (and shortly after: emperor). The real cause of that war was not mentioned, but likely were high taxes, money, the very classic reason. Despite his victory, Julianus agreed to give a large autonomy (and tax exemption) to the Franks, in exchange for the promise that they would defend the most northern part of the Empire. The Franks became foederatii. Julianus must have had good reasons to trust the Franks, despite the fact that in those days duly sworn oaths were easily broken. The main reason must have been the knowledge of who the Franks really were: Belgians.

Julianus explained after the victory that he 'allowed' the Franks to settle in Taxandria. Taxandria means yew-country. It is moorland in the north of modern Belgium. Taxandria always was a very poor region and therefore thinly inhabited. This 'explanation' was clearly window dressing towards Rome. Had the Franks really settled in Taxandria, then they never would have been able to fulfil their obligations (the feodus). Financially, this would have been impossible.