How old is English?


Sally Franks ?

Many historians believe that 'Salic' is derived from 'Saalland'. This was a region in the east of modern Holland, just above the Rhine. 'Saalland' means 'the land of the seles, the big (farm)houses'. To the west of Saalland was a tribe called Catii. Catii means 'cot', 'cottage', 'kot', small houses. The main problem with the 'Saalland' theory is that it concentrates the Franks too much in the North. It also doesn't explain the relation with the word 'Frank', nor does it explain their military and financial power. The counterpart of 'Salic Franks' is 'Ripuarian Franks' (river border Franks). Saalland is situated upon the Rhine. The qualification 'Ripuarian' would not have much sense. Moreover, Saalland is situated outside the heartland of the Franks, which was the region of Köln, Germany. Köln (Colonia Agrippina) was the most important Roman city upon the Rhine. Therefore, this region was the most interesting one for the Franks. The Salic Franks had invested in 'sales' in Belgium and obtained their name from the fact that they had become lord-farmers who lived in important and expensive farmhouses. One small Belgian village was called Brook-sele and is called today Brussels.

[1] A fictional example: The real name of the 'duke of Aquitaine' could have been 'Michel from Lussac' ('Michel de Lussac' - a hamlet in Aquitaine). His full name was 'Michel de Lussac, duc d'Aquitaine'. In reality, such powerful people simply dropped their family name and title. He presented himself as 'Michel' and was addressed as 'Monsieur d'Aquitaine' (milord). They were supposed to be known. Confused? Just remember this: according to the English tradition this man's name would have been: 'Michael Lussac' (+rank) and not 'Michael from Lussac'. Early French aristocratic names of Frankish origin most often referred to a place, followed by their rank. The from preposition (de) was important, as it meant that you were Frankish.

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Their real origin (2)

Mediterranean salt was one of the means to pay the legionnaires along the Rhine. The word ‘salary’ is directly derived from that. Salt was expensive, due to taxes and transport. The Germans were fond of it. When a transport of salt would arrive was kept secret. But for a pensioned Nervian officer who still had good relations within the legion, it was not difficult to obtain crucial information. So, they were capable of buying salt from the soldiers, the very day the salt was distributed, and at a good (low) price. That salt was stockpiled on the other riverbank of the Rhine, and from there, redistributed with a huge profit. This is most probably the origin of the Salic Franks, the first and most original Franks. It explains how the Franks obtained their fortune, how they could finance their wars.

'Francus' meant slayer in Latin. Frank meant 'former Romano-Nervian officer, called slayer, but now in the salt business' or 'whose parents, pensioned Romano-Nervian officers, grew rich thanks to trade'.

It were the Franks, who later were called 'salic', who gradually infiltrated the north of Belgium, as that simply was their homeland. They bought themselves back home. They invested in big farmhouses (sale) in their homeland. When the Empire gradually crumbled, so did the financial base of wealth along the Rhine. As less profit could be made, many Franks must have decided that time had come to settle definitely back home. Their origin is the reason why there was no rebellion in northern Belgium. They were Belgians. The wealth of the Franks provided them the money to organize a war in AD 358 against the Romans (Julian the Apostate). They had the military skills, the money and had been accustomed to freedom of taxes. They were defeated, but managed nevertheless to obtain what they had fought for: a large autonomy and tax exemption.

Note the resemblance 'sal'(salt) and 'sale'(farmhouse). Profit of the first bought the last one.

'Francus' in the sense of 'free man' emerged long after the conquest of Gaul. The Franks simply repossessed the rich Gaul landowners and took their place. Some historians pretend that the Franks reduced the local population into landless people. That was probably not the case. It would have caused a widespread rebellion, something that was never mentioned. The reality is that nothing changed for the vast majority (97%) of the population, which already was landless before. The Franks were strangers in Gaul, but the Roman law was not abolished. Repossession of the land was not legal according to the Roman law. To overcome that, all the land was declared to be the personal property of the Frankish king. He lent patches of land to his most loyal subjects: friends, officers and Frankish families. The lenders obtained the usufruct of the land. In exchange, they had to swear loyalty to the king and provide the king with soldiers in case of war. They also had to lead those soldiers personally. This system was later called feudalism. The Franks considered themselves not bound, free, or above Roman laws. One of the principles of the Roman law was that it was applicable to every (Roman) citizen. But the Franks never intended to become Roman citizens again. They decided that Roman law was only applicable to the Gauls, as only the Gauls were Roman citizens. 'Francus' as 'free man' meant : free of Roman law, not bound, in contrast to the Gauls. It also implied: free of taxes. Once, Roman law had worked to the advantage of Rome and its citizens. Now, the same principle had turned against them.

The greatest Frankish king was Charlemagne (Carolus Magnus = Great Charles). His capital was Aachen (Germany - close to the Ardennes). It is known that Charlemagne's family was of Ripuarian origin, from around the region of today's Liège (East Belgium). So Aachen was no coincidence. Charlemagne was there at home, or almost. His family lived in the south of (modern) Limburg, the former territory of the Eburones. The idea that Aachen was chosen for its central position is a myth. Aachen had simply the closest hot water springs to Limburg. There, Charlemagne surrounded himself with local people he could understand and trust. He spoke not a single word of early French but adored to bathe with some beautiful female subjects.

The surprising conclusion is that Gaul was conquered by people who are known today as Flemish.

During the empire, the Gauls not only adopted Occitan-Latin, but also the Roman way of name-giving. The Roman system of name-giving was: first name / middle name / family name. Sometimes the family name was switched with the middle name or nickname => Gaius (first name) Julius (family) Caesar (nickname). The preposition 'from' (or a genitive) was not used.

The Franks used no family name. Instead they referred to the place where they lived. The habit to name people according to their home base was imported by the Franks into France. 'From' + place-name became typical for the French (Frankish) aristocracy. 'From' is translated in French as 'de'. 'de' was not to be written with a capital 'D'. Typical family names for the French aristocracy are: d'Orleans, d'Anjou, d'Artois, de Paris, etc. Those are names, not titles. They mean 'from Orleans', 'from Anjou', etc. When people moved house, their names initially also changed (this stopped in the Middle Ages). This is confusing: "comte de Paris" seems to mean "count of Paris", but in reality it's "count" named "de Paris", as he lives in Paris (later: his family lived in Paris).

The English aristocracy has a resembling but different system: Charles, prince of Wales means 'Charles controls Wales and has the rank of prince'. According to the French / Frankish system it would be 'Charles from Wales', indicating that his home is in Wales (which is not the case). As the French system points to a specific location the name often referred to a small town or village. This had no relation with the civil function or power of the aristocrat [1].

Today, the region in Europe where (statistically) most names begin with 'from', are found is Flanders. In Dutch 'from' = 'van'. Van Beethoven had a Flemish grandfather. His name means: 'from the beet farm'. In Flanders, those names do not refer to aristocracy. In some Flemish regions, people still prefer to name somebody after his place above his official family name.

In modern German 'von' refers always to aristocracy so, 'von' is rather rare in Germany. It was most probably imported by the Franks.
After the Franks conquered Gaul, the classic Roman way of naming an (aristocratic) person changed into a mode which is still mainly found in Flanders.

Do not confuse with English titles. In England an aristocrat has his family name, like "Duncombe", followed by his title : "lord of Faresham". 'Of' in English means a possession (or responsibility), and does not refer to the origin of the family. It is always preceded by a rank like duke, count, earl, lord. In England a title can be bought and is sometimes linked to a patch of land. The title comes with the land.