Frisia, a region located in what is now the northern Netherlands and northwestern Germany, has a long and storied history. One aspect of this history that is often overlooked is the role that Frisian mercenaries played in various conflicts throughout Europe.
Frisian mercenaries were highly sought after for their skills as warriors, and they fought in many battles and wars over the centuries. One of the earliest recorded instances of Frisian mercenaries serving as soldiers for a foreign power was in the 8th century, when the Franks hired Frisian warriors to help them fight the Saxons.
Throughout the Middle Ages, Frisian mercenaries continued to be hired by various armies and city-states across Europe. They were known for their fierce fighting style and their loyalty to their employers, which made them highly valued assets on the battlefield.
During the Hundred Years’ War between England and France, Frisian mercenaries were hired by both sides to fight in various battles. They were also involved in conflicts in Italy, where they were known as the Frisoni Piceni, and in Spain, where they fought for the Aragonese in the War of the Two Peters.
One of the most famous examples of Frisian mercenaries in action occurred during the Dutch Revolt in the late 16th century. The Frisian stadtholder, William Louis, hired a group of Frisian soldiers to help him fight against the Spanish forces. These mercenaries were instrumental in several key battles, including the Battle of Heiligerlee in 1568, where they helped secure a Dutch victory.
Frisian mercenaries also played a role in the early colonization of the Americas. In the early 17th century, the Dutch West India Company hired Frisian soldiers to help them establish a foothold in what is now New York. These soldiers were among the first Europeans to set foot on the island of Manhattan, and they played a key role in the establishment of the Dutch colony of New Netherland.
Despite their valor and skill, Frisian mercenaries have largely been forgotten by history. However, their contributions to various conflicts across Europe and beyond cannot be overstated. Today, the memory of these brave warriors lives on in the stories and legends of the Frisian people, and their legacy continues to inspire new generations of Frisians.