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The Frankish Migration Saga


Source: Teutonic Mythology

We have already stated that the Frankish chronicles, unlike those of the
other Teutonic tribes, wholly ignore the traditions of the Franks, and
instead present the scholastic doctrine concerning the descent of the
Franks from Troy and the Moeotian marshes. But I did not mean to say
that we are wholly without evidence that another theory existed among
the Franks, for they, too, had traditions in harmony with those of the
other Teutonic tribes. There lived in the time of Charlemagne and after
him a Frankish man whose name is written on the pages of history as a
person of noble character and as a great educator in his day, the abbot
in Fulda, later archbishop in Mayence, Hrabanus Maurus, a scholar of the
distinguished Alcuin, the founder of the first library and of the first
large convent school in Germany. The fact that he was particularly a
theologian and Latinist did not prevent his honouring and loving the
tongue of his fathers and of his race. He encouraged its study and use,
and he succeeded in bringing about that sermons were preached in the
churches in the Teutonic dialect of the church-goers. That a Latin
scholar with so wide a horizon as his also was able to comprehend what
the majority of his colleagues failed to understand--viz., that some
value should be attached to the customs of the fathers and to the old
memories from heathen times--should not surprise us. One of the proofs
of his interest in this matter he has given us in his treatise De
invocatione linguarum, in which he has recorded a Runic alphabet,
and added the information that it is the alphabet used by the Northmen
and by other heathen tribes, and that songs and formulas for healing,
incantation, and prophecy are written with these characters. When
Hrabanus speaks of the Northmen, he adds that those who speak the German
tongue trace their descent from the Northmen. This statement cannot be
harmonised with the hypothesis concerning the Asiatic descent of the
Franks and other Teutons, except by assuming that the Teutons on their
immigration from Asia to Europe took a route so far to the north that
they reached the Scandinavian peninsula and Denmark without touching
Germany and Central Europe, and then came from the North to Germany. But
of such a view there is not a trace to be found in the middle age
chronicles. The Frankish chronicles make the Franks proceed from
Pannonia straight to the Rhine. The Icelandic imitations of the
hypothesis make Odin and his people proceed from Tanais to Saxland, and
found kingdoms there before he comes to Denmark and Sweden. Hrabanus has
certainly not heard of any such theory. His statement that all the
Teutons came from the North rests on the same foundation as the native
traditions which produced the sagas in regard to the descent of the
Longobardians, Saxons, and Swabians from the North. There still remains
one trace of the Frankish migration saga, and that is the statement of
Paulus Diaconus, made above, concerning the supposed identity of the
name Ansgisel with the name Anchises. The identification is not made by
Paulus himself, but was found in the Frankish source which furnished
him with what he tells about the ancestors of Charlemagne, and the
Frankish source, under the influence of the hypothesis regarding the
Trojan descent of the Franks, has made an emigration leader mentioned in
the popular traditions identical with the Trojan Anchises. This is
corroborated by the Ravenna geographer, who also informs us that a
certain Anschis, Ansgisel, was a Teutonic emigration leader, and that he
was the one under whose leadership the Saxon tribes left their old
homes. Thus it appears that, according to the Frankish saga, the Franks
originally emigrated under the same chief as the Saxons. The character
and position of Ansgisel in the heathen myth will be explained in No.

Next: Jordanes On The Emigration Of The Goths Gepidae And Herulians The Migration Saga Of The Burgundians Traces Of An Alamannic Migration Saga

Previous: The Saxon And Swabian Migration Saga

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