The Frankish Migration Saga

: 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.