Cultures of Northumbria: The Frangians

In this series of articles, Michael Garcia shares various custom rules and handouts related to his worldbuilding for his ongoing Northumbria campaign. 


The Frangii are relative newcomers to Northumbria, hailing from lands to the northeast, across the great sea. Centuries ago, the Frangii were a divided people, with their petty kings fighting fratricidal wars for hegemony. In recent centuries, they united and expanded, absorbing a few neighboring cultures and forming the mighty Kingdom of Frangia, one of the most powerful kingdoms ever seen across the sea.  Fierce competition between Frangia and its neighboring kingdoms led to a wave of exploration and the discovery of the new world.

The Frangii quickly established many settlements in that new world, focusing on a fertile coastal region that they dubbed Southumbria. Despite frequent frontier wars with natives and other colonizing powers, Frangian power continued to grow there. The Frangian Crown then turned its attention to the vast region to the north of Southumbria, a region that they logically dubbed Northumbria.

Current Crown policy is to colonize Northumbria at all costs, but the enormous costs often temper this policy. In any case, the Frangii are currently engaged in a power struggle throughout Northumbria with their distant kinsmen and neighbors across the sea, the Zeelanders. Unwilling to let Frangian power grow unchecked, these Zeelanders have poured enormous resources into the region. Tensions run hot and cold, and frequent frontier wars erupt every few years. Yet, this struggle is mainly between the respective rulers and nobles, not common folk. Frangians and Zeelanders that have no interest in politics tend to get along well enough. The two cultures have as many shared values as differing ones. Intermingling is common.

FRANGIANS IN NORTHUMBRIA

In Northumbria, Frangii tend to be colonists and administrators. They typically work as soldiers, feudal lords, merchants, shipwrights, masons, smiths, fishermen, and peasants.

TYPICAL APPEARANCE

Frangii are generally tall and muscular people. Hair color and thickness varies widely. Eye color tends to be blue, though brown is not uncommon. Skin color is often pale. Most men are clean-shaven.

Concerning fashion, Frangians favor bold colors, solid patterns, and heraldic displays. Men tend to prefer tight-fitting hosen or breeches, narrow-pointed shoes, and cloaks or mantles.

FOOD

Traditional Frangian food includes mutton, stewed venison, bacon, herring, pork sausage, hare stew, squirrel stew, flaky pork-and-onion pastries, roasted and peppered chicken, bean stew, and pea soup (pottage). In Northumbria, mutton is somewhat rare, while game is common. Frangii tend to favor home-brewed dark ale, though strong wines have become as popular in recent centuries.

LANGUAGE

Most Frangii currently speak Frangian, which is a hybrid language that developed as their kingdom grew and absorbed neighboring cultures. It derives originally from Old Frangian, which itself came from two different regional dialects—High Frangian and Low Frangian. Most of these older forms still exist in some form, but Frangian is spoken throughout the Kingdom of Frangia, as well as the regions of Southumbria and Northumbria.

Frangian noblemen also speak a dialect called the High Tongue, which derives from the distinct dialect of a ruling clan from centuries ago. The High Tongue is the clear mark of Frangian nobility, for they do not teach it to the lowborn.

STEREOTYPICAL QUALITIES

Stereotypical Frangii are stoic, stubborn, industrious, warlike, brave, disciplined, and even witty. They have made an art form of understatement, and they tend to have a very dry sense of humor.

CULTURAL ACHIEVEMENTS

Frangians claim to have a superior culture. They respect the fine arts as much as martial prowess. The Kingdom of Frangia currently produces the finest armor and swords, top-quality heavy warhorses, and the choicest wines. Frangian engineers have developed the sturdiest fortifications, as well as the deadliest siege equipment. Frangian Gothic architecture has produced the tallest and most beautiful temples in the known world. As for the fine arts, Frangian poets and singers are deservedly famous.

CULTURAL BELIEFS

The gods reward those that improve the world.  The Frangii are destined to bring civilization and enlightenment to the world, usually through the construction of castles and temples.

Order above all else; the natural order of things must be respected.  The Frangii, as chosen agents of civilization, should be role models for others.

BEHAVIORAL NORMS

Men should make a name for themselves. Laziness is disgraceful. Transgressors are rude and tasteless, and they should be shown the error of their ways. If they repeat the behavior thereafter, they are to be shunned.

Show respect for those above your station. Transgressors are to be beaten and fined. With regards to respect for the Crown, transgressors are to be beaten upon the first offense and killed thereafter.

Family is important. Know your genealogy and family history. Transgressors are rude and malevolent and must be shunned.

Gender lines must be distinguished and respected in matters of profession, dress, and name. Transgressors are considered rude and tasteless by conservatives in society, but most people do not mind.

Only nobles may own and use certain items. Transgressors are considered rude and tasteless by conservatives in society, but most people do not mind.

Show impeccable honor in combat with non-barbarians (fight fairly, no poison, no missile weapons, no sneak attacks or ambushes). Transgressors are considered rude and tasteless by conservatives in society, but most people do not mind.

CUSTOMS

The Frangii often recite their motto on the order of things:  “Gods, King, class, and kin” (sometimes using it as a battle cry).

COMMON MALE NAMES:

Ablamar Adam Ademar Adelard (Athelard, Aylard) Aglovale Agravaine Allardin Amaury (Almeric, Americ, Emery) Ancel Anselm Arnald Arthur Audry Bagdemagus Balin Barant Bedivere Benwick Berel Berenger Bernier Bernard Berold Bertram Bevon Blamore Bors Brandiles Brian Cador Caradoc Carados Cardiff Carlion Carlon Carlisle Cecil Clegis Dagonet Darras Declan Dinadan Ebel Ector Edmund Edward Einhard Evelac Ewaine Feldenak Ferand Frederick Fulk Gahalitine Gaheris Gaillard Galien Garlon Geoffrey (Gaufrid) Gerard (Gareth, Garrett) Gerin Gers (Gerfast, Gervaise) Gilbert Giles Gilmere Glaston Godbert Godfrey Gunter Guy Hammond Hardwin Heinrich (Haganrich) Hemmon Herlen Herman (Armand) Heward Hildebrand Hugh Ilbert Ingram Isembard Ives Jocelyn John Jonathan Kay Kendrick Lambert Lamorak Lance Manfred Maynard Melias Miles Naimon Nicholas Norgalis Norman Odo Orkney Otton Pelleas Pellinore Percard Percival (Percil) Peter Randal Raymond Rayner Raynald Raynard Reece Remigius (Remi) Richard Rience Robert Roger (Rutger) Rolland Rolf Sager Simon Sorlons Talbot Tancred Theoderic (Derek, Terrick) Thomas Tilpin Tristan Turpin Ulfias Ulrich Uriens Uwaine Walter William Wymark Wymond Winrich

COMMON FEMALE NAMES

Adela Adelina Agnes Albreda Alice Avelina Avicia Beatrice Berengaria Cecily Eleanor Elysande Emma Galiena Giselle Isabella Joan Juliana Margery Matilda Rohesia Rosalinda Rosamund Ygraine Yvonne

PERSPECTIVES ON OTHER CULTURES

Zeelanders:  Stubborn sailors whose arrogance is surpassed only by their greed.
Varangians:  Brave and skillful warriors, but too undisciplined to forge a lasting kingdom.
Kenienka: Loyal allies of strong spirit, but too stubborn and uncivilized to be significant.
Wendat: Fierce foes with long memories, but too uncivilized and treacherous for honest dealings.
Picts:  Bloodthirsty savages, merciless and cruel, beneath contempt and beyond redemption.
Dwarves:  Stalwart warriors and master builders, but greed is their weakness.
Elves:  Noble, beautiful, and valiant folk, but too fickle for a meaningful alliance.
Gnomes:  Kindly and harmless creatures, but too reclusive and disorganized to matter much.
Goblyns:  Hell spawn, sent by some demon or devil.

PREDOMINANT DEITIES

St. Cuthbert is the official deity of the Frangian Crown, and most Frangians honor him above all others. He was once a shepherd who lived a simple, blameless, and charitable life. Believers say that an unnamed higher God elevated him to sainthood and charged him with protecting all people of good will. He is the patron of common sense, truth, forthrightness, and justice. Stern and practical, he is the bringer of order, the keeper of the peace, the guardian of orthodoxy, and the problem-solver.

Pholtus of the Blinding Light is perhaps the second most popular deity among Frangians. When the Kingdom of Frangia expanded centuries ago, it absorbed many aspects of the once-mighty Aquilonian Empire, including the sole worship of Pholtus. Believers say that Pholtus is the one and only god, all others being fictional or monstrous. He is the patron of light, resolution, law, order, inflexibility, and the heavenly bodies. Rigid and unforgiving, he is the creator and bringer of order (the one true path), by which all creatures can improve their quality of life.

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