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Oud-Friese taal en letterkunde


Admission requirements

Not applicable.


In the northernmost districts of the Netherlands and of Germany an independent Frisian literary culture emerged in the course of the thirteenth century. It was perhaps not quite as exuberant and diverse as in Holland to its south or in Saxony to its east, but yet very characteristic. Moreover, the written Frisian of this period is rather conservative in comparison to its neighbouring vernaculars. With this course you will step into another world. You will become familiar with Old Frisian by reading a selection of legal texts which highlight various aspects of daily life, often violent at that. You will be introduced to texts shaping the Frisian ethnic identity and to poetry. Attention will be paid to a number of linguistic aspects which are typically (Old) Frisian – and often (Old) English – and to the cultural and sociohistorical context of the feuding society of medieval Frisia.

Course objectives

At the end of the course, the student is able to translate an Old Frisian text of average difficulty and to place it into its cultural- historical context


See rooster van de opleiding Nederlandse taal en cultuur.

Mode of instruction

Informal Lecture followed by a Tutorial. An excursion to Ljouwert (Fryslân) concludes the course

Assessment method

Written exam, or a written paper



Reading list

  • R.H. Bremmer, Introduction to Old Frisian. History, Grammar, Reader, Glossary (Amsterdam & Philadelphia: Benjamins, 2009).
    • R.H. Bremmer, ‘Hir is eskriven’. Lezen en schrijven in de Friese landen rond 1300 (Hilversum: Verloren / Leeuwarden: Fryske Akademy, 2004).
    • A number of short articles to be distributed in class


Via uSis

Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Study in Leiden website for information on how to apply.

Contact information

Prof.dr. R.H. Bremmer, van Eijckhof 4, k. 204b, tel. 071-527 2162


Each class begins with an informal lecture in which a certain subject will be introduced, explained and discussed. Next the language and contents are discussed of a passage which the students have read and translated at home, often in relation to a chapter or article. The language of instruction is Dutch, but English is no problem at all, if necessaty.

The course can be attended in its own right, but also as part of, e.g., the minor of Medieval Studies or the specialization of Old Germanic for the study of Comparative Indo-European Linguistics.

Extension of the course to 10 etcs is possible.