One of my readers posted these comments:
I have read that there was a German tribe called the Franks who towards the end of the Roman Empire settled in what is now Holland and Flanders in Belgium. Their language, Frankish is the ancestor of Dutch, Flemish and presumably Afrikaans. The Southern border of Frankish settlement was the border between Flanders and Wallonia today. Later the Franks stormed southward and conquered a vast territory. Their King, Clovis, converted to Catholicism, which led to Western Europe becoming Catholic. He also made the old Roman city Paris the capital.
The Frankish Empire eventually split into 2 parts, France and The Holy Roman Empire ( I.e.the First German Reich).
The Franks who conquered France became the French aristocracy. Until recently, because of these Franks and also the Normans, there was an association between being upper class and being blond in France. The Flemings remaining in Flanders seem to have become an enterprising people, practicing trades like weaving. Robert Bartlett in his history of medieval Europe describes how the Flemings settled many parts of Europe including England and Wales and many English and Welsh are descended from them. The Flemings were an artistic people and seem to have been responsible for much of the art in Northern Europe in the Renaissance and I think I read that Paris was quite a Flemish City for a while.
A related language was Low German also known as Plattdeutsch. The English word “Dutch” is a mistaken corruption of “Deutsch”, likely due to similarities between Dutch and Plattdeutsch. I have read that Bismarck spoke Plattdeutsch and was able to converse without a translator with Kruger.
Thanks for your comments. Most interesting. It is true that the Boer Paul Kruger could speak to Bismarck easily because of the similarity between Plattedeutsch and the language of the Boers then. I say the language of the Boers then, because my mother said in South Africa the Boers also spoke “High Dutch” and Afrikaans was only a language recognised in the 1920s.
Thank you for the fascinating mention of Dutch being a corruption of Deutsch! I was unaware of that. It was only more recently that I realised that the Dutch were very closely related to the Germans. (And about 100,000 of them joined the Waffen SS in WW2!!!). 🙂
But many excellent points there. Thanks