The Fremen ( ) are a group of people in the fictional Dune universe created by Frank Herbert. First appearing in the 1965 novel Dune, the Fremen inhabit the desert planet Arrakis and are based on the desert-dwelling Bedouin and Kalahari Bushmen. In Herbert's novels, Arrakis (also known as Dune) is the sole known source of the all-important spice melange in the universe. The Fremen come to the planet thousands of years before the events of the novel Dune as the Zensunni Wanderers, a religious sect in retreat. As humans in extremis, over time they adapt their culture and way of life to survive and thrive in the incredibly harsh conditions of Arrakis. The Fremen are distinguished by their fierce fighting abilities and adeptness at survival in these conditions. With water such a rare commodity on the planet, their culture revolves around its preservation and conservation.
In Dune, the Bene Gesserit Lady Jessica undergoes the spice agony and gains access to the memories of her ancestors as well as those of the Fremen Reverend Mother Ramallo. The former Imperial capital (and later prison world) Salusa Secundus is "the second stopping point in migrations of the Wandering Zensunni. Fremen tradition says they were slaves on S.S. for nine generations." The "third stopping place" is noted as Bela Tegeuse, and Harmonthep is the "sixth stop."
In an early, alternate Dune outline by Frank Herbert called Spice Planet, the Fremen are called the "Free Men" — convicts who had been transported to "Duneworld" to work for the spice operation of the "Hoskanners" in exchange for a reduction in their sentence.
The Fremen are organized into communities called sietch. Each sietch has a naib leader, who has ascended to the position by challenging his predecessor and proving himself the strongest in the tribe. The Fremen system of justice relies primarily on trial by combat; individuals may challenge each other hand-to-hand duels to the death over matters of etiquette, law, or honor. The victor of these challenges becomes responsible for the wife, children, and certain possessions of the defeated. Because a duel is fought without water-retaining stillsuit, the victor is entitled to the deathstill-reclaimed water of the deceased to make up for the moisture sacrificed in the fight.
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