Skip to main content. Log In Sign Up. Medieval Scandinavia; from Conversion to Reformation - c. Birgit I L Sawyer. Lands and Peoples III. Things and Kings VI. Family and Inheritance IX.
Ideal and Reality X. Trade and Towns XI. The Angers Fragment of Gesta Danorum 4. Model of Holmen, Bergen 7. Erik of Pomerania's Seal as Union King 8. Urnes Church, Sognefjord, Norway Stone house as Tjele, near Viborg, North Jutland The "Sigurd-carving" on Ramsundsberget Scandinavia, Finland and Iceland: The proportion of farms in various districts that were deserted between and 3.
General Map of Scandinavia, Finland and Iceland 4. Southern Scandinavia 4 The main royal estates in south-west Norway 5. The Kingdom of Norway in 7. The Estates of Bo Jonsson Grip 9. Monasteries founded before b.
Dominican and Franciscan houses founded before Monasteries founded - The rise of the Sturlungs Tables 1. Some marriages of Swedish kings in the eleventh and twelfth centuries 2.
Erik of Pomerania's claim to be king of the Union 3. The daughters and brothers of Erik Plovpenning 5. Records of the activity of merchants, missionaries, Viking raiders and royal embassies provide evidence that for the first time makes it possible to trace at least some features of developments in Scandinavia. The period we cover ends in the second and third decades of the sixteenth century when there were two fundamental changes.
First, the final collapse of the attempt to maintain a united Scandinavian kingdom, and secondly, the rejection by the rulers of Scandinavia of the authority of the bishop of Rome. When referring to periods longer than a century we have used three main subdivisions; the early middle ages to c. The word 'Scandinavia' does not appear to have been used in those centuries. It has sometimes been used in a limited sense to describe the great peninsula now shared between Norway, Sweden and Finland.
This may make geographical sense, but hardly does so historically; until a large part of what is now Sweden was in the Danish kingdom and from to Norway was ruled by the king of the Danes. Scandinavia has consequently Kongen i norge heterosexual meaning used for the three 'Scandinavian' kingdoms, and that in turn has led to a great enlargement of meaning, for these Kongen i norge heterosexual meaning included, at various times, extensive territories elsewhere around the Baltic, in the British Isles and the Atlantic islands.
Nevertheless, to avoid confusion the word will here be used for the central part of these kingdoms, that is the 'Scandinavian' peninsula and the peninsula of Jutland, with the associated islands.
As the extent of the kingdoms changed many times in the period, we have chosen to refer to modern countries when locating places or regions. With a few exceptions we have adopted the form of place-names used in the edition of The Times Atlas of the World.
The first version of chapters 1,3,8,9,and 11 were written by Birgit, the others by Peter, but we have together rewrittenthem many times as the book took shape. The whole book has been extensively revised in the light of suggestions and criticisms made the first version by Sverre Bagge, Knut Helle, Steinar Imsen, Niels Lund, and Thomas Lindkvist. We are deeply grateful to them for their encouragement and advice.
They also pointed out mistakes and misunderstandings; those that remain are, of course, our responsibility. We have also profited from many discussions in various Scandinavian, American and British Universities, in particular in the Medieval Seminar of Gothenburg University's History Institute. Thanks are due, and are gladly given, to the many other friends and colleagues who have given advice, made suggestions or helped us to obtain the pictures.
Scandinavia figured prominently in discussions of early medieval Europe not only as the homeland of the Vikings but also as the region in which Germanic society remained uncontaminated by Christianity and other alien influences longer than anywhere else.
Although of the evidence for this supposedly pure Nordic stage is in texts written in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, it was long believed that these provided reliable information about early Scandinavian history and society. It is mainly on the basis of medieval law- codes, Icelandic sagas and Adam of Bremen's History of the Archbishopric of Hamburg-Bremen that a picture of ancient Nordic society has been reconstructed, a picture that has answered different needs at different times and has been used for specific ideological purposes inside as well as outside Scandinavia see ch.
XI - and still influences the interpretation not only of early Scandinavian society, but also its later medieval development. The concept of an original Germanic cultural unity, combined with the idea of evolution, that the simple "primitive" precedes the more complex "developed" focussed interest on Scandinavia. Since this part of Germanic Europe was the last to be Christianized and was thus the Kongen i norge heterosexual meaning to be affected by Roman and canon law, Scandinavian society was thought to have preserved primitive features that had once been common to all Germanic societies.
A very important factor in shaping this approach was the development of social anthropology in the late nineteenth century. Although belief in a primitive Germanic law has now largely been abandoned, the legacy of nineteenth-century social anthopology and legal Kongen i norge heterosexual meaning still casts a shadow over medieval Scandinavia. Textbooks on history and legal history still claim that the earliest Scandinavian laws were based on customary law that was transmitted by word of mouth for centuries before being written down.
Even though in the written versions, this 'old folk law' was reshaped under the influence of Roman and canon law, it is supposed to have left sufficiently clear traces to provide a secure basis for reconstructing prehistoric Scandinavian society. Research in the history of language and literature has similarly been rooted in nineteenth-century ideas, and the belief persists Kongen i norge heterosexual meaning some quarters that Icelandic poetry and sagas were written versions of purely native traditions that had been preserved orally for centuries.
This view, once widely held, obviously gave these poems and sagas great value as sources for the early history of Scandinavia. Traditional interpretations The interpretation of Scandinavia's early history has also been influenced by the theory of evolution.
The assumption that the general trend has been one of 'progress' from the simple to the complex has apparently made it possible to trace developments even when very few Kongen i norge heterosexual meaning are known.
Many similar developments are supposed to have taken place: It has been generally supposed that development has been normally from the simple to the more complicated, often with the implication that the change has normally been for the better.
Typological development, once greatly favoured by archaeologists, and still reflected in some museums, is a good example of this assumption of progress. Such a theory of development poses many problems, not least Kongen i norge heterosexual meaning the changes are supposed to have taken place between A.
In fact, in that period there were no clans in Scandinavia see pp. There were different types of lordship and overlordship long beforeand Kongen i norge heterosexual meaning royal power that eventually developed did not simply evolve from earlier overlordships, it was new and different. From the beginning of the period society was highly stratified, with slaves at the bottom, and the social evolution was towards equalization in that slaves were absorbed into the class of free tenants.
Nothing is known about the hypothetical law' see pp. It is moreover impossible to claim that development in art and literature was from the simple to the complex; early skaldic poetry is far more complicated than later verse. The void created by the rejection of these sources as a guide to the early history of Scandinavia has been filled with the help of other types of evidence, in particular the material remains that are studied by archaeologists and art historians.
Attempts have been made to interpret this evidence in the light of what is known about 'primitive' societies in other parts of the world with some success; anthropological models have contributed to a better understanding the past.
Unfortunately the Scandinavian evidence used in such comparisons, especially in discussions of religious history, has not always been well understood, and doubts about the Kongen i norge heterosexual meaning of many familiar sources are too often disregarded; even nowadays some archaeologists cite the Old English poem Beowulf as evidence for pre-Christian Scandinavia.
It is, therefore, not surprising that many non-specialists still accept as trustworthy the traditions found in the sagas and in Saxo's Gesta Danorum.
It is perhaps more surprising that assumptions that are largely based on the evidence of such texts still figure prominently in discussions of early Scandinavian society, which is commonly made to appear an aggregation of extended families forming free peasant democracies that were guided by an innate sense of justice and in which all free men were equal and women were independent.
These ideas about early Scandinavia have obviously affected the interpretation of later developments, such as the process of Christianization, the development of ecclesiastical organization and of kingship and the machinery of government, the evolution of law, changes in social organization, family structure, and the emergence of an aristocracy. In our attempt to interpret medieval Scandinavia we have therefore paid particular attention to this early period, for it provides the basis for what follows.