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Medieval Scandinavia

From Conversion to Reformation, circa 800-1500

1993
Authors:

Birgit Sawyer and Peter Sawyer

Medieval Scandinavia

In this volume, the authors question assumptions about early Scandinavian history, including the supposed leading role of free and equal peasants and their position in founding churches. They meticulously trace the development of Scandinavia from the early ninth century through the second and third decades of the sixteenth century, when rulers of Scandinavia rejected the authority of the Papacy and the attempt to establish a united Scandinavian monarchy finally collapsed.

In this volume, the authors question assumptions about early Scandinavian history, including the supposed leading role of free and equal peasants and their position in founding churches. They meticulously trace the development of Scandinavia from the early ninth century through the second and third decades of the sixteenth century, when rulers of Scandinavia rejected the authority of the Papacy and the attempt to establish a united Scandinavian monarchy finally collapsed.

Nordic Series, volume 17

"Peter Sawyer is an acknowledged British expert on the Viking Age and its aftermath; Brigit Sawyer is a Nordic medievalist. . . . . As a resource and reference work for serious students of Scandinavian history from the Viking Age to the early 16th century, [Medieval Scandinavia] is indispensable."-Choice

The study of Scandinavia has traditionally been influenced by the interpretation of its earliest history, developed in the nineteenth century by political, legal and literary hisorians, archaeologists and anthropologists. 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 long remained uncontaminated by Christianity and other outside influences.

In this first comprehensive study of medieval Scandinavia since Lucien Musset’s Les Peuples Scandinaves au moyen age, published in 1951, Birgit and Peter Sawyer question assuptions about early Scandinavian history, including the supposed leading role of free and equal peasants and their position in founding churches. They meticulously trace the development of Scandinavia from the early ninth century through the second and third decades of the sixteenth century, when rulers of Scandinavia rejected the authority of the Papacy, and the attempt to extablish a united Scandinavian monarchy finally collapsed.

Included are discussions of the role of women in medieval Scandinavia, medieval history writing, the use of history in the sixteenth century, and modern attitudes toward medieval history. Through careful analysis and pathbreaking interpretation the authors reveal a historic Scandinavia that held greater similarities to other European regions than has been commonly supposed.

Birgit Sawyer is an associate professor in the Institute of History at Gothenburg University. She is one of the founders of the biennial interdisciplinary conferences on women in medieval Scandinavia.

Before his retirement, Peter Sawyer was professor of history at the University of Leeds and a visiting professor at the University of California at Berkeley and the University of Minnesota.

Medieval Scandinavia

David Savran is associate professor of English at Brown University. He is the author of Breaking the Rules: The Wooster Group and In Their Own Words: Contemporary American Playwrights.

Medieval Scandinavia

"Peter Sawyer is an acknowledged British expert on the Viking Age and its aftermath; Brigit Sawyer is a Nordic medievalist. . . . . As a resource and reference work for serious students of Scandinavian history from the Viking Age to the early 16th century, [Medieval Scandinavia] is indispensable."-Choice

Scholars of Scandinavian history will find this an extremely useful synthesis for teaching and reference, those in other fields will find that is allows them to include Scandinavia in the larger European picture. The authors present a rich fund of material that could be related to developments elsewhere in Europe. Scandinavia has a great deal to offer scholars of representative institutions, marriage patterns, and Christianization, to name only a few topics, and this book makes it available.

American Historical Review

The authors have taken aim at a gap in survey literature on the Scandinavian Middle Ages and have filled it forcefully, effectively, and, to little surprise, somewhat idiosyncratically. Writing from their documented strengths in the study of medieval institutions, especially rulership, social and economic history, family and women’s studies, historiography itself, they have produced an excellent textbook and introduction for the general reader that brings into sharper focus the huge human and geographical backdrop to more conventional histories of ‘Great Men’. . . . All told, Medieval Scandinavia is a highly competent and thoroughly engaging work; although perhaps a bit hastily assembled, it seems assured of a well earned success.

Scandinavian - Canadian Studies

Here it is at last: a concise, scholarly description of Scandinavia in the Middle Ages, written in a non-Scandinavian language. . . . Not only the clarifying examples, but also the way in which the book is published - with a handsome dust jacket, a well-ordered arrangement and a large number of illustrations - make it clear that Medieval Scandinavia, except for scholars, is intended for students and those interested in the history of the Middle Ages in the North.

TijdSchrift voor Skandinavistiek

“Scholarship of the first rank that is provocative and very stimulating. . . a must for all scholars dealing with medieval Scandinavia.” Michael F. Metcalf, University of Minnesota