Ideology and Power in the Viking and Middle Ages

Scandinavia, Iceland, Ireland, Orkney and the Faeroes


Ideology and power are central elements in the political, social, religious and cultural development of the North during the transition from the Viking to the Middle Ages. While the medieval European Christian ideology of rulership has been widely discussed, an analysis of the Nordic pre-Christian ideology, and of its confrontation with the new European ideals has so far been lacking. This book examines the concepts and practices associated with chieftains, earls and kings from the ninth to the thirteenth century: the myths and rituals surrounding their position in a northern European warrior culture. The analysis seems to indicate that important elements of the pre-Christian ideology of rulership survived into the Christian Middle Ages, either transformed or even simply transferred.
Contributors are Ian Beuermann, Anders Hultgård, Jan Erik Rekdal, Jens Peter Schjødt, Jón Viðar Sigurðsson, Joanna Skórzewska, Gro Steinsland and Olof Sundqvist.


EUR €162.00USD $202.00

Biographical Note

Gro Steinsland, Dr. philos. (1989), Professor of History of Religion at the University of Oslo, Scientific Director at Centre for Advanced Study (CAS), Oslo. She has published extensively on Norse Pre-Christian and Medieval Religion and Culture.
Jón Viðar Sigurðsson is Professor of History at the University of Oslo. He has published extensively on Norse-Icelandic political culture, including Chieftains and Power in the Icelandic Commonwealth (1999), Frå høvdingmakt til konge- og kyrkjemakt (1999), Kristninga i Norden 750-1200 (2003), Det norrøne samfunnet (2008) and Den vennlige vikingen (2010).
Jan Erik Rekdal, Dr. philos., Professor of Celtic at the University of Oslo. He has published on Irish narrative traditions and Norse-Irish cultural contact and exchange, including "Interaction of Pagan and Christian traditions" in Mediaeval Irish narratives (1990) and Vikings and Saints: Encounters Vestan um Haf (2004).
Ian Beuermann, Dr. art. University of Oslo (2007), Teaching Fellow Scandinavian Viking and Medieval History, Humboldt University Berlin. He has published on Norse-British-Irish political, ecclesiastical and cultural connections in the Viking and Middle Ages, most recently Norgesveldet South of Cape Wrath? (2010).

Table of contents

List of Contributors
List of Maps and Figures

Introduction. Ideology and Power in the Viking and Middle Ages: Scandinavia, Iceland, Ireland, Orkney and the Faeroes, Gro Steinsland

Chapter One. Origin Myths and Rulership. From the Viking Age Ruler to the Ruler of Medieval Historiography: Continuity, Transformations and Innovations, Gro Steinsland
Chapter Two. Kings, Earls and Chieftains. Rulers in Norway, Orkney and Iceland c. 900–1300, Jón Viðar Sigurðsson
Chapter Three. Jarla So̧gur Orkneyja. Status and Power of the Earls of Orkney According to Their Sagas, Ian Beuermann
Chapter Four. An Arena for Higher Powers. Cult Buildings and Rulers in the Late Iron Age and the Early Medieval Period in the Mälar Region, Olof Sundqvist
Chapter Five. From Wine in a Goblet to Milk in Cowdung. The Transformation of Early Christian Kings in Three Post-Viking Tales from Ireland, Jan Erik Rekdal
Chapter Six. The Warrior in Old Norse Religion, Jens Peter Schjødt
Chapter Seven. Óðinn, Valho̧ll and the Einherjar. Eschatological Myth and Ideology in the Late Viking Period, Anders Hultgård
Chapter Eight. Family Matters? The Cultus of the Scandinavian Royal Martyrs, Joanna A. Skórzewska
Conclusions. The Long Adaptation of Pagan and Christian Ideologies of Rulership, Ian Beuermann



All those interested in the Nordic Viking and Middle Ages, history of ideas, history of religion, and history of political thought.


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