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Ritus et Artes (RITUS 7)

Rituals, Performatives, and Political Order in Northern Europe, c. 650–1350

W. Jezierski, L. Hermanson, H. J. Orning, T. Småberg (eds.)
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XIV+366 p., 7 b/w ill., 156 x 234 mm, 2015
ISBN: 978-2-503-55472-3
Languages: English
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Draws together contributions from history, archaeology, and the history of religion to offer an in-depth examination of political ritual and its performative and transformative potential across Continental Europe and Scandinavia.

This multidisciplinary volume draws together contributions from history, archaeology, and the history of religion to offer an in-depth examination of political ritual and its performative and transformative potential across Continental Europe and Scandinavia. Covering the period between c. 650 and 1350, this work takes a theoretical, textual, and practical approach to the study of political ritual, and explores the connections between, and changing functions of, key rituals such as assemblies, feasts, and religious confrontations between pagans and Christians.

Taking as a central premise the fact that rituals were not only successful political instruments used to create and maintain order, but were also a hazardous game in which intended strategies could fail, the papers within this volume demonstrate that the outcomes of feasts or court meetings were often highly unpredictable, and a friendly atmosphere could quickly change into a violent clash. By emphasising the conflict-ridden and unpredictable nature of ritual acts, the articles add crucial insights into the meanings, (ab)uses, and interpretations of performances in the Middle Ages. In doing so, they demonstrate that rituals, far from being mere representations of power, also constituted an important mechanism through which the political and religious order could be challenged and transformed.

Table of Contents

Editors’ Preface

Introduction: Rituals, Performatives, and Political Order in Northern Europe c. 650–1350— LARS HERMANSON

Part I — Performance and Ambiguity: Rituals in Early and High Medieval Europe

Making Boso the Clown: Performance and Performativity in a Pseudo-Diploma of the Renegade King (8 December 879) — GEOFFREY KOZIOL

Symbolic Communication and Medieval Order: Strengths and Weaknesses of Ambiguous Signs — GERD ALTHOFF

Part II — Ritual Space in Early Medieval Scandinavia

At the Assembly: A Study of Ritual Space — ALEXANDRA SANMARK

Custodian of the Sanctuary: Protecting Sacred Space as a Ritual Strategy for Gaining Legitimacy and Power in Pre-Christian Scandinavia — OLOF SUNDQVIST

Part III — Feasts, Fists, and Festivals in High and Late Medieval Scandinavia

Convivium in terra horroris

: Helmold of Bosau’s Rituals of Hostipitality — WOJTEK JEZIERSKI

Festive Governance: Feasts as Rituals of Power and Integration in Medieval Norway — HANS JACOB ORNING

The Wedding at Flugumýri in 1253: Icelandic Feasts between the Free State Period and Norwegian Hegemony — JÓN VIÐAR SIGURÐSSON

Just Rituals: Masquerade, Manipulation, and Officializing Strategies in Saxo’s Gesta Danorum — KIM ESMARK

Feasting with Traitors: Royal Banquets as Rituals and Texts in High Medieval Scandinavia — LARS KJAER

‘Mead and Beer and Cherry Wine and Wine both Red and White’: Feasts, Courts, and Conflicts in Fourteenth-Century Sweden — THOMAS SMÅBERG

Guilds as a Political Playground: The Ritual of gildedrikk in High and Late Medieval Scandinavia — HÅKON HAUGLAND

General Index


"In sum, the volume is exemplary and to be recommended to anyone interested in ritual studies, the scholarly impact of the performative turn, and in Nordic and medieval political history in general." (Arnoud-Jan Bijsterveld, in The Medieval Review, 2016.10.10)

"Insgesamt haben die Herausgeber also einen überaus ansprechenden und sehr interessanten Sammelband vorgelegt, der die Diskussion um Rituale und Performativität im mittelalterlichen Norden sicher grundlegend befruchten und weiter anregen wird. (...) Gleichwohl wird er für künftige Forschungen zu Herrschaftsbildung, sozialen Ordnungen, politischer Repräsentation und natürlich zu Ritualen im mittelalterlichen Norden unverzichtbares Rüstzeug werden. In diesem Rahmen betrachtet, liegt hier ein hervorragendes Werk vor, dem man eine über Skandinavien hinausgehende Verbreitung wünscht." (Thomas Foerster, in Francia-Recensio 2016/4 | Mittelalter - Moyen Âge (500-1500) | ISSN: 2425-3510;

“Somit liegen durchaus wichtige Beiträge zum Verständnis von symbolischer Kommunikation im skandinavischen Mittelalter vor (…)” (Johannes Schütz, in Historische Zeitschrift, 306/1, 2018, p. 189)

“Taken as whole, this is a well-structured volume that breaks new ground in both ritual studies and Scandinavian studies. It is to be commended for its efforts to facilitate pan-European comparative analyses of ritual in medieval governance.” (Matthew Firth, in Parergon, 34/1, 2017, p. 180)

Interest Classification:
Religion (including History of Religion) & Theology
Comparative religion & religions not otherwise listed
Comparative religion
Germanic religions
Christian Theology & Theologians
Early Medieval (c. 650-1200)
Medieval & Renaissance History (c.400-1500)
Medieval European history (400-1500) : main subdisciplines
Political & institutional history
Cultural & intellectual history
Religious history
Medieval European history (400-1500) : genres & specific topics
Medieval European history (400-1500) : local & regional history
Scandinavian & Baltic lands

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