Book Series The Medieval Countryside, vol. 9

Settlement and Lordship in Viking and Early Medieval Scandinavia

Søren M. Sindbæk, Bjorn Poulsen (eds)

  • Pages: xvii + 337 p.
  • Size:156 x 234 mm
  • Illustrations:20 b/w, 7 tables b/w.
  • Language(s):English
  • Publication Year:2012

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  • ISBN: 978-2-503-53131-1
  • Hardback
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  • ISBN: 978-2-503-53979-9
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""Settlement and Lordship in Viking and Early Medieval Scandinavia is an important contribution to the debate on a vital issue of Scandinavian history. As a whole it gives a clear idea of the scope of the problem and the state of the art, its strengths and weaknesses and will undoubtedly help to focus further research in this field. (...) Anyone interested in the history of land and lordship in medieval Scandinavia will find their timewell spent consulting this volume." (Orri Vésteinsson, in: The Medieval Review, 12.10.10)

"(...) [this volume] offers a wealth of stimulating discussion that should ensure its importance as essential reading for both students and scholars of early-medieval Europe." (Letty Ten Harkel, in: Medieval Settlement Research, No. 27, 2012, p. 75-76)

"This is the first major attempt to summarise these difficult but essential issues in a Scandinavian context while at the same time bring together differing views from different academic traditions working with different sources.
Therefore, this volume is more than welcome." (Jan-Henrik FAllgren, in: Landscape History, Vol. 35, Issue 1, 2014, p. 95)

"The collection provides a very good illustration of the interdisciplinary character of research in this period. The articles present recent and innovative studies and results, previously published mostly in Scandinavian languages." (Thomas Lindkvist, in: Early Medieval Europe, Vol. 21, Issue 2, p. 234-236)



This volume aims to define the changing nature of lordship in Viking and early medieval Scandinavia. Advances in settlement archaeology and cultural geography have revealed new aspects of social power in Viking Age and early medieval Scandinavia. The organization of settlement is increasingly well understood and gives evidence of strong social differentiation in rural settlement. Historical research, however, increasingly portrays these societies as characterized by elementary social networks at a personal level rather than at the level of formal institutions. Can these representations be reconciled? When did the possession of land, in the form of manors or large demesne farms, become an important source of power and authority? This question has generated intense debate internationally in recent years, but there is no comprehensive overview for Scandinavia. New sources and approaches allow us to question the traditional view that Scandinavian aristocrats developed from Viking raiders into Christian landlords. Seventeen thematic chapters by leading scholars survey and assess the state of research and provide a new baseline for interdisciplinary discussions. How were social ties structured? How did lordship and dependency materialize in modes of agriculture, settlement, landscape, and monuments? The book traces the power of tributary relations, forged through personal ties, gifts, duties, and feasting in great halls, and their gradual transformation into the feudal bonds of levies and land-rent.




List of Illustrations


  • Settlement and Lordship in Viking and Early Medieval Scandinavia - BJØRN POULSEN AND SØREN M. SINDBÆK
Part I: Changing Aristocracies

  • Runic Inscriptions and the Vocabulary of Land, Lordship, and Social Power in the Late Viking Age - JUDITH JESCH
  • Military Organization and Offices: The Evidence of Grave Finds - ANNE PEDERSEN
  • Vertical Bonds and Social Power: Ideals of Lordship in Twelfth-Century Scandinavia - LARS HERMANSON
  • Aristocratic Expressions in Landscape and Settlement from the Viking Age to the Middle Ages - MARTIN HANSSON
Part II: Settlement and Social Differentiation

  • Social Power and Outland Use in Viking Age Settlement - SØREN M. SINDBÆK
  • High Medieval Magnate Farms in Jutland with Particular Focus on the Region of Ribe - MORTEN SØVSØ
  • Magnate Farms and Lordship from the Viking Age to the Medieval Period in Eastern Jutland: The Excavations at Lisbjerg and Haldum Churches - JENS JEPPESEN
  • Demesne Farms and Parish Formation in Western Östergötland: A Spatial Study of Church Catchment Areas and Ownership Structures when Alvastra Abbey was Founded - CLAS TOLLIN
  • High Medieval Magnate Farms in North-West Sjælland, Denmark: Analyses of Magnate Farms in an East Danish Region, c. 1100–1400 - JOHNNY GRANDJEAN GØGSIG JAKOBSEN
Part III: Magnates and Manors

  • Centrality, Landholding, and Trade in Scandinavia c. AD 700–900 - DAGFINN SKRE
  • The Oldest Documented Manors in Sjælland - ERIK ULSIG
  • The Roman Catholic Institutions and the Creation of Large Landed Estates in Denmark - NILS HYBEL
  • Danish Crown Lands AD 1230 – and before? - CARSTEN PORSKROG RASMUSSEN
Part IV: Lords, Slaves, and Tenants

  • Thralls’ Manumission, Land Clearing, and State Building in Medieval Norway - TORE IVERSEN
  • If the Danish Vikings Knew Land Rent, what Was it Like? - BJØRN POULSEN
  • Milking and Grinding, Digging and Herding: Slaves and Farmwork 1000–1300 - JANKEN MYRDAL