Book Series Comparative Perspectives on Medieval History, vol. 1

New Perspectives on the 'Civil Wars' in Medieval Scandinavia

Hans Jacob Orning, Jón Viðar Sigurðsson, Kim Esmark (eds)

  • Pages: approx. 445 p.
  • Size:156 x 234 mm
  • Illustrations:11 b/w
  • Language(s):English
  • Publication Year:2024

  • ISBN: 978-2-503-60150-2
  • Hardback
  • Forthcoming (Aug/24)



Hans Jacob Orning, Department of Archaeology, Conservation and History, University of Oslo, Norway

Jon Vidar Sigurdsson, Department of Archaeology, Conservation and History, University of Oslo, Norway

Kim Esmark, Department of Communication and Arts, Roskilde University, Denmark


In the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, Scandinavia was rocked by an ongoing period of ‘civil war’, conflicts traditionally characterized by medieval historians as internal struggles that took place in the context of predominantly national, state-centred political and constitutional frameworks. This volume, however, aims to overturn these established narratives, with carefully curated essays written by experts in the field offering a new pan-Scandinavian perspective on the period in question that emphasizes the importance of fluid, often overlapping social networks, permeable borders between realms, and constant underlying hostilities between rival groups. Through detailed examinations of pivotal moments in Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish history, together with analyses of topographical patterns, gender issues, diplomacy, and three contributions that draw parallels within similar conflicts outside of Scandinavia, this book provides an important corrective to teleological narratives of the medieval ‘civil wars’ as a necessary stage on the route to state formation and modernity.


List of Illustrations

1. Network Dynamics, Conflict as Context, and Internal War: Outline of a Scandinavian Medieval Case for Comparison
Kim Esmark, Hans Jacob Orning, and Jón Viðar Sigurðsson

Part I. Case Studies

Introduction to Part One

2. Networks and flokkar: The Civil Wars in Norway c. 1134–1163
Jón Viðar Sigurðsson

3. Messy Conflict: Socio-political Competition and War in Denmark c. 1128–1137
Kim Esmark

4. Constant Crisis in Norway, 1202–1208
Hans Jacob Orning

Part II. Thematic Analyses

Introduction to Part Two

5. Spatial Practices in the Twelfth and Early Thirteenth Century Scandinavian Power Game
Bjørn Poulsen

6. The Memory of Margrethe: Noblewomen as Power Agents in Multi-Party Conflicts c. 1120–1170
Lars Hermanson

7. Peacemaking and Negotiations in High Medieval Scandinavia
Jenny Benham

Part III. European Comparisons

Introduction to Part Three

8. Political Networks in Conflict: A German Perspective
Gerd Althoff

9. War Stories: Re-Thinking Rebellion in Anglo-Norman and Angevin England, 1066 to 1217
Stephen D. White

10. Scandinavia in Medieval Europe
Warren C. Brown