Book Series Comparative Perspectives on Medieval History, vol. 2

The Cult of Saints and Legitimization of Elite Power in East Central and Northern Europe up to 1300

Grzegorz Pac, Steffen Hope, Jon Vidar Sigurdsson (eds)

  • Pages: 472 p.
  • Size:156 x 234 mm
  • Illustrations:2 b/w, 12 col.
  • Language(s):English
  • Publication Year:2024

  • ISBN: 978-2-503-61108-2
  • Hardback
  • Available
  • ISBN: 978-2-503-61109-9
  • E-book
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While Northern and East Central Europe are often considered to have been peripheral parts of medieval Latin Christendom, they nevertheless embraced many of the same cultural impulses found in more central areas. Key among these was the way in which social elites, in the first centuries after the introduction of Christianity, recognized the potential to exploit the cult of saints as a way of legitimizing their own social standing. Taking this thematic focus as its starting point, this volume explores the intersection of religion, power, and the reception and development of new impulses from abroad within Northern and East Central Europe. It does so by comparing and contrasting cults that emerged locally with cults that were imported to the region. Through this comparative overview, the chapters of this volume not only contribute to a more nuanced understanding of these outlying regions, but also shed new light on Latin Christian Europe as a whole.


List of Illustrations



1. Saints and Elites on the Periphery: An Introduction
Steffen Hope, Grzegorz Pac, and Jón Viðar Sigurðsson

Part I. Non-native Saints

Non-native Saints: Introduction
Steffen Hope, Grzegorz Pac, and Jón Viðar Sigurðsson

2. The Authority of the Virgin. The Use of the Marian Cult in the Legitimization of Power in the Kingdom of Hungary before 1300
Karen Stark

3. Aegis of Aegidius — the Cult of St Giles in Eleventh- and Twelfth-Century Poland
Miłosz Sosnowski

4. The Apostles and Ecclesiastical Elites in Medieval Iceland. A Gregorian Hermeneutic Turn in the Medieval North
Haraldur Hreinsson

5. From St Florian to St Stanislaus. The Legitimization of Ducal and Episcopal Power in Kraków in the Late Twelfth and Early Thirteenth Century
Karolina Morawska

6. From St Olaf to the Relic of the Crown of Thorns. The Legitimization of Royal Power in Thirteenth-Century Norway
Jerzy Pysiak

7. Sanctity in Service. Saints in the Legitimation of the Presence of the Dominicans in Hungary
Eszter Konrád

Part II. Native Saints

Native Saints: Introduction
Steffen Hope, Grzegorz Pac, and Jón Viðar Sigurðsson

8. The Prague Nunnery and its Patroness, St Ludmila. Legitimization and Mutual Support
Grzegorz Pac

9. Many Lives of One Man. Strategies for Building Legitimacy through the Story of St Wenceslas in Early and High Medieval Hagiography (940s–1260s)
David Kalhous

10. The Cult of Saints in Elite Identity Construction in the Peripheries. The Cases of St Cnut of Denmark and St Wenceslas of Bohemia
Kacper Bylinka

11. The Canonization Accounts of St Stephen of Hungary, St Thorlak of Skálholt, and St Cnut of Odense. A Comparative Reading
Haki Antonsson

12. Legitimizing Episcopal Power in Twelfth-Century Denmark through the Cult of Saints
Steffen Hope

13. A Mutually Beneficial Relationship. Saints and the Legitimization of Elite Ecclesiastical Institutions in Sweden and Denmark before 1300
Sara Ellis Nilsson

14. The Liturgical Performance of Saints’ Offices in Medieval Sweden. Multimodal and Performative Event in a Legitimizing Context
Karin Lagergren

15. St Hedwig of Silesia. The First Dynastic Saint of the Piasts and the Legitimization of Power at a Time of Change in the Thirteenth Century
Anna Agnieszka Dryblak

16. The Legitimization of Papal Power through the Cults of Royal Women in Thirteenth-Century East Central Europe
Kirsty Day


17. The Cult of Saints and the Legitimization of Ecclesiastical and Secular Elites on the Periphery: Conclusions
Steffen Hope, Grzegorz Pac, and Jón Viðar Sigurðsson