Cross and Scepter: The Rise of the Scandinavian Kingdoms from the Vikings to the Reformation

Overview

Christianity and European-style monarchy--the cross and the scepter--were introduced to Scandinavia in the tenth century, a development that was to have profound implications for all of Europe. Cross and Scepter is a concise history of the Scandinavian kingdoms from the age of the Vikings to the Reformation, written by Scandinavia's leading medieval historian. Sverre Bagge shows how the rise of the three kingdoms not only changed the face of Scandinavia, but also helped make the territorial state the standard ...

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Cross and Scepter: The Rise of the Scandinavian Kingdoms from the Vikings to the Reformation

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Overview

Christianity and European-style monarchy--the cross and the scepter--were introduced to Scandinavia in the tenth century, a development that was to have profound implications for all of Europe. Cross and Scepter is a concise history of the Scandinavian kingdoms from the age of the Vikings to the Reformation, written by Scandinavia's leading medieval historian. Sverre Bagge shows how the rise of the three kingdoms not only changed the face of Scandinavia, but also helped make the territorial state the standard political unit in Western Europe. He describes Scandinavia's momentous conversion to Christianity and the creation of church and monarchy there, and traces how these events transformed Scandinavian law and justice, military and administrative organization, social structure, political culture, and the division of power among the king, aristocracy, and common people. Bagge sheds important new light on the reception of Christianity and European learning in Scandinavia, and on Scandinavian history writing, philosophy, political thought, and courtly culture. He looks at the reception of European impulses and their adaptation to Scandinavian conditions, and examines the relationship of the three kingdoms to each other and the rest of Europe, paying special attention to the inter-Scandinavian unions and their consequences for the concept of government and the division of power.

Cross and Scepter provides an essential introduction to Scandinavian medieval history for scholars and general readers alike, offering vital new insights into state formation and cultural change in Europe.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
03/10/2014
Bagge (Kings, Politics, and the Right Order of the World in German Historiography), one of the world’s pre-eminent medieval historians, offers an introductory survey of early Scandinavian history that will be a welcome addition in the classroom. He traces this often misunderstood culture from the Vikings up to the Reformation. While those horn-helmeted ur-pirates make a few appearances, Bagge doesn’t spend too much time on overblown Viking tales: this is a book about the transition from tribe, war band, and clan, to kingdom, military, and state—about the slow but steady reawakening of Western civilization from the Dark Ages, only this time considered from a rare and somewhat misty perspective. As Bagge states in the introduction, it’s primarily a “kind of European history in miniature,” focusing on how the Scandinavian states gradually, if occasionally sluggishly, evolved along with the rest of the continent in culture, politics, and religion. Insightful, in-depth, and authoritative—though a bit of a slog at times—Bagge’s scholarly work will be of great use to those with interest in this oft-forgotten civilization. (May)
From the Publisher

"Bagge, one of the world's pre-eminent medieval historians, offers an introductory survey of early Scandinavian history that will be a welcome addition in the classroom. . . . Insightful, in-depth, and authoritative . . . Bagge's scholarly work will be of great use to those with interest in this oft-forgotten civilization."--Publishers Weekly

"Using clear language and avoiding narrowly academic concerns, Cross and Scepter is accessible to a broad audience. It will be useful to specialists wanting a regional perspective, but it also offers an excellent general overview for anyone curious about medieval Scandinavia after the Viking age."--Danny Yee, Danny Reviews

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691161501
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 4/6/2014
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 336,438
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author


Sverre Bagge is professor emeritus of medieval history at the University of Bergen in Norway. His books include "Kings, Politics, and the Right Order of the World in German Historiography".
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii
Introduction 1
CHAPTER ONE 9
The Origins of the Scandinavian Kingdoms
Early Scandinavian Society 9
Scandinavian Expansion: The Viking Expeditions 21
The Division of Scandinavia into Three Kingdoms 27
The Continued Division of Scandinavia: Foreign Policy until around 1300 38
CHAPTER TWO 50
The Consolidation of the Scandinavian Kingdoms, c. 1050-1350
The Dynasty and the Royal Office 50
Religion: The Introduction of Christianity 60
The Development of the Ecclesiastical Organization 70
Justice: Royal and Ecclesiastical Legislation and Courts of Law 86
War and the Preparation for War: From
Leding to Professional Forces 107
CHAPTER THREE 119
State Formation, Social Change, and the Division of Power
Social Structure in the High Middle Ages 120
Royal and Ecclesiastical Revenues 124
Towns and Trade 131
Bureaucracy or Feudalism? 139
The Court 152
The Division of Power: Monarchy, Aristocracy, and the Church 157
The State and the People: Nationalism and Loyalty 169
CHAPTER FOUR 174
Royal, Aristocratic, and Ecclesiastical Culture
Scandinavians and European Learning 176
The Rules and the Hearts: Scandinavian Christianity 187
A Scandinavian Saint 196
The Writing of History 203
Political Thought 218
The Courtly Culture 222
CHAPTER FIVE 232
The Later Middle Ages: Agrarian Crisis, Constitutional Conflicts, and Scandinavian Unions
Towards Renewed Scandinavian Integration, 1261-1397 236
The Kalmar Union 248
The Struggle over the Kalmar Union, 1434-1523 250
Why Was the Union Dissolved? 260
State Formation in the Later Middle Ages 268
The Reformation and Its Consequences, 1523-1537 283
CONCLUSION 290
Scandinavian State Formation, 900-1537: Break and Continuity
Literature 293
The Historiography of the Scandinavian Countries 293
The Sources for Scandinavian History 297
References and Guide to Further Reading 301
Index 315

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