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

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


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Rituals, Performatives, and Political Order in Northern Europe, c. 650-1350 by Lars Hermanson

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9782503554723
Publisher: Brepols Publishers
Publication date: 11/06/2015
Series: Ritus et Artes Series , #7
Pages: 366
Product dimensions: 6.60(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.10(d)

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations vii

Editors' Preface ix

List of Abbreviations xi

Introduction: Rituals, Performatives, and Political Order in Northern Europe c. 650-1350 Lars Hermanson 1

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 43

Symbolic Communication and Medieval Order: Strengths and Weaknesses of Ambiguous Signs Gerd Althoff 63

Part II Ritual Space in Early Medieval Scandinavia

At the Assembly: A Study of Ritual Space Alexandra Sanmark 79

Custodian of the Sanctuary: Protecting Sacred Space as a Ritual Strategy for Gaining Legitimacy and Power in Pre-Christian Scandinavia Olof Sundqvist 113

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 139

Festive Governance: Feasts as Rituals of Power and Integration in Medieval Norway Hans Jacob Orning 175

The Wedding at Flugumýri in 1253: Icelandic Feasts between the Free State Period and Norwegian Hegemony Jón Vibar Sigurdsson 209

Just Rituals: Masquerade, Manipulation, and Officializing Strategies in Saxo's Gesta Danorum Kim Esmark 237

Feasting with Traitors: Royal Banquets as Rituals and Texts in High Medieval Scandinavia Lars Kjær 269

'Mead and Beer and Cherry Wine and Wine both Red and White': Feasts, Courts, and Conflicts in Fourteenth-Century Sweden Thomas Småberg 295

Guilds as a Political Playground: The Ritual of Gildedrikk in High and Late Medieval Scandinavia Hakon Haugland 321

General Index 359

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