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Medieval Scandinavia: From Conversion to Reformation, Circa 800-1500: 017 (Nordic) [Paperback]

Birgit Sawyer , P.H. Sawyer

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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: University of Minnesota Press (15 Nov 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0816617392
  • ISBN-13: 978-0816617395
  • Product Dimensions: 1.7 x 15.9 x 22.9 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 243,049 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


The study of Scandinavia has been, and still is, deeply influenced by the interpretation of its earliest history that was developed in the 19th century by political, legal, and literary historians, archaeologists, and anthropologists. Scandinavia figured prominently in discussions of early medieval Europe, not only as the homeland of the Vikings, but also as the region in which Germanic society remained uncontaminated by Christianity and other influences longer than anywhere else. In "Medieval Scandinavia", Birgit and Peter Sawyer question assumptions about early Scandinavian history, including the supposed leading role of free and equal peasants and their position in founding churches. They meticulously trace the development of Scandinavia from the early ninth century through the second and third decades of the 16th century, when rulers of Scandinavia rejected the authority of the Papacy and the attempt to establish a united Scandinavian monarchy finally collapsed. The authors include a discussion of medieval history writing and comment on the use of history in the 16th century and modern attitudes to medieval history which differ in various parts of Scandinavia.

They ultimately conclude that historic Scandinavia held greater similarities to other European regions than has been commonly supposed. Birgit Sawyer is one of the founders of the biennial interdisciplinary conferences on women in medieval Scandinavia. Peter Sawyer's previous books include "Kings and Vikings" and "The Age of the Vikings".

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Customer Reviews

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Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars One Of The Few Books On The Subject 21 July 2005
By K. Miller - Published on Amazon.com
This book does a very good job of covering the evolution of government, religion, economics and towns in medieval Scandinavia. The chapter on women was a bit disappointing. It seemed to be included as an obligatory chapter, but used too much speculation about the status of women in this time period. The book finishes with an interesting chapter covering the context that the authors of the original sources worked in.
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent short volume 21 Mar 2009
By JT - Published on Amazon.com
Admittedly, I speak as a specialist, but I think this is a very fine book, and accessible to all audiences. Most welcomely, the authors are more wary than some of using the Icelandic sagas as straightforward historical or anthropological sources for the study of medieval Scandinavian society, and hence resist taking romanticized and potentially ideological depictions, e.g., of medieval women, as fact. In addition, the book is jargon-free and well written by academic standards.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book 5 Feb 2010
By Olaf Lutherson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Good book on a topic that sometimes gets overlooked in favor of a purely Viking Age experience.
2 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Important aspects of Medieval Scandinavian History 3 Nov 2009
By Dag Stomberg - Published on Amazon.com
Almost all of the primary sources of medieval Scandinavian history
was coming from oral sources of the period in question. Most of the
people who figure in the written recounts belonged to the royal and
aristocratic families and clergy. These are included in the skaldic poetry, Icelandic sagas, ballards and church literature.

To quote T. S. Eliot, "importance of criticism in work of creation
itself," and this, the authors, Birgit and Peter Sawyer have done
comprehensibly with MEDIEVAL SCANDINVIA - From Conversion to
Reformation circa 800-1500.

Dag Stomberg
0 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars On target 19 Feb 2011
By greatmissionviejohomes.com - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I ordered this book for my son who is away at college. He received it quickly and said it was fine. Thanks.
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