SCANGM05 - Written Sources for the Viking Age

Value: 30 credits
Tutor: Dr Haki Antonsson
Teaching structure:
one 6,000-word essay (100%).

Module Description:

This module explores how the past was perceived in twelfth- and thirteenth-century Scandinavia. This period produced the earliest national histories in Norway and Denmark (in Latin) while in Iceland sagas about events of that country were composed in the Old Norse vernacular. The module examines the manner in which Scandinavian authors presented the history of kingdoms (and an Icelandic republic) which were Christianized at a relatively late date or around the turn of the first millennium. How, for instance, did these authors approach the pagan and Viking past of their ancestors, the conversion of the region to Christianity, and the rise of the national monarchies? The Scandinavian corpus will be examined in the context of an epoch in European intellectual life which has traditionally been labeled the ‘Twelfth-Century Renaissance’. All texts will be read in English translations.

Preparatory Reading and Set Texts:

An excellent first port of call is Peter Sawyer (ed.), The Oxford Illustrated History of the Vikings (2001). Stefan Brink and Neil Price (eds.) The Viking World (2008) contains short, up-to-date, articles on numerous topics. On the transition from the ‘Viking-Age’ to the Christian Middle Ages, see the Scandinavian chapters in the Christianization and the Rise of Christian Monarchy: Scandinavia, Central Europe and Rus’ca, 900-1200 (2007).