The Human Being in the Norwegian Middle Ages. Ideas, Belief, and Attitudes 1000 - 1300

Bagge, Sverre: Mennesket i middelalderens Norge. Tanker, tro og holdninger 1000 - 1300

The founding of social institutions in the Middle Ages, the Christianization and unification of Norway has been a central theme in Norwegian historical research. Far less frequently have historians attempted to investigate the changes that took place in the human mind during the foundation of the State and the Church in Norway. This is Sverre Bagge’s project in The Human Being in the Norwegian Middle Ages.

This book discusses the ideas, beliefs, norms and behaviour of the Norwegian people in the Middle Ages. It addresses the question of how people really were. What was it like to be a human being in the Middle Ages? And how different from us were the people of that time?

The author shows that people changed on an inner level when Norway became part of western, catholic Christianity and a nationwide royal power. Customs, habits, and norms changed. Inspired by, among other things, the French history of mentality, he illuminates these changes and how they found expression in perceptions about religion and the meaning of life, political thinking and behaviour, fidelity and obedience, and attitudes toward the body, toward love, and toward death.

As is the case with many studies about the history of mentality, this book is not only about what happened long ago; it is also a study of what it means to be a human being. It challenges many of the perceptions and values we regard as obvious. „Going back to the Norwegian Middle Ages is a journey to an unknown country,” the author writes in his introduction. „But like all journeys, it may tell us something about ourselves, our values and norms and what we take for granted .” The Human Being in the Norwegian Middle Ages is a book that should awaken interest far beyond the sphere of historians.

Contents: Preface/Part I. From the Oseberg Ship to the Nidaros Cathedral/Part II. Chieftain Power and Household/Part III. Honour and Freedom/Part IV. Holy Belief and Proper Customs/Part V. The Proper World Order/Part VI. Customs and Hearts/Part VII. Rupture and Continuity/Literature/Index

Publisher: H. Aschehoug & Co. 2000
ISBN: 82-03-22509-8
253 pp, hardback

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