1st Edition

Monasticism in North-Western Europe, 800–1200

By Tore Nyberg Copyright 2000

    This title was first published in 2000:  This is a full-scale integrated synthesis of the origins, spread and effects of monasticism in Scandinavia, and along the shores of the Baltic and the North Sea. Beginning with a review of the geography and communications by land and, especially, by sea, of the region, Nyberg goes on to describe early monasticism among the Frisians ,Saxons and the Danes, then in Norway and Sweden, Saxony, Slesvig and Ribe, and finally Pomerania and the southern and eastern Baltic littoral. Throughout the book he stresses the place of abbeys and convents within their local surroundings, as centres of conversion, recruitment and redistribution of wealth. He traces the intellectual, literary and liturgical connections between monastic centres and neighbouring cathedral towns and royal strongholds, and the means by which orders or congregations maintained discipline from the centre. He also describes the leaders who emerged from convent, abbey or congregation to command local and regional political and cultural life, and the ways in which monastic centres influenced popular devotion.

    Contents: Introduction; The monastic geography of North-Western Europe: The regions; Communications; Early monasticism among Frisians and Saxons: The Frisians; The Saxons; The archbishops’ options; Eleventh-century monasticism: Eastern Denmark: The period 1020-1100; Zealand and the diocese of Roskilde; The two Scania dioceses; Eleventh-century monasticism: Funen and Jutland: Funen and the diocese of Odense; The three new dioceses of Jutland; Eleventh-century monasticism: Norway and Sweden: Norway; Sweden; Eleventh-century monasticism: Saxony, Slesvig, Ribe; The great period: civil war I: The spirit of the epoch: revenge and penitence; The alternative: disinterested prayer; The great period: civil war II: Monasticism in times of threat; The Danish model in Sweden; The Danish model in Norway?; The great period: civil war III; The Valdemarian age I: 1157 and the coming of competition: Summing up: kings in the secular church and the monasteries; Bishops and monasteries; The new interpretation: peace and tension; Danish kingship and the new interpretation; Swedish kingship and monasticism; The Valdemarian age 2: movements among monks: The history of ’The Precious Island; ’ Repeated patterns?; New moves in Sweden; Women and the monastic option; The Valdemarian age 3: sons and daughters of St. Augustine; The Valdemarian age 4: peripheria and conclusion: Among the Obodrites and Pomeranians; Among the Frisians; Conclusion; Appendix: development of Cistercian foundations in Denmark; Bibliography; Index.


    Tore Nyberg

    '...the book renders a great service to those whose unfamiliarity with the Northern world has until now led them to omit it from their consideration.' English Historical Review '... an important study which covers new ground.... a point of reference for all further work on the subject...the author...has done a remarkable job in bringing together a tremendous amount of data...' American Benedictine Review '... a very necessary synthesis... In this excellent work one finds much valuable information...' Revue d'Histoire Ecclesiastique '... presents a clear view of monastic development in northern Europe before 1200... skillful use of archaeology... This is a highly satisfying book that will be a standard work of reference on northern monasticism for many years to come.' The Catholic Historical Review 'Nyberg's book is a pioneering work and as such extremely valuable. He has not only synthesized an enormous number of discrete studies of individual communities but has firmly tied the history of monasticism to the development of the practice of Christianity and the political history of the Scandinavian lands... he offers rich comparative material to a wide scholarly community.' Speculum 'The great value of this work not only lies in the [...] data concerning the various monasteries, but also in the situation of the foundation and potential reform of each monastery in a global ecclesial and political context.' Analecta Praemonstratensia