1st Edition

Scandinavia in the Middle Ages 900-1550 Between Two Oceans

By Kirsi Salonen, Kurt Villads Jensen Copyright 2023
    340 Pages 61 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    340 Pages 61 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Medieval Scandinavia went through momentous changes. Regional power centres merged and gave birth to the three strong kingdoms of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. At the end of the Middle Ages, they together formed the enormous Kalmar Union comprising almost all lands around the North Atlantic and the Baltic Sea. In the Middle Ages, Scandinavia became part of a common Europe, yet preserved its own distinct cultural markers.

    Scandinavia in the Middle Ages 900–1550 covers the entire Middle Ages into an engaging narrative. The book gives a chronological overview of political, ecclesiastical, cultural, and economic developments. It integrates to this narrative climatic changes, energy crises, devastating epidemies, family life and livelihood, arts, education, technology and literature, and much else. The book shows how different groups had an important role in shaping society: kings and peasants, pious priests, nuns and crusaders, merchants, and students, without forgetting minorities such as Sámi and Jews. The book is divided into three chronological parts 900–1200, 1200–1400, and 1400–1550, where analyses of general trends are illustrated by the acts of individual men and women.

    This book is essential reading for students of, as well as all those interested in, medieval Scandinavia and Europe more broadly.


    Part I: 900–1200: Formation

    1. Coming of the Kingdoms

    2. Coming of Christ

    3. Tilling the Land – The Local Economy

    4. Cultural Tradition and Transition

    Part II: 1200–1400: Consolidation and Restructuring

    5. Dominion over the Seas

    6. Consolidation of the Church

    7. Economic Growth and Fall – Urbanisation and Agrarian Crisis

    8. Cultural Universalism

    Part III: 1400–c. 1550: Power in Crises

    9. Rise and Fall of the Kalmar Union

    10. Fall of the Church

    11. Economic Expansion – The International Market Economy

    12. A Revolution in Communication


    Kirsi Salonen is Professor of Medieval History at the University of Bergen, Norway. Her previous publications include Papal Justice in the Late Middle Ages. The Sacra Romana Rota (2016); and she is the co-editor of Scandinavia and the Vatican Archives (2022).

    Kurt Villads Jensen is Professor of Medieval History and Director of the Centre for Medieval Studies at Stockholm University, Sweden. His previous publications include Crusading at the Edges of Europe. Denmark and Portugal c.1000–c.1250 (2017); and he is the co-author of The Rise and Fall of the Danish Empire (2022).

    "How to cover centuries of medieval life, habits, and events in Scandinavia, with illustrations and maps, and all this very comprehensively, but in just 300 pages? With elegance, when done by two professors of medieval history, Kirsi Salonen from the University of Bergen, Norway and Kurt Villads Jensen from the University of Stockholm, Sweden. Their recent book, Scandinavia in the Middle Ages 900—1550: Between Two Oceans (2023), is a real treasure for every medievalist. (...) It is a general and well-structured medieval history and archaeology handbook for students and scholars alike. Their book not only draws a picture of how things were in medieval Scandinavia, but what is more, it also portrays the various connections and links from Europe to Scandinavia and from Scandinavia to all the known medieval world. Scandinavia in the Middle Ages was not some isolated northern region, but an area having impact on a large scale also outside its borders. It deserves to be known by every history student and scholar alike."

    Elise Pihlajaniemi, The Journal of Medieval Religious Cultures, Volume 50, Number 1, 2024 pp. 135-137