Centre for Medieval Studies Lecture Series

Viðar Pálsson

Der König ist tot, es lebe der König!

Konungur í tvennum líkama og á faraldsfæti

Thursday, October 18, 2018, at 16.30
Lögberg 101

Viðar Pálsson

Á hámiðöldum klæddist konungur tvennum líkama og tóku fjárreiður hans mið af því. Í fyrirlestrinum verður fjallað um fjárhagsgrundvöll konungs, hvernig hann gerðist stórjarðeigandi sem þó réði næsta minnstu um meðferð jarðeigna sinna, og hvernig hann át upp skatta sína á ferð um konungdóminn ásamt hirð sinni. Hinn tvöfaldi líkami konungs kom reyndar fram í nánu samhengi við vöxt og viðgang ríkisvalds og varð snar þáttur í þróun sem leiddi til þess að konungur tók að ferðast minna um konungdóm sinn en áður og innheimta skatta með öðrum hætti. Áberandi þættir þessarar þróunar verða ræddir í fyrirlestrinum, t.d. eignarréttur á há- og síðmiðöldum, upphaf krúnugóss konunga, sem svo var kallað, og hlutverk formlegra valdasambanda sem birtust í merkingarbærum athöfnum, ritúölum, í vitna viðurvist.

Noregskonungar eru í brennidepli en einnig Frankakonungar og Þýskalandskeisari. Reifaðar verða rannsóknir á evrópsku konungsvaldi sem gagnast við lestur á konungasögum og túlkun konungsvalds í Noregi á miðöldum.

Viðar Pálsson er dósent í sagnfræði við Háskóla Íslands. Rannsóknarsvið hans er evrópsk og norræn miðaldasaga, einkum há- og síðmiðalda. Hann er höfundur bókarinnar Language of Power: Feasting and Gift-Giving in Medieval Iceland and Its Sagas (2016), þar sem meðal annars er fjallað um konungsvald.

The talk will be delivered in Icelandic. All are welcome to attend.

Centre for Medieval Studies Lecture Series

Sverrir Tómasson

Ormsbók og riddaramennt Skarðverja

Thursday, October 4, 2018, at 16.30
Lögberg 101

Sverrir Tómasson

Orðið riddaramennt er haft um margvíslega menntun riddara hér á landi undir lok 14. aldar og á 15. öld. Menntin snýst ekki aðeins um burtreiðar, turniment, heldur líka um klæðaburð, borðsiði, siðfágun, mataræði og ástir. Samkvæmt elstu norrænu riddarabókmentunum skyldi riddarinn, sem yfirleitt var karlmaður, hafa til að bera ákveðnar dygðir sem oftast má rekja til siðfræði Cicerós. Þetta eru þó mjög kristilegar dygðir, riddarinn skyldi elska föður sinn og móður, sýna staðfestu og hóf og gera það eitt sem gott þykir. Riddarinn skyldi vera fagur álitum, ríkur, áburðarmaður og metnaðargjarn. Guðs riddari var sá sem gerði það eitt sem guði var þóknanlegt; hann var hluti af himneskri hirðsveit. Riddari gat sá einn orðið sem var aðalsmaður af ætt og sökum sinnislags var líka aðalsmaður. Um hann gilti að fagur riddari var bonus corporis og sýndi líka bona fortuna, en í öllu atferli sínu birtist stöðugt togstreita milli ástar og hugrekkis eða drengskapar. Skarðverjar voru allflestir riddarar, sumir svo gamlir í þeim búningi, að þeir höfðu verið dubbaðir upp í þá tign á dögum Hákonar háleggs á öndverðri 14. öld. En hvaða skyldur gengu þeir undir þegar þeir gerðust hirðmenn Noregskonungs — með öðrum orðum hvernig var riddaramennt þeirra háttað?

Sverrir Tómasson er prófessor emeritus við Stofnun Árna Magnússonar í íslenskum fræðum. Eftir hann liggja fjölmörg fræðirit og útgáfur, þ. á m. doktorsritgerðin, Formálar íslenskra sagnaritara á miðöldum (1988), Nikulás sögur erkibyskups, Helgastaðabók 1982 og Pipraðir páfuglar 2017. Sverrir hefur gefið út Íslendinga sögur I-III 1987, Sturlunga sögu I-III 1988, Bósa sögu og Herrauðs 1996 og Heilagra karla sögur 2007. Hann vinnur nú að riti um íslenskar rómönsur og útgáfu á öllum gerðum af Nikulás sögu erkibyskups.

The talk will be delivered in Icelandic. All are welcome to attend.

Centre for Medieval Studies Lecture Series

Sverrir Jakobsson

Hvernig skal Krist kenna?

Nútímasagnaritun um forna sögu

Thursday, September 27, 2018, at 16.30
Lögberg 101

Sverrir Jakobsson

Jesús Kristur er einn kunnasti, áhrifamesti og umdeildasti einstaklingur í sögu mannkyns. Saga hans hefur verið sögð oft og mörgum sinnum enda er hún undirstaða hugmynda fólks um trú, siðfræði, réttlæti og líf eftir dauðann í mörgum löndum víða um heim. Saga Jesú er mikilvægur hluti af menningu kristinna manna og hefur verið það í tæplega 2000 ár. Samfélag nútímans hvílir hins vegar í æ ríkari mæli á öðrum gildum og hugmyndum en hinum kristnu. Hvernig er hægt að segja þessa fornu sögu með nýjum hætti í upphafi 21. aldar? Er hægt að fjalla um sögu kristni á öðrum forsendum en trúarlegum? Hvernig getur sagnfræðingur nálgast á hlutlausan hátt persónu sem margir líta á sem guð og hefur mótað líf flestra sem kennivald og fyrirmynd?

Hér er ætlunin að ræða hvaða merkingu sagan um Krist hefur frá sjónarmiði almennrar mannkynssögu og hugmyndasögu. Reynt verður að greina þróunarsögu þessarar hugmyndar út frá kenningum um menningarlegt minni, sem fræðimenn á borð við Jan og Aleidu Assmann hafa skilgreint. Hvaða máli skipta þær hugmyndir sem ríkjandi voru innan Rómarveldis þegar sagan um Krist kom fyrst fram? Hvaða áhrif hafði það að sagan um Krist varð til innan samfélags og menningar Gyðinga í Palestínu? Af hverju er myndin af Kristi mismunandi í ólíkum heimildum sem urðu til um hann strax á fyrstu öld? Hvernig þróuðust þær í framhaldinu og af hverju? Að hvaða leyti getur textafræðin varpað ljósi á þróunarsögu hugmyndarinnar um Krist?

Einnig verður rétt hvernig hugmyndir um Krist tóku á sig staðlaða mynd og sum rit um ævi hans hlutu almenna viðurkenningu en öðrum hafnað. Eftir að kristni hlaut opinbera stöðu innan Rómarveldis breyttist eðli trúarinnar og ríkari krafa var gerð um staðlaða trúarjátningu og samræmingu hugmynda um Krist. Hófst þá klofningur kristinna manna í rétttrúaða og villutrúarmenn sem síðan hefur mótað sögu þeirra. Vikið verður að ýmsum vandamálum sem tengjast hugtökunum rétttrúnaður og villutrú og bent á sögulegt afstæði þeirra þar sem hugmyndir sem skiptu gríðarlega miklu máli voru síðar fordæmdar sem villutrú. Tekin verða nokkur dæmi um klofning kristinna manna sem höfðu mikla pólitíska þýðingu á sínum tíma og mótuðu alla sögu samfélaga þeirra í framhaldinu.

Sverrir Jakobsson er prófessor í miðaldasögu við Háskóla Íslands og höfundur bókarinnar Kristur. Saga hugmyndar (2018).

The talk will be delivered in Icelandic. All are welcome to attend.

Centre for Medieval Studies Lecture Series

Miðaldastofa Háskóla Íslands og Samtök móðurmálskennara

SAGATID

Henrik Poulsen og Merete Stenum Nielsen
kynna Sagatid.dk — vef um íslenskar fornbókmenntir.

Mánudaginn 24. september 2018 kl. 16.30
Stofu 311 í Árnagarði í Háskóla Íslands

SAGATID er ætlað að blása nýju lífi í kennslu íslenskra fornbókmennta á Norðurlöndum. Vefurinn varpar ljósi á þann jarðveg sem Íslendingasögurnar eru sprottnar úr, bókmenntalegt gildi þeirra og tungutak. Vefurinn sýnir jafnframt hvernig þessar bókmenntir höfða til okkar í nútímanum í gegnum túlkun norrænna nútímahöfunda á völdum köflum og verkum norrænna ljósmyndara sem mynda valda sögustaði.

Miðaldastofa Háskóla Íslands og Samtök móðurmálskennara boða til fundar mánudaginn 24. september kl. 16.30 í stofu 311 í Árnagarði í Háskóla Íslands þar sem Henrik Poulsen og Merete Stenum Nielsen kynna vefinn Sagatid.dk. Allir áhugamenn um íslenskar fornbókmenntir velkomnir.

Henrik Poulsen cand.mag. er kennslubókahöfundur og ritstjóri og hefur sent frá sér meira en fjörutíu kennslubækur.

Merete Stenum Nielsen er verkefnisstjóri og ritstjóri hjá Sagatid.dk og víðar.

Fundurinn fer fram á dönsku og ensku. Allir velkomnir.

http://www.sagatid.dk

Centre for Medieval Studies Lecture Series

Kate Heslop

Ynglingatal: death in place

Thursday, September 20, 2018, at 16.30
Lögberg 101

Kate Heslop

Ynglingatal ‘Enumeration of the Ynglingar’ is a poem that we think we know—a genealogy that presents the Yngling kings as a bizarre collection of bumblers, prone to avenging sparrows, getting shut into rocks, and falling overboard. Medieval sources attribute it to the famous Norwegian skald Þjóðólfr of Hvin, composing in the late ninth or early tenth century for the obscure Rǫgnvaldr heiðumhár, who seems to have been a ruler in the borderland between the Christian Danish kingdom and the small polities of southeastern Norway. Its stanzas are transmitted in Heimskringla as the poetic backbone of the narrative of Ynglinga saga.

In my talk, I will argue that viewing Ynglingatal in the context of other poetry in the kviðuháttr metre—the metre of around 15% of the lines in the skaldic corpus, including such important encomia as Þórarinn loftunga’s Glælognskviða (c. 1032) and Sturla Þórðarson’s Hákonarkviða, from the 1260s— suggests alternative perspectives on the poem that may accord better with Ynglingatal’s place in literary history. In particular, I will explore what it could mean to turn from reading Ynglingatal as a genealogy, to reading it as an itinerary, and discuss the role that places and monuments play in its memorial rhetoric. My talk will conclude by considering Þjóðólfr’s claim to mediate memory of the distant past in the light of contemporary memorial practices in other media, in order to throw light on the evolving social institution of the skald in the ninth and tenth centuries.

Kate Heslop is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Scandinavian, UC Berkeley, where she teaches Old Norse literature. Her doctorate is from the University of Sydney. Her research focuses on the poetry of Viking and medieval Scandinavia. She is a contributing editor to the Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages project.

The talk will be delivered in English. All are welcome to attend.

Centre for Medieval Studies Lecture Series

Simon Halink

A Story of Many Snorris

The Long Afterlife of Snorri Sturluson in the Cultural Memory of Scandinavia

Thursday, September 13, 2018, at 16.30
Lögberg 101

Simon Halink

Few Icelanders have been the subject of so much praise and slander as the medieval writer, poet and chieftain Snorri Sturluson in the nearly eight centuries since his death. Already the medieval sources present the reader with an ambiguous image of a man, who was simultaneously a brilliant scholar and a great political strategist, but also a betrayer of his people and a puppet of the Norwegian king. In this presentation, I will chart the posthumous reception, or the afterlife of a man who was, as Tim Machan stated in a recent publication, so important, that he “would have to have been invented if he had not lived”. Especially his History of the Norwegian Kings (Heimskringla) and the Prose Edda attributed to him have determined the image of ancient Scandinavia well beyond his native Iceland. Yet, Snorri’s rise to prominence is by no means self-evident, and did not begin until several centuries after his death. What is easily forgotten, is that Snorri was not always considered the ‘greatest of all Scandinavian geniuses’, nor was his legacy (both literary and political) always received in a positive light. It is my intention to demonstrate how processes of secular canonisation, and nationally inspired veneration which developed around his persona and his (presumed) oeuvre in the course of the long nineteenth century (entailing the establishment of a corpus and the organisation of commemorations, among other things) could transform the memory of a long-dead medieval poet like Snorri into an instrument for articulating cultural identities in modernity. In order to do so, I will examine the profoundly ambivalent and divergent images of Snorri Sturluson in Iceland, Denmark, Norway, and in the context of more universal discourses, while focussing on an intricate ‘traitor-hero complex’ that many of these narratives appear to revolve around. How does Snorri’s role in the cultural memory of the Scandinavians differ from country to country? And how can this divergence of modern receptions be explained in the context of national identity formation?

Simon Halink is a cultural historian specialized in the study of nationalism,  currently conducting his postdoctoral research at the University of Iceland. In 2017, he took his Ph.D. at the University of Groningen, where he studied the cultivation of Old Norse mythology in modern Icelandic nationalism.

The talk will be delivered in English. All are welcome to attend.

Centre for Medieval Studies Lecture Series

Jesse Byock

Archaeology, Sagas, the Mosfell Excavations, and the Early Maritime History of the Reykjavík Area

Thursday, August 30, 2018, at 16.30
Lögberg 101

Jesse Byock

This talk presents an overview of the Mosfell Archaeological Project (MAP) and focuses on recent findings. It reviews excavations in Leiruvogur Bay at the coastal mouth of Mosfellsdalur and at Hrísbrú, the farmstead of the Mosfell chieftains. These two Viking Age sites formed a 10th-century Icelandic harbor and inland administrative unit. MAP is a interdisciplinary archaeological project, employing the tools of history, anthropology, environmental sciences, forensics, botanics, and saga studies. We are researching human adaptions, social development, and environmental change in the Mosfellsdalur region. Our sites extend into the surrounding highlands and on the lowland coastal areas. We define this geographic and social community as a “valley system” that took shape immediately following Iceland’s 9th-century landnám or settlement. MAP is developing through excavation and associated research a concept of ‘Valley System Archaeology,’ that is especially suited to Icelandic and North Atlantic sites.
I will discuss the Viking Age harbor at Leiruvogur, a finding that may adjust the early historical understanding of the Reykjavík area. The Leiruvogur harbor complex and the Hrísbrú site have been generally overlooked by archaeologists and historians. Based on our recent archaeology, I propose that the inner Leiruvogur lagoon was the major regional harbor in this part of Faxaflói Bay. Control of the Leiruvogur harbor gave the Mosfell chieftains regional influence over the inner nesses. The harbor also connected Mosfellsdalur and the surrounding community to the wider Viking world, and MAP’s artifact findings show connections with regions as far away as Turkmenestan in Central Asia.

At Hrísbrú, we have unearthed the farmstead of the Mosfell chieftains, the home of the lawspeaker Grímur Svertingsson, the warrior-poet Egill Skallagrímsson, and the chieftain Önundur and his son Hrafn. The archaeologicall finds include a large, exceptionally well-preserved longhouse from Iceland’s settlement period, a pagan cremation site, a conversion-era stave church, an early Christian graveyard, and stone ship-like monuments. The mortuary practices discovered in Mosfellsdalur show a mixed pagan and Christian community. In many ways, the excavations are providing new evidence of early Icelandic life.

Jesse Byock is Distinguished Research Professor at UCLA’s Cotsen Institute of Archaeology and UCLA’s Scandinavian Section. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard University. He is the Director of the Mosfell Archaeological Project (MAP). For the past several years, he has been at Háskóli Íslands affiliated with the Sagnfræðideild and the program in Viking and Medieval Norse Studies. Prof. Byock is author or translator of Viking Age Iceland (Penguin), Grettir’s Saga (Oxford), The Saga of the Volsungs (Penguin), The Prose Edda: Norse Mythology (Penguin), Feud in the Icelandic Saga (University of California Press), The Saga of King Hrolf Kraki (Penguin), Islande des Vikings (Aubier Flammarion) and The Viking Language Series (Jules William Press). With Davide Zori he edited, Viking Archaeology in Iceland: Mosfell Archaeological Project (Brepols). The later presents the research of the Mosfell team.

The talk will be delivered in English. All are welcome to attend.

Centre for Medieval Studies Lecture Series

Nadezhda Hristova

Offences against Marriage 
in the 12th–14th Centuries

Evidence from Orthodox Bulgaria and Catholic Europe

Thursday, May 31, 2018, at 16.30
Lögberg 101

Nadezhda Hristova

In this lecture, Nadezhda Hristova discusses the attitude towards offences against marriage in the legal tradition of the Orthodox and the Catholic Church. Hristova presents results of her research based on a comparative analysis of normative and academic texts in medieval church law composed or used in the Orthodox Bulgarian Kingdom and in Catholic Western Europe in the 12th–14th centuries. Hristova examines sources such as the so-called Slavonic Ecloga (a translation into Old Bulgarian of the Byzantine Ecloga—the most important Byzantine legal work after the Code of Justinian, issued in 726 by Emperor Leo III the Isaurian; the Law of Judging People—the first original Old Bulgarian code of written laws composed at the end of the 9th century on the basis of title XVII of the Byzantine Ecloga; the Alphabetical Syntagma of 1335 composed by the Byzantine monk Matthew Blastares and enforced in Bulgaria since the middle of the 14th century; Concordia discordantium canonum (Decretum Gratiani), the first work presenting the Western canon law in a systematic order, composed in the 12th century by the canon lawyer from Bologna Gratian; the works of some of the commentators of the Decretum Gratiani known as dekretists, like Rufinus († c. 1191), Joannes Faventinus († c. 1190) and Rolandus from the Bologna school, and Stephanus Tornacensis († 1203) from the Paris school; the collection of papal letters—Decretales Gregorii IX or Liber Extra, composed in 1234 by the Catalan canonist Raymond of Penyafort.

In her lecture, Hristova expounds on problems such as the church’s vision of bigamy, to what extent medieval clergy made difference between fornication and adultery, what kind of church punishments were provided for such offences against marriage and whether their severity depended on the sex of the sinner, and what had to be the relations between a husband and a wife in case of committed adultery. The actual enforcement of the norms of canon law concerning offences against marriage will not be discussed in the lecture.

Nadezhda Hristova, PhD, is an Associate Professor in medieval history and a scientific secretary of “St. Cyril and St. Methodius” University of Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria. Her research and publications focus on problems like the status of women in medieval Europe, the matrimonial institution and marriage relations among Orthodox and Catholic Christians, medieval common law. Nadezhda Hristova has specialized in women’s studies at the University of Oslo and the University of Cambridge.

The talk will be delivered in English. All are welcome to attend.

Centre for Medieval Studies Lecture Series

Carolyne Larrington

‘We’re fighting the north and it’s not going anywhere’

Old Norse Myth and Culture, and Game of Thrones

Thursday, May 17, 2018, at 16.30
Lögberg 101

Carolyne Larrington

In this lecture, Carolyne Larrington talks about the connections between medieval Old Norse-Icelandic tradition, and the HBO TV series Game of Thrones. From direwolves to the Three-Eyed Raven, from beyond the Wall to the Iron Isles, she will trace the ways in which George R. R. Martin, author of the book series A Song of Ice and Fire, on which the show is based, and David Benioff and Dan Weiss, the showrunners, adapt motifs from Old Norse literature, mythology and legend to shape its vision of the North. Óðinn, Valhöll, vikings, draugar, cosmic wolves and ravens, and the very Fimbulvetr itself, that inspires one of the series’ most resonant phrases: Winter is coming.

George R. R. Martin is steeped in Old Norse mythology and Viking history, and has made creative use of themes and tropes drawn from the medieval North. In particular the show harnesses the myth and attributes of Óðinn, traditions about the undead and the frost-giants, shape-changing magic, an exaggerated view of Viking ethics in its depiction of the Iron-Born people, and the fundamental myth of ragnarök itself. The show’s vision of apocalypse is shaped by the end of the world as imagined in Völuspá, and — since both show and book series have yet to conclude — we may wonder whether the continent of Westeros can hope for the kind of rebirth that follows catastrophe in Eddic poetry. And can saga tradition offer some clues as how the great existential threat of the White Walkers and their army of undead draugar can be countered?

The lecture will both discuss and critique Martin and the show’s views of the medieval North, examining how popular cultural genres can over-simplify, but also can build creatively on the medieval past, opening up interesting questions about ethics, identity, adapting to cultural change and the ways in which power, information and technology intersect in the imagined world of Westeros.

Carolyne Larrington’s most recent book is a popular guide to Old Norse myth and legend, published by Thames and Hudson in 2017, and has translated the Poetic Edda into English. In 2015 she published Winter is Coming: the Medieval World of Game of Thrones; she has lectured across three continents on the books, the show and their parallels in medieval history, literature and imaginations.

Carolyne Larrington is Professor of medieval European literature at the University of Oxford and Official Fellow in medieval English at St John’s College, Oxford. She researches widely in Old Norse-Icelandic literature, Arthurian studies, the history of emotion and, most recently, medievalism. Author of a best-selling book on Game of Thrones, she is currently writing a sequel about the show.

The talk will be delivered in English. All are welcome to attend.