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Borgerkrig og statsutvikling i Norge i middelalderen - en revurdering

f. 1965, dr.art. 2004, professor ved Institutt for arkeologi, konservering og historie, Universitetet i Oslo.

h.j.orning@iakh.uio.no

  • Side: 193-216
  • Publisert på Idunn: 2014-09-08
  • Publisert: 2014-09-08

Hovedtesen i denne artikkelen er at norske historikere for å forklare utbruddet av de norske borgerkrigene (ca. 1130–1240) har fokusert for mye på indre, dypereliggende årsaker – i form av en gradvis eskalerende samfunnsmessig krise. Mot dette argumenteres det at det førstatlige samfunnet fungerte tilfredsstillende, også på det tidspunktet da borgerkrigene startet, og at man derfor må fokusere mer på ytre impulser i forklaringen av denne overgangen. I siste del av artikkelen trekkes to ytre årsaker fram for å forklare endringene rundt 1160: innflytelse fra den reformerte kirken og økt press fra et revitalisert dansk kongedømme.

Civil wars and state formation in Norway in the Middle Ages – a re-evaluation

Norwegian historians have traditionally focused on internal, long-term causes when explaining the outbreak of the “civil wars” in Norway which lasted from c. 1130 to c. 1240. The widespread view is that population growth without a corresponding increase in resources resulted in society on the verge of collapse in the 12th century. Against this view, the present author argues that there are few signs of growing tensions in society until the later 12th century. An analysis of the king’s saga Morkinskinna shows that conflicts in Norwegian society prior to 1157 had limited repercussions and seldom interrupted the sociopolitical order. Moreover, from existing evidence it is difficult to confirm the alleged causes of increasing unrest – an aristocratic resource crisis due to the end of Viking raids and royal donations to the church. If Norwegian society was fairly well functioning around the middle of the 12th century, the causes of the «civil wars» must be sought in factors other than long-term internal causes. It is the argument of the author that short-term external causes must be granted more importance in this shift, two of which are discussed in this paper. First, the reformed Church furnished the kings with an ideological weapon with which traditional rulership based on reciprocal and personal bonds could be confronted. Second, a revitalized Danish monarchy put Norwegian kings under increased pressure in the later 12th century, inducing them to strengthen central power in order not to fall victim to Danish ambitions at dominating Scandinavian politics.

Keywords: State formation, medieval Scandinavia, king’s sagas, civil wars
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