Scandinavians travelling in Europe (1000–1250).
Mobility and Cultural Exchange based on Prosopographical Studies

Published by Akademie-Verlag

The study presents the thesis that the increased mobility which is ascertained for the High Middle Ages also contributes to the Europeanisation of Scandinavia. The central question is, how much the Scandinavians themselves were involved in this process of integration—at least those who made a journey beyond the boundaries of Scandinavia. In order to get an overview and to allow further research on this topic, I chose a prosopographical approach. The first task was to create a database of all persons coming from Scandinavia who have travelled outside Scandinavia at least once in their lifetime and left trace in the sources. This database consists of 855 persons, 617 voyages and 1152 travel participations. Every person (except 128 participating in greater enterprises) is present with a biogramm: a short biographical account including the most important dates of life, relatives and every journey. This prosopography formed the basis for a comparative study of intentions and precedented destinations. The roads and stops of the travellers were synchronised with the detailed itinerary of Nikulás of Munkažverá, an Icelandic monk who journeyed as far as Rome and Jerusalem about 1150 AD and authored an account in Old Norse.

Another section of the study is concerned with cultural exchanges initiated by the journeys: Who takes what kind of impressions, items or ideas with him—and from where? What impact or consequences remained in his environments? These questions could hardly be proved for every single person of the database, the more so as in most cases the source situation is not sufficient to attain firmed knowledge. On that score, the archbishop Ųystein Erlendsson was chosen for a case study of cultural exchange. Kulturtransfer (cultural transfer/exchange) as approach reaches its limits, because of the lack of sources one needs to depict the transfer process as precisely as possible—at least in the spatial and temporal framework of this study. But Kulturtransfer nevertheless points to independent adaptations and re-contextualization of the transferred items. Thus it emphasizes the mediator's effort.

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