Jón Viðar Sigurðsson, University of Oslo, Introducing Christian Rituals in Iceland c. 1000-1200

    One of the main questions LDG ask is to what ‘extent were global influences actually adopted: in what ways and fields did such influences integrate in people’s everyday life: did such globalization produce hybrid cultures?’ One of the greatest, if not the greatest, discourses in European medieval history is the Christianisation process. In the long run it brought about fundamental changes in peoples mentalities, behaviour and social organisation. An important aspect with the Christianisation of Europe was the introduction of new rituals that tied people to another religion. It was through rituals that the Church drew a line between the Christians and the non Christians.

Christianity became the official religion in Iceland in the year 999/1000 and soon afterwards the first churches were erected to honour God and his saints. In 1056 Skálholt bishopric was founded for the whole country, and in 1106 Hólar see, which included the Northern quarter, was established. Until 1104, Iceland and the rest of Scandinavia belonged to the archdiocese of Hamburg/Bremen, and from 1104 to 1152/53 that of Lund. In 1152/53 the archbishopric in Nidaros, which included Norway and the Norse settlement on the islands in the West, was founded.

The aim of this project is to analyse how the process of introducing new rituals took place in Iceland in the period c. 1000-1200. Two aspects of this complicated process will be focused on. First I will try to analyse the ‘strategy’ of the church in Iceland on this matter, in which order and how were different Christian rituals introduced? Then I will focus on how these rituals were perceived and adjusted to Icelandic society. The aim will thus be on the relationship between great and little discourses and their interaction.

Short CV

Jón Viðar Sigurðsson is a professor in medieval history, Department of Archaeology, Conservation and History, University of Oslo. He has for the last 30 years been working on political history and the Christianisation process both in Iceland and Norway in the period c. 900-1300. He has published number of books on these topics. His planned contribution to the LDG project will focus on how the new Christian rituals were introduced perceived and adjusted to Icelandic society in the period c. 1000-1200. The LDG study of the dynamics of globalization will give a new angle to this material and debate and force us to look the dynamic interplay of the local culture in Iceland and the Christian program of unification.