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Moderation and restraint in the north: ideals of elite conduct in High Medieval England, Norway and Denmark

Taylor, L; (2016) Moderation and restraint in the north: ideals of elite conduct in High Medieval England, Norway and Denmark. Doctoral thesis (PhD), UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

When Norwegian and Danish elite warriors entered into battle, how were they expected to behave? What ideals, norms and conventions governed their conduct? While in the last twenty years a small number of studies have looked to address these questions, research in this area has mainly focused on searching for the ideals and norms of the Western European warrior elite in Scandinavian sources. These studies consider the impact models such as chivalry, courtliness and knighthood had on Scandinavia, rather than examining the culture of the warrior elite in this region on its own terms. While we need to consider the effect that cultural transfer might have had on elite culture in medieval Scandinavia, we must also investigate how domestic conditions and native ideas informed elite ideals and norms of conduct in this region. In this thesis, I focus on one convention which is said to have been central to Western European norms of conduct: the tendency for elite men not to execute or mutilate social equals they had defeated in battle. By comparing how elite warriors are shown to behave after conflict in England, Norway and Denmark, I seek to understand the factors which influenced the development of elite ideals and norms of conduct in each of these kingdoms. I conclude that although pan-European, and specifically Christian, ideals did influence the development of norms which governed how elite men treated opponents during, and after, battle, these norms were not adopted into Norway and Denmark from Western Europe. They evolved within the Danish and Norwegian elite communities respectively, in response to domestic social, economic and political conditions. These norms had a tangible use within conflict in each of these kingdoms, and it was this that meant they became important conventions within the practice of warfare in England, Norway and Denmark.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: PhD
Title: Moderation and restraint in the north: ideals of elite conduct in High Medieval England, Norway and Denmark
Event: University College London
Language: English
Keywords: Medieval, Scandinavia, War, Elite Warriors, Elite Culture, Knights, Chivalry, Conflict, Restraint, Moderation, Mercy, Ransom, Norway, Denmark, Norms of Conduct
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of History
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1532896
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