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  • Ridder, Iris (Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, 2015)
    In the early seventeenth century, the city of Falun was among the most important cities in Sweden because of its profitable copper mine, called Stora Kopparberget (the Great Copper Mountain). Working as a miner was, particularly in this period, a dangerous profession with high risks. The lives of the miners were frequently exposed to the unpredictability of this dangerous work, and mine accidents were a constant peril. During the Middle Ages and the early modern period, both the accidents and misfortune which befell the miners as well as their successes and wealth were seen as expressions of God’s plan for salvation. People therefore often turned their faith into religious or magical strategies in their effort to protect their lives. The aim of this article is to highlight the connection between dicing and dying in early modern mining industry by analysing an oracular dice game book for miners, printed in Stockholm in 1613. A local mining clerk, Gisle Jacobson, published the text, entitled Ett litet Tidhfördriff (A small pastime), which exploits the peculiar fact that the miners at Stora Kopparberg made decisions with the help of a ritualized dice game.
  • Korpiola, Mia; Lahtinen, Anu (Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, 2015)
  • Aldrin, Viktor (Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, 2015)
    This article focuses on expressions of bereavement and religious coping in medieval miracle stories from Sweden. The stories come from the collections of St. Birgitta (Bridget) of Sweden, the Blessed Bishop Nicolaus Hermanni (Sw. Nils Hermansson) of Linköping and the Blessed Katarina of Vadstena, and were recorded in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Catherine M. Sanders’s modern five stages of bereavement have been used as the theory of analysis through Kay Talbot’s adaptation of the theory for parents in grief. This theoretical foundation has provided new insights into how parental grief was expressed in medieval Sweden – and in stark contrast to Continental research on the same topic. Parents of both sexes expressed their grief outwardly through tears and crying, and a reluctance to accept that their children were dead. Throughout the miracle stories, lay people constructed their own prayers for miraculous intervention without the aid of any priests. This makes fathers and mothers in medieval Sweden agents of their own in terms of praying to God and being able to construct their own forms of religious coping.
  • Riisøy, Anne Irene (Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, 2015)
    In Norway, an outlaw was “placed outside the law” and, after the introduction of Christianity in the eleventh century, the worst kinds of outlaws, perpetrators described in terms revolving around the vargr and the níðingr, were denied burial in the churchyard. Such people had committed their crimes in an unmanly and stealthy way. Additionally, they may have avoided taking responsibility for their actions. Such behaviour made an otherwise redeemable act irredeemable. This norm for proper conduct is firmly rooted in pre-Christian notions, and the Church used it as a platform to make it easier for the populace to understand that whereas most people belonged within the churchyard, others clearly did not. With some modifications during the high Middle Ages, typically when additional categories of criminals were excluded from Christian burial, this principle carried through well into the early modern period. Documents which can tell us how these rules worked out in practice are few and far between, but are enough to show that the Church tried to ensure that the worst outlaws remained out of the churchyard. The outlaws’ bodies may have been buried at the place of execution, typically close to the gallows, or at the shore or under heaps of stones far away from settlements.
  • Wojciechowska, Beata (Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, 2015)
    In the Middle Ages, Polish Christian holidays remained consistent, except for minor temporary deviations. They included the basic structure of pre-Christian rituals. Yet, traces of the old Slavic ritual calendar can be clearly identified in the Polish and Czech sources from the fourteenth- and fifteenth-centuries. Those were rituals and practices of the ancient, broad context of beliefs which confirmed that certain traditional attitudes and behaviour were still very much alive. The Slavic calendar of annual rites was consistent with the crucial moments of the solar cycle. The whole year was imbued with ritual contacts with the dead, waiting for their arrival, presence, and supporting them in various established ways. Traditional beliefs and practices intertwined with the dominant Christian behaviour and attitudes associated with death and funerals, as well as the methods recommended by the Church to support the soul of the deceased. A Christian funeral, crucial for the salvation of the dead, consisted of ritual celebrations, gestures and a series of prayers recited for the deceased. The circle of beliefs and ideas about the other world was an area where religious syncretism was very clear even many centuries after the initial Christianization. The remaining fragments of the ancient Slavic conceptions of the afterlife, plucked from the once coherent systems, still coexisted with the assimilated threads of Christian teaching in the waning centuries of the Middle Ages. They were expressed in the efforts to secure well-being, supernatural care and the integration with dead ancestors.
  • Tamm, Ditlev (Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, 2015)
  • Korpiola, Mia; Lahtinen, Anu (Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, 2015)
  • Haugland, Håkon (Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, 2015)
    This article examines the help the medieval guilds and the early modern craft guilds in Norway could provide when their members died, and how the Reformation of 1536 changed the extent of this help. For the medieval period, the paper discusses the funeral arrangements in urban guilds and rural guilds. For the early modern period, the discussion is limited to the towns, since few, if any rural guilds survived the Reformation. The essay argues that aid to deceased members was essential both to the medieval guilds and the craft guilds that were founded after the Reformation, thus stressing a greater degree of continuity between the medieval guilds and the post-Reformation craft guilds than previous Norwegian research has claimed. The social and religious functions, exemplified by the funeral arrangements, were essential to the early modern craft guilds, as they were in the medieval guilds. Furthermore, there was a continuity in form in the various elements of which the help to the deceased consisted, including being with the dying in his last hours, waking over him, eating and drinking in his honour, following him in a procession to his grave and providing economic support for his funeral. However, the Reformation also constituted a major change, as guild chantries were confiscated, doctrine of purgatory was abolished, the masses for the deceased prohibited and intercession for the deceased made obsolete. Thus, the guilds that survived the Reformation and the new craft guilds that were founded afterward were forced to shift the focus of their help from the intercession for the dead to give them an honourable funeral. A second shift came after the craft guild reforms in the 1680s and 1690s, when attempts were made to limit the extent and the splendour of the funeral processions, and attendance at guild members’ funerals were made optional. This led to the decline of the communal funeral and the privatisation of the Lutheran funeral ritual. Still, one aspect of the help, the financial support for their members’ funerals, continued to be important right up to the dissolution of the Norwegian craft guilds in 1869.
  • Unknown author (Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, 2015)
  • Unknown author (Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, 2015)
  • Unknown author (Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, 2015)
  • Oftestad, Eivor Andersen (Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, 2015)
    This article investigates continuity and change in the economic and spiritual investment in the afterlife in the religious contexts of Denmark before and after the Reformation. The transmission of the late medieval poem De Vita Hominis, first printed in 1514, and then re-edited by Anders Sørensen Vedel in 1571, provides the main material of the investigation. In the text, the main character had to die a lonely death as a consequence of his wicked life. The intensity in the pre-Reformatory version was due to the experience of lack of intercession in the transgression to afterlife. Changed theological premises meant that the Protestant principle of security of salvation undercut the very heart of the late medieval De Vita Hominis. Intercession was no longer necessary as faith was what saved. This article investigates how the message of the poem was transformed according to the theological rearrangement that followed the new certainty of salvation. One important consequence was a changed notion of memory, and a new function for memorial genres, which Vedel’s 1571 edition testifies to.
  • Kahlos, Maijastina (Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, 2015)
    Late Antiquity from the third to the sixth centuries was the era of the development of the great Christian narrative, an interpretatio Christiana of the history of humankind. This meant reassessing and relocating past histories, ideas and persons on the historical mental map. In this construction of the past, Christian writers built on the models of the preceding tradition, creating competing chronologies and alternative histories. This article analyses the concept of history conveyed by two Christian fourth- and fifth-century historians, Eusebius of Caesarea and Orosius, and discusses the various ways in which these writers created the Christian past. One of the ways was to determine the greater antiquity of Christianity in comparison to the Greco-Roman tradition. This led Eusebius to develop his synchronistic chronology of the human past in his Chronici canones. In his approach, Eusebius developed further the Greek chronographic tradition for Christian apologetic purposes. Another way was to interpret history as guided by divine providence. For example, for Orosius in his Historiae adversus paganos, the appearance of Christianity in the Roman Empire was part of the divine plan for humankind. The concept of divine providence was also connected with ideas of divine favour and anger. In the world view of ancient Christian writers such as Orosius, divine retribution played an important role in explaining the adversities of humankind. Even though Orosius is usually dismissed in modern scholarship as a crude and unsophisticated historian, his ideas deserve a more nuanced reading. This article argues that both Eusebius and Orosius developed their views of history in contention with other, prevailing views of the past. Both writers aimed to challenge these views – Eusebius with his synchronistic chronology and Orosius with his reappraisal of the entire history of Rome.
  • Guimon, Timofey V. (Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, 2015)
    The article is dedicated to a detailed study of a selected series of events reported by Rus’ chroniclers from the eleventh to the early fourteenth centuries.1* Items of information contained in the Primary Chronicle, as well as in the Laurentian, Hypatian (to 1200) and First Novgorodian (to 1352) Chronicles are catalogued, classified and analysed as a means of reflecting on guidelines that the chroniclers might have followed. Firstly, remarks on different kinds of events are counted in each chronicle and the percentages compared; this gives a general impression of the interests of the Old Rus’ chroniclers. Secondly, the distribution of four kinds of remarks (events in princely families, changes of ecclesiastical hierarchs, the building of churches, natural phenomena and disasters) is studied in connection with the history of the texts. In general, the analysis corroborates Mark Aleshkovsky’s point that recording these ‘non-political’ events is typical of the annalists who describe the present or recent past (those who wrote on the distant past dealt mostly with political events). But in some cases the situation seems more complicated: the repertoire of events reported in a chronicle could depend on the personal attitudes of annalists or their patrons, as well on the activity of a later compiler or reviser.
  • Bobrov, Aleksandr G. (Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, 2015)
    The article deals with predictions of the future in the Old Rus’ chronicles. From the point of view of the chroniclers, Christian saints and other godly persons had the divine gift of knowing future events. By contrast, predictions by their enemies were always wrong because God resisted their prophecies. Only an enemy who converted to Orthodoxy could have the gift of prophecy. Yet surprisingly, according to the chroniclers, pagan priests and princes were able to predict the future. Medieval chroniclers repeatedly addressed this issue of foretelling, and they questioned why non-Christians had such a gift. The chroniclers attributed this fact to God’s will, to the desire to tempt people and to demonic possession. Pagans could not only be aware of impending death, but alsp could try to avoid it. Chroniclers understood the future as already existing; nevertheless, knowledge of it could help avoid unwonted accidents. Images of pagans with magic gifts, including the ability to predict the future, might demonstrate the chroniclers’ religious dualism.
  • Isoaho, Mari (Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, 2015)
  • Wahlgren, Staffan (Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, 2015)
    In this article I will discuss the presentation of the past and, to some extent, the present (or immediate past) in selected Byzantine chronicles of the ninth and tenth centuries, from prosopographical-political, geographical and other perspectives. Particular emphasis will be placed on the Chronicle of Theophanes the Confessor and the Chronicle of Symeon the Logothete. My main contention will be that changes in a narrative’s form can, to a considerable degree, explain why the knowledge therein is so different in each text. In other words, how a text is organised decides the kind of information it will contain, and therefore, the value of a text as an historical document is very much dependent upon its form.
  • Isoaho, Mari (Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, 2015)
    The Primary Chronicle of Kiev was largely influenced by the popular apocalypse known as the Revelation of Pseudo-Methodius. Embracing an historical view of the Revelation, the later chronicler connected the catastrophes and wars during his lifetime with a larger concept in which the end of the world was attentively awaited. In this scene the nomadic tribe with mastery over the Eurasian steppes at the time, the Polovtsy – better known in the west as Cumans – were seen as the Ishmaelites, a nation whose onslaught was a prelude to events preceding the end of the world. In this article I will discuss the Revelation’s crucial theme, namely the Last Emperor, as treated in the Primary Chronicle. I argue that the role of the Last Emperor was invested in two warlords of the Polovtsy wars: first, in Prince Svyatopolk (ruled 1093–1113), whose Christian name, Michael, had vital significance and even pre-ordained his faith as shown in the Chronicle; and second, after Svyatopolk’s death in 1113, in his follower, Vladimir Monomakh (ruled 1113–25), who was of Greek descent.
  • Gejrot, Claes (Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, 2015)
    This article deals with the Diarium Vadstenense, a Liber memorialis originating in Vadstena, the abbey founded by Saint Birgitta of Sweden. Written by a succession of Birgittine friars, this parchment manuscript is still preserved in its original form. It records internal, monastic events from the founding of the abbey in the second half of the fourteenth century to the time the last brother left the community, after the Reformation. Glimpses from the world outside the abbey are seen here and there throughout the text. However, during a central part of the fifteenth century, some of the entries were extended, and the writing changes character. These texts can be seen as a more or less continuous chronicle, tendentiously describing the complicated political situation in Sweden in the 1460s, a time marked by wars and conflicts. Indeed, parts of the texts were so controversial that they were later (partly) erased by a cautious medieval ‘editor’. The focus in this article will be on the time frame when the text was written, the personal views and opinions of the writers, confidentiality, political bias and censorship.
  • Bagge, Sverre (Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, 2015)
    The radical difference between the past and the present is mostly regarded as an invention of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, which marks the origin of the modern understanding of history. Does this mean that in the Middle Ages there was no idea of the past being different? The article will examine this question on the basis of one text, Snorri Sturluson’s Heimskringla, which deals with the history of the Norwegian dynasty from Roman times until 1177. The focus will be on two events, the introduction of Christianity and the unification of the kingdom under one king.