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Från hav till land eller Kristus och odalen: En studie av Sverige under äldre medeltid med utgångspunkt från de romanska kyrkorna
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Archaeology and Classical Studies.
2006 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)Alternative title
From Sea to Land or Christ and the Odal : A study of Sweden during the Early Middle Ages based on the Romanesque churches (English)
Abstract [en]

This dissertation studies the transition from the Viking Age to Middle Ages in Sweden using the Romanesque churches as the main source material. The aim is to explain societal change, especially that connected to land ownership and taxation.

When Christianity was introduced into early medieval Swedish society, most of the cultivated land was already “locked” by odal (allodium), which meant that the land could only be used by members of a family holding the right of odal. A strategy used by the Church in its struggle for overtaking land was to demonstrate its full ownership of the land of a vicarage by means of the architecture of the parish church – the church was provided with an apse. If the land of the vicarage consisted of “borrowed” odal land, the chancel was built instead with a straight east wall. This can be demonstrated by way of a comparison of the land-holdings of vicarages as shown on cadastral maps from the 17th century. The situation shown on these maps should reflect the early medieval situation, and an analysis shows that the vicarages of churches with an apse have most of their holdings concentrated to large blocks of land, whereas the vicarages of churches without an apse have their holdings mixed with the land of the other farms of the village.

Analysis of the distribution of the different architectural types of parish church in relation to other recorded phenomena shows the great importance of the collective in pre-Christian and early medieval society. The idea of odal was linked to collective society. The Folkung rebellion in the 13th century was most probably caused by the transition from a society based on the collective to a society based more on the power and ownership of individuals. The king’s odal right to Uppsala öd (the land of the old royal dynasty) was converted into a new type of ownership, according to which the king held the land in virtue of his office.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Institutionen för arkeologi och antikens kultur , 2006. , 388 p.
Stockholm Studies in Archaeology, ISSN 0349-4128 ; 38
Keyword [en]
Allodium, Apse, Churches, Collective, Common land, Gästning, Late Iron Age, Ledung, Medieval, Middle Ages, Odal, Óðal, Ownership, Pre-Romanesque, Provincial laws, Romanesque, Skötning, Sweden, Symbolism, Vetning
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-1401ISBN: 91-7155-356-8OAI: diva2:190021
Public defence
2007-01-19, De Geersalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 8 A, Stockholm, 13:30
Available from: 2006-12-21 Created: 2006-12-21Bibliographically approved

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