Från ritualiserad tradition till institutionaliserad religion : Strategier för maktlegitimering på Gotland under järnålder och medeltid
Sammanfattning: This dissertation has two principal aims. The first is to critically discuss the concept of an ancient Scandinavian religion. The second one is to create, from the terms ritualised tradition and (institutionalised) religion a theory of social change on Gotland during the Late Iron Age and the Middle Ages.The starting point is the historical context where two factors are focused on. The first one is the expansion of the Svear during the Late Iron Age and the second one is the expansion of European culture including the Christianisation during the Viking Age and the Middle Ages. Both of these factors led to internal social changes on Gotland. As to these changes the Gotlandic leadership is focused on. Through the use of the term ritualised tradition,partly as a demarcating social category and partly as a functional category, it is possible to focus on new aspects of Scandinavian Iron Age society. During the Late Iron Age the relation with the Svear led to new functions for the Gotlandic leadership including paying them tributes. As a consequence of these functions, the ritualised tradition became organised through territorial divisions and central places controlled by a leading office (e.g. a chieftainship). Despite the institutionalisation of the religion through the Church during the Middle Ages this social structure in certain ways continued. This was possible because Gotland continued to be a tax-land through the Middle Ages. The term ritualised tradition includes the reconstruction of an authoritative past. This brings forward a focus on ancestor worship, genealogies and oral tradition (so-called marked speech). The strategies of legitimisation of power through ritualised tradition are based on these phenomena. The institutionalisation of the Church brought forward the authority of the written word at the expense of the oral tradition and thus threatened the whole social structure. However, the Gotlandic leadership, because of the continuous status of being a tax-land, could continue to usestrategies of legitimisation based on ritualised tradition concerning internal affairs through the Middle Ages. On the other hand, regarding external affairs, the Gotlandic leadership used strategies of legitimisation through religion including the authority of the written word
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