Cross and Scepter

The Rise of the Scandinavian Kingdoms from the Vikings to the Reformation

Sverre Bagge

Cross and scepter is on the creation of states in Norway, Denmark and Sweden but with a relatively comprehensive approaches, which makes it more of a general history of old Scandinavia.

Starting from the Viking age, Bagge narrates the origination of these kingdoms in “a progression of battles between individual warriors from the ninth to the mid-eleventh century”. He stressed on raiding explorations and alien strategy all the more extensively and makes distinctive comparisons between Bohemia, Poland and Hungary, which originated within the same era.

The introduction of Christianity further solidified the intimacy between these kingdoms. Bagge investigates arguments over the roles played by kings and missionaries and explains advancement of the ecclesiastical law, the noble legislative powers, church establishments and a court system. The introduction of new pieces of machinery in the military, which included massive cavalry and castles were very vital in bringing a movement to a more expertise, elite armed force and the transformation of the leading service obligation into a taxi.

Swinging to social and monetary history, Bagge takes a view at social structure, regal and religious incomes, and the development of towns and trading. He portrays the advancement of administrations and courts, and the power division between aristocracy, monarchy and the church. Ecclesiastical and secular aristocracy controlled the greater part of the incomes of the three nations, [but] the ruler could abuse the opposition between them to accomplish more noteworthy power than the moderate assets under his immediate control would show”. He likewise explores the early improvement of what could be referred to as nationalism.

A chapter on culture explores courtly culture, political theory, and connections to European learning which can be followed by the movement of people and also in the writings. It is rather difficult to figure out the depth or power of famous religion; more of its first class components are represented by the life of Holy person Birgitta of Vadstena. Also, Snorri Stuluson and the Old Norse Heimskringla compared with Saxo Grammaticus and the Latin Gesta Danorum.

A final chapter on the medieval times goes back to politics, giving a detailed summary of the happenings paving the way to the 1397 Kalmar Union, the battles it brought, and its consequent disintegration. The primary concern here is the relationship between aristocracy and monarchy and the roles played by top councils in these three countries.

The writings explores some debates (e.g. In Lonnroth’s contention for class and exchange as drivers of the 1434 Swedish defiance), discusses some origins (the King’s Mirror, Icelandic adventures, etc.) and further explores archaeology (Trelleborg strengthened camp). An extensive survey is further given in modern Scandinavian history texts and views on ancient times (Marxists, nationalist, etc.) and the restrictions of the old source materials. There are no footnotes, but a handy 12-page reference description analyzed chapter by chapter

With simple language and it not focused on scholars alone, Cross and Scepter is open to a broad audience. This will be handy to experts who needs a provincial point of view and yet offer an amazing general outline for anybody inquisitive about ancient Scandinavia after the Viking age.