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Frälsesamhället: En studie av det svenska 1300-talsfrälsets ideologi såsom framställd i Erikskrönikan
Karlstad University, Faculty of Social and Life Sciences, Department of Politics and History.
2012 (Swedish)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (One Year)), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesisAlternative title
Society of the privileged : A study of the ideology of the Swedish 14th century aristocracy as depicted in Erikskrönikan (English)
Abstract [en]

In the wake of a heightened interest in the Swedish Middle Ages, the need for knowledge has increased as well. The Swedish Middle Ages was an era when the country truly began to grow closer to the European sphere of culture. The forces behind this transformation are largely to be sought among the social elite, the budding aristocracy of Sweden. The process of becoming “Europeans” brought with it great changes to Sweden, not the least in terms of the political arena. What was it that was so sought after by the Swedish aristocracy? What ideals and values lay behind the feudally inspired system of government and the chivalric code of conduct among the elite? In a general sense, the object of this investigation has been to try to understand and explore the ideological underpinnings of the new system of government and the new social order.

In order to achieve this, I have used the Swedish chivalric chronicle known as Erikskrönikan as the source material for the investigation. It is believed to have been a propaganda piece for the Swedish aristocracy of the early 1300 hundreds and is, as such, a phenomenal source for researching the ideals and values of the Swedish aristocracy of that time.

Thus, the purpose of this essay has been to investigate ideological underpinnings of the Swedish power elite of the first half of the 14th century by analysing their idealized self image and conception of society, as they appear in Erikskrönikan’s depiction of duke Erik and a few other key characters. Included in this is also an ambition to contextualize the results of the investigation by attempting to reconstruct the ideology for which Erikskrönikan is an expression. The intention has been to contribute a new perspective to the already extant research concerning the understanding of the new type of society brought forth in medieval Sweden. 

The theoretical premise of this investigation has been a functional understanding of the concept of ideology. In this essay ideology is regarded as a system of ideas which expresses a given groups world views and norms, which reflects the social conditions of the group, and which is a declaration of that group’s interests and aspirations. The methodological basis has been a qualitative analysis of the text, where the depiction of selected characters from the text has been the main object of investigation. The focus has been on identifying which characteristics are portrayed as ideal and which are portrayed as are anti ideal within the text. On an analytical level this investigation has included the use of the concepts “manifest ideology” and “latent ideology” as tools of analysis. In this way it has been possible to uncover the ideals and values of the aristocracy, as expressed in Erikskrönikan, both in terms of what is articulated explicitly and what is implied.

In terms of results this investigation has rendered them in abundance. Among the most revealing and relevant findings are: the emphasis put on the vassal system, the chivalrous virtues and the staunch declaration about the superiority of elective kingship. These are all examples of recurring themes which are communicated with a clear didactic intent. Furthermore, I have also been able to show that the code of chivalry was not considered a varnish to cover the blemishes of an imperfect society, but a way of relating to reality and to the surrounding world. The tangible functions of the code of chivalry in society can be understood as having been of two kinds: on the one hand, the code of chivalry was a way of reigning in and channelling the destructive potential of the use of violence; and on the other hand, the code of chivalry was a way for the aristocracy, indeed the Swedish chivalry, to communicate and reaffirm their social standing, both internally and externally.  

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. , 164 p.
Keyword [sv]
Erikskrönikan, ideologi, medeltid, historia, frälse, riddare, ridderskap, ridderlighet, kultur, feodal, feodalism, Sverige, svensk historia, hövisk, höviskhet
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-16324Local ID: HIS D-7OAI: diva2:583432
Subject / course
Humanities, Theology
Available from: 2013-01-17 Created: 2013-01-08 Last updated: 2013-01-17Bibliographically approved

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