Grigore Gafencu (30 January 1892, Bârlad - 30 January 1957, Paris)


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Thesis title: Ideology and Power in Norway and Iceland, 1150-1250

Report title: Ideology and Power in Sverris saga and Konungs skuggsjá

Author: Costel Coroban

Advisor: Prof.Dr.Hab. Silviu Miloiu


This doctoral research project presents the theoretical framework of my doctoral dissertation, followed by an outline of the analysis of two important historical sources for 12th and 13th century Norway: Sverris saga and Konungs skuggsjá. The methodology proposed is that of historical research, which is understood as the formulation or identification of a research topic, followed by literature review and sources’ collection, assessment of the sources in an order that is logical and/or chronological, information and findings’ synthesis, and finally the narrative exposition of the research results and the finding of a general conclusion that draws on the finds of each segment of the research. The concept of ideology plays an important role in the current research as one of the premises of the study is that power relations are embedded in it. The term ideology is to be taken in consideration in its political meaning, which is why I have chosen the formula “ideology of power”. The premise of the current thesis is that political behaviour is shaped by pre-existing ideology, which is not always logical yet it holds great meaning for the society under examination. The concept of political power includes a suite of levels of analysis: the discussion of the transformation of power (whether it is conferred, delegated, shared or limited), the way power is exerted (either through consent or coercion), what power relies on (coercion or influence) and possibly whether it flows from authority, legitimacy, or right. These levels of analysis will be employed when bringing in discussion the sources, which will allow us to compare the political situation in 12th and 13th century Norway and Iceland. The first source to be used in the purpose of discerning the characteristics of royalty in Norway is Sverris saga, which represents a unique source among the kings’ sagas, since it is entirely dedicated to the rule of one king. Besides Sverris saga, another importance source for researching the ideology of power in Norway in the High Middle Ages is Konungs skuggsja (King’s Mirror or Speculum Regale), a writing that dates from circa 1250 issued under King Hákon Hákonarson (1217-1263) and issued for the education of his son, King Magnús lagabotir (1263-1280). Konungs skuggsjá is utilitarian and didactic, unlike other sagas. It is presented in the form of a dialogue between an authoritative “Father” and the “Son” and is presumably authored by one of the priests, monks or chaplains at the Norwegian court, given the extensive theological knowledge expressed in it. The conclusion compares the concept of piety, from a political point of view, in both the sources described here. Further research shall extend this comparison to other levels such as king/Church relations, learning, the structure of the royal court and others.