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The peoples and countries of the Scandinavian North were late in stepping forward into the light of history. As pirates they began to be known by the natives of Western Europe from the end of the eighth century, and, shortly after, foreign chronicles give small glimpses of their circumstances at home. But their own historical monuments do not date farther back than the beginning of the tenth century, when court poets began to celebrate the heroic exploits and the proud lineage of their kings. Their traditional and customary laws were not put into writing earlier than the end of the eleventh century. Historical research and the collecting of traditions from the past began only in the course of the twelfth century, and flourished in the thirteenth. The result is that oui' knowledge of the first centuries of Scandinavian evolution is often very uncertain and full of gaps. We are able to compile complete lists of the rulers of all three kingdoms from the tenth century onwards; but the chronology of the first kings is rather doubtful, and their real history is interwoven with legend. The fundamental structure of society in many respects is only a matter of hypothesis, and we cannot clearly discern the development of political institutions.

Nevertheless, there is something enthralling in the study of those olden times, not only because the birth of nations is always an interesting phenomenon, but still more because of the poetry that so deeply colours the life and the events of that youthful society. Here we come into contact with a powerful race of state-builders, nations endowed with a strong social instinct and at the same time exhibiting a force of individualism that makes us see the single man in his full personality. When asked for their chief, the Vikings of Rollo proudly answered; “We have no chief, we are all equals.” In the same way the sagas of the North give the impression of a society made up of chiefs, of strong and independent individuals, and these men are not only warriors and wild baibarians, they are also jurists, refined poets, and artists. They are capable of adapting themselves to Western civilisation without surrendering their national character and institutions.

At the beginning of historic times, in the course of the tenth century, we see the Scandinavian peoples constituting themselves as three separate kingdoms, and in that way defining themselves for ever as three independent nationalities. Of course, the making of those kingdoms and the formation of the corresponding nations was a work of long evolution; but we are not able to follow in detail the history of their founding. In general, we may discern the geographical conditions that made for the separation into the three nations. The provinces of Denmark in particular were knit together by the strong tie of sea-ways; but the big land-blocks of Norway and Sweden, divided by pathless mountains and forests, might have grown up into two or three more kingdoms, were it not for the appearance of new forces of development.

The Scandinavian kingdoms, such as history knows them, were created by war, although commerce, law, and language contributed mightily to the result. By runic inscriptions we are taught that the Scandinavian language, at least as early as the ninth century, had divided into two separate branches, the Norwegian to the west, the Dano-Swedish to the south and east. Archaeological discoveries, as well as the information given by King Alfred’s translation of Orosius, shew that, in the south­eastern part of Norway, in the province of Vestfold, a centre of commerce was in existence from the end of the ninth century, and that from thence trade-routes led by sea around the whole coast of Norway, by land deep into the valleys of the east. Long continuous stretches of dense forest separated Norway from Sweden, whereas Danish and Norwegian traders were sailing yearly between Vestfold and the Danish ports of the Baltic, those of Schleswig on the west and Scania on the east. At the same time, another centre of commerce was arising in Upland in Sweden, also in lively communication with the ports of Denmark. As a result, Vestfold and Upland became the centres of political unity for Norway and Sweden, although, for a while, it seemed uncertain whether they would not rather join with Denmark.

The political basis of the kingdoms as they ultimately took shape is to be discovered in a legal foundation, the binding together of groups of provinces around a common thing or court administered under common law. Just before the opening of history, we see the whole of Denmark thus organised; three great law districts, the chief provinces of Norway, were also constituted about three law things; and in Sweden most of the provinces already possessed their separate laws. The constituent force that made its way through all the state-forming elements of law, commerce, language, and geography, and led on to greater kingdoms, was war—the struggles of conqueror kings.

The whole period of the Migrations and the Vikings, the centuries between a.d. 500 and 1000, is a period at once of expansion and of warfare. This is the time when folk-chiefs rise against each other, battling for power, and, incessantly, kingdoms are made and unmade. The age itself felt strongly the unity of the two great movements it saw going on, the conquests of the Vikings abroad and the building up of kingdoms at home. A North German scholar of the eleventh century, Adam of Bremen, describes the peoples of those times as living in tanta regnorum mutatione vel excursione barbarorum. About the year 900, in particular, the Scandinavians are vigorously engaged in founding new kingdoms, as well by their excursions abroad as by their wars at home- The Norwegians discover Iceland, where, in the course of half a century, they organise an aristocratic republic of considerable wealth and endowed with high qualities of intellectual character; a little earlier they had already established a small commonwealth in the Faroe Islands, an earldom in the Orkney and Shetland Islands, a kingdom in the Hebrides and Man, and other kingdoms in Ireland, particularly one at Dublin. Here they were compelled to fight against the Danes, whereas in England they placed themselves at the service of the Danish chiefs who conquered the Danelaw. In France and the Netherlands, undoubtedly, the Danes were in the majority amongst the Vikings, whilst the chief who became the founder of Normandy, Rollo, was probably a Norwegian. At the same time, the Swedes were founding the Russian kingdom of Novgorod and Kiev.

The establishment of the kingdoms in Scandinavia dates from exactly the same period. The struggle for the union of the Danish provinces seems to have lasted for about two centuries, the kingdom of Denmark during this time being repeatedly united and dissolved, until a mighty warrior took it firmly under his control. We arc able to give the ap­proximate date of the event, as we still possess the richly decorated runic stone on which Harold Bluetooth (c. 950-985) proudly announces that, he was the king who won the whole of Denmark.

In Norway, the work of unification did not begin until the end of the ninth century. It was one of the Vestfold kings, Harold Fairhair, heir to a group of provinces in the east of the country, with whom originated the idea of a Norwegian kingdom. He allied himself with the Earl of Throndheim in the north, and conquered the west; we are still able to enjoy the picturesque verses by one of his skalds which tell of the great battle in Ilafrsfjord (c. 900) where he struck down his last opponents. The kingdom did not remain unshaken; for more than a hundred years it was a prey to rival pretenders of the line of King Harold or of the Earl of Throndheim, or even to foreign conquerors. But tlie whole country was again united in resolute independence by the saintly King Olaf (1016-10528), and when his son Magnus was elected king in the year 1035, the kingdom of Norway was finally established.

The origin of the Swedish, kingdom is shrouded in deeper darkness; for in reality we know nothing about the origins of the country. At the beginning of historic times we see Swedis territory divided between two relatively ancient kingdoms, Sweden proper north of the great lakes, with a king seated in Upland (Gothland) in the south, possibly ruled over by an early king, but by the year 1000 we find the King of Sweden, the mighty Olaf the Viking king, master of Gautland too, and from that time the whole country is virtually a single kingdom, whether the union was effected by King Olaf himself or by his renowned father Eric (Erik) the Victorious.

From the beginning of the eleventh century, then, the Scandinavian nations had established themselves as three separate kingdoms, and it is precisely from that time that we notice in court poetry and in folk tradition the first signs of a national self-consciousness in the form of mutual antagonism. There are three nations as well as three kingdoms, and each of them has its own history. In recent as well as in olden times, it has been usual to write their history, often with express intention, on separate lines; and for a detailed account of national development it is not possible to do otherwise. But in tracing the chief lines only of social and political history, it seems profitable, at least for the Middle Ages, to keep all the three nations within a common narrative, so as to bring into view the essential parallels as well as the minor differences of their development.

It is moreover the case that the history of the three nations from their very origin is so closely interwoven that it is impossible to disentangle their several strands. We are told, indeed, that the ancestors of King Harold Fairhair, six generations earlier, arrived in Norway from Sweden; we know that he himself took his queen from Denmark, a fact that is celebrated by his court skald, and that the son of this marriage, King Eric Bloodyaxe, married the sister of King Harold Bluetooth, who, in his turn, adopted the sons of King Eric and made them his vassals. On the other hand, we know that about a.d. 900 Swedish kings for a time made themselves masters of Denmark, or at least of Southern Jutland, and we are told that the grandfather of Harold Bluetooth, the liberator of Denmark, was of Norwegian origin. The son of this Harold, the great viking, King Svein Forkbeard, married the mother of King Olaf the Tax-king of Sweden, whose daughter was afterwards married to St Olaf, King of Norway.

The relations of the three kingdoms were nevertheless not altogether peaceful, for if it was a duty inherent in every king to keep the peace at home, it was no less his duty to go conquering abroad. During the tenth century we constantly find the Norwegian kings harrying Gautland and Denmark, and about the year 1000 the Kings of Denmark and Sweden ally themselves against Norway. King Harold Bluetooth had already reckoned himself master of Norway as well as of Denmark; now, in the year 1000, Norway is for a time really conquered by Denmark. The growing Danish imperialism, impersonated particularly by the great King Canute (Knut), the conqueror of England, makes Sweden and Norway turn to each other for assistance, and success in war keeps swinging from the one side to the other. Norway is liberated, reconquered, and lastly (1035) liberated again; and the time arrives when the King of Norway even makes himself for some years King of Denmark. From about 1050 the three kingdoms of the North are compelled to respect one another’s independence, and from that time, too, political considerations displace the mere policy of conquest in the relationship of the kingdoms.

In estimating the absolute and relative strength of the northern kingdoms at the time of their establishment, it should be observed that although the main area of each country is just the same as today, the frontiers did not then follow exactly the same lines. Denmark certainly was, then as now, the smallest country in area, but it was much larger in earlier times than it is today. Whereas now it has an area of about 40,000 square km., it may be reckoned to have comprised in those times at least 65,000 square km.; Jutland was Danish as far south as the river Eyder, and east of the Sound Denmark included the rich province of Scania with Halland and Blekinge. Sweden, in our times by far the largest of the three countries and before the losses of a hundred years ago yet larger, at its establishment possessed a rather modest area that may be calculated at about 330,000 square km., just a little more than Great Britain, and Ireland. It had not yet begun to win the Lapmarks in the north and Finland in the east, and it was essentially a Baltic state, being barred from the North Sea by Denmark and Norway, and having but a single outlet to the west through the Gota Elf. For many centuries the three kingdoms met at this point, and it was a matter of great importance to have the mastery here, the more so as the province north of the river, the old Ranrike, now Bohuslan, was one of the richest provinces of the whole of Scandinavia. As the possessor of this province, Norway for a long time had the upper hand, and, on the whole, from the final attainment of her independence, Norway more than the other two countries had the appearance of a great power. It is not easy to make an exact calculation of her extent at that time, the frontiers to the north being extremely ill-defined. It is possible that, as early as this, some of the northern Swedish provinces were considered as part of the Norwegian kingdom, as they certainly were two centuries later. But then the King of Norway was the master of all the wandering tribes in the far north, those peoples that the Norwegians themselves called by the name of Finns, now generally referred to as Lapps. Thus Norway from its origin was the only Scandinavian country that had as its subjects people of another race, and we know that from the eleventh century the limit of the Norwegian kingdom was set as far as the eastern point of the Kola Peninsula. Taking all this into consideration, the area of Norway at that time may be estimated at considerably more than 400,000 square km. It was also an important feature in the character of the Norwegian kingdom that it, alone of the Scandinavian countries, possessed colonies beyond the sea; for, during the reign of Olaf the Saint, the chiefs of the Faroe Islands and the Earl of the Orkneys and Shetlands had accepted the dominion of Norway.

The one purely Scandinavian country that still lay outside the three kingdoms was the commonwealth of Iceland; but its inhabitants knew perfectly well that they had come from Norwegian stock. In Norway they had the rights of natives; with Norway they had their chief commerce; their literature exercised a strong influence upon Norwegian civilisation; and, lastly, they acknowledged the dominion of the King of Norway. Farther away, the small Norwegian colony of Greenland, struggling for life on a narrow coast-line between ice and sea, was of little importance to Scandinavian society as a whole.

What has been said here about the areas of the three kingdoms does not give a true impression of their intrinsic strength. Indeed, the great forests, mountains, and heaths of Norway and Sweden very materially diminished their inhabitable territory. There are many indications that, from the Viking age and during the centuries that followed it, much new land was cleared and cultivated in Norwegian and Swedish woods. But there is no doubt that little Denmark, with its fertile plains, especially in the eastern provinces, outnumbered in population the other two kingdoms. It is not possible to give approximate figures for the eleventh century, except by a guess from very uncertain material, but even a conjectural estimate may serve to indicate the real strength of the Scandinavian kingdoms at that time. Norway, the largest in area, may have possessed about 200,000 inhabitants, exclusive of some 25,000 upon the western islands, whilst about 50,000 Norwegians lived in Iceland. In Sweden, the population may be reckoned at about 300,000, in Denmark certainly at more than 500,000. From these figures Denmark easily appears as the greatest power in the north, all the more as its population was concentrated in a relatively small area, and while Norway and Iceland produced the highest work in literature at that period, Denmark undoubtedly stood foremost in political evolution.

The Migrations and the age of the Vikings had meant for the Scandinavian peoples a period of great activity in intellect and thought. At first from the south, later from the west, new ferments of religion and art had spread to the north and given a new physiognomy to the Scandinavian civilisation, certainly to that of the upper classes. Their artistic imagination was stimulated by the animal ornamentation which their natural joy of embellishment took hold of and transformed into a true national art; entangled limbs and wings and heads of imaginary beasts began to appear upon the hitherto plain sides of weapons or tools, and on trinkets. Undoubtedly there was something of magic in this decorative art; for instance, when the Scandinavians adorned the stems of their ships with a dragon’s head, they certainly did it in order to frighten away the protecting spirits of their enemies; and therefore it was forbidden to sail along the shore of one’s own country with the prow-head exposed, so as not to frighten the home spirits. Other elements, too, of foreign civilisation here entered into the great realm of religion. So, when their letters were modelled on the Greek and Latin alphabets, for many centuries these runes were only used as instruments of magic, and the writing of them was an occult art. On the other hand, during those ages, religion itself rose from mere magic and nature-cult up to higher levels of belief in more human gods; the myths began to break off from mere cult and transformed themselves into pure poetry. The result of this process we only know from the series of Norwegian songs, chiefly composed in the tenth century, which have come down to us under the name of the Edda. In contrast to the old Anglo-Saxon and German epics, these are brief lays, composed in short strophes, of an impressionistic, vividly dramatic art which makes them more congenial to modern taste; there is in these verses at once concentrated energy and exquisite refinement. Along with the mythic songs about the gods, the Edda contains another series of lays about heroes and heroic deeds, and as the themes of these hero-songs are mostly taken from the German traditions of the Nibelungs, the influence from abroad is plainly manifest; but in this ease, too, the form is throughout independent, truly national, in full accordance with the energetic strophes that we know from the contemporary poems about the kings and their battles.

The Edda songs in the Norse language are the highest product of the heathen civilisation of Scandinavia, and even they are engendered by the collaboration of native and foreign forces. Soon after, foreign civilisation won a still greater victory in Scandinavian spiritual, moral, and even social life, by the introduction of Christianity. German monks had come to preach the Gospel in Denmark and Sweden as early as the beginning of the ninth century; since that time, Vikings and merchants had spread the knowledge of the Christian faith through their countries; the Viking states in England, Ireland, and France had at an early date to accept Christianity. The new national kings established it at home. Harold Bluetooth made Denmark a Christian kingdom in the middle of the tenth century; this was the natural result of the elevation of the country to membership of European society and civilisation, and the royal power sufficed to effect a conversion without arousing serious opposition. In Sweden also the change from heathendom to Christianity was relatively easy. Here, Olaf the Tax-king settled the matter about the year 1000, and perhaps it was not a mere coincidence that the daughter­realm in the east, the Russian kingdom, just at that time was Christianised from Byzantium; the Great Prince Yaroslav married a daughter of King Olaf. In Norway, the struggle of heathendom was short, but dramatic; coining from England, King Olaf Trygveson (995-1000) forced Christianity upon the chiefs and the people by the sword, and he came to live in folklore as the great vanquisher of ghosts and trolls.

Dramatically enough, but in quite another way, Christianity triumphed in Iceland. When a Christian party formed itself there and stood in arms against the heathen party in the general thing (1000), so that the commonwealth was on the point of breaking up, the heathen Jawman declared Christianity to be the common law of all Icelanders, but on condition that the right of secret sacrifices to the heathen gods should be retained. Obviously Christianity was everywhere accepted from merely worldly considerations, and of course the old folk-superstitions, the magic arts and customs, were kept alive. But later on the heathen myths vanished before the light of the Gospel; the religion of the Scandinavian peoples passed to a still higher level, and real Christian ardour began to animate life as well as poetry.

The religion and the poetry of the Eddic lays evidently belong to an upper class and not to the common people. One of the songs gives a poetic paraphrase of the organisation of society, and here we meet with a leisured class which maintains the higher civilisation, while slaves and peasants are compelled to do the hard work. In recent times there have been contending opinions about the social conditions amongst the old Scandinavian peoples, and for want of sources we are reduced to making inferences from rather vague indications. Nor is there any certainty that the conditions were the same everywhere; in many respects we know that they were not. The whole population was rural; it is more than doubtful whether there was, at some two or three market-places, possibly a small settled town-population. The people lived by farming, in the forests of Sweden and Norway supplemented by hunting, on the coasts by fishing. In Denmark and most of Sweden, the farming was carried on by village communities; in Norway and Iceland, each man had his individual farm. In both cases, individual ownership was only in embryo; the virtual owner of the land was the family or the kindred, and the head of the household had no right of alienating any part of the farm. The first encroachment upon this family right came through the Canon Law; but already before the introduction of Christianity there had appeared a tendency towards economic individualism in connexion with the aristocratic development of society.

It seems to be beyond doubt that in the whole of Scandinavia, from the Viking age onwards, the aristocracy made an immense advance; war as well as commerce brought wealth into single hands, and so there grew up a class of estate-owners. From olden times, there existed the great difference between slaves and freemen; but the class of slaves never seems to have been very numerous in the Scandinavian countries, and the freeman always had to work on his farm. Now arose a new class­difference of more far-reaching consequences: a landed nobility formed itself above the common farmers, and these to a great extent became the lease-holders of the noble proprietors. This development did not go on evenly in all parts of the three countries; in some parts, particularly in the forest lands of eastern Norway and northern Sweden, it was counteracted by individual clearing on the waste lands. But, whether slowly or fast, the aristocratic tendency asserted itself everywhere and could not be stopped. It must be noticed, however, that the peasant class did not lose their liberty with their property; they remained freemen, and as such they still were the typical basis of society.

Every free farmer, whether copyholder or freeholder, had the right or even the duty of attending the court of his district, the thing or althing, where the law was proclaimed and cases were tried. Formally, we might speak of a democracy, and the force of traditional law and general opinion was irresistible; but, even by virtue of law and opinion, the people found it natural to follow their chief, and insensibly their right of judging became a right of assent. At first, it was the law that spoke through the lawman; later it was the chief, the guardian of the law.

The class of landed proprietors that in this way took hold of political as well as economic power, from its very origin and for a couple of centuries after, was throughout a rural aristocracy. In the history of Scandinavian political organisation, it is a very important fact that, long after the establishment of united kingdoms, the effective political life of the people was restricted to territories of a much smaller extent. The spirit of society and law asserted itself most strongly inside the circle of the parish, in the hundred or herad, where all were bound together by economic and social interests. Above the herad, the land or fylky, the county, united wider circles of the people for legal purposes; but in Sweden, the judicial organisation did not in fact go farther than this, and here the kingdom remained divided into not less than sixteen separate law-districts or lands. It was not until the fourteenth century that unity of law was established for the Swedish kingdom.

In Denmark and Norway, the unification had already reached a higher level before the establishment of the kingdom. From the beginning of historic times, we find Denmark organised in only three law-districts, Scania, Sealand, and Jutland; but, curiously enough, this division of the country was kept in existence until the end of the seventeenth century, and the special Jutland law, indeed, was in force in southern Jutland even until the year 1900. In Norway, from the eleventh century, partly through the concurrence of the kings, the whole country was organised in live law-districts, two in the east, one in the west, and two in the north, the last two however following the same law; here complete unity of law was established as early as the thirteenth century. But notwithstanding such unity of law, there did not exist in any one of the three kingdoms a popular court of a wider circuit than the circumscribed law-things no national organisation of the people was called into life by the king. Only the little commonwealth of Iceland was a living unity, and its althing, or general court, established in the year 930, is today beyond comparison the oldest national assembly of the world.

Of course, the aristocracy did not feel restricted in this way to local activity; indeed, it may be said that the consummation of the kingdom was partially prepared by the family alliances of the county aristocracy from the several parts of each country. Nevertheless, it remained essentially bound to its county sphere, where it was economically rooted, and only through its service to the king was it an instrument of national administration. Indeed, in those times, the king might truly say: L’Etat, c’est moi. He was from the first the only national institution. His power was founded upon the sword and conquest, and his original aim did not go further than that of the Vikings, the winning of honour and wealth. But the acquisition of power itself had its consequences; in order to preserve it, it was necessary to have it organised, and, quite naturally, the kingship became an economic, military, administrative, and lastly even a spiritual power in the national life.

It must be confessed that we really know very little about the exact organisation of the oldest state institutions of the Scandinavian kingdoms, Some facts, however, stand out with relative clearness. It is certain that the king obtained his chief income from his patrimonial estates, increased by those he confiscated from his opponents by conquest. We happen to have contemporary evidence that the first King of Norway, Harold Fairhair, came from Vestfold in eastern Norway, and was in possession of large royal domains in the western part of the country. But the king could not be content to live only on his private income; he was surrounded by a numerous guard that asked for board and valuable gifts, and he had to contrive that all his subjects should assist in the maintenance of his power.

In this connexion it is remarkable that the first king whom we cer­tainly know to have reigned over the whole of Sweden is given the sobriquet of Tax-king. The Scandinavian word here translated by tax (skot, English scot) originally had the meaning of contribution or grant; we may combine this with the name of the oldest tax in Denmark, the stud or assistance, and we see the origin of the tax in an old Norwegian custom, called veizla, a word that means grant or entertainment or fee, as the case may be. From olden times, we see the king, in typical medieval fashion, passing from one of his estates to another, everywhere taking his veizla, he had to receive all his income in kind, as money was extremely scarce, and so he had to come and seek his dues himself, instead of having them sent into a central treasury; in fact, he had to eat them on the spot, and when he received his entertainment at his own farm, it seems to have been the custom for the steward of that domain at the same time to demand assistance in kind from the whole surrounding district. This was the basis of the earliest taxation.

Then the king had his natural task as the defender of peace at home and on the frontier, and from the duty arose a power. Law and justice were administered by the popular court, but the king had to see that the judgment was executed, and therefore he received a fixed part of the fine that was the regular redemption of the guilty. It appears as if, in this arrangement, the king of the realm was the heir of the county kings; at any rate, through the collection of the law-fines by his servants, he was a steadily working factor in the social life of his subjects and made himself more effective in this way than by any other means. On the other hand, the establishment of the complete kingdom seems to have been the occasion for an increase of the royal power in the same sphere, the new king imposing upon his subjects a special and heavy fine for disobedience to royal commands.

For the security of his person and for the general administration of the country, it sufficed for the king to retain a household guard, which was called by the Anglo-Saxon name ihrd. But when the kingdom was menaced by foreign war, it was necessary to set up a stronger defensive force, and for war purposes the king had to organise a military service of the people. Here again, the king of the realm was able to take over an inheritance from the old county-kingdoms, namely, the institution of leidang. Originally this institution was developed in Denmark, perhaps as early as the sixth century. From its origin it was, and it always remained, an organisation for war by sea, since only by sea could troop movements be undertaken, and even war by land was nothing but ravaging the coast. The leidang, then, was the conscription of mariners, both as rowers and as warriors, and the organisation of it consisted in the division of the country into ship-districts, each of which furnished one warship with the necessary crew. From Denmark, this system very early spread to Gautland (Gothland) and to south-eastern Norway, where Danish kings ruled about the year 800. Very early also we find it in Swedish Upland, where the name of Roslag, i.e. rowing-law district, seems to bear witness to its existence from the ninth century and is supposed to be the origin of the national name of Russians. At the same time, the custom was adopted in England, and the Norwegian kings of the tenth century established it for all the coast-lands of their country. In this way the king of each Scandinavian land obtained a navy at his disposal, and the kingdom acquired a military organisation of a national character. As the royal power was essentially a military power, it was very fitting that the first national institution created by the king should be military also.

Besides the king, there came into existence another national power, the Church. It is indeed a remarkable coincidence that, in the Scandinavian countries, the introduction of Christianity and the establishment of a national Church were contemporary with the final victory of the national kingship and were even brought about by the victorious kings. This fact strongly points to the conclusion that the struggle for national unity must have been influenced by foreign ideas and models; but the Christian Church is the only institution that may be regarded as a foreign product. Christianity not only meant a new spiritual and moral life; still more, it was a fact of social importance. Heathen religion at its height did not reach beyond a more or less narrow local worship, evi­dently somewhat different in different places. With Christianity there came unity of religion and, at the same time, unity of ecclesiastical organisation.

The Catholic conception, which of course was current in the northern countries as well as elsewhere in Europe, was not that of a national Church but of a world-Church. But, as a matter of fact, the Church powerfully helped to organise the peoples as nations. The first laws that were really national laws were those regulating Christianity and the duties of the people in respect to the clergy and churches; and,from the first, the Church of each country was administered by bishops who were in the direct service of the king. By papal bulls of the tenth century, the German Archbishop of Hamburg, residing at Bremen, was installed as the ecclesiastical ruler of the whole Scandinavian North; but he met with great difficulties in trying to establish his power in this part of his province, and never succeeded in making it a solid fact. The political dissensions of the three kingdoms seriously affected their ecclesiastical relations; when one kingdom adhered to the Hamburg metropolitan, at least one other was almost certain to hold aloof and to look to England for its ecclesiastical relations.

The ambitious Archbishop Adalbert (1043-107$) made great exertions to obtain an effective acknowledgment from all the northern countries and, indeed, went far toward his goal; but when his emissaries came to the Norwegian king Harold Hardradi (the Hardruler, 1047-1066), who had formerly been in the service of the Byzantine Emperors and was dominated by autocratic ideas, the king wrathfully turned the men away from his presence, crying that he knew of no other archbishop or lord in Norway except Harold alone. In this outburst we see the primitive expression of national self-assertion even in ecclesiastical matters, just as the court poets of King Harold were eager to celebrate Norwegian bravery as contrasted with the cowardice of the neighbour nations. Thus in each country the Church was felt to be a national institution, and this feeling was strengthened by the canonisation of national saints, who gathered around them the faith and the veneration of the people; they were elevated into symbols of national organisation, both political and ecclesiastical, and they could be used in this way because they were taken from amongst the kings of the country.

The national character of this saint-making clearly appears in the history of the first and most important of them, King Olaf of Norway. At the moment when England was in revolt against her Danish conquerors, he succeeded in liberating his country from Danish dominion (1016) and made himself king of the whole country as well as of the western islands; and he became the real organiser of the kingdom and the Church of Norway. But after twelve years of hard fighting he had to flee before the overwhelming power of King Canute (Knut) the Great, who had won over the chiefs of the country by golden promises, and, when Olaf came to reconquer his kingdom with Swedish assistance, he fell beneath the weapons of his fellow-countrymen in the battle of Stiklestad (29 July 1030). The new Danish dominion, however, did not prove as beneficent as had been promised, and, whether the cause was the imposition of new taxes or merely bad years by land and sea, the Norwegians grew discontented. The first sign of national opposition was the recognition of King Olaf as martyr and saint in the year following his death, and a church was built for his relics at the town of Nidaros. The cult of St Olaf quickly spread over the whole of Norway and even beyond the frontiers; he even became a national saint in Sweden; he was venerated in Denmark, and churches were built in his honour across the Baltic and in England. But to the people of Norway he was more than a saint, he became a national hero, attracting to himself the popular legends originally formed round the first King Olaf and the heathen god Thor. Everywhere in the country people told of his fights with the trolls or showed the holy fountains which he had caused to break forth, and, at the same time, he was the eternal king of the country. His burial­church at Nidaros gave the nation a spiritual centre; in his name kings and bishops fought for the power of State and Church, and the customary laws of Norway were hallowed as St Olaf's laws.

In Denmark, half a century later, one of the kings became a martyr, not of national independence but of national organisation. For some years after the death of Canute (Knut) the Great, Denmark lay under the rule of the Norwegian king Magnus the Good, the son of St Olaf; but after his death (1047) Canute’s sister’s son, Svein Estridson, succeeded in defending the independence of Denmark against the attacks of King Harold Hardradi, and he was the founder of a new Danish dynasty. Five of his sons, one after the other, followed him upon the throne, and now the organisation of government was seriously taken in hand. The first of the sons of Svein, King Harold Whetstone (1074-1080), is mentioned as a reformer of the criminal law, and he accomplished an extension of governmental activity in the control of the coinage. The next king, Canute, pushed forward more vigorously, and consequently came into open conflict with his subjects. He wanted to create a fixed system of taxation as well for state purposes as for the maintenance of the Church; he imposed heavy services upon the peasants, demanded a poll-tax of the whole people, and required everyone to pay tithes to the clergy. All this was felt as slavery by the people; a rebellion broke out, and King Canute was killed before the altar of the church where he had sought safety (10 July 1086). But the years that followed were marked by such dearth that his successor, King Olaf, was nick­named Hunger, and the clergy did not omit to persuade the people that this was the judgment of God because of their rebellion. After a few years King Canute was recognised as a saint and even canonised by the Pope, and his second successor, King Eric the Evergood (1095- 1103), was able to enforce the tithe. Thus the people grew accustomed to pay regular taxes, and the martyrdom of St Canute was a gain to the State as well as to the Church.

By this time the Scandinavian Churches were beginning to develop into separate organisations independent of the State. It should be noticed that this development did not proceed in opposition to the government; on the contrary, it was directly favoured by the kings. As a general rule, we have to acknowledge that the Church took charge of social tasks that the king was as yet unable to undertake, and, while the State power was still relatively weak, there could be no question of a general opposition between Church and State. It was St Canute himself who granted to the Church of Denmark an independent jurisdiction in ecclesiastical affairs, and his father, King Svein Estridson, had already begun to agitate the question of a separate Scandinavian metropolitan. In Den­mark, we find the whole country organised in dioceses, eight in number, at least as early as the reign of Svein (1047-1074), and soon the other Scandinavian countries followed its example. The commonwealth of Iceland got its first fixed bishop’s see in the year 1056, its second exactly half-a-century later. In Norway, King Olaf the Peace-king (1067-1093) organised four bishoprics with fixed sees; in Sweden, we find five bishoprics firmly established before the year 1120, probably owing to the action of King Inge Stenkilsson. The second Icelandic bishop induced the althing to adopt the tithe in the year 1097; it was introduced into Norway by King Sigurd, the pilgrim to Jerusalem, shortly after 1110; and possibly at the same time King Inge established it in Sweden.

After the foundation of bishoprics and the introduction of tithes, the Church was far better equipped than before for acquiring land and wealth, and, from the beginning of the twelfth century, it won a steadily stronger economic basis for its social and moral activity. At the same time, the religious and ecclesiastical movements of Western Europe spread vigorously into the northern countries and introduced strong forces into their church life; pilgrims and crusaders departed for the Holy Land, missionaries set out to work amongst the neighbouring heathen, monasteries were founded on every side. The effect was two­fold: the northern Churches became more intimately connected with the whole Catholic Church of Europe, and at the same time their national position grew stronger. The kings were still leading in the movement, and it was the work of King Eric the Evergood to organise the whole of Scandinavia into an independent ecclesiastical province. He went in person to Borne to obtain the papal authorisation, and the first Scandi­navian archbishop was consecrated at Lund in Scania in the year 1104.

But national politics as well as ecclesiastical development soon demanded a division of the province; the Cistercian revival made for a more effective supervision of the actions of the clergy, and the bishops of Norway united with the kings in asking from the Pope a national archbishop. In the year 1152 the Englishman Nicholas Breakspeare (later Pope Hadrian IV) arrived in Norway as a papal legate, and an archbishop was installed at Nidaros as metropolitan of eleven dioceses, five in Norway and six in the western islands. Some years later, in 1164, Sweden obtained an archbishop of her own at Upsala, and about the same time one of the Swedish kings, Eric, who had been recently (18 May 1160) killed in civil war, was elevated to the position of the national saint. Thus each of the Scandinavian kingdoms had acquired complete national organisation of its Church, and contemporary with the establishment of national archbishoprics in Norway and Sweden was the acknowledgment of independent ecclesiastical jurisdiction—in other words, the elevation of the clergy into a separate order of the nation. In all the three countries, the papal acceptance of the new organisation was accompanied by the demand for a special Rome-scot, the Peter’s pence, by which the people were more firmly tied to the mother Church, and also learned the habit of paying taxes in money.

The progressive organisation of State and Church necessarily reacted upon the social relations of the people. The chief task of kings and clergy was to institute peace and law among the subjects; the clergy introducing into the new provinces of the Church the general Christian penitential regulations, and the kings enforcing the national penal laws. In contemporary poems, St Olaf is praised because he used his kingly power to mutilate thieves and decapitate vikings, in this way protecting the property of men, and we hear a strange note from those fighting times: “now,” says the poet, “the subjects rejoice at peace.” The chief theme of the court poets had been battles and victories of their kings; but from this time onward again and again the poems are full of the word “law.”

Evidence of the growing importance of public law is to be found in the fact that the laws were put in writing. The oldest trustworthy notice of an enterprise of this kind comes from the commonwealth of Iceland, the land of jurists and lawsuits. In the year 1117, the althing decided to introduce a commission of jurisconsults for the recording and the reform of the laws of the country, and in the next year their completed work was presented to the althing which gave its consent by a majority. In the other Scandinavian countries, the compiling of law-books was mainly a private enterprise, undertaken by the law-men of the provinces (as in Norway and Sweden) or by other lawyers. The Norwegian provincial laws seem to have been put into writing as early as the end of the eleventh century, during the reign of Olaf the Peace-king; but they have not come down to us in a form older than the end of the twelfth century. The oldest Danish law-books still preserved are dated from about 1200, although they are evidently founded upon an earlier work; the Swedish provincial laws were only arranged and written in the course of the thirteenth century.

All these laws without exception indicate a change in the structure of society compared, with earlier times. Originally, the strength of society lay in the kindred, the union of a wide range of kinsmen, and the earlier- laws still shew us each individual protected in his rights by his kindred. The kinsmen may swear him free of a crime, they participate in paying his fines as well as in demanding damages due to him; they have a right of pre-emption upon his land in case he is obliged to give it up. But, at the time of the law-books, we observe a decline of the kindred; its range has been decidedly narrowed. Behind the laws we catch glimpses of an epoch when kinship to the tenth and even to the fifteenth degree had a social meaning; in the laws themselves the really effective kinship appears restricted to the nearest kinsmen, the cousins and second-cousins, or even to what is virtually the family household. This development is most conspicuous in the economic field; landed property has become a family estate instead of a possession of the kindred. But even in the matter of social security, the individual has lost many of his former connexions. There were several causes for this change: the migrations of the Viking age had helped to dissolve and dislodge the kindreds; still more important was the effect of the increase of aristocracy, the people gathering around a chief who undertook their protection; in economic relations, the advance of the Canon Law tended to make property more of a personal matter than before. But the essential fact was the displacing of the kindred by the new social forces, particularly the State and its representatives.

Meanwhile, there is to be noticed an intermediate form of organisation, taking up the task of social protection in an epoch when the kindred had loosened its hold upon the individual and the State was not yet able fully to replace it. This organisation was the gild. There has been a good deal of dispute about the origin and antiquity of the Scandinavian gilds, whether they have grown from a foreign or a domestic root. The discussion of the question has certainly shown that there are some quite important national elements in the institution, just as the word itself is genuine Scandinavian. Nevertheless, it is a well-established fact that the typical perfect gild is older in the Netherlands and in England than in the Scandinavian countries, and that the first-known Scandinavian gild is found among the Danes in England early in the eleventh century. Later in the century we find gilds in Norway and Sweden, and from the beginning of the twelfth century in Denmark as well. Everywhere they are plainly Christian organisations, in Norway often dedicated to St Olaf, in Denmark to St Canute, and their aim is to gather the neighbours together for economic and legal protection. They flourished for a couple of centuries and, during this time, performed a task that, to its full extent, was as yet above the power of the State. But it is unmistakable that the chief tendency of evolution was the steady strengthening of State power.

The ascendancy of the State found its expression in external politics also; the viking raids were replaced by the wars of the kings. The first King of Norway, Harold Fairhair, even formed an alliance with King Aethelstan of England for subduing the vikings, and one of his sons, Hakon, who afterwards became King of Norway and extended the system of leidang there for the defence of the country, was known to posterity as the foster-son of Aethelstan. The Danish kings, on the contrary, made themselves leaders of the viking hosts; Svein Forkbeard and Canute the Great even conquered the whole of England. Seeing the irresistible strength of Denmark in this direction, it is strange to notice its weakness towards the south; the Danish kings had more than once to bow to the lordship of the Germanic Emperors, and the Wendish pirates were never prevented from ravaging the Danish coasts. This was evidently one of the causes which made Svein Estridson and his sons give up their plans for re-conquering England; these plans were, however, inherited by the Norwegian kings, Magnus the Good andHarold Hardradi,but resulted only in the fall of King Harold at Stamford Bridge (25 September 1066).

After the conquest of England by Norman dukes who traced their lineage back to Norwegian and Danish vikings, the hostile relations with England came to an end. Denmark turned against the Wends and expanded its territory towards the Elbe and south of the Baltic. Norway re-enforced its dominion over the western islands, and King Magnus Bareleg (1093-1103), so named from his Scottish dress, determined to conquer the rest of the Norwegian colonies of the West. His fighting prowess made him live in Gaelic folk-songs until recent times as King Manus with the lion, and he succeeded in making Man and the Hebrides a part of the Norwegian kingdom; but in Ireland he met his death, and his enterprise only prepared the way for the Norman conquest of the island.

During his reign there was held a three kings' meeting at the junction of the frontiers of the three Scandinavian kingdoms, in the town of Konungahella, i.e. the Kings' Landing-place. Thither came Eric the Evergood of Denmark, Inge of Sweden, and Magnus Bareleg of Norway, and the Norwegian saga has preserved the popular talk that never were seen more chieftainlike men, King Inge bigger, stouter, and worthier than the other two, King Magnus brisker and more sportsmanlike, King Eric the fairest of complexion, but all three distinguished and gallant men. At this meeting (1101) they agreed upon perpetual peace and amicable co-operation between their kingdoms, and, as a pledge of the agreement, the daughter of King Inge was betrothed to King Magnus; from that time she bore the name of Margaret the Peace-maid. After the efall of King Magnus she married the Danish King Nicholas (1104-1134), the last son of Svein Estridson, and so she became a living expression of Scandinavian policy. Indeed, from this time, the politics of the Scandinavian kingdoms were more intimately interwoven than ever before, although the relations between them did not remain any too peaceable.

From about 1130, in all three kingdoms, there came a period that has been named the Civil Wars by later historians, but is more truly described as the Wars of Pretenders. Primarily, it was a conflict between the purely dynastic interests and the idea of political, unity. In each country the dynasty was originally a conquering power, the kingdom was regarded as a kind of private estate of the royal house, and every descendant of the conqueror thought himself entitled to participate in the heritage. In Norway and Sweden, at various times, two or even more sons of a king had ruled the kingdom together. In Denmark, the idea of political unity was older and stronger; but, even there, personal interests came into opposition with the natural policy of the kingship, and, from 1131, the sons and grandsons of the last kings fought about the possession of the throne for more than twenty-live years. At the same time, royal pretenders fought each other in Norway and Sweden, and the civil war of each country immediately reacted upon the wars of the othei’ two. This was the natural outcome of the policy of intermarrying that, particularly since the end of the eleventh century, had been adopted by the Scandinavian royal families; and now the royal marriages had become a means of obtaining influence in the neighbour countries. In this way, every pretender was able to secure a point of support abroad, and the Wars of Pretenders grew into not only national wars but even Scandinavian wars.

In Denmark, the unity of the kingdom was restored comparatively soon; after a series of bloody battles and treacherous murders, one of the pretenders, in the year 1157, succeeded in removing all his rivals and making himself master of the kingdom. This was Waldemar the Great (1157-1182), a grandson of King Eric the Evergood, and himself the founder of the Waldemarian dynasty. His personality was an unusually powerful one which dominated all who surrounded him, but his qualities were essentially those of a heavy-handed warrior who struck down all his enemies. Happily for him, he had at his side a counsellor who was at the same time a military commander and a real statesman—the nobleman-bishop Absalon, who was still the virtual leader in Danish politics for twenty years after the death of King Waldemar. From the accession of Waldemar, Denmark was again the dominating power of the Scandinavian North, as it had been from Harold Bluetooth to Canute the Great, and its influence made itself effectively felt in both the other countries.

It so happened that just at the time when dissension and rebellion were brought to an end in Denmark, the Wars of Pretenders in Norway and Sweden flared up more hotly than ever before, and raged in both countries with but short interruptions from about 1155 until towards 1230. The general Scandinavian character of these wars clearly appears from the fact that we may speak of Danish and Swedish parties in Norway, and of Danish and Norwegian parties in Sweden. But the Danish power in both countries was by far the most important one; from Denmark rebellious pretenders often received effective support of men and weapons, and Waldemar the Great for some years was even acknowledged as the overlord of eastern Norway.

But the support of Denmark was not given to rebels indiscriminately. What makes the Wars of Pretenders important in history is the fact that they developed more and more into wars of principle, conflicts between opposite political ideas. The State power itself was at stake in these wars; clericalism and feudalism arose with new demands for political and local government; and from the wars a new society emerged.

Upon closer research it appears manifest that, in Norway as well as in Sweden, the Danish kings always supported the clerical party. This is not to say that in Denmark clericalism unconditionally ruled the State. Here too, kings had belonged to opposite parties, and, in the decade after 1130, one of the kings had even abolished the archbishopric of Lund. But, as a matter of fact, the Church became a deciding factor in the civil wars, and, by the victory of Waldemar the Great, the alliance between archbishop and king was sealed. Conflicts might still arise, although mostly about personal questions. The king did not surrender his influence in ecclesiastical affairs, but he acknowledged the Church as an independent body in society, and his political system received the imprint of ecclesiastical ideals.

In Norway and Sweden it took a far longer time before the conflict between king and Church was settled. In both countries, as in Denmark, the national metropolitan became the natural rallying-point for the clerical party; he was the standard-bearer of advancing ecclesiastical policy. But changing kings adopted different attitudes to the demands of the Church for independence and influence. In Sweden, two dynasties fought over the kingdom, and as the one or the other was victorious, the Church was gaining or losing. So, at least, it was in appearance; in truth, however, the power of the Church was steadily growing, economically, politically, and morally. It is a significant fact that an anti-clerical dynasty gave to Sweden its national saint, King Eric (1160), and when his grandson, another Eric, won the kingdom from his opponent (1210), he compromised with the Church by receiving his crown from the hands of the Archbishop of Upsala; he was the first anointed King of Sweden, and, a few years after, the act was confirmed by Pope Innocent III.

In Norway, the conflict had a far more fundamental character and was signalised by a more dramatic course of events. This was due as well to the strongly national development of the kingship which made it more hostile to foreign ideas, as to the remarkable personalities who took the leadership in the conflict. The clerical view of politics came to the front when one of the fighting parties set up as its king a child of five years, Magnus (1161). He was a descendant of the royal house through his mother only, and so had no legal right of inheritance. To remedy this deficiency, his mighty and cunning father, the Earl Erling Crooked-neck, had him anointed and crowned by the Archbishop of Nidaros (1163) —that Eystein or Augustine who, two years before, had obtained his pallium from the hands of Pope Alexander III, and who made himself the faithful champion of the papal policy. He did not bestow conse­cration upon the young king for nothing, but required him to confirm and extend the privileges of the metropolitan Church, and even—a thing unprecedented in Scandinavia—to hold his kingdom as a fief of St Olaf, offering up his crown on the altar of the cathedral of Nidaros. Acts similar, although not exactly correspondent, are to be found in the history of several European countries, and, particularly, in the holy kingdom of Jerusalem. The chief significance of this proceeding was the intimate alliance of State and Church; at the same time, Eystein tried to consolidate his work by means of a law that, in future, only the eldest legitimate son of the king might inherit the throne; and, failing him, the bishops of the kingdom were given the deciding voice in the election of a new king. Nowhere had the Church obtained such a victory as this.

But only a few years later the parts were reversed, and the Church had to yield to a new king who became the most violent opponent of her secular power. This was King Sverre, perhaps the most extraordinary figure of Scandinavian medieval history. It may fairly be doubted whether he was really a king’s son or simply an impostor; but his genius as a leader of men is beyond any doubt. Educated as a cleric, he came to Norway from the far-off Faroe Islands and conquered the kingdom. His qualities were not those of a mere warrior, but he was a military tactician who, at sea as well as by land, made his forces more mobile than had hitherto been the case, and he roused the enthusiasm of his men to the point of devotion. Beginning as the chief of a small and weak band (1177) supported from Sweden, he quickly succeeded in getting a stronghold in the northern counties, where the social develop­ment and the political traditions were most strongly conservative. To the recent idea of kingship by divine right, exemplified by King Magnus, he opposed the old-fashioned national kingship by popular assent, and he got the upper hand: Magnus fell (1184); Archbishop Eystein had to take refuge in England (1180); his successor fled to Denmark (1190); and the other bishops soon followed. King Sverre was excommunicated by the Pope, but nevertheless retained his power until his death (1202); and from his chancery he published a polemical pamphlet against the bishops, defending the supremacy of the royal power in the country by quotations from Holy Scripture and from the Canon Law. It is an interesting fact that, in this Norwegian treatise, we find again the argument put forward by the jurisconsults of Bologna in favour of the imperial power of Frederick Barbarossa forty years before; but nowhere, at so early an epoch as this, do we find the principle of secular supremacy so sharply defined as here. Starting from conservatism, King Sverre became a precursor of the great innovators of royal power and its theory in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries.

Although he could frustrate the attempt at raising the ecclesiastical power above the king, he was not able to stop the natural progress of the Church, even in political affairs. After his death, his son and successor made his peace with the bishops, declaring that all the calamities of the country were due to the quarrel with them, and confirming all the privileges that were bestowed upon the Church by the founding of the archbishopric. By this act the bishops of Norway re-acquired their position as counsellors of the king as well as independent administrators of ecclesiastical affairs, and the Norwegian. Church was organised on an equal footing with the Churches of Denmark and Sweden.

In all three kingdoms, the ecclesiastical conflict was really a link in the general political development of society, the feudalising of the State. Everywhere, in process of organising the political functions of society, the royal power was taking the lead, but, in the course of this process, the kingship itself produced forces that reacted upon its position with a dissolving influence. The primary cause of this seeming paradox was the economic structure of society, which gave but small opportunity for the centralisation of financial power. The more the king strove to establish a royal administration in all parts of his kingdom, the more he was com­pelled to give up his power to his local representatives; he simply had no means of remunerating his officers except by entrusting to them the fiscal profits of the local government. Now the Church not only constituted a particular branch of social administration, but. her officers were among the first to take over the royal functions and profits in the districts. It cannot be ail accident that in Scandinavia, as in the rest of Western Europe, the first immunities certified by royal charters are those given to ecclesiastical dignitaries, to bishops or to abbots. In truth, the Church plays an important part in the progress of feudalism, as well because of her administrative functions as by virtue of her increasing landed wealth.

The chief element of feudalism, however, is, of course, in the Scandinavian countries as in medieval Europe generally, the combining of military service with administrative power, and in this field of development Denmark again was in the van. The Wars of Pretenders usher in the new epoch. It is reported that in the year 1134 one of the Danish pretenders marched into battle with a body of horse, and the party of this pretender constantly appears in connexion with Germany; its hero,u^ord” Canute, the father of King Waldemar the Great, was even a vassal of the Germanic Emperor. Evidently, German influence is partly responsible for the introduction of the new arm; but the appearance of cavalry in the royal service meant new demands for military and financial organisation, and the gradual dissolution of the old popular levy. The frequent wars with the Baltic Slavs, the Wends, waged by King Waldemar and his sons, accelerated this development, and the Waldemarian century (1157—1241) is characterised both by the strength of the kingship and by the establish­ment of feudalism.

To Waldemar the Great and his two successors, Canute (1182-1202) and Waldemar the Victorious (1202-1241), fell the task of establishing the military reorganisation of the kingdom upon a new basis. More pressingly than ever before the king felt the need of a military force that should be more effective and more easily available than was the old leidang he sought for men who were able and willing to be at his service at any time and with the complete equipment of the time. For this purpose a new group of king’s men began to separate from the large class of farm proprietors. Originally they were not necessarily the richest men of the class; but, in compensation for their service they were freed from taxes, and as tax-free they constituted a new nobility.

On the other members of this class the result was exactly the opposite. Before the end of the twelfth century, the leidang was transformed into a tax, assessed upon farm values; from this time conscription was no longer a personal duty common to all freemen, but a burden belonging to real estate, imposed upon the non-nobles of the society. Thus an important change occurred in the position of the subject: formerly his relation to the king was essentially a personal one; henceforward he became a taxpayer. From a political point of view, this might be called progress, a step towards greater independence of the government. But in the change there was involved an accentuation of the class differences in society. The king’s man, the new nobleman, alone remained in an entirely personal relation to the king; he became the miles of the king, bound to him by oath, and he was the man to be charged with the duties of government, civil as well as military. The taxes were still paid in kind and could not be gathered into the king’s residence; and as he now ceased to receive them personally and consume them on the spot, they had to be used for the support of his local officials. The royal nobility now began to function as the governing class; the local offices became a part of their remuneration for military service; offices and their territorial circumscriptions began to be regarded as fiefs and were granted as such; the nobility assumed the feudal character. It even began to combine as an estate of the realm and, when summoned by the king, met in the general courts of the country, the Dane-courts. The highest class of the nobility, dukes and counts, and together with them even the bishops, had the right qf taking knights into their service, and so they appeared in law almost as the equals of the king.

Apparently in the same way as in Denmark, a feudal nobility developed in Sweden. The sources of the period are still very poor for this country; but in many respects the conditions are similar to those of Denmark, only with the difference that the political evolution of Sweden is always accomplished about half a century or more after that of Denmark. The Wars of Pretenders there also worked for new military demands, and, as in Denmark, foreign wars accelerated the movement. Since the middle of the twelfth century, the Swedish kings were frequently fighting for the conversion and the conquest of the inhabitants of Finland, and, finally, in the year 1249, the great Earl Birger succeeded in subduing the whole of western Finland, which from that time remained a part of the Swedish kingdom. In the course of this century, a royal and feudal nobility formed itself in Sweden also, and, after Earl Birger had been able to put his son upon the throne (1250) and so had founded the dynasty of the Folkungs, the nobility came forward as a real privileged class. His second son, King Magnus Barnlock (1275-1290), became the organiser of the new society; he made his court the centre of chivalrous splendour, he granted immunities and fiefs, and, above all, by a law of 1280, he laid down the rule that anybody who served the king, the barons, or the bishops as a horseman was to be free from taxes. So the horse-service was made the foundation of tax-freedom, and the nobility was marked out as the free class in the sense of tax-free.

In Norway, the development of feudalism took place along different lines and did not lead to exactly the same results as in Denmark and Sweden. Just as in the conflict between State and Church, the new feudal society worked its way through dramatic events and came into existence almost by a revolution. Here again we meet with the energetic personality of King Sverre, and here his victory was more complete than with regard to the Church. It is a peculiar fact that his ideas about the new administration of the kingdom seem to have been a heritage from his opponent, King Magnus, who in this matter was the disciple of the Church. After the foundation of the Norwegian archbishopric, Magnus began to nominate royal sheriffs as his representatives in the counties beside the hereditary chiefs, and it was this beginning that was systematised by Sverre. In his fight for power, he almost literally decimated the old county nobility, and, whether on principle or by necessity, he did in fact put the whole country under the administration of his own sheriffs; they were paid from the incomes of their respective districts, and they were even said to hold their offices as fiefs. The remnant of the old aristocracy continued their agitation against the new dynasty even after the death of Sverre, until the bishops succeeded in mediating a compromise between the parties (1208), and from that time the county aristocracy consented to undertake the office of sheriff along with the king’s men. Very soon the two classes were fused together in a new royal nobility, the barons of the king, and a selection of them formed the King’s Council, whose assistance and assent became indispensable to the passing of royal decrees.

As far as we are able to follow this development in Norway, it seems to be founded wholly upon royal measures, the desire of the king to put his own officers in the place of independent nobles, and there does not seem to be any military reason for the change. Nevertheless, at the same time, the military organisation of the country was passing through a remodelling that helped to strengthen the feudal growth. The nature of Norway, its lack of wide plains, such as are found in Denmark and Sweden, did not afford any reason for establishing a cavalry force, and so there was but little need for imposing heavier military burdens upon a wealthy minority. But, along with the extension of royal government, the need of new taxes made itself felt, and, from the end of the twelfth century, probably as early as the reign of King Magnus (1161-1184), just as in Denmark, the king began to demand payment of the leidang contributions as an annual tax. In the course of the thirteenth century the leidang became the chief tax of the country and was assessed upon the farms by a fixed valuation. Necessarily, then, the common people were only exceptionally called out for war service; and so the sheriffs acquired a still more feudal character than their administrative position alone could give them.

It has been the general opinion of historians that the kingdom of Sverre and his successors was essentially an absolute monarchy, and so the political development of Norway has been considered to be quite opposite to that of Denmark and Sweden. When later, in the fourteenth century, a feudal aristocracy manifestly takes hold of the government of Norway, this has been regarded as the result of a revolution, to a great extent brought about by influence from the neighbour kingdoms. This view of Norwegian history seems founded upon an illusion. There is this element of truth in it, that the feudalising of Norway obviously made slower progress than that of Denmark and Sweden, because the military system did not work with equal force in that direction, and because in Norway the office-holders were kept more strongly under the control of the king. It is a sign of the greater strength of the monarchy there that the Norwegian kings succeeded in securing by law the strictly hereditary character of the kingdom, whilst in Denmark and Sweden the principle of election was gradually established. But research into the whole administrative system of Norway seems to give the evidence of a steadily progressing feudalism, in the main of the same character as in the two other Scandinavian countries. In none of the three countries could feudalism reach the same degree of perfection as it did in the rest of western Europe; on the one hand, there remained too much peasant freedom, and, on the other hand, the central power of the king was never extinguished. But, during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, the Scandinavian kingdoms were steadily approximating to the social g,nd political system of the rest of Western Europe.

The great convulsion of Scandinavian society during the twelfth century could not but exercise a notable effect upon the spiritual activity of the peoples. Sweden still lagged behind; from that country no contribution was s yet made to the new movement. But, in Denmark and Norway, the national feeling was stimulated into a conscious life that made for a new kind of literary production; the sense of history awakened, the research into and composition of national history began.

It is a remarkable circumstance that, in this kind of achievement, the leading part was taken by the little nation of Iceland. In truth, the Icelanders were the real possessors of the literary traditions of the north. They had, as it were, monopolised the art and business of royal poetry; as court poets (skalds) they composed their artificial poems in honour of the kings, and particularly of the Kings of Norway, to whom the community of language made their involved verses more easily comprehensible, but also of the kings of Denmark and Sweden; and the difficult rules of metre and metaphor were handed down from master to pupil. The heroic age of the skalds endured through the tenth and eleventh centuries; but from that time the art of versification degenerated into an elaborate craftsmanship, fatal to the spirit of poetry, and, on the other hand, the kings ceased to appreciate the celebrating of merely warlike achievements; they became real statesmen and anxious to be the subjects of political history. Thus the Icelanders grew to be historians.

The social conditions of Iceland furthered this transformation. The old aristocratic families from the squatter times were tenacious in conserving the memories of their own past, and, in the solitary homes of the thinly peopled island, the taste for listening to story-telling developed almost into a passion. The story-teller became a professional man; short stories were combined into cycles; the saga was born, at the same time pointed and picturesque, imaginative and realistic, dramatic in its events, rich in contrasting psychology. The ecclesiastical erudition of the twelfth century added the element of scientific research that was needed for making history out of the story, and, before 1130, the great annalists Saemund and Ari became the fathers of Icelandic and Norwegian historical writing. In Iceland, more than elsewhere, the clergy, in spite of their learning, were tied to the conditions and traditions of the country and took an active part in the national life; very often, indeed, the priests, bishops, and abbots belonged to the established aristocracy, and their ecclesiastical education only made them more effective instruments of saga-composing in the national language. From the last decades of the twelfth century, and throughout the whole of the thirteenth, there went on an industrious writing and collecting of family and hero sagas which constitute a litera­ture quite by itself, distinct from the rest of medieval production. The sagas were originally founded upon real history, or at least upon popular tradition; but they conformed themselves more and more to the demands of art. Dramatic excitement or the picturing of peculiar characters ^eemed niore important than the truth, and at last even the heroes and the events of the romance were freely invented; although the high art of story-telling maintained a continuous existence.

This art of saga-writing was taken into their service by the Kings of Norway, and it even influenced the historical writing of Denmark. In Norway as well as in Denmark, the first historical works from the end of the twelfth century were written in Latin, and in Denmark the strength of ecclesiastical civilisation manifested itself by retaining Latin as the only literary language. Here, shortly after 1200, the cleric Saxo Grammaticus, a servant of the famous Bishop Absalon, wrote his great work Gesta Danorum in vigorous Latin of the French school; but his history is a truly national achievement, not only because it is built upon a foundation of rich Danish tradition, with an infiltration of traditions from Iceland and Norway, but also because it is dominated by a national spirit, near akin to the political work of his master Absalon. Saxo Grammaticus appears as the champion of royal power and national unity against popular will and county particularism; in social status he is an aristocrat, yet nevertheless he sees in the development of royal government a struggle against the old nobility; his work boars witness to the feudalising of contemporary ideas.

Saxo Grammaticus stands out as the one great author of thirteenth­century Denmark, and his work represents almost the whole of Danish literature of the Middle Ages. In the history of Norway, the place of Latin was taken by sagas in the Norse language, and here a real li terature came into existence. Its founder was the revolutionary statesman King Sverre, who about 1185 began dictating his own history to an Icelandic abbot with the manifest purpose of defending his policy. His successors of the thirteenth century followed his example, placing the records of the royal chancery at the disposal of Icelandic authors. The earlier history was written partly by Norwegians, but chiefly by Icelanders, those too very often in the royal service; and here again the spirit of the age appears through the apparently objective narrative. The great master of the Norwegian saga was the Icelander Snorri Sturluson (1179-1241), himself a leader in the politics of his native island and not an outsider in those of Norway either. Being a lover of the arts and traditions of the past, he compiled a copious manual for poets, the celebrated Younger Edda, and then wrote the history of the Norwegian kings from the beginning until the appearance of Sverre. In combining therein the faculties of a keen critic, a vivid story-teller, a shrewd psychologist, and a pragmatic reasoner, he created a work surpassing anything else that the Middle Ages have left us of historical literature. Like the history of Saxo, the saga-book of Snorri is dominated by the idea of national unity and royal power, both institutions advancing towards victory against the strong opposition of a particularist aristocracy; such a work was more than history, it was instrumental in gathering the nation around her kings.

The spiritual co-operation of Norway and Iceland which found its highest expression in the sagas had its political pendant in the union of the two countries under the kings of Norway. The plans for such a union were at first formulated at the royal court; but they reached their realisation by the development of Icelandic conditions proper. The aristocracy of Iceland very early consolidated itself, dividing the political power among some fifty noble families, and, through the natural effort of maintaining their power as well as their nobility, the number of these families was steadily shrinking until, at thebeginning of the thirteenth century, not more than a fifth of them were left. These few families filled the country with their bloody wars, and the power of Norway could not escape being dragged into the conflict, the poor peasants appealing for peace to the metropolitan of Nidaros, the grandees themselves appealing for assistance to the king. Peace was finally restored by the submission of the country to the king, embodied in a treaty of union (1262) which made the grandees of Iceland the vassals of the Norwegian king. The year before, the colonists of Greenland had put themselves under the dominion of Norway, and so, at this time, all peoples of Norwegian descent were united in one kingdom. Only a few years after, by the treaty of Perth (1266), Norway was compelled to renounce its dominion over Man and the Hebrides in favour of Scotland. But, still, the bulk of Norwegians obeyed the King of Norway, and the western islands were tied to the mother country very effectively by their need of Norwegian articles of export.

During the Middle Ages there was no period when the three Scandinavian kingdoms appeared more vigorous and powerful than they did in the thirteenth century. The population was fast increasing, land and woods were cleared, fields and pastures gave good returns, the wealth of kings and clergy manifested itself by the building of costly palaces and churches, the arts of architecture, sculpture, and painting followed the lines of European evolution and in many cases equalled their models, the Icelandic sagas spread their glory over the whole of Scandinavia, and everywhere there appeared a vivid spiritual activity. The three kingdoms were eagerly expanding their frontiers, and in all of them the organisation of government and society was effectively progressing.

In their political development, conflicting tendencies seemed to assert themselves. In all three kingdoms the royal power was evidently on the rise, although in somewhat varying phases. Everywhere, the king stood in the centre of the legislative power, formally restricted by the right of the local assemblies to sanction his ordinances, in reality more restricted by the powers of the royal court. Everywhere, the king had got his fixed taxes, and he had an army and a navy at his disposal. In all three countries, he was the executor of the law, and in Denmark and Sweden, since the thirteenth century, he had become the supreme judge of the kingdom, while in Norway, since the reign of King Sverre, royal representatives presided in the popular courts. Since, in Denmark and Sweden, the judicial power found its head in the king, it followed that, from this time onward, every judgment became valid for the whole kingdom; and in Norway, where this principle was already in force, King Magnus the Law-mender in the year 1276 succeeded in creating a common law for the whole country.

But, besides the king, other political forces were coming to the front, rivalling him or even pushing him aside. These were the Church and the new feudal nobility, and with them conflicts were inevitable. As a matter of course, the Church maintained her old ecclesiastical ideals of self-government, and, in principle, the royal government did not disown them. But the balance of power between king and metropolitan was still an unstable one, and the feudalising of society prompted the Church to demand independence even in secular affairs, and particularly as to economic matters. Very naturally, therefore, the conflict this time became most acute in Denmark, where it endured from about 1245 for more than half a century. That unyielding dogmatiser, Archbishop Jacob Erlandson of Lund (1254-1274), did not hesitate to proclaim the superiority of the spiritual over the secular sword; the real point of conflict, however, was the question whether the king was entitled to demand the duty of leidang from the lands and men of the Church, and this question involved the whole question of the relations between king and Church. There was a series of acts of violence, of legal proceedings, of appeals to the Pope; archbishop and bishops were imprisoned or exiled, the king was excommunicated, the country laid under interdict. After the death of Archbishop Jacob there was peace for twenty years; but with Archbishop Jens Grand (1289-1302) all the scenes of the former conflict reappeared in almost identical forms. In the whole struggle it was a matter of great importance that there was no absolute concord within the Church; some bishops always held to the king, and even the Pope could not approve of all the acts of the archbishop. Finally, the king humbly submitted his case to Pope Boniface VIII and, by this act, obtained the removal of Archbishop Jens to a foreign see; afterwards, in a General Court (1303), the privileges of the Danish Church were solemnly con Armed, especially in respect to jurisdiction and patronage, but the king's right of leidang was maintained. By this compromise the peace between King and Church was restored for two centuries; the Church succeeded in strengthening her independent power in ecclesiastical affairs, but she had to submit to the king in the matter of taxes.

The like result was attained in the other Scandinavian countries. In Norway, matters came to a conflict exactly during the decades of truce in Denmark. The Archbishop of Nidaros, John the Red (1268-1282), had the idea of recovering the forfeited privileges which Archbishop Eystein had once wrung from King Magnus, and, after some years of negotiation, he only resigned them on condition that the general privileges of the Norwegian Church should be confirmed by an explicit document, issued by King Magnus the Law-mender (1277). This document remained, for more than two centuries, the basis of ecclesiastical independence in Norway. At the same time, Archbishop John obtained other privileges from the king, extending the tithes of the Church and exempting her from much of the leidang duty. But, after the death of King Magnus (1280), when a boy king mounted the throne, the barons of the kingdom engaged in a fight for the repeal of those economic privileges. The archbishop, unwilling to submit, had to flee the country and died in exile, and for six years the metropolitan see of Nidaros remained vacant. Finally, the successor of John made his peace with the king (1290), and the additional privileges of 1277 were abandoned. At the same date, without any fighting, the same principles were established with regard to the Church of Sweden. But in Sweden and Denmark, it must be added, the principles did not always correspond with the facts, as the individual bishops to a great extent obtained the liberties that were denied to the Church as a whole; this was the natural consequence of the progress of feudalisation, for the Church could not stand outside.

The compromise in Norway reacted upon the position of the Church in Iceland, where, until this time, the clergy were essentially a part of the secular society, and in subordination to the aristocracy of the country; several of the bishops had tried to constitute the Church as an independent body, and, after hard conflicts and varying successes, in 1297 a compromise was effected by which Canon Law was established in Iceland as well.

In the period in which the rivalry of king and Church was brought to an end, the conflict between king and nobility began shaping itself as an increasing movemen t in political life. The development of feudalism having proceeded farthest in Denmark, the conflict here presented itself earlier and raged with more violence than it did in the other two countries. During the reign of Eric Clipping (1259-1286), the grandson of Waldemar the Victorious, at a General Court in the year 1282, the nobles of the kingdom compelled him to sign a charter which has been rightly called the Magna Carta of Denmark, and which was the first of a long series of written obligations destined to restrict the power of the kings. By the charter of 1282, King Eric bound himself to call the General Court, or parliament, of the grandees every year; he promised that nobody should be imprisoned or fined without legal judgment or against the law, and that he never would issue his royal sentences against anyone except after legal summons. In this way the king was to be made constitutionally dependent upon the will of the nobles, and, when he did not conform himself to their wishes, he was treacherously murdered by a coalition of them (1286). The immediate consequence was a pro­tracted struggle between the king and a powerful party of nobles, a fight which spread to Norway and Sweden as well, and from that time the opposition of king and nobility became a chief factor of Danish history.

A similar opposition did not manifest itself in Sweden and Norway until the beginning of the fourteenth century. But the foundations of it were laid by the commanding position secured by the nobility. In Norway, by laws of 1273 adopted in parliament, the sheriffs were formally constituted as royal vassals, their military duties exactly defined, and by a law of 1277, following an English model, the titles of baron and knight were established; shortly after, they are found in use in Sweden and Denmark also. In Norway and Sweden we find no law prescribing the convocation of parliaments of the nobles; but, in fact, such parliaments regularly assembled, and the king could not act without them. In both countries, as in Denmark, the nobility was becoming the dominant political power, ever more in opposition to the king.

As to the future development, it is an interesting fact that, at the same epoch, the class formed itself that was destined, in later centuries, to gain ascendancy over the nobility, namely, the burgher class. The thirteenth century, in fact, marks the entrance of the Scandinavian countries into European commerce and, as a consequence, the building-up of real cities. Of course, small towns existed from earlier times and had a certain commerce with foreign countries as well as with the home districts. But the great change brought about by the thirteenth century was the introduction into commerce of big staple articles. These articles were the herring of Scania and the cod of Norway. The herring-fisheries off Scania made the neighbour towns of Skanor and Falsterbo in summertime two of the liveliest ports of northern Europe, and the cod-fisheries of northern Norway made Bergen a city of European size. When Wisby in Gothland, in the year 1285, submitted to the Crown of Sweden, it was already a powerful town that had won its wealth as an intermediate station for the commerce of the Baltic. But the burghers of Wisby were chiefly Germans, and, as a matter of fact, the export of the Danish herring as well as of the Norwegian cod was monopolised by German merchants, particularly those of Lubeck. In the second half of the thirteenth century German capital and German merchants took the lead in Scandinavian commerce, and, to Norway, the import of German grain became actually a vital necessity. In all the three countries, the kings granted privileges to the German merchants, and the first treaties of commerce were concluded with them; from this time we may speak of a commercial policy of the Scandinavian governments.

The general progress of commerce made itself felt in all parts of the three countries, and, everywhere, the towns, old and new, advanced towards greater importance. In Denmark, one town after another, in the course of the thirteenth century, got its charter for the regulation of its self-government; in Norway, a common law-book for all the towns was issued in the year 1276. Mostly, the towns were on Crown lands, and the king had his sheriff in each of them; but they had their own aidermen and councils, in Denmark often named consules as in Germany, and the special town courts were instrumental in making innovations in the practice of law and justice. For the purposes of trade the towns-men united into gilds, and so, in law and in fact, a real burgher class developed.

Yet this commercial class was not numerous nor very rich, and it had not won any political position at all. The privileged classes were the nobility and the clergy only, and their rivalry with the king will make up the substance of the history of the centuries that follow.



SPAIN (1034-1248)