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Introduction

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Chapter Summary

One is hard pressed to think of a topic that involves as many diverse aspects of medieval Scandinavian society as the cults of the princely martyrs. In Denmark the slaying of King Knud IV in the year 1086, which according to one commentator represented the strangest event in the history of the Danish Church since the introduction of Christianity, inspired the first known attempt to write a history of that country. The hagiography on the Scandinavian princely martyrs was heavily indebted to imported literary models and, indeed, foreign men of letters. In the eleventh and the twelfth centuries the Scandinavian Church was in the process of transforming itself from a missionary body to a more organized institution, albeit one which still worked in close co-operation with the secular authority.

Keywords: Christianity; Danish Church; Denmark; Scandinavian society

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