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Conflict and Social (dis)order in Norway, c. 1030–1160

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Chapter Summary

This chapter demonstrates that Norwegian society in this period was not particularly unstable. The author's hypothesis is that conflicts in this society should not primarily be viewed as disruptive, but rather as integrative, partly because they very seldom developed into large-scale war, and more fundamentally because a function of conflict in this type of decentralized society is to regulate power relations. It deals with possible causes for the changes that took place after c.1160 in Norway. The chapter argues that the traditional explanations for these changes operate from a teleological premise that state formation was unavoidable due to alleged instability of society around 1160, and that this is manifested in a belief that the change must be attributed to internal, long-term, structural causes. It first analyses the conflict and leadership in the kings' saga Morkinskinna, which tells about events in the period c.1030-1160. It then discusses the changes after 1160.

Keywords: conflict; kings' saga Morkinskinna; Norwegian society; power relations; social disorder; structural causes



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