Fama in Medieval Denmark (c. 1240-1340): Rumors, Reputation and Public Opinion (FMD)

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Thomas Heebøll-Holm


Associate Professor


University of Southern Denmark


DKK 4,427,000




Semper Ardens: Accelerate


The project explores fama in medieval Denmark c. 1240-1340. Fama as a term was the combination of rumors, reputation, memory, honor, status and public opinion about a person. In the thirteenth century fama played a role in law and political power struggles. Fama could be used as a weapon: by rulers to exert social control and fight rivals, and by the people as whistleblowing on corrupt superiors.


While well-known in international studies, fama in Denmark has never been investigated. Thus, the project opens a new field in Danish medieval studies. It proposes a different understanding the formation of law and politics in medieval Denmark, and how rumors and reputation were more important in society than previously imagined. Moreover, it holds a mirror to contemporary issues of cancelling.


Through an examination of the Danish written sources; charters, laws, chronicles and royal decrees for the words semantically related to fama (c. 50 words), the project will determine how kings, churchmen and the elite used fama in their exercise of power and in law courts. Further this study will reveal how fama formed public opinion, and how it shaped politics, law and society in Denmark.

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