A Historical Biography of Archbishop Eskil of Lund (c. 1100-1182)

Name of applicant

Mia Münster-Swendsen


Roskilde University


DKK 880,031



Type of grant

Monograph Fellowships


Although he is one of the individuals from twelfth-century Scandinavia who left most traces in the extant source material, Archbishop Eskil (c. 1100-1182) remains an enigmatic character. Historians still disagree in their evaluations of the impact of Eskil's exceptionally long tenure as prelate, during much of which he was not only next to the king in power, but also leader of the Nordic Church during its crucial formative period and contributed profoundly to the "Europeanisation" of the Nordic societies. The ambition is to offer a thorough revision of the posthumous image of Eskil and concurrently central aspects of medieval Danish political history. The book presents a new interpretation of the making of the Nordic world and its separate kingdoms in the twelfth century.


Archbishop Eskil has never been the subject of a monograph or a scholarly anthology. Thus the arguably most influential church leader and power-broker in twelfth-century Denmark, still remains a marginal figure in Danish historiography. The main subject of the book is not merely the life of a single individual but the story of how Denmark and the Nordic kingdoms entered into the Latin-Christian cultural sphere and went from constituting a "barbarian" periphery to playing a central role in contemporary European politics. The human aspect of individual lived experience makes even distant histories engaging and the biographical narrative framework is well-suited to contextualise and situate more abstract, theoretical and structural aspects of the study of people and societies in the past.


The research involves a thorough study of the entire source material directly or indirectly relating to Eskil, as well as the integration of the recent advances in scholarship in regard to the Scandinavian societies and their place in the European context. In the recent years I have worked on aspects of Eskil's international network and the correspondences between Eskil and a formidable array of prelates, popes, and philosophers. I have already published several articles, conference papers, and conducted the basic research to gain an estimate of how far the sources will support a fact-based reconstruction of Eskil's life and place it in a contemporary cultural and political context. The aim is to publish a scholarly monograph in English and one in Danish aimed at the general reader.

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