Centre for Dominican Studies of Dacia

Monks on the Move

- Religious travelling in and from Medieval Scandinavia

Presentation of session held at the International Medieval Congress (IMC) in Leeds 12-15 July 2010.

Sponsor: Centre for Dominican Studies of Dacia / Nordic Centre for Medieval Studies.

Organiser: Johnny Grandjean Gøgsig Jakobsen, Nordisk Forskningsinstitut, Københavns Universitet.

Moderator/Chair: Bertil Nilsson, Institutionen för litteratur, idéhistoria & religion, Göteborgs universitet.


Session abstract

The session aims to look at the importance of those within the regular clergy, who did not follow the ideal of stabilitas loci, but in stead through travelling maintained contact between their home convent and the surrounding world in various ways. The selected papers will show how Hospitallers of St John connected Scandinavia to the Mediterranean, how Dominican university students helped transmit cultural ideas to the North, and how an important part of Mendicant life was to travel around the countryside as itinerant preachers. Together, the papers should bring us well around different types of monastic mobility and their possible influences on medieval Scandinavian society.


Paper A: Scandinavian Hospitallers as travellers in medieval Europe

    Christer Carlsson, Institut for Historie, Kultur & Samfundsbeskrivelse, Syddansk Universitet.

As members of an international Military Order the Hospitallers frequently went on educational- or business-trips all over the European continent. The Scandinavian brethren were no exceptions and in the preserved written sources we can find several examples of Scandinavian Hospitallers travelling to, or working in, other Christian countries. The earliest examples of such travels can be found in sources dating from the 14th-century, but from the 15th-century onwards we can find several examples of Hospitallers leaving their home-countries to study or work on the Continent. Some Hospitallers left Scandinavia to work with internal matters of importance for their Order, while other brethren simply went away to teach or to study at prestigious universities on the Continent. Many of these medieval travellers turned back to Scandinavia with fantastic stories about miracles, great buildings and other important events which they had experienced on their travels.


Paper B: Scandinavian Dominicans at the core of Europe

    Johannes Schütz, Graduiertenkolleg "Expertenkulturen des 12. bis 16. Jahrhunderts", Georg-August-Universität Göttingen.

The aim of the Dominican way of life was to preach and this preaching activity should be founded by intensive studies. Thus, the Friars Preachers built a network of schools distributed throughout Europe and instructed their teachers in the European centre – at Paris, Oxford and Cologne. When they finished their education, the Dominicans returned to their Scandinavian homelands to spread their knowledge there. My paper aims at presenting these travel activities in connection with studies of medieval Dominicans from Scandinavia. I want to show the routeings, goals and purposes of their voyages.


Paper C: Them Friars dash about” - Mendicant terminatione in medieval Scandinavia

    Johnny Grandjean Gøgsig Jakobsen, Nordisk Forskningsinstitut, Københavns Universitet.

Mendicant friars were not in the same way as their clerical colleagues of the old monastic orders tied up by a vow of stabilitas loci. Within the orders’ provinces, the individual friars were transferred regularly among the convents. Their main tasks were to preach the gospels and collect alms for the convent, but even though the priories almost always were situated within the urban centres, a number of recent studies have shown that pastoral care of the rural countryside, the terminatione, played a much more significant role in Dominican and Franciscan life in Northern Europe than often portrayed by later historians. This is perhaps especially evident in Scandinavia, where the medieval towns were of a very limited size. In my paper, I will present examples of Mendicant terminatione in Scandinavia, trying to establish the extent and the importance of this mobile monastic behaviour.


Centre for Dominican Studies of Dacia

Johnny G.G. Jakobsen, Department of Scandinavian Research, University of Copenhagen

Postal address: Njalsgade 136, DK-2300 Copenhagen, Denmark ● Email: jggj@hum.ku.dk