Moderation and restraint during conflict as ideal behavior in high medieval Scandinavia and Iceland

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    It has been argued that across the medieval period, European elites increasingly attempted to distinguish themselves from those of a lower status not only on the basis of their political and material power, but also through the adoption of social markers. This chapter considers one social marker which has been of particular interest to those working on medieval elite warrior culture, namely, the practice of moderation and restraint during conflict. It provides a new perspective on this topic by using a comparative method to investigate the extent to which moderation and restraint were viewed as positive behaviors for elite men to display during conflict in high medieval Denmark, Norway and Iceland. It argues that in Norway and Denmark, moderation and restraint are shown to have been ideal qualities for elite men to possess. In contrast, sources for thirteenth-century Iceland do not present elite men as either aspiring towards or meeting this ideal. Instead, elite men are praised for their skill in legal matters and negotiations. This reflects the important role legal processes played within the continuation and resolution of conflict in Iceland.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationNordic Elites in Transformation, c. 1050–1250, Volume III
    Subtitle of host publicationLegitimacy and Glory
    PublisherTaylor and Francis
    Number of pages17
    ISBN (Electronic)9781003097143
    ISBN (Print)9780367562816
    Publication statusPublished - 6 Oct 2020


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