Gawain, Perceval and Didrik van Bern : ritual constructions of myth and reality in Erik’s Chronicle

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Gawain, Perceval and Didrik van Bern : ritual constructions of myth and reality in Erik’s Chronicle

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Title Gawain, Perceval and Didrik van Bern : ritual constructions of myth and reality in Erik’s Chronicle
Author(s) Småberg, Thomas
Date 2014
English abstract
In Erik’s Chronicle (EC), a Swedish rhyme chronicle from the early fourteenth century the anonymous author writes a history of the then ruling royal dynasty in Sweden. It is a very important historical work, since it is the only such chronicle written in Sweden from this time. In the chronicle we meet important events and historical actors that shaped the political narratives at the time. Primarily, it is the new courtly setting that is of interest for this paper. The Swedish aristocracy and the royal court were expressing a new ideology at this period, that of courtly and chivalric ideals. Erik’s chronicle is instrumental in expressing these ideal for the Swedish audience. The construction of the past, both historical events, rituals, symbols and character descriptions, is of importance in the construction of the new ideals for the Swedish aristocracy. The chronicler uses western European literary narratives, such as the inclusion of Arthurian knights, to convey role models for behavior. Relevant is the fact that rhyme chronicles were essentially determined by their present. They were written in a socio-cultural context that determined how the past was portrayed. Erik’s chronicle was written to glorify the royal dynasty during a period when a boy-king sat on the Swedish throne. This fact colors our perception of the events portrayed in the chronicle. In EC, there are no years, merely references to saint´s days, relative time periods such as “..three years after…” and so on. Time therefore is essentially undetermined. Instead, the chronicler makes use of relative chronology (that is, events seem to be described chronologically), mythical time, and a religious-moralistic approach where events are mirrored references to biblical themes. Equally undetermined is the concept of space associated with time. Several important social spaces are constructed in EC through association with a mythical or perceived “historical” past. The purpose of this paper is to analyze and discuss how the chronicler makes use of time and space in the construction of courtly ideals through the use of earlier events, characters, place, rituals, and symbols. Main literature: Gerd Althoff, Johannes Fried, Patrick J. Geary, (eds.) Medieval concepts of the past : ritual, memory, historiography, Cambridge : Cambridge University Press ; 2002 Patrick J. Geary, Phantoms of Remembrance: Memory and Oblivion at the End of the First Millennium, Princeton : Princeton Univ. Press, cop. 1994 Robert A. Maxwell, (eds.) Representing History, 900–1300, Art, Music, History, University Park, Pa. : Pennsylvania State University Press, 2010 Elisabeth M. C. Van Houts, Medieval Memories: Men, Women and the Past, 700-1300, Harlow : Longman, 2001.
Language eng (iso)
Subject(s) Humanities/Social Sciences
Research Subject Categories::HUMANITIES and RELIGION
Note Seventh International Conference on the Medieval Chronicle, University of Liverpool, 7- 10 July 2014
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