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“Personal Jesus”: Adam of Bremen and ‘Private’ Churches in Scandinavia During the Early Conversion Period

Dimitri TARAT

Mirabilia 18 (2014/1)

In modern research it is customary to describe the 50s and the 60s of eleventh century as a first phase of the struggle for independence by the local churches in Scandinavia. All of them were officially subordinated to the church of Hamburg-Bremen, even if some of them found themselves under the influence of the Anglo-Saxon church. However, careful reading of Adam of Bremen’s Gesta Hammaburgensis ecclesiae Pontificum indicates that in fact the period at the end of the first phase of Christianisation, was a period of personal initiatives by local rulers to control the missions and religious establishments in their lands. These religious initiatives by rulers in 1050s and 1060s turned the control over the local churches into a political tool against unwelcome foreign influences. However, it would be a mistake to try and describe this period as an awakening of a national church movement in Scandinavia for ecclesiastical independence. The kings simply wanted to keep the church subjected only to them.

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