Hostages were not prisoners but a vital part of the peace process
The hostages could live a good life but their future was always uncertain, dependent on the political situation. They could stay and live a life time or just for short periods.
They were a vital part of the peace processes and used as resources by both sides. Some were kept as guarantees against hostilities during peace negotiations. They were immediately released by both sides if everything worked out as planned. (See Lasse Biørnstad in sciencenorway, Published thursday 10. november 2016, who interviewed the author Stefan Olssons about his research)
An absent and neglected research field
The Hostages of the Northmen: From the Viking Age to the Middle Ages aims to investigate the taking and giving of hostages in peace processes during the Viking Age and early Middle Ages in Scandinavia and adjacent areas. Scandinavia has been absent in previous research about hostages from the perspectives of legal and social history, which has mostly focused on Antiquity (the Roman Empire), Continental Germanic cultures, such as the Merovingian realm, and Anglo-Saxon England.
The examples presented are from confrontations between Scandinavians and other peoples in which the hostage giving and taking was displayed as a ritual act and thus became symbolically important. Literary texts as well as runic inscriptions, picture stones, place names, and personal names are used as source material.
‘It is a work of very high academic quality. It is based upon meticulous and thorough studies of a great variety of sources. The author has definitely a very good knowledge of the source material. It is a very good study of a previously neglected research field.’ — Thomas Lindkvist, Professor emeritus, University of Gothenburg
About the author
The author of this monograph is Stefan Olsson. He obtained his PhD in 2016 at the Department of Archaeology, History, Cultural Studies and Religion, University of Bergen, under professor Håkan Rydving.
Stockholm Studies in Comparative Religion
The Hostages of the Northmen: From the Viking Age to the Middle Ages is a volume of Stockholm Studies in Comparative Religion, a peer-reviewed series of monographs and edited volumes published by Stockholm University Press.
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