Module 2: The High Middle Ages, 1050-1340

By Bjørn Poulsen, Professor, Aarhus University

In the period after 1050, the Viking raids ceased and Christianity became the dominant religion. The Danish kingdom was now a relatively stable entity that could withstand armed conflicts between the king and the aristocracy. As a result of these conflicts, the twelfth century saw the consolidation of royal power, with a stronger institutional foundation. Valdemar I (the Great) had defeated most of his challengers by 1157, and ‘the Age of the Valdemars’ lasted until 1241. This was followed by more conflicts between the governing powers, rivalries within the royal family and, finally, the disintegration of the kingdom. The two centuries that followed 1050 were characterised by long-term growth, and economic and social breakthroughs. Churches were built across the country and an archdiocese was established in 1103/1104. There were power struggles within the elite, but also the first written laws and agricultural progress, as new land was taken into cultivation and new villages were founded. Moreover, as trade flourished the number of towns multiplied, and these towns developed a degree of autonomy. People enjoyed a relatively warm climate, and the population increased.

Watch this introduction to the module where Bjørn Poulsen discusses a series of key aspects of the period 1050-1340. The film is in Danish with English subtitles, and lasts about eight minutes. Click 'CC' and choose 'English' or 'Danish' for subtitles.