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Konec řádu na kraji světa. K historické sociologii islandských ság

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journal contribution
posted on 2024-06-11, 00:16 authored by Johann ArnasonJohann Arnason
This article discusses the historical background to the medieval Icelandic sagas. It draws on the work of Icelandic historians, especially Gunnar Karlsson, to argue that the key factor was a distinctive political order established in Iceland before the conversion to Christianity. This was not a peasant democracy, as some idealizing interpretations have suggested; it was an oligarchy sui generis, with power (and a remnant of religious authority) vested in an elite of chieftains. However, there was no executive centre. This decentralized regime left its mark on the Christianizing process; the Icelanders accepted Christianity without monarchy, and for a long time without a fully empowered Church. Together with a pronounced cultural focus on narrativity, this political context explains the rise of a vernacular literature that was in many ways influenced by Christian sources, but retained a connection to pre-Christian traditions.


Publication Date



Historicka Sociologie






15p. (p. 27-41)


Charles University



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© 2023 The Author. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.