Kith and Kin: Ties of Blood and Marriage

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Family and kinship constituted the social backbone of medieval society’s elite groups, but how was kinship understood, how did it function, and how did it transform in Scandinavia c. 1050–1250? Taking as its starting point Bourdieu’s distinction between “official” and “practical” kinship – i.e., between formal representations of kinship in official texts like laws and genealogies on the one hand, and on the other hand the network of family connections that are actually relied upon, mobilized, and put to use – the chapter discusses the workings of family ties in relation to property and inheritance, marriage, and conflict. It is argued that with the Church’s introduction of clerical celibacy, prohibition of concubinage and divorce, and new conceptions of kin relations based on blood and marriage within strictly defined degrees, official cultural maps of kinship saw a gradual consolidation and formalization, and it is discussed how elites took account of these changes and accommodated family strategies and practices to them.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNordic Elites in in Transformation, c. 1050–1250, Volume II Social Networks
EditorsKim Esmark, Lars Hermanson, Hans Jacob Orning
Number of pages22
Publication date2020
ISBN (Print)9780367901950
ISBN (Electronic)9781003023005
Publication statusPublished - 2020

ID: 240532673