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Historisk tidskrift 131:2 • 2011

Innehåll (Contents) 2011:2

Bland drottningar och hertigar. Utblickar kring riddarromaner och deras användning i svensk medeltidsforskning

Thomas Småberg

Fulltext (pdf)


In the company of Queens and Dukes. Reflections on medieval romances and their use in Swedish medieval research

The article argues that it is possible to gain insight into the ideology and political culture of the aristocratic elite, the “frälse”, by analyzing three medieval romances from the early 14th century collectively known as “Eufemiavisorna”.

The article discusses and problematizes “Eufemiavisorna” as fiction and/ or a source for courtly ideals primarily by discussing the role of the translator/ author. Leading scholars have shown that the translator altered passages, sometimes quite extensively. This was probably done in order to adapt the story to a Swedish audience, who might not understand the nuances of chivalric culture. Since courtly culture had found its way into Sweden prior to the introduction of “Eufemiavisorna”, it is also likely that the translator/ author was influenced by this when adapting the romances.

The overall purpose of romances is also discussed. Scholars have seen them as either didactic or entertaining, but resent research has interpreted romances differently and argue that they should be seen as dualistic, as both didactic and entertaining.

Courtly ideals are also discussed and placed in a European context by analyzing courtly love. It is clear that the translator/author de-emphasized this concept. In European research, courtly love is seen as an essential part of romances, and a leading scholar argues that romances and the part of courtly love in them was constructed by the clergy as a means of civilizing the aristocracy. Since courtly love is de-emphasized in “Eufemiavisorna”, and instead courtly behavior, feasts and battle scenes are emphasized, this might not have been the purpose with these particular romances. Instead, it is possible the author/translator wanted to provide models of behavior in order to educate the “frälse” in European courtly culture.

Finally, the romances are placed in a socio-political context through a discussion of the formation of courtly culture and chivalric ideals in relation to Swedish courts and Swedish royal power. The influence of ideas from several European kingdoms and courts on Sweden is also discussed.


Sweden, Norway, middle ages, romance, Eufemiavisorna, courtly and chivalric ideals, courtly love