The French Connection. Norwegian Manuscript Fragments of French Origin and their Historical Context

Research output: Book/ReportPh.D. thesis


This thesis examines medieval Latin manuscript fragments of French origin in the Norwegian National Archives. The fragments in the Archives’ collection come from parchment manuscripts that were cut up and repurposed, used primarily as binding material for tax accounts in the 16th and 17th centuries. Few Norwegian medieval manuscripts have survived intact, and the fragments are therefore a valuable source for the scholar seeking to investigate early Norwegian book culture. The aim of the thesis has been twofold: to identity and examine the fragments of French origin, and to examine the context in which books could be brought from France to Norway in the Middle Ages. The identification and examination of fragments from Latin manuscripts of French origin shows that there is a correlation between the fragments and what the historical sources tell us of French-Norwegian connections in the Middle Ages: the number of French-origin fragments that can be dated prior to 1150 is relatively modest compared to those that can be dated to the second half of the 12th century or later. This corresponds to a growing amount of evidence of French-Norwegian contacts: Norwegians travelling through France, Norwegians studying in Paris, Norwegian clergy and court members interacting with their French peers, and French influence on Norwegian church organisation, liturgy, and literature. The manuscript fragments are challenging to work with, as they are only pieces from what used to be entire books. Still, the overarching impression of the material is that it reflects connections that were created and maintained by religious ties, diplomatic and political ties, and intellectual ties between France and Norway from the 11th to the 14th centuries.

Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationBergen
PublisherUniversitet i Bergen
Number of pages364
ISBN (Print)8230831149
ISBN (Electronic)978- 82-308-3114-4
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes

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