Three illuminated Late Medieval Swedish law codices - associative thought systems

Project leader

Funding source

Riksbankens Jubileumsfond (RJ)

Project Details

Start date: 01/01/2014
End date: 30/04/2015
Funding: 955000 SEK


Manuscripts with illustrations are an important part of medieval art. Specific for Sweden is that law codices are illustrated. Three of them, from the late 1300s until the mid 1400s, have a large number of images. Here are illustrations of miscarriage, jesters, pilgrims, criminals and mythological subjects. Religious and political images occur. The connection with the text of the law provides two interpretations: 1/it is a subversive commentary on the text; 2/ it is an art of memory, mnemotechnics. These two seemingly opposite readings can actually be seen together, and provide access to associative thought systems. Alternative interpretations will be tested (as images being illustrations of concrete phenomena, or not related to the text at all). The method is the "source pluralism": an extensive use of comparative sources as proverb-collections, religious texts and of course comparisons from the medieval European art. The idea is not to let one single theme dominate, but to take up a number of themes that can be studies or relate to these images, as gestures or coats of arms. Associative thought systems, worldviews, will be reconstructed and seen in a socio-cultural context. These Swedish images are important, even in a European perspective, as they illustrate profane texts about everyday things, and also are related to popular culture. With a play on words, one can say that this project will give a new picture of the Middle Ages.

Last updated on 2017-24-03 at 13:00