Removing the Christian mask: an examination of Scandinavian war cults in Medieval narratives of northwestern Europe from the late Antiquity to the Middle Ages
By Matthew Joseph Pettit
Master’s Thesis, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, 2008
Abstract: The aim of this thesis is to de-center Christianity from medieval scholarship in a study of canonized northwestern European war narratives from the late antiquity to the late Middle Ages by unraveling three complex theological frameworks interweaved with Scandinavian polytheistic beliefs. These frameworks are presented in three chapters concerning warrior cults, war rituals, and battle iconography. Beowulf, The History of the Kings of Britain, and additional passages from The Wanderer and The Dream of the Rood are recognized as the primary texts in the study with supporting evidence from An Ecclesiastical History of the English People, eighth-century eddaic poetry, thirteenth-century Icelandic and Nordic sagas, and Le Morte d’Arthur. The study consistently found that it is necessary to alter current pedagogical habits in order to better develop the study of theology in medieval literature by avoiding the conciliatory practice of reading for Christian hegemony.