“A knight from Flanders”. Noble migration and integration in the North in the late Middle Ages

“A knight from Flanders”. Noble migration and integration in the North in the late Middle Ages

By Anu Lahtinen

Immigration and emigration in historical perspective, edited by Ann Katherine Isaacs (Pisa University Press, 2007)

Abstract: This chapter deals with the migration and integration processes of noble newcomers in the medieval Nordic Kingdoms, especially in the medieval area of Finland – then a part of the Swedish Realm. It focusses on the case of the Fleming family, the representatives of which arrived from Western Europe to Denmark, Sweden and Finland in the turn of the 14th and 15th centuries. It appears that they managed to assimilate into the local elite partly thanks to their good connections with the rulers of the Union of Kalmar that was uniting all the Nordic kingdoms under the Danish ruler. The situation offered special opportunities for newcomers such as Klaus Fleming, who had gained a position of trust in Denmark. On the other hand, the political turmoil could also change the situation from favorable to unfavorable. To strengthen one’s position amongst the local nobility, it was also important to create important connections via marriages. Studying the local laws of distributing inherited landed property, the author points out how marriage helped newcomers like the knight Klaus Fleming to get access to landed property – the source of wealth and power at that time. The author also discusses the position and role of women as receivers and mediators of property, and their more active roles as widows and mothers or links between male relatives. Special attention is given to marital economy as defined by Amy Louise Erickson and Maria Ågren.

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