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The Development of Education in Medieval Iceland

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Medieval Iceland is known for the fascinating body of literary works it produced, from ornate court poetry to mythological treatises to sagas of warrior-poets and feud culture. This book investigates the institutions and practices of education which lay behind not only this literary corpus, but the whole of medieval Icelandic culture, religion, and society. By bringing together a broad spectrum of sources, including sagas, law codes, and grammatical treatises, it addresses the history of education in medieval Iceland from multiple perspectives. It shows how the slowly developing institutions of the church shaped educational practices within an entirely rural society with its own distinct vernacular culture. It emphasizes the importance of Latin, despite the lack of surviving manuscripts, within a decentralized and highly educational environment. Within this context, it explores how medieval grammatical education was adapted for bilingual clerical education, which in turn helped create a separate and fully vernacularized grammatical discourse.

Author Information

Ryder Patzuk-Russell, Portland, USA.
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Audience: Medievalists, scholars of Old Norse and History