Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Kingship and political culture in high medieval England and Norway, 1066-1263
Academic Year
Semester 2
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 20 x 1 Hour Lectures
Seminar 10 x 1 Hour Seminars


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Essay 1  (2500 words)  50%
Semester Assessment Essay 2  (2500 words)  50%
Supplementary Assessment Essay 1  (2500 words)  50%
Supplementary Assessment Essay 2  (2500 words)  50%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

​1. Demonstrate a sophisticated understanding of the main developments in English and Norwegian political history from 1066-c.1250.

2. Identify the main ideas which shaped contemporary concepts of kingship in high medieval Norway and England and discuss them in an intelligent manner.

3. Identify the main ideals and norms which influenced how kings were treated during conflict in high medieval Norway and England.

4. Construct sophisticated historical arguments about the extent to which the Norwegian concept of kingship changed across the high medieval period.

5. Demonstrate a complex understanding of how comparative approaches can be used to provide new perspectives on historical developments.

Brief description

When King Sverre of Norway died in 1202, he was said to have been the first Norwegian king since King Sigurðr Jórsalafari to die in his bed, rather than at the hands of his enemies. In contrast, even though England experienced succession disputes, rebellions and baronial unrest across the high medieval period, no kings were executed or killed. What does this tell us about how kingship was understood in high medieval England and Norway? In this module, students will use comparative methods to investigate this question and explore what it meant to be a king in high medieval Norway and England.


1. High Medieval Norway: An Introduction

2. High Medieval England: The path to the crown

3. Concepts of kingship

4. Law and the assertion of royal authority

5. Treason, civil war and rebellion: Part 1

6. Treason, civil war and rebellion: Part 2

7. Conduct in battle: Norms and Ideals

8. Rituals, norms and dispute Resolution

9. Attitudes towards kings during conflict: Unfortunate Norwegian kings

10. Attitudes towards kings during conflict: King Stephen and King John

11. Images of kingship in historical narratives

12. The medieval Church and ideas of Christian Kingship

13. Virtuous kings: Christian and classical ideas

14. Kingship in twelfth century Norway – Ruthless gang leaders?

15. Kingship in thirteenth century Norway – The Lord’s Anointed?

16. Comparing kings: King Stephen and King Magnús Erlingsson

17. Comparing kings: King Henry II and King Sverrir

18. Conclusion: Comparative methods and new perspectives


1. High Medieval Norway and England: Similarities and differences

2. Concepts and Theories of Kingship

3. Comparative approaches to medieval kingship

4. Behavioural norms and the killing of kings

5. A changing concept of kingship? High medieval Norway

​6. The use of comparative approaches: King Henry II and King Sverrir

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number Students will be introduced to data in the form of tables and figures and a range of quantitative data, which will require some degree of interpretation and understanding.
Communication Written communication skills will be developed through the coursework; skills in oral presentation will be developed in seminars but are not formally assessed.
Improving own Learning and Performance Students will be advised on how to improve research and communication skills through the individual tutorial providing feedback on submitted coursework.
Information Technology Students will be encouraged to locate suitable material on the web and to apply it appropriately to their own work. Students will also be expected to word-process their work and make use of Blackboard. These skills will not be formally assessed.
Personal Development and Career planning Students will develop a range of transferable skills, including time management and communication skills, which may help them identify their personal strengths as they consider potential career paths.
Problem solving Students are expected to note and respond to historical problems which arise as part of the study of this subject area and to undertake suitable research for seminars and essays.
Research skills Students will develop their research skills by reading a range of texts and evaluating their usefulness in preparation for the coursework and the written examination.
Subject Specific Skills Students will develop their ability to analyse and interpret primary sources. Their ability to critique and debate historical arguments will be enhanced by their exposure to existing research within the area of study. Students will also learn how comparative approaches can be used within historical research.
Team work Students will be expected to play an active part in group activities (e.g. short group presentations in seminars) and to learn to evaluate their own contribution to such activities.


This module is at CQFW Level 6