Mobility during the Viking Age: Scandinavians and Others

Organized by Dr. Anna Kouremenos (Tübingen) and Dr. Fraser McNair (Leeds)

University of Tübingen, 27-28 September 2018

Voyages to and settlement in new lands have always held the greatest interest for those looking to understand the Vikings in academia and pop culture, from studies of the English Danelaw to Led Zeppelin. In recent years, though, scholars have focussed more than ever on concepts of migration, mobility, and diaspora when looking at the Norsemen. The time is ripe for a comparative perspective to be brought to bear on Viking activities from this point of view.

Viking activity, across the period between the late eighth and mid-eleventh centuries, has several well-known aspects. Vikings attacked and burned settlements; they were found as traders everywhere between Limerick and Samarkand; they settled and farmed the land; and individuals such as Rollo of Normandy and Roric of Dorestad took up service with non-Scandinavian rulers. But what made these aspects of Viking mobility distinctive? Magyars in Bavaria, Provençal noblemen in Burgundy, Catalans in the Spanish March, and defectors on the Arab-Byzantine border all share some of these characteristics. By putting Vikings in this wider frame of mobility and migration across earlier medieval Europe, we hope to contribute to debates about what was particularly Viking, and what was more universal. We will focus on four broad topics:

  • Raiding
  • Trading
  • Individual mobility
  • Group mobility

The Centre for Advanced Studies at the University of Tübingen brings together scholars from a wide range of disciplines working on the history of migration and mobility in Europe and the Mediterranean between 250 and 900 CE. Migration and mobility fundamentally shaped this period. By raising new questions and exploring innovative approaches and methods for answering them, the Centre aims to set the scholarly debate of the phenomenon on a new footing.


Thursday, Sept. 27

10:00-10:15 : Anna Kouremenos (Tübingen) and Fraser McNair (Leeds)


Group Mobility

10:15-10:40: Leslie Abrams (Cambridge)

Vikings Armies and Religious Identity

10:40-11:05:  Alex Metcalfe (Lancaster)

Migration and Mobility in and around Muslim Sicily

11:05-11:30: Christoph Haack (Tübingen)

Immigrants from the South: Hispani in the Carolingian Empire

11:30-12:15: Response and discussion

12:15-13:30: Lunch break

Individual Mobility

13:30-13:55: Pierre Bauduin (Caen)

Migration and Integration: The Vikings in Frankish Society

13:55-14:20: Fraser McNair (Leeds)

Elite Mobility within the Frankish Realm: The Local Power of Transregional Aristocrats, 9th-10th Centuries

14:20-14:50: Response and discussion

14:50-15:30: Coffee Break


15:30-15:55: Sarah Croix (Aarhus)

Individual Mobility and Trading Communities in the Early Viking Age

15:55-16:20: Elizabeth Lambourn (De Montfort)

Individual Mobility and Trading Communities on the Abbasid Empire’s Eastern Maritime Frontier

16:20-16:50: Response and discussion

16:50-17:30: Wine and cheese reception

Dinner @ 19:30

Friday, September 28


10:30-10:55: Lindy Brady (Mississippi)

Writing Raiding in the Irish Sea Zone

10:55-11:20: Sam Ottewill-Soulsby (Cambridge)

Pirates and Princes: Saracen Raids in the Early Medieval Western Mediterranean

11:20-11:45: Panos Sophoulis (Athens)

Soldiers, Looters, and Pirates: “State-Sponsored” and “”Private” Raiding in the Medieval Balkans

11:45-12:30: Response and discussion

12:30-12:50   Steffen Patzold (Tübingen)


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