When the bourgoisie nationalist states rose and the technological revolution changed face of the earth in the early 19th century, aristocratic leaders were deprived from their monopoly for the godgiven right to rule land and people. The aristocrats were looking at the “good old days” of medieval world where their ancestors had ruled by the right of belonging to the right families. Thus medieval times were romanticised. Artists from writer to painter and composer to dancer were employed to create wonderful fantasies based on the medieval romances. The history was blurred under so many visions of idolised and imagined past. The historians saw medieval times often only through the looking glasses of renessance, baroque and especially the age of enlightment. These had seen medieval times as “the dark ages” in comparrison to the light and “enlightment” of their own times. So a strange mixture was cooked when the romanticised ideal was mixed to the almost demonising wiev of former generations.

In the 19th century nobles across the Europe dusted their ancestors armour (or bought someone elses, if they did not have their own), wore it and rode to magnificent tournaments. Of course some accidents happened because they had not bothered to find out how the armour or even the blunt tournament weapons should be used. This was the final effort of the noble families to be what made their ancestors “noble”. It was all terribly outdated and the whole thing died away as the noble houses merged whith the arising bourgeoisie.

Medievalism did not however die whith the attempts of nobles to feel themselves to be top of the society. The bourgeoisie was eager to imitate everything the old mighty houses had done and of course medieval times as blurred and mythical age were perfect source for the new nationalist states to draw from to form cultural identies for people who often had only language (or collection of close by dialects) as common factor. The nationalistic medievalism finally linked nazis to vikings and Hitler was portrayed on horseback in medieval armour as a knight protecting Europe from new eastern threat aka communism.

In a swedish museum they had a corner to remind people of the abuse of history. That the link between swedish viking ancestors and the nazis was completely artificial. It was a good thing in a country which population takes pride for being one of the areas where the vikings actually came from. On the other hand. Vikings were opportunistic pirates and resembled the nazis in that despicable way. The word viking was propably not so popular among the viking age ancestors of the swedes. Not at least among those normal people among them who just wanted to live normal life safe from harm. Maybe it was a similar word as businesman today. They themselves think to be the paragons of society, while most people think of them as greedy bastards.

Medievalism did not die even with the nazi propaganda machine. The newest wave of medievalism began in the US in the sixtees whith the hippie movement. The world had seen brutal world war (double) and mysticism was in high course. To the white americans european medieval times presented a mythic past or even roots to a culture they could handle (like the lords did in the 19th century) like they pleased. Take nice things and leave out the hideous parts.

In allmost five decades a lot has happened among the medieval historical studies and the medievalism has also changed. It has begotten a bastard son whith historical studies that we call “historical re-enactment” and whith the same father an illiget daughter called “living history”. Regardless of their parents these two are showing promising future, even though both have acquired some ill traits. I will be writing more about them later.

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