Middle Ages: Christian scholars


Denmark becomes Christian

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In the High Middle Ages (1000-1300), something of a miracle happened in Denmark. Thanks to monks and the ambitions of the nobility, the country was enriched by architecture, art and learning. The rise of Christianity put Denmark in the first European community defined by this religion. The population declined during the plagues and wars of the late Middle Ages (1350-1536), but from around 1450, Denmark experienced a new period of growth, evidenced by the abundance of rural churches from the period.

At the end of the 11th century, monks arrived in the city of Odense. They came from Evesham Abbey in Britain and were charged with protecting the grave of King Canute IV, who had been canonised after being murdered on the altar of St Alban’s Church. The monks were also to live according the Benedictine Rule, laid down in the sixth century. The arrival of the monks in Odense meant the establishment of one of Denmark’s first abbeys, and the Benedictine monks soon became known for their knowledge and skill as builders. Their main task, to pray the Psalms of David together, was known as opus dei, the work of God., but the monks also engaged in manual labour such as copying and illuminating manuscripts, tending gardens and caring for the corporeal and spiritual needs of their guests.

Monks on the march
Shortly after the year 1100, Benedictine monasteries had been built elsewhere in the Kingdom of Denmark, including in…

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