Payment for past crimes: 12th-century French cleric who called on Denmark to pay for Viking raids

Press/Media: Articles in 'The Conversation'


In 1188 Stephen, the abbot of the monastery of St Genevieve in Paris, who would become bishop of Tournai, wrote a series of letters to members of the royal family and church leaders in Denmark. He gave news of events at his monastery and attempted to calm frazzled tempers concerning rumours about the homosexuality of Peter Sunesen, a chaplain of the archbishop of Lund, who was later to become chancellor to the Danish king.

He also presented a remarkable demand. Needing money to pay for the restoration of the monastery, he demanded reparations from the Danes for the destruction of his church and the enslavement of numerous Frenchmen during Viking raids on Paris more than three centuries earlier. Both the attack on the church and the enslavement and slaughter of French subjects are attested to in the contemporary annals of St Bertin.

Period17 Aug 2020

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