Anu Lahtinen: Pohjolan prinsessat. Viikinkineidoista renessanssiruhtinattariin [Princesses of Pohjola. From Viking maidens to Renaissance princesses]

22 February 2010 | Mini reviews, Reviews

Pohjolan prinsessat. Viikinkineidoista renessanssiruhtinattariin
[Princesses of Pohjola. From Viking maidens to Renaissance princesses]
Jyväskylä: Atena, 2009. 223 p., ill.
ISBN 978-951-796-595-8
€ 33, hardback

This book, a side project to Anu Lahtinen’s doctoral dissertation, tells of the women of the Nordic royal families from the 7th to the 17th centuries. The term ‘princesses’ is used here to refer to female members of ruling families who did not hold positions of power themselves. With its brief biographies of people who have long remained hidden in the historical shadow of great men, this book sheds light on a little-researched subject. Many princesses of the medieval Swedish, Danish and Norwegian realms grew up into significant political figures; they needed cunning, a good command of languages and even fighting skills in order to survive the tumults of that age. The rollicking parties and romantic escapades of Cecilia, one of the five daughters of King Gustav Vasa of Sweden, are reminiscent of the ‘party princesses’ of our own time. A Viking-era princess, Alfhild, became a pirate captain; according to medieval tales, she disguised herself as a man and managed to lead a crew of female pirates in a number of raids along the shores of the Baltic.

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