DOI link for Introduction
At the end of the 1st millennium ad, some 20 major supra-regional kingdoms existed across Europe. Some of these were loosely defined and some would change and disappear, but at this time three existed in Scandinavia: Norway, Sweden and Denmark. Across the North Sea, Anglo-Saxon England had emerged as a unified entity in resistance to the extension of Danish power. The equivalent secular institution for assembly and justice in Scandinavia was the thing: a ‘multi-functional venue for discussion and determination of any matter of communal concern’. The thing was instrumental to the acceptance of new kings and the regulation of political and economic relations between the king and the people. Sometimes direct relationships are evident with inauguration taking place at the medieval landsthing or, as in Sweden, where inauguration sites were linked to top-level thing sites by designated routes used for royal itineraries and travel. The chapter also provides an overview of the key concepts discussed in this book.