Saturday, January 15, 2011

Account of the Viking Siege of Paris offers new insights into the early Middle Ages

The chance to work on an amazing and unique story was the reason behind Nirmal Dass producing a new edition and translation of a ninth century text that described Viking and Frankish warfare. His recent publication of Viking Attacks on Paris: The Bella Parisiacae Urbis of Abbo of Saint-Germain-des-Pres, is an eyewitness account of the Norsemen’s seige of Paris in the years 885 and 886. It is the first complete English translation of this text.

The poem offers vivid descriptions of warfare in the early Middle Ages and offers scholars interesting insights into the events as well as early medieval French kingship. Dass, who teaches at Seneca College in Toronto, Canada, finds that Abbo also wanted his readers to draw moral lessons about the meaning behind these events. “Behind every event, there is meaning and value,” he said in an interview with For the medieval man, “when events happen there is always a reason for it. There are divine and cosmic forces at work.”

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