Trade and Transaction – How to become a Canon and finance a Chapter in Norway in the 15th and 16th Centuries
AuthorBerg, Sigrun Høgetveit
This article concentrates on the late medieval cathedral chapter and the canons of the archdiocese of Nidaros in Norway, and it will shed light on the close connection between the members of the cathedral chapter and the stockfish trade. The archdiocese included in the late medieval period the whole of today’s northern Norway, a vast area with limited surplus from agricultural products but all the more with an abundance of maritime resources, in particular the Arctic cod. The cathedral chapter in Nidaros had obtained ius patronatus to a large amount of the northern parishes in the archdiocese, and thus the canons, as titular parish priests to these parishes, made substantial profits from their land rent and in particular, their fish tithes income. Many of these parishes, in Norwegian called kannikgjeld were perpetuated as praebendae parochiales, belonging to certain positions in the chapter, and these benefices in the fish-abundant north generated in many instances more income for each canon, than their ordinary altar prebends in the cathedral built-up by land rent. In addition, some of the canons seem to have been operating, either as facilitators, intermediaries or as acting tradesmen themselves, in the reselling of the dried cod, the stockfish, in the lucrative export trade through the Hanseatic Office at Bryggen in Bergen. In this trade and the economic and social networks that developed around it, we can get a glimpse of how the local elites along the coast were able to canonize themselves, i.e. to pursue higher ecclesiastical careers.
CitationBerg SH: Trade and Transaction – How to become a Canon and finance a Chapter in Norway in the 15th and 16th Centuries . In: Berg SH, Otto. Secular canons in Medieval Europe. Diversity under Common Canon Law, 2023. Walter de Gruyter (De Gruyter) p. 17-30
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