The introduction of regular religious life in the Nordic region is less well-documented than in the neighbouring kingdoms of northern Europe. In the absence of well-preserved manuscript and material remains, unfounded and sometimes distorting suppositions have been made about the timeline of monastic settlement and the character of the conventual life it brought. Recent archival and archaeological research can offer fresh insights into these questions. The arrival of authentic regular life may have been as early as the second quarter of the eleventh century in Denmark and Iceland, but there was no secure or stable community in any part of Scandinavia until the turn of the next century. A settled monastic network arose from a compact between the leadership of the secular church and the ruling elite, a partnership motivated as much by the shared pursuit of political, social and economic power as by any personal piety. Yet, the force of this patronal programme did not inhibit the development of monastic cultures reflected in books, original writings, church and conventual buildings, which bear comparison with the European mainstream.
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