Some Comments on the Formation of Medieval Warriors in Baltic and Finnish societies (in the 12th and Early 13th Centuries)

Marius Ščavinskas


The first part of the article presents historiographical problems relating to the warrior classes in Baltic and Finnish societies. In the second and third parts, it analyses Balt and Finnish societies relating to the formation of the warrior classes, with regard to the relationship between the chief/nobleman and the warriors, the meaning of the management of property and inheritance, and the vertical formation of relationships between noblemen and warriors. The written sources presented in the article show that at the turn of the 12th and 13th centuries, there was a stable institution of management and inheritance of property, which enabled noblemen and the warriors subordinate to them to increase their power with regard to other members of the community. This provided conditions for the formation of a ‘military democracy’, where the most important decisions concerning the community are approved not by all free members of the community, but by the noblemen and warriors subordinate to them. The basic idea of the article is that the ‘inheritance’ of the power/status of the noblemen is related to the right to inherit property (the castle and the surrounding territory, the homeland). It should be noted that by relating the management and inheritance of property to ‘inherited’ and acquired power, a vertical relationship appears between the nobleman and the warrior, which is based on subordination, not on consensus.

Key words: Baltic and Finnish societies, warriors, vertical power/subordination relationships, real estate, hill-fort/castle.

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