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The soldiers of the Battle of Wisby 1361

Kreatör: Thomas Neijman Gotland, Sweden Vetenskap / Filosofi

In late July, 1361, an army of Gotlandic peasants fought an invading force led by the King of Denmark, Valdemar IV. A battle was fought outside Visby on July 27th, where the Gotlandic peasants were defeated. In the early 20th century, the mass graves were excavated, yielding an enormous amount of finds. What makes the finds unique is that so much of the personal equipment found can be tied to individuals. The finds have won international acclaim through the book by Bengt Thordeman, Armour from the Battle of Wisby 1361, issued in 1939. The invasion of 1361 recurs on a regular basis in various contexts within popular science. 

The depictions of the events that took place in 1361 share an often repeated discourse where the Gotlandic and Danish armies are described as opposites. The Danish army is said to have been professional, well trained and well equipped. The Gotlandic force, in contrast, is described as poorly armed, with old-fashioned equipment, poorly organised and mob-like. Could this modern interpretation of the differences between the Danish and the Gotlandic force be supported by the available sources detailing the event, or is this a dramaturgic feature of modern history? There is still no thorough examination of the two armies that clashed in 1361. This project aims to fill that gap. 

The examination will be carried out by means of 30 strontium isotope tests on osteological material. The analyses will simplify the classification of individuals as belonging to either the Gotlandic or the Danish side. The choice of individuals will be based on the type of equipment that can be tied to them respectively. The choice of equipment will be made based on which items can give any clues to equipment, such as coats of plates, spurs, sabatons and mailed coifs. The examination is expected to reveal whether older equipment generally belonged to the Gotlanders, and whether modern equipment can be tied to the soldiers of the Danish army.

The project will be carried out within the framework of a Master’s thesis  for a degree in history, at the Centre for Medieval Studies at Stockholm University. Examinations will be made in collaboration with The Swedish History Museum, where the bulk of the archaeological finds from the mass graves is kept.

Läs projektspecifikationerna


An update

Here's an update on crowdfunding project that financially supports the master's thesis I’m working on. Yesterday I received a letter from His Majesty the King of Sweden, Carl XVI Gustav. The letter said that I had been granted funding for the project "The soldiers of the Battle of Wisby". This was the third grant application for funding. Previously, the Torsten Söderberg Foundation and De Badande Wännerna have given financial assistance. This, along with the money from private donations, means that now there are opportunities to perform tests of between 90-100 individuals from mass graves. This is amazing and will be able to provide a more reliable statistical basis to draw further conclusions. Without you, who have financially supported the project, this project would not have had the financial ability to be implemented. You gave me the opportunity to dare to believe in this and I am incredibly grateful.

Thanks for the support!

Thanks everyone that has supported the project in various ways. With the funds collected can 30 isotope analyses be done at the battle of Wisby Findings. I'm still waiting for a response at the applications from three different foundations

Hopefully more funds will be received from these so that even more analysis can be done. Thanks again for all your support!

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