AskDefine | Define Gothicism

Extensive Definition

Gothicismus (Swedish: Göticism) is the name given to what is considered to have been a cultural movement in Sweden. The founders of the movement were Nicolaus Ragvaldi, the brothers Johannes Magnus, Olaus Magnus and Olof Rudbeck d.ä.. They all held the belief that the Goths had originally lived in Sweden. This myth continued to hold power in the 17th century, when Sweden was a great power following the Thirty Years' War, but lost most of its sway in the 18th. It was revitilized by national romanticism in the early 19th century, this time with the vikings as heroic figures.


The name is derived from Jordanes's account of the Gothic urheimat in Scandinavia (Scandza), and the Gothicists in Sweden believed that the Goths had originated from Sweden. Some scholars in Denmark also attempted to identify the Goths with the Jutes, however, these ideas did not lead to the same widespread cultural movement in the Danish society as it did in the Swedish. In contrast with the Swedes, the Danes of this era did not forward claims to political legitimacy based on assertions that their country was the original homeland of the Goths and that the conquest of the Roman Empire was proof of their own country's military valor and power through history.
The Gothicismus movement took pride in the Gothic tradition that the Ostrogoths and their king Theodoric the Great who assumed power in the Roman Empire had Scandinavian ancestry. This pride was expressed as early as the medieval chronicles, where chroniclers wrote about the Goths as the ancestors of the Scandinavians, and it permeated the writings of the Swedish writer Johannes Magnus (Historia de omnibus gothorum seonumque regibus) and his brother Olaus Magnus (Historia de gentibus septentrionalibus). Both works had a large impact on contemporary scholarship in Sweden.
During the 17th century, Danes and Swedes competed for the collection and publication of Iceland manuscripts, Norse sagas, and the two Eddas. In Sweden, the Icelandic manuscripts became part of an origin myth and were seen as proof that the greatness and heroism of the old Geats (in this sense, the ancient Germanic tribes) had been passed down through the generations to the current population. This pride culminated in the publication of Olaus Rudbeck's Atland eller Manheim (16791702), where he claimed that Sweden was identical to Atlantis.

Romantic nationalism

During the 18th century, the Swedish Gothicismus movement had sobered somewhat, but it resurged again during the Romantic nationalism from ca 1800 and onwards with Geijer and Tegnér in the Geatish society.
In Denmark, romantic nationalism led writers such as Ewald, Grundtvig and Oehlenschläger to take a renewed interest in Old Norse subjects, and in other parts of Europe, the interest in Norse mythology, history and language was represented by the Englishman Gray, the Germans Herder and Klopstock, and by the Swiss Mallet.


In Scandinavian architecture, Gothicismus had a prime in the 1860s and 1870s, but it continued until ca 1900. The interest in Old Norse subjects led to the creation of a special architecture in wood inspired by the Stave churches, and it was in Norway that the style had its largest impact. The details that are often found in this style are dragon heads, and it is often called dragon style, false arcades, lathed colonnades, protruding lofts and a ridged roof.


Images of the North
Gothicism in Dutch: Goticisme
Gothicism in Polish: Gotyzm
Gothicism in Finnish: Goottilainen historiankirjoitus
Gothicism in Swedish: Göticism
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