Medieval history researcher wins prestigious Nordic award

Professor Emeritus Sverre Håkon Bagge has been awarded the Gad Rausing Award for his research on Europe’s medieval history. He receives one million Swedish kroner as part of the award.

Professor Emeritus Sverre Håkon Bagge, University of Bergen.
PRIZE WINNER: Sverre Håkon Bagge was awarded the Gad Rausing Award on 20 March 2015. He is professor emeritus at the University of Bergen (UiB) and headed the Centre for Medieval Studies, which was a Norwegian Centre of Excellence (SFF) 2002–2012.
Jens Helleland Ådnanes

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The Gad Rausing prize is awarded each year to an outstanding Nordic researcher within the humanities and social sciences. The prize, which is one million Swedish kroner, was presented on 20 March by King Carl Gustaf in the Hall of State of the Royal Palace in Stockholm.

“It is incredibly satisfying, as well as encouraging. When you work on research there is always some doubt about whether what you are doing is good enough. It is not often that I re-read what I have written, but sometimes I think it is good, and sometimes I find it not as good. Outside recognition helps,” says Sverre Håkon Bagge, Professor Emeritus at the Department of Archaeology, History, Cultural Studies and Religion (AHKR) at the University of Bergen (UiB).


The Medieval period as a vaccine

Professor Bagge has been employed at the University of Bergen since 1974 and was head of the Centre for Medieval Studies, which was granted status as a Norwegian Centre of Excellence (SFF). He highlights this as his greatest achievement of his career.

The idea behind the centre was that the present transformation of Europe required a stronger look at the continent's past. Not least, this included the period in which Europe was shaped, the Medieval period, when the tension between unity and diversity arose.

“I like to immerse myself in another culture and another way of thinking. There is a great deal that we take for granted today that did not exist at that time. The Medieval period is a vaccine against being excessively pessimistic about our own time. Despite everything, the world is much better now than it was then,” Professor Bagge says.


Pensioner with book plans

Since the expiry of the SFF period for the Centre of Medieval Studies in 2012, Professor Bagge has been retired. However, he is still an active researcher and, among other things, is writing a book about the development of European states. He also continues to work with articles, reviews and lectures.

Professor Bagge has told UiB's internal newspaper På Høyden that he will use the prize money to travel, both for research purposes and together with his family.