Applications open for 2023 entry Apply online now

About Dr Lars Kjaer

Dr. Lars Kjaer works on elite life and culture in medieval Europe, especially the period from c. 1000 to c. 1300. He has a background in social anthropology and is interested in the opportunities and challenges of interdisciplinary research. His book, The Medieval Gift and the Classical Tradition: Ideals and the Practice of Generosity in Medieval England, 1100-1300 was published by Cambridge University Press in 2019 (out in paperback in 2020). He has published articles and book chapters on the history of the crusades, Scandinavian history and political life and elite culture in medieval England. He is currently working on studies of the role of saints and relics in political life in medieval Denmark, the exchange of gifts in the papal court and the troubled place of matter in gift exchange. He is writing a book on political life and thought in medieval Denmark from the eleventh to the thirteenth century. Lars is happy to supervise dissertations on any subject in the global middle ages. He will also temporarily be taking over responsibilities as Head of Art History until the autumn.

Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (2019)
PhD in History, University of Cambridge (2013)
MPhil in Medieval History, University of Cambridge (2008)
BA in History and Social Anthropology, Aarhus University (2007)


Dr Lars Kjaer's Research

Lars Kjaer has worked on the role of rituals, hospitality and gifts in the creation and maintenance of social bonds and the communication of status and claims to virtue in the middle ages. He has also published on the history of the crusades, looking at the background of crusaders and cross-cultural encounters during the crusades. Current projects include a study of the role of religion in political life and the nature of political life in the periphery of medieval Europe, with a focus on the kingdom of Denmark.

Selected Publications


The Medieval Gift and the Classical Tradition: Ideas and the Practice of Generosity in Medieval England, 1100-1300 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019)

Denmark and Europe in the Middle Ages, 1000-1500: Essays in Honour of Professor Michael H. Gelting, editor with N Lund and K Hundahl (Ashgate, Aldershot, September 2014)

Feasts and Gifts of Food in Medieval Europe: Ritualised Constructions of Hierarchy, Identity and Community, editor with A J Watson, special issue of the Journal of Medieval History 37:1 (2011)

Journal articles

‘Conquests, Family Traditions and the First Crusade’, Journal of Medieval History (2019)

‘I Fear Greeks, even when they bear Gifts: The Gifts of Alexios I and the Histories of the First Crusade’, Viator 49 (2018), 25-49

‘Valdemar 2. Sejr, Matthew Paris og den engelske invasionsfrygt, 1240-41’, Historisk Tidsskrift 118:1 (2018), 21-49

‘Political Conflict and Political Ideas in Twelfth-Century Denmark’, Viking and Medieval Scandinavia 13 (2017), 61-100.

‘Tilfangetagelsen af Valdemar II Sejr i Dunstableårbogen’, Historisk Tidsskrift, 113:2 (2014), 342-50 (The Capture of Valdemar 2. The Victorious in the Annals of Dunstable)

‘Food, Drink and Ritualised Communication in the Household of Eleanor de Montfort, February to August 1265’, in Journal of Medieval History 37:1 (2011), pp. 75-89.

‘Feasts and Gifts: Sharing Food in the Middle Ages’, with A J Watson, Journal of Medieval History 37:1 (2011), pp. 1-5.

 Book Chapters

‘Remembering the Vikings in Thirteenth-Century England and Denmark’, Thirteenth Century England XVI (forthcoming)

‘Glory and Legitimation in the Aristocratic Hall’, in Wojtek Jezierski, Kim Esmark, Hans
Jacob Orning, Jón Viðar Sigurðsson (eds.), Nordic Elites in Transformation, c. 1050–1250,
Volume III: Legitimacy and Glory (forthcoming).

‘Cæsar i middelalderen: Cæsars ånd’, in Trine Arlund Hass and Trine Grove Saxkjær (eds.),
Cæsar: manden og myten (Aarhus: Aarhus University Press, 2020), 167-84.

‘Magnates, Rituals and Royal Assemblies: Bogo de Clare and Parliament, Easter 1285’, The Reign of Edward I, ed. A. King and A. Spencer (Boydell, Woodbridge, forthcoming)

‘Writing Reform and Rebellion’ in A Jobson (ed), Baronial Reform and Revolution, 1258-1267  (Boydell, Woodbridge, 2016)

‘Feasting with Traitors: Royal Banquets as Rituals and Texts in Medieval Scandinavia’ in L Hermanson, W Jezierski, H J Orning and T Småberg (eds), The Power of Practice. Rituals and Politics in Medieval Scandinavia c. 650-1350 (Boydell, Woodbridge, 2015), 269-94

‘Rusty Knives, Runes and Vikings: The Valdemarian Kings and the Danish Past a Comparative Perspective’ in K Hundal, L Kjær and N Lund (eds), Denmark and Europe in the Middle Ages: Essays in Honour of Professor Michael H. Gelting (Ashgate, Aldershot, 2014), 255-68

‘Druk, kongedrab og kongemagt i højmiddelalderens Danmark’, in K H Andersen and S Pajung (eds), Drikkekultur i middelalderen (Aarhus University Press, Aarhus, 2014), 127-48

‘Matthew Paris and the Royal Christmas: Ritualised Communication in Texts and Practice’ in J Burton, P Schofield and B Weiler (eds), Thirteenth-Century England XIV (Boydell, Woodbridge, 2013), 141-54

‘Gaver og Gæstebud: Avaritia og Liberalitas i Gesta Danorum’, in P Andersen and T Heebøll-Holm (eds), Nye Perspektiver på Saxo Grammaticus (Aarhus University Press, Aarhus, 2012), 183-213


‘Vi kan ikke undvære gaver’, Weekendavisen (December 2018)

‘Derfor er danske universiteter bagud’, Berlingske Tidende (opinion piece in Danish national newspaper) (July 2014)

‘Professor: privatisering af universiteter er uundgåelig’, Information (March 2014)

‘A Short History of Festive Feasting’, Great British Food (November 2013)

‘Murder at the Feast: Game of Thrones and Medieval history – The real-life Red Wedding’, The Independent Blogs (June 2013)

‘Love Bites: Is Food the Risk-Free Gift?’, BBC Food (14 Feb 2013)


Dr Lars Kjaer's Teaching

Lars teaches ancient and medieval history through weekly one-to-one tutorials and lectures. Lars teaches the following courses at Northeastern University London:

Medieval Europe, 1000-1300: Faith and Power
A first-year undergraduate course designed by Dr Kjaer that investigates the transformations in religious and political life in medieval Europe between the years 1000 and 1300. The focus of the course is the interconnections between these two spheres, religious and political.

From Roman Empire to Medieval Kingdoms, 300-1000
A first-year undergraduate course designed by Dr Kjaer. The course explores the history of the later Roman Empire and the spread of Christianity, before moving on to exploring the fall of Rome and the rise of the barbarian successor states.

Britain and the Wider World
A first-year undergraduate course designed by the Northeastern University London History Faculty and team-taught, which takes in human history from the beginning till now. Dr Kjaer lectures on ancient and medieval history.

History, Heritage and Memory 
A second-year undergraduate course, designed by the History Faculty at Northeastern University London and team- taught. Dr Kjaer teaches seminars on the art of source criticism.

The Crusades and the Expansion of Europe, 1000-1200
Lars Kjaer designed and sole-teaches this third-year course on the background and development of the crusades in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. The course focuses on the forces that shaped the crusades and the cultural encounters and developments that occurred in Europe and the Middle East in this period.

The Royal Court: Ritual, Culture & Power in Medieval England, 1150-1300
This MA depth-study explores the novel ways in which historians are now approaching political life and ideas in the middle ages while also introducing students to the great diversity of primary sources that the period offers.