About Dr Lars Kjaer

Dr. Lars Kjaer works on elite culture in medieval Europe, especially the period from c. 1000 to c. 1300. In particular, he is interested in the role of rituals, hospitality and gifts in the creation and maintenance of social bonds and the communication of status and claims to virtue. He is also interested in the use of approaches from social anthropology to understand the middle ages, and the challenges that this pose. His geographical focus is Western Europe (with a particular focus on England and Denmark).

His work has appeared in the journals Viator, Journal of Medieval History, Thirteenth-Century England and Historisk Tidsskrift. His most recent published work is an article on ‘Political Conflict and Political Ideas in Medieval Denmark’, published in the journal Viking and Medieval Scandinavia.

He is currently completing a monograph entitled The Medieval Gift and the Classical Tradition for Cambridge University Press. Other forthcoming work include studies of culture clash and gift exchange on the First Crusade, the background, family traditions and motivations of the first crusaders, memories of the viking age in medieval Denmark and England, and an investigation of hospitality and gift exchange during the parliaments of Edward I.



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’ research focuses on the challenges and possibilities in using approaches from social anthropology in studying the central middle ages. He has worked on the role of gift exchange and feasting in creating social bonds between aristocrats, and in their struggle to fashion a pious and honourable reputation. Future research projects include the reception of Western European ideas about royalty and courtliness in medieval Scandinavia.


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)

‘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


‘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 medieval history through weekly one-to-one tutorials and lectures.


Teaching Experience

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 (sole lecturer and tutor)

The Crusades and the Eastern Mediterranean, 1095-1291

A second-year undergraduate course (ULIP) examining the history of the crusades and kingdoms established in and around the holy city of Jerusalem. (sole lecturer and tutor)

Britain and the Wider World

A first-year undergraduate course designed by the NCH History Faculty and team-taught. Dr Kjaer lectures on Roman Britain, the Anglo-Saxons, vikings and the Middle Ages.

History and Meanings

As a contributing lecturer and tutor on this first-year undergraduate course on historiography.

Birth of Western Christendom

Sole lecturer and tutor on this first-year undergraduate course examining the history of Western Europe from the Roman Empire to 1200.

History, Heritage and Memory 

A second-year undergraduate course, designed by the History Faculty at NCH and team-taught. Dr Kjaer will be lecturing on classical and medieval ideas about history and leading seminars teaching the art of source criticism.

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.

The Royal Court: Ritual, Culture and Power in Medieval England

A MA course designed by Dr Kjaer. This seminar course explores the role of the court in twelfth and thirteenth-century England and the importance of rituals and symbolical communication to political life in the period.


Faculty Positions

Head of Faculty of History (2016 – present)

Coordinator  of Postgraduate Studies and Alumni Relations (2016 – 2017)

Acting Head of Faculty of History (Summer term 2016)


Dissertation Supervision

Lars supervises dissertations on English and Northern European medieval history, the Crusades, and rituals and symbolical communication.