Henriette Hellinger, M.A.

IRTG Baltic Peripeties
Anklamer Str. 20
17489 Greifswald

Room: 1.02
+49 3834 420 3592



Since April 2024: Doctoral researcher at IRTG „Baltic Peripeties“

2023: Participant of „KarriereWegeMentoring“ for female graduates with PhD interest

2021-2023: M.A History and Culture of the Baltic Sea Region at Greifswald University

2021-2023: Student Assistant for M.A. programme „History and Culture of the Baltic Sea Region“

2021-2023: Student Assistant at the Chair for Nordic History

2022: Erasmus semester at Södertörn University Stockholm

2020: Internship at Kulturhistorisches Museum Stralsund

2017-2021: B.A. History / Scandinavian Studies at Greifswald University

PhD project

Bodies, violence, gender roles: Shifting expectations of clerical behaviour in Medieval Scandinavia (working title)

My doctoral project focuses on the expectations of clerical behaviour, largely dictated by canon law and ecclesiastical discourse of the time. While certain desirable behaviours and lifestyles for members of the clergy were known and promoted by the Scandinavian church from its beginnings, there are numerous accounts of clerical misconduct, regular breaches of canon law and even long-term disregard for certain conventions. The reaction of the papacy and papal legates to these incidents varied from time to time, and at times there was even tolerance of clerical behaviour that was explicitly contrary to canon law. While disasters such as depopulation caused by the plague could lead to greater tolerance of the Catholic Church towards its members, political or ecclesiastical changes could lead to stricter enforcement of canon law. The narrative of the clergy as people on the moral high ground seems clearly separated from the accounts of local clerics.

My project examines the period between the full integration of Scandinavia into the Catholic Church and the Protestant Reformation and its integration in Scandinavia. Geographically, the focus is on the regions covered by the archdioceses of Lund, Nidaros and Uppsala (which also includes most of modern Finland). The groups considered are higher and lower clerics, with and without ordination, as well as secular and monastic clerics, the latter including nuns as the only group of female clerics. Clerical behaviour and lifestyle dictated by canon law could include sexual and social behaviour, dietary and dress regulations, anatomical or medical requirements, the duty of non-violence, economic restrictions, and matters of character and piety. In addition to canon law, the records of the Apostolic Penitentiary contain a large number of sources on applications for absolution and penance, including those made by clerics. Monastic orders often kept their own records and registers of the conduct of their clergy. Records between the papacy and local archbishops and bishops, as well as records of papal legates, can provide insight in the Church's tolerance of its members.


"Bodies, Violence, Gender Roles: Shifting Expectations of Clerical Behaviour in Medieval Scandinavia", Vortrag im Rahmen des Annual Workshop | IRTG Baltic Peripeties: Resonant Conflicts. Turning Points in the Baltic Sea Region in Trondheim am 22. Mai 2024.