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Austin Peay State University history chair Cameron Sutt heading to Iceland to give talk on Hungarians during Viking Era

Austin Peay State University - APSUClarksville, TN – Dr. Cameron Sutt, historian, professor and chair of the Austin Peay State University (APSU) history and philosophy department, is traveling to Iceland to deliver a talk on Hungarians during the Viking Era.

Austin Peay State University professor Dr. Cameron Sutt. (APSU)
Austin Peay State University professor Dr. Cameron Sutt. (APSU)

The talk is scheduled for Thursday, April 2nd, 2020 at the University of Iceland in Reykjavik for the Centre for Medieval Studies Lecture Series. 

Sutt is a Middle Ages historian with a focus on the Árpád dynasty which ruled Hungary from 1000 to 1301 A.D. Medieval Hungarian scholarship has largely concentrated in Germany and Hungary proper, but has since expanded.

“Traditionally, medieval historians focus on France and England, at least in the English-speaking world. But the focus is starting to shift more towards Central Europe as an important part of European Middle Ages,” Sutt said.

‘It ties right in with Scandinavia at the time’

Sutt is mostly a “social historian.” He has published works on inheritance practices, slavery and the role of women in Árpád society. In his talk, he hopes to get the story of medieval Hungary out there.

“I just really love medieval Hungary and I think it would be great to just get that story out there,” Sutt said. “This fascinating story of these nomadic Steppe people coming and adapting.

“What’s cool is it ties right in with what’s going on in Scandinavia at the time, these people traveling in their long boats, plundering, settling, adapting and it’s a similar story with the Hungarians but in a different locale,” Sutt added. 

Sutt hopes to discuss two topics in his talk: the origins of the Magyars and the relationship between post-Conquest Hungarians and Scandinavians.

“The theory is basically that they coalesced into a tribal confederation around the mid-700s. They were living on the Steppes, which are these great grasslands that go basically from Hungary to Mongolia, living on horseback, this nomadic lifestyle and suddenly these Hungarian nomads were flung onto or flung themselves onto more settled peoples,” Sutt said. 

These nomads were pushed to the western edge of the Steppes, settling into the last bastion of the plains, Hungary. It was here they adapted and built the Hungarian Kingdom which lasted all the way until the end of The Great War (World War I). 

“The Hungarians adapted, and they became the settled people that had to deal with nomads,” Sutt said. 

‘Theories and ideas change all the time’

Sutt never runs out of material to analyze. New theories crop up from fellow scholars. He hopes this trip will lead to some cross-pollination of ideas with Icelandic scholars.

“What history really is is constantly looking at what we think happened, why we think it happened?” Sutt said. “And there are different theories and ideas that change all the time. It’s a really dynamic field.” 

When it comes to choosing what content to present at his talk, Sutt is approaching it like any other class he teaches on campus. 

“That’s kind of the fun of it,” he said. “In some ways that’s what I like about teaching so much. Trying to figure out how to communicate these things in such a way that the connections make sense.

“It takes a lot of work to actually weed through and figure out what to present. Sometimes you’ll get these interesting rabbit trails that will pop up and if you just follow them you can find some interesting stuff.” 

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