In a widely known passage of the Vita Columbani (I.27), Jonas of Bobbio introduces the god Woden. This is the oldest mention of the deity in a narrative source. In a very brief chronological arc, two further attestations suggest the new significance assumed by the god in the seventh century. This chapter explores the evolving meaning of Woden up to the the Carolingian period. It suggests that Woden and other markers of barbarism and paganism were not a simple reflection of actual barbarism and non-Christian belief. They were part of a wider repertory of signs and habits used by military elites for self-representation. Following the rise and fall of Woden’s suitability for the barbarian aristocracies from the seventh to the ninth centuries, the chapter frames these evolving strategies of representation in the social and political landscape of Europe.
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