Icelanders in the Viking Age: The People of the Sagas by William R. Short

By William R. Short

The Sagas of Icelanders are enduring tales from Viking-Age Iceland choked with love and romance, battles and feuds, tragedy and comedy. but those stories are little learn at the present time, even by way of fanatics of literature. The tradition and heritage of the folk depicted within the Sagas are usually unexpected to the fashionable reader, notwithstanding the viewers for whom the stories have been meant could have had an intimate figuring out of the fabric. this article introduces the fashionable reader to the day-by-day lives and fabric tradition of the Vikings. issues lined comprise Icelandic faith, social customs, the cost of disputes, and significant milestones in lifetime of Viking-Age Icelanders. problems with dispute between students, resembling the character of cost and the department of land, are addressed within the textual content.

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Members of either sex who crossed the gender line were, at very least, ostracized by society. Some cross-gender behaviors were strictly prohibited by law. 39 Examples of women using weapons in the sagas are rare. Typically, they did so when their husbands acted in a weak or shameful manner. After the cowardly Eyjólfr óórsarson had killed Gísli Súrsson, he went to visit Börkr óorsteinsson and his wife, óórdís Súrsdóttir, who was Gísli’s sister. Börkr welcomed Eyjólfr and invited him to tell the story of his deed, but óórdís wanted to offer only meager hospitality to her brother’s killer.

Women are often shown inciting men to action when the men would otherwise be content to stay home. Often, women took on this role when the family’s honor was threatened. In Laxdœla saga, Gusrún Ósvífrsdóttir, the wife of Bolli óorleiksson, incited her husband and her brothers to take revenge on Kjartan Óláfsson, Bolli’s beloved foster-brother. Knowing that Bolli was repulsed at the thought of such a despicable act, Gusrún used all the manipulative eloquence she could command to put her kinsmen’s manhood on the line.

Insults were thought to be even more powerful when expressed in verse. 16 Most of these insults related to transgressions against gender roles. 17 In the saga-age culture, cowardice and effeminacy were two sides of the same coin. Effeminacy implied sexual and social impotence. To suggest that a saga-age Icelander was no man, such as suggesting that he was the submissive partner in an encounter, was a mortal insult. ”18 Flosi later avenged the insult by burning down Njáll’s house, killing Njáll, Skarphesinn, and many others in the flames.

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