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The Bayeux Tapestry Story
Differences between viking life and the 21st century
Viking Community and Lifestyle
Viking runes and language
A Short Biography on Leif Ericson
1066 Battle of Hastings
Follow the Viking Language
The Viking Berserker
Harald Hardrada-George & Isaac
Viking Crime and Punishments
Viking's Religion and Beliefs
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Viking Crime and Punishments
Vikings crime and punishment
If the Vikings believed someone committed a crime, they had to stand a trial. Women had to pick hot stones out of boiling water and men carried red, hot, burning iron for a short distance. If they dropped the stones or the iron they were accused to be guilty. If you achieved your task you had your wounds cleaned up and dressed. When a week passed, their wounds were examined, and if they were healing they were innocent and if they weren’t then they were guilty. Their fate was decided by the
. The thing was a meeting where there punishment would be decided. (See more below) The criminal would have to pay a mulct, degraded to be a slave or could even be banished from the land. If you were an outlaw, anyone could kill you without risk of being prosecuted. Vikings believed they were worth money, some more than others. They were called
. The higher rank Vikings were worth more than peasants.
The thing was a meeting where they decided their criminal punishment. The ‘meeting ’ as such began by the “lovsigemann” which in English means ”the law reader man” reading out the law which he learnt off by heart so no person could change it. Lots of things would happen at the thing, a new king would be elected, people’s fate would be decided,
laws were confirmed, conflicts solved, judgments awarded
or even to share ideas about fishing or hunting. All the free men, women and disabled were required to be present at the thing unless they farmed alone and couldn’t leave their farm unattended.
However, at the Murder-Thing, the King-Thing and the Census-Thing everyone was required to show up.
Every free man was required to respect the law, even the chieftains and the king! The richest farmer or the chieftain of the town would get a higher rank in the ‘thing’ and would naturally become the custodian of law and order. Which meant he could for example, help people who were entitles to recover damages awarded at a ‘thing’ dispute? For instance, he could force the party who lost the dispute to pay his mulct as required. The ‘thing’ was a democratic constitution and these common-meetings would often last several days .Therefore, the ‘thing’ was also an occasion for a large marketplace at which the Vikings exchanged news and products. The ‘thing had no buildings. Therefore, it was outdoors and visitors could bring tents with them. Disputes between families that had not reached an agreement were brought to the thing to be resolved.
Things were harsher back in the Viking times. If they broke the law they would have to go through a set of severe punishments. It would have been horrible, and then they would have had to pay a fine or become a slave or even be outlawed. These days you just got to jail for a period of time or even for your whole life depending on the crime. You don’t get physically hurt, but you do have to stand a trial, but this trial is in a court room. Where you speak and decide things without being punished severely, with pain conflicted. These days there are jails, back then they didn’t have any jails, so they used punishments involving pain.
In the Viking times people would get killed, and there would be a punishment. If you were the murderer you would say that the punishment is too much to pay for one person’s life. But if you were the victim’s family you would say that the punishment is not high enough, you’ve just lost a family member and there goes a worker too and you’d think you couldn’t support yourselves, so you’d say that the price isn’t high enough. However if you were the murderer’s family you’d think why do we have to pay for something someone else did and you wouldn’t want to pay it. If you were the one giving out the punishment you’d say that the criminal got what he deserved and so did his/her family.
The gula-thing included only the areas from
Jæren to Stadt. Later in the 9th and 10th centuries Agder in the south and Sunnmøre in the north were included. Later, in the Middle Age, Hallingdal and Valdres were included as well.
In the Gula-thing it is said that if you murder a freeholder you had to pay a mulct of 189 cows, if one cow is estimated to be $1430 US dollars. Then the total would be $270270 US dollars. The murderer’s family had to pay a mulct to.
The murderer’s mulct:
US $ 146 300
the murderer’s brother mulct:
US $ 52 300
the murderer’s uncle (father’s side of the family) mulct:
US $ 14 300
the murderer’s nephew (father’s side of the family) mulct
: US $ 28 300
the more distant relations had to pay mulcts from
US $ 230 to US $ 6 150
If you got into a fight in the Viking times when the Gula-Thing was around and cut off a body part you would have to pay:
The mulct for one cut off thumb:
US $ 13 710
The mulct for one cut off forefinger:
US $ 4 570
The mulct for one cut off middle finger:
US $ 4 570
The mulct for one cut off ring finger:
US $ 3 430
The mulct for one cut off little finger:
US $ 1 140
The mulct for one cut off hand which still is sticking:
US $ 66 430
The mulct for one cut off hand or foot:
US $ 132 860
The mulct for one cut off hand and foot:
US $ 265 710
By Jazmyn Worrell and Cassandra Vong
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