PowerPoint Presentation - Viking Society

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					               Viking Society
 How Do We Know About Viking Society?
 Settlement of Iceland
    – Living Conditions
    – Economy
 The Sagas and Viking Age Iceland
 Social Structure in Iceland
 System of Justice
 Blood Feud
 Family Sagas
         How do We Know About
            Viking Society?
   Archaeological Record
    – Burial sites
    – Imports and exports
   Place Names
    – “-by”                                            QuickTime™ an d a
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    – “Pedersturp”
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    – “-Thorp
   Oral and Print Culture
    – Fluidity of oral culture
    – Greater fixity of print
    – Christianity as religion of   Iceland is major source of
      the book                      information about the Viking Age
   Sagas
    – Wealth of information
    – “Textual” character
             Settlement of Iceland
                                  Isolated settlements of Irish
                                   monks in islands of North
                                   Atlantic 700-800
                                  Settlement of Iceland 870-
                                    – Flleing Harald the Fairhaired’s
                                      Unification of Norway
                                    – 10-20,000 settlers
                                    – Taking of fertile land
                                  Who came to Iceland?
                                    – Scandianavians and Celts
                                    – Chieftains
Thingvöllr: Site of original        – Genetic studies
Althing                           Establishment of Althing 930
                                    –   Annual meeting
                                    –   Recitation of laws
                                    –   Settlement of disputes
                                    –   Least hierarchy in Iceland
      Living Conditions in Iceland
   Living Conditions in Iceland
     – Poor Resources
            Volcanic Rock
            Lack of wood
            Severity of Climate
     – Food
            Dairy farming
            Problem of preservation
     – Clothing
            Isolation
            Relative lack of resources   Typical Viking-age long
   Economy                               house
     – Barter and Money
            Foreign trade
            Domestic agriculture
     – Sources of wealth
            Wool
            Dairy products
            Wood
            Luxury items
                                                   Wool: Source of wealth
Sagas as Historical Sources
                        Saga are the narratives about
                         Icelandic society and its
                         mythology written down in
                         Christian Iceland during the
                         12th and 13th centuries
                        Snorri Sturluson (1179-1241)
                        Sagas of the
                         Icelanders(Family Sagas)
                         – Njal’s Saga
                         – Egil’s Saga
                        Edda Poems
                         – Poetic Edda (Old)
                         – Prose Edda (Young)
                         – Skaldic verse
                        Learned Sagas
                         – Icelanders’ Book
                         – Heimskringla
                        Other forms
 Vellum manuscript       – Legendary sagas (Volsung’s
 page of saga              Saga)
                         – Saints lives
                   System of Justice
   Social Hierarchy
    –   Goði (Cheiftain)
    –   Thingman (Backer)
    –   Bondðr (Farmer)
    –   Slave                                            QuickTime™ and a
                                               TIFF (Un compressed) decompressor
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   The stakes
    – Personal fortune
    – Honor
    – Relative flexibility
   Assemblies
    – Althing (930-1271)                Historical Icelandic Farm Site
            National summer assembly
            Lawspeaker
            Lögrétta
    – Varthing
   Local assemblies of spring
    and fall
    – Prosecution
    – Debt
                 Wergild System
   Amoral but pragmatic
    system based on
   Price of a life
   Legal recourse
    –   Oral law                         QuickTime™ an d a
                                TIFF (Uncompressed) decompressor

    –   Declaration
                                   are need ed to see this picture.

    –   Witnesses
    –   Prosecution
   Advocacy
    – Devolved social system
    – Respect
    – Status
                               19th-century version of
   Outlaw status              Njal from Njal’s Saga
                                             Blood Feud
                                                     Causes of Blood Feud
                                                      – Territorial dispute
                                                      – Murder and blood
                                                      – Dowries and
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                                                      – Satisfaction
                                                      – Mobilization
                                                     Godi and thingmen
                                                      – Rising and falling
                                                      – Restraint in violence
                                                      – Long-term
Outlaw Grettir Asmundarson
from Grettir’s Saga illuistration
              The Family Sagas
                                   Njal’s Saga most famous of family
                                   Themes
                                     –   Honor, fortitude, heroism
                                     –   Farmers and slaves, not kings and
                                     –   Contrast to Epic and Romance
                                   Style
                                     –   Terse
                                     –   Focus on actual social types
                                         (genealogy) rather than psychological
Brattahlíð, site of Eirik the      Typical plot
                                     –   Introduction of daily life in context
Red’s colony in southwestern         –   Conflict emerges out of daily life
Greenland                                      Marriage
                                               Property
                                               Jealousy
                                     –   Tragic consequences
                                     –   Potential for Feud
 Maintenance of “Viking” society in
  settlement society, Iceland
 So What? Relatively undisturbed
  preservation of unique Viking heritage,
  which provides knowledge of Viking period
 Sagas as historical record and compelling
  medieval literature, from which we can
  learn about Viking society
 Insight into Viking-age, pagan society

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