Norse Trade, more Bang for the Buck

For as long as history can trace, the Norse have been well known as great traders. Their trade reach extended all the way to the Far East, through Russia and the Black Sea, to the Middle East. Regular trade thrived throughout Europe and in the Mediterranean. The Volga trade route along the Volga River connected Norse tradesmen all the way to the southern shores of the Caspian Sea to trade with Muslim countries, sometimes as far as Baghdad through the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers trade routes. The reach of the…

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Weregild – A Slayer’s Debt to the Kindred of the Slain

Weregild was a monetary value placed on every being and every piece of property owned. If property was stolen or someone was injured or killed, the guilty person would have to pay a restitution to the victim’s family or to the owner of the property.  This was called, weregild. Weregild (also wergild, wergeld, weregeld)  means ‘man price’, ‘man-debt’, or ‘man-money’. The noun ‘were-gild’ is composed of ‘were‘, meaning ‘man’; and ‘gild or geld‘, meaning ‘payment or fee.’  Weregild is an amount of money fixed as compensation for the murder or disablement of a person, computed on…

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Norse Law – the Vikings had a ‘Thing’ for it

Law and order is a necessity among all civilized people in order to peacefully live amongst each other. The Norse, like all other people, made their own laws to uphold peace and justice between them. At a gathering, they made their laws and passed their judgments on the law breakers at an assembly called the Thing. The Thing (þing) was a public assembly of which all freemen would have a say in the governance of the land and people. The old Norse clans formed the Thing as a balancing structure…

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The Norse Social Class System of the Viking Age

The Norse had a social class structure to their society. They had kings, priests, jarls and lords, freemen and slaves (thralls). Before the formal organization of the Scandinavian countries, the Norse were considered as a single people consisting of various family clans. Nordic society was set and organized with a deliberate means to the ends. Norse social stratification was layered like most other cultures of the World. The Kings and royal families were at the very top of the class structure. Kings were generally placed and chosen by birth, as…

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Criminal Profiling, the Vikings did it first

The Vikings earned a reputation as highly aggressive raiders who ravished Europe in the Early Middle Ages. But how were these highly aggressive men controlled when they returned to their homelands? A researcher from the University of Aberdeen suggests this was a problem that Viking societies themselves were deeply concerned about. So much so that they took on the role of early criminal profilers that drafted descriptions of the most likely trouble-makers. Dr Tarrin Wills from the Center for Scandinavian Studies has examined early Icelandic literature and discovered that its authors pinpointed…

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Viking Duels

The Vikings settled disputes by Holmgang, a Viking Duel. The Norse upheld a legal system much like courts, but not everything could be settled by talks and negotiation. This is when justice demanded the blood of another. A Holmgang was a duel and a commonly recognized way to settle disputes by the Norse. The word “holmgang” translates to “Island Walk” which refers to a hide or cloak which was about three meters long on each side that was staked to the ground of which was the boundaries that the participants…

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