• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

viking saga

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

What is the value of The Saga of the People of Laxardal as a source for the historian on feud in Viking Iceland? Even readers who know very little of Old Norse literature will mostly have heard of the Icelandic sagas. The most celebrated is the so-called 'family sagas'. These such sagas constitute a literary genre unique to Iceland and they all have one common denominator: fictional or historical, fantastical or naturalistic, native or translated, religious or secular, they are all continuous prose narratives about the past. For this reason they are a valuable historical source to the historian as they allow a glimpse at the cultural and social history of Iceland at the time. Although sometimes it is hard to distinguish between a fictional narrative and a historical account, they are key to our understanding of how Viking society functioned and progressed, as saga authors relate in a naturalistic, even matter-of-fact way, the day-to-day life of these ninth, tenth and eleventh century Icelanders. The past in which the sagas are set is the first few decades after Christianity, around 1030. During this brief period, Iceland established itself as a nation, and its settlers set up a strong and workable parliamentary and legal system. Iceland functioned as an imperfect but extraordinary precocious democracy, with elected judges and legislators. Essentially, Iceland was a scattered but cohesive community of independent farming settlers, pioneers fighting for survival in the face of harsh climate and recalcitrant landscape. ...read more.

Middle

Gudrun comes to the fore now as the main player in the feud and we are informed of devious acts she instigates in a desperate effort to gain the love and affection of Kjartan once more. Going on the advice of his father Olaf, Kjartan opts not to lash out at Gudrun as revenge. Thinking instead of the wider repercussions of such actions. Nevertheless, the seeds of feud were now sown. Events reach their climax when Kjartan stood in the way of Gudrun purchasing some land from a neighbour. This is an ideal example of feud and legality being interlinked. Here we can begin to see the powerful force of a woman come into play as a central theme. Gudrun is using every trick in the book to try to get a rise out of Bolli. She is incredibly cunning and manipulative and it is worth noting here that, Gudrun is given a huge role in this particular feud and many historians view her as central to the saga's epic themes. To varying degrees Gudrun personifies the proud pagan spirit. These issues have lead critics to believe that Gudrun may have been the author of this particular saga. Much is told of her trying to rally support for a counterattack on Kjartan. She is shown to be very influential as she lays attack after attack on Kjartans masculinity, a huge insult to ones honour in Viking Iceland. ...read more.

Conclusion

In this sense, its principal theme centres on disputes and feuds over lands, marriages, divorce settlements and inheritances that culminate in a violent blood feud. Some, such as Snorri, recognise the senselessness of the feud and its destructiveness to the community. Others, namely Gudrun, place their personal codes of honour and lust for revenge far above communal bonds. From this perspective the saga can be categorized as the tragedy of a passing way of life and a shifting moral and social order. Feud stands at the core of the Old Icelandic sagas. They show how the dominant concern of medieval Icelandic society, the channelling of violence into accepted patterns of feud and the regulation of conflict, is reflected in the narrative of the family sagas. Though all the feuds I have mentioned in this essay vary from each other in many ways, they do, however, have a number of important factors in common. It is by finding these recurring themes in these feuds that we begin to see a pattern form. We can see how they develop, how they can be avoided, how they run their course, and even the far-reaching consequences they embody. While they do contain fictional content, they are still a valuable source of information if we follow the course of their events carefully. They paint for us a colourful picture of what it was like to be a part of vibrant Icelandic society. For that reason The Saga of the People of Laxardal is a valuable source of information for the historian of feud in Viking Iceland. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our University Degree Medieval History section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related University Degree Medieval History essays

  1. A Commentary on the Laws of King Alfred, 871-901 A.D.

    Bibliography. Alfred's Law-Codes, http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/560-975dooms.html D. Whitelock (ed.), English Historical Documents c.500-1042, Volume 1, (London, 1979) J.M. Wallace-Hadrill, Early Germanic Kingship in England and on the Continent, (Oxford, 1971) N. Brooks, Communities and Warfare 700-1400, (London, 2000) S. Keynes and M. Lapidge (trans.), Alfred the Great: Asser's Life of King Alfred and Other Contemporary Sources, (St.

  2. Place-Name Evidence for the Coexistence of Viking Settlers and other Groups in Derbyshire

    This is supported by Townend (2002: 60), who suggests that 'When they [Scandinavians] heard English words and names spoken, they recognised and understood them and inwardly transposed them into their own dialect'. Thus, although there was intelligibility between the two groups, these changes in nomenclature suggest that in the early

  1. Medieval Viking Tactics

    Viking shields were fixed to the ships sides, and wooden figures of dragons or snarling beasts were designed to strike terror into their enemies. Viking Warriors The most terrifying Viking warriors were the berserkers. Since the berserkers believed that they were divinely protected by Odin, the Viking god of warfare,

  2. Were the Crusades a shameful episode in the history of the west?

    many modern historians and there are many examples of this as a motive, such as Baldwin of Bouillon's (one of the First Crusade's most prominent leaders) actions when he left the main body of soldiers with his own army to take over Edessa, a rich and vibrant city in Armenia.13

  1. How has the Popularisation of 'history from below' influenced historians studying US race relations?

    of accounts written by white eyewitnesses, they have largely rejected those accounts written by ex - slaves"4. For example, Ulrich B. Phillips - who in his works of 'Life and labour in the Old south (1929)' stated that "ex-slave narratives in general...were issues with so much abolitionist editing that as a class their authenticity is doubtful"5.

  2. describe the cultural landscapes created by neolithic farming communities in ireland with reference to ...

    All of the above are looked at in relation to how they have contributed to the creation of cultural landscapes. The evidence for Neolithic activity lies in the two methods of pollen counting and in the annual growth rings of trees.

  1. The History and Importance of Chinese Literature.

    Such was his profess at writing. Chinese writers also wrote about historic themes and top of the chart in this category would be ?Romance of the Three Kingdoms?, which was scripted during the coveted Yuan period. Chinese literature was sometimes also based on romantic stories that were meant to generate love and inspiration in the world (Mair, 1994).

  2. The One Hundred Years War

    Her charm brought new assurance into the dismayed army that she commanded to Orleans in May, and it effectively ruined the blockade. On June 12 in Jargeau and on June 17 in Patay, Joan of Arc helped defeat the English.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work