What Were the Most Serious Crimes in the Viking Age?

Posted by Ms Elly on

What Were the Most Serious Crimes in the Viking Age? 

The Viking way of thinking was different from ours in this day and age. Although we share some common values with the Vikings, some of the Viking ways of thinking are not considered to be right in our society. In the Viking age, murder was not often a crime. Rather, stealing was a serious crime that the criminal could be abandoned from society. 

Murder in the Viking Age

Killing someone in the Viking Age was no big deal as long as the murderers were open and honest about his deed. For example, a Viking A challenged a Viking B with a duel in public and finally ended up killing Viking B. The killer, in this case, would have to face no severe punishment. Because he was open about his deed (killing someone in public in a duel). The Viking A let the Viking B knew his plan and allowed him to prepare for the fighting in advance. This meant "open" and "honest".

Another case was when the Viking man caught his wife on bed with her fella. That Viking man could kill the fella and had to bring the bloody sheet to the Viking Althing (Viking court) to show that he had killed the fella of his wife. This case would face no severe punishment, either. 

Killing is no big deal in the Viking Age

The punishment for these types of killings was an amount of money which was known as the Viking Weregild (fee of man). The money would be paid to the victim's family. And everything was settled. 

Stealing in the Viking Age 

In our society, we don't accept stealing actions. And neither did the Vikings. But the deed of stealing in the Viking Age would have to face very severe punishment. 

The Vikings believed that the deed of stealing was coward. Because they didn't allow the victim to defend themselves even once. The Vikings liked raiding and pillaging other sites but not stealing. "Raiding" and "Stealing" were two different concepts in the Viking Age. 

An Icelandic saga told the story of a Viking man who was caught in his stealing actions. When the Althing was held, he met the almost-ultimate punishment: abandoned to the forest. The ultimate price was death though. 

A stealer would be abandoned from the clan

The Vikings would abandon a stealer to the woods away from their community

The stealer then was sentenced outlawry and was abandoned away from the community, pushing him to the woods for roughly 20 years. The deed of the stealer was seen as something shameful to the whole family and the whole clan which made him receive no help from his relatives. 

Older Post Newer Post

Recent Articles


Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published