Society and Laws

Viking society had three classes- slaves, freemen and nobles. Most of the hard labour was done by the slaves or “thralls”. Many were foreigners captured in war. Wealthy people sometimes had their slaves killed and buried with them. Slaves could be freed. Freemen included farmers, traders, craft men, warriors and big landowners.

At the beginning of the Viking Age, there were many local chieftains (nobles) who ruled over small areas. They were subject to the rule of the “Thing”, the local assembly, were all freemen could voice their opinions and complain about others. The Thing was held once or twice a year.

But chieftains and kings gradually increases their wealth and power by raiding and conquering foreign lands. By the end of the Viking Age, around AD 1050, Norway, Denmark and Sweden were each ruled by a single, powerful King and the role of the Thing declined.

Viking lords and kings made many laws. They wanted everyone to be honest, brave and fair. They hated cowards and cheats. Ordinary Vikings were law makers, too. One day of the Thing was set aside to try serious crimes, such as murder or theft. People accused of crimes had to walk over a piece of red-hot iron or snatch stones from a pot of boiling water. A guilty person´s burns were supposed to get infected, while an innocent person´s burns would heal.


~ by vallepajares on January 5, 2010.

12 Responses to “Society and Laws”

  1. great info and thanks i needed more information for a socal studies project and was have trouble finding anything good. thanks a big one.

  2. thanks this really helped with my assignment thanks alot

  3. this is a crap webiste

  4. Herro

  5. Can you tell me What the “thing” is in a simple form please? I have looked everywhere, but the answers were very complicated.

    • A synonym for the “thing” is assembly. When there was a problem related to the life together, they all met in the assembly to discuss about it, and the lawspeakers pronounced sentence which resolved the problem.

  6. Please summarise the “thing” system. i need to study the society of vikings and i need to know this.

    • The “thing” was the governing assembly in Germanic societies and introduced into some Celtic societies, made up of the free people of the community and presided by lawspeakers, meeting in a place called a thingstead. Today, the term lives on in the official names of national legislatures and political and judicial institutions in the Nordic countries.
      Thanks for using my blog.

      • Thanks that doesn’t explain it all but most, thanks.
        When they say the “king thing” is it when they decide the king or kings meet?

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