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Viking Age Iceland
Jesse L. Byock
A book that challenges the violent and lawless image of the Viking age and serves as a companion to the Icelandic sagas. The popular image of the Viking Age is of warlords and marauding bands pillaging their way along the shores of Northern Europe. In this history, Jesse Byock shows that Norse society in Iceland was an independent, almost a republican free state, without warlords or kings. Combining history with anthropology and archaeology, this study serves as a companion to the sagas, exploring all aspects of Viking Age life: feasting, farming, the power of chieftains and the church, marriage, and the role of women. With interpretations of blood feud and the sagas, Byock reveals how the law courts favoured compromise over violence, and how the society grappled with proto-democratic tendencies. A work with broad social and historical implications for our modern institutions, Byock's history aims to alter long-held perceptions of the Viking Age.
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