Oct 12, 2011

Vikings: Law and order

Icelandic society maintained its stability by limiting violence to acts that could be resolved through adjustments within the network of obli- gations which bound Iceland into a social whole. This network, which focused on local brokers, reinforced an extraordinary governmental order, one that operated with only minimal chains of authority. Iceland, with no governmental executive, functioned without the aristocrats or officials who would have formed a hierarchical chain of command sufficient to provide the society with a policing apparatus. As the only centralized decision-making bodies in the society, the lögrétta and the fjórðungsdómar endorsed the principle that stability was to be main- tained through compromise between individuals rather than through governmental fiat. Even when chieftains were involved, the maintenance of order and the enforcement of judicial decrees were seen as mainly private matters.
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