Medieval Scandinavian law

Medieval Scandinavian law, also called North Germanic law,[1][2][3] was a subset of Germanic law practiced by North Germanic peoples. It was originally memorized by lawspeakers, but after the end of the Viking Age they were committed to writing, mostly by Christian monks after the Christianization of Scandinavia. Initially they were geographically limited to minor jurisdictions (lögsögur), and the Bjarkey laws concerned various merchant towns, but later there were laws that applied to entire Scandinavian kingdoms. Each jurisdiction was governed by an assembly of free men, called a þing.

The court assembly, the thing, used the law and heard witnesses to rule whether the accused was guilty or not. There were usually two types of punishment: outlawing and fines. The most common means of justice were, however, fines; the amount varied, depending on the severity of the offense. This system was extremely intricate and the fines themselves, singularly a "mulct",[4] were also varied according to the social status of the accused and/or the victim. Disputes of innocence were often solved by trial. These trials consisted of different tests for men and women. However, as long as the courts were not made aware of the crime, it could go unpunished or was settled outside of legal bounds by payment. There was no written code of law until after the Viking Age, but the code of fines, duels, and disavowing criminals was the standard across the Scandinavian world.