Bloodtaking and Peacemaking
Feud, Law, and Society in Saga Iceland
People in the saga world negotiated a maze of violent possibility, with strategies that frequently put life and limb in the balance. But there was a paradox in striking the balance—one could not get even without going one better. Miller shows how blood vengeance, law, and peacemaking were inextricably bound together in the feuding process.
This book offers fascinating insights into the politics of a stateless society, its methods of social control, and the role that a uniquely sophisticated and self-conscious law played in the construction of Icelandic society.
"Illuminating."—Rory McTurk, Times Literary Supplement
"An impressive achievement in ethnohistory; it is an amalgam of historical research with legal and anthropological interpretation. What is more, and rarer, is that it is a pleasure to read due to the inclusion of narrative case material from the sagas themselves."—Dan Bauer, Journal of Interdisciplinary History
1 Introduction: The Institutional Setting and the Ranks of Persons
2 Making Sense of the Sources
3 Some Aspects of the Economy: The Problem of Negotiating and Classifying Exchanges
4 Householding Patterns
5 The Bonds of Kinship
6 Feud, Vengeance, and the Disputing Process
7 Law and Legal Process
8 Peacemaking and Arbitration