Skip to main content

Parties to court actions in Saga Age Iceland, 930-1030 AD

Neff, C. N (1982) Parties to court actions in Saga Age Iceland, 930-1030 AD. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86062) (KAR id:86062)

Language: English

Download (10MB) Preview
[thumbnail of Iceland.pdf]
This file may not be suitable for users of assistive technology.
Request an accessible format
Language: English

Download (6MB) Preview
[thumbnail of Iceland_vol2.pdf]
This file may not be suitable for users of assistive technology.
Request an accessible format
Official URL:


This study considers the legal and practical factors affecting the right and ability of individuals in Saga Age Iceland (9JO-IOJOAD) to prosecute and defend court actions. It is based on 118 law suits in historical sources and family sagas about the Saga Age which are listed in the Appendices, 96 being outlined in detail and 78 of these being included in Summary Tables. The 12th century laws of Gragas are used as a base for the study of the formal law in the law suits, as there was probably little major development in the law between the end of the Saga Age and the writing of Gragas, although it cannot be relied on for details of Saga Age law. The formal· laws concerning parties to court actions are considered in terms of the responsibility for law enforcement and the duty to prosecute, financial, social, mental, age and sex restrictions on who could appear in court, the right to transfer a 8ui~ and the variations in rules between different courts. . The practical problems faced by1itigants because of abuses of the law by other litigants are considered, including the use of force and violence, abuse of legal process and of trust by godar, pursuit of suits relentlessly to the limit of the law, and acquisition of unjustified wealth by helping others with their suits. The final chapter summarises the evidence for individual equality and independence in prosecuting law suits, and considers some of the historical background to the apparently relatively high degree of concern for the individual in early Iceland. The legal equality and independence of males in litigation is shown to have been quite high, although the practical problems an individual could face severely reduced this, and females appear to have been more restricted in their rights

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86062
Additional information: This thesis has been digitised by EThOS, the British Library digitisation service, for purposes of preservation and dissemination. It was uploaded to KAR on 09 February 2021 in order to hold its content and record within University of Kent systems. It is available Open Access using a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-commercial, No Derivatives ( licence so that the thesis and its author, can benefit from opportunities for increased readership and citation. This was done in line with University of Kent policies ( If you feel that your rights are compromised by open access to this thesis, or if you would like more information about its availability, please contact us at and we will seriously consider your claim under the terms of our Take-Down Policy (
Uncontrolled keywords: History
Subjects: C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CB History of civilization
D History General and Old World > DL Northern Europe. Scandinavia
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of History
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 29 Oct 2019 16:26 UTC
Last Modified: 15 Feb 2022 12:50 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
  • Depositors only (login required):


Downloads per month over past year