Bloodtaking and Peacemaking: Feud, law, and Society in Saga Iceland

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Overview


Dubbed by the New York Times as "one of the most sought-after legal academics in the county," William Ian Miller presents the arcane worlds of the Old Norse studies in a way sure to attract the interest of a wide range of readers. Bloodtaking and Peacemaking delves beneath the chaos and brutality of the Norse world to discover a complex interplay of ordering and disordering impulses. Miller's unique and engaging readings of ancient Iceland's sagas and extensive legal code reconstruct and illuminate the society that produced them.

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

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226526805
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 12/1/1996
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 415
  • Sales rank: 519,814
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Spelling
Prologue

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

Concluding Observations
Abbreviations
Notes
Works Cited
Index

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 14, 2011

    Buy this Now

    This is a great book. All the insight of a textbook, with the excitement of a novel. Miller does a great job at reconstructiing Icelandic society in an entertaining and engaging manner. He also provides plenty of information for you to continue your studies on the matter.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 10, 2010

    Excellent book for lovers of Old Norse literature

    Bill Miller's book is an excellent resource for anyone who loves Old Norse literature. It doesn't matter whether you are a highly specialized grad student who reads Old Norse or just someone who loves the Icelandic family saga literature and reads translations of them on your own; Bill Miller's book is for you. His writing is easy to read (it doesn't get caught up in miserable, long-winded, academic jargon), but it also provides thorough insight into the world of Old Norse culture. If you want to know about law, blood feud and vengeance, kinship bonds, and many other important themes that pop up in the sagas, this is a great book to have. I don't think I could recommend any other book by a single author that covers so much material on the sagas as well as he does here.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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