Can Statistics show if the Icelandic Sagas were true?

From Njáls saga: Aasgrim follows Snorri Goði to his booth. Illustration from "Vore fædres liv" : karakterer og skildringer fra sagatiden / samlet og udggivet af Nordahl Rolfsen ; oversættelsen ved Gerhard Gran., Kristiania: Stenersen, 1898.

The Icelandic sagas of the Norse people are thousand-year-old chronicles of brave deeds and timeless romances, but how true to Viking life were they?

The Protocol of Vengeance in Viking-age Scandinavia


Violence, even murder, perpetuated this cycle of revenge. This code of retribution can be broken down further into the following dimensions: the individuals involved, the appropriate actions as deemed by Viking society, and any extenuating circumstances, such as supernatural strength or the wronged party’s reluctance to seek revenge.

Blood Vengeance and the Depiction of Women in La leyenda de los siete infantes de Lara, The Nibelungenlied and Njal’s Saga

The story of the seven infantes of Lara (Historia de los siete infantes de Lara / Historia septem infantium de Lara)

Despite countless manifestations in literature of many traditions and cultures, the archetype of vengeance as a theme is a common and current one

Lawyers in the Old Icelandic Family Sagas: Heroes, Villains, and Authors


Along with the accomplishments of skill in arms and verse-making, many a saga hero is credited with a knowledge of law and legal procedure. Many of these heroes are shown duelling with their enemiesin a series of legal disputes forming a series of chapters.

The Wilderness of Dragons: The reception of dragons in thirteenth century Iceland

Medieval Dragon. Photo courtesy British Library

In thirteenth century Iceland, however, the dragon consists of more than the mere imagining of man; it is a creature that is imbued with centuries of history, biology, theology, and mythology synthesized into an oftentimes wholly logical and other times completely fantastical beast.


Medieval Children

It must be stressed that the concept of childhood is certainly not an easy one. One is tempted to ask whether any generalisations about medieval or modern attitudes to childhood might not pose problems.

INTERVIEW: Song of the Vikings: Snorri and the Making of Norse Myths

Song of the Vikings

An interview with author Nancy Brown on her latest medieval offering: “Song of the Vikings: Snorri and the Making of Norse Myths”.

Gender Roles and Symbolic Meaning in Njáls Saga

From Njáls saga: Gunnar Hámundarson meets Hallgerðr for the first time at Alþingi. 19th  century image

There are many examples in Njáls saga of characters who fail to adhere to their assigned gender role and as a result perpetuate the chain of events that leads the saga to its grisly conclusion.

“Ek Skal Hér Ráða”: Themes of Female Honor in the Icelandic Sagas

Gudrun and the spear - Icelandic Sagas

A major goal of this thesis is to not only interpret the representations of women from these sagas, but also to place these representations in the context of the time and the writers. Icelanders wrote these sagas a couple centuries after the Viking age ended and are based nearly entirely on oral tradition.

Njáls saga as a novel: four aspects of rewriting


Inspired by Njáls saga and Laxdæla saga, the novel Fire in the Ice by American novelist Dorothy James Roberts is one of numerous modern rewritings of classical and medieval literature.

“Ek Skal Hér Ráða”: Themes of Female Honor in the Icelandic Sagas

Icelandic sagas 3

“Ek Skal Hér Ráða”: Themes of Female Honor in the Icelandic Sagas Rivenbark, Susan Elizabeth (University of North Carolina at Wilmington) M.A. Thesis, Appalachian State University, May (2011) Abstract There was a separate and unique code of honor and ethics for women living in Iceland during the Viking Age. What was female honor? Were Icelandic women […]

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