An Annotated Edition and Translation of The Older Law of Västergötland: The Rightless Code
University of Minnesota, Morris
©2018 by Paul Peterson. All intellectual property rights reserved. This edition copyright ©2018 by The Heroic Age. Permissions granted for educational and personal purposes only.
Abstract: The Older Law of Västergötland is the oldest surviving text in Old Swedish and marks the beginning of parchment manuscripts written in the vernacular in Sweden. As a result of its primary status, the law code has received a lot of attention in Sweden, but very little scholarship on the text has appeared outside of Sweden and practically nothing in English. The section of the law presented here in the original Old Swedish accompanied by an English translation comes from the most famous part of the law known as Rætløsæ bolkær (The Rightless Code), where the process of electing the Swedish king is discussed, as well as a passage that mentions the punishment for accusing someone of witchcraft. An annotated glossary of the Old Swedish text and detailed commentary on the translation is provided at the end.
§1. I have translated an important selection from The Older Law of Västergötland called The Rightless Code (Old Swed. Rætløsæ bolkær). Äldre Västgötalagen, as it is known in Swedish, is from the oldest surviving Swedish manuscript written with Latin characters around 1220–1225 AD, and thus it is the oldest preserved piece of Swedish vernacular literature apart from runic inscriptions. The law code was compiled by Västergötland's seventeenth lawspeaker Æskil Magnusson, the older half-brother of Birger Jarl, during his service as lawspeaker c. 1219–25. The material for the text was based on an orally-transmitted legal code established at the All-Geatish assembly over two hundred years earlier. However, it is obvious that some minor emendations to the law had been made by the time it was recorded. The complete law code consists of 19 individual sections, Rætløsæ bolkær being the ninth and most well-known section, both for its description of the Swedish king's election (the entire first part, see below) and its mention of punishments for witchcraft (in part 5, section 5, see below). It is worth noting that the title is younger, although the adjective rætløs is recorded three times in the law. The title in the top margin of the first page of the section (folio 21r) reads retlose bolkar and was added by Johannes Bureus (died 1652), the royal librarian of King Gustavus Adolphus. The precise meaning of the word rætløs remains a riddle in the context of this section of the law.
§2. The text in its entirety is extant only in the manuscript Codex Holmiensis B59, which dates to c. 1280. In addition, there is a four leaf fragment of the text in the manuscript Codex Holmiensis B193, dated around 1220–1225, hence the designation of the text as the oldest surviving copy of Old Swedish. The text in the fragment matches almost identically to the final section of Rætløsæ bolkær, which is only found complete in Codex B59. There are also a few short fragments of Ærfþær bolkær (Code of Inheritance), Iorþær bolkær (Code of [Farm] Land), and the antiquated Heþnalagh (Law of the Heathens) in Codex B193. Attached to Codex B59 is the so-called Vidhemsprästens anteckningar (The Priest at Vidhem's Notes), which were added by a priest named Laurentius in possession of the law book around 1325. Laurentius's addendum lists the kings of Sweden and the bishops of Västergötland back as far as 250 years earlier, and also nineteen lawspeakers of the province (Æskil Magnusson, the presumed compiler of the law code, is the seventeenth in the list).
§3. The Older Law of Västergötland is the first in a series of provincial law codes written in Old Swedish, all which eventually led up to the country's first complete national law code called Magnus Erikssons landslag (Magnus Eriksson's Law of the Realm, c. 1350; see Donner 2000 for a recent English translation). The Older Law of Västergötland is not to be confused with The Younger Law of Västergötland (Swed. Yngre Västgötalagen, c. 1295), a later variation of the same province's law code. In terms of preserved manuscripts of Swedish laws, following the law code of Västergötland were those of Östergötland (c. 1285–95), Gotland (c. 1295), Västmanland and Dalarna (c. 1290–1330), Uppland (1296), Småland (c. 1300), Hälsingland (c. 1320–27), Södermanland (1327), Närke and Värmland (both lost now, but mentioned by Johannes Bureus), and also several city law codes from the first half of the fourteenth century. There exists also Skånelagen (The Law of Scania), but the law code was written in Old Danish (c. 1205–1215) and not Old Swedish. Skånelagen is, in fact, slightly older than Västgötalagen, but historically the province of Skåne, since the year 1658 a part of the Swedish kingdom, had always belonged to the Denmark. Västergötland is the oldest inhabited province of Sweden (though millennia further back), so it is fitting that The Older Law of Västergötland is, entirely by chance, the oldest preserved piece of vernacular Swedish literature on parchment.
§4. Much of the material in the text is noticeably older than its written counterpart, having been composed largely in form and content around the time of Västergötland's first known lawspeaker, Lumbær (or Lumær—the -b- is excrescent), who lived around the end of the tenth century. The laws composed by Lumbær were, no doubt, based on earlier traditional legal codes of the province passed down orally. In his annotations to the manuscript around 1325, the priest Laurentius added the so-called Vidhemsprästens anteckningar, where he said that The Older Law of Västergötland had been composed first by Lumbær. The text in Collin and Schlyter's pioneer edition (1827, 295) reads:
Fyrsti war lumbær. oc af hanum æru lums lagh calleðþ. fore þy. at han sighs. hawæ huxæt. oc gört en mykin loth aff laghum warum. han war föðær .i. wangum. oc þær liggær han .i. enom collæ. fore þy at han war heðþen.
First was Lumbær (lawspeaker) and Lumbær's laws are named after him because he is said to have remembered and composed a large part of our laws. He was born in Vånga and there he lies buried in a mound because he was heathen (translation mine).
Æskil learned and memorized these same laws, relatively unchanged from the time of Lumbær, judging by several of the archaic features of the legal code (even for the early thirteenth century).
§5. Laurentius's addition to the manuscript provides a great deal of the known biographical data about Æskil. His description of Æskil's term as lawspeaker (Old Swed. lagmaþær) and Æskil's qualities otherwise come in the form of excessive praise (Collin and Schlyter 1827, 297):
Syutanði war. Æskil laghmaþðær. han spurðþi innurllikæ. oc lettæðþi all lums lagh. oc annarrær. at nytræ hæfð lanzsins for ælðri. Siðþæn han fan lanzsins lagh. þa huxædþi han þem mæð. myklli snilli. oc syalfsins forseo. han war marghæ wæghæ wæl ffallin till þæs walz. han hafði þa giæff. af guðþi. at han atti snilli mykllæ. fore aðrum mannum. han hafðþi oc clærkdom ærlikæn. iæmth goðþom clærkum. oc iuir allæ lötte styrkti han westgötæ. oc þerræ hofdhengiæ. han war mangnusær sun. minniskiolz aff bialbo. han war mykin maðþær for sic. til aldræ raðþæ oc rætræ. swa at war iuir allæ rikissins höffðhengiæ. Swa sum han war mykin for sic til aldræ raðhæ. swa war oc han goðþær drængær till swærðh oc till alðræ takæ .i. strið. hwat ma iæk nu meræ af hanum sighiæ. vtæn þættæ. at sent föðþes annar slikær maðþær.
The seventeenth lawspeaker was Æskil. He inquired scrupulously and searched for all Lumbær's laws and others that were useful laws to the country's forefathers. After he found the laws of the country he contemplated on them with great wisdom and personal foresight (= he learned them by heart). He was in many ways well-suited for this dominion. He had a gift from God that he possessed great competency above other men. He was also well-educated even compared to good clerics. And concerning all things he supported the West-Geats and their chieftains. He was the son of Magnus furtherMinnisköld from Bjälbo. He was a great man on account of himself concerning all counsel and law, so that he was above all the country's chieftains. Just as he was a man of great account in all counsel, he was a capable man with taking up a sword and all else in battle. What more can I tell about him except that it will be a long time before another such man is born (translation mine).
§6. Æskil Magnusson was of noble descent, and his position as lawspeaker was hereditary. He was born at the Bjälbo estate in Östergötland around 1175 and died in 1227. His father was Magnus Minnisköld Bengtsson, and his younger half brother was the later famed Birger Jarl (c. 1210–1266). Magnus Minnisköld (c. 1150–1210) was a lawspeaker of Östergötland and was the younger brother of the jarl of Sweden named Birger Brosa (jarl of Sweden from 1174–1202). Magnus Minnesköld and Birger Brosa came from the family line that ruled Sweden from 1250–1354 known as Bjälboätten (the Bjälbo Family, Bjälbo being their massive family estate in Östergötland), also sometimes referred to as Folkungaätten (the Folkung family). Æskil was well-known and trusted throughout Scandinavia, and Snorri Sturluson visited him in Skara in the summer of 1219 during his stay in Norway between 1218 and 1220. Æskil was married to Kristina den heliga (the holy) Nilsdotter, the granddaughter of Erik den helige (the holy) Jedvardsson, the king of Sweden from 1150–1160. They had no children together. Æskil lived on the island Loholm outside of Skara, the capital of Västergötland during that time, for most of his adult life and ultimately died there.
§7. Regarding editions of the Old Swedish text, the pioneer edition was produced by Collin and Schlyter (1827). It was the first volume in their complete collection of Sweden's medieval provincial laws (in thirteen volumes, 1–12 being the texts themselves, and 13 the glossary). An annotated edition of the normalized Old Swedish text appeared later by von Friesen (1904). Later, Sjöros (1919) produced a diplomatic and normalized edition containing a faithful rendering of the manuscript text with a facing normalized text; for that reason, it provides the best workable text available. The latest edition by Wessén (1954), which is merely a reprint of the normalized text in von Friesen's edition with minor corrections, was published as a short reader for university students with other Old Swedish materials at hand and lacks a glossary or notes. For my edition I have primarily relied upon the normalized Old Swedish text of Sjöros (1919, 58–69) as the basis for my presentation of the Old Swedish text, but have consulted the the antiquated edition by Collin and Schlyter (1827) for its notes and digital facsimiles of Codex B59. For help with the translation I have consulted Schlyter (1877) for his Old Swedish-Swedish/Latin glossary and Söderwall's Old Swedish dictionary (1884–1918). A Swedish glossary of the text is available in Pipping (1913), although I have found it unnecessary to consult in depth since the other dictionaries proved to be more than sufficient.
§8. Several translations and a multitude of scholarly works exist on Äldre Västgötalagen. There are two notable Modern Swedish translations of the text, one by Beckman (1924), and the other by Wessén (Holmbäck and Wessén 1946). Wessén's translation is by far the best, and comes with a copious amount of commentary as part of his voluminous translations of all of Sweden's medieval provincial laws. Another Swedish translation, though of inferior quality compared to either that of Beckman or of Wessén, is by Otman (1883). The only English translation of the law is by Bergin (1906) who wrote it as his dissertation at the University of Minnesota. Bergin's translation is of poor quality: it is wooden and literal, and it lacks useful commentary. Among the heap of scholarship on Äldre Västgötalagen, which has been written almost only in Swedish, it is worthwhile to provide some of the key representatives as a reference for further study. Before publishing his translation of the text, Beckman wrote an article discussing the history of the law code (1912a), and in the same year his book appeared with much of the same material (1912b). Otherwise, any manual of Swedish history or literature will have some mention of Äldre Västgötalagen due to its status as the oldest Swedish vernacular manuscript.
§9. In terms of the language, Old Swedish should not present great difficulty to those who can read Old Icelandic. It does take a little extra effort to recognize the orthography and spelling compared to normalized Old Norse-Icelandic, but the language is essentially the same and must have been mutually intelligible. The orthography used in the manuscript is also slightly older and closer geographically to Old Norwegian than the dialect of Old Swedish found in younger texts. Hence, the text is, due to its age and location, closer to Old Icelandic and standardized Old Norse than other Old Swedish texts written further northeast (closer to Uppland). A good introduction to the differences in Old Icelandic and Old Swedish grammar and spelling is given in part VII of the grammar section in Gordon's An Introduction to Old Norse (1956, 320–326; the East Norse sections of Gordon's book are on pages 163–193, and Old Swedish appears on pages 169–174). Furthermore, a comprehensive grammar of Old Swedish is found in the second volume of Noreen's German-language grammars of Old Norse (1904), and later in Swedish summary (Noreen 1910). The manuscript preserving the text, however, was written with direct influence from Norwegian conventions, style, and orthography.
§10. I have provided commentary to English translation as needed, and also supplied a complete glossary of the Old Swedish text following the notes. The normalized Old Swedish text is presented so that it may be read first, and then in English translation. Most difficult was deciding whether to use Geats, Geatish, and Geatland (Swed. Götar, götsk, and Götaland, respectively) and the like, as is conventional in English, instead of using modern Swedish. I have opted for the former. In any case, I have attempted to use the variations of English Geat and Geatish consistently, even if it can read awkwardly on occasion. The occasional woodenness of the English translation is due in large part to the original cursory and matter-of-fact style of the text, a typical feature of medieval law codes in general. English punctuation has been added to the original text and the translation in order to facilitate a better understanding of quoted speech and sentence or clause breaks.
Laghbok væstgøta—Rætløsæ bolkær
Law Book of the West-Geats: The Rightless Code
1. The Swedes (Swed. Svear) lived in the northern provinces of inhabited Sweden, still called Svealand, while the Geats (Swed. Götar) lived in the southern part of the country still called Götaland. The historical provinces of the early medieval Swedes included Uppland, Västmanland, Södermanland, Närke, Värmland, Dalarna, and Hälsingland. Most scholars believe that the Geatish kingdoms were eventually taken over by the Swedish king in the early half of the 9th century. Despite this, the Geatish provinces of Västergötland (West-Geatland), Östergötland (East-Geatland), and Småland (lit. "Small Lands," that is, "Small Kingdoms") maintained a degree of political independence during this time. [Back]
2. The phrase has been discussed extensively by scholars who have read the text. The idea, however, is simple; the Swedish king was elected by the Svear, but was ceremonially elected by the West-Geatish tribes at the All-Geatish Assembly. The Geatish tribes had lost their right to elect the king of Sweden, and the election was merely a formality in both Östergötland and Västergötland. [Back]
3. Östergötland represented the eastern half of Geatish territory, whereas Västergötland represented the western half. The king would have traveled down from the province of Uppland to meet the East-Geats at Junabäck, the most central location and intersection of Småland, Östergötland, and Västergötland. [Back]
4. The phrase is clear in meaning, but the verb sændæ ("to send") is missing. The phrase might have been han skal sændimæn [sændæ], but it is not entirely necessary to add the verb. Often phrases in Old Swedish with the modal verb skulæ, here skal, are missing the main verb, because the object already tells what will be done or where one will go (the same is true in Modern Swedish); here it is hingæt "hither." The king sends his messengers to the West-Geatish Assembly while attending that of the East-Geats. The vowel æ in Old Swedish may represent the Old Icelandic, or even Modern Swedish, vowels of a, e, and æ/ä. The intended sound is almost immediately recognized by those who know Modern Swedish or Old Icelandic, and the cognate in Old Icelandic or the form in Modern Swedish usually can be inferred by the context. This is still slightly confusing for modern Swedes accustomed to regularized spelling and the orthography, though if the text is thought of as the Old Swedish language written with Old Norwegian orthography, the confusion should be diminished. The umlauted ä and ö became part of standard Modern Swedish orthography through their adoption in Gustav Vasa's Bible, printed in 1541; the first printed Swedish Bible marks rather neatly the point when German orthography was chosen over the long-standing Scandinavian orthography æ and ø, which remain in Norwegian and Danish. [Back]
5. The verb-adverb collocation gæræ til means "to prepare, arrange," hence my translation "set up." The All-Geatish assembly is that of the West-Geats and was presumably held in the town of Skara. [Back]
6. The lagmaþær meant here is the East-Geatish lawspeaker. [Back]
7. Sunnæn is identical to OIcel. sunnan. It is an adverb, and means "from the south," and my addition of "southern part" is used only to render it better into English (the same with norþæn later in the sentence). These hostages are from the southern and northern parts of Östergötland. [Back]
8. Junabäck is a tract of land in the modern Swedish city of Jönköping. This land faces out towards Lake Vättern and marked the border between the East- and West-Geats, as well as the petty kingdoms in Småland. Juna- (Old Swed. iunæ) is also the root found in the city Jönköping, but its etymology is unclear. [Back]
9. Bæræ vittni "bear witness" is almost identical to English. [Back]
10. The meaning of the word inlændær ("native") is immediately obvious, but its mention is reflective of the Geatish tribes' traditional requirement for electing a king in their individual kingdoms. It is strange that they require the king to be a native of Svealand, since to them he was practically considered a foreign ruler, despite the fact that they had lost their political rights long before this legal code was composed. The statement may be the ghost of a former Geatish legal code stipulating this requirement for their own Geatish king, a common legal requirement in older Germanic societies. [Back]
11. The meaning of the verb næmnæ is "to summon," in addition to "to name." In Old Icelandic, it is the verb nefna. I have used "to summon" because it makes more sense in English, and the implication is that the king will be "summoned by name" at the assembly so that all may hear. [Back]
12. That is, he will swear to be faithful to all the West-Geats. He would have already sworn loyalty to the East-Geats. [Back]
13. The king will be officially declared king of Sweden and ruler of his tributary provinces (among these Västergötland, Östergötland, and Gotland) by legal judgment of the West-Geatish lawspeaker. Dømæ is a cognate of English "deem," but it carries the more specified meaning "to judge (by law)." [Back]
14. By his royal authority the king would have dismissed the charges against three criminals who had not committed serious offences. [Back]
15. The word niþingsværk most closely means "felony" in English. It carries the connotation of "willful wrongdoing and destruction of property or life." It is unclear exactly whether the king would give these men pardon for their crimes or if he would have them executed. Wessén suggests in his note (Holmbäck and Wessén 1946, 120–21, note 11) the possibility that they are put to death, but that only begs the question of why those who have committed crimes of a non-serious nature should be sacrificed. It could possibly be a reflection of a custom from pre-Christian times. [Back]
16. Again, as in l. 1, takæ means "to choose, elect." [Back]
17. Bondær in Old Swedish means "a farmer," but usually one who owns property. It has no connection to slavery or low-status as it does in English "bondsman." The requirement to become bishop is limited to those who were born of free farmers and not the nobility. That he is specifically the son of a farmer, and not a farmer himself, may imply that he would have been away from home receiving an education rather than learning his father's trade. [Back]
18. Sæliæ (cf. OIcel. selja) does not have the meaning of "to sell," as it does in Modern Swedish and its English cognate. It means "to give, hand over," hence my translation, "present." [Back]
19. This particular gold ring is for high-level clergymen. It is a long, finger-length ring, hence the second element -fingrini and not -ringær. [Back]
20. The word vtæn (truly, utan) has remained in Modern Swedish. In the phrase here it is used as a conjunction ("without, excluding") to state the opposite of the previous clause. [Back]
21. The manuscript has the noun as vixlt. The -t was probably included by mistake; the word cannot be a past participle. The noun was spelled vighsl and vigxl in other Old Swedish texts. The whole phrase means that the bishop had been declared legally to be the new bishop by the king at the behest of all the local governments but that he had yet to be consecrated by the Catholic Church. [Back]
22. The idea here is that the king will appoint legal representatives, but the lawspeaker will still be making all the judgments at the assembly. The king, in this regard, was not very powerful in Västergötland. This gives credence to the notion that the title of the code (rætløsæ "rightless") may refer, in part, to the king's limited power in the Geatish provinces. [Back]
23. The phrase is chronologically out of place, since the All-Geatish assembly has already been mentioned, and, assumably, everyone would already know that this is its name. The phrase waxes poetic as well, suggesting that it was composed earlier than other phrases in the text. There would have been no need for Æskil and the laws' compilers to include the statement, were it not for their remarkable memorization. The phrase is a remnant of a much earlier rendition of this particular section. [Back]
24. The verb æt-leþæ implies that a freed slave will be released to his family, if the members of his family are not slaves themselves and are in the country, or that he may also be adopted and welcomed into a new family (or the one which he has formerly served). [Back]
25. In the manuscript, as in many Old Norse texts, the Old Norse term maðr "person, human being" is frequently represented by the runic symbol m or ψ (maðr rune), at least whenever it is in the nominative. [Back]
26. In this text selection alone, there are four words meaning "property, possessions." This one happens to be bo (neuter, identical to OIcel. bú, meaning "livestock, property" but also "farm, estate"), but there is also fæ (also neuter, meaning "cattle, property," the most common term of all for "cattle, livestock, property"), kostær (masculine, usually meaning "condition," but in the text it appears as "property" in the sense of "possessions"), and mark (feminine, meaning "owned land, domains, territory"). [Back]
27. At vfældu is a difficult expression meaning "provided that (he was) not convicted (of a crime)". At takes the dative, hence the neuter dative inflection -u. The adjective vfældær is composed of the negative prefix v- (truly, u-, OIcel. ú-) and the adjective fældær "guilty (of a crime)." Fældær comes from the verb fællæ ("to convict (for a crime), pass sentence on"), and the spelling with a missing -l- and the excrescent -d- is so common in Old Swedish that it eventually becomes ignored. There is also often an excrescent -b- following an -m-, as seen in kombær "comes" (the same as the silent "-b" in English "lamb," "comb," etc.). The expression at vfældu may be understood lit. "at (with the suppressed object "it", meaning "the crime") unguilty." The same phrasing with at followed by a dative adjective occurs soon after as at vsøktu (lit. "at ["it"] unsought [by the law]"). [Back]
28. Throughout the entire law code, deals are sealed by monetary compensation and an oath. Svornom eþe is singular dative, not plural (otherwise it would have been svornom eþum). Oaths are also sworn before bringing a case against someone else to affirm that the case is legitimate and to defend oneself during a trial. Oaths of all types are highly valuable in the eyes of the law and in certain instances may be of greater weight than physical or other verbal evidence. [Back]
29. The term bykkiuhuælpær is the closest Old Swedish equivalent to English "son of a bitch" and is also found in Old Icelandic as bikkjuhvelpr. Bykkiu- (cf. OIcel. bikkja) means "bitch," in the literal sense of "female dog," and -huælpær means "whelp," or in less archaic English "puppy." The meaning "bitch-whelp" is best understood as "son of a bitch," since the motivation behind the insult is almost identical. As with all early Germanic law codes, and indeed with all early Germanic oral tradition, morality and proper conduct were emphasized and highly valued, as this example of legislating a specific insult indicates. [Back]
30. See the glossary for the valuation of this money. As with all such terms dealing with currency or other historically-specific things, no English translation is reasonable or available. For this reason I have used the Modern Swedish equivalents for these forms of currency instead of using even poorer English substitutes. I have used the plural form of örtug (> örtugar), but kept the singular for öre whether singular or plural. For a better understanding of the monetary system and the value of money in medieval Västergötland and the Äldre and Yngre Västgötalagen, see Wennström (1931). [Back]
31. A tylptær eþ is an oath in which twelve men must be present to swear an oath, which is considered valid evidence in legal disputes. The custom comes from even more ancient legal customs and is an integral part of the prosecution and defense in legal cases. The term tylptær truly means "twelfth," but in translation it is better understood as "twelve oath" (that is, an oath of twelve men). The men also function along the lines of "moral support," in addition to their almost ceremonial use in legal disputes. The use of twelve has a long history in Germanic traditions, and this particular practice also pops up in Norwegian and Icelandic law, but even Old Frisian laws (see Popkema 2007). [Back]
32. There is no monetary difference between an vkueþingsorþ and a firnær orþ. Both mean approximately the same thing (vkueþingsorþ is more like "slander" and firnær orþ more like "calumny"), though one is a compound noun meaning "abuse-word" and the other is a separate adjective and noun functioning as a compound noun meaning "nasty word." [Back]
33. The insult is to be understood as an accusation that a man who is free and was born free to his land-owning family is, in fact, a freed-slave. It was considered acceptable behavior to abuse freed-slaves, though not those who have never been in bondage, as the expensive penalty of two marks (in total 48 örtugar = 2 marks) demonstrates. [Back]
34. The phrase may mean two different things. The first option is that the man ran away from his master carrying a spear on his back, as I have chosen to translate the phrase, for the purpose of protection and preservation of his valuable weapon. The West-Geats were renowned for their spears and spear-fighting abilities. The other, which seems less likely, is that the man ran away and was chased by his master and was able to escape danger (that is, a spear pointed at his back with the intention of killing him). Regardless of how it is understood, the accusation was considered a significant crime, equivalent to accusing a man of having been bedded by a man or a woman of having slept with her father. [Back]
35. This is an example of purposeful variation of a repeated phrase. First the penalty's recipients and the penalty are told in complete language, and as the identical recipients are repeated, the phrasing is deliberately simplified as it is internally memorized (one must, after hearing it two or three times, remember the formula). The repetition was probably composed with the purpose of being colorful as well. In section 4, the monetary penalties are followed by the three recipients in their entirety: "that is a three-fold nine mark penalty: nine marks for the plaintiff…nine marks for the king and nine marks to the public." Then in section 5, the penalty is distributed "to each party." Next it is followed by the term used to reintroduce the penalty as "three-fold" (þrænni), then switched to "each third (party)." The rest of the text continues with just "three-fold." [Back]
36. That is, he may not be obstinate to his penalty or its legitimate pursuers (lit. "he comes not at ("it") with no"). In the same sense it also means "to deny (a charge)." The phrase is repeated with a similar meaning, though with a different verb in section 7 as kuæþær ne viþ (lit. "says no at ["it"]"). [Back]
37. That it is an insult punishable by law to accuse a woman of having participated in such specifically supernatural events is curious. Its contents are an example of a legal code punishing accusations of sorcery and magic, while being surrounded by verbal insults of a more worldly nature ("whore," "to have had sex with one's father," etc.). This insult and the next (about a woman being "capable to kill," that is, possessed by the strength of some unknown force so completely as to be able to kill another woman or even a cow) are the only supernatural bits in this section of Västgötalagen. It is particularly notable that the women "ride" the gates of the farm during twilight. A parallel concept is found in Old Icelandic with the noun túnriða (f., meaning "witch," from tún "enclosure, courtyard" plus the noun riða "rider," a word related to ríða "to ride;" tún is a cognate to English "town"). Another similar concept appears in later Swedish folklore with the term blåkulla (meaning "the place where witches meet with the Devil;" blå does not exactly mean the color "blue" as it does in English and Modern Swedish, but more like Old Norse "black, dark, swarthy;" -kulla is a variant of kulle "hill, slope"). The entire phrase is based on superstition, and has been discussed to death by scholars too numerous to mention here. The phrase þa alt var iamrift nat ok daghær means lit. "when everything was equally-ripped night and day," or more intelligibly "at twilight." To accuse someone of taking on the form of a troll or participating in witchcraft was indeed an insult worthy of expensive punishment such as this. [Back]
38. The phrase is found in the glossary to the Collin and Schlyter edition of the law text under the gloss for "mark" with a special comment and in Wessén's note (Holmbäck and Wessén 1946, 127, note 42). The actual value of this penalty is the threefold 16 örtugar fine that is repeated throughout the code and equals 2 marks (48 örtugar = 16 times 3; 24 örtugar equals 1 mark). That the text says "3 marks" is partially explained above in note 35, and that it says three marks instead of "threefold 16 örtugar" is most easily explained by natural variation among otherwise repetitive language. [Back]
39. This is again the twelve-man oath repeated throughout the text, but here the process is given in more detail. Only two men are needed as eyewitnesses, and they swear the truth of their statements (and that of the plaintiff) to the twelfth witness. [Back]
40. The phrase means "his debt," although han "him" is accusative. [Back]
41. It is common in older Germanic literature to emphasize choice and free will of the individual and those involved in reconciling disputes and disagreements, as the phrase illustrates. [Back]
42. It is difficult to translate the phrase and requires some explanation. Ok in this case is merely "and." A ovæn is the combination of the two prepositions a and ovæn and is used adverbially to mean "in addition, to boot" (more or less the same as OIcel. ofan á "to boot, into the bargain"). Thus, ok eþ sin a ovæn means "and his oath to boot." My translation is inferred directly from the context of the previous and following phrases. [Back]
43. The verb meaning "to lend, loan" is lanæ (OIcel. lána), not to be confused with lønæ (OIcel. launa) seen here, which means "to reward, repay (a gift), compensate." [Back]
44. The "seventh-night-assembly" is a legal transaction that avoids bringing a case to an assembly, and instead a makeshift court is held 7 days from the date the charges were initially brought against the defendant. The necessity for 7 days was probably due to the time needed to summon a lower-level lawyer to preside over the case and wait for him to arrive. [Back]
45. In the phrase guþ may be neuter plural (not to be confused with masculine guþ "God"), so this would be a remnant of the law from heathen times (the same expression also occurred earlier in the text). Even though the West-Geats were Christians at this time, Æskil and his recent predecesors seem not to have consciously considered changing the archaic phrase. Hollær (Old Swed. huldær is more common, but it is closer here to OIcel. hollr) is an adjective meaning "gracious, merciful" in the Christian sense and "faithful, loyal, gracious, wholesome, salutary" in the heathen sense. It is a formulaic part of this and most of the other oaths. To render the phrase into natural English, I have had to substantivize the adjective. [Back]
46. The phrase may be understood lit. "…which is worth two öre or two öre('s) better." "Better," in this sense, means "more than." Hence my translation, "…which is worth two öre or more than two öre." [Back]
47. This may mark a legal difference between partial guilt and full guilt for a crime. Later in section 9, the adjective fullær/fuldær also marks someone as a "full" witness (as opposed to a "partial" witness, with less authority in the matter). [Back]
48. The phrase is impersonal, lit. "("one") knows not, who killed ("it", that is "the animal")." Thus, it is best rendered as a passive construction, "(if) it is not known who has killed it." [Back]
49. The need for a book in swearing an oath came with Christianity (as well as books and writing on paper). The book would not necessary have been a Bible, since those were rare, expensive, and seldom owned by anyone outside of the monasteries and churches. It would likely have been substituted with a mass book or any other holy Christian book available. [Back]
50. This is a similar variation pattern to the one seen earlier (see note 35). The same condensed explanation of a crime and its penalties occurred earlier (…søkiæ ok væriæ, sva sum fæ haui fæ dræpit.) and looks familiar (sva sum mælt ær, æn i diki laghi døt; samæleþ søkiæ ok væriæ.). [Back]
51. At the beginning of the sentence, a "thrall" (þræl, m.) and a "female slave" (ambut, f.) are mentioned, but the term for a "household servant" (hion, n., OIcel. hjón) is used here to avoid repetition. [Back]
52. The poetic and archaic e "ever" is used more as an emphasis that those who borrow someone else's slaves are ultimately responsible for them in the eyes of the law. This must be strict for a reason; perhaps slaves "act up" while in the care of someone who is not their master, and therefore the responsibility of borrowing a slave must be taken seriously. [Back]
53. The Old Swedish noun klauæ corresponds to OIcel. klafi, means "harness or halter (for cattle or horses)." Its etymon (*klaƀan) is related to that of English "cleave" ("stick, adhere") and German kleben meaning the same. [Back]
54. This kuesæ is identical with OIcel. qveisa/kveisa and may mean "boil" or "whitlow." "Whitlow" is the condition of having tender feet due to fungal infection, as its relative kveistinn ("touchiness, tenderness") suggests. [Back]
55. The addition on my part can only be inferred from the context. The death of an animal due to overpowering by a superior animal or a disease without treatment (colic or boils) while in a renter's possession surely does not warrant a penalty, and its mention seems to be noting an exception to the laws against negligence of rented property (which is the focus of the entire section). [Back]
List of abbreviations
acc. – accusative
adj. – adjective
adv. – adverb
conj. – conjunction
dat. – dative
dem. – demonstrative
f. – feminine
gen. – genitive
lit. – literally
m. – masculine
n. – neuter
nom. – nominative
numb. – number
OIcel. – Old Icelandic
p. – person
pl. – plural
pp. – past participle
prep. – preposition
pres. – present
pron. – pronoun
sbj. – subjunctive
sg. – singular
Swed. – Swedish
a prep. with dat. on, upon, at, to
af prep. with dat. of, from, concerning, by
afgærþ f. noun crime, offence; afgærþir pl. acc.
aflæsta f. noun remains, remnants (of an animal); aflæstir pl. acc.
aldrægøtæ m. noun All-Geatish, all the Geats
aldær 1) adj. all, every; allum m. pl. dat.; allæ m. pl. acc.; allir m. pl. nom.; all n. pl. nom. and acc. 2) alt adv. completely, entirely 3) alt substantivized adj. everything, all
ambut f. noun female slave
annæn, annæt adj. other, another; aþræ m. pl. acc.; aþrir m. pl. nom.; substantivized noun another (person); annur n. pl. acc. annærs sg. gen., another's
aptær adv. back, in return
asynær-vittni n. noun eyewitness
at 1) infinitive particle ex. at takæ to take 2) prep. with dat. at, to, for, in, about, towards 3) conj. that, so that
atær prep. back
avund f. noun malevolence, hatred
bak n. noun back; baki sg. dat.
bani m. noun death; banæ sg. dat.
barn n. noun child
biorn m. noun bear
biskupstol m. noun bishop's throne
biskupær m. noun bishop; biskup sg. acc.
biþiæ verb to ask, request; biþær 3rd p. sg. pres.; biþi 3rd p. sg. pres. sbj.
bo n. noun livestock, property
bok f. noun book, specifically a Bible; bokær sg. gen.
bolkær m. noun code, section or body of law
bondæ m. noun farmer (who owns land); bøndær pl. nom.
bondæsun m. noun son of a bondsman
bort adv. away
braþæ verb reproach; braþæ up rush out contemptuously
brun m. noun well, watering place
brytæ verb break, violate (OIcel. brjóta)
bykkiuhuælpær m. noun little dog, an abusive insult (cf. English "bitch-whelp"); bykkiuhuælp sg. acc.
byr m. noun village, group of farms; byær sg. gen.
bæræ verb carry, bear; bær 3rd p. sg. pres., bæræ þryt viþ be obstinate, refractory
bætræ comparative adj. better, more than
bøtæ verb be fined; bøte 3rd p. sg. pres. sbj.; aptær bøtæ repay, compensate
daghær m. noun day
diki n. noun ditch, trench
dræpæ verb kill; dræpær 3rd p. sg. pres.; drap 1st and 3rd p. sg. past; drapt 2nd p. sg. past; dræpit pp.; þæt dræpnæ pp. acting as a noun, the slain (one)
dy m. noun mud; dyi sg. dat.
dømæ verb judge (by law), make a judgment
døþær, døt adj.dead
e adv. always, ever, indeed (poetic)
eghæ verb have, own, possess, or have in one's possessions, have right to do something, have an obligation egho 3rd p. pl. pres.; atti 2nd p. sg. past; a 1st and 3rd p. sg. pres.
eigh adv. not
en cardinal numb. one; enum m. sg. dat.
endaghi m. noun an appointed day; endaghæ sg. dat.
eþær m. noun oath; eþe sg. dat.; eþ sg. acc.
fa verb get, receive, be able; far 3rd p. sg. pres.; fæk 3rd p. sg. past; fai 3rd p. sg. pres. sbj.; fars 3rd p. sg. pres., passive construction; fa banæ af get killed as a result
fallæ, faldæ fall; faldær 3rd p. sg. pres.; falz han at reflexive, if he fails to do that, if his case falls short
faræ verb travel, go
faþir m. noun father; faþur sg. acc.
fearføling f. noun concealing of an animal's carcass (related to OIcel. fela "to hide")
fiorlæsting f. noun loss of life due to violent treatment (OIcel. fjör-löstr)
firi 1) prep. with dat. for, before, in front of 2) adv. before
firnær-orþ n. noun wicked, abusive word (approximately equivalent to "calumny")
fiurir cardinal numb. four; fiuræ m. acc.
flytiæ verb move quickly; flytiæs passive construction, be returned quickly
fløghiæ verb jump over, lit. to fly; fløghir 3rd p. sg. pres.
folk n. noun people, folk
fra prep. with dat. from
fram 1) prep. forward, ahead, in front 2) adv. forward, in front, forth
friþær m. noun peace, freedom
fræls adj. free
frælsgiuær adj. freedom-given, a freed slave; frælsgiuæ m. sg. acc.
fræmiæ verb carry out, advance, facilitate; fræmt pp.
fullær, fuldær adj. full, complete; full f. sg. acc.
fullkomen adj. completely arrived, fully come
fylghiæ verb follow
fyrst ordinal numb. first, foremost
fæ n. noun property, livestock, cattle; fæ pl. acc. and dat.
fæk. See fa
gaf. See giuæ
gangæ verb go
gen adv., i gen again
genmæli n. noun contradiction, backtalk
giald n. noun compensation, payment
gialdæ verb pay for (s/t), repay, compensate; gialdi 3rd p. sg. pres. sbj.; gialdæ aptær verb adv. collocation pay back
gisl m. noun hostage, prisoner; gislum pl. dat.; gislæ pl. acc.; gislær pl. nom.
giuæ verb give; giuær 1st and 2nd p. sg. pres.; gaf 1st p. sg. past; giuin pp.
grænni m. noun neighbor; grænnæ sg. dat.
guþ 1) n. noun (heathen) god; guþ pl. 2) m. noun God; guz (guþ-s) sg. gen.
gullfingrini n. noun gold ring
gæf f. noun gift
gærþær m. noun farm enclosure, field; gærþ sg. acc.; gærþi sg. dat.
gæræ verb 1) do, accomplish, perform; giort pp.; firi gæræ kill; gæræ til make, prepare
gæzla f. noun safekeeping, watch, keep; gæzlu sg. dat and gen.
gøtæ m. noun a member of the tribe of the Götar (either Olcel. Gautar, or "Geats" in English), an inhabitant of Götaland; gøtom pl. dat.
haldæ verb hold
halfmark f. noun half-mark (coin) or 12 örtugar
halætagl n. noun horse tail
han pron. nom., he; han acc., him; hanum dat., him; hans gen., his
hand f. noun hand; a hændær against; handæ pl. gen.; i handum in one's hands, in one's possession
handran n. noun hand-robbery, stealing out of someone else's hands
handæ-værk n. noun handiwork. See værk
hanæ. See hun
hauæ verb have; hafþi 2nd p. sg. past; hauir 3rd p. sg. pres.; haui 3rd p. sg. pres. sbj.
hel adj. whole, complete, entire; helt adv. completely
hem n. noun home
hetæ verb be called, named; hetir 3rd p. sg. pres.; hete 3rd p. sg. past
hin pron. the definite m. article functioning as a pronoun he, he who, whoever
hingæt adv. to this place, hither
hion, n. noun servant, houseperson
hirþingi m. noun herdsman
hollær adj. gracious, faithful, loyal, generous, favorable, merciful; holl substantived, loyalty, grace, generosity
hors n. noun horse, mare
hortuta f. noun whore, harlot (a combination of hor "whore" and tuta "tit, teat-like prominence, spout," so that the word is vulgar and means "whore-tit;" cf. Modern Swed. tutta "tit"); hortutu sg. acc.
huar, hvar pron. who, each, every; huarn, hvarn m. sg. acc.; hvart n. sg. acc.
huggæ verb cut, chop (cf. English "hew," "hack"); huggær vp 3rd p. sg. pres., cuts up, cuts apart
hun, hon pron. she; hanæ sg. acc.
hus n. noun house
hvarti conj. neither; hvarti…ællær neither…nor, either…or
hvat pron. what; hvat hældær whether
hældær comp. adj. rather
hæstær m. noun horse; hæst sg. dat.
høræ verb hear
i prep. with acc. and dat. to, towards, at, in
iak pron. nom., I; mik acc., me; mær dat., me; min, mit gen., my
iamriftær adj. equally divided, equally torn; iamrift n. sg. acc.
iki adv. not. See eigh
in prep. in, inside
inlandær adj. native to the country, thus possessing political rights
Iunæbækkær proper noun Junabäck, a tract of land outside of Jönköping on Lake Vättern dividing the city by a brook facing towards the lake
kallæ verb call someone something, declare; kallær 3rd p. sg. pres.; kallæþi 2nd p. sg. past
kirkia f. noun church; kirkiu sg. dat.
klauæ m. noun halter, fork in a cow or horse harness (OIcel. klafi); klaui sg. dat.
ko f. noun cow
komæ verb come; kombær 3rd p. sg. pres.; kombæ ne viþ deny a charge in an obstinate manner
kona f. noun woman; kono sg. dat.
konongær m. noun king, the king (even without definite suffix); konong sg. acc. and dat.; konongs sg. gen.
kostær m. noun property, possessions
kræviæ verb with gen. demand, claim; krævær 3rd p. sg. pres.
kuesæ f. noun whitlow (felon), boil (OIcel. kveisa)
kuiþgrind f. noun farm enclosure, walls to enclose livestock; kuiþgrindu sg. dat.
kunnæ verb be able to
kuæþær See qvæþæ
lagh n. noun, always n. pl., law, laws; laghum pl. dat.
laghæ indeclinable adj. legal
laghbok f. noun law book, book of law
lagmaþær m. noun lawspeaker, lit. lawman
lan n. noun something borrowed, loan; lani sg. dat.
land n. noun land, country; landi sg. dat.
landi m. noun landsman, countryman from same province; landæ pl. acc.
lanæ verb loan, lend; lanær 3rd p. sg. pres.
latæ verb let, allow, have done; latæ bæræ have brought forth latæ gæræ have something prepared
lauarþær m. noun master, lord; lauarþi sg. dat.
leghæ verb rent, hire (OIcel. leiga); leghir 3rd p. sg. pres.
leþæ verb lead, be led
liggiæ verb lie; liggi 3rd p. sg. pres. sbj.; laghi 3rd p. sg. past
lotær m. noun equal part, party; lot sg. acc.
lysæ verb make known, proclaim
læggiæ verb put, place, lay (causative form of liggiæ); læggær 3rd p. sg. pres.; læggiæ fram present, bring forward, lit. lay in front of; læggi fram 3rd p. sg. pres. sbj.; laght fram pp.
læstæ verb maim, mutilate, cause injury; læstir 3rd p. sg. pres.
lææ verb loan out, let borrow; læþi 3rd p. sg. past
lønæ verb recompense, reward, repay
løpæ verb run; løpær 3rd p. sg. pres.
løsharæþær adj. loose-haired; løsharæþ f. sg. acc.
løsæ verb to release, be released, lit. to loose
maghæ verb may, be able to; ma 3rd p. sg. pres.
mal n. noun case; mali sg. dat.
mark 1) f. noun a mark (of silver), 8 öre or 24 örtugar equal one mark; mærkær pl. acc.; markum pl. dat. 2) f. noun domains, land property; marku sg. dat.
maþær m. noun man, a person, someone; man sg. acc.; manni sg. dat.; manz sg. gen.; mæn pl. nom. and acc.; mannum pl. dat.; mannæ pl. gen.
meræ adj. indeclinable more
min, mit. See iak
miskun f. noun (from Latin) grace, mercy
motæ prep., a set phrase, til motæ acting as a verb, meet
moþir f. noun mother; moþor sg. acc.
myrþæ verb kill, murder; myrt pp.
mælæ verb tell, relate; mælt pp.
mær. See iak
mæri f. noun mare, female horse
mæþ 1) prep. with dat. with, by, regarding 2) adv. as well, in addition
mæþæn conj. while
nam n. noun pledge for a debt
nat f. noun night
ne adv. no
nekuæþi n. noun denial, lit. nay saying; nekuæþum n. pl. dat.
niv cardinal numb. nine
niþingsværk n. noun a serious offense
nokor pron. m. sg. nom., some, any, someone; nokon m. sg. dat., any
norþæn adv. from the north
nu adv. now, at the present
num conj. unless, except (OIcel. nema)
nytæ verb make use of, derive benefit from; nyti 3rd p. sg. pres. sbj.
næmd f. noun committee of twelve men
næmnæ verb name, summon (OIcel. nefna)
næmæ verb take a pledge for a debt
nøt n. noun cattle
ofæfli n. noun superior, overwhelming or uncontrollable force (OIcel. ofrefli)
ok 1) conj. and, but 2) adv. also
or prep. out of
orþ n. noun word (often n. pl.)
ovæn prep. from above, down; figuratively, from the northern areas down to the southern ones
ovæn a prep. used adverbially in addition, together with, to boot
oxi m. noun ox; oxæ sg. dat.
præstær m. noun priest; præst sg. acc.
qvæþæ verb say; qoþ 3rd p. sg. past; kuæþær 3rd p. sg. pres.; qvæþæ ne viþ deny, say no to
ran n. noun robbery; rani sg. dat.
reþæ 1) verb ride; ret 2nd p. sg. past 2) verb prepare; reþæ vætti prepare a witness who was present during an incident
rinnæ verb run; rant pp.
rænæ verb rob; rænir 3rd p. sg. pres.
rætløs adj. rightless, without rights? (not attested in Old Swedish, but reconstructed here)
rætmæli n. noun legal right, often n. pl.
rætær adj. right, lawful, proper
sa. See sighiæ
sak f. noun penalty, charge, case, offence; sakum pl. dat.
saksøke m. noun prosecutor, plaintiff (usually the same person)
samæleþ adv. likewise, in the same way
sandær adj. responsible for something; lit. true (to something)
sighiæ verb say, tell, dictate; sighir 3rd p. sg. pres.; sa 1st p. sg. past
sik reflexive pron. himself, for himself; sær dat.
sin, sit possessive pron. his, her, its; sinum pl. dat.; sinni f. sg. dat.
siunættingær m. noun seventh-night-assembly, a day set aside seven days forward upon which a legal assembly will be prepared; siunætting sg. acc.; siunættingi sg. dat.
siþæn adv. afterwards, then, next
skaþi m. noun harm, injury, damage; skaþæ sg. dat.
skiliæ vm verb be in disagreement
skiptæ verb divide, arrange, separate, exchange
skulæ mod. verb shall, should, will; skal 3rd p. sg. pres.; skulu 3rd p. pl. pres.
skyld f. noun debt, due; skyldinæ sg. acc., plus the post-posed definite article, the debt; han skyld fixed construction, the debt to him, his due
skyrskutæ, skirskutæ verb to submit to judgement, proclaim before witnesses (OIcel. skýrskota); skyrskutær 1st p. sg. pres.
sokn f. noun legal case
spiut n. noun spear
stafær m. noun bishop staff, crozier; staf sg. acc.
standæ verb stand; standæ i stand together with
stingæ verb sting, stab; stingær vt 3rd p. sg. pres., stabs out
stiælæ verb steal; stiæl 3rd p. sg. pres.
strykæ verb stroke; strukit fra sær pp., had an abortion, forced a miscarriage, lit. stroked from herself (probably by means of pressure)
styld f. noun theft
sum 1) conj. as 2) pron. who, which, that, as
sunnæn adv. from the south
sva 1) adv. as such, so, in this manner 2) conj. so, in order that
svaræ verb answer for, be responsible for; svari 3rd p. sg. pres. sbj.
sveæ m. noun a member of the tribe of the Svear, an inhabitant of Svealand; svear m. pl., Svear (Swedes)
svorn pp. adj. sworn; svornom m. sg. dat.
sværiæ verb swear
syndæ-mal n. noun sinful speech, sinful way of speaking; syndæ mal n. pl.
synær adj. visible, within eyesight
syniæ verb be denied, refused; syns 3rd p. sg. pres. with passive construction
sækæ verb with reflexive be liable for a fine (OIcel. sekja-sk); sæki sik 3rd p. sg. pres. sbj.
sæliæ verb give, hand over, deliver
sændimaþær m. noun messenger sændimæn pl. acc.
sær. See sik
særþæ verb bed, have sex with (used passively to suggest male homosexuality); sarþ 3rd p. sg. past
sætiæ verb appoint
sætt f. noun reconciliation of a suit, conciliation; sættum pl. dat.
sæx cardinal numb. six
sæxtan cardinal numb. sixteen; sæxtanørtug m. pl. acc. 16 örtugar
søkiæ verb search, seek prosecution, indict someone for a crime; søkiæ til take up a case against
takæ verb take, choose, be taken, be elected; takær 3rd p. sg. pres.; taki 3rd p. sg. pres. sbj.; takin pp.; taknir pl. pp.; takæ viþ verb/adv. collocation receive
talæ verb tell, relate
tapas verb passive form of tapæ, be lost
til 1) prep. with gen. to, at, for, of (often with a suppressed object, 'at ("it")' 2) adv. moreover, again, too
tolf card. numb. twelve; tolf mannæ eþe an oath of twelve men
trolekær adj. faithful, loyal; trolekæn m. sg. acc.
trolz-hambær m. noun the form or shape of a troll; trolz ham sg. acc.
tver, tvar cardinal numb. two; tva m. sg. acc.; tvæggiæ m. sg. gen.; tvem m. pl. dat.
tvægildi n. noun double compensation
tylpt ordinal numb. twelfth, in a count of twelve, the twelfth (witness)
tylptær-eþær m. noun twelve men's oath, an oath of twelve men
vald n. noun power, rights; valdær sg. gen.
valdæ verb advise, settle
vangømsla f. noun carelessness, negligence (OIcel. vangeymsla); vangømslo sg. dat.
varghær m. noun wolf; vargh sg. acc.; varghi sg. dat.
varþnæþær m. noun custody, keep, care, ward; varþnæþi sg. dat.
varþæ verb take care of, be responsible for; varþær 3rd p. sg. pres.
vatn n. noun water
vatt f. noun the twelve men who took an oath as witnesses; vat sg. dat.; vattum pl. dat.
væstgøtæ m. noun inhabitant of Västergötland; væs[t]gøta pl. gen.
vetæ 1) verb do; vetir 3rd p. sg. pres.; vette 2nd p. sg. past; vetæ fearføling conceal an animal's carcass 2) verb know; vet 3rd p. sg. pres.
vfældær adj. not guilty or convicted of a crime; vfældu n. sg. dat.
vgilt adj. uncompensated
viliæ noun will, way, desire
viliæ verb want, wish; vil 3rd p. sg. pres.
visæ verb summon
vittni n. noun witness; vittnum m. pl. dat.
vittnismaþær m. noun witness
vitæ verb demonstrate, show, prove, attest
vixl f. noun consecration
viþ 1) prep. with dat. at, to, with (often with a suppressed object, 'at ("it")' 2) adv. to this, at this
vkuæþingsorþ n. noun abusive word (approximately equivalent to "slander")
vm prep. with dat. about. See also skiliæ vm
vp, up prep. up, upon
vrakæ verb drive, carry out, accomplished, perform (Icel. reka)
vræzviliæ m. noun wrathful anger, wrath (Old Swed. vreþsvili)
vsøktær adj. without legal reason; usøktu n. sg. dat.
vtæn prep. and conj. except, without, unless
væriæ verb defend; væriæ sik defend oneself; væri 3rd p. sg. pres. sbj.
værk n. noun work, act, deed, accomplishment, often n. pl.; værkum pl. dat.; værki sg. dat.
værræ comparative adj. worse than, worth less than
værþæ verb happen, be; værþær 3rd p. sg. pres.
værþær adj. worth (a certain amount of money); vært n. sg.
væræ verb be, exist; ær 1st and 3rd p. sg. pres.; æm 1st p. sg. pres. (archaic, comes from earlier language used in the law code and is preserved in the text); æst 2nd p. sg. pres. (archaic, as for æm); varu 3rd p. pl. past.; æru 3rd p. pl. pres. (OIcel. eru); væræ til be present
vætti m. noun a witness who was present at an incident for which he is being called to testify
þa adv. then, at that time, when
þer pron. they; þem acc. and dat., them
þerre. See þæn
þerræ possessive pron. gen., their
þin, þit possessive pron. your; þinæ f. sg. acc.
þing n. noun assembly, meeting, meeting place; þings sg. gen.; þingi sg. dat.
þingæt adv. to that place, thither
þiufnæþær m. noun stolen item, goods stolen
þiuuær m. noun thief
þrir, þrer cardinal numb. three; þrim dat.
þriþiungær m. noun three equal parts, thirds; þriþiung sg. acc.
þrytær m. noun obstinacy, stubbornness, defiance (OIcel. þrjótr); þryt sg. dat.. See bæræ þryt viþ
þræl m. noun thrall, slave
þrænnær m. noun three-fold (OIcel. þrennr); þrænni sg. dat.
þu pron. you; þik acc. you; þær dat. you
þylik adj. such, such things, lit. this-like
þæn, þæt dem. pron. this, that, the, he, she, it; þy m. dat., this; according to this, for this reason (OIcel. því); þerre f. sg. dat.; þæs n. sg. gen.
þær adv. there
þæssi n. dem. pron. pl. nom. and acc. these
þættæ n. dem. pron. sg. nom. this, that; þæssu dat.
ællær conj. or, else
æltæ verb drive (an animal); æltir 3rd p. sg. pres.; ælti 3rd p. sg. past
æm, ær, æru, æst. See væræ
æn conj. 1) and, but, when, if 2) than (in a comparative construction)
ængin pron. no one, none
ær 1) conj. when, if 2) relative pron. who, which, where
ætboren adj. born into one's original family, a free peasant
ætleþæ verb bring freed slaves to the families that will adopt them, lit. lead to family
øghæ n. noun eye
ørtogh m. noun a coin of which three equaled one öre, and 24 equaled a mark; ørtoghæ sg. acc.; ørtoghær, ørtoghor pl. acc.
ørær m. noun an öre (usually in the form of a coin), an eighth of a mark; øræ sg. and pl. acc. ørom pl. dat.
østgøtæ m. noun an inhabitant of Östergötland
Østrægøtland n. place name modern Östergötland (East-Geatland), a province in southern Sweden
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Last Modified: 03-Oct-2018