The Vinland Sagas: The Norse Discovery of America Themes

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Medieval Norwegians had an unusual penchant for exploration. Most medieval communities were composed of serfs with few life prospects. The vast majority of Europeans would rarely leave their city-states, much less their countries. Widespread emigration not forced by conquest or circumstance is a phenomenon much more characteristic of later centuries. One impressive feature of the Vinland Sagas is the presentation of Norwegian and Icelandic elites as bold explorers long before their time, possessing a degree of individuality largely unknown during their time period.

This individualism was particularly striking in Medieval Iceland, which had no formal state to speak of and was instead ruled by a group of loosely affiliated chieftains whose jurisdictions of judgment overlapped. The peace was enforced by a system of outlawry, declared by particular assemblies and voluntarily respected by others. It was through this system, in fact, that Eirik the Red...

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This section contains 858 words
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Buy The Vinland Sagas: The Norse Discovery of America Study Guide
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