Lesson 12 - Blood, Feud, and Honor.

Komið þið sæl,

Note: [If you have not done so already, check out last week’s lesson. Visit “Viking History” on my blog to view all of the lessons.]

Last week we discussed the ideal system of law in Viking Age society. Yet, that is just the surface of the system that actually existed. Although not directly related, feud was the true process for obtaining justice. Law was merely a phase that most feuds would go through. This lesson aims to shed light on how justice was truly obtained, how honor governed all things within society, and how blood was the answer when honor was violated.

This is an area of Viking history with a good amount of complicated elements. I am going to attempt to simplify and condense it, but if there are any questions, I will happy answer them with greater, isolated detail.


  1. Defining a “feud”
  2. The Economy of Honor
  3. Vengeance
  4. Peace

Defining a “feud”

Characteristics of the feud process:

  1. Feud is a hostile relationship between two groups.
  2. Involved groups that can recruit in various ways (household, clientage, etc.)
  3. Violence is controlled and scaled, generally remaining between the involved groups.
  4. Collective liability (one person getting killed meant that any person from the other group could be killed in return).
  5. A notion of exchange (my-turn/your-turn).
  6. Score is kept.
  7. Honor as prime motivator.
  8. Governed by social norms (a well defined process).
  9. Culturally acceptable means of settlements and hostility.

Feud was frequently moral, often judicial, and always political. It was moral when social norms are violated (seating arrangements, gift giving, etc.). It was judicial when involving settlement and legal action (the law phase). It was political because it is the primary exchange of power and influence. Feud was far more than vengeance-killing alone. There is also no specific term for feud; it was a process not an institution.

The Icelanders did have a model for feud though, and it takes the vocabulary of gift giving and inverts it. Score is kept and a gift (or killing) is returned with another. Feud took place between people of relatively equal status and resources. It generally did not cross social strata and such conflict would be perceived differently. Those below the middling farmer could not afford to feud. Supporters who died in feud did not spark feuds themselves, because they were a part of the feud between the big men. Feud was not always the first course of action either, of course. If terms were good, matters settled quickly. Yet even settlement was not automatic and feud was never too far away.

Counsel was a major role in the feud process. Not seeking out advice from kin was seen as disrespectful and something that would lead to disaster. After all, kin were effected by feud as much as the complainant himself.

Much of the work behind the feud was actually in gaining support or preventing the other from gaining support themselves. From killings to legal action, support was needed. The uninvolved were crucial, for they were the audience and the judges who would distribute honor accordingly.

Keep reading

Hodor’s sacrifice is a legitimately great moment, a heroic act from the most unlikely of people. But that’s the story of Game of Thrones. It’s not Ned or Robb or Cersei or Tywin or, probably, Euron. It’s Theon and Yara, the loser Greyjoys on a boat, or Sam and Gilly on another boat, and Meera Reed, who no one saw coming but who has now killed a White Walker. It’s Brienne of Tarth, laughed at and mocked and now on a quest to save the North. It’s Daenerys, cast out, hunted, and sold but unburnt, a mother of dragons, a Khaleesi, a queen, a rebel, a liberator. It’s Jon Snow, murdered by his own men only to rise to rally the North behind his sister Sansa, beaten and brutalized and stronger than ever. And, in the end, it’s Hodor. It’s the least of all men becoming the best of them, proving that heroes don’t need great swords with names or direwolves or dragons. All a hero needs is a heart that doesn’t fail. All a hero needs is to hold the door.

Lovely commentary on last nite’s GoT, from Lainey Gossip’s Sarah


Nothing is given to man on earth - struggle is built into the nature of life, and conflict is possible - the hero is the man who lets no obstacle prevent him from pursuing the values he has chosen. - Andrew Bernstein @nickcharles20 #GlobalRecon #Warriors #WalkThePath #Values #WarFighter #DOL #Struggle #Respect #Honor #RoninTactics #FieldCraftLLC #batdefense

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List of psychological complexes
  • Oedipus complex (son’s desire to possess his mother)
  • Electra complex (daughter’s desire to possess her father)
  • God complex (arrogantly believing that you are better than the rest of humans and above rules)
  • Hero complex (constantly feeling the desire to help others)
  • Cinderella complex (desire of being taken care of by others in response to fear of independence)
  • Peter Pan complex (desire to remain a child and avoid the responsibilities of adults)
  • Messiah complex (individual’s belief that his purpose of existence is to become a savior)
  • Napoleon complex (type of inferiority complex found in some physically short people – also known as Short Man Syndrome)
  • Madonna-whore complex (male perception of women as either ‘whores’ or ‘ladies’ and inability to achieve sexual and emotional satisfaction by the same woman usually as a result of a cold and distant mother)
  • Martyr complex (unconscious desire of suffering and being a victim)
  • Superman complex (feeling that others cannot perform one or more tasks successfully and sense of responsibility to save others)
  • Anima complex  (feminine inner personality of the male)
  • Animus complex (masculine inner personality of the female)
  • Superiority complex (perceiving yourself as superior to others)
  • Inferiority complex (perceiving yourself as inferior to others)
  • Father complex (emotions and behaviors driven by positive or negative impulses towards the father – similar to Electra complex)
  • Mother complex (emotions and behaviors driven by positive or negative impulses towards the mother such as exaggeration of the feminine side – similar to Oedipus complex)
  • Brother complex (emotions of excessive love towards the brother, often leading to over-protectiveness or sexual attraction)
  • Sister complex (emotions of excessive love towards the sister, often leading to over-protectiveness or sexual attraction)
  • Abandonment complex (emotions and behaviors derived from fear of being abandoned, often leading to a self-fulfilling prophecy)
  • Authority complex (intense desire to be in charge of people and things)
  • Obstacles complex (emotions and behaviors focused on obstacles when making arrangements)
  • Money complex (emotions and behaviors placing money in the center of our life)
  • Failure complex (emotions and behaviors derived from fear of failing, often leading to a self-fulfilling prophecy)
  • Achievement complex (intense feelings of motivation to accomplish tasks and be productive)
  • Success complex (intense feelings of motivation to be successful in life – similar to achievement complex)
  • Recognition complex (emotions and behaviors derived from our efforts to receive approval from other people)
  • Love complex (emotions and behaviors circulating around love such as a constant desperate need to be loved)
  • Dance complex (emotions and behaviors derived from fear and insecurities regarding your dancing skills)
  • Status complex (emotions and behaviors derived from our perception of our social status)
  • Intelligence complex (emotions and behaviors derived from our perception of our level of intelligence)
  • Sociability complex (emotions and behaviors derived from our perception of our social life)
  • Food complex (emotions and behaviors derived from food e.g. depression because of consuming unhealthy food)
  • Addictions complex (emotions and behaviors derived from addictions e.g. unhappiness whenever we surrender to an addiction)
  • Honor complex (intense need of maintaining a high level of respect from others in our daily life)
  • Opinion complex (emotions and behaviors derived from a high level of importance placed on the opinion of other people and what they think of you)

source: http://realityplex.com/list-of-psychological-complexes/