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Uspak And His Men At The Strands.
They Give Up Their Work.

Online Medieval and Classical Library Release #33

Snorri the Priest took up all the cases of Alf the Little at the hands of Uspak and his men, and made all those guilty at the Thorsness Thing; and after the Thing he went home to Tongue, and sat at home until the time came for the court of forfeiture to sit; (1) and then he went north to Bitter with a great company. But when he came there, then was Uspak gone with all his; and they had gone north to the Strands fifteen in company, and had five keels. They were at the Strands through the summer, and did there many unpeaceful deeds.

They set them down north in Wrackfirth, and gathered men to them, and thither came he who is called Raven and was bynamed the Viking. (2) He was nought but an ill-doer, and had lain out north about the Strands. There they wrought great warfare with robbing and slaying of men, and held all together till towards winter-nights.

Then gathered together the Strand-men, Olaf Eyvindson, of Drangar, and other bonders with him, and fell on them. They had there a work once more about their stead in Wrackfirth, and were well-nigh thirty in company. Olaf and his folk sat down before the work, and hard to deal with they deemed it to be. So both sides talked together, and the evil-doers offered to get them gone from the Strands, and do no more unpeaceful deeds there henceforth, while the others should depart from before the work; and whereas they deemed it nowise an easy play to have to do with them, they took that choice, and both sides bound themselves by oath to this settlement, and the bonders fared home withal.

(1)  (Snorri) "sat at home until the time came for the court of
     forfeiture to sit" -- "sat heima til feransdoms".  This
     court was held fourteen days after judgment had fallen
     against the accused; or, if the case had been decided
     against him by award, fourteen days after the next following
     Althing.  As a rule, it was held at the home of the guilty
     person, but in cases where his proper domicile or district
     of amenability to justice were uncertain, the court was held
     at the house of the Gothi who was regarded as being most
     concerned in the case.  The court should be established
     within an arrow's shot-reach of the enclosure to the
     homefield, on that side of the same which pointed directly
     towards the home of the plaintiff, if the circumstances of
     the locality would allow such spot outside the homefield to
     be occupied; but it was also provided, that the seat of the
     court should be chosen where there was "neither acre nor
     ing" (= mowable meadow).  The Gothi, within whose
     jurisdiction the court was held, should nominate twelve
     judges for it out of the nearest neighbours, for which
     nomination it signified nothing whether the neighbours were
     the Gothi's Thingmen or not.  The judges could be challenged
     by the defendant even as the members of a jury could be. 
     The executor (plaintiff) should summon, three nights or more
     before the meet of the court, five of the nearest neighbours
     to deliver all verdicts before it.  He should likewise
     summon thither those who were witnesses to the delivery of
     the judgment or the award against the accused in the first
     instance.  The creditors of the accused should likewise meet
     before this court, having summoned thither their witnesses,
     or, in case they had none such, the proper complement of
     nearest neighbours.  Every creditor was to have what debt he
     had against the accused paid in full, or, in case his means
     sufficed not, reduced at a proportionate rate to those of
     the rest.  When all creditors were satisfied, the Gothi was
     the next first claimant to his share in the remainder of the
     accused's property; he should have a cow or an ox four years
     old, or, if so much was not left over, one mark.  Of the
     remainder one half fell to the share of the plaintiff, the
     other half to that of the men of the Quarter or of the
     Thing, according as the accused, was condemned at the
     Althing or the Spring Thing.  For the elaborate legislation
     relating to this court, see especially Gragas, i. a, 83-96.

(2)  "Raven was by-named the Viking.  He was nought but an
     evil-doer."  "Vikingr" is frequently used as a synonym for
     evil-doer, thief, and robber.  Thus in our own saga we read:
     "Snorri the Priest and Sturla scattered the vikings",
     namely, Uspak and his band.  So also the term is used of
     Thorir Thomb and his companions, who elsewhere are described
     as the worst of robbers and evil-doers ("Grettir's saga",
     xix).  The first settler of the bay of Bitter, Thorbiorn
     Bitter, is even in "Landnama" said to have been "a viking
     and a scoundrel" (ii, ch. 32, p. 159).  This sense of the
     word is supposed to be due to degeneracy, by lapse of time,
     from something nobler which once upon a time was implied by
     it.  That probably is a mere mistake. The viking's
     profession, whenever it is mentioned, is chiefly defined as
     robbery, arson, and manslaughter.  Perpetrated on foreigners
     = natural enemies, it mattered not, especially as it served
     the end of military distinction at home; exercised on
     fellow-citizens, living under laws of their own making, its
     real nature appeared in its true light; hence, from the
     first, the viking was -- abroad, a hero; at home, a