Hænsna-Þóris saga

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Plot[edit]

Hænsa-Þóris saga (About this sound listen ) is one of the sagas of Icelanders. It tells the story of Hænsa-Thorir, (also spelled Hænsna-Þórir in modern texts, hænsn means a hen) a poor and unpopular man who acquires wealth as a merchant and manages to buy a land. In the saga the upstarter is compared negatively to his neighbours, who come from a more solid background. The communication between them reaches its peak when Hænsa-Þórir refuses to sell them hay for the winter. When his neighbours take the hay anyway, he burns them alive in their farmstead. A vendetta ensues in which Hænsa-Thorir is killed and beheaded.

Themes[edit]

The saga highlights aspects of Icelandic culture, such as hospitality to guests and travellers, (expected) generosity to ones neighbors, and the need to gather support of a chieftain in order to obtain justice. Another theory states that Hænsa-Þóris saga was written in response to a law-change, originating from King Magnus VI of Norway. According to the new law, a farmer was obliged to sell his neighbours hay if they were in great need. If he refused to sell the hay, he had to pay a fine, and if he resisted with force, his neighbours could attack him in turn, without committing a crime. This was a novelty in traditional Icelandic jurisprudence, and seems to have been unpopular. According to this theory, Hænsa-Þóris saga was written as a propaganda in favour of the new law.[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Björn Sigfússon: „Staða Hænsa-Þóris sögu í réttarþróun 13. aldar“, Saga III:3 (1962), p. 345-370. Accessible on: www.timarit.is

External links[edit]