Doktorsnám: Íslenskar bókmenntir
Leiðbeinandi: Torfi Tulinius
Heiti doktorsverkefnis: Criminals on an island. The role of outlawry in Saga Age Iceland
The main objective of this thesis is to define outlawry and outlaws as represented in the Old Norse corpus from the 13th-14th century. Literally out-of-the law, outlaws are in theory devoid of legal rights and outside social concerns.However, they are in practice forced to haunt the margins of the Icelandic society. This investigation is led by an observation from both sagas and legal texts: while being banned from a community in continental Europe allowed a man to start a new life in another place, an Icelandic full outlaw (skógarmaðr) was excluded from the social space, yet kept inside the physical space of the island (óferjandi), becoming therefore a constant threat. Why then keep trouble-makers inside the island?
This study aims at two intertwined dimensions connected to the nature of the sources, both legal and literary. First, the study of outlawry as a historical social structure from medieval Iceland, using previous studies on social institutions in a stateless society without executive power. Second, the study of outlawry as a literary phenomenon from the 13th-14th centuries Iceland, and the reason why some Icelandic outlaws, even if hunted down and persecuted, seemed nevertheless to have been admired and praised.