Oath-Taking and Oath-Breaking in Early Medieval England and Iceland (Hardcover)
The legal and literary texts of early medieval England and Iceland share a common emphasis on the swearing of oaths. The sheer volume of instances of oath-taking and oath-breaking demonstrate their importance for an individual's socially constructed reputation and his personal guarantees. Traditionally, scholars looking at truth and attestation from the late medieval period tend to view early cases of swearing as procedural, artless, or largely instinctive. This study of Anglo-Saxon and Icelandic texts brings together the major legal and literary sources to explore those moments when words attempt to guarantee action or when narratives focus on the contravention of that system. Such motifs invest language with the power to provide justice or to cause harm. Ultimately, the work confronts this dependence on and apprehension toward swearing to demonstrate how these texts attempt to negotiate the power in and peril of trusting others.
About the Author
Gregory L. Laing, Harding University, Searcy, Arkansas, USA.