Master class - Julian Eduardo Valle (Old Norse)
Fredrik Charpentier Ljungqvist, Professor of History (Stockholm University) is giving a master class for PhD candidate Julian Eduardo Valle (LLE) based on material from Valle's thesis "Jónsbók and the Monarchical Project for Iceland"
Jónsbók and the Monarchical Project for Iceland
This dissertation argues that the Icelandic law-book Jónsbók, conceived by King Magnús lagabætir Hákonarson (k. 1263-1280) and promulgated in 1281 by the Icelandic Alþingi, expressed the political program of the Norwegian monarchy in the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries. The study of Jónsbók in Iceland has traditionally been undertaken with a nationalistic bias that emphasised the extensive use in its composition of the vernacular customary laws (namely Grágás) as one of the reasons for its successful introduction and longevity. However, this thesis demonstrates that King Magnús Hákonarson actively used the Icelandic laws in his legislative work, both for Jónsbók as well as for the Norwegian code Landslǫg of 1274-6, for example, in the legislation over accidents (ON váðaverk).
Another traditionally contested argument concerns the influence from Continental law in the Icelandic legislation. This thesis argues that such influence was pervasive after 1281, as the political program of the Norwegian crown had been influenced by European conceptions of royal power since the middle part of the twelfth century (c. 1163) and more markedly since the reign of King Hákon gamli Hákonarson (k. 1217-1263). These influences are expressed, for example, in the extensive use of legal fictions (Lat. fictiones legis), the development of new crimes as attacks against the king’s majesty (Lat. crimen laesae maiestatis), and the idea of the king as legislator, judge, and enforcer of the law in his kingdom. As the law-book became an expression of the royal will, a metonymical relationship developed between the king and the physical lawbook, and this allowed for the extension of the king’s majesty to other objects connected to the administration of the realm, namely royal orders and letters, which were protected from the early fourteenth century by the creation of bréfabrot, the crime of breaking royal ordinances.
This dissertation applies synchronic and diachronic perspectives to the Penal law section (ON Mannhelgi) and Prologue of Jónsbók, in order to understand the processes of adaptation and innovation of legal ideas that resulted in the law-book of 1281. These sections reflect the political program of the crown and, therefore, are relevant sources for describing the ambitions, means, and limitations of the crown in the process of its consolidation vis-à-vis its internal and external competitors.
Those who would like to read more, can contact Julian Eduardo Valle via email:
Read more about the master- Fredrik Charpentier Ljungqvist
The meeting is fully online. Click here to join the zoom meeting.