In the latest chapter, we encounter a bondi, one of the social classes in Viking society. There were the largest class by far. At the top was king, below him jarls, and bondi lied below that. Thralls were at the bottom, and is another name for slaves.
I thought this week we could discuss the social structure of vikings, how it helped or hurt their peoples, the benefits and drawbacks.
Thrall. A thrall is a slave and cannot own land. A thrall can own goods and money, however, and can craft and sell products at a market in his or her free time. A thrall can purchase his or her freedom to become a freed. A child born to a female thrall goes into the father’s class of society.
Freedman. A freedman is a thrall who has purchased his or her freedom and is considered a citizen who can own land and participate in the law. A freedman is still dependent on his former owner for many things (permission to undertake business, get married, or start a lawsuit; half of any money won in a lawsuit is owed to the former owner) and cannot institute legal proceedings against the former owner. His or her wergild is half that of a bondi (see below), and in the absence of children the former owner inherits all property. His or her children remain in the status of freedman up to three generations, as well. A freedman may purchase bondi status at a greater price.
Bondi. A bondi is a man or woman born free to own land and property. In principle, all bondi own land, but this is not true in reality. A bondi must purchase land or be granted land by a parent or spouse. Failing that, a bondi must work for someone else. Bondi may participate fully in the law, including voting at the althing.
Jarl. A jarl is a bondi warrior appointed by the king to lead at least 40 men. Traditionally, all bondi owned and commanded a ship, but some tribes are grant this title to men without a ship.
King. A king is elected by the althing to lead the tribe’s warriors into battle and perform all the other duties of the king.