Nordic Medieval Laws (NML)

Nordic Medieval Laws (NML)

Responsable du projet/Project leader : Stefan Brink (

Établissement principal/Main institution : Centre for Scandinavian Studies, University of Aberdeen

Projet en cours/Project in progress

Description :

Aim of the project

The aim of the project is to analyse, edit, translate and comment upon all the Nordic provincial laws from the Middle Ages, for the first time. The output will be a series of 15 volumes with a translation of, and commentary upon, each law in English, and an online database consisting of facsimiles of the previously-published laws in Old Danish, Old Norwegian and Old Swedish.

Research context and objectives

The medieval laws are in Scandinavia (as in Anglo-Saxon England) written in the vernacular, not in Latin. This material is an immensely important source for our understanding of an aspect of Viking and medieval Scandinavian society, which – as is well known – had a great impact upon British and Irish culture (as reflected, for example, in the English word law, borrowed from Old Norse lagh). The earliest Icelandic laws (Grágás and Jónsbók) have recently been translated in modern editions, but this project aims for the first time to make the early laws of Scandinavia accessible to an international public, through editions which are up-to-date from a theoretical and methodological point of view, with every law being analysed, edited and translated by a leading expert on that particular provincial law. (Previous editions were mostly written in Scandinavian languages, and based upon obsolete methodology, and there are no translations of the 15 provincial laws of Norway, Denmark and Sweden, except for dated English and German renderings of the Norwegian Gula- and Frostating Laws from the 1920s and 30s.)

The Scandinavian provincial laws offer unique opportunities to gain insight into Scandinavian society in the early Middle Ages (and probably also in the Viking period), and are all the more precious due to the scarcity of written documents from this timespan; indeed, the provincial laws are some of the oldest written sources we have. The new editions will provide a foundation for international research into the early Scandinavian societies for which these laws are a key source, and will also allow comparison of early Scandinavian societies and laws with those of Britain and Ireland. MNL is hence a project with enormous significance for future research of many kinds.

The translators and editors of MNL are leading experts on each of the provincial laws, from the UK, the US and Scandinavia. A reference group of specialists in the fields of Scandinavian and English philology, legal history and medieval history support this group of around fifteen scholars.

The main funding for the network is provided by the Leverhulme Trust within their ‘International Networks’ programme; additional grants (mainly funding meetings with the national teams) we have got from Kungliga Gustav Adolfs Akademi för svensk folkkultur (Uppsala) and Kungliga Vitterhets Historie och Antikvitetes Akademien (Stockholm), The Carlsberg Foundation (Copenhagen) and other bodies for smaller grants.

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OpenEdition vous propose de citer ce billet de la manière suivante :
Rédaction (25 novembre 2014). Nordic Medieval Laws (NML). Mondes nordiques et normands médiévaux. Consulté le 13 juillet 2024 à l’adresse

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