Slavery in Iceland- Laxdaela Saga

Chapter XII, Hoskuld Buys a Slave Woman.

[…] This meeting was held between rulers with a view to settling such matters as kings had to adjudge -- matters of international policy between Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. It was deemed a pleasure trip to go to this meeting, for thither came men from well-nigh all such lands as we know of. […]At the meeting there were great crowds of people, and much amusement to be got -- drinking, and games, and all sorts of entertainment. […] Hoskuld met many of his kinsfolk there who were come from Denmark. […] Hoskuld […] saw a stately tent far away from the other booths. Hoskuld went thither, and into the tent, and there sat a man before him in costly raiment, and a Russian hat on his head. […] He said he was called Gilli[…]

[…] Gilli then lifted the curtain, and Hoskuld saw that there were twelve women seated behind the curtain. So Gilli said that Hoskuld should come on and have a look, if he would care to buy any of these women. Hoskuld […] saw a woman sitting out by the skirt of the tent, and she was very ill-clad. Hoskuld thought, as far as he could see, this woman was fair to look upon. Then said Hoskuld, "What is the price of that woman if I should wish to buy her?"

Gilli replied, "Three silver pieces is what you must weigh me out for her."

"It seems to me," said Hoskuld, "that you charge very highly for this bondswoman, for that is the price of three (such)."


Hoskuld said, "I must first see how much silver there is in the purse I have on my belt,"

[…]now they weigh the silver, and there were just three marks weighed. Then said Hoskuld, "Now the matter stands so that we can close our bargain. You take the money for yourself, and I will take the woman. […]

Source: Muriel Press, trans., "Slavery in Iceland- Laxdaela Saga," The Online Medieval & Classical Library,, (1899). Notes: This electronic edition was edited, proofed, and prepared by Douglas B. Killings (November 1997)

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