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Manndráp verður að morði: um mannvíg og morð á Íslandi frá fimmtándu öld til sautjándu aldar.

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Skyndileg breyting varð á íslensku samfélagi um miðja sextándu öld, þegar mannvíg lögðust af. Fram að því höfðu þau verið árviss viðburður, oftast í tengslum við deilur höfðingja. Mannvíg voru opinber og lögleg dráp sem höfðu ákveðna stöðu í réttarkerfinu. Forsenda þess að manndráp væru lögleg var að víginu væri lýst, vegandinn gengist opinberlega við verknaðinum og kom þá málið til dóms. Þar var vegandinn dæmdur til að greiða vígsbætur til fjölskyldu þess sem drepinn hafði verið, og var hvorki refsað með fangelsi né aftöku. Eftir miðja sextándu öld urðu mannvíg sjaldgæf og lögðust alveg af eftir 1600. Mannvíg lögðust fyrr af á Íslandi en í nágrannalöndunum og verður hér reynt að grafast fyrir um orsakir þessarar þróunar. Færð verða rök fyrir því að afnám mannvíga hafi tengst breytingum á hlutverki og stöðu ríkisvaldsins á Íslandi um miðja sextándu öld.
From Manslaughter to Murder: Lethal violence in Iceland from the fifteenth to the seventeenth centuries There were significant changes to the Icelandic culture of violent, particularly lethal, conflict around the mid-sixteenth century. Up until that point, human slayings were relatively common and almost all related to arguments between secular chieftains, i.e. landowners, about wealth and power. Sometimes the killings were linked to strife between patron-client systems. Sources from 1450–1540 mention a total of 52 slayings, or more than one death every second year. This figure began to plummet thereafter. After 1620, the killing ended completely, and all human instigated deaths during 1620–1650 were recorded as murders. There is no evidence that any legislative changes were made as a result. Up until 1600, the perpetrators could declare that they had slain someone, pay financial amends for the slaying and the case was closed. Strict rules applied to slayings, declarations of slaying, the payment of financial amends and the involvement of the crown or the state in the case. The slayer was to declare his involvement in public and pay the family of the slain person high financial amends. He was also to travel to Norway for an audience with the king and there receive a final ruling on his fate. If a person under the special protection of the king was slain, the slayer became a criminal, and if a person was slain after having received holy communion, the slayer was cursed as a result of the action itself. Thus, both the authority of the crown and of the church had become prominent in this community as early as the fifteenth century. The causes of these significant changes appear to be quite clear. Around 1537, the Reformation took hold here in Iceland with the appointment of a new seignory by the Lutheran state power. Over the next 14 years, the conflict between the Catholic and the Lutheran churches eclipsed all else and no slayings appear to have been conducted during that time. After 1551, the crown’s confiscation of property owned by the Catholic church after the Reformation in 1542–1550 changed the position of Icelandic landowners with respect to the state authorities. They now became the key employees of the state, received and operated large farms owned by the state, i.e. former monastery property, and thereby occupied a new position within the state as the vassals of the king. Patron-client systems were no longer independent units in the same manner as in the 15th century, when they were more or less independent states fighting among themselves; their leaders had now become a part of a much larger patron-client system, the Danish crown. It is also interesting to note the difference in culture norms that appear to have thrived here in Iceland when compared to the other Nordic countries. There are almost no reports from Iceland of slayings among common farmers during the period between 1540 and 1650. Such slayings were commonplace events elsewhere in the Nordic countries, and special efforts were required of the crown during the 17th century to bring such conditions under control. Slayings carried out by the upper classes were subject to different laws than those among farmers. The same law, however, appears to have applied to everyone in Iceland in this respect.