King Harald Harfager of Norway (r. 860-930):
Laws for Land Property
King Harald made this law over all the lands he conquered, that all the udal (allodial)
property should belong to him; and that the bondes, both great and small, should pay him
land dues for their possessions. Over every district he set an earl to judge according to
the law of the land and to justice, and also to collect the land dues and the fines; and
for this each earl received a third part of the dues, and services, and fines, for the
support of his table and other expenses. Each earl had under him four or more herses, each
of whom had an estate of twenty marks yearly income bestowed on him and was bound to
support twenty men-at-arms, and the earl slxty men, at their own expenses. The king had
increased the land dues and burden so much, that each of his earls had greater power and
income than the kings had before; and when that became known at Throndhjem, many great men
joined the king and took his service.
From: The Heimskringla, A History of the Kings of Norway, trans. Samuel Laing,
Esq., in Anglo-Saxon Classics, Vol. 1, ed. Rasmus B. Anderson, (New York: The
Norroena Society, 1911), pp. 20-21, reprinted in Roy C. Cave & Herbert H. Coulson, A
Source Book for Medieval Economic History, (New York: The Bruce Publishing Co., 1936;
reprint ed., New York: Biblo & Tannen, 1965), pp. 28-29
Scanned by Jerome S. Arkenberg, Cal. State Fullerton. The text has been modernized by
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© Paul Halsall, September 1998