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Title: Revenge and Moderation: The Church and Vengeance in Medieval Iceland
Authors: Clark, David
First Published: 2005
Publisher: School of English, University of Leeds
Citation: Leeds Studies in English, 2005, 36, pp.133-156
Abstract: Although the New Testament clearly prohibits Christians from taking personal revenge, Christian societies—whether in first-century Palestine, medieval Europe, or contemporary North America—have always found this a difficult prohibition to observe, and, indeed, individuals and institutions have often cited other parts of the Bible to legitimise vengeful acts. This article considers the changing attitudes to clerical and secular vengeance in medieval Iceland. It adduces evidence from a range of legal, political, and ecclesiastical documents to contextualise a study of the representation of revenge in family and contemporary sagas in the light of ecclesiastical precepts. The analysis points to a growing perception that secular revenge must be tempered with moderation, and that clerics should not involve themselves in acts of vengeance. Within the sagas, religious figures are employed variously as the voice of the Church, and as those implicated in the turmoil of the Sturlunga old. [From introduction]
ISSN: 0075-8566
Version: Published version
Status: Peer-reviewed
Type: Article
Description: The article is also freely available at
Appears in Collections:Published Articles, Dept. of English

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