This article needs additional citations for verification . (September 2011) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
A lawspeaker or lawman (Swedish: lagman, Old Swedish: laghmaþer or laghman, Danish: lovsigemand, Norwegian: lagmann, Icelandic: lög(sögu)maður, Faroese: løgmaður , Finnish: laamanni) is a unique Scandinavian legal office. It has its basis in a common Germanic oral tradition, where wise people were asked to recite the law, but it was only in Scandinavia that the function evolved into an office. Two of the most famous lawspeakers are Snorri Sturluson and Torgny the Lawspeaker.
In Sweden, this office was the most important one of regional governments, where each lagsaga (usually the same as the traditional province) was the jurisdiction of a lawspeaker who was subordinate to the lawspeaker of Tiundaland. The lawspeaker presided over the things, worked as a judge and formulated the laws that had been decided by the people. The lawspeaker was obliged to memorize the law and to recite it at the thing. He was also responsible for the administration at the thing and for the execution of the decisions, and it was his duty to safeguard the rights and liberties of the people and to speak in their behalf to the king or his representative. It was the lawspeaker who, on the behalf of the people, recognized the elected king when he passed on the Eriksgata. However, after the establishment of the province laws, ca 1350, he would participate at the Stone of Mora with twelve companions from his jurisdiction.
According to the Westrogothic law, the lawspeaker was appointed for life by the yeomen (bönder) of the province from among their number; it was also stipulated that his father should also have been a landowner. pp411–27 (pp. 414–15)) The office was not hereditary, but he was usually selected from the more powerful families.(
The first named Swedish lawspeaker, if the text is correct, is the Lum recorded in a register of Västergötland lawmen copied by Laurentius Dyakn, a priest in Vidhem, in the 1320s; he must have lived around 1000. The first Swedish lawspeaker for whom we have substantial biographical information is Eskil (c. 1175-1227), the seventeenth in Laurentius's list. pp411–27 (pp. 411–12)) From the mid-13th century and onwards, the lawspeakers became more attached to the king, and it was common that lawspeakers were members of the king's council. King Magnus Eriksson decided that the king would influence the appointment of the lawspeakers. Six nobles and six yeomen would in consultation with two clergymen appoint three men from the jurisdiction among whom the king would select the one he deemed to be most fit. This procedure would be in effect until the 16th century when the whole process of selection was transferred to the king.(
From then on, the lawspeakers only came from the nobility, and it had turned into a pension, in which a member of the Privy Council of Sweden was selected and received a salary, but had other people taking care of the work. This privilege was abolished during the Reduction of 1680, after which the lawspeakers were obliged to take care of the work themselves, and there were checks on the appointment of members of the privy council. Still, the appointment remained restricted to noblemen until 1723.
By then, the functions of the office had become restricted to that of a judge, a function which also became less important by time. In 1849, the office was abolished, but the title remained occasionally in use as a title of honour for governors.
In 1947, the title of lagman (pl. lagmän) was reintroduced for senior judges, namely the presidents of divisions of the courts of appeal. Since reform in 1969, presidents of the district courts (tingsrätter) are lagmän, while presidents of divisions of the courts of appeal are hovrättslagmän ("court of appeal lawspeakers"). Correspondingly, presidents of the district administrative courts (förvaltningsrätter) also carry the title of lagman and presidents of divisions of the administrative courts of appeal are kammarrättslagmän ("administrative court of appeal lawspeakers").
|province (lagsaga)||first known lawman||year|
|Tiundaland||Israel Andersson And||1286-89|
|Fjädrundaland||?||(joined Uppland in the 1290s)|
|Västmanland and Dala||Magnus Gregersson||1305|
|Västmanland and Dala||Greger Magnusson||1325-36|
|Värmland||A. legislator in Vermlandia||1190|
|Värmland||Marl Haraldsson||c. 1285|
|Västergötland||Eskil Magnusson (Folkung dynasty)||1217-27|
|Östergötland||Magnus Bengtsson (Folkung dynasty)||1247-63|
|Tiohärad (Småland)||Karl Ingeborgsson||1266-68|
Finland being governed by Swedish law wholly until 1809, the events were the same as in Sweden. However, the lagman offices were terminated and lagman became an honorific title only in 1868 (at that time laws were published also in Finnish and thus also the term laamanni official). In the 1993 reform, laamanni and lagman were reintroduced as the title of the chief judge of a district court or a senior judge in a court of appeal.
In Norway, the lawspeakers remained counselors versed in the law until king Sverre I of Norway (1184–1202) made them into his officials. In the laws of Magnus VI of Norway (1263–80), they were given the right to function as judges and to preside at the lagtings (the Norwegian superior courts). Modern historians regard the lawspeakers in ancient times (especially before around 1600), of which there were 10–12 in the entire kingdom, as part of the nobility. In the 14th and 15th centuries they were usually recruited from the existing higher nobility, with some holding the rank of knight, the highest rank of nobility in the kingdom. In the 16th century they were still usually recruited from the existing nobility, albeit more often from the lower nobility. Lawspeakers received fiefs. For example, Marker fief was by tradition held by the lawspeaker of Oslo. They were also treated as equal to the nobility on formal occasions.
The historical lagtings and the office of lawspeaker were abolished in 1797, but the title was reinstituted in 1887 together with the introduction of the jury system.
In Iceland, the office was introduced in 930, when the Althing was established. He was elected for three years. Besides his function as the president of the thing, his duties were restricted to counselling and to reciting the law. It was the sole government office of the mediaeval Icelandic Commonwealth. The lawspeaker was elected for a term of three years and was supposed to declaim the law at the Althing, a third of it each summer. In fact, Grímr Svertingsson's term was cut short, not because of incompetence or illness, but because his voice was too weak for the job. Apart from his function as a lawsayer and chairman of the court, the lǫgsǫgumaðr had no formal power, but he would often be appointed as an arbitrator in the frequently arising disputes. The office lingered on for a few years in the transitional period after 1262, after which it was replaced with a lǫgmaðr. The traditional date for the founding of the Althing is 930 with Úlfljótr appearing as a founding figure and the original author of the laws. After the union with Norway in 1264, two royal lawspeakers were appointed who had an important influence on the legal processes at the thing. The office was abolished together with the Althing in 1800.
Scholars are suspicious of the fact that Úlfljótur's first two successors have been assigned a period in office of exactly 20 summers each, but from Þorkell máni on, the chronology is probably correct; names are given in their modern Icelandic form.
|Lögsögumaður||Term in office|
|Þórarinn Ragabróðir Óleifsson||950–969|
|Þorkell máni Þorsteinsson||970–984|
|Þorgeir Ljósvetningagoði Þorkelsson||985–1001|
|Gunnar hinn spaki Þorgrímsson||1063–1065|
|Gunnar hinn spaki Þorgrímsson||1075|
|Styrmir hinn fróði Kárason||1210–1214|
|Styrmir hinn fróði Kárason||1232–1235|
|Ólafr hvítaskáld Þórðarson||1248–1250|
|Ólafr hvítaskáld Þórðarson||1252|
|Þorleifur hreimur Ketilsson||1263–1265|
|Þorleifur hreimur Ketilsson||1268|
|Þorleifur hreimur Ketilsson||1271|
The politics of Norway take place in the framework of a parliamentary representative democratic constitutional monarchy. Executive power is exercised by the Council of State, the cabinet, led by the Prime Minister of Norway. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the legislature, the Storting, elected within a multi-party system. The judiciary is independent of the executive branch and the legislature.
The Alþingi is the national parliament of Iceland. It is the oldest surviving parliament in the world. The Althing was founded in 930 at Þingvellir, situated approximately 45 kilometres (28 mi) east of what later became the country's capital, Reykjavík. Even after Iceland's union with Norway in 1262, the Althing still held its sessions at Þingvellir until 1800, when it was discontinued. It was restored in 1844 and moved to Reykjavík, where it has resided ever since. The present parliament building, the Alþingishús, was built in 1881, made of hewn Icelandic stone. The unicameral parliament has 63 members, and is elected every four years based on party-list proportional representation.
The Storting is the supreme legislature of Norway, established in 1814 by the Constitution of Norway. It is located in Oslo. The unicameral parliament has 169 members, and is elected every four years based on party-list proportional representation in nineteen plurinominal constituencies. A member of the Storting is known in Norwegian as a stortingsrepresentant, literally "Storting representative".
A thing was a governing assembly in early Germanic society, made up of the free people of the community presided over by lawspeakers. The word appears in Old Norse, Old English, and modern Icelandic as þing, in Middle English, Old Saxon, Old Dutch, and Old Frisian as thing, in German as Ding, and in modern Norwegian, Danish, Swedish, Faroese, Gutnish, and Norn as ting, all from a reconstructed Proto-Germanic neuter *þingą; the word is the same as the more common English word thing, both having at their heart the basic meaning of "an assemblage, a coming together of parts"—in the one case, an "assembly" or "meeting", in the other, an "entity", "object", or "thing". The meeting-place of a thing was called a "thingstead" or "thingstow".
Gothi or goði is a position of political and social prominence in the Icelandic Commonwealth. The term originally had a religious significance, referring to a pagan leader responsible for a religious structure and communal feasts, but the title is primarily known as a secular political title from medieval Iceland.
In Medieval England and Scotland the Chief Justiciar was roughly equivalent to a modern Prime Minister as the monarch's chief minister. Similar positions existed in Continental Europe, particularly in Norman Italy and in the Carolingian empire. The term is the English form of the medieval Latin justiciarius or justitiarius.
The Icelandic Commonwealth was the state existing in Iceland between the establishment of the Alþingi (Althing) in 930 and the pledge of fealty to the Norwegian king with the Old Covenant in 1262. With the probable exception of hermitic Irish monks or Papar, Iceland was an uninhabited island until around 870.
Þingvellir, anglicised as Thingvellir, is a national park in the municipality of Bláskógabyggð in southwestern Iceland, about 40 km northeast of Iceland's capital, Reykjavík. Þingvellir is a site of historical, cultural, and geological significance, and is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Iceland. The park lies in a rift valley that marks the crest of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and the boundary between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. To its south lies Þingvallavatn, the largest natural lake in Iceland.
Tiundaland is a historic region, Folkland, and since 1296 part of the modern province of Uppland. It originally meant the land of the ten hundreds and referred to its duty of providing 1000 men and 40 ships for the Swedish king's leidang.
Torgny the Lawspeaker is the name of one of at least three generations of lawspeakers by the name Þorgnýr, who appear in the Heimskringla by the Icelandic scholar and chieftain Snorri Sturluson, and in the less known Styrbjarnar þáttr Svíakappa and Hróa þáttr heimska. They were the lawspeakers of Tiundaland, and all lawspeakers in the Swedish kingdom were their subordinates.
Haukr or Hauk Erlendsson was lawspeaker (lawman) of Iceland, later lawspeaker and knight of Norway, known for having compiled a number of Icelandic sagas and other materials mostly in his own hand, bound in a book called the Hauksbók after him.
Medieval Scandinavian law, also called North Germanic law, was a subset of Germanic law practiced by North Germanic peoples. It was originally memorized by lawspeakers, but after the end of the Viking Age they were committed to writing, mostly by Christian monks after the Christianization of Scandinavia. Initially they were geographically limited to minor jurisdictions (lögsögur), and the Bjarkey laws concerned various merchant towns, but later there were laws that applied to entire Scandinavian kingdoms. Each jurisdiction was governed by an assembly of free men, called a þing.
Gulating was one of the first Norwegian legislative assemblies, or things, and also the name of a present-day law court of western Norway. The practice of periodic regional assemblies predates recorded history, and was firmly established at the time of the unification of Norway into a single kingdom (900–1030). These assemblies or lagþings, were not democratic, but did not merely serve elites either. They functioned as judicial and legislative bodies, resolving disputes and establishing laws.
The Kurki or Kurck family, also known as the family of Laukko, is a medievally-originated Finnish noble family that produced several historically prominent persons. It is documented in the late 14th century. The family is usually divided in several lineages as it continued through female succession.
Borgarting Court of Appeal is the court of appeal located in Oslo, Norway. It serves the counties of Oslo, Buskerud, Østfold and southern Akershus. The court has 62 judges and 45 administrative staff. The court is administrated by the Norwegian National Courts Administration.
The court of appeal is the second level of courts of justice in Norway, reviewing criminal and civil cases appealed from the district courts. There are six courts of appeal, each covering a jurisdiction and based in a city. Each court is led by a senior judge president (lagman) and several appellate judges (lagdommer). The courts are administrated by the Norwegian National Courts Administration. Decisions from civil and criminal matters, except the question of guilt, can be appealed from the courts of appeal to the Supreme Court.
Snorri Sturluson was an Icelandic historian, poet, and politician. He was elected twice as lawspeaker to the Icelandic parliament, the Althing. He was the author of the Prose Edda or Younger Edda, which consists of Gylfaginning, a narrative of Norse mythology, the Skáldskaparmál, a book of poetic language, and the Háttatal, a list of verse forms. He was also the author of the Heimskringla, a history of the Norwegian kings that begins with legendary material in Ynglinga saga and moves through to early medieval Scandinavian history. For stylistic and methodological reasons, Snorri is often taken to be the author of Egil's saga.
Nobility in Iceland may refer to the following:
The Court of Legislature was a legislature and high court established in Iceland in the year 930 during the period of the Icelandic Commonwealth.
The Law of Uppland(Upplandslagen) was drafted by a Royal commission, enacted at the three Folkland Things, and given Royal assent in 1296. The Law of Uppland became the law of the land, not only for the province of Uppland it created, containing the three Folklands and Roden, but also for Gästrikland. The law contained eight law codes: The Church, King's, Heritance, Freeman's, Land, Merchant's, Neighborhood, and Thing codes. Courts were held in each Hundred and each Folkland. There were no public prosecutors, and no material difference between criminal and civil cases existed. Suits in law would be initiated by the parties. Legal proceedings were of three kinds: trial by eyewitnesses, trial by compurgation and trial by jury.