eþer (OSw) eth (ODan) aiþr (OGu) eiðr (ON) (OSw) noun

An oath was sworn to confirm loyalty and obedience; and it was a frequent way of proving one’s innocence when faced with an accusation of crime. In this latter case it was often taken with some form of compurgation, with two others (a three-man oath, ON lýrittareiðr), five others (a six-man oath, ON séttareiðr), or eleven others (a twelve-man oath, ON tylftareiðr, see tylftareþer); OSw laws also allow for other numbers of compurgators. In general, the person taking an oath was to swear by God or Christ, in heathen times by the gods (ÄVgL Kkb 12 and passim). After the introduction of Christianity, he laid his hand on the Bible or another holy book (bókareiðr).

According to VmL, a local administrator could challenge a householder saying that he had been robbed. The householder had to agree that this was the case and was then granted leave to pursue the thief. Once he had denied that he had been robbed, however, he could not later retract, and he was orþlös ok eþlös (‘without grounds and without an oath’) and could not pursue the case.

oath OSw ÄVgL Kkb, Rlb, Jb, Tb
ONorw BorgL 5.7
OSw DL Kkb, Eb, Mb, Bb, Gb, Tjdb, Rb
ONorw EidsL 3.2 7 passim
ODan ESjL 2, 3
ONorw FrL Intr 13, 16 KrbA 1, 18 KrbB 3 Mhb 5 Bvb 1 passim
OGu GL A 2, 3, 4, 13, 14, 16, 18, 19, 20a, 22, 25, 26, 31, 32, 39
OIce Grg Þsþ 31 Vís 87 passim
ONorw GuL Krb, Kpb, Løb, Llb, Tfb, Mhb, Tjb, Leb
OSw HL Kkb, Kgb, Äb, Mb, Jb, Kmb, Blb, Rb
OIce passim
OIce Js passim
ODan JyL 1, 3
OIce KRA 2, 14
OSw ÖgL Kkb, Eb, Db
OSw SdmL Kkb, Kgb, Gb, Äb, Jb, Bb, Kmb, Mb, Tjdb, Rb, Till
ODan SkKL 12
ODan SkL passim
OSw UL Kkb, Kgb, Äb, Mb, Jb, Kmb, Blb, Rb
OSw VmL Kkb, Kgb, Äb, Mb, Jb, Kmb, Bb, Rb
ODan VSjL 40, 66, 81
OSw YVgL passim

promise ONorw FrL Mhb 8
OIce Kge 32

testimony OSw DL Bb Expressions:

brista at eþi (OSw)

fail in an oath OSw UL Kkb, Äb, Mb, Blb VmL Kkb, Mb, Bb

falla at eþi (OSw)

convict in respect of an [invalid] oath OSw VmL Kkb

fail in an oath OSw UL Kkb, Äb, Mb, Jb, Kmb, Blb, Rb VmL Kkb, Äb, Mb, Kmb, Bb, Rb

fela undir eið (ON)

hang (something) upon an oath OIce Grg Lrþ 117

ganga eþ (OSw)

swear an oath OSw UL Mb VmL Kkb, Bb

orð ok eiðr (ON)

pledge and promise ONorw GuL Krb, Kpb, Tfb

orþlös ok eþlös (OSw)

without grounds and without an oath OSw VmL Mb

rangr eiðr (ON)

false oath OIce Js Þjb 9 ONorw FrL KrbB 46

perjury OIce Þjb 22

siattæ manz eþ (ODan)

oath of six men ODan SkL 77

þriþiæ manz eþ (ODan)

oath of three men ODan SkL 77

tolf manna eþer (OSw)

oath of twelve men OSw YVgL Gb, Rlb

tylftær eþer (OSw) tylftær eþe (ODan)

oath of twelve men ODan SkL OSw YVgL, ÄVgL, ÖgL


Bagge 2010, 189, 212–14; Helle 2001, 103–04; KLNM s.v.v. edgärdsman, edsformular, gæld, rettergang, vitne, värjemål; Robberstad 1981, 331, 363; Schlyter s.v. eþer

  • ‘eþer’. A Lexicon of Medieval Nordic Law.

  • http://www.dhi.ac.uk/lmnl/nordicheadword/displayPage/1070