hemahion (OSw) noun

Literally, ‘home people’. Although this is commonly perceived to designate slaves (cf. hemakona), the translation ‘household serfs’ is suggested because it was not wholly clear if their status was identical to that of þrælar (see þræl). They do seem, however, to have been treated in some respects as property in UL and VmL. In UL they are grouped with other ‘poor people’ who did not have to buy their own candles for the churching of women and who did not have to give a specific amount to the church for the service. In VmL they were permitted to undertake a purchase of up to an örtugh, which would seem to indicate a certain amount of autonomy not expected for a full slave. No such permission is granted in UL, however. It can perhaps be inferred that ‘slave’ and ‘free’ were not binary states, but a continuum, not uniquely determined by birth, but sometimes by circumstances beyond a person’s control, or as a result of their (criminal) actions.


household serf OSw UL Kkb, Äb, Mb
OSw VmL Äb, Mb, Kmb
Refs:

KLNM s.v. tyende; Nevéus 1974; Schlyter 1877, s.v. hema hion; SL UL, 38 note 46, 82 note 20, 157 note 12; SL VmL, 127 note 12

Citation
  • ‘hemahion’. A Lexicon of Medieval Nordic Law.

  • http://www.dhi.ac.uk/lmnl/nordicheadword/displayPage/2081
    (02/06/2023)