hemsokn (OSw) hemsokn (ODan) haim sokn (OGu) heimsókn (ON) noun

Literally, ‘home attack’. Breaking into a man’s house, assaulting him and his household in their home, were severely punished. This crime is described at length in HL, where it was punished harder the closer to the home it was committed, culminating with the compensation/fine for hemsokn committed in the man’s bed. In UL and VmL the crime is handled in the King’s Book, where the most serious crimes were listed, those that broke the King’s Peace (eþsöre). In ÖgL, UL and VmL it is stated that it was not hemsokn if someone came to the residence on friendly terms but hostilities broke out in the course of the visit, even if they led to violence. If, on the other hand, the visitor went away and returned with armed companions, then it was considered to be hemsokn. There are stipulations in the laws concerning the extent of a householder’s protection from his dwellings, often given in alliterative phrases.

In Denmark such crimes were often gang crimes, which were more severely punished (graded according to the number of gang members) than crimes committed by individuals acting on their own.

In GL the word is used only for penalty, not the crime itself. Killing the householder usually elicited triple compensation.

Also in Norway, heimsókn was considered to be a serious crime, normally leading to outlawry for the culprit, but he might be released by paying a very high compensation/fine, forty merkr, half of this to the king in case of killing (dráp, see drap). See GuL chs 142, 178, 242.

assault on someone in his home ONorw GuL Mhb
attack at/in one’s home ODan VSjL 64
OSw ÖgL Eb
OSw SdmL Kgb
OSw UL Kgb
OSw VmL Kgb
OSw YVgL Urb

breach of home peace OSw KrL Eb

distance as far away the peace (for a man) goes OSw HL Mb
fine for an attack in the home OGu GL A 12
home attack OIce Mah 19
serious trespassing (in someone’s home) OSw HL Kgb
theft in someone’s home OSw HL Blb
trespass OSw MEL Eb

trespassing in someone’s home OSw YVgL Drb, Add Refs:

KLNM s.v. hærværk; Peel 2015, 108−09 notes 12/2, 12/3−5, 12/9−10; Schlyter s.v. hemsokn; SL GL, 254 note 2 to chapter 12; SL UL, 54 note 19, 123 note 70; SL VmL, 39 note 5, 92−94 notes 64, 66−68; SL ÖgL, 46−47

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

  • http://www.dhi.ac.uk/lmnl/nordicheadword/displayPage/2095