horstakka (OSw) noun

When a married woman was found guilty of adultery then, according to VmL, she could have her nose or ears cut off, or her clothing shredded upon discovery (it is not stated by whom), without any compensation being payable. In SdmL, the status of the adulteress is not mentioned, but the person allowed to take revenge was the wife who had been supplanted. The latter was to be paid three marker by the adulteress According to both VmL and UL, but not SdmL, she would then be taken to the assembly for judgement. If she were found guilty by twelve men, she was then to be subject to a 40-mark fine. If she were unable to pay then, according to UL, her nose and ears were to be cut off, together with her hair. Since she was unlikely to be able to pay, as she had forfeited her bride price by committing the offence, the mutilation or hair cutting was probably a frequent consequence. Short hair was possibly the sign of a prostitute, or at least a rebellious woman, in medieval society, following one of the interpretations of an obscure passage in 1 Corinthians 11. What happened if the accused woman had been mutilated and later found innocent is not stated — either regarding payment of compensation, or punishment of the mutilator.

mutilated whore OSw SdmL Gb
OSw VmL Äb

KLNM s.v. ægteskabsbrud; Peel 2015, 144 note to chapter 21; Schlyter 1877, s.v. horstakka; SL UL, 82 note 22; SL VmL, 58 note 28

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

  • http://www.dhi.ac.uk/lmnl/nordicheadword/displayPage/2245