jarl (OSw) ierl (OGu) jarl (ON) noun

A title of rank used at various points throughout the Nordic lands. It was a common Germanic title (cf. OE eorl) and probably corresponded to a continental comes, dux or præfectus. Older sources (e.g. sagas and poetry) suggest that a jarl was a type of sovereign chief, but in the Norwegian and Swedish provincial laws a jarl was subservient to the king. In the Norwegian laws a jarl was placed above a landed man or baron (ON lendr maðr (see lænder); cf. GuL ch. 200), and in several places he was entitled to compensation at the same level as a bishop (cf. GS ch. 2; FrL LlbA 15). In Sweden the title of jarl ceased being used around 1250, possibly replaced by the title of duke (OSw hærtughi). A Norwegian ordinance issued in 1308 forbade anyone other than the sons of the Norwegian king and the ruler of the Orkneys from holding the title of jarl. In Iceland the jarl was a short-lived title given to the official appointed by the Norwegian king to govern the entire island.

{jarl} OGu GS Ch. 2
OIce Js Mah 26
ONorw FrL KrbA 5 Mhb 51
OSw ÖgL Bb

Earl OIce Llb 18
ONorw FrL ArbA 16 LlbA 15
ONorw GuL Krb, Llb, Mhb
OSw ÖgL Db
OSw SdmL Kgb, Mb

Crawford 2013, 83−84; CV; Fritzner; GAO s.v. Adel, jarl; KLNM s.v. hirðstjóri, jarl; LexMA s.v. jarl; ONP

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

  • http://www.dhi.ac.uk/lmnl/nordicheadword/displayPage/2563