landsvist (OSw) landsvist (ON) lanzwist (OSw) noun

The right to reside in a realm or province. Such a right was possessed by every free person (ON friðheilagr maðr) but could be lost via the commission of a serious crime. Exile was usually part of the penalty for particularly heinous crimes which could not be mitigated with compensation (óbótamál, see urbotamal).

In the Norwegian and Icelandic laws, landsvist seems to have carried some additional meanings. There it may refer specifically to a letter in which a king grants this right to someone proven guilty of a crime which would incur a sentence of exile, such as murder. Landsvist seems to have been granted specifically for homicide cases in which some mitigating circumstances became apparent. In order to be granted landsvist the defendant had to procure a letter outlining these circumstances (ModNorw provsbrev) and pay a fine to the king (ON friðkaup; also called landkaup or skógarkaup) as well as compensation to the kin of the slain. The actual landsvist letter was then issued by the king’s chancellor (ON kanceler).

Since landsvist is not present in GuL, it has been suggested that the concept was an innovation of the thirteenth century as part of the growing centralized power of the monarchies in the Nordic countries.

leave to remain in the country OIce Mah 1, 2
OIce Js Mah 4
ONorw FrL Intr 5 KrbB 24

leave to remain in the kingdom ONorw FrL Mhb 41
right to live in the land OSw HL Kgb
right to live in the province OSw ÄVgL Urb
OSw SdmL Kkb, Kgb
OSw UL Kgb
OSw VmL Kgb

right to remain in the land ONorw EidsL 28.2 Refs:

CV s.v. landsvist; Fritzner s.v. landsvist; Imsen 2009; Kadane and Næshagen 2013; Kjus 2011, 81−88; KLNM s.v. fredløshed, landsvist, landsvistbrev, niddingsværk; Kongsrud 2011; LexMA s.v. Treuga Dei

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