ofræls (OSw) ofrels (OGu) ófrjáls (ON) adj.

Literally, ‘unfree’. The word was used as an infrequent alternative to þræl (q.v.) and equivalent nouns, perhaps indicating a less permanent state of slavery (cf. hemahion). Such people had restricted rights and were subject to reduced compensation, but in certain circumstances they were treated as equals with free people. For instance in VmL, where a woman claims to have miscarried, the testimony of an unfree woman is as valid as that of a free woman. The same is true in the situation in which a woman claims that the child was born alive and this is challenged by relatives. In GL, the word is used in connection with assaults on unfree women, who received much lower compensation for rape and no compensation for assaults that did not result in injury. In the late OSw MEL, referring to people subject to tax.

commoner OSw MEL Rb
slave OGu GL A 22
unfree OGu GL A 23
ONorw EidsL 48.5
OSw SdmL Äb, Bb, Kmb, Mb
OSw UL Äb, Mb, Kmb
OSw VmL Äb, Mb

KLNM, s.v.v. frälse, træl; Nevéus 1974; Peel 2015, 149−50 note 23/8−9; Schlyter 1877, s.v. ofræls; SL UL, 85−86 note 60, 118 note 23, 157 note 7; SL VmL, 60 note 56, 63 note 91

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

  • http://www.dhi.ac.uk/lmnl/nordicheadword/displayPage/3895