omaghi (OSw) oformagi (OGu) ovormaghi (OGu) ómagi (ON) úmagi (ON) oformagi (OSw) oghormaghi (OSw) ovormaghi (OSw) owormaghi (OSw) ughurmaghi (OSw) noun

According to the Svea laws (DL, HL, SdmL, VmL, UL), OGu GL and ONorw law a person was omaghi until he reached the age of 15, in OIce law until he was 16 years old. An omaghi was a person who could not maintain himself or manage his own affairs, either because he had no property and was unable to work for his living, or because he could not use his property in a sensible way. Old people, unable to work, were usually supported by their heirs. If they were freedmen and had no heirs, they were put in an open grave where they were left to die; their master had to support the one (of a couple) who lived longer (GuL Løb ch. 63). A person who became insane was also considered an ómagi. The ómagi had reduced personal rights and responsibility. According to the GuL (Mhb, ch. 190) a male was not legally responsible before he was 12 years old, then he was halfréttismaðr (q.v.) until he reached the age of 15 and became a fullréttismaðr. According to the FrL (Mhb ch. 36) he was halfréttismaðr between 8 and 15 years of age. If he damaged property, he paid only half compensation. He was not allowed to make deals, and if he killed someone, he had to leave the country within a fixed deadline; if exceeding that deadline he forfeited all his property. However, agnates and cognates might accompany him abroad and allow him to stay there with impunity (FrL ibid.). In ODan laws, the age of criminal responsibility was 15.

With regard to maintenance, it was possible for people to donate their property to an ecclesiastical institution and receive maintenance in return. In general, however, the duty of maintenance was incumbent on the kin and distributed among the kinsfolk for certain fixed periods, in OIce law (Grg) for 2 to 4 years, depending on the degree (nearness) of kinship; failure to fulfil this duty implied penalty. Alternatively, the OIce commune (hreppr) or the quarter (fjórðungr, see fiarþunger) was responsible, in the last resort the entire country.

OSw laws state that whoever was responsible for an omaghi and his property could not sell or trade in this property if it would be to the disfavour of the omaghi. The omaghi himself was not allowed to sell or trade in property unless his nearest kinsfolk consented. Only if he needed money for maintenance might his nearest kinsmen sell parts of his land. However, when he came of age (maghandi alder) he could reverse such bargains. As in the ONorw laws an omaghi was not considered to have full age and legal capacity. To kill him was a villainy (níðingsverk, see niþingsværk). He could not be outlawed and could not be sentenced to death if guilty of theft or murder. If guilty of theft and injury, he had to pay a smaller amount of compensation. He was not allowed to take an oath, neither could he marry, or pass on a message baton. The person responsible for an omaghi was his legal guardian.

ODan laws have no term corresponding exactly to omaghi in the sense of person under age. The nearest ones are flatføring (house-led person) and oreght man (a man who had no house or land and did not take part in military duty).

The condition of being an ovormaghi was termed (ON) ómegð.

dependent OIce Grg Klþ 18 Þsþ 22 passim
OIce Mah 2, 4 Kge 3, 7 Lbb 1 Kab 24 Þjb 16
OIce Js Mah 8 Kab 18 Þjb 7
OIce KRA 10, 14
ONorw FrL Mhb 32 Var 13 Leb 10

dependent child OIce Grg Feþ 148
disabled OSw HL Blb
incapable person OIce Grg Þsþ 49
infant OSw ÄVgL Jb
OSw KrL Jb Rb Eb DbI DbII SmbI Add
OSw MESt Jb Eb DbII SmbI SmbII
OSw YVgL Jb, Add

legal minor OSw ÄVgL Tb

minor OGu GL A 14, 20, 28, 51, 59
OIce Kge 16, 32 Þjb 8
ONorw FrL Mhb 34 ArbB 22
ONorw GuL Kvb, Løb, Llb, Arb, Mhb, Tjb
OSw ÄVgL Slb
OSw DL Eb, Mb, Bb, Tjdb, Rb
OSw HL Kkb, Kgb, Mb, Jb
OSw ÖgL Eb, Db, Vm
OSw SdmL Kkb, Kgb, Jb, Mb, Tjdb
OSw UL Kkb, Kgb, Mb, Jb
OSw VmL Kkb, Kgb, Äb, Mb, Jb
OSw YVgL Kkb, Frb, Urb, Add

under-age OSw HL Äb, Mb
ward OIce Grg Arþ 122
OIce Llb 29 Þjb 1

Hertzberg s.v. úmagi; KLNM s.v.v. alderdom, framfœrsla, tilregnelighed, úmagi, vitne, værge I, ægteskab, ætt; Tamm and Vogt 2016, 20

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