Vinlander Law and Government


         Despite or perhaps because of their violent behavior, the Vinlanders are keenly aware of legal issues. Each district holds a open meeting twice a year in spring and fall, known as a Thing. Once a year in summer, an Althing is held for all the Vinlanders.

         The Things are open semi-democratic assemblies where any free man can attend and participate. They are, however, lead and dominated by the godar. Each local Thing is presided over by three godar; while the Althing has the meeting of the godar of all districts. Technically the godar are priests, but their function is largely secular. They are the chiefs of the districts. The office of godi is a perk of the current godi which can be acquired, shared, borrowed, or disposed of. The godi are not elected, but men can freely transfer duty and allegiance from one godi to another.


         The centre of the Althing is the Lögberg, or Law Rock, a rocky outcrop on which the Lawspeaker (lögsögumadur) takes his seat as the presiding official of the assembly. His responsibility includes reciting aloud the laws in effect at the time, one third of the entire corpus each year. He is to proclaim the procedural law of the Althing to those attending the assembly each year.

Court Procedure

         During the first days of the thing, all plaintiffs go to the Law Rock and give formal notice of their charges. Cases are then heard individually, generally in the order in which they were received.

         Depending on the severity of the case, the plaintiff names 3-9 of the twelve community lawmen to serve as the jury. When acting in such as fashion, the lawmen are sometimes called jurymen. The very worst crimes require that nine lawmen of the district comprise the jury.

         Jurymen do not pass judgements of innocence or guilt. They must decide whether or not there are sufficient grounds for the case before them. Sometimes they must dismiss a charge. They also make sure that the case is heard according to law, and to present any pertinents facts which they have witnesses which may bear on the case.

         The defendant can challenge the choice of jurymen, disqualifying them if they come from another district, have some criminal charge against them, are of proven unreliability, or are too poor. If the majority of the jurymen are disqualified then the case is dropped. Prior to the presentation of arguments, the jurymen may travel to the scene fo the crime to view the corpses or other evidence and to hear testimony from any local witnesses who were unable to travel to the thing.


         The plaintiff calls the defendant to the Law Rock, swears an oath, and states the charge. The oath requires the plaintiff to swear on his name, honor, and sword that his accusations are true. The plaintiff presents evidence that he prepared the case correctly, and he must produce his witnesses.

John H. Kim <jhkim-at-darkshire-dot-net>
Last modified: Tue May 15 11:27:52 2001