Fun_People Archive
22 Nov
But Will it Play in Sweden?

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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Sat, 22 Nov 97 15:58:37 -0800
To: Fun_People
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Subject: But Will it Play in Sweden?

[It seems things haven't really changed that much since the 13th century...

Forwarded-by: <>
Forwarded-by: (Mark Nelson)

Some of the most interesting documents from Sweden's middle ages are the
old county laws (well, we never had counties but it's the nearest equivalent
I can find for "landskap").  These laws were written down sometime in the
13th century, but date back even down into Viking times.  The oldest one is
the Vastgota law which clearly has pagan influences, thinly covered with
some Christian stuff.  In this law, we find a page about "lekare", which is
the Old Norse word for a performing artist, actor/jester/musician etc.  Here
is an approximate translation, where I have written "artist" as equivalent
of "lekare".

"If an artist is beaten, none shall pay fines for it.  If an artist is
wounded, one such who goes with hurdie-gurdie or travels with fiddle or
drum, then the people shall take a wild heifer and bring it out on the
hillside.  Then they shall shave off all hair from the  heifer's tail, and
grease the tail.  Then the artist shall be given newly greased shoes.  Then
he shall take hold of the heifer's tail and a man shall strike it with a
sharp whip. If he can hold her, he shall have the animal. If he cannot hold
her, he shall endure what he received, shame and wounds."

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