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Chapter Summary

This chapter finds a more contextual perception of loyalty, and a royal exercise of power based more on unpredictability and presence than what followed from ideal subordination and the ideological perspective. It introduces two variables in order to assess the extent to which loyalty to the king was an absolute or a contextual norm: the actor?s physical and social distance to the king. The two variables physical and social distance to the king can be drawn in a coordinate system to illustrate how these four groups are placed between the two extremes of absolute loyalty and contextual loyalty. The chapter surveys the meaning and frequency of the different terms for loyalty in the contemporary sagas, since they serve as a point of departure for the study. It also provides table showing when words for loyalty are used about retainers, magnates, and peasants in the contemporary sagas.

Keywords: contemporary sagas; ideal subordination; loyalty; physical distance; presence; social distance; unpredictability



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