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Becoming ‘old’, ageism and taking care of the elderly in Iceland c. 900–1300

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Chapter Summary

This chapter focuses on three closely linked aspects of growing old in medieval Iceland. The first part will have as a focal point when did one become old, the second centres on attitudes towards the elderly, and the final one will deal with how Icelandic society looked after its aged members. When dealing with the above mentioned aspects, two major source problems are encountered. The first one is that there is so little information about the old in the sagas and the laws. The second one is associated with the sagas, particularly the Icelandic family sagas. The term ageism covers perfectly the situation in Iceland in the period c. 900-1300. The respect for the ?old' was almost nonexistent, and attitudes towards them were negative.

Keywords: ageism; Icelandic family sagas; medieval Icelandic society



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