Network Dynamics in Saga and Society by Richard Gaskins
This is another great article on the social dynamic in Viking society ( I am just going to use the term “Viking” for shorthand rather than going into the specific ethnographic background, as we should all know now they didn’t call themselves “Vikings” ).
Of particular interest within the article, pg. 172 highlights an aspect of leadership and network dynamic based upon trust:
Throughout this pattern of development networks represent the importance of being connected – replacing the social model of rugged individualism. For self-evolving social networks, in the absence of any master planner, the driving humanistic for is trust. Trust in oneself is good as far as it goes, but it is no substitute for trust in one’s chosen allies. No one can be self-sufficient; and no one has enough wisdom to see where history will end up, nor enough power to impose any grand design. This emphasis on trust is entirely consonant with the value system on display throughout the sagas, which grants highest priority to honor even at the cost of an individual’s own life. The fact that trust is constantly being tested in the sagas by personal ambition, by sheer evil, and even by bad luck only add to its premier value for maintaining alliances. The formal extraction of oaths and allegiance and other such institutions of trust, as described in Sturlunga saga, further underscore the value placed on trust.
Some follow up reading based upon the works cited:
Byock, J. L. (1993). Feud in the Icelandic saga. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Jon Vidar Sigurdsson Chieftains and Power in the Icelandic Commonwealth: (The Viking Collection Vol. 12)
Miller, W. I. (1997). “Bloodtaking and Peacemaking: Feud, Law, and Society in Saga Iceland”.