Vikings Were Fined For Not Brewing Beer

Without beer, you can't enter Val-ale-la.
Vikings Were Fined For Not Brewing Beer

Many leaders have tried forcibly promoting religion throughout their country. In 10th-century Norway, that leader was Haakon the Good (who got that name because the previous guy was Erik Bloodaxe, and after someone named that, you're bound to look peaceful in comparison). 

Haakon grew up in the court of England, raised Christian. When he returned to Norway and took the throne, he wanted to turn Norway Christian, even though the country also had its own treasured religious traditions. One of these traditions involved brewing beer during the yuletide celebration, which was simply called Jul. Haakon came up with the idea of making beer brewing into a Christmas thing, to wean his people from celebrating Jul to celebrating Christmas. 

As fun as beer brewing is, not everyone partook in the practice. So Haakon went further. He made it law that everyone must brew beer at Christmas, else they'd pay a fine of "three marks."

How much money was three marks? That's a little hard to determine, because it looks like Norway had no standardized money at this time. The concept of money was relatively new to them. They'd long bartered, and they'd recently started using coins thanks to all the pillaged money Vikings had brought home from foreign lands, but the country wouldn’t have its own currency till the end of the century, so we aren't sure what "marks" referred to.

The second part of the law, however, leaves no room for doubt. If someone went three consecutive Christmases without brewing beer, they would forfeit all of their property. Half of it would go to the state, and half would go to the church. They would also be banished, though they could escape that by confessing their sins (no word though on whether confessing your sins earned you any kind of rebate on all the property they seized). People took the safer route and obeyed the law—the unjust but frothy delicious law. 

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Top image: JIP/Wiki Commons


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