The Value of a Thumb

Injuries and Disability in Swedish Medieval Law


  • Christine Ekholst Uppsala University


disability, history, law, Sweden


This article analyses provisions dealing with bodily injuries in Swedish medieval law. It argues that the lawmakers defined impairment as a permanent injury, something that could only be assessed after a year had passed. The article further argues that the legislators conceptualized disability as the permanent consequences of an injury that would affect a person’s life. It suggests that the legislators considered that an impairment had become a disability when the person could no longer feed themselves, walk, attend church or go to the market. Finally, while an impairment was paid for with a specific ‘impairment fine’, and thus must have been perceived as something negative that needed compensation, there is nothing in the law texts that indicates that a person with a disability was viewed in negative light in general.





Ekholst, C. (2021). The Value of a Thumb: Injuries and Disability in Swedish Medieval Law. Mirator, 20(2), 38–53. Noudettu osoitteesta