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Recap / A Thing of Vikings Chapter 38 "...And The Truth"

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Book II, Chapter 7

Immediately prior to the conclusion of the Dragon War in AD 1040, Berk's society was structured around four major clans of 110-150 persons—Ingerman, Hofferson, Thorston, and Jorgenson—plus the Chief's clan, Haddock, plus approximately two hundred more clanless members of the Hooligan tribe, grouped in small families or as solitary individuals. During this time, most of the resources of the village and island were under the control of these five clans, granting them significant social and economic influence. This state of affairs is generally agreed to be a result of the depredations of the dragon raids, which made it such that only larger clans were truly viable, as they collectively had the resources to withstand the constant losses that would debilitate any smaller clan.

This can be seen in the case of Clan Haddock, which had been reduced from the 108 persons listed as their maximum in AD 875 down to four (Stoick, Valka, Hiccup, and Gothi) in AD 1025. Stoick was able to maintain control over the rest of the village due to tradition, but also due his charisma, leadership skills, physical prowess and strength—and due to being the sole inheritor of his clan's comparatively vast wealth, which he used judiciously in order to stay in power, creating debts of honor and capital that would need to be repaid by the recipient out of social expectations. He also made use of Clan Haddock's web of kin ties to the rest of the village; for examples, Stoick's sister, Serena, had married into the Jorgensons at about the same time Stoick had married Valka clan Jorgenson, and Stoick's paternal aunt Rhonda was the wife of Rikard clanhead Hofferson and thus the matriarch of a third of the Hofferson clan.

Despite all of Stoick's efforts and skilled politicking, however, his clan was simply not as vibrant and able to absorb damage as the other clans. Stoick's assets were mostly static compared with the others, despite the loans that he constantly engaged in for investment, and only his skills—in politics, and in dragonslaying—allowed him to defer the inevitable collapse of his clan, according to the Gobber Ledgers. This persisted until his son came up with a completely different solution to their problem, revived their clan, and changed the course of history.

Without Hiccup's efforts, however, Clan Haddock would almost certainly have joined the other nine extinct clans listed in the Hooligan records at the end of Stoick's life. Instead, by AD 1050, the social structure had shifted—occasionally catastrophically—to medium-sized clans, ranging in size between 30 and 70 people. Clan Jorgenson was the first to split, in response to the death of...

Corpus Historiae Berkiae, 1396

Tropes That Appear In This Chapter:

  • The Atoner: Heather hasn't tried to stop the harassment against her because she believes that she deserves it for the terrible things she had to do during her time at Vedrarfjord.
  • Irrational Hatred: Hiccup calls Woodnut out, pointing that he's essentially fishing for a reason to antagonize Heather.
  • Not Me This Time: Of all the shenanigans Burl did, the fake love letter and cutting Heather's harness wasn't one of them.


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