What does Frith mean?
It is generally accepted to me "peace / calm" and is known from the continental Germanic tribes, Anglo-Saxons and Scandinavians. In Common Scandinavian Fred is the equivalent form and is the root-cognate to friend.
Frith has more meaning than just the state of peace; frith also has a great deal to do with the nature of various social relationships conductive to maintaining peace, as such it has a strong correlation to stability and security.
Frith is connected to kinship in a way that one cannot exist without the other in any tangible form. Kinship is the highest expression form of frith. While frith also shares the meaning of sib which is the root word of sibling; the two words were often used interchangeable. It is from this context that the extension of frith expresses the connection beyond family ties and bestows upon the individual(s) the full-fledged benefits and duties as a blood tied family member.
There is some precedence that frith is more than just a term of expression of a peace bond. In Anglo-Saxon England frith-guilds were established to maintain peace as a form of early summary justice. This is later reinforced after the Norman Conquest of England; William established a derofrið which literally means an animal-frith in the Royal Forests. It has been argued on this point that frið(frith) carried a legal precedence.
In Iceland frith has a dual meaning: friend and free. This is illustrated in the sagas time and time again. It is seen as the power that makes one friends with another through their freedom in the world. Freedom was not seen as being free of all responsibilities in life in-fact quite the opposite. Freedom is the ability to accept the responsibility to go forth into the world and face the evils and misdeeds; overcoming these adversities and this was done only through the reliance upon the kindred.
"Cruel was the hole the waves tore in my father?s kin-fence; unfilled, I know, and open stands the son-breach torn in me by the sea." - Egil Skallagrimson
The kindred was not a conceptual idea, it was a fundamental aspect of everyday life that influenced frith and kinship through adversity and prosperity.
Women in particular are frith-weavers; often marrying rival or warring families would intermarry to end bloodshed; the brides were often the peace bringers weaving bonds of peace between the two families. There was generally no question as to where a woman?s loyalty lay, first it was to her family and kin and then to the family to which she has married into. This was illustrated perfectly in the Volsung Saga; in Gu?un was unable to avenge her husband?s murder carried out by her brothers. It was also the women who carried out frith weaving into their communities; when frith was broken the family?s frith and honor were protected through the prodding of family members to avenge or seek payment from those who have offended or broken frith.