Vendetta

From Academic Kids

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Vendetta is a term for blood feud where relatives of someone who have been killed or otherwise wronged seek vengeance by killing or otherwise punishing the ones responsible or their relatives. The original word originates from Latin vindicta ("vengeance").

History

Originally, a vendetta referred to a blood feud between two families where kinsmen of the killed person intended to avenge their death by killing either those responsible for the killing or some of their relatives. The responsibility to maintain the vendetta usually falls on the person who is closest male relative to whoever has been killed or wronged, but other members of the family may take the mantle as well. If the culprit had disappeared or was already dead, the vengeance could extend to other relatives.

A similar concept exists in Nordic culture with the idea of weregild, which demanded payment of some kind from those responsible for a wrongful death.

Vendetta originated in societies with no central government (or where the central government did not consider itself responsible for mediating this kind of disputes) where family and kinship ties were the main source of authority. An entire family was considered responsible for whatever one of them had done. Sometimes even two separate branches of the same family could come to blows over some matter. The practice has mostly disappeared with more centralized societies where law enforcement and criminal law take responsibility of punishing the lawbreakers.

Modern Times

Vendetta is reputedly still practised in some areas in Corsica and Italy; especially Sardinia, Sicily and Calabria ; as well as Crete in Greece, where those seeking retribution do not accept or respect local law enforcement authority. Vendettas are generally based on a percieved or actual indifference on behalf of local law enforcement.

In Japan's feudal past the Samurai class upheld the honor of their family, clan, or their lord by katakiuchi (敵討ち), or revenge killings. These killings could also involve the relatives of an offender.

Similarly, honor killings are practiced among more conservative sections of Muslim society, usually against female members of a family for percieved or actual sexual transgressions.

Mutual vendetta may develop into a vicious circle of further killings, retaliation, counterattacks and all-out warfare that can last to the mutual extinction of both families. Often the primary cause is forgotten, and feuds continue simply because there has always been a feud.

Traditions similar to vendetta have existed almost anywhere, like between various Arabic people, Albanians and Circassians. Some of the gang wars between organized crime groups are effectively forms of vendetta, where the criminal organization (like Mafia "family") has taken the place of relatives.

In the modern parlance the term is sometimes extended to mean any other long-standing mutual quarrel, disagreement or rivalry. One political party may state that the other party is pursuing, for example, investigation of some matter as a form of political vendetta.


For the computer game, see Vendetta (game) For the metalcore band, see Vendetta(band)


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