VENDETTA (Ital. from Lat. vindicta, revenge, vindicare, to defend oneself), the term applied to the custom of the family feud, by which the nearest kinsman of a murdered man was obliged to take up the quarrel and avenge his death. From being an obligation upon the nearest, it grew to be an obligation on all the relatives, involving families in bitter private wars among themselves. It is a development of that stage in civilization common to all primitive communities, when the injury done was held to be more than personal, a wrong done to the whole gens .
The term originated in Corsica, where the vendetta has long played an important part in the social life. If the murderer could not be found, his family were liable to fall victims to the vendetta. The feud was sometimes complicated by the vendetta transversale, when each of two branches of a family had a murder to revenge on the other. In Corsica it was regarded as the most sacred family duty. Mediators (parolanti) sometimes intervened successfully to end the feuds, and extort an oath to forgo vengeance. The custom still survives in Corsica in its complete form, and partially in Sardinia, Sicily, Montenegro, Afghanistan, among the Mainotes of Greece, the Albanians, Druses and Bedouins.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)