Iceland Old History

By | January 2, 2023

Iceland is an independent nation in Northern Europe. With the capital city of Reykjavik, Iceland 2020 population is estimated at 341,254 according to countryaah. In 874, a Norwegian became the first Nordic to settle in Iceland. He was followed by more and by 930 everything began to hold annual meetings. In 1262, Iceland joined Norway, and in 1380 Norway and Iceland were linked to Denmark. Iceland became almost a Danish colony. In 1918, Iceland was recognized as an independent state in personnel union with Denmark.

In the 8th century, a few Christian men, believed to have been Irish monks, lived as hermits in Iceland. However, they should have given up when the Asa-believing Scandinavians started to immigrate.

  • Comprehensive guide to and popular abbreviations of Iceland, covering history, economy, and social conditions.

In 874, the Norwegian Ingólfur Arnarson became the first Nordic to settle in Iceland. He built a farm at Reykjavík (Rökviken). Thus, the so-called land-name period began, when the land was taken over by Norwegians. Because coastal Norway at this time was united into a kingdom under Harald Hårfagre, many Norwegian great men chose to emigrate to Iceland. For Iceland political system, please check computerminus.

Iceland joins Norway

The land name period is counted up to 930, when the Icelanders adopted a common law according to the Norwegian model. From this year on, a common thing, everything, was held every summer at Þingvellir east of Reykjavík. Everything was legislative and judgmental, while the executive power lay with the local chiefs, the good people. In the year 1000, everything decided that Icelanders would adopt Christianity as an official religion, even if they were allowed to practice their old asatro in silence. In this way, they succeeded in preventing newly baptized kings in the other Nordic countries started crusades against Iceland to save souls and collect taxes.

Iceland was a sanctuary until 1262, when everything was decided to join the country to Norway. The island had then gone through a civil war between the most powerful great men, the country was plagued by epidemics and misery, and the lands were overgrazed. Fishing replaced agriculture as the most important industry, but Icelanders depended on Norwegian vessels for fishing exports and other trade.

Iceland maintained a high degree of self-government during the union with Norway. During this time the church was given a strong position of power.

Personnel union with Denmark

In 1380, Norway and thus Iceland was joined to Denmark in a personnel union, the future Kalmar Union, which later also included Sweden. When the Union was finally dissolved, Iceland and Norway became the Danish sound kingdom from 1536.

When the Danes began to enforce the reformation in Iceland, they encountered hard resistance. Catholicism was first defeated since the Danish king Kristian III in 1550 executed the powerful bishop of Hólar, Jón Arason and two of his sons. Large lands belonging to the church were placed under the Danish crown.

After the Reformation, Iceland became almost a colony to Denmark. Everything was gradually reduced to a malfunctioning court. In 1602, King Kristian IV banned all trade with Iceland except for certain merchants who paid for licenses from the Danish krone. The monopoly became devastating for the Icelandic economy with its strong dependence on fish exports. To this came a climate deterioration, “little ice age”. During the 18th century, the population declined as a result of emergency years and epidemics. The trade monopoly was first abolished in 1854.

Iceland is moving towards independence

In the 19th century, a nationalist movement emerged among intellectual Icelanders living in Denmark. A leading figure among these was Jón Sigurðsson. In 1843 the nationalists succeeded in getting everything restored as an advisory body (it had been closed down since 1799).

After hard negotiations under Jón Sigurðsson’s leadership, the Icelanders in the 1870s gained their own constitution, and everything was given legislative powers. In 1915, universal suffrage was introduced for both men and women (five years later, a woman was elected to everything). In 1916, the first political parties, the Social Democratic Party and the Progress Party, were formed.

In 1918, Iceland was recognized as an independent state in personnel union with Denmark. The Danish king remained as Icelandic head of state, and it was also the duty of Denmark to defend Iceland against external attacks. New negotiations for the future of the Union would have been held in 1940, but they did not come about because of the Second World War.



Very low unemployment

The lowest unemployment rate in almost two decades is noted, only 0.8 percent.


Hunting ceases

Iceland ceases commercial whaling. The reason is that the election hunt is no longer profitable.


Ont to cod

The stock of cod in the waters around Iceland has reached a historically low level according to the Institute of Marine Research, which recommends sharply reduced catch quotas.


Conservative and Social Democrats form government

The Independence Party forms government together with the Alliance. Independence party Geir Haarde continues as prime minister.

Conservatives become whalers

The ruling Conservative Independence Party wins the general election with 37 percent of the vote. However, the other government party, the Progress Party, backs strongly. The opposition Social Democratic Alliance gets 27 percent, and the Socialist Left-The Greens advance.

Iceland Old History