The early history of Iceland became known from the famous sagas, in which the first inhabitants of the island retold the events that took place here. The sagas were recorded on specially treated leather.
The island was discovered in the 8th century by the Irish. The Norwegian Vikings were the first to come to Iceland in the 9th-10th century AD. It was a forced relocation of those who were dissatisfied with the creation of a unified royal power in Norway. The Norwegians settled along the coast and were engaged in pastoral cattle breeding and sea fishing.
Representatives of the clan nobility enjoyed a privileged position on the island. They met annually during the summer months for a council – the Althing – to resolve important issues. For the first time, such a council met in 930, since then the formation of a democratic system began. The chiefs held legislative and judicial powers and were clearly separated; there was no executive power, because the settlers did not want to return to the unlimited freedoms of one ruler, as happened in Norway. By decision of the Althing, Christianity was introduced to Iceland in 1000.
In the early 13th century, civil war broke out in Iceland. Taking advantage of internal strife, in 1262 the Norwegians captured the island. According to the treaty signed between the countries, Iceland recognized the supreme power of the Norwegian kings. Over time, the power of the king increased – royal officials replaced the former leaders. Check a2zdirectory for old history of Iceland.
In 1395, Iceland, together with Norway, as a result of the signing of the Kalmar Union, came under the rule of Denmark. Denmark established a monopoly on trade, and the reformation of the church was also carried out. In 1550, the last Catholic bishop of the island was removed, and the Icelanders were forced to accept Lutheranism. The monopoly on trade was especially tightened in the 17th and 18th centuries, which led to the impoverishment of the local population. In 1800, one of the strongholds of the Icelandic state, the Althing, was abolished. At the beginning of the 19th century, having learned about the revolutionary ideas of some Europeans, Icelanders also began to seek political freedoms and local self-government. The first result of the struggle was the restoration of the Althing in 1843, followed by the abolition of the Danish trade monopoly, and the crown of these events was the adoption of a constitution in 1874, which granted Iceland limited autonomy.
In 1903, the liberal Danish government extended Iceland’s autonomy. The post of Minister for Icelandic Affairs was introduced. More and more negotiations were held between the two countries, which led to the fact that on December 1, 1918, Iceland was declared an independent kingdom in personal union with Denmark. Both countries agreed to have one king, and Denmark partially controlled Iceland’s foreign policy. In 1920, a constitution was adopted, according to which legislative power belonged to the bicameral Althingi, and the Government of Iceland was appointed by the king.
Due to the growing militancy around the world, Iceland immediately declared its neutrality. However, during the Second World War, after the occupation of Denmark and Norway by Germany and after the landing of English troops on the island, having secured from England a promise to withdraw its troops after the war, Iceland became a strategic base for England. Later, in 1941, US troops landed in Iceland. The United States and Iceland entered into a treaty allowing the United States to patrol the North Atlantic from here.
In December 1943, the agreement on the union of Denmark and Iceland, concluded in 1918, expired. Most of the parties were in favor of breaking the union. In 1944, a popular referendum was held, the majority of voters were in favor of declaring a republic, and on June 17 of the same year, the Republic of Iceland was proclaimed. In 1946 Iceland became a member of the UN and in 1949 it joined NATO.
In foreign policy, Iceland is remembered for the so-called “cod wars”. Due to the small catches of fish in the middle of the 20th century, the country decided to expand the border of the fishing zone for foreign vessels. The result was a ban on the sale of Icelandic fish in the UK, as well as a ban on Icelandic fish carriers from entering British ports. The expansion of national waters has occurred every time the fish catch in Iceland has been small. Disputes with other states subsided only in the 90s, when during negotiations between the European Free Trade Association and the European Union, the 200-mile fishing zone established by Iceland was recognized.