The Foundation of the North

Let me tell you about Iceland and the historical foundation of the North. It is a saga without kings and queens, rather warlords and free spirits. Those who support the Nordic monarchical system with historical arguments are therefore wrong. Here’s fact …

In 930, the settlers founded the Icelandic Commonwealth, with no government, but a system of law and its private enforcement. A German monk and chronicler, Adam from Bremen, wrote of the Icelanders of the Commonwealth period: They have no king but the law …

The Icelandic Commonwealth between 930 and 1262 had “some features” of an anarcho-capitalist society – chieftainship could be bought and sold for money and loyalty to the different chieftains was also for sale.

At the national level, the Althing was both court and legislature; there was no king or other central executive power. Iceland was divided into numerous goðorð (plural same as singular), which were essentially clans or alliances run by chieftains called goðar (singular goði). The chieftains provided for defense and appointed judges to resolve disputes between goðorð members. The goðorð were not strictly geographical districts. Instead, membership in a goðorð was an individual’s decision, and one could change goðorð at will. However, no group of lesser men could elect or declare someone a goði. The position was the property of the goði; and could be bought, sold, borrowed, and inherited. If a person wanted to appeal a decision made by his goðorð court or if a dispute arose between members of different goðorð, the case would be referred to a system of higher-level courts, leading up to the four regional courts which made up the Althing, which consisted of the goðar of the Four Quarters of Iceland.

The Commonwealth lasted until 1262 when the Icelanders accepted the rule of the Norwegian king, later to become subjects of the Danish king. In the 19th century, the Icelanders started arguing for independence from Denmark, and in 1944, a republic was established.

The Icelandic chieftains had to accept Norway’s ruler Haakon IV as king by the signing of the Gamli sáttmáli after severe pressure from the Norwegian kingdom. This led evidentially do the end of the Free State of Iceland. But its memory will not be forgotten …

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About tegis

This blog belongs to Carl-Mikael A. Teglund - tegis. Swedish emigrant with a heart for languages, philosophy, history, and politics (classical liberalism in the European tradition). Go ahead and look, read, or listen. I'm sure you will find it interesting.
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