Viking Settlement of Iceland c. 870–1263


Map Code: Ax00551

Continuous settlement of Iceland began with the expedition of the stepbrothers Ingolf and Hjorleif from Norway in the early 870s. In the Vestmannaeyjar archipelago, Hjorleif was slain by his Irish slaves. In turn, Ingolf slew the slaves then, moving in stages during the summer sailing seasons, edged northwest, before founding a permanent settlement on the present site of Reykjavik. The coastlines were then steadily settled in the next decades, by a mix of Norwegian and Gaelic immigrants (the latter often slaves of the former). In 930 a commonwealth was established, governed by a summer parliament, the Althing. Iceland Christianized during the 11th century, but during the 12th century power became increasingly monopolized by the Sturlungar clan, whose allegiance to Norway led to the end of Icelandic independence through the Old Covenant in 1262–64.

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