Talk:Icelandic Commonwealth

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Removing the anarchist section completely[edit]

For the time being, that is. It is badly sourced (too much reliance on 1 or 2 sources), contains numerous weasel words and a few audacious OrRe claims (e.g. contrary to its bold claim, the church in no way destroyed the godar and landowners, that's a gross oversimplification). I don't mind a section including the response of political philosophers to the governmental model of the independent Iceland era, but it should not take up the bulk of the article on an important historical topic and it should not be written by an amateur who obviously doesn't know what he's writing abouthalf the time. Ergo, this section is getting deleted so far. But not permanently - feel free to revert it back into the article, once the rest of the article is properly covered and finished and once the section on the response of anarchist theoreticians gets a proper rewrite from an expert on the topic. Thank you. --ZemplinTemplar (talk) 21:43, 16 December 2012 (UTC)

Suggest you consider PhD dissertation "ORDERED ANARCHY, STATE, AND RENT-SEEKING: THE ICELANDIC COMMONWEALTH 930-1262" by Birgir T. Runolfsson Solvason (Icelandic) as a possible source for claim of anarchy vs State. Full disertation here:

Another excellent English-language source is Jesse Byock:

The entire basis for the conflict of anarchy, or not, on Iceland seems to center on an equivocation of the word "anarchy".

Definition of ANARCHY (Miriam Webster)

a : absence of government b : a state of lawlessness or political disorder due to the absence of governmental authority

By the alternative definitions of the word either position could be defended, however one would be considering two completely different concepts and hence be committing the fallacy of equivocation.

Of course, if one wishes to find the essential difference between State and Anarchy, hence ensuring that these are mutually exclusive (which is a logical requirement for reasoned arguments) you will find that the essential difference is, as identified by Max Weber, that the state possesses a delegatable monopoly on the legitimate use of physical force, whereas an Anarchy would lack this feature.

In this sense Iceland at the time WAS anarchistic. Still it does not necessarily correspond to the AnarchoCapitalist ideal even so, as there was an Oligopoly on Court services, and law did not at all conform to AnarchoCapitalist ideals (See Laws of Early Iceland (Gragas) translated by Andrew Dennis, Peter Foote and Richard Perkins. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:22, 29 March 2013 (UTC)

Removed the anarchist links in See also[edit]

Honestly, what kind of politicized rewrite of history is going on here ?! Unless professional historians declare pre-Norwegian Icelandic history to be explicitly anarchist in its political nature, you have absolutely no right to shill in your prefered political ideology and decieve the visitors of this encyclopedia, who only want true, honest facts about the period ! I've decided to leave the bit about anarchist historian opinions on the period, but I modified it to "these historians believe that", because the current wording sounded like it was a globally accepted fact, by Icelandic and international hitorians alike. Which it isn't. By the way : Where's a critique of the pro-anarchist reading of Icelandic history in that section ? or has wikipedia turned into a soapbox of politicized pseudohistorians ? Also, as I said, the pro-anarchist links at the bottom of the page are utter nonsense from a historical point of view, so I deleted them. Did Iceland have a unique political structure ? Yes. Was it explicitly anarchistic ? Not by any means - unless you're the type of person who would label the economies of medieval Europe as "capitalist". To user Zazaban : You say that "Iceland is frequently cited as an anarchy". By whom ?! Weasel words, much ? Guest 12:25, 28 May 2011 (Central European Time) — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk)


This is an English encyclopedia, and there is an English word for 'Alþingi'. It should either be in italics: Alþingi or in English 'Althing'. See WP:UE for reasons why the second may be preferable. Septentrionalis 22:49, 22 May 2005 (UTC)

What should be used in english for what is known in Iceland as "Íslenska þjóðveldið", The Icelandic Commonwealth or The Icelandic Free State? Both get about same amount of hits in google, and neither can be described as an accurate translation from the Icelandic word. I beliewe though that the Icelandic Free State can be more accurate description what it actually was. It was not very similar to the British Commonwealth, wich could create confusion. I thus reccomend changing it.

Either is fine by me. The most recent work in English on the history of Iceland uses "Commonwealth" so I'd lean towards that. But the article should mention both possibilities. Neither 'commonwealth', 'free state' nor 'þjóðveldi' really says much about what kind of (non)-state it was so it's probably not a big deal. - Haukur Þorgeirsson 20:12, 6 December 2005 (UTC)

The reason Commonwealth was used could be because of influence from wikipedia. But with my little knowledge of English I would guess commonwealth would suggest something of a common ownership, something that would claim providing for its citizens with from a common wealth for the common good. Íslenska þjóðveldið was not claiming that, but it was all about the freedom of the individual (provided he owned something) against the government, so The Icelandic Free State would describe it much more accurately. But mentioning both would of course be neccasery.


This article feels like it was written by someone who had limited interest in the Icelandic "Commonwealth" except insofar as it provides an instance of "anarcho-capitalism" (a dubious proposition at best) at work. -- Palthrow 14:57, 12 April 2006 (UTC)

It used to be much worse; please feel free to edit. Septentrionalis 18:42, 21 April 2006 (UTC)
Please remove the anarchism links at the end of the article. Anarchy as a political system (or non-system, whatever) has nothing to do with the oligarchic system described which cannot even be called democratic by modern standards.-- (talk) 15:00, 26 April 2009 (UTC)
Iceland is frequently cited as an anarchy - I'm not sure if I agree with it myself, but it's based on the sources, so... Zazaban (talk) 17:31, 26 April 2009 (UTC)

Bad original research by left-wing bigots: all that Wikipedia does NOT need[edit]

  • "If so, it developed into an oligopoly of government; and then into a monopoly, which was also a monopoly of foreign trade, under the Kings of Norway."

This piece of original research and clever manipulation of facts and sub-repticious (almost subliminal, I would say), veiled critique of laissez-faire is ridiculous (not to say shameful, as it is extremely POV but acts as though it isn't) and was clearly added in bad faith just in an attempt to discredit Friedman's theory. Most disputable of all, it implies that an anarcho-capitalist society would inherently develop "unfree" societal and economic relations, when in fact that only happened due to overseas intervention by a foreign power. If you want to counterbalance Friedman's claims, please be so kind as to present some other reputable source, not original research and certainly not of this sort! Justice III 11:05, 7 August 2006 (UTC)


The article contained a factual error -- the ð character is pronounced as a soft [th] -- like the word there in English. This, at any rate, has been its pronounciation in Icelandic for a very long time. It may have been different during the time of the commonwealth (who knows how they pronounced things back then, really?), but I see no reason to speculate that it was a hard th sound. Palthrow 13:42, 9 August 2006 (UTC)

Former country infobox[edit]

I have added one to the article. Opinions? -- Nidator T / C 15:30, 26 October 2007 (UTC)

WikiProject class rating[edit]

This article was automatically assessed because at least one WikiProject had rated the article as start, and the rating on other projects was brought up to start class. BetacommandBot 15:51, 10 November 2007 (UTC)


To avert possible edit war, I've created this. Zazaban (talk) 20:11, 17 December 2008 (UTC)

Primary and Secondary Sources[edit]

In the Wikipedia article Sagas of Icelanders it states that

"The Sagas of Icelanders (Icelandic: Íslendingasögur) - many of which are also known as family sagas — are prose histories mostly describing events that took place in Iceland in the 10th and early 11th centuries, during the so-called Saga Age"

By the standards of those Sagas, many of the assertions contained in the current article are wrong. For example the role of "Judges" in the Icelandic court system, or the penalties for man-slaying (as opposed to murder, which was limited to secret killing and/or killing by poison or magic), to name just two discrepancies.

Two points:

1) The fact that the Sagas have high literary quality doesn't automatically rule them out as historical sources. They didn't have any "professional" historians at the time, and their idea of what was important in a history was far different from ours - vide the extensive genealogies that are embedded in every Saga.

2) If there are other documents closer in age to the period of the Commonwealth, they would of course be entitled to priority, especially if they agree with each other generally, or at least as well as the Sagas do (for the Sagas are in agreement about many specific details as well as the general background of the social and economic life of the Commonwealth).

But where are these other sources - either primary sources, or written directly from primary sources?

I am not aware of any. If they exist it would be important to refer to them to bolster some of the dubious claims in the article as well as to be listed in the bibliography.

As far as I know, prior to the overthrow of them Commonwealth (1262 CE), there were none.

Which leaves us the Sagas - flawed as they may be - as the best primary sources we have.


I have just found a secondary source in English by an Icelandic speaker - "Viking Age Iceland" by Professor Jesse Byock of UCLA. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:03, 8 February 2012 (UTC)

Subjective statements and primary sources dating from 1868[edit]

The first paragraph of "Goðorð system" contains subjective descriptions such as "unique judicial structure" and "uniquely democratic structure" (note the adjective "unique"). At the same time the only citation is an article from 1868, which -- besides obviously expressing obsolete knowledge of history -- is likely coloured by national romanticism of the 19th century. There is also the description of "consensus", which does not seem to be found in the article cited.

I believe that this article along with some others, such as the one on Icelandic nationalism, are littered with falsehoods spouted by nationalists and nationalistic views of history as recalled by memory from misguided elementary school textbooks. These views tend to put Iceland in a much more pioneering role in history than is justified by data. While perhaps not devastating, I believe these tendencies (just as they might appear in descriptions of other nations and countries, especially smaller ones, those less likely to be checked by the world population) are damaging to the credibility of Wikipedia as a source on world history.

To sum up, I see no reason that most of this first paragraph of the "Goðorð system" paragraph should exist and I suggest that editors be more suspicious of articles potentially tainted with nationalistic views.

Einaraxel (talk) 10:05, 2 July 2014 (UTC)

Removing the Libertarian article used as a source.[edit]

Complaints can go here, don't start an edit war, and please stop projecting modern ideologies into the past as a way of justifying them. Historians hate it. — Preceding unsigned comment added by WearyTunes (talkcontribs) 02:52, 19 September 2015 (UTC)

Removal of claims of anarcho-capitalist characteristics[edit]

If you are intending to remove this information, please discuss it here on the talk page before making edits which could be interpreted as destructive. The reason I say they could be interpreted as destructive is because the section contains lots of content which is relevant to the Icelandic Commonwealth. You don't have to agree with what the scholars say in their quotations, but removing the entire sections can make people think you have some agenda to push. I am going to WP:AGF. To anyone questioning the section, please consider the following points:

  • For what they are being used for, both sources cited are reliable (see next bullet).
  • Both sources are used for quoting the author, and the sources are written by the people being quoted themselves.
  • Not discussing this at all may make readers who have heard about these claims think the Wikipedia article is incomplete (which we don't want), or that the claims were never actually made (and the published sources show that the claims certainly have been made). On the flip side, we don't want to give WP:UNDUE weight to these claims of course. But, in it's current form, I don't think the article is giving it undue weight.
  • If you have a problem with only one of the sources, please don't remove information pertaining to the other source.
  • Both of these sources are used elsewhere on the wiki without a problem (e.g. on anarcho-capitalism).

Please discuss any further intentions of removal or concerns with the content here. IWillBuildTheRoads (talk) 20:26, 16 January 2017 (UTC)

It's clear that your intention here is not to give readers a broad and balanced understanding of the Icelandic commonwealth, but rather, to push an agenda by insisting on using LewRockwell(dot)com as a WP:RS for historical information, which it is not --- I've left it in the article. Also, the massive section you've inserted, including the unusually large block quotes, is a clear violation of WP:Weight. Lastly, I needed to remove "anarcho-capitalist" as it's a clear violation of WP:OR; the source used to support it in the first paragraph of the section [1] makes no mention of it - this is a good example of what original research looks like and is against Wikipedia policy. -- Somedifferentstuff (talk) 10:47, 22 January 2017 (UTC)

The "anarcho-capitalist" designation should not be in Wiki voice[edit]

I have no problem with attributing it to Long and Friedman (as the article currently does). If it's going to be designed 'anarcho-capitalist' in Wiki-voice, it needs to be sourced to high quality reliable sources. Furthermore, it is extremely annoying that one user has started to blanket remove content on this Wikipedia just because he/she can't get her way on slapping an ancap label on the Icelandic Commonwealth in Wiki-voice. Snooganssnoogans (talk) 13:39, 2 June 2017 (UTC) went against WP:NO PERSONAL ATTACKS by calling me a bullshit (BS) article runing voiceover while i tried to assumme WP:GOODFAITH not any "wikivoice" just me being polite to YOU! YOU! what did i do wrong? how did i "ruin" this article by removing Contentious or orignial research material Ukrainetz1 (talk) 13:46, 2 June 2017 (UTC)
This article is a work in progress, as many articles on Icelandic history are. You not only removed content that could have been improved but also removed reliably sourced material. You did all of this shortly after having had a controversial edit rejected and by being passive aggressive in your edit summaries. Snooganssnoogans (talk) 13:51, 2 June 2017 (UTC)
I don't know if this is an issue any more, given that the disruptive user has been indef blocked, but if it's not, it'll come up as one again (at least, judging by the contents of this talk page). To that end: the polity in question should never be described outright as anarcho-capitalist in WP's voice, barring extraordinarily robust sourcing, as opposed to qualifying all such descriptions in relation to their sources, if only because of the inherent dubiousness of such extreme anachronism. Advocata (talk) 19:36, 5 June 2017 (UTC)

How should we refer to the political structure of the society in WikiVoice? Should it be referred to as statist or disputed? Currently the article describes the society in statist terms (e.g., the first sentence calls it a state), and then mentions that some people believe it was anarchist in the legacy section. Is this what we are supposed to do? IWillBuildTheRoads (talk) 18:14, 9 June 2017 (UTC)