Timeline of Icelandic history

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This is a timeline of Icelandic history, comprising important legal and territorial changes and political events in Iceland and its predecessor states. To read about the background to these events, see history of Iceland.


9th century[edit]

Year Event
860 Naddoðr discovers Iceland.
He was heading to the Faroe Islands but drifted off course and landed near Reyðarfjörður in Iceland. As he returned to his boat it started to snow and thereby he reputedly named the land Snæland (lit. Snowland).[citation needed]
Garðarr Svavarsson discovers Iceland.
Blown from a storm near the Orkney Islands. He circumnavigated Iceland, thus the first to establish that the landmass was an island. He stayed for one winter in Skjálfandi. He praised the new land and called it Garðarshólmi (lit. Garðar's Islet).[citation needed]
<870 Hrafna-Flóki Vilgerðarson becomes the first Scandinavian to deliberately sail to Iceland as news of a country in the west reached Norway.[1][2] When Hrafna-Flóki climbed a mountain in Vatnsfjörður he spotted drift ice in a fjord that inspired the name of the country, Ísland (lit. Iceland).[3]
874 Ingólfr Arnarson becomes the first permanent Nordic settler of Iceland.[4] The settlement of Iceland begins.[5]

10th century[edit]

Year Event
930 The Icelandic Commonwealth is founded with the establishment of the Icelandic parliament (Althing), which had legislative and judicial power,[6] but no executive power was present in the country.[7]

11th century[edit]

Year Event
1000 The Christianisation of Iceland is initiated due to pressure from the King of Norway.[8]
> 1000 The Fifth Court is established as an appellate court for the quarter courts of Iceland.[9]
1056 Ísleifur Gissurarson becomes the first bishop of Skálholt.[10]
1096 A tithe is instigated by the church authorities.[11]

12th century[edit]

Year Event
1104 The volcano Hekla erupts, resulting in the devastation of Þjórsárdalur.[12]
1106 Jón Ögmundsson becomes the first Bishop of Hólar.[13]
1112 Þingeyraklaustur is founded as the first cloister in Iceland.
Jón Ögmundsson, Bishop of Hólar, founded the cloister in 1112 but it was not formally established until 1133.[14]
1122 Ari Þorgilsson begins to write the historical work Book of Icelanders.[15]

13th century[edit]

Year Date Event
1208 9 September The Battle of Víðines takes place. Kolbeinn Tumason is mortally wounded.[16]
1238 21 August The Battle of Örlygsstaðir takes place.[17] Sturla Sighvatsson and Sighvatr Sturluson are killed.[18]
1244 25 June The Battle of the Gulf takes place.[19]
1246 19 April The Battle of Haugsnes takes place.[20]
1253 22 October The Flugumýri Arson takes place.[21]
1258 Un­known Gissur Þorvaldsson is appointed Jarl of Iceland by the King of Norway.
The appointment aimed to further solidify the king's control over Iceland which was still independent. Gissur Þorvaldsson was also given domain over Southern farthing, Northern farthing and Borgarfjörður which had previously been seceded to the king by their respective chieftains.[22]
1262 Un­known The Old Covenant is delivered to Iceland.
The agreement made Icelanders subjects of the King of Norway and gave Icelanders and Norwegians equal rights in each other's countries. It received its first signatures in 1262 and went into effect in 1264 after receiving its final signatures.[23]

14th century[edit]

Year Date Event
1397 17 June The Kalmar Union is established.
The kingdoms of Denmark, Norway, Sweden and their respective dependencies joined in a personal union.[24]

15th century[edit]

Year Event
1402 The Black Death hits Iceland for the first time.[25]
It is estimated that half of the population died in the years 1402–1404.[26]
1433 Jöns Gerekesson, bishop of Skálholt, is killed.[27]
1494 The Black Death hits Iceland for the second time.[25]
It is estimated that half of the population died in the years 1494–1495.[26]

16th century[edit]

Year Event
1501 English merchants plunder Bessastaðir.[citation needed]
1513 Leiðarhólmsskrá.[citation needed]
1522 Sveinsstaðafundur.[citation needed]
1539 Gissur Einarsson is made bishop.[citation needed]
1541 The Skálholt see turns Lutheran.[citation needed]
1550 Bishop Jón Arason and his sons are beheaded in Skálholt.[citation needed]
1551 The Hólar see turns Lutheran.[citation needed]
1559 The English are driven from Vestmannaeyjar.[citation needed]
1571 Guðbrandur Þorláksson becomes bishop of Hólar.[citation needed]
1584 Guðbrandsbiblía, the first Icelandic bible, is published.[citation needed]

17th century[edit]

Year Event
1602 The King of Denmark grants Danish merchants monopoly on trade with Iceland.[citation needed]
1615 The Slaying of the Spaniards take place.[citation needed]
1625 The first person, Jón Rögnvaldsson, is burnt alive for witchcraft.[citation needed]
1627 The Turkish Abductions occur.
Hundreds of Icelanders are kidnapped by Barbary pirates.[28]
1639 Brynjólfur Sveinsson becomes bishop of Skálholt.[citation needed]
1656 Kirkjuból witch trial.[29]
The Flateyjarbók manuscript is sent to Denmark.[citation needed]
1662 Icelanders are made to accept the absolute monarchy of the King of Denmark.[citation needed]
1666 The Passion Psalms are composed by Hallgrímur Pétursson.[citation needed]

18th century[edit]

Year Date Event
1703 First Icelandic census.[citation needed]
1707 The Bubonic plague spreads in Iceland. A quarter of the population dies.[citation needed]
1712 Jarðabók is completed.[citation needed]
1720 The manuscripts of Árni Magnússon are moved to Denmark.[citation needed]
1760 Icelanders start exporting salted fish to Spain.[citation needed]
1783 The Mist Hardships occur.
A volcanic eruption at Laki destroys a great deal of the livestock in Iceland, causing famine and misery. 20-25% of Iceland perishes.[30][31][32]
1787 Danish trade monopoly ceases.[citation needed]
1800 6 June The Althing is abolished.[citation needed]

19th century[edit]

Year Date Event
1801 The bishoprics of Skálholt and Hólar are united, located in Reykjavík.[citation needed]
1805 The Bessastaðaskóli is founded.[citation needed]
1807 Trade with Danish Iceland all but disappears due to the invasion of the English and their capture of the neutral Danish fleat at Copenhagen, they had credible intel that Napoleon usign the Continental System was going to seize that fleat and invade England.[33][34] It was part of the Napoleonic Wars.
1809 Jørgen Jørgensen seizes power in Iceland and declares independence, but is deposed by the Danes shortly afterwards.[citation needed]
1835 The first copy of Fjölnir is published.[citation needed]
1841 Jón Sigurðsson starts publishing New Associated Writings.[citation needed]
1843 8 March The King of Denmark orders the Althing to be resurrected.[citation needed]
1845 1 July The Althing is resurrected, and the house of the Menntaskóli í Reykjavík is opened.[citation needed]
1851 National Assembly of 1851.[citation needed]
1855 The Danes grant Icelanders free trade.[citation needed]
1871 The Danish Parliament passes the Stöðulög laws.[citation needed]
1874 The King of Denmark visits Iceland and grants Icelanders a constitution. 1000 years of settlement celebrated throughout the country.[citation needed]
1875 First session of the restored Althing which has the power to pass laws. The Askja volcano erupts.[citation needed]
1880 The climate grows much colder, driving many Icelanders to emigrate to the New World.[citation needed]
1894 Foundation of the Hið íslenska kvenfélag and the start of the women's movement on Iceland.

20th century[edit]

Year Date Event
1907 Foundation of the Icelandic Women's Rights Association.
1915 Universal suffrage.[citation needed]
1916 The political parties Social Democratic Party and Progressive Party are founded.[citation needed]
1918 1 December Iceland becomes a sovereign, independent nation. The Danish King remains head of state.[citation needed]
1922 Jarðræktarlögin.[citation needed]
1929 The Icelandic Independence Party is founded.[citation needed]
1930 20 December The Icelandic Communist Party is founded. The Icelandic State Radio begins broadcasting.[citation needed]
1939 Following the occupation of Denmark by Nazi Germany, a national emergency government is formed under Sveinn Björnsson.[citation needed]
1940 10 May The British invade, violating Icelandic neutrality.[citation needed]
1941 7 July The United States Army, still officially neutral, replaces the British occupation force.[citation needed]
1944 17 June Iceland becomes an independent republic, severing the last political ties to Denmark. Sveinn Björnsson becomes president.[citation needed]
1946 The Keflavik Agreement.[citation needed]
1948 Iceland receives Marshall Aid from the United States.[citation needed]
1949 30 March Riots break out on Austurvöllur.[citation needed]
4 April Iceland joins the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.[citation needed]
1951 The United States Army establishes a base in Keflavík.[citation needed]
1952 1 August Exclusive economic zone extended to 4 nautical miles. Ásgeir Ásgeirsson becomes president.[citation needed]
1958 Exclusive economic zone extended to 12 nautical miles.[citation needed]
1963 14 November Volcanic eruption forms Surtsey.[citation needed]
1966 30 September The Icelandic State Television begins its first broadcasts.[citation needed]
1968 1 August Kristján Eldjárn becomes president. Collapse of the fishing industry.[citation needed]
1970 1 January Iceland joins the European Free Trade Association.[citation needed]
1972 Exclusive economic zone extended to 50 nautical miles.[citation needed]
1973 23 January Volcanic eruption in Vestmannaeyjar.[citation needed]
1975 Exclusive economic zone extended to 200 nautical miles.[citation needed]
1980 1 August Vigdís Finnbogadóttir becomes president of Iceland, the first woman in the world to become elected head of state.[citation needed]
1994 1 January Iceland joins the European Economic Area.[citation needed]
1996 1 August Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson becomes president.[citation needed]

21st century[edit]

Year Date Event
2000 17–21 June Southern Iceland is hit by two earthquakes, the first 6.6 ML and the second 6.5 ML. There were no fatalities but a few people were injured and there was some considerable damage to infrastructure.
2004 2 June The president of Iceland, Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, refuses to sign a bill from the parliament for the first time in the nation's history.[citation needed]
2005 23 March Bobby Fischer moves to Iceland after having been granted an Icelandic passport and full citizenship.[citation needed]
2006 30 September The United States Army abandons the military base in Keflavík, thus ending a 55-year U.S. military presence in Iceland.[citation needed]
2008 29 May A doublet earthquake strikes southern Iceland with a composite magnitude of 6.1 MW[35]
September Iceland faces financial crisis following the collapse of the country's three major commercial banks.[citation needed]
2009 26 January After months of rallies outside the parliament building the Icelandic government resigns.[citation needed]
1 February After the collapse of the government, Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir becomes the first female Prime Minister of Iceland and the world's first openly gay head of government of the modern era.[citation needed]
16 July The parliament narrowly passes a bill authorising the government to apply for EU membership.[citation needed]
2010 5 January The president of Iceland, Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, refuses to sign a bill from the parliament for the second time in the nation's history.[citation needed]
20 March Volcanic eruption of Eyjafjallajökull.[citation needed]
2011 20 February The president of Iceland, Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, refuses to sign a bill from the parliament for the third time in the nation's history.[citation needed]
21 May Volcanic eruption of Grímsvötn.[citation needed]
2016 4 April Panama Papers reveal that Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson had links to private companies dealing in offshore tax havens, resulting in a call for a snap election"[36]
1 August Guðni Th. Jóhannesson becomes president of Iceland.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Hver gaf Íslandi það nafn?" [Who gave Iceland its name?] (in Icelandic). University of Iceland. 30 October 2000. Retrieved 19 March 2011. Tilvist landsins í vestri spurðist út á vesturströnd Noregs og hélt Flóki Vilgerðarson, norskur maður, af stað til að finna landið.
  2. ^ "Var Hrafna-Flóki til í alvöru?" [Did Hrafna-Flóki exist for real?] (in Icelandic). University of Iceland. 16 September 2013. Retrieved 19 April 2015. Fyrri ferð sína til Íslands hefur Flóki átt að fara um eða skömmu fyrir árið 870 samkvæmt Landnámabók.
  3. ^ "Hver gaf Íslandi það nafn?" [Who gave Iceland its name?] (in Icelandic). University of Iceland. 30 October 2000. Retrieved 19 March 2011. Flóki gekk upp á fjall eitt í Vatnsfirði og sá þá ofan í annan fjörð, líklega Arnarfjörð, og var hann fullur af hafís. Í 2. kafla Landnámu segir að eftir þetta hafi Hrafna-Flóki og menn hans nefnt landið Ísland.
  4. ^ "History". Registers Iceland. Archived from the original on 22 May 2011. Retrieved 19 March 2011. Ingólfur Arnarson was said to be the first settler. He was a chieftain from Norway, arriving in Iceland with his family and dependents in 874.
  5. ^ "History". Registers Iceland. Archived from the original on 22 May 2011. Retrieved 19 March 2011. During the next 60 years or so, Viking settlers from Scandinavia and also from Norse colonies in the British Isles – Ireland, Scotland and the Scottish Isles – settled in the country.
  6. ^ History, Registers Iceland, archived from the original on 22 May 2011, retrieved 19 March 2011, In the year 930, at the end of the settlement period, Althingi (legislature and judiciary) was established and a legal code was adopted.
  7. ^ "History". Registers Iceland. Archived from the original on 22 May 2011. Retrieved 19 March 2011. The establishment of Althingi marks the formation of the Icelandic Commonwealth, although it had no executive power.
  8. ^ "History". Registers Iceland. Archived from the original on 22 May 2011. Retrieved 19 March 2011. Christianity was peacefully adopted in Iceland at Althingi in the year 1000. The main reason for this conversion was most likely pressure from the king of Norway.
  9. ^ "Sagan" [History] (in Icelandic). Supreme Court of Iceland. Retrieved 21 April 2015. Skömmu eftir árið 1000 var stofnaður svokallaður fimmtardómur sem náði til landsins alls. Þangað mátti skjóta málum sem dæmd höfðu verið í fjórðungsdómi. Hefur hugmyndin líklega verið sú að stuðla að réttareiningu í landinu.
  10. ^ "Ísleifur Gissurarson" (in Icelandic). Skálholtsstaður. Archived from the original on 18 February 2017. Retrieved 21 April 2015. Ísleifur Gissurarson var fyrsti biskup Íslendinga, árin 1056–1080.
  11. ^ "Saga sveitarstjórnarlaga" [History of the Local Government Act] (in Icelandic). Icelandic Association of Local Authorities. Retrieved 21 April 2015. Tekjustofnar sveitarfélaga voru ákveðnir í svokölluðum tíundarlögum sem sett voru árið 1097 að forgöngu Gissurar Ísleifssonar biskups.
  12. ^ Seach, John. "Hekla Volcano, Iceland – John Seach". Retrieved 22 April 2015. An eruption at Hekla volcano in 1104, devastated the inhabited Thjorsardalur valley.
  13. ^ "Hver var Jón Ögmundsson?" [Who was Jón Ögmundsson?] (in Icelandic). University of Iceland. 2 July 2003. Retrieved 22 April 2015. Jón Ögmundsson er einn frægasti kirkjumaður Íslandssögunnar. Hann varð fyrsti biskup Hólabiskupsdæmis árið 1106 og beitti sér mjög fyrir eflingu kristinnar trúar í landinu.
  14. ^ "Klaustur á Íslandi" [Cloisters in Iceland] (in Icelandic). Retrieved 23 April 2015. Jón Ögmundsson, biskup á Hólum stofnaði klaustur að Þingeyrum árið 1112 en engar heimildir eru til um klausturlíf þar fyrr en 1133, þegar Vilmundur Þórólfsson var vígður fyrsti ábóti þess.
  15. ^ "Íslendingabók" [Book of Icelanders] (in Icelandic). Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies. Retrieved 23 April 2015. Íslendingabók var samin á árunum 1122–32 af prestinum Ara Þorgilssyni sem hlaut viðurnefnið hinn fróði (1068–1148).
  16. ^ "Þetta gerðist þá..." [What happened then...] (in Icelandic). Morgunblaðið. 9 September 2008. Retrieved 25 April 2015. Víðinesbardagi var háður í Hjaltadal í Skagafirði. Nokkrir höfðingjar sóttu með 360 manna lið að Guðmundi biskupi Arasyni og mönnum hans. Í bardaganum féllu tólf menn, þeirra á meðal Kolbeinn Tumason, 35 ára. Sagt er að á banadægri sínu hafi Kolbeinn samið sálminn Heyr himna smiður.
  17. ^ "Hvað gerðist i Örlygsstaðabardaga?" [What happened in the Battle of Örlygsstaðir] (in Icelandic). University of Iceland. 24 July 2014. Retrieved 25 April 2015. Örlygsstaðabardagi var háður 21. ágúst 1238 í Skagafirði austanverðum á stað sem var kallaður Örlygsstaðir, skammt fyrir norðan Víðivelli en nokkru lengra fyrir sunnan Miklabæ.
  18. ^ "Hvað gerðist i Örlygsstaðabardaga?" [What happened in the Battle of Örlygsstaðir] (in Icelandic). University of Iceland. 24 July 2014. Retrieved 25 April 2015. Feðgarnir Sighvatur og Sturla voru báðir drepnir.
  19. ^ "Þetta gerðist þá..." [This happened then...] (in Icelandic). Morgunblaðið. 25 June 2008. Retrieved 25 April 2015. 25. júní 1244 Flóabardagi, eina verulega sjóorrusta Íslendinga, var háður á Húnaflóa.
  20. ^ "Þetta gerðist..." [This happened...] (in Icelandic). Morgunblaðið. 19 April 2010. Retrieved 25 April 2015. Haugsnessfundur, mannskæðasta orrusta á Íslandi, var háð í Blönduhlíð í Skagafirði.
  21. ^ "Þetta gerðist..." [This happened...] (in Icelandic). Morgunblaðið. 22 October 2009. Retrieved 25 April 2015. 22. október 1253 Flugumýrarbrenna. Sturlungar brenndu bæinn á Flugumýri í Skagafirði, en þar stóð brúðkaup.
  22. ^ "Hver var Gissur jarl Þorvaldsson og hvaða hlutverki gegndi hann á Sturlungaöld?" [Who was Jarl Gissur Þorvaldsson and what role did he have in the Age of the Sturlungs?] (in Icelandic). University of Iceland. 12 February 2014. Retrieved 26 April 2015. Árið 1258 var Gissur með Hákoni konungi Hákonarsyni í Noregi. Þá gaf konungur honum jarlsnafn og sendi hann til Íslands í því skyni að leggja landið undir konung. Um leið skipaði konungur hann yfir Sunnlendingafjórðung, Norðlendingafjórðung og Borgarfjörð. Nokkrir íslenskir höfðingjar höfðu þá afsalað sér til konungs héraðsvöldum, því sem upphaflega var goðavald.
  23. ^ "Hver skrifaði Gamla sáttmála og hvað fólst í honum?" [Who wrote Old Covenant and what did it entail?] (in Icelandic). University of Iceland. 13 June 2008. Retrieved 25 April 2015.
  24. ^ "The Middle Ages: Three kingdoms and a union (approx. 1050–1500)". Nordic Council. Retrieved 29 April 2015.
  25. ^ a b Callow, Chris (January 2016). "The mystery of plague in medieval Iceland – co-authored with Charles Evans". JNL Med Hist.
  26. ^ a b "Hvað er helst vitað um svartadauða á Íslandi?" [What is principally known about the Black Death in Iceland?] (in Icelandic). University of Iceland. 3 April 2014. Retrieved 5 May 2015.
  27. ^ "Af hverju var Jón Gerreksson biskup drepinn og hver var þar að verki?" [Why was Bishop Jón Gerreksson killed and who was responsible?] (in Icelandic). University of Iceland. 25 February 2013. Retrieved 5 May 2015.
  28. ^ Vilhjálmur Þ. Gíslason, Bessastaðir: Þættir úr sögu höfuðbóls. Akureyri. 1947
  29. ^ Þorvarðardóttir, Ólína (2001). Brennuöldin (1 ed.). Iceland: Háskólaútgáfan. pp. 119–216. ISBN 997954414-7.
  30. ^ "The eruption that changed Iceland forever". BBC News. 16 April 2010. Retrieved 31 May 2013.
  31. ^ BBC Timewatch: "Killer Cloud", broadcast 19 January 2007
  32. ^ Richard Stone (19 November 2004). "Volcanology: Iceland's Doomsday Scenario?". Science. Vol. 306, no. 5700. p. 1278. Retrieved 31 May 2013.
  33. ^ A. N. Ryan, "The Causes of the British Attack upon Copenhagen in 1807." English Historical Review (1953): 37–55. in JSTOR
  34. ^ Thomas Munch-Petersen, Defying Napoleon: How Britain Bombarded Copenhagen and Seized the Danish Fleet in 1807 (2007)
  35. ^ "Strong earthquake rocks Iceland". BBC News. 29 May 2008. Retrieved 29 May 2008.
  36. ^ Bowers, Simon (3 April 2016). "Iceland's PM faces calls for snap election after offshore revelations". The Guardian.

Further reading[edit]