1030 A.D.- 1800 A.D.
The early independence of Iceland was overshadowed by King Olaf Tryggvason,
who brought Christianity by threats of the sword in the year 999. Afterwards,
however, Iceland was mostly ignored by the Norwegian Kings, and a Golden
Age lasted from1030-1163. Many sagas were written down in Norse at this
time, beginning a literary flowering that would culminate with the sagas
of Snorri Sturluson in the early 13th century. Much of Sturluson’s
writing documents the end of the Golden Age, which declined into the “Sturlung
Age” or the “Age of Stone Throwing”(1230-64), when the unenforceable authority
of the Althing collapsed into warfare between rival clans. The infighting
left Iceland vulnerable to Norwegian King Haakon, who managed to assert
control over the island in 1262. Haakon instituted a debilitating tax in
the form of wool, and the island began a long decline into abysmal poverty.
bad times that followed over the next 600 years are legendary: Hekla erupted
in 1389, devastating much of the surrounding land. Trade worsened. Norway
passed a law forbidding Iceland to trade with other nations, and because
Iceland had no merchant fleet of its own, it sometimes had to wait years
for Norwegian ships to arrive. The law was upheld by rulers in Denmark
when the Scandinavian countries formed the Union of Kalmar in 1397. To
survive, Icelanders began a covert Cod trade with Britain, only to have
the British decide it would be easier to fish Icelandic waters themselves
- an act that led to war between between England and Denmark in 1469.
In 1627, three thousand Barbary pirates wreaked havoc on the island, kiddnapping
242 people. In 1662, Denmark forbade trade not only between Iceland and
other nations, but between the regions of Iceland. In 1783, Mount Laki
erupted, killing tens of thousand of cattle and horses and hundreds of
thousands of sheep. In the smallpox that ensued, one third of the population
perished. To top it off, in 1800 Denmark decided to abolish Iceland’s most
cherished institution, The Althing.
Oasis - Europe's Hard Shadow