Pastland  |  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. 

The 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. 

 Viking Oasis  -  Europe's Hard ShadowIndependence

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