Timeline of Icelandic history

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.

This is a dynamic list and may never be able to satisfy particular standards for completeness. You can help by expanding it with reliably sourced entries.

9th century

860Naddoðr 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).
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).
< 870Hrafna-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]
874Ingólfr Arnarson becomes the first permanent Nordic settler of Iceland.[4] The settlement of Iceland begins.[5]

10th century

930The 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

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

12th century

1104The volcano Hekla erupts resulting in the devastation of Þjórsárdalur.[12]
1106Jón Ögmundsson becomes the first Bishop of Hólar.[13]
1117Slavery is abolished in Iceland.[14]
1112Þingeyrar Cloister 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.[15]
1122Ari Þorgilsson begins to write the historical work Book of Icelanders.[16]

13th century

12089 SeptemberThe Battle of Víðines takes place. Kolbeinn Tumason is mortally wounded.[17]
123821 AugustThe Battle of Örlygsstaðir takes place.[18] Sturla Sighvatsson and Sighvatr Sturluson are killed.[19]
124425 JuneThe Battle of the Gulf takes place.[20]
124619 AprilThe Battle of Haugsnes takes place.[21]
125322 OctoberThe Flugumýri Arson takes place.[22]
1258UnknownGissur 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.[23]
1262UnknownThe 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.[24]

14th century

139717 JuneThe Kalmar Union is established.
The kingdoms of Denmark, Norway, Sweden and their respective dependencies joined in a personal union.[25]

15th century

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

16th century

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

17th century

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

18th century

1703First Icelandic census.
1707The Bubonic plague spreads in Iceland. A quarter of the population dies.
1712Jarðabók is completed.
1720The manuscripts of Árni Magnússon are moved to Denmark.
1760Icelanders start exporting salted fish to Spain.
1783The Mist Hardships occur.
A volcanic eruption at Laki destroys a great deal of the livestock in Iceland, causing famine and misery.
1787Danish trade monopoly ceases.
18006 JuneThe Parliament is abolished.

19th century

1801The bishoprics of Skálholt and Hólar are united, located in Reykjavík.
1805The Bessastaðaskóli is founded.
1807Trade with Iceland all but disappears due to the Napoleonic Wars.
1809Jørgen Jørgensen seizes power in Iceland and declares independence, but is deposed by the Danes shortly afterwards.
1835The first copy of Fjölnir is published.
1841Jón Sigurðsson starts publishing New Associated Writings.
18438 MarchThe King of Denmark orders the Althing to be resurrected.
18451 JulyThe Althing is resurrected, and the house of the Menntaskóli í Reykjavík is opened.
1851National Assembly of 1851.
1855The Danes grant Icelanders free trade.
1871The Danish Parliament passes the Stöðulög laws.
1874The King of Denmark visits Iceland and grants Icelanders a constitution. 1000 years of settlement celebrated throughout the country.
1875First session of the restored Althing which has the power to pass laws. The Askja volcano erupts.
1880The climate grows much colder, driving many Icelanders to emigrate to the New World.

20th century

1915Universal suffrage.
1916The political parties Social Democratic Party and Progressive Party are founded.
19181 DecemberIceland becomes a sovereign, independent nation. The Danish King remains head of state.
1929The Icelandic Independence Party is founded.
193020 DecemberThe Icelandic Communist Party is founded. The Icelandic State Radio begins broadcasting.
1939Following the occupation of Denmark by Nazi Germany, a national emergency government is formed under Sveinn Björnsson.
194010 MayThe British invade, violating Icelandic neutrality.
19417 JulyThe United States Army, still officially neutral, replaces the British occupation force.
194417 JuneIceland becomes an independent republic, severing the last political ties to Denmark. Sveinn Björnsson becomes president.
1946The Keflavik Agreement.
1948Iceland receives Marshall Aid from the United States.
194930 MarchRiots break out on Austurvöllur.
4 AprilIceland joins the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
1951The United States Army establishes a base in Keflavík.
19521 AugustExclusive economic zone extended to 4 nautical miles. Ásgeir Ásgeirsson becomes president.
1958Exclusive economic zone extended to 12 nautical miles.
196314 NovemberVolcanic eruption forms Surtsey.
196630 SeptemberThe Icelandic State Television begins its first broadcasts.
19681 AugustKristján Eldjárn becomes president. Collapse in the fishing industry.
19701 JanuaryIceland joins the European Free Trade Association.
1972Exclusive economic zone extended to 50 nautical miles.
197323 JanuaryVolcanic eruption in Vestmannaeyjar.
1975Exclusive economic zone extended to 200 nautical miles.
19801 AugustVigdís Finnbogadóttir becomes president of Iceland, the first woman in the world to become elected head of state.
19941 JanuaryIceland joins the European Economic Area.
19961 AugustÓlafur Ragnar Grímsson becomes president.

21st century

200017 JuneSouthern Iceland gets hit by two earthquakes, the prior 6.6 ML and the latter 6.5 ML. There were no fatalities but a few people were injured and there was some considerable damage to infrastructure. (to 21 June)
20042 JuneThe president of Iceland, Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, refuses to sign a bill from the parliament for the first time in the nation's history.
200523 MarchBobby Fischer moves to Iceland after having been granted an Icelandic passport and full citizenship.
200630 SeptemberThe United States Army abandons the military base in Keflavík, thus ending a 55-year U.S. military presence in Iceland.
200829 MayA doublet earthquake strikes southern Iceland with a composite magnitude of 6.1MW[28]
SeptemberIceland faces financial crisis following the collapse of the country's 3 major commercial banks.
200926 JanuaryAfter months of rallies outside the parliament building the Icelandic government resigns.
1 FebruaryAfter the collapse of the Icelandic 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.
16 JulyThe parliament narrowly passes a bill authorising the government to apply for EU membership.
20105 JanuaryThe president of Iceland, Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, refuses to sign a bill from the parliament for the second time in the nation's history.
20 MarchVolcanic eruption of Eyjafjallajökull.
201120 FebruaryThe president of Iceland, Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, refuses to sign a bill from the parliament for the third time in the nation's history.
21 MayVolcanic eruption of Grímsvötn.
20164 AprilPanama Papers revealed that Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson had links to private companies dealing in offshore tax havens resulting in a call for a "snap election" [29]

See also


  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. 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. Halcomb, Ruth. "Iceland - So Near yet So Remote". Retrieved 23 April 2015. Iceland had a national assembly in the year 930 and abolished slavery in 1117.
  15. "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.
  16. "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).
  17. "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.
  18. "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.
  19. "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.
  20. "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.
  21. "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.
  22. "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.
  23. "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.
  24. "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.
  25. "The Middle Ages: Three kingdoms and a union (approx. 1050–1500)". Nordic Council. Retrieved 29 April 2015.
  26. 1 2 "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. "Strong earthquake rocks Iceland". BBC News. 2008-05-29. Retrieved 2008-05-29.

Further reading

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