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Icelandic Online Dictionary and Readings

Carry On Icelandic: Culture [selections] (2004)

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Stofnun Alžingis - The Establishment of the Parliament (Alžingi)

Stofnun Alžingis

Ķslendingar sóttu hugmyndir sķnar um réttarfar til Noregs og héldu žing aš norskri fyrirmynd. Žing vķkinga ķ Noregi voru sameiningartįkn landshluta, en įriš 930 var stofnaš į Ķslandi fyrsta alžingi ķ heimi, ž.e. eitt žing fyrir alla žjóšina. Žegar žessi atburšur geršist voru samankomnir į Žingvöllum fulltrśar śr öllum landshlutum. Žeir settu sér allsherjarlög og komu į fót stofnun sem ein gat breytt žessum lögum; Alžingi. Žess eru ekki önnur dęmi į mišöldum aš hlišstęšu rķki hafi veriš komiš į fót. Rķki žeirra tķma voru konungsrķki.

Color photograph

Austurvöllur og Alžingishśsiš til hęgri (The Eastern Square and the Parliament House to the right).

Fundir Alžingis voru haldnir į hverju sumri og žangaš flykktist fólk hvašanęva aš af landinu til nokkurs konar žjóšhįtķšar, žar sem auk löggjafarstarfsins voru stundašar alls kyns skemmtanir og višskipti.

Žótt alžingi starfaši einungis tvęr vikur į įri var žaš mjög mikilvęg stofnun. Žar voru sett lög og gerš nżmęli. Žar voru einnig fjórir dómstólar, einn fyrir hvern fjóršung. Fimmtardómi var snemma bętt viš en hann var nokkurs konar hęstiréttur.

Ķ fyrstu voru lögin varšveitt ķ minni fįeinna manna. Sérstakur lögsögumašur hafši žaš hlutverk aš segja upp lögin į Lögbergi, einn žrišjung įr hvert. Eftir aš ritmenning var innleidd voru lög hiš fyrsta sem fęrt var ķ letur į Ķslandi. Žessi lög eru nefnd Haflišaskrį og voru rituš veturinn 1117-1118. Žau eru jafnan talin marka upphaf ritmenningar į Ķslandi. Haflišaskrį er glötuš en lög žjóšveldisins fengu sķšar nafniš Grįgįs og eru varšveitt ķ fornum handritum.

Žaš rķki sem stofnaš var meš Alžingi įriš 930 varaši ķ rśm 330 įr, eša žar til Ķslendingar gengust Noregskonungi į hönd eftir haršvķtuga valdabarįttu innlendra höfšingjaętta.

Eftir aš Noregur komst undir danska stjórn 1380 komst Ķsland ķ konungssamband viš Danmörku sem stóš allt til įrsins 1944.

The Establishment of the Parliament (Alžingi)

Icelanders took their outlook and ideas about legal procedures from Norway and held their assembly according to the Norwegian model. The Viking assemblies in Norway were brought together in various parts of the country, but in 930 the first national parliament in the world was established in Iceland, that is, a single legislature for the entire country. When this development occurred, representatives from all parts of the country were brought together at Žingvellir. They passed a common law and an institution was established which alone could amend it. There is no other example of a similar state having come into existence by the time of, or during, the Middle Ages. The other states of the time were royal kingdoms.

The meetings of the Alžing were held every summer, to which people came from all over the country and enjoyed various kinds of national celebrations: as well as legal business, all kinds of entertainments were held and trading carried on.

Although the Alžing was held for only two weeks each year, it was nevertheless a very important institution: laws were passed and novel legal matters were dealt with. There were also four courts, one four each Quarter of the country. A fifth court was added a little later, which functioned as a kind of high court.

At first, the laws were preserved in the memories of just a few people. A designated Law Speaker had the task of reciting, at the Law Rock, one-third of the laws each year. With the introduction of writing culture to Iceland, the laws were the first things to be written down in Iceland. These laws are known as the Haflišaskrį (that is, Hafliši's Code) and were written down during the winter 1117-1118. These laws are usually said to mark the beginning of a writing culture in Iceland. The Haflišaskrį is no longer extant, but the nation's early laws were later given the name Grįgas (lit. Grey Goose) which are preserved in manuscripts.

The state which was constituted by the Alžing of 930 was maintained for about 330 years, or until the Icelanders yielded their sovereignty to the Norwegian king, after a difficult civil war between the large chieftain families.

When Norway came under Danish control in 1380, Iceland too became part of the Danish kingdom, a situation which remained until 1944.

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