Full text: Iceland 1930

voyage to Iceland, the colonization of that country together with all 
that happened there while the young nation was seitling down. Those 
were stirring times, particularly the tenth century, the so-called Saga 
Age, when most of the events, related in the Icelandic sagas (/slend- 
inga sbgur) look place. Quarrels and skirmishes, manslaughter and 
blood feuds were of almost daily occurrence, for the colonists were a 
strong-willed, hardy, enterprising breed of men, who would brook 
molestation or encroachment of no kind whatsoever, either in word 
or deed, and would take terrible vengeance on those who offended 
them. Stories of these events were in the first place told in the fa- 
milies which were involved in them, but they doubtless had a wider 
circulation, for the general assembly for the whole country (Althingi), 
established in 930, was not only a meeting for the transaction of 
legislative or judicial business, but an intellectual centre as well. 
Every year all men of means and prominence from all over the coun- 
try would go to Althingi, for all important matters were settled there. 
Here was therefore an excellent place for the exchange of the latest 
news. Newly returned travellers would naturally come to Althingi 
and there relate their news from foreign parts. Here, then, was 
a rare opportunity for the poet who was collecting materials for the 
poem he was composing on the king he meant to visit when going 
abroad. And so far did the Icelandic bards roam in those days, that 
it does not sound strange at all when one of them says: 
Lit ek of éxl til Kritar, i. e. ‘I look over my shoulder to Crete’. 
Many of these scalds remained for years with foreign kings and 
princes, not only in the Scandinavian countries, but also in the Ork- 
neys, in Scotland, England, and Ireland; they even travelled as far as 
Normandy, Rome, and Constantinople. And their poems would in due 
time be carried back to Iceland and preserved there together with the 
stories on which they were founded. Thus there were two main streams 
into which this historical literature divided itself; on the one hand 
there were the stories of events taking place in Iceland, on the other 
those related about events happening in Scandinavia and other coun- 
tries visited by the Icelanders. 
During the greater part of the eleventh and twelfth centuries the 
country was peaceful. The ascendancy of the church was growing, 
though as yet gradually, but the church was national in its policy, for 
the sons of many leading Icelanders took interest in learning and 
scholarship and even studied sufficiently to be ordained as priests. In 
the latter half, and towards the end, of the eleventh century, we hear

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