Full text: Iceland 1930

The first laws of the Icelandic commonwealth, the ‘Ulfljét’s Code, 
are said to have been adapted from the Norwegian Gulathing’s law, 
as the majority of the settlers were of Norwegian origin. The laws 
were not reduced to writing till long after Christianity had been esta- 
blished in Iceland, but were handed down orally from generation to 
generation. Our knowledge of the oldest body of Icelandic republican 
laws is, therefore, very fragmentary. But the Althingi of 1117 ap- 
pointed a committee for the purpose of writing down the laws, and 
the following year the code compiled by this committee and called 
‘Haflidaskrd‘ after one of the compilers, was adopted. This code has 
not come down to posterity in its original shape, but there are siill 
extant comprehensive collections of Icelandic republican civil laws, 
mainly contained in two manuscripts dating from the thirteenth century. 
A code of church laws for Iceland (still extant in a number of MSS) 
was written down during the years 1122—1133, Both these codes are 
called by the name of ‘Grégis* (the ‘Grey Goose‘). The laws of the 
Grégéas, independent and original as they are in many points, are yet 
akin to old Teutonic, and more especially to old Norwegian, laws. 
‘Grégds’ contains by far the largest and most comprehensive body of 
old Teutonic laws extant, and is therefore very important in the history 
of law, not only in Iceland but also among other Teutonic nations. 
Soon after the union with Norway, important changes were wrought 
in the laws of Iceland. The ‘Jirnsida‘, a complete code for the country, 
was, af the king's request, sanctioned here in 1271—1273. This code, 
mostly compiled from Norwegian laws, did not long remain in force, 
and in 1281 it was replaced by a new code, the ‘Jénshdk’, which had 
been prepared with greater care than the J4rnsida and with more 
regard to the old laws of the country. The Jénsbék was later altered 
in a few minor points, and some additions made to it by the so-called 
Amendments of the Law (Réffarbafur) of 1294, 1305, and 1314. In 
1275 was adopted a new code of church laws, prepared by Arni Thor- 
ldksson, bishop of Skalholt. This code bore a closer affinity to the 
general laws of the Catholic Church than had been the case with the 
older Icelandic church laws. 
The greater part of Jénsbék remained in force till the eighteenth 
century, though, of course, some changes necessarily followed from 
the judicial practice observed in the country; from royal decrees; and 
from legislation by Althingi. But on the whole these changes were

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