Icelandic History: Danish Rule (1380-1918)


Figure 1.--

Norway became a part of the Danish Kingdom (1380). This meant that Iceland also became a Danish possession. Martin Luthur posted his 95 Thesis (1519). Denmark quickly adopted Protestantism--Luthernism. The Danish kings supported the north German princes who also adopted Protestantism against the Counter Reformation. Thus Iceland also adopted Luthernism. A trading company was set up in Copenhagen which restricted trade to commerce with Denmark (1602). This caused a widespread economic depression on Iceland. Pirates furthur impaired trade (17th-18th centuries). The island was devestated by volcanic erruptions (1783). Large numbers of Icelanders were killed. The eruptions were so massive that they had a major impact on European weather for several years. Some historians suggest that the resulting crop failures were a factor in the French Revolution (1789). Iceland cotinued as a backwater of the Danish kingdom. The Danish Government did not permit Icelanders to resum foreign trade until (1854).

Norwegian Rule (1261-1380)

Iceland lived a relatively isolated and peaceful life for two centuries. This changed in the 13th century. The period of bloody conflict is called the Sturlung Age (1208-58). Icelanders describe it as an era of domestic connflict and battels for land and supremecy. It seems to have developed as populatiin increased and pressure to control the best land led to conflict. The first Icelandic naval battle occurred at Húnaflói--the Bay Battle (1244). Sturla Thurdason and his sons energed as a dominant figure. He failed to secure control over the entire island. Norwegian King Hákon Hákonarson IV took advantage of the situation and intrervened. The Iceladers eventually accepted the rule of Haakon, in part to end the violence (1261-64). Iceland in the medieval era thus became a dependency of Norway and subsequently the Danish crown. The Black Death struck Europe and reached Norway (1349). It reached Iceland (1402-04). Norwegian rule effectively cut off Iceland from the rest of Europe Europe for several years, affecting trade.

Danish Rule (1380)

Norway and Denmark formed the Kalmar Union (1397) Norway thus became a part of the Danish Kingdom (1380). This meant that Iceland also became a Danish possession and when the Reformation came, Protestant..

Reformation (1550)

Martin Luthur posted his 95 Thesis (1519). Denmark quickly adopted Protestantism--Luthernism. The Danish kings supported the north German princes who also adopted Protestantism against the Counter Reformation. Luthernism was imposed (1550). the old dioceses were eventually replaced by a bishop residing in Reykjavík.

Danish Trading Company

A trading company was set up in Copenhagen which restricted trade to commerce with Denmark (1602). This caused a widespread economic depression on Iceland.

Piracy

Pirates furthur impaired trade (17th-18th centuries).

Vocanic Eruptions (1783)

Several eruptions of Mt. Hekla were reported (1300, 1341, and 1389). The eruptions caused many deaths and substntil destruction, but the impact was local. The island was devestated by volcanic erruptions of unpresedented strength (1783). Large numbers of Icelanders were killed. The eruptions were so massive that they had a major impact on European weather for several years. Some historians suggest that the resulting crop failures were a factor in the French Revolution (1789).

European Backwater

Iceland cotinued as a backwater of the Danish kingdom. The Danish Government had disolved the Althing. Only gradually did the Danish Goverment relax regulations that stifeled the Icelandic economy. The first major step was reforming the Danish trade monopoly (1783). This allowed all subjects of the Danish king to trade in Iceland, but foreign trade was still not permitted. The Danish Government did not permit Icelanders to resume foreign trade until (1854).

Emigration to America (Late-19th century)

Icelanders joined the mass European emigration to America. Iceland declined under Danish rule and by the ;ate 19th century faced many serious problems, including overpopulation, diseases, and food shortages. The basic problem was that Icelandic farms did not produce enough food to feed the growing popilation. Individual Icelanders began emigrating, mostly to North America (mid-19th century). A number of early emigrants entered the United States. For some reason many converted to Mormonism and moved to Utah, settling in Spanish Fork. An organised group left Iceland from Akureyri (1873). The largest numbers of emigrants departed (1880s). Most settled in Canada, but substantial numbers went to the United States, eiher directly or after reaching Canada. Economic conditions improved and emigration declined (1890s). It is difficult to assess the impact of emigration on Iceland. The numbers involved may have relieved population pressure, but only slightly. Some emigrants eventually returned, bringing with them, capital, new ideas, and new technologies. Many of the Icelanders decided to settle in Canada many around Manitoba. This was proavly where the first Icelanders settled. Icelanders formed a kind of colony there--Nýja Ísland (New Iceland) (1875). New Iceland was situated along the western shore of Lake Winnipeg (60 miles north of Winnipeg). An estimated 15,000 Icelanders eventually emigrated to North America.

Autonomy and Independence (1874-1918)

The Danish Crown granted a constitution and home rule (1874). This granted Iceland autonomy in domestic affair. The King appointed the first Icelandic government minister (1904). At the end of World War I, the Danish Government through the Act of Union declared Iceland to be an independent nation in personal union with the Danish Crown (1918). The country thus retained its ties to Denmark. Denmark retained responsibility for Iceland's defence and foreign affairs. Festive celebrations were held at at Thingvellir to commemorate a millennium since the establishment of the Althing (1930).

Sources









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Created: 12:56 AM 4/25/2009
Last updated: 12:56 AM 4/25/2009