The Advent of the Worlds First Parliament in Iceland

Iceland-Alþingi

When the Vikings settled Iceland, no monarch was installed, which forced these settlers to find a new system of government; democracy. The early decades of settlement were effectively without structured law, but after 2 generations, 36 leading farmer Vikings banded together to develop the concept of an assembly to govern Iceland referred to as the “Alþingi” (written “Althingi” in English) (pronounced “all-thing-ee”) in 930 A.D.. The council met once every year for 2 weeks to create laws, preside over and judge disputes, and appoint a legal speaker, whose responsibility it was to remember and recite the law. The Althingi convened at Þingvellir (written “Thingvellir” in English) (pronounced “thing-vet-lear”) which is a unique location as it is a gorge where 2 of the Earth’s tectonic plates meet and 45 kilometers east of what later became the capital city of Reykjavík, Iceland (pronounced “rake-yah-veek”). The term “Althingi” means “thing field” or “assembly field” in the Icelandic language. This form of government met for the next 800 years at this exact spot, even after merging with Norway in 1262, with the location eventually moved to Reykjavík in 1800. The Althingi is the oldest parliament in the world, which is astonishing as it is still functioning and currently running the country of Iceland as a whole

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