The Alþing, the Icelandic Parliament

Posted on February 4, 2010 by

The Alþing (National Assembly) was born at the beginning of X century with legislative and judicial tasks. Þorsteinn Ingólfsson, son of Ingólfur, called the first assembly in the area of Reykjavik. Afterwards, the Icelanders looked for a more appropriate place and found it in the Bláskógar plane, since then called Þingvellir, i.e. the Assembly’s plane. It was an area covered by woods, with many

rivers and that had a lake standing in the middle: besides being beautiful, it had a great characteristic, i.e. it was crossed by a high rocky wall (the oceanic ridge) that used to become a natural pulpit for speakers!
The Icelandic Parliament has been regularly meeting in Þingvellir since 930 a.C. Þorsteinn was the first allsherjargoði, i.e. the first president recognised by the Parliament, composed by 48 goðar, i.e. head of the regions. The lawyer Ulfljótur, that went to Norway to study the local laws and then develop the law code for Iceland, was entitled to be the lögsögumaður, i.e. the Law speaker. He had to learn by heart the whole code of laws and tell it once a year to the Assembly gathered in front of the Oceanic ridge.

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