Íslendingabók is a concise work which relates the major events of Icelandic history in terse prose. While the author is forced to rely almost exclusively on oral history he takes pains to establish the reliability of his sources and mentions several of them by name. He avoids supernatural material and Christian bias. The prologue of the book explicitly states that whatever might be wrong in the account must be corrected to "that which can be proven to be most true". Due to these qualities of the work and the early time of its writing, historians consider it the most reliable extant source on early Icelandic history.
1. Settlement of Iceland
Iceland is settled in the days of Harald I of Norway by immigrants from Norway. The first settler, Ingólfur Arnarson, arrives in Reykjavík. When the first settlers arrive Iceland is said to be forested "from the coast to the mountains".
2. Bringing of laws from Norway
When Iceland had largely been settled a man named Úlfljótr becomes the first man to bring laws there from Norway. Another man, Grímr Goatshoe (or possibly Goatbeard), investigates all of Iceland before Alþingi can be established. Ari's text is somewhat unclear here. Presumably, Grímr explored the country to find a good meeting place.
3. Establishment of Alþingi
The Alþingi is established on Þingvellir, which becomes public property - it was confiscated from a man who had killed a slave. After 60 years the settlement of Iceland is complete. Ulfljótr becomes the first Lawspeaker.
4. Fixing of the calendar
The wisest men of Iceland notice that the calendar is slowly moving out of sync with the seasons. The problem lies in the fact that the calendar in use had 52 weeks to the year, only 364 days. As people come to the conclusion that something like a day is missing they are still reluctant to use a year which doesn't contain a whole number of weeks. A man named Þorsteinn surtr comes up with an ingenious solution - a whole week should be added once every seven years. The proposal is enacted into law by the assembly around 955.
5. Partition of Iceland into judicial quadrants
The system of ad hoc local judicial assemblies becomes unwieldy and a need is felt for standardization. A man named Þórðr gellir describes to Alþingi his recent difficulties in prosecuting a certain case in a local assembly. He suggests that the country should be split into judicial quadrants, each of which should contain three assemblies. Each quadrant, then, should contain a special assembly for appeals. The motion passes with the amendment that the northern quadrant should have four assemblies since the northerners couldn't agree on any three.
6. Discovery and settlement of Greenland
Greenland is discovered and settled from Iceland around 985. Erik the Red gave the country its pleasant name to encourage people to move there. The Norse settlers find remnants of previous human habitation and deduce that the people who lived there were related to the skrælingjar of Vínland.
7. Conversion of Iceland to Christianity
King Olaf I of Norway sends the missionary priest Þangbrandr to Iceland to convert the inhabitants to Christianity. He has some success in baptizing chieftains but also meets opposition and ends up killing two or three men who had composed libelous poetry about him. He returns to Norway after one or two years with a litany of complaints and tells the king that he has little hope that the country can be converted. The king is furious at hearing the news and threatens to hurt or kill Icelanders in Norway. Two of the Icelandic chieftains previously converted by Þangbrandr meet with the king and pledge their aid in converting the country.
In the summer of 999 or 1000, the issue of religion reaches a crisis point at the Alþingi. The Christian faction and the pagan faction do not want to share the same laws and the Christians choose a new law-speaker for themselves, Hallr á Síðu. He reaches an agreement with Þorgeirr Ljósvetningagoði, the pagan lawspeaker, that Þorgeirr will find a compromise acceptable to everyone.
Þorgeirr goes to his camp and stays under a skin for the remainder of the day and the following night. The day after he gives a speech at Lögberg. He says that the only way to maintain peace in the country is for everyone to keep to the same laws and the same religion.
Þat mon verða satt, es vér slítum í sundr lǫgin, at vér monum slíta ok friðinn.
"It will prove true that if we tear apart the laws we will also tear apart the peace."
Before reciting the compromise he has come up with Þorgeirr gets his audience to pledge themselves to a solution with one set of laws for all the country. Þorgeirr then decrees that everyone not already baptized must convert to Christianity. Three concessions are made to the pagans.
- The old laws allowing exposure of newborn children will remain in force.
- The old laws on the eating of horsemeat will remain in force.
- People can make pagan sacrifices in private.
Some years later those concessions are abolished.
8-10. Bishops and law-speakers in Iceland
Judy Quinn noted the genealogy at the end of the book was a langfedgatal.
Book of Icelanders
Ari inn fróði, Íslendingabók
I first composed Íslendingabók for our bishops Þorlákr and Ketill, and I presented it both to them and to Sæmundr the priest. And when it pleased them to have it thus or to add something, I wrote it in the same fashion, without genealogies and biographies of kings, and added what become known to me later and which now is more fully declared in this one than that one. But whatever is incorrect in this scholarship, one should consider better what is proven to be truer.
Hálfdan hvítbeinn [white-leg], king of the people of Uppland [Upplendingar], son of Óláfr trételgja [tree-feller] king of the Svíar, was the father of Eysteinn fretr [fart], father of Hálfdan inn milda [the gentle] and inn matarilli [the food-stingy], father of Goðröðr veiðikonungr [hunting-king], father of Hálfdan inn svarti [the Black], father of Haraldr inn hárfagri [the handsome-hair], who was the first of this dynasty to become the sole king over all of Norway.
This manuscript contains the following chapters:
- On the settlement of Iceland
- On the first settlers [landnámsmenn] and the establishment of the law [lagasetning]
- On the establishment of the alþingi
- On the counting of years
- On the division into quarters
- On the settlement of Greenland
- On the coming of Christianity to Iceland
- On foreign bishops
- On Bishop Ísleifr
- On Bishop Gizurr
Here begins the little book of Icelanders
1. On the settlement of Iceland
Iceland was first settled from Norway in the days of Haraldr inn hárfagri [the handsome-hair], son of Hálfdan inn svarti [=the black], at that time—according to the reckoning and telling of Teitr, my foster- father, the person whom I consider wisest, son of Bishop Ísleifr; and of Þorkell, my uncle, son of Gellir, who remembered far back; and Þuríðr daughter of Snorri the Chieftain, who was both very wise and not unreliable—when Ívarr son of Ragnarr loðbrókar [hairy-trousers] had Saint Eadmund, king of the English, killed. And that was eight hundred and seventy winters after the birth of Christ, as is written in his [Eadmund’s] saga.
There was a Norwegian called Ingólfr, of whom it is said truthfully that he was the first to travel from there to Iceland—when Haraldr inn hárfagri was sixteen years old, and on another occasion a few years later. He lived to the south in Reykjavík. Where Ingólfr first made landfall, to the east of Minþakseyri, is called Ingólfshöfði, but where he established his own property, to the west of Ölfossá, is called Ingólfsfell.
At that time, Iceland had woods growing between the mountains and the shore. Christians were here then, whom Scandinavians [Norðmenn] call Papar, but then they left because they did not want to be here alongside heathen people. They left Irish books, bells, and croziers, from which one can tell that they were Irishmen.
And then began a very great migration of people here from Norway, until King Haraldr forbade it because he thought that otherwise his land would be deserted. Then they agreed that each person who was coming here and was not excepted from it would have to pay the king five aurar. And it is said that King Haraldr was seventy years old, and got to be eighty. Those were the beginnings of the payment which is now called landaurar, and sometimes more was paid for that and sometimes less, until Óláfr inn digri [the stout] made it clear that each person who would travel between Norway and Iceland, except women/wives or those people whom he took with him, must pay the king half a mark. So Þorkell Gellisson told me.
2. On the first settlers [landnámsmenn] and the establishment of the law [ lagasetning]
Hrollaugr, the son of Jarl Rögnvalr of Møre, lived to the east at Síða, from which come the people of Síðu [Síðumenn]. Ketilbjörn Ketilsson, a Norwegian, lived to the south as Mosfell inn efri, from which come the people of Mosfell [Mosfellingar]. Auðr, daughter of the Norwegian chieftain Ketill flatnef [flat-nose], lived to the west in Breiðafjörðr, from which come the people of Breiðafjörðr [Breiðfirðingar]. Helgi inn magri [the lean], a Norwegian, the son of Eyvindr austmaðr [Easterner], lived to the north in Eyjafjörðr, from which come the people of Eyjafjörðr [Eyfirðingar]. And when Iceland had become extensively settled, a Norwegian [austrænn] called Úlfljótr brought the first laws here from Norway—as Teitr told us—and they were called the Úlfljótslög [laws of Úlfljótr]. Úlfljótr was the father of Gunnarr, from whom the people of Djúpdalr [Djúpdælir] in Eyjafjörðr are descended. But those laws were mostly arranged in the same way as the Gulaþingslög [laws of the Gulaþing] or the counsel of Þorleifr inn spaki [the wise] Hörða-Kárason, where something had to be expanded or learned or arranged in another way. Úlfljótr was in the east in Lón. But it is said that Grímr geitskör [goat-hair], who on his advice explored the whole of Iceland before the alþingi [All-Thing] was established, was his foster-brother. And each person received a penny from him to take land here, and he gave that money afterwards to temples (?).
3. On the establishment of the alþingi
The alþingi was established on the advice of Úlfljótr and all the people of the land, in the place where it remains; and before that, the þing was on Kjalarnes. Þorsteinn son of Ingólfr the settler [landnámamaðr], father of Þorkell máni [moon] the law-speaker held that, along with those chieftains who adopted it. But a man who owned land in Bláskógar was condemned for killing a slave or freedman. (He is known as Þórir kroppinskeggi [shriveled beard], while his grandson is called Þorvaldr kroppinskeggi. He traveled afterward to the Austfirðir [East-Fjords] and there burned his own brother Gunnar in—so said Hallr Óræksjuson. But the man who was murdered was called Kolr. The gorge where the body was found, which was afterward called Kolsgjá [Kolr’s gorge], was named after him.) That land became general property, and the people of the land set it to the use of the alþingi. There is, therefore, a common right to gather wood for the alþingi in the woods and to pasture horses on the heaths. Úlfheðinn told us that.
Wise people have also said that after sixty years, Iceland was fully settled, so that there was no more left. Around that time, Hrafn, the son of Hæingr the settler [landnámamaðr], took the position of law-speaker following Úlfljótr, and held it for twenty years. He was from Rangárhverfi. That was sixty years after the slaying of King Eadmund, a year or two before the death of Haraldr inn hárfagri, by the reckoning of wise people. Þórarinn Ragabróðir, the son of Óleifr hjalti [hilt], took the position of law-speaker after Hrafn and held it another twenty years. He was from Borgarfjörðr [borbfirzkr].
4. On the counting of years
It was also at that time that the wisest people in the land had, over two half-years, counted four days into the fourth hundrað [hundrað=120; the fourth hundrað is the range 361‒480; so four days into the fourth hundrað is 364 days]; that makes two weeks into the sixth ten [the sixth ten is the range 51‒60; so two weeks into the sixth tegar is 52 weeks]; but the twelfth month of thirty nights and days makes four days extra. Then they noted from the passage of the sun that summer was slipping back towards the spring. But no-one was able to tell them that there was one day more than a whole number of weeks in two half-years, and that was the reason.
But there was a man called Þorsteinn surtr [black]. He was from Breiðafjörðr, the son of Hallsteinn Þórólfsson, a settler of Mostrarskeggi, and Ósk daugher of Þorsteinn inn rauði [the red]. He dreamt that he was at the Lögberg [Law-Rock], when there was a crowd there, and that he was awake even though everyone else was asleep. And after that, he dreamt that he slept and that everyone else was awake. Ósvífr Helgason, the grandfather of Gellir Þorkelsson, interpreted that dream thus: that everyone would maintain silence when he spoke at the Lögberg, but that afterward, when he fell silent, everyone would shout in assent of what he had said. And they were both very wise men. And thereafter, when people came to the þing, he proposed the course at the Lögberg that every seventh summer, an extra week should be added, and to test how that was received. But just as Ósvífr predicted from the dream, everyone then ‘woke’ well to that, and it was thenceforth included in the law on the advice of Þorkell máni and other wise men. As the correct count, there are in each year five days of the fourth hundrað [i.e. 365 days] (if it is not a leap year, in which case one more), but in our count, there were four. But then every seventh year was augmented in our count by a week, XXXXX en engu at hinu, þá verða sjau ár saman jafnlöng at hvárutveggja. En ef hlaupár verða tvau á milli þeira, er auka skal, þá þarf auka it sétta. XXXXX
5. On the division into quarters
A great þing-dispute took place between Þórðr gellir, the son of Óleifr feilan from Breiðafjörðr, and Oddr, who was known as Tungu-Oddr and was from Borgafjörðr. Oddr’s son Þorvaldr, together with Hænsa-Þórir, was involved in the burning in of Þorkell Blund-Ketilsson in Örnólfsdalr; Þórðr gellir became the chief plaintiff in the suit because Hersteinn, the son of Þorkell Blund-Ketilsson, was married to Þórunn, his niece. She was the daughter of Helga and Gunnar, her sister Jófríð being married to Þorsteinn Egilsson. So Þorvaldr and Hænsa-Þórir were sued at the thing which was held in Borgarfjörðr, in the place which afterward was called Þingness. At that time it was the law that a suit over a killing had to be prosecuted at the þing which was nearest to the site of the killing. But they fought there, and the þing could not be conducted legally. Þórólfr refr [fox] fell there, the brother of Álfr í Dölum [in the Dales], from the retinue of Þórðr gellir. And afterward the plaintiffs went to the alþingi, and they also fought there. Then people from Oddr’s retinue fell, and then Hænsa-Þórir was condemned and later killed, and many of those who were involved in the burning. Then Þórðr gellir recounted at the Lögberg how badly it served people to travel to an unfamiliar þing to prosecute for a killing or to complain (?), and told what lay in his path before he could come to law through that suit, and said what kind of problem would eventuate if a better approach was not found.
The land was then divided into quarters, such that there were three þings in each quarter, and XXXXX skyldu þingunautar eiga hvar saksóknir saman XXXXX, except that in the northern quarter there were four because they could not otherwise agree. Those who were to the north of Eyjafjörðr did not want to leave it to attend the þing, and nor did those in Skagafjörðr, who were to the west—although XXXXX skyldi jöfn dómnefna ok lögréttuskipun ór þeira fjórðungi sem ór einum hverjum öðrum XXXXX. And afterward, the quarter-þings were established. Thus Úlfheðinn Gunnarsson the law-speaker told us.
Þorkell máni, the son of Þorsteinn Ingólfsson, took the law-speakership after Þórarinn Ragabróðir and held it for fifteen years. Then Þorgeirr from Ljósavatn, the son of Þorkell, held it for seventeen years.
6. On the settlement of Greenland
The land which is called Greenland was discovered and settled from Iceland.
There was a man from Breiðafjörðr called Eiríkr inn rauði [the red], who traveled out from here and took land where later was named Eiríksfjörðr. He gave a name to the land and called it Greenland and said that people would be more eager to go there because the land had a good name. They found there people's habitations both to the East and the West on the land, pieces of skin boats, and worked stones, from which one could tell that that kind of people had travelled, who have settled Vínland and whom the Greenlanders call Skrælingjar. And when he began to settle the land, it was fourteen or fifteen winters before Christianity came here to Iceland, according to what he told to Þorkell Gellison, who himself followed Eiríkr inn rauði out to Greenland.
7. On the coming of Christianity to Iceland
King Óláfr, son of Tryggvi, son of Óláfr, son of Haraldr inn hárfagri, brought Christianity to Norway and Iceland. He sent a priest here to Iceland, Þangbrandr by name, who acquainted people with Christianity and baptized everyone who accepted the faith. And Hallr Þorsteinsson, from Síða, had himself baptized forthwith, as did Hjalti Skeggjason from Þjórsdalr; Gizurr inn hvíti [the white], son of Teitr from Mosfell, son of Ketilbjörn; and many other chieftains. However, there were also many who spoke against it and refused it. And when he had been here for one or two years, he left—he had killed two or three men here, who had ritually insulted him. And when he came east he told King Óláfr everything which had happened to him here and gave the impression that it was not to be expected that Christianity would take hold here yet. But the King grew very angry at that and planned to have those of our people who were there in the East maimed or killed for it. But that same summer Gizurr and Hjalti traveled out from here and convinced the king not to, and promised him that they would arrange a new attempt (?), so that Christianity might still be accepted here, and they gave the impression that they expected nothing other than to succeed there.
So the following summer they and a priest called Þormóðr traveled from the East and, with everything having gone well, arrived in the Vestmannaeyjar when ten weeks of the summer had passed. Teitr, who was himself there, said to report that thus. (The summer before it had been declared in the law that people had to come to the alþingi when ten weeks of the summer had passed thus when up to that time they had come a week before.) And the travelers went from there to the mainland and on to the alþingi and heard from Hjalti that he was back in Laugardalr with twelve men because he had been condemned to three-year outlawry at the alþingi the summer before for decrying the gods. The reason for that was that he said this couplet at the Lögberg:
I don’t want to decry God/the gods; Vilk eigi goð geyja.
I think Freyja’s a bitch. Grey þykki mér Freyja.
But Gizurr and his companions traveled until they came to the place by Ölfossvatn which is called Vellankatla, and they sent word from there to the þing that all their supporters had to come to meet them because they had found out that their opponents wanted to bar them by force from the þing-plain. And before they departed, Hjalti and those who were back with him rode up to them. And thereafter they rode to the þing, and first, their kinsmen and friends came to meet them, and they had requested. But the heathen people gathered together, fully armed, and it was so near to coming to a fight that no-one could see a way out.
But the next day, Gizurr and Hjalti walked to the Lögberg and presented their mission there. And it is said that it was amazing how well they spoke. And because of that, it turned out that one person named another as a witness, and each side—the Christian and the heathen people—declared the other outside their laws, and walked then from the Lögberg. Then the Christian men asked Hall of Síða to present their laws—the ones which the Christians had to follow. But he passed on the responsibility by striking a deal with Þorgeirr, that Þorgeirr the law-speaker should present them, though he was still heathen then. And afterward, when everyone returned to their huts, Þorgeirr laid himself down and drew his cloak over himself and stayed there all of that day and the following night and didn’t say a word. But the next morning he got up and announced that everyone had to go to the Lögberg.
And when the people had arrived there, he began his account, and said that it seemed to him that everyone’s situation would be untenable if they did not all share one law here in this country, and spoke before the people in various ways, that that must not be allowed to happen; and he said that the discord would ensue which was a certain outcome, that fighting would take place between people and the land be laid waste. He spoke about how the kings of Norway and Denmark had had discord and wars between themselves for a long time, until the people of those countries made peace between them, even though they didn’t want it. And the way that negotiation turned out was that at times they sent each other precious gifts, and while they lived, that peace held. ‘And now it the idea suggests itself to me’, he said, ‘that we also should not accept the course where people fall into the greatest opposition, and let us settle on a compromise between them, so that both have their way to an extent, and we all have one law and one set of customs. It must be true that when we break the law in two, we will also break our peace.’ And he closed his speech, such that both sides agreed that all had to have one law—the one which he suggested (?).
Then it was declared law that all people had to be Christian and accept baptism who had previously been unbaptized here in this country. But the exposure of children, along with the eating of horse-meat, would remain in the ancient law. People had to make sacrifices in secret if they wanted to avoid three-year outlawry, which would happen if there were witnesses. And a few years later, that heathen practice was also taken away, like the others.
Teitr told us this account of how Christianity came to Iceland. And Óláfr Tryggvason fell the same summer, according to Sæmundr the priest. He fought then against King Sveinn Haraldsson of Denmark, Óláfr inn sænski [the Swede], the son of Eiríkr and king of the Svíar at Uppsala, and Eirík Hákonarson who was later the jarl over Norway. That was one hundred and thirty years after the slaying of Eadmundr, and a thousand after the birth of Christ in the universal reckoning.
8. About the foreign bishops
These are the names of the foreign bishops who have been in Iceland, according to Teitr’s story: Friðrekr came when it was heathen here, and these were after: Bjarnharðr inn bókvísi [the book-wise] for five years, Kolr for a few years, Hróðólfr for nineteen years, Jóhan inn írski [the Irish] for a few years, Bjarnharðr for nineteen years, Heinrekr for two years.
Yet another five came here, who said they were bishops: Örnólfr and Goðiskálkr and three Ermalnders [ermskir: from Armenia, or Ermland in present-day Poland]: Pétrús and Ábrahám and Stéphánús. Grímr son of Svertingr, at Mossfell took the position of law-speaker after Þorgeir and held it for two summers, but then he got permission for this, that Skafti Þóroddsonr, his sister’s son, would hold it because he was horse-voiced himself.
Skafti held the position of law-speaker twenty-seven summers. He established the law of the Fifth Court [fimmtardómslög] and that no killer should proclaim a killing against another man but himself, but previously there were here such laws concerning that as in Norway. In his days there happened to be many chiefs and powerful men outlawed or driven from the land for killings or fights because of his power and government. And he breathed his last in the same year that Óláfr inn digri [the stout] fell, who was the son of Haraldr, son of Goðröðr, son of Björn, son of Haraldr Fairhair, thirty years after the death of Óláfr Tryggvasonr.
Then Steinn, son of Þorgestir, took the position of law-speaker and held it for three summers. Then Þorkell, Tjörvr’s son, held it for twenty summers. Then Gellir, Bölverk’s son, held it for nine summers.
9. About Bishop Ísleifr
Ísleifr, son of Gizurr the White, was consecrated bishop in the days of Haraldr, king of Norway, son of Sigurðr, son of Hálfdanr, son of Sigurðr the Bastard [hrísa], son of Haraldr Fairhair. And when the chiefs and good men saw that Ísleifr was much more able than any of the other priests who could be obtained in this land, many then delivered their sons to him for instruction and to be ordained priests. Two were later consecrated bishops: Kollr, who was in Vík in Norway [austr], and Jóan at Hólar.
Ísleifr had three sons. They were all able chieftains: Bishop Gizurr and Teitr the priest, father of Hallr, and Þorvaldr. Hallr in Haukadalr raised Teitr; that man, everyone agrees, was the mildest and most morally excellent layman here in the land [sá maðr, er þat var almælt, at mildastr væri ok ágæztr at góðu á landi hér ólærðra manna]. I also came to Hallr when I was seven winters old, the winter after Gellir Þorkel’s son, my father’s father and foster father died, and was there fourteen winters.
Gunnar inn spaki [the wise] had taken the position of law-speaker when Gellir ceased and held it for three summers. Then Kolbeinn Flosi’s son held it for six. That summer, when he took the position of law-speaker, King Haraldr fell in England. Then Gellir held it for the second time, for three summers. Then Gunnar held it for the second time, for one summer. Then Sighvatr, son of Surtr, Kolbeinn’s nephew held it for eight.
In those days, Sæmundr, son of Sigfúr came from the south, from Frankland, to this country and afterward had himself ordained a priest.
Ísleifr was consecrated bishop when he was fifty. Leó VII was the pope. And the next winter he was in Norway and afterward he went out from there to here. And he breathed his last in Skálholt, when he had been bishop twenty-four years in all. Thus said Teitr to us. That was on the Lord’s Day, six nights after the feast of Peter and Paul, eighty winters after the death of Ólafr Tryggvasonar.
I was then there with Teitr, my foster father, and was twelve winters old. And Hallr, who had both a good memory and was truthful, and remembered when he was baptized, said to us that Þangbrandr baptized him when he was three winters old, and that was one winter before Christianity was taken into law here. And he set up his farm when he was thirty and dwelled sixty-four winters in Hauksdalr and had ninety-four winters when he breathed his last, and that was on the feast of Bishop Martin, in the tenth winter after the death of Bishop Ísleifr. 10. About Bishop Gizzur
On Bishop Gizurr
Bishop Gizzur, Ísleifr’s son, was consecrated bishop at the request of the land’s men in the days of king Ólafr, son of Haraldr, two winters after Ísleifr died. One winter he was here in this country, and the other in Gautland. And then his name was changed so that he was called Gisröðr. Thus he said to us.
Markús, son of Skeggi, held the position of law-speaker after Sighvati and took it that summer when Bishop Gizzur had been in this country for one winter, and he carried out his duties for twenty-four summers [en fór með fjögur sumur ok tuttugu] (Grønlie 2006: 11). According to his account, are written in this book the biographies of all the law-speakers which were before our memory, and Þórarinn, his brother, and his father, Skeggi, and many wise men told him, of those biographies which were before his memory, in accordance with that which Björn the wise had said, their father’s father, who remembered Þórarin the law-speaker and six others after.
Bishop Gizzur was more popular with all the land’s men than any other man which we know to have been in the country. Though his popularity and the persuasions of he and Sæmundar, with the guidance [umbráði] of Markús the law-speaker, it was laid down in law that all men should tally up and value all their property and swear that it was valued correctly, whether it was in lands or in movable possessions [lausaaurum], and then pay a tithe on it. That is a great token of how obedient the land’s men were to that man, that he brought it about [er hann kom því fram], that all property in Iceland and the land itself was valued with promises upon oaths, and tithes made and laid down in law that it should be so as long as Iceland is settled.
Bishop Gizurr instituted and laid down in law that the bishop’s see, which was to be in Iceland, should be in Skálholt, where previously it had no permanent residence [en áðr var hvergi], and he gave to the see the land at Skálholt and many other kinds of riches both in lands and movable possessions.
But when it seemed to him that the place has increased well in riches, he then gave more than quarter of his see for this, that there should be two bishop’s sees here in this country instead of one, just as the Northerners [Norðlendingar] asked him for. And he had previously counted the farms here in this country, and there were then, in all, eight hundred and forty [sjau hundruð] in the East Firth’s Quarter [Austfirðingafjórðungi], and in the Rangá Quarter [Rangæingafjórðungi] twelve hundred [tíu], and in the Breiðafjörðr Quarter [Breiðfirðingafjórðungi] one thousand and eighty [níu], and in the Eyjafjörðr Quarter [Eyfirðingafjórðungi] fourteen hundred and forty [tólf], but those who did not have to pay assembly tax were not counted through the whole of Iceland [en ótalðir váru þeir, er eigi áttu þingfararkaupi at gegna of allt Ísland] (Grønlie 2006: 12).
Úlfheðinn, son of Gunnarr ins spaka [the wise] took the position of law-speaker after Markús and held it for nine summers, then Bergþórr, son of Hrafnn, held it for six, and then Goðmundr, son of Þorgeirr, held it for twelve summers.
The first summer which Bergþórr pronounced the law, a new law was made, that our law should be written in a book at Hafliði’s, son of Másson’s, during the winter after, at the dictation and guidance of Bergþórr and Másson and of otherwise men who were appointed to this [þeira er til þess váru teknir]. They should make new laws in the law in all cases where they seemed better than the old laws [Skyldu þeir gerva nýmæli þau öll í lögum, er þeim litist þau betri en hin fornu lög]. They were to be declared the following summer in the Law Council [lögréttu] and all those which the majority said they did not oppose were to be kept. And it happened because of that, that manslaughter [Vígslóði] was written into law, and many others, and declared at the Law Council by priests the following summer. And that pleased everyone, and no one spoke in opposition to it.
It was also the first summer that Bergþórr pronounced the law, that Bishop Gizurr was unable to travel to the assembly [óþingfærr] because of illness. He then sent word to his Althing friends and chieftains, that they should ask Þorlákr, son of Runólfr, son of Þorleikr, the brother of Hallr in Haukdalr, to have himself consecrated bishop. And all did that just as he asked [svá sem orð hans kómu til], and this was obtained because Gizurr himself urged it so strongly [ok fekkst þat af því, at Gizurr hafði sjálfr fyrr mjök beðit] (Grønlie 2006: 12). And he went abroad that summer, and came out here the next summer and was then consecrated bishop.
Gizurr was ordained as bishop when he was forty. Gregory VII was the pope. And afterward, he was in Denmark for the next winter and came to this country in the following summer. And when he had been the bishop for twenty-four winters, just as his father, then Jóan, Ögmundr’s son, was ordained as bishop to the first see at Hólar. He was then fifty-four [vetri miðr en hálfsextögr]. And twelve winters later, when Gizurr had been bishop thirty-six winters in all, then Þorlákr was consecrated bishop. Gizurr had him ordained to the see in Skálaholt during his lifetime. Þorlákr was then two winters more than thirty, and Bishop Gizurr breathed his last thirty nights later in Skálholt on the third day of the week, the fifth day before the calends of June [á inum þriðja degi í viku fimmta kalend. Junii. [Það er 28. mai.]](Grønlie 2006: 13).
In the same year that pope Páschalis II breathed his last before Bishop Gizurr, as did Baldvini king of Jerusalem [Jórsalakonungr] and Arnaldr patriarch in Jerusalem and Philip king of the Swedes, and later the same summer Alexíús king of the Greeks. He had then sat on the throne in Miklagarðr for thirty eight years. And two winters later there was a change of lunar cycles. Then Eysteinn and Sigurðr had been kings in Norway seventeen winters after Magnús, their father, son of Ólafr, son of Haraldr. That was a hundred and twenty winters after the fall of Ólafr Tryggvasonar, and two hundred and fifty after the killing of Edmund king of England, and five hundred and sixteen winters after the death of Pope Gregory, who brought Christianity to England, according to that which has been tallied. And he breathed his last in the second year of the kingdom of Emperor Fócó [Phocas].
Here ends this book.
Appendix 11. The lineage of the Bishops
This is ancestry [kyn] of the bishops of the Icelanders and their genealogy: Ketilbjörn the settler [landnámsmaðr], who settled south at upper [inu efra] Mosfellr, was the father of Teitr, father of Gizurr the white [ins hvítr], father of Íslefr, who was the first bishop of Skálholt, father of bishop Gizurr.
Hrollaugr the settler, who settled east on Síða at Breiðabólstaðr, who was the father of Özurr, father of Þórdíss, mother of Hallr on Síða, father of Egill, father of Þorgerðr, mother of Jóan, who was the first bishop at Hólar.
Auðr the (female) settler [landnámskona], who settled west in Breiðafjörðr at Hvammr, was mother of Þorsteinn the red, father of Óleifr feilan, father of Þórðr gellir, father of Þórhildr rjúpa [the ptarmigan], mother of Þórðr hesthöfuð [horsehead], father of Karlsefnir, father of Snorri, father of Hallfríðr, mother of Þorlákr, who is bishop in Skálholt, after Gizurr.
Helgi inn magri [the lean], the settler, who settled north in Eyhafjörðr in Kristnes, was father of Helgi, mother of Einarr, father of Eyjólfr son of Valgerðr, father of Goðmundr, father of Eyjólfr, father of Þorsteinn, father of Ketill, who is now bishop at Holar, after Jóan.
12. List of Forefathers
These are the names of the forefathers of the Ynglings and the Breiðafjörðr-people:
- Yngvi king of the Turks.
- Njörðr kings of the Swedes.
- Fjölnir, who died at Friðfróði’s.
- Aun inn gamli [the old].
- Egill Vendilkráka [Crow of Vendill].
- Aðísl at Uppsala.
- Ingjaldr inn illráði [the evil].
- Óláfr trételgja [tree-cutter].
- Hálfdan hvítbeinn [white-bone], king of the Upplanders.
- Ingjaldr, son of the daughter of Sigurðr, son of Ragnarr loðbrókar [hairy-trousers].
- Óleifr inn hvíti [the white].
- Þorsteinn inn rauði [the red].
- Óleifr feilan, who was the first of them to settle in Iceland.
- Þórðr gellir.
- Eyjólfr, who was baptized in his old age, when Christianity came to Iceland.
- Gellir, father of Þorkell, father of Brandr, and Þorgill, my father, and I am called Ari.