Courtesy Reuters

Icelandic Independence

STRUGGLES for independence generally originate in emotion. In the case of Iceland the emotion that feeds the present movement for independence is in turn based to a greater extent than usual on literature and history. Economic reasons come in too, of course, and there are many other contributing causes, but these have been correspondingly less important in Iceland than among most nations engaged in struggles to regain or win separate statehood. A sketch of Icelandic history and literature is necessary, therefore, for an understanding of the country's present relationship to Denmark and the rest of the world.

For those who think that racial temperaments are inherited, whether biologically or sociologically, it is important first of all to study the blood of the Icelanders; I therefore shall emphasize that part of their colonial history which shows the sources from which the population was derived.

It is a common error to suppose that Iceland was discovered by the Norsemen (Vikings) and that the discovery took place about 860 A. D. In reality it is clear that the original discoverers, or at least the earliest we know of, came from Ireland. The source of this information is in a writing of the Irish monk Dicuil about 825 A. D. He refers to a discovery and colonization a hundred years before, or around 725, of "Islands in the ocean north of Britain," and continues with a description which has usually been thought to fit the Faroe Islands. He then says that it has now been thirty years since certain priests had been on the island of Thule, or Iceland, which may mean that the Faroes were discovered around 725 and Iceland only shortly before 800. It may be, however, that he means to date only the Icelandic colonization around 795, and that the discovery was earlier.

Around and shortly after Dicuil's time the Vikings overran Ireland, as well as England and Scotland, conquering large parts and setting up various governments and overlordships. Whether the Norsemen heard of Iceland from the Irish

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