Royal power and local communities in Iceland circa 1260–1450

In the years 1262 to 1264, Iceland became a skattland (tributary land) under the king of Norway, and in 1271 and 1281 respectively, the country received two new law books, Járnsíða and Jónsbók, which introduced a new administrative system, based on a Norwegian model. The transformation from chiefdoms to kingdom happened swiftly, and by 1300 the main features of the new system had taken form, providing the basis for a model that would last for centuries. When Icelanders became the subject of the Norwegian kings, the hreppr (rural municipality) was the most important unit in Icelandic society. By including it in the administrative system, all householders in the country were made jointly responsible for running local public life. For the king and his administration, to co-operate with the hreppr was vital, and by giving householders responsibility for many public tasks, it not only became easier to administrate the country, but it also created peace in local communities. The importance of the hreppr can clearly been seen in that Jónsbók converted hreppsfundir to assemblies, and thus included it in the new administrative system. This close co-operation and the strong reciprocal ties between the king and his subjects were in accordance with the situation in Norway.