In 1840 the Althing was re-established as an advisory, not as a legislative body.
The largest town is Reykjavik on Faxafloi, with 6700 inhabitants, the capital of the island, and the place of residence of the governorgeneral and the bishop. Here the Althing meets; and here, further, are the principal public institutions of the island (library, schools, &c.).
According to the constitution granted to Iceland in 1874, the king of Denmark shares the legislative power with the Althing, an assembly of 36 members, 30 of whom are elected by household suffrage, and 6 nominated by the king.
The Althing meets every second year, and sits in two divisions, the upper and the lower.
The minister for Iceland, who resided in Copenhagen until 1903, when his office was transferred to Reykjavik, is responsible to the king and the Althing for the maintenance of the constitution, and he submits to the king for confirmation the legislative measures proposed by the Althing.
Iceland has her own budget, the Althing having, by the constitution of 1874, the right to vote its own supplies.
As the Althing only meets every other year, the budget is passed for two years at once.
Disputes between neighbouring chiefs and their clients, and uncertainty as to the law, brought about the Constitution of Ulfliot (c. 930), which appointed a central moot for the whole island, the Althing, and a speaker to speak a single " law " (principally that followed by the Gula-moot in Norway); the Reforms of Thord Gellir (964), settling a fixed number of moots and chieftaincies, dividing the island into four quarters (thus characterized by Ari: north, thickest settled, most famous; east, first completely settled; south, best land and greatest chiefs; west, remarkable for noble families), to each of which a head-court, the " quarter-court," was assigned; and the Innovations of Skapti (ascribed in the saga to Nial) the Law- Speaker (d.
The bishops, elected by the people at the Althing till 1237, enjoyed considerable power; two, Thorlak of Skalholt and John of Holar, were publicly voted saints at the Althing, and one, Gudmund, received the title of " Good " by decree of the bishop and chapter.
The year was broken by the spring feasts and moots, the great Althing meeting at midsummer, the marriage and arval gatherings after the summer, and the long yule feasts at midwinter.
A royal court took the place of the Althing courts; the local business of the local things was carried out by the (hreppstjori) bailiff, a subordinate of the sheriff; and the g050r5, things, quarter-courts, trial by jury, &c., were swept away by these innovations.
The pathos of such tragedies as the death of Gunnar and Hoskuld and the burning is interrupted by the humour of the Althing scenes and the intellectual interest of the legal proceedings.