Political Organization of Iceland in Landnįmabók, Part 1, Chapter XXI

The Norse Chiefs who settled in Iceland finding the country uninhabited, solemnly took possession of the land, directing their landtake by the omens of the drifting ashore of the high seat pillars, &c., and then in order to found a community, they built a temple and called themselves by the name of goši or hof goši (temple-priest), and thus the temple became the nucleus of a new community, which was called gošorš. Many independent gošar and gošorš sprung up throughout all the country, until about the year 930 the Althing was erected where all the petty sovereign chiefs gošar entered into a kind of league, and formed a general government for the whole Island. In A.D. 964 the constitution was settled; the number of gošorš being fixed at three in each thing (shire), and three things in each of the other three quarters, but four in the north; thus the number of gošar came to be nominally thirty-nine, really thirty-six as the four in the north were reckoned out as three.

Source: Ari the Learned, "Political Organization of Iceland in Landnįmabók, Part 1, Chapter XXI," The Northvegr Foundation, http://www.northvegr.org/lore/landnamabok/006.php, (2005).

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