Re: Althing and Tynwald

From: Philippe Verdy (
Date: Sat Aug 16 2003 - 05:27:55 EDT

  • Next message: Peter Kirk: "Re: Althing and Tynwald"

    From: "John Cowan" <>
    > Philippe Verdy scripsit:
    > > I thought it was in Iceland...
    > The Alžingi was founded in 930, shortly after Iceland was settled.
    > In 1262, after the reception of Norwegian authority, it became mostly
    > the Icelandic high court, and the last vestige of legislative function
    > vanished in 1662. In 1800 it was abolished and not refounded until
    > It did not regain legislative authority until 1874.
    > The Tynwald Court of the Isle of Man, however, has functioned
    > as a legislative assembly since at least 979. (The name "Tynwald"
    > is also Norse in origin: žingvollr 'assembly field'.)

    Thanks for the story.

    I did not know that Iceland was ruled by Norway in its history.
    Despite this, I had always been told that Iceland had been the
    oldest democracy, but without details about its parlement.
    May be there was another local democratic representation even
    during the Norwegian authority on this far island.

    May be many are confused by the fact that the Isle of Man is not
    an independant country, even if has its own regional legislative
    authority (also in other British Channel Islands), and is more or
    less considered with the same status as other regional authorities
    found in many countries (including Spain's regions, Germany's
    Länder, UK's nations, US's states, Switzerland cantons...)

    France had regional parlements before the 1789 revolution, but
    they were ruled by the King, even though there were assemblies
    with little power for the legislative and judiciary power, named
    "Etats" (divided between in 3 between the clergy, nobility and
    the rest of the people). Since Revolution, the National Assembly
    was created formally by unifying the 3 Etats into 1 assembly
    represented face to the King, before the Kingdom itself
    was abolished. During the Empire or the short time of the
    Restauration, the national representation was not redivided, and
    even during the Empire, the power was recentralized, and all
    regional rules were unified.

    France has recreated its regional assemblies only very recently in
    the last 80's, but with only a executive role, and the national law
    prevails everywhere, with some arrangements for overseas territories
    (but not in overseas departments and collectivity, working exactly
    like in the metropolitan territory).

    This is still true in Corsica since the very recent vote
    which refused to give some autonomy to a regional assembly
    with limited legislative power within the Republic (this caused
    some problems with the constitution which states that the
    Republic cannot be divided, and the the French law must apply
    everywhere on the Republic).

    In fact some overseas territories have voted to be assimilated more
    as departments and not territories within the Republic (notably in
    Mayotte, the last remaining French island in the independant but very
    troubled Comores, or in Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon, both of them
    going from a Territorial Collectivity status to a Departmental
    Collectivity status). The term Collectivity is related to some
    form of local administration allowing local arrangements
    with bordering countries notably in terms of commercial
    exchanges and people movements, without the need to refer
    constantly to the national representation and governnent in Paris;
    it is kept as these regions keep their formal right to independance
    if this was voted there by referendum, without needing amending the
    Constitution (this was the case for New Caledonia when a
    new regional assembly was created and the aboriginal laws accepted
    to rule in the administrative and judiciary domains, in a wait for a
    future vote on independance).

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