missions and raiding activities that transformed the entire Europeanpolitical landscape. The British Isles, even though they had been settled by descendants of shared Germanic ancestors, were no exception. In 793, according to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle ,
terrible portents came about over the land of Northumbria, and miserably frightened the people: these were immense flashes of lightning, and fiery dragons were seen flying in the air. A great famine immediately followed theses signs; and a little after that in the same year on 8 January the raiding of heathen men
to southern, Catholic Europe. Still another two centuries on, Denmark’s resistance to helping Britain contain Napoleon’s activities enabled Britain to reshape Europeanpolitics by shelling Copenhagen and, following Napoleon’s 1815 exile to St Helena, by presuming to undertake the partially punitive transference of Norway from Danish to Swedish control.
For their part, early modern Danish and Swedish political concerns largely concentrated not on Britain but on the German-speaking territories and on the formation of local political states. Indeed, if the creation
history of Iceland, though possessing little importance in its relation to the political events of other nations, is nevertheless curious and interesting in many of its features.’ Despite the severities of the climate, the seclusion of the people, and the island’s literal marginalisation in Europeanpolitics, the community there ‘has preserved, through the progress of nearly a thousand years, an enlightened system of internal policy, an exalted character in all religious and social duties, liberal methods of education, and the culture of even the more refined branches