Iceland (Photo credit: Raold Smeets)

The internal struggles and civil strife of the Sturlung Era led to the signing of the Old Covenant in 1262, which ended the Commonwealth and brought Iceland under the Norwegian crown. Possession of Iceland passed to Denmark-Norway around 1380, when the kingdoms of Norway, Denmark and Sweden were united in the Kalmar Union. In the ensuing centuries, Iceland became one of the poorest countries in Europe. Infertile soil, volcanic eruptions, and an unforgiving climate made for harsh life in a society where subsistence depended almost entirely on agriculture. The Black Death swept Iceland twice, first in 1402–04 and again in 1494–95,[15]. The former outbreak killed 50% to 60% of the population, and the latter 30% to 50%.