The Icelandic Free State which flourished from 930 to the middle of the thirteenth century gave rise to a sophisticated political system and had a rich literary culture. However, by 1400 the structure of this society had begun to crumble. The following period, from 1400 to 1800, has beenlargely overlooked by scholars. In this book Kirsten Hastrup offers an analysis of Icelandic society during a period of remarkable social disintegration and technological decline. She approaches the subject from a variety of angles, juxtaposing the economic, social, and political orders with concepts of humanity, fate, and nature, and providing the reader with a comprehensive picture of Icelandic society in the period. Her analysis shows how the dissolution of the ancientorder must be attributed to internal factors of culture and mentality, as well as to the external ones of natural catastrophe and commercial exploitation. She ends the book with a valuable discussion of the nature of causation in history.