A traitor, liberator, crusader, or ruthless invader? The first woman on our list is Hallgerður Höskuldsdóttir, also known as Hallgerður Langbrók, a prominent character in the much celebrated thirteenth-century Njáls Saga. Terrified, he ran outside to hide in the stables, with Björn fast on his heels. The Dog Star Sirius just left of Orion - Photo by: 'Hubble European Space Agency' Wikimedia Creative Common. When does the midnight sun take place in Iceland? Neither of these Vikings, however, settled long on the island, so neither make this list. Lying on the constantly active geologic border between North America and Europe, Iceland is a land of vivid contrasts of climate, geography, and culture. This stuff is buried underground for 6-12 weeks, then hung out to dry in the sun. Famous People From Iceland. Her resilience in valuing nature over profit made her Iceland’s first environmental campaigner. Consequently, Egill presented himself to the king to plead for pardon. Gullfoss is a stop most visitors will get to; it is one of the three stops of the famous Golden Circle. Born to a low-income family, Björn was taken into foster care by his father’s master at the age of four. If Halla is the true villain of the tale, Eyvindur is perhaps more of its anti-hero. Another version of the pair's demise is that Halla was apprehended by the authorities, but deemed too weak to be imprisoned. She and her sisters laid the first path down to the falls, and would take visitors to come and see it; even in the 19th Century, it drew people from around the world. This did not stop our rebel explorer, and he returned the following June with quite the counterstrike. Her actions radically changed the neo-liberal politics that had reigned under the 18 years of the government of the Independence Party. Egill Skallagrímsson engaging in a  'holmgang' / a duel of life and death - Photo by: 'Johannes Flintoe' Wikimedia Creative Commons. Check out this wide range of Culture Tours See this list of Famous People from Icela... What are the key characteristics of Icelandic food, and is it any good? Falling in love with England, an oddity for a Danish person of the time, Jørgensen didn't return to his homeland until late in his twenties. From Ingólfur Arnarson to Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, the people of this little island nation have carved their distinct places in world history, and put Iceland on the map. During his first years, he did not differ much from his siblings or stepbrother, Guðmundur Ormsson, with whom he became close friends. Hallgerður was the wife of one of the Icelandic Saga's greatest warriors, Gunnar of Hlíðarendi. The bloody feud continued, peaking when Egill slew the king's son Rögnvaldur. This horrid theme of infanticide (the crime of a mother killing her child) follows Halla throughout the entire narrative. Snorri Sturluson, renowned medieval scholar and possible author of Egils Saga - Photo by: 'Christian Krogh' Wikimedia Creative Commons. Icelanders see this gift-giving as a formal acceptance on the part of Americans and an acknowledgment that Leif Eiriksson, an Icelander, found America, not Christopher Columbus. Many scholars argue that the Sagas are not simply pass-time stories, but allegories, created for the purpose of preserving Iceland’s pagan world-view after the country’s Christian conversion in 1000 AD. While figures like Margaret Thatcher, first elected in 1979, used their role as a wife and mother to sell themselves to conservatives who believed that women should stay traditional gender roles, Vigdís was a single mother and divorcee, and unashamed of it. But if you take a close look at the country's history, you might find that such accolades aren’t entirely telling of the bygone times that shaped the Icelandic nation. She then uses her charms and wits to convince various shady individuals to kill members of Njáll and Bergþóra's household. Painting by: Emil Doepler, 1855 - 1922. Following these dramatic protests, they prepared to shatter one of the world’s tallest glass ceilings. Sagas of kings are historical biographies of the kings of Norway (and to a lesser extent, of Denmark) from prehistoric times into the 14th century. He was baptised and brought Christianity to Greenland when he returned. This protagonist, Bjartur, is determined to the point of callous, but a fantastic representation of Icelanders of old. Laxness died in 1998, and in his lifetime, underwent many personal changes that reflected the world around him. There is a growing movement in Iceland to include more ‘herstory’ within the city museums and to raise a statue of Bríet, although these demands are only just gaining traction. He did so regardless, returning to Iceland during one of its most tumultuous times. The Lewis chessmen (Ninox / CC BY-NC 2.0 ) Reading Van der Linde, Willard Fiske became annoyed. Apparently, move on to the next possible culprit—Þuríður Jónsdóttir, the daughter and sister of the recently deceased Jónssons. First, he was sent to an island off Iceland, but on repeating his offence, was exiled completely for three years. Ingólfur is thus considered the first proper settler, having lived in Iceland permanently since his arrival in 874. Egill Skallagrímsson donning the pages of a 17th-century manuscript - Photo by: Wikimedia Creative Commons. In 2017, the country even topped the Global Peace Index (GPI) report for the tenth consecutive year in a row. It is rumoured that Christopher Columbus knew that he would reach the Americas, rather than India, on his voyage to the New World; he claimed to have visited Iceland in 1477, where he may have heard legends of Leif’s travels to lands to the west. Outside of Hallgrímskírkja church in Reykjavík, there is a statue of this legendary explorer, which is probably the most photographed statue in the country. British businessmen believed they could use the waterfall to harness huge amounts of energy, and sought permission to dam it. The era of the witch trials - Photo Credit: Wikimedia Creative Commons. She cursed him for it, making it so that he'd be committed to a life of theft. Egill's greatest feat, therefore, was not achieved by means of sword and axe, but his words and wits. Scholars have also interpreted the epic of Njáls Saga as a critique of a misogynistic society, which showcases how ideals of masculinity are always and eventually self-destructive. During the UEFA European Championship in 2016, the world watched in awe as Iceland fended off challenger after challenger, knocking renowned footballing nations such as England out of the league. Her magazine became a political tool to motivate women to demand their rights to vote. Women were permitted to participate in municipal elections, so she formed a women’s party, the success of which shocked the Reykjavík establishment. Those are not all of the Icelandic musicians that have received attention outside the country and we can say with a certain guarantee that there will be more. What is Guide to Iceland? Jóhanna retired from politics in 2013, opting not to run for re-election. Complex and lengthy poems like Egill's drápa were remembered and recited in their entirety, or not at all. Laxness’ most famous works are available in most bookshops and souvenir stores. No matter what field of study, there are Icelanders who have made a significant contribution to its understanding. Perlan is a famous landmark in Reykjavik, you’ll see it’s massive glass dome on the hill. The available Icelandic sagas give us incredible insight into an age long gone, full of heroes and explorers—but what of the villains and sinners? It is believed that Native Americans killed the few who stayed, and it almost became forgotten in the annals of history. Leif the Lucky, born c. 970 AD, was one of Iceland’s most incredible explorers. Famous people from New Zealand – a list of 100 most famous people from New Zealand, including politicians, sportspeople, artists, writers, military leaders and actors. Although the individuals of Njáls Saga are historical, the story is written down long after its events unfolded. Though both sides of the war bore umbrage with his role in the division, when he was assassinated in his home in 1241, it was widely considered to be an affront to his name and titles. Did we leave anyone out? After having mastered studies of seamanship at the age of twenty, he joined the British fleet and began his many escapades. Read on to learn about these fascinating individuals, their heinous crimes and vagabond lives, on our list of the most infamous Icelanders of history. ~871: Ingólfur Arnarsson, a Norse nobleman, settles in Reykjavík. Join our weekly hand curated newsletter to have all the latest news from Iceland sent to you. Ingibjörg Bjarnason became the first female elected to the national parliament in 1922. In the writings of Sveinn Níelsson, Guðmundur is said to have visited Björn at this farm to confront him about his crimes. 20- Solheimasandur Plane Wreck. Top of the list is the queen of quirk Björk Guðmundsdóttir, who is probably the most famous Icelander of them all. However, folklore and numerous stories tell of his many crimes, and perhaps these accounts can help us unveil the man behind the myth - if a man is what we can call him. The only European of his time whose achievements in discovery match his, is his father, Erik the Red. Read on... What are some of the silliest, most ignorant, or plain stupid things that visitors to Iceland have done? Due to the customs of her time, the main reason she is so venerated is because of her beauty, rather than how she altered culture with her bold actions, so she just doesn't quite compare to figures such as Bríet. The story goes that his poetry was so extraordinary, that it convinced the king to pardon his own son's murderer. The Highlands of Iceland - Home of Outlaws. Icelanders established the country of Iceland in mid 930 A.D. when the Althingi (Parliament) met for the first time. He is an actor, singer and songwriter who by the time he came out was already known in the society. Before their escape, Halla wanted to burn the farm in which they resided, but Eyvindur convinced her not to, thus saving the children sleeping inside. Most of what is known of him comes from the iconic Book of Settlements, called Landnáma in Icelandic, which was written by Ari Þorgilsson. Additionally, he named himself its protector and highest power, until the Icelandic people would be able to govern themselves. Renowned for her beauty and wild spirit, the feuds she inflamed lead to decades of deaths and destruction. The current president works each day in this building, and it is telling of how safe and open Iceland is that it is unfenced and has very little security. Tómas refused this offer completely, unwilling to sell no matter the cost. Whatever their crimes, these colourful individuals are all remembered by the Icelandic nation as being larger than life. Snorri is best known for two books, although he wrote much more. The second of these is Höfði House, the building in which Reagan and Gorbachev met for the Reykjavík Summit. It was for these creations that he won the Nobel Prize for Literature. ... every now and then we like to discuss other aspects of the country such as its history, culture, and everyday life on our small Nordic island. Leif joined his father in these travels, learning about ship craft as he did. Book your complete trip with the best companies only. In what has since become known as Kirkjubólsmálið, Iceland's most famous witch trial, the father and son plead guilty to the use of sorcery against the minister, who subsequently sealed their fate in 1656—death by burning at the stake. Continue... See a selection of wonderful photographs that capture the magic of the Northern Lights throughout Iceland. Iceland has now been listed as the world’s most gender-equal country for eight years running, according to the World Economic Forum’s survey on gender equality, and comes near the top of multiple other lists, such as the most educated and the happiest nations. Perlan now has an Ice Cave exhibition where you can walk through an ice tunnel and you can get the history of Icelands glaciers. Re-elected twice, his stern resolution meant that Iceland’s newly discovered nationhood was impossible to deny. Bríet Bjarnhéðinsdóttir, however, born in a developing Reykjavík in 1856, managed to make herself known. The man who first openly spoke about being gay in Iceland was Hörður Torfason. This is visited on most tours around the capital. She lifted Iceland out of its post-crash slump and strengthened trade unions to protect workers. To learn more about the settlement era altogether, there is the excellent Settlement Centre Museum in Borganes. 1. A relief statue of Sigríður stands at Gullfoss, with information signs detailing who she was and what she did. Some of its popular singers are Bubbi Morthens, Megas and Björgvin Halldórsson, while Björk Guðmundsdóttir is probably the most famous Icelander of them all. Population in … The attitudes of Icelanders in regards to the LGBTQIA+ community* changed radically from the 1980s to the 2000s, going from hostility, to tolerance, to celebration. Read more. Photo Credit: Wikimedia, Creative Commons, Rob C. Croes. Over and over again, she walked to and from the capital to meet with a lawyer, in a relentless attempt to protect Gullfoss. It wasn’t until his teenage years that his disorders reportedly surfaced, when he grew cold and antisocial. Icelanders are incredibly proud of their environment and incredibly protective over it. Here is what we do know: Ari was a passionate scientist, inquisitive historian, a dedicated priest, and a just Icelandic chieftain. Though only serving one term, she left the office of Prime Minister having changed the face of Iceland forever. Eyvindur and Halla supposedly had many children together, but Halla terminated them all upon birth. Born in the late 16th century, this ruthless murderer got his nickname from the farm in which he resided, Öxl in Breiðuvík in the Snæfellsnes peninsula. Jón's writings were in 1999 adapted into a film by renowned Icelandic filmmaker Hrafn Gunnlaugsson, called Myrkrahöfðinginn or Prince of Darkness. When was Guide to Iceland founded and why? Upon their return, Jørgensen and his crew apprehended Trampe and locked him away on their ship. Photo Credit: Wikimedia, Creative Commons, D. Gordon E. Robertson. Apparently, this was not such a big deal at the time, at least not in the same way as it would be today. A legendary beauty, she had four marriages, none of which ended well, and she ended up becoming the nation’s first nun. She promoted causes such as the education and empowerment of girls, the funding and celebration of the arts, and the protection of Icelandic nature, and oversaw a slew of legislation that made these goals possible. Now, a nation follows her ideology. One tale tells of how, during a feast, he carved a rune that shattered a poisoned cup intended to take his life. One of the most famous historical landmarks is the Solheimasandur Plane Wreck in south Iceland. The king decided to postpone Egill's execution until the next morning, so he stayed up all night composing a lengthy and exceptional 'Drápa' (a form of skaldic poetry). Why do producers choose to film in Iceland? Reykjavik is the world’s most northerly capital city, and is one of the safest and cleanest cities in the world. Jørgensen went on to be arrested for having left London, but not before he saved the crew of the ship that was transporting him from a fire. The fact that any woman won the presidency was dramatic; the fact that it was someone whose lifestyle was so contrary to what was customary shocked the world. On trial, he admitted to them being nine, but several accounts believe they were as many as eighteen. Whatever the case, Eyvindur is definitely the more famous and celebrated of the pair, while Halla is decidedly more vicious. Let us know in the comments below! 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