Famous Godi-s and Gydjur

Famous Godi´s

Thorsteinn Ingólfsson
of Reykjavík. was the first Everyman's Priest, a Godi of his neighboring areas, and one of the chief supporters of the first Althing. He held the Kjalarness- District-Thing before the Althing was established. He was the son of Ingólfr, the first settler in Reykjavík.
Hrafn Haingsson was the first Lawspeaker and probably a Godi.
Thorkell Máni (Moon) was a Everyman's Priest, a Lawspeaker and "a very wise man". When he died, he had his body carried into the rays of the Sun, and he committed himself to Him who had created the Sun. Supporter of science and of improved thought. Such was the life-span of the heathen who was the head of the Asatrú in Iceland in the 10th century.
Thorgeir-of Ljósavatn was a Lawspeaker, a Godi, and he made peace between the opposing parties in the year 1000 with the words: "If we dissolve the Laws we will dissolve the peace. These were proper words, but what he had in mind was plain treachery. The heathens trusted him, but felt them betrayed. The real thrust in favor of the conversion was the taking of hostages by the torturer-King Olaf Tryggvason. Olaf had taken four important, Icelandic hostages in Norway, for putting such a threat behind his demand for the religious surrender of their homeland.
Snorri-Godi. Snorri was one of the most influential men at the Althing in the year 1000, and "the wisest of all in Iceland of them who had not the gift of prophecy", as recorded in the Njáls Saga. Of the characters of Eyr-byggja saga, Snorri is the most distinct as a person, most powerful for almost 50 years, most cunning and "scheming"-minded, but intelligent as well. He had 19 children with his three successive wives and 3 "illegitimate" children. It seems as if his descendants were better disposed than he was. Einarr of Thvera. (Einarr Thveraeingr) was a Godi. He rejected, in the Lögrétta, King Olaf the Corpulent's attempt to get hold of the Island of Grimsey, which is to the North of Iceland. Einarr was a man of singular intelligence and careful foresight. His daughter, Hallfrídr, became the 3rd wife of Snorri Godi, and their 13 children were all happily married and effective in their life work as it seems. Among them was Thurid, a wise lady. Halldór Snorrason, who is famous for his expeditions with Haraldr Hardrada, later King of Norway, into Southern Europe and Jorsalaland, where he punished the robbers and gave peace to the inhabitants, with the support of the Stolnyie Kras in Byzans. When they turned back to Norway Halldór felt that Harald's haughtiness had increased by becoming a king. One night Halldór got into the royal sleeping room and with his sword swinging demanded a heavy gold ring from Harald's wrist. He got it and had a ship already prepared in the haven, got there and sailed to Iceland, never to return to Norway, for the knew the temper of his former comrade.
Skapti Thoroddsson was a Lawspeaker and a Godi, and contemporary of Snorri Godi. He continued the law-work of the previous Lawspeakers and created peace in Iceland during his office time, but some Sagawriters are not fond of him, including the author of Njáls Saga. Skpti was a man of lasting influence.
Saemund the Wise (1056-1135). Studied in France (In the "Black School" - where he even fooled the Master of the Dark Runes, as the legend says). When he returned to Iceland he sat down at his homestead, Oddi, and became the forefather of the Oddaverjar, and a Godi for the Ranga people. A Godi, he supported the claim of the Church for a tithe from all taxable men. However, Saemund manipulated the matter of tithes such, that the Godi-s got hold of much of the capital accumlating through tithing. This capital then became the basis of power for the Churchholding Godi-s in the 12th and 13th centuries. After Saemund, learning continued to be pursued at Oddi, which was important for Snorri Sturluson, who later grew up at this good farmstead.
Ari-the Learned (1068-1148) was most likely a Godi. He was the first to write Icelandic History (not Sagas proper), into a book. He wrote in Icelandic instead of Latin which was the custom in most lands at that time. Ari is the founder of the Icelandic writing language, and the book that has survived him is the Book of the Icelanders as he called it and has been called ever since. Ari traced his pedigree to Yngvifreyr.
Jon Loftsson of Oddi was a Godi, and a learned man, and a friend of women, which annoyed the clerics, especially in the case of Bishop Thorlak's sister, Ragnheidr. The conflict between the two - the Bishop wanted to take to him the churches that were sources of wealth - but the contest was won by Jón Loftsson.
Sturla Thordarson, Godi of Hvammr (Hvamm-Sturla) represented the national attitude in 12th century politics in Iceland. He was the father of Snorri Sturluson and other Sturlungs. Sturla was a Godi and extended his influence at the cost of a less gifted and less popular neighbor.
Snorri Sturluson (1179-1241) was a Godi and a Lawspeaker. He opposed the attempts of foreign monarchical power to get hold of Iceland. This position led to his murder in 1241. He was also a writer of style; a Mythologist; a Historian and a Saga-writer. "The Icelander, Snorri Sturluson, has become more influential in the history of Norway than any single Norwegian", said Svale Solheim, a professor at the University of Oslo.
Sturla Sighvatsson (1199-1238), became a Godi, about 22 years old. His relations to Snorri Sturluson were often strained but sometimes very pleasant, and Sturla visited his uncle for getting aquainted with his saga-writing. He was the first of all to recognize the value of Snorri's sagas. Sturla wanted to be the sovereign ruler of all Iceland in accordance with European models. He failed because this was contrary to the nature of the Godic Republic.
Sturla Thordarson the Second (1214-1284) was a Godi and a Law-speaker; Poet (Skald); Dream-Enquirer; Historian, and opposed to the aggression of the Norwegian monarch towards Iceland.
Gissur Thorvaldsson. Gissur was a powerful man in the Sturlung Age. He renounced the Icelandic Godi-Rank for a Norwegian Jarl (Earl) Rank and chose to work for the King's interests. Just after he made his renouncement the Godic Republic came to its end. Many Icelanders have looked upon Gissur as the archtraitor. Some messages through mediums, however, indicate that this man, after long difficulties in "limbo" like conditions, on other planets, at last managed to get along towards progress. - In the Shetland Islands there were some old plays, acted every year, where a certain "Guizer Jarl" comes from the ocean, sails "Up Helly Aa", and to the Thing, where he leads a ceremony with the attending people. There are some odds that this is just the same Gizur with whom we are concerned here - the only Gissur with an Earl's name known in Norwegian-Icelandic history.
Thorvardr Thorarinsson has been called "The Last Godi" He was the last of all Icelanders of power to accept the sovereignty of the Norwegian King (1264). Hewas very influential in the last part of the 13th century and resisted the Church's grasp for power and wealth. It has been conjectured that he wrote the Njals Saga.
Thordr Sighvatsson was a Godi. After the death of his father and 4 brothers in the battle of Orlyggstadir it seemed that Thordr had no chance of a comeback to recognitions and power. However, with courage, fitness and personal charm, he won the support of many men - his sister in the Southland helped most - and for a while his power was dominant in all Iceland. He was careful and successful to forbid for himself and his men all abuses so often customary of a soldieer's life. Yet he had to fight great battles where he did not spare himself in any way. - He initated the writing of the Sturlunga Saga.
Brandr Kolbeinsson was a Godi,and of the Asbirngins' family. He was popular in his own district. He was a beautiful man; both blond and fair of complexion, athletical in stature.

Famous Gydjur (gydja-s, priestesses).

The influence of the priestesses (gydja-s) can be traced widely in the first stages of the Godic Republic.
Freygerdr gydja, mother of Skeggi, "sang heathen religious songs over her altar". This information is found in a verse that has been preserved.
Steinvör the Temple Priestess kept guard of the Main Temple at Vopnafjord.
Thordis the Prophetess lived near the "Mountain of the Prophetess" (still so called) in the Northland. Even the powerful Godi of the Vatnsdalr sought her advice. Probably she was a Temple-warden.
Steinunn Refsdóttir, was a Priestess with a God-tongue (poetess). Lived at Hofgardar, Snaefellsnes; witty and intelligent. She opposed Danc-brant of Saxony the most forcibly of all Icelanders. Two of Steinunn's immortal verse have survived to this time.
Halldóra Gunnsteinsdóttir was the wife of the Godi Glumr, in the North of Iceland. She was a great humanitarian and probably also a keeper of the temple. After a bloody fight, Halldora went to the battlefield and nursed both friend and foe. After the conversion to christianity, the offices of the high priestesses (Gydja-s) disappeared, although the Godi-s continued to be a part of official life in Iceland. There were, however, many prominent ladies in the Later Godic times, and some of them were.
Gudrún Ósvifursdóttir - a great personality, married four times, lost all her husbands. She has been the ideal of ambitious women ever since, and not only of the ambitious ones, for often when groups of visitors came to Helgafell, the men went to the top of the hill (where the godi-s had consulted the gods), while the ladies visited the grave of Gudrun, honoring the great lady. - Gudrun was the great-grandmother of Ari-the- Learned.
Thuridur Snorradóttir (1024-1112) was a wise lady and very learned in Icelandic manners and customs. She was "of extensive knowledge and quite dependable", says Ari-the-Learned about her. Her husband was Gunnlaugr Steinthorsson of Eyri in the West. Much of the material of the "Eyrbyggja Saga" may have come to us through her.
Gudný Bödvarsdóttir (ca. 1148-1221) from Gardar in the Akranes area was a highly gifted and wise lady. When her husband, Sturla, went alone against a number of intruders, she inspired courage in the rest of the people so that they followed Sturla, thereby winning the battle. Gudnywas the mother and grandmother of many Sturlungs. Apparently the Sturlungs were the most beautiful, intelligent and original of all the great families of the 13th century in Iceland - but best were those whom Sturla had with Gudny.
Hallveig Ormsdóttir from the Oddaverjar family, was practically the second wife of Snorri Sturluson, but without the consent of the Church. Her father Ormr Jonsson is described "a man of the deepest wisdom and noble disposition". We may assume that this fine lady had a good influence upon the writing of Snorri. References in the texts indicate that she was a wise, energetic and modest lady, yet independent, and a good mother. She died in the same year as Snorri, 1241.