Battle of Víðines

The Battle of Víðines (Icelandic: Víðinesbardagi) of 1208 was a conflict that took place between secular and clerical forces in early 13th century Iceland.

The Catholic bishop Guðmundur Arason had defended the exclusive judicial powers of the Roman Catholic Church over its clergy against the secular powers of the goði chieftains. In 1208, Kolbeinn Tumason and Arnór Tumason of the Ásbirningar clan and Sigurður Ormsson of the Svínfellingar clan advanced on the see of Guðmundur Arason. They wanted the bishop to give up several men in his assembly whom they claimed they had rightful business with. The bishop stood by his claim that the clergy should retain judicial power in its own affairs, and a conflict ensued at Víðines, near Hólar, the seat of the bishop. Kolbeinn Tumason died in the battle, his head bashed in with a large rock, and the clan troops dissipated. Before he died, he composed the poem "Heyr, himna smiður" (Hear, heavenly creator"), which is a classic Icelandic hymn to this very day.[1]


  1. Terry Gunnell, The Origins of Drama in Scandinavia (1995) page 338: "Z34 In the second example, which is also said to have occurred shortly after the battle at Vidines in 1208, a man dreams that he is in a small room where he sees two men dressed in black, with loose hoods on their heads. They 'held hands ...
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