Guðríður Símonardóttir

Guðríður Símonardóttir

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Guðríður Símonardóttir (1598 – December 18, 1682) was one of 242 people abducted from the Westman Islands, Iceland
Iceland , described as the Republic of Iceland, is a Nordic and European island country in the North Atlantic Ocean, on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Iceland also refers to the main island of the country, which contains almost all the population and almost all the land area. The country has a population...

 in 1627. The attacks by Barbary corsairs
Barbary corsairs
The Barbary Corsairs, sometimes called Ottoman Corsairs or Barbary Pirates, were pirates and privateers who operated from North Africa, based primarily in the ports of Tunis, Tripoli and Algiers. This area was known in Europe as the Barbary Coast, a term derived from the name of its Berber...

 came to be known as the Turkish abductions and Guðríður became known as Tyrkja-Gudda.


Guðríður was the wife of a fisherman and a mother. After her abduction, she was sold by the pirates as a slave and concubine in Algeria
Algeria , officially the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria , also formally referred to as the Democratic and Popular Republic of Algeria, is a country in the Maghreb region of Northwest Africa with Algiers as its capital.In terms of land area, it is the largest country in Africa and the Arab...

. She was among the very few who were bought back by King Christian IV of Denmark
Christian IV of Denmark
Christian IV was the king of Denmark-Norway from 1588 until his death. With a reign of more than 59 years, he is the longest-reigning monarch of Denmark, and he is frequently remembered as one of the most popular, ambitious and proactive Danish kings, having initiated many reforms and projects...

, returning to Iceland almost a decade later.

She was then sent to Denmark along with some other former slaves to relearn her religion and native tongue. There, she was taught by Hallgrímur Pétursson
Hallgrímur Pétursson
Hallgrímur Pétursson was one of Iceland's most famous poets and a minister at Hvalneskirkja and Saurbær in Hvalfjörður. The Hallgrímskirkja in Reykjavík and the Hallgrímskirkja in Saurbær are named after him. He was one of the most influential pastors during the Age of Orthodoxy...

, who was then a theology student. After getting pregnant by him, and finding out that her husband had died, she married Hallgrímur. The other Icelanders looked down on Guðríður and saw her as a whore and heathen. She was twice as old as Hallgrímur, which was considered a disgrace.

In art

Jakob Jónsson wrote an epic play about Tyrkja-Gudda in 1952.

In 2001, Steinunn Johannesdottir wrote a book on her exploits called Reisubók Guðríðar Símonardóttur (Gudridur's Journey). The book was on the bestseller list in Iceland for months.