Nowadays, Iceland is one of the most peaceful nations on Earth, with only 1.6 murders per year, statistically speaking. Let’s just put it this way, when someone passes away, whether it be in a gruesome or wholesome way, we know about it! Borderline every single murder or death that has happened in the last couple of centuries has been documented and some of them are quite interesting.
Icelandic poet takes the long tumble
Who better to start with than one of the greatest Icelanders that ever lived? Jónas Hallgrímsson was one of the greatest poets in the history of Iceland and is credited with instilling a sense of national pride in Icelanders alongside his poetry group Fjölnir. His legacy is so lasting that his birthday is nowadays celebrated as the Icelandic Language Day. The Fjölnir lads were situated in Copenhagen, as Iceland was under Danish rule at the time, and that is where Jónas saw his last day. At the young age of 37 years old Jónas managed to slip in a staircase and break his leg. Our man Jónas had downed one too many brews and took a tumble down. That’s Icelanders for you right there. Drunk in Copenhagen on a fine summer’s day. The complications resulting from this leg break ultimately brought the national icon down as he died from blood poisoning. Unfortunately, this Icelandic hero did not sign off in the most heroic way possible. Think of him the next time you’ve had one too many Carlsberg, and tread lightly down that flight of stairs. Dying by overconsumption is the most Danish way to go out. They really like their brew – you don’t become the happiest nation in the world on Lego alone.
Death by Skyr!
One of the most Icelandic deaths of all time happened in 1913 and of course it had to do with skyr, the national delicacy. Júlíana Silfa Jónsdóttir took it upon herself to murder her brother, Eyjólfur Jónsson, by putting rat poison into his skyr. Sorry, but it just doesn’t get more cliche than this! It was supposedly a request on behalf of her lover who had the very original name Jón Jónsson. Skyr is a dairy product that is rich in protein and low in fat that your taste buds will surely enjoy. Eyjólfur meant to indulge himself in the delicacy that Icelanders have happily chomped on for generations but instead received a rather funky tasting send-off. We really recommend that you grab skyr as an on the go snack or order it as a desert in a restaurant. Topped with blueberries it is really delicious. Rat poison… not so much!
The United Kingdom took it upon themselves to invade Iceland in the 10th of May 1940. Britain tried to persuade the Icelandic government to join the ranks of the allies but we Icelanders chose to keep our neutrality. This meant that a rather extravagant force of 746 British Royal Marines on 4 Royal Navy warships made their way to Iceland which had amassed a defence force that totalled 60 police officers and 300 untrained reservists. One would think that faced with these enormous forces a bloodbath would ensue and casualty numbers would rise. This was not quite the reality as there was only one casualty. The mission was a top secret one so the marines had not been told where they were heading to. This coupled with the fact that most of the soldiers were new recruits and most of them battled seasickness led to a British Royal Marine committing suicide en route to Iceland. I guess the thought of travelling to Iceland isn’t so endearing for everyone!
Beer cocktail and the 80s – what could go wrong?
The next story is quite a grim one as it involves a nightclub, a knife, bullying and the 80s. Quite a deadly mix. An unnamed teenager was stung to death outside the nightclub Villti Tryllti Villi, which can be translated as the Wild Crazy William. I guess that name was acceptable in the 80s.. He had been bullying a fellow clubgoer for the whole night until enough was enough and the 15-year-old finally had enough. Keep in mind that the murder happened in Prohibition era Iceland so the lads had most likely been binging on ´bjórlíki´, which was a mixture of non-alcoholic pilsner and whatever the bartender had on hand each time. In this case it certainly proved to be a deadly cocktail. In fact, the cocktail was banned by the government in 1985 which happens to be the year the murder took place. It’s not hard to make the connection. Let it also be a reminder to the dangers of bullying. Please don’t ask your friendly local bartender for ´bjórlíki´ though. It tastes so bad you don’t even want to utter the words.
Fornicating catholic priest goes out with a duh
Last but not least is the case of the rampant and wild Roman Catholic priest Jón Arason. Our guy Jón was a rulebreaker in many ways. He didn’t exactly adhere to the obligation that Catholic bishops should remain celibate and thus he could claim bundles of children all over Iceland. Oh, behave Jón! Iceland was literally a backwater in the 16th century and thus the faithful eyes of the Roman Catholic church could not keep an eye on Arason’s sinful ways. What got him in trouble was his stout resistance to the Lutheran transformation of Iceland that was ordained by King Christian III of Denmark. He was caught in a battle alongside two of his sons, Ari and Björn. All three were promptly beheaded and a new saying was born in the process. A fellow priest told Jón „líf er eftir þetta, herra“ („There is a life after this one, sir) and Jón answered „veit ég það, Sveinki“ („That I know, little Sveinn“). This has ever since been used as a saying whenever someone states something obvious. Throw the Icelandic ‘duh’ your friends way when they warn you that Iceland is expensive.