Highlight of the month
The Slaying of the Spaniards in 1615
„A true account of the shipwreck of the Spaniards and their ensuing struggle“, by Jón Guðmundsson the Learned, is preserved in nine manuscripts in the Manuscript Department of The National and University Library of Iceland. It recounts the slaying of the Spanish sailors in 1615. None of the manuscripts are from the 17th century and Jónas Kristjánsson presumes that the original version must have been lost in the fire in Copenhagen in 1728, because Árni Magnússon had received a manuscript in 1699 „about the slaying of Spanish men in the Westfjords“.
There are two versions of „A True Account“ and Jónas Kristjánsson believes both to be written by Jón Guðmundssson the Learned – either a long version first, which he shortened, or vice versa. The version which Jónas calls version A only exists in the manuscript JS 246 4to (pp. 72r-79v), which Reverend Snorri Björnsson at Húsafell wrote in 1792 and is, according to him, „copied from a manuscript written by Jón Guðmundsson himself“. The manuscript Lbs 724 4to (pp. 188-221), probably written in the 1720´s, is called B1. There the author is said to be unknown. The manuscript Lbs 1430 a 4to (pp. 19v-29v)was written around 1760. Jónas calls it B2 and it is essentially the same as B1, both were probably copied from the original manuscript. Other preserved copies of „A True Account“ are considered less worthy by Jónas Kristjánsson. His edition of Jón the Learned´s work was published in Copenhagen in 1950 under the name „The Slaying of the Spaniards in 1615“. There the two versions are fused together and the exact difference in the vocabulary is shown in footnotes. This text uses contemporary spelling.
Recently a new edition of „A True Account“ was published on the occasion of the 400 anniversary of the slaying of the Spaniards; in Icelandic, Basque, Spanish and English, with an introduction by Már Jónsson. There the two versions both appear, not fused together like in the earlier version. In this edition there are also a few contemporary texts in Icelandic that concern the murders; the king´s decree, sentences and complaint letters.