Guðríður Símonardóttir

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Guðríður Símonardóttir (1598 – December 18, 1682) was an Icelandic woman who was one of 242 people abducted from the Westman Islands, Iceland in 1627 in a raid by Barbary pirates.[1] These raids came to be known as the Turkish abductions and Guðríður became known as Tyrkja-Gudda. After being held as a slave and concubine for nearly a decade, she was one of a few captives ransomed by the Danish king. She returned to Iceland, marrying the young pastor Hallgrímur Pétursson, who became known for his poetry and hymns.


Guðríður was the young wife of a fisherman and a mother. After her abduction in 1627 from the Westman Islands, she was sold by the pirates as a slave and concubine in Algeria. She was among the few who were ransomed nearly a decade later by King Christian IV of Denmark, and she returned to Iceland.

She was sent to Denmark along with some other former slaves to be re-educated. They were taught by Hallgrímur Pétursson, then a theology student. They fell in love and she became pregnant by him. They returned to Iceland where she learned that her husband had died. She and Hallgrímur married. He later was called as the pastor of a church at Saurbær, Iceland (1651–1669). He became well known for his poetry and especially what are known as Passion Hymns (Passíusálmar), recounting the life and death (The Passion) of Christ.[1]

Other Icelanders looked down on Guðríður and considered her a whore and heathen, blaming her for her time in Algeria. She was 16 years older than Hallgrímur, which in itself was considered a disgrace.

Representation in other media[edit]

Jakob Jónsson wrote an epic play about Tyrkja-Gudda in 1952.[2]

Steinunn Jóhannesdóttir wrote a historical novel about Tyrkja-Gudda called Reisubók Guðríðar Símonardóttur (Gudridur's Journey, 2001). The book was on the bestseller list in Iceland for months, and it has been reprinted every year since first being published. Rights have been sold to Germany and Norway.[3]

Guðríður is a character in the 2018 historical novel The Sealwoman's Gift by Sally Magnusson.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Saurbaer", Nordic Adventure Travel, Iceland
  2. ^ Tyrkja-Gudda Archived 2012-07-10 at, The Icelandic Dramatists Union
  3. ^ Fiction, p. 44, Forlagid Rights Agency, Iceland
  4. ^ Magnusson, Sally (2018). The Sealwoman's Gift. London: Two Roads. ISBN 9781473638952.