The Saga of Jón Ásgeir the Controversial



In the days of the leader Davíd, there were many men who aspired to be famous and wealthy. One was a man named Jón Ásgeir. He was the son of Jóhannes, who was the son of Jón. Jón Ásgeir came from Reykjavík.

Jón Ásgeir and Jóhannes were ambitious men. They conspired to become wealthy and strong and to rule the business world of the country.

They began by creating a new centre for the locals to buy food at reasonable prices. Jón Ásgeir and Jóhannes were successful in their endeavour. They continued to grow stronger and they bought another food centre. Then they created their own company and named it Baugur.


Jón Ásgeir and Jóhannes conducted raids abroad, in the isles of the Anglo-Saxons and Celts and in Scandinavia. They raided the forts at Hamley’s, Karen Millen and Magasin du Nord, but they were turned back at Arcadia. They filled their coffers with gold, reputedly more than all the other chieftains in Iceland at the time, with the exception of Björgólfr the Rich.

But with wealth came conflict and there were quarrels and fights between the men and their enemies. It is sometimes true that “Til frægðar skal konung hafa, en ekki til langlífis” (A king is for fame, not longevity).


There was a partner of Jón Ásgeir called Jón Gerald Sullenberger. He lived in Vinland in the west. They became enemies and Jón Gerald laid charges against Jón Ásgeir in the Althing.


There was a woman called Jónína. She was the daughter of Benedikt and she lived at Reykjavík. She was partnered with Jóhannes but a time came one year when this ended. Jónína and Jóhannes were partnered no more. As Ásgrímur, friend of the wise Njál, said, “Fár bregður hinu betra, ef hann veit hið verra” (Few use the better, if they know the worse).


During this time, the ruling chieftains attempted to stop the conquests of Jón Ásgeir. Perhaps it was the trolls who had told them to act; perhaps it was others. In any case, the law-enforcers charged Jón Ásgeir with offences and took him to court. The first court said this decision would not stand. To this day, the story is not solved.


Then came another time of trials and tribulations. It is said that learned story-tellers were involved. It is said that chieftains were involved. It is said that blackmailing, lies, and deception were practised. Jón Ásgeir the Controversial, Jóhannes his father, and Jónina his former partner, were all accusing each other. “Þau tiðkast nú hin breiðu spjótin”, it was said - Broad spears are the fashion these days.

That was true but there is also a wise saying from Skapti the Law Speaker: “Jafnan er hálfsögð saga, ef einn segir”. A tale is but half told, when only one person tells it.

ER [email protected]

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