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Friðrik, Agnes, Sigríður og Natan: heimildagrunnur morðbrennunnar á Illugastöðum árið 1828.

Morðbrennan á Illugastöðum á Vatnsnesi í Húnavatnssýslu árið 1828 er eitt frægasta og umtalaðasta sakamál Íslandssögunnar; morðið á Natani Ketilssyni, bónda og lækningamanni, og Pétri Jónssyni fanga. Skömmu eftir atburðinn voru þau Friðrik Sigurðsson bóndasonur í Katadal, Agnes Magnúsdóttir vinnukona á Illugastöðum og Sigríður Guðmundsdóttir bústýra þar færð til yfirheyrslu hjá Birni Blöndal, sýslumanni Húnvetninga, þar sem þau játuðu verknaðinn. Allt frá því á 19. öld hafa margir fjallað um þetta sögufræga morðmál og því hefur verið miðlað á ýmsan hátt. Í greininni hugar höfundur að morðnóttinni og meintu sambandi Natans og Agnesar með hliðsjón af því sem sakborningar sögðu í yfirheyrslum og þeirri mynd sem dregin var upp af atburðum í frásögnum fjögurra höfunda sem skrifuðu um málið á árunum 1830 til 1912. En hvað kemur í ljós þegar réttargögn eru borin saman við þau rit sem löngum hafa verið meginheimildir um þessa sögu?
MURDER AND ARSON AT ILLUGASTAÐIR IN ICELAND, 1828: The reference material This article treats the most famous and discussed criminal case in Icelandic history, that of the murder of Natan Ketilsson, a farmer and healer living at Illugastaðir, Vatnsnes, Húnavatn County. On the night preceding 14 March 1828, he and another man were murdered by Friðrik Sigurðsson, son of a neighbouring farmer, and Agnes Magnúsdóttir and Sigríður Guðmundsdóttir, who both worked at Illugastaðir. After the murder the three of them also stole various items, then set fire to the farmstead to try to conceal any evidence. When the matter nevertheless came to light, the accused were sentenced to death in a lower court. While this penalty was later confirmed by the country’s highest courts, in 1829 the king converted Sigríður Guðmundsdóttir’s penalty to lifelong imprisonment in Copenhagen, where she died a decade later. The other two condemned, however, were beheaded on 12 January 1830 in Húnavatn County. This turned out to be Iceland’s last execution. Over the course of time, this murder case has been frequently discussed. It has been a topic of newspapers and magazines, school books, academic publications, novels, human-interest stories, biographies, chronicles, poems, ditties and songs, plays, a film, radio programmes, historical exhibitions and signs, websites and quiz shows. Thus this historical case has been communicated in a variety of ways. In this article some of the reference material which has long served as grounds for discussion is examined. Four main authors were involved, all writing on this matter between 1830 and 1912. Some of these works were extremely influential, and for decades shaped the ideas of numerous Icelanders about the crime, the events leading up to it, its causes and effects. This article focuses on two points: firstly the course of events on the night of the murders, and secondly the purported love affair between Natan and Agnes, with its wild emotions that supposedly resulted in murder. No attempts are made in the article to document any other reasons or background of the crime. The article investigates the accounts of the four selected authors, considering their characteristics and their value as sources. These accounts of the crime are then compared to various relevant judicial and legal documents, especially the extensive interrogations of witnesses and the accused. The product should serve as a significant comparison of the authors’ influential writings with the statements of the only people who actually knew what happened at Illugastaðir on the night of the murders. The story in the judicial documents contrasts considerably to that presented by the four authors. Comparison thus shows that the key writings have limited value as reference material on the events on the murdernight or on the relationship between Agnes Magnúsdóttir and Natan Ketilsson.