Guðmundur góði, vondur biskup? Um Guðmund biskup Arason hinn góða og vonda dóma um hann
Guðmundur góði Arason biskup hefur iðulega fengið furðuharða dóma, bæði sagnfræðinga og annarra sem um hann hafa ritað. Höfundar sem rituðu í anda þjóðernishyggju héldu því fram að Guðmundur biskup hefði gefið sig á vald erlendum öflum, páfa og erkibiskupi, kveikt ófriðarbál og valdið endalokum þjóðveldis. Í seinni tíð hafa sagnfræðingar almennt snúist gegn þessari söguskoðun með þungvægum rökum. Hins vegar kemur fram í skrifum höfunda, líka sagnfræðinga, að Guðmundi hafi verið mislagðar hendur sem biskupi og val hans til starfans verið mistök. Stjórn hans á fjármálum stólsins á Hólum hafi verið lítil, jafnvel glórulaus, hann hafi sóað fjármunum, og maðurinn auk þess verið óbilgjarn og ofsafenginn og er það síendurtekið þegar segir frá honum. Í greininni er þetta reifað og gagnrýnt og kannað hvort í þessu komi fram söguskoðun mótuð af þjóðernishyggju.
Bishop Guðmundur góði Arason has often been subjected to harsh criticism from historians and others who have written about him. Those writing in a nationalist spirit have argued that Bishop Guðmundur yielded to the authority of foreign powers—the pope and the Archbishop in Norway—igniting a conflict that led to the end of the Icelandic Commonwealth. More recently, historians have generally made weighty arguments against such a narrative. However, some scholars, including historians, suggest that Guðmundur was dealt the wrong hand and that his selection for the position of bishop was a mistake. His control over the funds of the episcopal see in Hólar was lacking or, given how much money he spent, even ludicrous; in addition, he has been said time and again to have been unreasonable and unrelenting. This article dissects and reconsiders such accounts and explores whether they reflect historical views shaped by nationalism. While various authors have refuted the assertion that Guðmundur’s demand for judicial power over his clergy caused dissension and undermined the Commonwealth, others maintain this was the case. This debate is examined here. The concept of episcopal polity is also addressed, exploring how some scholars’ shifting position on it has changed the general understanding of Guðmundur’s struggle. Today, this struggle is viewed in an international context, and it is pointed out here that Guðmundur’s hard stance in favour of episcopal polity must have been in accordance with the wishes of the Archbishop at first and has many foreign parallels. Two aspects are highlighted here, namely, Guðmundur’s management of the funds at Hólar and his supposed intransigence. It is refuted that Bishop Guðmundur fed the poor from Hólar’s provisions without precaution or restraint, as there has never been any evidence supporting such claims. He would have certainly gone further than usual in caring for and feeding the poor, but he did so in moderation. However, it is argued that local chieftains’ interventions in Guðmundur’s financial management reveals their ambitions for money and power. Finally, it is demonstrated that the debate among scholars about Guðmundur’s character, with harsh judgment of his supposed temperament—or his temperamental deficiencies—is mainly an inheritance from Iceland’s independence movement, when his irrationality was believed to have undermined the Commonwealth and led to the nation’s loss of independence. As such, he was found to have great faults. The article concludes that such views should be approached with caution, as Guðmundur is likely to have been misrepresented.