Month: April 2018

Focus on Patron

Following on from one of my previous posts (Focus on Scribes), this post focuses on the patron who employed those scribes: Magnús Jónsson í Vigur. Just as with Magnús í Vigur’s scribes, one of the main pages of the website provides an overview of his life and influence.

Magnús sits at the heart of the Icelandic Scribes research project as the man who actively collected and commissioned all of the manuscripts I’ve been studying. It was his personal literary and aesthetic tastes, and the choices he made 300 years ago, that have determined the material that I have to work with for my project today.

My research has indicated that as he amassed texts and manuscripts, Magnús í Vigur was not simply gathering together as much literature and other writings as he could get his hands on, but was, rather, interested in forming a collection that impressed when it came to both quantity – the sheer number of texts – and quality – the beauty and fine workmanship of the books. One of the ways Magnús ensured his books would impress was by commissioning title pages for them, some of which are pictured below.

Eight title pages

Eight of Magnús í Vigur’s title pages. Top row (l–r): Reykjavík, National and University Library of Iceland, Lbs 235 fol.; London, British Library, Add. 4869; London, British Library, Add. 4868; Reykjavík, National and University Library of Iceland, JS 43 4to. Bottom row (l–r): Reykjavík, National and University Library of Iceland, ÍBR 5 fol.; London, British Library, Add. 4857; London, British Library, Add. 4859; London, British Library, Add. 11,153 4to (British Library title page photos: SMW; National and University Library of Iceland title page photos:

The title pages Magnús insisted his scribes add to many of his books moreover praised him as the wealthy local magnate that he considered himself to be, declaring his nobility alongside the value of the texts in the books. The formation of his library was therefore not merely a happy accident resulting from a bibliophile’s need to collect ever more literature. Magnús must indeed have loved books and literature – stories of powerful and influential men of the past, real and imagined alike. But in making his library, it seems he was also making a careful move towards self-consciously fashioning himself as a great patron – and, thus, as a powerful and influential member of his local community. Perhaps in his own eyes, he thought of himself as not unlike some of the heroes, kings, and courtly men he read of in his books.

For more about Magnús, his life, and his family, take a look at the Patron page of the website.

DHN Conference Proceedings Published

I’m pleased to be able to share the conference proceedings for DHN Helsinki (which I wrote about last month here and here). The papers have now been published online through the CEUR Workshop Proceedings website ( This means that my own paper is now available, open access, to read and cite.

You can access my paper directly at

  • McDonald Werronen, Sheryl, ‘Icelandic Scribes: Results of a 2-Year Project’, in Proceedings of the Digital Humanities in the Nordic Countries 3rd Conference, Helsinki, Finland, March 7–9, 2018, ed. by Eetu Mäkelä, Mikko Tolonen, and Jouni Tuominen, (Helsinki, 2018), pp. 179–87.

Abstract: This paper contributes to the conference theme of History and introduces an online catalogue of an early modern library: the main digital outputof the author’s individual research project “Icelandic Scribes” (2016–2018 at the University of Copenhagen). The project has investigated the patronage of manuscripts by Icelander Magnús Jónsson í Vigur (1637–1702), his network of scribes and their working practices, and the significance of the library of hand- written books that he accumulated during his lifetime, in the region of Iceland called the Westfjords. The online catalogue is meant to be a digital resource that reunites this library virtually, gives detailed descriptions of the manuscripts, and highlights the collection’s rich store of texts and the individuals behind their creation. The present paper also explores some of the challenges of integrating new data produced by this and other small projects like it with existing online resources in the field of Old Norse-Icelandic studies.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 654825.

Keywords: Icelandic History, Manuscripts, Online Resources.

You can access the whole volume at

  • Mäkelä, Eetu, Mikko Tolonen, and Jouni Tuominen, eds, Proceedings of the Digital Humanities in the Nordic Countries 3rd Conference, Helsinki, Finland, March 7–9, 2018, (Helsinki, 2018).

Finally, the organisers also collected the abstracts together to give access to those presentations that were not written up as full papers. This book of abstracts can be accessed here: