Kolbeinn Tumason (Kolb)
Skj info: Kolbeinn Tumason, Islandsk höfding og skjald, d. 1208. (AII, 37-40, BII, 45-9).
This edition is currently in preparation. The biography below may represent a superseded edition, notes and/or an interim or draft version. Do not cite this material without consulting the volume and skald editors.
Kolbeinn Tumason (1173-1208) was a member of the Ásbirningar family and the most powerful chieftain in northern Iceland around 1200. In order to cement his position, Kolbeinn used his influence to ensure the election of his wife’s cousin Guðmundr Árason as bishop of Hólar, the episcopal seat in Skagafjörður, in 1201. Guðmundr, however, proved to be a staunch advocate of ecclesiastical independence from secular chieftains and thus he and Kolbeinn soon came into conflict with one another. Guðmundr excommunicated Kolbeinn several times between 1205 and 1207; in 1208 Kolbeinn mounted an attack on Guðmundr and his supporters at Víðines (Hjaltadalur), in the course of which Kolbeinn was killed (Gunnar Karlsson 1975, 34-5; Magnús Stefánsson 1975, 118-29).
Kolbeinn lived at Víðimýrr in Skagafjǫrðr, where he had a church dedicated to the Virgin and S. Peter. Although he was not in orders, Kolbeinn was a man of some education, as his poetry reveals. It also reveals his deeply religious nature, notwithstanding his opposition to Guðmundr Árason. In addition to several lvv (Kolb LvIV) and three sts composed immediately before his death, which are variously quoted in Stu, GBp or TGT, Kolbeinn is said to have been the author of a poem in praise of Mary, of which, however, no trace remains (GBpA, 457 n. 1, 491 n. 2; GBpB, 569-70). Five sts from a poem in honour of S. John (Kolb Jónv) have been preserved in Jón4. ‘It is no doubt [John] the Evangelist’s Association with [Mary] which led him to compose poetry in his honour’ (Cormack 1994, 42).