Areson, John

Areson, John an Icelandic bishop and poet, was born in 1484. While very young the death of his father left him to the care of his mother. His uncle taught him to write and to chant Latin. At the age of twenty years he took holy orders, and acted as preacher in the parish of Helgastad, in Reikiadal. At that time bishop Gotschalk, of Holum, sent him on a mission to Norway; and so well did he execute his commission, and so much skill did he display, that he was chosen to succeed; the bishop at his death. This excited the jealousy of certain aspirants for the position, especially of a certain Bodpar, who founded his protestation against. the election on the ground that Areson was ignorant of Latin. Areson responded to him in Icelandic verse. But another and more formidable opposition presented itself. Ogmond, bishop of Skalholt, claiming the vacant see, marched against him at the head of troops. After some difficulty, Areson was established in his position in 1524. He passed-.the remainder of his life in religious disputes. A conflict was raised between him and the king of Denmark, Frederick III, occasioned by the tendency of that prince to introduce Lutheranism into the States. Areson claimed that he overreached his prerogative in meddling with, spiritual affairs. After a long struggle Areson and his two sons were put to death, Nov. 7, 1550; after which Protestantism made rapid progress in;IIceland. Areson was the first to introduce printing into his country. At Holum he published, in 1530, a Malnuale Pastorum. As a poet he was, without doubt, the most distinguished of his time. He wrote a poem, entitled Pinslargratr, or Lamentation on the Passion: and a paraphrase upon Psalm li in the Thorlakson Visabok of 1612. His other poems are found in Harboe's History of the Reformation in Iceland. See Hoefer, Nouv. Biog. Generale, s.v.

 
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