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Jónína Ragnarsdottír (The Kalmar Union)

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Jónína Ragnarsdottír
Timeline: The Kalmar Union

Jónína Ragnarsdottír (The Kalmar Union)
Portrait of Jónína Ragnarsdottír

Born: April, 1598
St. Katrín, Sud-Hafsvaedaland, Vinland
Died: January, 1626
Logáyfir, Sud-Hafsvaedaland, Vinland
Profession: Witch

Jónína Ragnarsdottír, the witch of St. Katrín was a 17th century mystic executed in 1626 for supposedly causing harm by witchcraft and consorting with the devil.

Born in 1598 in St. Katrín's on the shores of Ontario Vatn Jónína was probably of Vinlandic-Tahontanrat extraction. Her parents appeared to been of some means but died around 1610 leaving her a ward of the court of Lord Logáyfir. Undoubtably becoming one of the Lord's mistresses his wife, Gudbjorg, expelled her, and several other courtiers in 1617. She was however old enough to inherit her parent's money, enough to buy herself a modest home on the outskirts of St. Katrín.

She had soon gained the reputation for medicine and fortune telling. This was all par for the course in 16th century Vinland; most villages and towns had at least one resident of this nature who was tolerated by the authorities. Attitudes however were hardening. Queen Freydis III's reign (1621-47) was marked by a sudden crackdown on those still following old religions, be they Catholicism, Odinism or Leifian Pagan. Jónína probably dabbled in all three to best suit the needs of her neighbours.

In 1624 a group of armed men toured the Logáyfir area and arrested and tried a group of Catholics in St. Katrín. Jónína was implicated in the trial though her good character had been attested to by several prominent locals and she had been freed without charge. A year later however a traveling peddler tripped and fell outside of her home, hearing her laugh as he did so. When reporting this to authorities another group of armed men was raised and she was arrested, this time being brought to Logáyfir for trial.

There she was accused of an ever increasing list of crimes. Gudbjorg had suffered several miscarriages since Jónína's expulsion and the testimony of both her and Lord Logáyfir sparked the deep interest in the trial amongst Hafvaedaland society. Further St. Katrín families brought forth spurious stories of bewitched children, lights in fields at night, failed crops and sightings of Jónína consorting with a 'inky-black bear'. Jónína did not refute the fact she was a practicing witch, i.e. healing for but denied ever causing harm with it. The judges saw differently, however, and she was sentenced to be hanged for causing harm by witchcraft.

After her death her story largely passed into Vinlandic folklore with the facts being substantial added to by novelists and playwrights. The play The Witch of St. Katrín, with its tales of child murder and cannibalism, ran for four straight years in Fjallasay during the 1880's.

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