Alternate History

Asdis II of Vinland (The Kalmar Union)

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Asdis II
Asdis II (The Kalmar Union).png
16th cent. portrait of Asdis II
Queen of Vinland
Reign July 1395 - 3rd September 1420
Predecessor Kristjana V
Successor Hafdis IV
Spouse Birgir Magnusson
Issue Snaedis Birgirsdottír

Jón Birgirsson
Hafdis Birgirsdottír
Elisabet Birgirsdottír
Johánn Birgirsson
Birgir Birgirsson

Full name
Asdis Svendsdottír
House Eiriksdottír
Father Svend Arisson
Mother Thordis Jónsdottír
Born May 1376
Karantóborg?, Vinland
Died 3rd September
Hvilirábey, Kyreyja, Vinland

The reign of Asdis II, beginning in the fraught Civil War period marked a fresh start for Vinland in many ways. Gone was the authoritarian monarchy and in its place came more consensual politics, led by the Althing but embracing the different 'estates'.

Whatever more sentimental historians and novelists may have made out in the past Asdis had not been plucked from obscurity. She was the grand-daughter of Geirfrithur and was married to the Earl of Pyronaber who had extensive land on Vinland and in Hafsvaedaland. She was young though and had only visited Isafjordhur once before. In 1395 however she appeared the best candidate for the Althing's coup d'état.

Her actual involvement in the civil war was limited. Much of government was run by the charismatic polymath Jón Ísleifursson. She did however do something her rival Kristjana never did; tour the lands under the Althing's control constantly, keeping her lords on side and blessing the armies with her presence.

Post-war she soon fell into the old routine of touring the entire Vinlandic realm but spent more time in Isafjordhur than any queen since Thyri. Here the new political balance became clear. With a new speaker, at first Jón Ísleifursson but then, after his death in 1414, one elected by the assembly every three years. Asdis and subsequent queens, were allowed to sit in on the debates, interject and even debate on their own terms however they could not directly choose the speakers nor could they block proceedings. In effect the Althing had secured a Haandfaestning over the monarchy. The earls and their land were confirmed but Althing-mandated courts and bailiffs were installed across the realm. In turn a second house of the Althing was properly implemented. This stopped the nobles from interfering too much in the business of the lower house but put a firm brake on overly ambitious legislation. A new census, with the usual attending unrest, was made in 1418 and from this the Althing could keep a firm track of taxation. The earls and the church were allowed to keep some hand over taxes but any hint of abuse of these rights were rigorously pursued through the courts. What Vinland had lost in terms of effective central authority it gained in an efficient and generally fair bureaucracy.

Asdis inherited the threat of excommunication from Rome from Kristjana. Though the experience of the Civil War had convinced many there was little practical Europe could do as long as Denmark and Viken were firmly pro-Vinland on a more personal level Asdis was denied confession by both the Archbishop of Fjallasay and the Bishop of Vinland until the matter was dealt with. More aware that they could not simply destroy paganism in Vinland without provoking further unrest Asdis and the Althing sought to side-line it. Firstly pagan idols and imagery were removed from churches and banned from church land. Then laws banning pagan temples from having roofs or doors were passed. Finally any land owned by pagan institutions were seized and handed to mayors to run. The spectre of excommunication was lifted after an inspection by papal legates in 1411. Though veneration of pre-Christian deities would continue, pushed to the margins it became less of an issue and would slowly fade out of everyday life and into folklore.

Dying at the relatively young age of 44, Asdis was succeeded by her eldest surviving daughter, the teenage Hafdis IV.

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