Alternate History

Elisiv of Álengiamark (The Kalmar Union)

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Elisiv (The Kalmar Union).png
Queen of Álengiamark
Reign 30th June, 1131 - 12th February 1155
Predecessor n/a
Successor Dogg
Spouse Bjorn Runólfsson

Táll Árnisson

Issue Dogg Bjornsdottír

Karl Tállsson
Unnamed daughter
Elin I Tállsdottír
Unnamed son
Grímur Tállsson

Full name
Elisiv Osvífrsdottír
House Eriksdottír
Father Osvífr Bjornsson
Mother Snaedis I Gunnarsdottír
Born 2nd July, 1117
Hvilirábey, Vinland
Died 12th Febraury 1155
Nahigavik, Álengiamark

Elisiv was only 14 when she, as had been agreed between the two Althings, became the first queen of an independent Álengiamark. Since its inception only 2 years previously, the Althing in St. Hafdiss had been attempting to parcel out land, accommodate the rights of the extant native populations and settle the minor disputes of the flood of Norse who had travelled south for land. However its activites were severely constrained. In the normal running of matters the Althing in theory worked smoothly, the agreement at the end of the Wampanoag Crusade having given a slim majority to the nominally Norse-Cornish-Mohegan dominated counties. However the midsummer Althing to which every farmholder was invited lay bare the huge differential between the handful of settlers and the mass of native peoples still beholden to the tribal elders. The Mohegan had readily accepted Norse leadership to help them against the larger Quiripi, Pequot and Wampanoag tribes who had oppressed them in the past. While the flow of settlers and a resurgence of Norse spread disease (probably measles) would slowly even the numbers, for many years the disparity between the nominal Norse control and the reality ground the Althing to a halt and led to complete inertia.

Meanwhile the earls, some of whom now held land in both states, and with no functioning Althing to prevent them, contented themselves with establishing their hold on land, eradicating any forms of resistance amongst the non-allied tribes and building grand manor houses to stamp their authority.

Into this came the young and inexperienced Elisiv. Crowned by Abbot Ísleifur of St. Hafdiss in August 1131 she was completed ignored by that Summer's delayed Althing. The Pequot, Quiripi and Wampanoag tribes in attendance saw little benefit to pledging alligence to a 'mere girl' and Elisiv was taken away by her advisors as inevitably the gathering descended into violence. For the rest of the year the separate camps simmered with tension. With the tribal tensions threatening the land that they had claimed the Earls of Markland-Langaeyjar and Gudridsaeyjar-Sudervik rallied to Elisiv's defense, surmising that only a central figure with the 'correct' links to Vinland would be able to guarantee their lands. Raising an army Earl Ulf struck at the Pequot but without the full weight of Vinland behind them, was less than successful, especially after the Quiripi intervened. For several months it seemed as if the Norse would be pushed back to the sea once more, however Elisiv's personal appearance at the Battle of Norturvirdi seemed to rally the Norse-Cornish men into victory. By the summer of the following year the stubborn tribal leaders had been put in their place, Elisiv recognised as Álengiamark's rightful ruler and the Althing finally began clearing the backlog of issues.

With the internal situation momentarily settled the Earls could begin to look outwards. For all its apparent agricultural wealth the country had no easily defendable frontiers, apart from the Kanien'gehaga River which meant the settled peoples of Álengiamark were constantly on the march to prevent other tribes picking on outlying farms. In particular the river gave various tribes from the modern Six Nations and Kanienmark easy access to the rich pickings of the Álengsk coast. When not solving the issues of the Althing, which piled up with alarming speed Elisiv liked to accompany the armies. Her experience at Norturvirdi had convinced many that her presence would spur the troops to fight better. And so began a long series of largely fruitless attempts to secure the river. With Elisiv in their rearguard armies would march up the river, often through dense forest, to recover a fort or two lost over the previous year, pick over the remains of outlying settlements and perhaps extend their rule a few miles northwards before the campaigning season ended.

The Third Wampanoag War (1137) changed her role however. After the Passamaquoddy descended into civil war following the death of their king and an unclear succession the Wampanoag tribe were emboldened to rebel. A large army marched on the Passamaquoddy capital of Quispamis laying siege to it. Into this came Elisiv and her army, faithfully coming to the aid of what they saw as the rightful claimant. The army lifted the siege without too much trouble and chased the Wampanoag forces southwards, however many sources record her actually riding into battle herself, armed with a mace. Rather than being merely an inert figurehead she had become a heroic one. This was probably an act of someone fully aware that the state of affairs back home were not stable and that the settlement of 1132 was beginning to fray once more. Whether she actually rode into battle or was just one of the historians' more fanciful tales is debatable however the effect on the members of the Althing was impressive.

The knowledge that not only she had command of an effective army but was prepared to lead them into battle appeared to cow the squabbling parties somewhat, although this may have also been due to widespread disease. The nominally Wampanoag counties were suppressed giving a slim majority to the Norse. The leaders of the three other major native tribes were elevated to earls and work began on binding them into the Eriksson family through marriage. The four leading tribes (Norse-Cornish, Quiripi, Mohegan and Pequot) then began campaigning as a whole, as Norse tactics along with iron and horses were slowly spread through the country. Campaigns to the West of the Kanien'gehaga River led to contact with the Erie, varied 'Unami' tribes and Aniyunwiyan, who in time proved equally as hard to decisively defeat as those to the North.

Passamaquoddia Meeting

15th century representation of Hafdis II of Vinland and Elisiv of Álengiamark meeting with the Passamaquoddy King in 1137.

She would only reunite, after first travelling to be crowned, with her twin sister Hafdis II, twice. The first occasion was in 1137 after both sisters witnessed the coronation of the new Passamaquoddy king. Their widowed brother, Jón, married the new king's daughter in order to help bind the alliance. The second occasion was in 1142, only 2 months before Hafdis's death. Their younger sister Asdis I inherited Vinland by mutual agreement and when she in turn died late in 1142 Elisiv agreed to act as final protector of Hafdis's infant daughter, Iofridr.

The experience of Elisiv's reign, a virtual constant cycle of warfare and violence led many earls and city things to build substantial fortifications around towns and strategic points. This were wooden at first but susequent generations would rebuild them in stone. While this was fine for combatting outside threats when it came to internal authority it was disastrous and her heirs would be picking over the problem of fractured authority for centuries to come. Elisiv's reign is often credited with saving the Norse state of Álengiamark which may have otherwise simply disintegrated under the weight of pressure of raids or internal conflict. However it was something of a false dawn; by the end of the century all of her heirs were dead, the country in civil war and Vinland bloodily intervening to restore order.

Elisiv married twice and had 6 children, of whom 3 survived to adulthood; two daughters, the queens Dogg and Elin; and a son, Karl, the future Earl of Margirhaedeyja. She was impulsive and prone to fits of rage (especially after her sister's death) when she didn't get her way. She died in early 1155.

Cultural Depictions

Elisiv's exploits and life in saddle has given her the appearance of a warrior queen or amazon in many potraits, although it seems this was only emphasised after the 1st Mexic-Leifian War.

In her guise as a warrior queen she is often used as the personification of Álengiamark in the press.

She gives her name to the eastern, larger and more populated island of Alkafuglaeyjar.

She was portrayed by the actress Kajsa Noren in the 2013 film Misott Elisiv (Queen Elisiv).

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