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Isafjordhur (The Kalmar Union)

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Isafjordhur
Timeline: The Kalmar Union
Flag of Isafjordhur (The Kalmar Union) No coa
Flag Coat of Arms
Country Vinland
Province Vinland Fylkír
Language Vinlandic
Founded 1015
Mayor Rúnar Hilmarsson
Population 103,270  

Isafjordhur is the capital of Vinland (both of the country and the Fylkír and one of the oldest continually inhabited settlements in Leifia.

The city lies at the western end of the short 'Isafjord' on the Saudfeó peninsula in the south-east of Vinland Fylkír. The name itself means Ice's Fjord but as the bay never ices over and the climate is quite mild it is unsure why this name was originally given, or indeed stuck.

It was first settled in 1015 as the first settlers of Vinland began to spread out along the island's eastern coast. In 1040 the Althing was moved by St. Hafdis I from the more northerly settlement of Thorshavn down to Isafjordhur. It was already the single largest village on Vinland and the de facto seat of power for the nascent royal family. At the first Althing there, held on the Eyrúnfell, the leaders of five Skraeling tribes and six Norse settlements came together to make peace and confirm the Norse as the island's rulers.

Founding of Isafjordhur (The Kalmar Union)

Misleading picture of the legendary founding of Isafjordhur in 1015 by Freydis. Freydis certainly did not found the city and prefered the more northernly settlement of Thorshavn.

Vinland's first mint was founded in the city during Queen Freydis II's reign using silver from Lítithskemmtilegaflóy to the west while the vast iron ore deposits on Bjallasay kept the city at the forefront of ironwork production. Eventually iron and steel production would be largely relocated to Eikland. Although almost exhausted, Lítithskemmtilegaflóy silver is still used for royal purposes, such as Princesses Sigrídur and Anna Lilja's wedding tiaras.

Outbreaks of the Black Death carried off about half of its citizens every decade between 1350 and 1400. At the same time the worsening climate reduced the useful agricultural land on the island. These two developments shifted Vinland's focus westwards into the Hafsvaedaland spurring centuries of war with the tribes and nations of the Fraeburt Votnum and would keep Isafjordhur small, giving it the air of a 'provincial' city rather than a capital.

Political control of Vinland slowly split between the Althing installed in Isafjordhur and the royal court, more often than not in Fjallasay. The Vinlandic Civil War saw the two opposing forces set at each other's throats. Using its grasp of the navy and control of the trade routes Isafjordhur and the Althing slowly strangled off Fjallasay's and Queen Kristjana V's ability to conduct war. On the proper coronation of their preferred queen, Asdis II, Isafjordhur's political dominance, if not its economic, was assured. The city grew slowly and quietly with much of its population dependent on the plentiful 'Thikkjorth' fisheries out in the Atlantic to the South-East. During the 17th century the city would double in size during the summer months as European fishermen used it as a hub for their activities.

The city was attacked by a Portuguese fleet in 1569 during the Leifian War of Religion but rough seas prevented any landing. The captured cannon from the wrecked Santa Catarina still adorn the grounds of the Royal Manor, while its surviving crew were shipped off to the Gudridseyjar. In general however its location in the far east of the country has largely kept it safe from attack and apart from gun batteries on Eyrúnfell and Drongvaklett the city is unfortified.

Isafjordhur Port (The Kalmar Union)

Isafjordhur's shoreline, with Eyrúnfell in the distance.

Most buildings throughout the city's history were built with wood as it was cheap and plentiful and regular fires would repeatedly damage the city. The Althinghus was destroyed four times in 1168, 1346, 1503 and 1721 (whereupon it was rebuilt in stone), the royal manor house in 1346 and 1503, the cathedral in 1168 and 1503. By 1800 most of the important buildings and wealthy citizen's houses had been rebuilt in stone and though fires would continue to consume the 'lower' city Vinland's first incorporated fire brigade (1843) would save countless lives and property. Its colourful wooden houses painted bright reds, yellows, blues and greens, are famous, but these actually only date from the 1970s when durable paint became available and a real effort was made to gentrify the port slums. The Kros-Eyja railway, looping northwards across the island linking Isafjordhur and Beothuk, was finished in 1904 which helped open up the interior of the island.

Compared to Vinland's more turbulent regions Isafjordhur has had little disturbance since its early years and city and its inhabitants are regularly derided as 'boring' and too stuffy. However the city's location has made it wealthy thanks to trade links to Europe and it is slowly weening itself off reliance on the declining fisheries. It is also the Leifian hub of most trans-Atlantic telegraph cables and this fact often offsets the calls to move the Althing to Karontóborg or Fjallasay by those who would rather see the capital in the heavily populated and booming Hafsvaedaland than in the declining maritime fylkír.

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