Alternate History

Kristjana V of Vinland (The Kalmar Union)

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Kristjana V
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Kristjana V
Queen of Vinland
Reign 4th October 1390 - December 1405
Predecessor Snaedis II
Successor Asdis II
Spouse Steinar Hannesson
Issue Vilhjálmur Steinarsson

Freydis Steinarsdottír
Bjarni Steinarsson
Thorey Steinarsdottír

Full name
Kristjana Oláfsdottír
House Eiriksdottír
Father Oláf Valdemarsson
Mother Snaedis Vilhjálmursdottír
Born 6th February, 1356
Fjallasay, Vinland
Died 23rd April, 1406
Verao Island

Easily the most unloved of the Vinlandic queens Kristjana V's reign has been utterly defined by the Vinlandic Civil War and subsequent historians seeking to completely excoriate her.

It is rare indeed to find any sympathetic accounts or anyone with anything good to say about at all, with later writers highlighting her sour temper and ugliness. However it appears even contemporaries disliked her and Álengsk diplomat Ulf Magnusson, who may have met her at the Congress of Fjallasay described her as smiling, aloof and deadly serious. This demeanour perhaps sat uneasily with a Norse society still very much based around personal connections. Her mother, Snaedis II, was endlessly on the move from one lord's manor to another, bestowing prestige and festivities on her hosts. It appears Kristjana disliked travelling with a passion and as such did not leave Fjallasay between 1386 and 1405.

This sedentary existence put her somewhat out of the reach of the lesser nobility and she was a distant figure, both as princess and as queen. They were most aggrieved when the expected tour of her lands following the coronation never occurred. If they were concerned then the side-lined Althing was even more worried. Still clinging to the old legal basis that the queen had to 'speak the law' it continued as a cover for taxation but in reality had little power. Snaedis II had at least sent her best and most capable men to be her speakers. Kristjana appeared either not to have any capable men to hand or did not care enough to send them to Isafjordhur. Day to day this did not cause too much trouble, Kristjana ruled via royal proclamation whilst the Althing got on with hearing important legal cases. However once a crisis reared its head Kristjana's dangerous lack of personal relationship with her lords, especially in the eastern maritime provinces proved disastrous.

The problem was there on her very first day as a crowned head of state. Her coronation in late 1390 was witnessed and endorsed by a papal legate who could not help but notice the pagan symbols littering Fjallasay's churches. Although the religious situation had improved considerably pagan veneration was still entrenched and the outbreak of Black Death in the 1380s had only swelled the ranks of those too poor to have prayers said for them in the official Christian chapels, so they turned instead to the free, and untaxed, idols of old Norse or Leifian gods that filled the public spaces of many churches. Once word of this reached Rome a new legate was issued. This one brought news that Kristjana would be excommunicated should the worship of false idols not cease immediately. A committed, and some might say fearful Christian, Kristjana immediately issued laws that made paganism intolerable. Bands of adherent Christians, mostly first or second generation Icelanders or Greenlanders who were more catholic than the pluralistic Vinlanders, soon took it upon themselves to cleanse churches and society of the pagan beliefs.

The Althing in distant Isafjordhur was soon hearing a multitude of cases of property being seized, clergy being assaulted and taxes being levied, often on the spot for those suspected of paganism. Already annoyed at Kristjana's decrees they were joined by the lesser lords whose lands and income were now threatened by the turn of events. The fear of a new Peasant's Revolt fuelled a plan to be formulated against her. Just as in 1280 where they had sought to seize the political impetus of Vinland for themselves by electing their own queen so they did again. However this time the incumbent was not dead. They had settled on Asdis, Kristjana's cousin (they were both Geirfrithur's granddaughters) and was married to the Earl of Pyronaber who was broadly pro-Althing.

They had their queen and soon they would have their opportunity. In April 1395 a band of zealots torched the Frotumyndunísjó chapel in Eikland killing three clergymen in the process. When the Althing demanded all anti-pagan cleansing activities be stopped momentarily Kristjana ignored them carrying on her 'crusade' in the Hafsvaedaland. However recognising the freemen of the East would be an issue she taxed Fjallasay and formed an army to use against the Althing. It was what they were expecting.

The war when it came pitted Kristjana and the newer earls of the West against the Althing, their new queen Asdis II and the older earl families of the east. Though much European opinion was on her side as a crusader against pagan beliefs she received little in the way of concrete support. Even Álengiamark officially did not intervene, possibly in revenge for Snaedis II's refusal to to involve herself in the Great Unami Revolt. This has led many apologists to say that Kristjana was not an inherently bad queen, she was just not equipped to reign in the new Vinland which her mother had shaped.

Whatever her faculties as a queen she was forced to be almost totally reliant on mercenary bands and as the economy of western Vinland was slowly squeezed by the Althing's blockade of the Breiduras the trustworthiness of the mercenaries grew tenuous. It would be the Ohio tribe, long used by Kristjana, who would force the war to a close. Unpaid in 1405, possibly due to a shortage of funds, they invaded Hafsvaedaland and threatened Karantóborg. At this point her military situation collapsed. Her men could not deal with defending against the east whilst handling western tribes. With her opions disappearing Kristjana and her family fled Fjallasay.

Bribing their way to the coast Kristjana managed to arrive at the Portuguese island of Verao, probably hoping to secure safe passage to Europe. This was not forthcoming and, largely dependent on supplies from Vinland and Álengiamark, the governor of Verao decided to dispose of her. She and her family would be murdered, officially in a botched robbery, on the 23rd of April. Scapegoats in the form of stowaways were found and executed for the crime.

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