Alternate History

St. Hafdiss (The Kalmar Union)

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St. Hafdiss
Timeline: The Kalmar Union
Flag of St. Hafdis (The Kalmar Union)
Flag of St. Hafdiss
Country Álengiamark
Province Sudervik
Founded 1129
Mayor Ágúst Jóhannesson
Population 296,550  
Language Álengsk

The city of St. Hafdiss is the capital of Álengiamark and has been since the founding of the country following the Wampanoag Crusade in 1129. It is named after St. Hafdis I, the first Leifian saint. It is also sometimes known as 'Dýrlingrbor', or 'the saint's city'.

During those early years the town was essentially a Norse island in amongst a sea of Suderfolk (Quiripi, Pequot and Mohegan) settlements. But as the flow of settlers from Vinland and Scandinavia increased and the tribes slowly integrated the area of Norse domination spread and it soon anchored the so-called 'Royal Domain'. While it was certainly the largest Norse town for a century, and home to both queen and Althing, actual power was soon ebbing away to the earldoms as pressure from the tribes outside the Álengsk borders gave license to any settlement to fortify itself and withhold taxes and fealty from central power. St Hafdiss too was fortified on a grand scale, in truth more to protect against its own earls than any outside tribes.

The city sits on the Áleng river, which gave its name to the country as a whole, and has been long defined by it. The river reaches deep into Passamaquoddia, spurring inland trade but also allowing easy access for hostile forces to reach into the settled heartland of Álengiamark. It long proved a barrier to east-west trade however all crossings were done by boat or by the only viable bridge further to the north at the independent city of Ofbeflúthr. The river at St Hafdiss was only bridged in 1534 after engineers struggled either to build a bridge high enough to allow to the passage of decently-sized ships or one with a large enough moveable section. Eventually the low slung stone and wooden 'Dýrlingrtosk' featured a bastule lifting section on its western end, lifted by a team of oxen whenever a ship larger than the arches needed to pass. This brought the previously separate settlement of Arramiystadt on the eastern shore of the river into the rapidly expanding city. The original bridge was destroyed in 1680 after a load of timber broke free of a boom in the river further to the north during a storm and wrecked the arch supports, but it was quickly replaced by successively more advanced versions. The mouth of the river is partially blocked by wetlands and sandbanks and these bar access to large ships.

From the reign of Thorey II onwards the royal domain was slowly eaten away to pay for war or to curry favour from the earls, hence St Hafdiss' influence slowly shrank. By the mid-15th century the queens were nothing but simple powerless figureheads to a coalition of quasi-autonomous states calling itself Álengiamark but more resembling the Holy Roman Empire. St Hafdiss continued to grow however, bouyed by its central position and expanding farmlands and forests. While real economic power had shifted to the extremities, to Kristjanaborg or Nahigavik, the tradesmen of St Hafdiss continued to keep the city the centre of Álengsk culture. Its Abbey drew in the cream of the priesthood and was well renowned for its theological college but had a instant rivalry with the bishops who were installed in the city after the Lutheran conversion of Vinland.

St Hafdiss would receive Leifia's first tread wheel crane (1252), its first clock (1307) and its first printing press (1522), while an army of artisans made ever greater and more elaborate extensions to the Royal Palace, the cathedral and abbey, and to rich merchant's houses. The old city has had the good fortune to never have suffered a major fire (though the factory districts of Arramiystadt have had had several severe conflagrations). It also avoided siege during the 16th century Leifian War of Religion, which damaged several other Álengsk cities during its course. This means that the old medieval centre of the city is still intact and a great number of 13th, 14th and 15th century buildings are extant.

Álengsk Althinghus (The Kalmar Union)

The Althinghus, showing off its 1903 remodelling and new cupola

After the recentralisation of Álengiamark during the reign of Herridr I the Althinghus was rebuilt on a much grander scale set in extensive parkland and remains the centre of government for the country.

The city lies within Sudervik Fylke and as such is subject the Fylkething in Nahigavik. Some reformers would like to see the city become independent of the Fylke as a 'Capital Territory' but others see the spread of power and the coherence of the fylke as important and prefer the status quo.

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