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Alternate History

The Land of Meadows

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The beginning of the Viking Age in 793 saw the expansion of the Norse people and their traditions across Northern, and eventually all of, Europe. As the Medieval Warm Period settled in, the population of Scandinavia exploded and soon more land was needed to provide for the growing number of Norsemen. This expansion, as well as a pursuit for riches, saw the Norse travel south to Africa, East to Russia, and 

Christian-krohg-leiv-eriksson

Leif Ericson Discovering Vinland

even West to the edges of North America. In 985, Erik the Red reached Greenland, where he established a new colony, and around the year 1000, Leif Ericson, son of Erik the Red, had reached Vinland and establish a settlement there of several hundred people. He called the new area Vinland, meaning "land of wine," or as it was also known "the land of meadows," because of its rich soil and potential for growth. While in our timeline the settlement ultimately failed because of conflicts with the natives, this timeline explores what would have happened had Leif Ericson succeeded in establishing and preserving a Norse colony in North America and the implications and the changes that resulted. 

The Year of Plenty

In 1000 AD, Leif Ericson and his settlers established a colony in modern-day North America, which was given the name "Vinland." There 500 initial settlers established a colony, which would be plagued by strife and famine for three years. After trying to sow the seeds of agriculture by planting crops in the area, a famine struck after the crops failed that lead seventy-five colonitsts to sail north to an area later called Helluland, meaning "land of flat stones." Supposedly, sagas told, there was arable land to the north, but Ericson refused to leave his people alone and remained with the majority of colonists in Vinland. Despite rune stones that have been found in the area from that time, the colonists that sailed north were never seen or heard from again. Ericson sought help from the Norse in Europe, but received meagre supplies despite reporting on the potential of the land he lived on.

Despite these struggles, Ericson and his men continued to explore inland, coming into contact with a number of local tribes, who were eager to trade food and furs for Norse milk and cloths. In time, the Natives began to exchange weapons and metals with the Norse in return for agricultural assistance. These advances with Native help allowed the colony in Vinland to survive and prosper by 1004, which became known as the Year of Plenty in the colony. Ericson traveled back to Norway in 1007, bringing with him the products and crops of Native peoples that the Norse had made contact with in Vinland, as well as reporting of the potential for gold and silver to be found in the vast wilderness. These reports spread throughout Norway and soon Ericson returned at the end of 1009 to Vinland with 1500 new settlers. This boost in population allowed for the expansion of the colony to include most of OTL Newfoundland, and eventually by 1012 continuous trade was occurring between Vinland and mainland Norway. 

News of the success of Vinland reached throughout Norway and others began to plan expeditions across the continent that became known as Ericsonland. The story of the failed voyage to Helluland became a well-known cautionary tale for the colonists that explored Ericsonland between 1015 and 1056, who expanded mostly to the south and west of Vinland under the commission of Kings Cnut and Magnus I of Norway. However, under the rule of Harald Hardrada, who focused the power of Norway on seizing the throne of England, and under his reign he ceased the funding of further expeditions into Ericsonland. While the colonies at this time continued to thrive, the course of history was changed because of the lack of further support for expansion by Norsemen. The colony of Vinland was consolidated under the control of Leif Ericson until his death in 1022, after which control of Vinland was passed on to his young son Thorgils Ericson. Meanwhile the flames of war began to fan to Europe as Edward the Confessor fell ill and soon died in 1066, leading to the War of the English Succession .

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