Alternate History

Thorey I of Vinland (The Kalmar Union)

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Thorey I
Thorey I (The Kalmar Union).png
Thorey I
Queen of Vinland
Reign 1064-1116
Coronation 1082
Predecessor Sigrun
Successor Snaedis I
Spouse n/a
Issue n/a
Full name
Thorey Hjorlefiursdottír
House Eriksdottír
Father Hjorlefiur Ulfsson
Mother St. Hafdis I
Born September 15, 1050
Isafjordhur, Vinland
Died May 3, 1116
Isafjordhur, Vinland

Thorey I's tenure as, first, merely speaker of the Althing, then as crowned queen, marked the advent of two trends that would dominate the course of Vinland for several centuries to come. The first was the very nature of the small colony's government. The second was how it grew in relation to its neighbours.

By refusing the Althing's offer of the speaker role after the death of Sigrun, Halfdan left it open for his sister and in doing so left himself free to develop Kyreyja as his own personal fief. Under his and Sigrun's control Vinland had developed something of a binary system of government. On Vinland itself the republican Althing reigned supreme. Free from attack the women of the Eiriksson family could be safely left to fulfill the Althing's need for a speaker to convey its judgments to the populace. Elsewhere in the slightly more marginal lands the Eiriksson men came to the fore. Under their command the ever increasing numbers of fresh settlers, and also younger sons of older established families, could claim land, defend against attack and make themselves relatively rich. Halfdan made sure to move his male kin into these positions, with generous grants to the chiefs of the Skraelings and the Cornish too.

This imperfect but tolerated system was in some way enshrined when in 1082 Vinland received its first bishop who came bearing a crown sent by Pope Gregory VII.

The existence of Vinland had slowly come to wider knowledge. Still lumped together with the other fringe settlements of Iceland and Greenland in Adam of Bremen's Descriptio Insularum it had secured a hint of specialness via the Encomium Hafdisae which suggested that Hafdis I not only pacified the colony but baptized the entire native population. It also hinted that Vinland was a lot bigger and more populated than in reality, possibly by confusing Vinland with the vast Leifia (the term would not be used till several decades later) that lay beyond, but that was by-the-by. The papal response was to canonise her, send a bishop and authorised him to crown her heirs.

The arrival of Bishop Autunn in 1082 caused deep debate in the Althing. The republican institution recoiled from the idea of a monarchy while the powerful Eiriksson earls saw an opportunity to gain royal status. For much of that summer the two competing government systems argued. However it was the idea that to reject the crown would be snubbing the pope that convinced them to eventually agree. The Althing was well aware that the colonies continued existence relied heavily on help from Iceland, Europe and the church. To reject such a gift from the Pope himself was deemed unthinkable as a result.

In a pragmatic division of power Thorey was crowned Queen but in effect her powers barely changed. Her role as speaker continued but the Althing retained all of its legislative power and, importantly the last word in electing the queen. In return for renouncing claims on the crown the Eiriksson men's fiefdoms were officially sanctioned and they became Earls with territory, incomes and power of their own. The balance of power would ebb and flow over the centuries to come but to start with; to balance the two sides, the number of counties sending representatives to the Althing were increased to take into account the new lands being exploited to the South while the church became in effect another Earldom with the newly installed Bishop of Vinland at its head. The church itself was endowed with land, as the new Bishop made clear 'that was what all states in Europe did'. All land not already split between the church and the Earls became 'Crown Land', effectively free to be farmed as desired and providing a small income for the Althing, but this was chiefly the small villages, Isafjordhur and the uninhabited interior of Vinland. Thorey herself held nothing but a portion of the Eiriksson farm just north of Isafjordhur, now in the municipality of Freydisítjarna. But in deference to the regal title she received various gifts from the earls, including a fine longship from her brother and carved timber supports to build a grand hall from her cousins.

Halfdan followed the donation of Pope Gregory VII with an expedition to Europe in 1085. Visiting Iceland, Anglia, Denmark and eventually Rome he brought news of the Vinlandic discoveries to a wider audience while affirming the 'queendom's fealty to Denmark, by now the preeminent power of Scandinavia. He travelled with furs, walrus ivory and the first Skraelings to see Europe. He returned laden with gifts for the new queen, including a papal banner, horses and riding tackle.

The other parallel development was the ever growing relationship with the peoples of the Leifian continent. By the time of her coronation there were enough settlers on Eikland to warrant its division into four counties. Whereas (excluding isolated Markland) previous settlement had been on islands Eikland was part of the mainland and hence was subject to a larger threat from the seasonal hunters. The natives were generally lumped into a all-encompassing 'Suderfolk' label but contacts mediated by the Skraelings soon split these into distinct groups. In the Sudervik resided Quiripi, Pequot and Mohegan tribes. To the West of Eikland lived the Passamaquoddy and, deeper still, the Abernaki. In between the two sets were the Wampanoag, warlike and numerous they regularly attacked the tribes around them, and now this included the Norse farms on Eikland.

The Wampanoag utterly outnumbered the Norse. The spread of Norse disease through the native populations did little to even numbers up, instead the Norse had to rely on technological superiority to ensure the Eikland settlement's survival. Iron weapons, and horses, formed the only barrier to being overwhelmed. Iron had been discovered on the island in Isafjordhur bay in the 1060s and the small bands of warriors under the earls could just about keep the farms safe. But it wasn't until an earthwork wall known as the Eikveggur was raised in 1101 across the narrow isthmus entrance to Eikland that some semblance of peace was achieved. Expeditions to try and tame the Wampanoag homeland could only be considered once the Passamaquoddy were schooled in Norse warfare themselves. In 1104 Thorey met the King of the Passamaquoddy on Kyreyja in person presenting him with a gift of a horse, promising an end to any hostilities that were ongoing and confirming an alliance of the two peoples. The Passamaquoddy were given help to create a kingdom out of various disunited tribes while they in turn helped lessen the Wampanoag menace and handed Halfdan control of the island of Konunglegursaey deep inside the Breidurass. Settlers flooded into the Eikland peninsula. The Norse domination of North-East Leifia had begun.

Thorey never married and had no children. Hints of a husband in pre-regal life are there in the records but evidently he was quietly pushed out of the picture when it came to her coronation. It is possible that either the church or Halfdan did not think he was the right kind of consort for a queen. She was quiet, shy and quite easily dominated by her much older brother. Before his death in he made sure she and the Althing appointed his daughter Gudrid as her successor. Gudrid died 6 months before Thorey so the crown passed to Gudrid's daughter Snaedis.

Early Eiriksdottír Family Tree

Eriksdottir Family Tree (The Kalmar Union)

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