1000-1030 AD

This is my own TL starting at the turn of the 2nd Millennium. This entire timeline is butterflied thanks to the survival of the Holy Roman Emperor Otto III, though that will be discussed later. Each time period will be broken up into Chapters for specific nations, detailing the events and alterations. Enjoy it.
Chapter I: The Virtuous Princes

On Friday 13th in the month of November, 1002, the holy day of St. Brice of Tours, the King of England Æthelræd II under the poor counsel of his advisors ordered a massacre of his Danish subjects throughout the Kingdom of England. Despite the attempt at secrecy, this message was intercepted by those disloyal to the King, and instead was forwarded to his son, the Ætheling and commander in the north Æthelstan.

Æthelstan was extremely amicable with the Danes of England, and formed a large part of his political base with them. Though he was young, only around the age of 19 at the time, he was widely regarded as a great future King by many of the ealdormen of the North, and already held a bitter relationship with his father. Æthelræd had constantly disenfranchised his own sons and treated them harshly, in fact it was certainly the reason as to why Æthelstan was even in the North of England, to stay out of court politics and to remain isolated. He instead gave favor to his new wife Emma, a Norman princess, and seemed to even promote the idea that their future son would inherit the Kingdom instead of Æthelstan or his brothers Edmund and Eadwig. He was also cut off from his father, as the numerous ealdormen and earls of England held the King as a marionette in their hands, and they did not wish to give the autonomous young prince an opportunity to undermine their power.

While troops loyal to the King attempted to marshal and attack Danish villages throughout England, they were met by an organized resistance led by the local Thegns and Lords of the regions. Though there were sizable casualties the armies of Æthelræd were repulsed and on November 14th the next day, Æthelstan was proclaimed as King in York by his own men and the lords of Northumbria. With their support he brought together the regional fyrds that had formed in defense of their homes and neighbors and made them into a singular proper army. Throughout the winter of 1002-1003, Æthelstan gave his men little reprieve, drilling them into a proper fighting force able of facing the men of Æthelræd in open battle.

In the spring of 1003, Æthelstan and his forces were ready to fight, marching south from their position in York into Mercia. The armies of the King attempted to halt his advance though, and the two forces met in battle at Doncaster. While Æthelræd had superior numbers, his leadership was extremely incompetent compared to the generals that had sided with Æthelstan. While the battle at first seemed to be even, the day was won by Æthelstan thanks to a petty dispute between two commanders on the opposing side. One of the lords, Aelfric, refused to reinforce the weakening left flank with his own men, as the commander on the left, an ealdorman by the name of Eadred, had insulted him and his family while on the march towards Doncaster. As a result of his refusal to save the flank due to his shortsighted arrogance the Royal army was out maneuvered and the near entirety surrendered to Æthelstan and his men.

Æthelræd himself fled shortly after the left flank broke, seeing that the battle was lost for him and his allies. Knowing that he wouldn’t be able to raise a new army after his defeat due to his unpopular nature Æthelræd chose to flee. He managed to escape England with his wife Emma and their newborn son Edward, receiving refuge in Normandy from the Duke Richard II. As for Æthelstan, he marched south unopposed receiving oaths and surrender from the lords of Wessex and Mercia. He reached Winchester whereupon he was crowned as Æthelstan II, King of the English by the Bishop. He was cheered on by the people of England as a new great King set to bring back the good times of his grandfather Edgar the Peaceful.

His reign would not slide into peace so easily as he and his contemporaries might have wished. Instead the Danish King, Sweyn Forkbeard, sought an opportunity to pillage England and establish his own dominance over the North Sea. He sacked Norwich in mid-1003 and met the armies of Æthelstan in open battle. Both Kings were unable to defeat one another, as Sweyn lacked the proper size to launch a full assault and Æthelstan lacked enough ships to chase after Sweyn’s slippery army. Eventually after a year of fighting Sweyn finally retreated to deal with a famine at home in Denmark, also taking £8,000 of gold as a Danegeld to leave.

Making use of the reprieve that was Sweyn’s retreat, Æthelstan continued to undo his father’s poor mistakes and choices. He rebuilt parts of the old fleet that was once destroyed by Eadric Streona’s follies, and purged many corrupt and insubordinate officials from their positions across the Kingdom. He reinstituted the old centralizing laws of Edgar the Peaceful to keep the realm solvent and able to face future attacks head on. His reforms helped to revitalize the Kingdom and bring it back into the shape it was before it's atrophy under his father.

However, Sweyn Forkbeard wasn’t done with conquering England just yet, and in the summer of 1013, launched a massive invasion across the sea. He managed to seize a large part of the Five Boroughs, including Gainsborough. However at York his armies were held out of the city by the forces of the prince Edmund, brother to Æthelstan and the heir-apparent, who had reinforced the city just in time to withstand a siege from Sweyn’s army. This siege kept Sweyn’s army tied down and unable to continue their rapid advance, allowing for Æthelstan to raise his fyrds and meet Sweyn in battle. Edmund's valiant defense of the city gained him the nickname Ironside as he was said to have fought bravely on the ramparts, not falling back an inch. Æthelstan managed to drive the Danish King from the city, chasing him across the Humber and harassing his armies until winter began to set in.

The war seemed as if it would drag on into the next few years as both armies were still strong and the English fleet had failed to cut off communications and supplies to and from Denmark. Despite how it looked as if this would be a brutal and long conflict, it was cut extremely short by the death of King Sweyn in February of 1014. Without their King most of the army dissipated and slunk back to Denmark piece by piece, despite the attempt by the prince Canute to hold the army together. Many later historical sources including the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle proclaimed that Sweyn was struck down by God who brought deliverance to the people of England through their righteous King Æthelstan.

Æthelstan wouldn't get to celebrate his victories for long, as the brave young King died only 5 months after Sweyn. His death led to a period of mourning all throughout England. It was reported that no church-bells rung across all England for a full day after news of his death was announced. After his death he was succeeded by his brother Edmund Ironside, who became King Edmund II.

Edmund ruled as a fair and just king, resembling his brother in many ways and being hailed by the people and nobility as fair and just. The vast majority of his reign was relatively uneventful and peaceful. The Kingdom flourished as Edmund used the fleet his brother had built to crack down on Vikings in the English Channel and Irish Sea. He forced Richard II into ending the practice of allowing Viking raiders to rest and resupply in Norman ports, threatening the trade between Normandy and England, as well as access through the English Channel by Norman ships.

His most famous conflict was against the Viking warlord Thorkell the Tall, a former general of Sweyn's army and a member of the semi-legendary Jomsvikings. Despite being in old age, Thorkell still wished to loot and pillage throughout England and as such landed in East Anglia. He and his soldiers destroyed multiple villages and abbeys before being met by an army under the leadership of Edmund. They fought at Chelmsford and it was said to have been one of the bloodiest battles of all time. The armies were evenly matched in all but numbers, and it turned into a brutal slugfest according to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. It was said that even Thorkell fought in battle himself and was cut down by an English soldier, a man by the name of Æthelwold. Aside from those events, Edmund Ironside's reign was one of peacefulness, wealth, and trade.
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I know next to nothing about the period but I still liked it. However, what's up with the title change? Is this not going to be a Vinland TL? :(
Chapter II: The Inheritor of Rome

In early 1002, the Holy Roman Emperor Otto III was forced to march on Rome. The city which he idolized and attempted to revitalize had backstabbed him over a trivial dispute with a neighboring city. Despite the attempts of the Roman nobility, the city fell after only 2 and a half weeks. While there was no sack, Otto, with approval from Pope Sylvester II, rounded up the nobles of Latium into the Tomb of Hadrian. There on February 14th, St. Valentine’s day, Otto had them executed for their crimes.

These men were repeat offenders, having rebelled against him twice, and as such Otto saw no other course of action but to execute them. Their properties and estates became Royal domain, even the County of Tusculum was seized as the Counts had chosen to throw their support behind the Roman revolt. Their wealth had also been seized and over 1/3rd was distributed to the army as pay.

Despite his sanction by the Pope Otto would never forgive himself for this massacre, seeing it as sinful and shameful brutality. He spent a month and a half within the walls of St. Peter’s, praying for forgiveness from God and refusing to exit despite the pleas of his advisors. Eventually he did leave the Basilica, but not due to the begging of his courtiers, instead due to a formal arrangement.

Zoe Porphyrogenita was a daughter of the Byzantine Emperor Constantine VIII, brother and co-ruler to Basil II. Despite the long standing Byzantine stigma of not sending purple-born princesses off to marry foreign rulers, Basil knew he desperately needed to forge alliances and as a result he married off his niece Zoe to Otto in order to secure an Italian peace. As such Zoe arrived in Rome in the late spring of 1002, and Otto finally ended his period of withdrawal within the walls of the Vatican. They were married in mid-1002 and it was said to have been one of the most lavish parties in Rome since the old days of the Empire. Representatives from hundreds of states came along with notable royals including Otto’s cousin Henry III of Bavaria.

With Zoe Otto had 5 children. In order, Adelaide (1003), Otto (1005), Constantine (1006), Sophia (1009), and Stephen (1013). Both Adelaide and Stephen would end up taking up the cloth, while Sophia was married to Henry I of France. Both Otto and Constantine will be touched upon later.

Despite his wish to remain in Rome and keep it as his administrative capital, Otto was forced north in 1006 as many German lords began to act independently of him and started to undo the centralizing policies of his father and grandfather. Otto forwent the practice of an ever shifting capital, instead establishing a permanent seat at Cologne and declaring a Diet, forcing the lords of the HRE to leave their base of power and to visit him. In their presence he re-asserted his own dominance with a papal bull issued by Sylvester, proclaiming his superiority over all the petty dukes and princes and that they must all pay absolute loyalty to their Emperor. While there was much grumbling within the Diet over this bull, Otto was not finished yet, as he also issued multiple edicts, forcing taxes to all be paid in coin rather than in kind, as well as establishing a system of Missi Dominici, where officials of the Empire would be sent to the fiefdoms to oversee tax collection as well as ascertaining the loyalty of the lords they watched over.

These new laws were passed through the diet but many began to dislike this new young Emperor who was stripping away at their autonomy and rights. Henry III, as disloyal as his father, conspired with these nobles and launched a revolt in the East at the start of 1007, declaring himself as the new Holy Roman Emperor. Otto of course, would not have it, and marshaled his forces against Henry, receiving assistance from the Hungarian King Stephen I. Due to an attack on both sides of his domain, Henry was convinced to split up his army in order to fight off both rulers. While he might have stood a chance against either army with his forces consolidated, this break-up left both armies weak vulnerable to the much larger enemy forces. At the battles of Harburg against Otto and Ernstbrunn against Stephen, the armies were destroyed.

While many surrendered to Otto and his allies, Henry chose instead to flee his domain, realizing that it was simply too late to raise any force himself to fight off Otto and his allies. He fled to the court of Bolesław I of Poland, promising him complete independence from the Holy Roman Empire in exchange for an army to retake the Holy Roman Empire. Though Bolesław was extremely tempted by the offer, he declined and sent Henry on his way, knowing that his forces alone wouldn’t be able to deal with the armies of Otto. With no other option, Henry surrendered himself to Otto, readying himself for execution for his treasonous actions. However much to his surprise and the surprise of the majority of the Holy Roman nobles, Otto pardoned his cousin. While Henry was tonsured and forced to enter the Church, his life was spared and he was allowed to live his days in peace as a priest. This act stunned many and according to Otto’s personal chronicler Albrecht of Trier,

“[He] had grown to despise acts of merciless violence after the Massacre of St. Valentine’s Day and as a result wished to pardon as many as he could, even including his own rebellious cousin.”

However despite the implication, those pardoned were not given complete freedom, as the vast majority were forced to accept lives as monks. This was still a stunning act of mercy given the nature of politics at the time and how common it was for political enemies to be jailed for the rest of their lives or simply executed.

The decades after Henry of Bavaria’s rebellion were extremely peaceful, as Otto III went back and forth from Rome and Cologne, asserting his dominance over the lords of Italy and Germany, and launching multiple wars against the Polabian Slavs as well as the Polish duke Bolesław who attempted to declare himself as King. The empire flourished in this period as the centralized nature of the nation made it easier for people and goods to flow around the empire, and for cities to grow in size and power. However in 1028 would come his greatest moment, as his father-in-law and the Eastern Roman Emperor Constantine VIII died without an heir. With no sons or nephews to succeed him, Zoe and Otto became the inheritors of the Empire, and with that Otto finally became the first true Emperor of both the East and West since the times of Theodosius.

Despite that, there was still firm opposition within many Byzantine circles against Otto, as they all disliked the prospect of being ruled over by a Frankish King, even if his mother was a Roman. They chose to revolt and declared Theodora, the youngest daughter of Constantine VIII, as Empress. However after reaching the Gates of Constantinople, Otto entered negotiations with the nobles and made them a deal. He would be acknowledged as Emperor with his wife Zoe as co-ruler, and Zoe would rule over the lands of the Eastern Romans while Otto would be away from Constantinople, which would be the majority of his reign. Albrecht also adds another part to the deal stating that Otto’s demesne would be divided between his two sons Otto and Constantine, but this is likely a later addition made to legitimize the split of the empire between the two sons.

The Byzantine Nobility accepted the deal, and as a result of the peace, Otto and Zoe were allowed into the city, and Theodora was sent off to a monastery in Ohrid to retire. On April 12th 1029, both Otto and Zoe were crowned as Co-rulers within the Hippodrome, to mediocre fanfare. Despite the lukewarm reception, Otto was ecstatic and had finally done what the numerous authors and courtiers of the time preached of him. He had united the East and the West, and become the true Roman Emperor, ushering in an era of peace and prosperity within his realm.
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First time seeing this style, I dig it. With an Empire this big, I can't wait to see them realize their potential and then their interactions with the Muslims...
First time seeing this style, I dig it. With an Empire this big, I can't wait to see them realize their potential and then their interactions with the Muslims...
Thanks! I mainly wrote it this way since I didn't think first person POVs were a good way to do alt history
Chapter III: The First King

At the battle of Clontarf in 1014 Brian Boru had won a great victory against the Leinstermen and Norse, but at a heavy cost. While he still held onto his life and most of his army, two of his sons and one grandson, Conchobar, Donnchadh and Toirdelbach, died in battle. Despite the great victory, the over 70 year old King never recovered from this hard blow, and he died around 3 months after the battle had been won. While his death was not a shock to his men and courtiers, it was deeply saddening as Brian was one of the best Kings to ever grace Ireland.

After his death he was succeeded as High King by his eldest son Murchadh I (often rendered as “Murdoch” in foreign sources). Murchadh avoided the regular convention of being crowned at Tara, instead travelling to Ard Macha and being crowned as High King by the bishop Máel Tuile. Records like the Chronicle of Athlone and the Book of the Boruma show how Murchadh was attempting to style himself like the Holy Roman Emperors did, a divine King selected by God to rule over his lands. He also affirmed the Primacy of Ard Macha over other Irish Bishoprics, proclaiming that they had Apostolic succession from St. Patrick and as such were the rightful heads of the Irish church.

From then on Murchadh continued to travel about the island after his coronation in Ard Macha, moving onwards west towards the last Kingdom that hadn’t bowed to the High King, Connacht. He marched against their King Tadg In Eich Gil in 1016 with his army and faced him in battle twice. First at Tuaim and second at Coillte Mach. The latter was described as being an extremely quick and peaceful battle by the Chronicle of Athlone. It claimed that Murchadh had outmaneuvered the enemy army so quickly and that he had them in checkmate after a brief period of actual combat. Thanks to his strategy much of the Connacht army surrendered to him, except for the upper command. Instead of choosing to remain and fight on, the vast majority simply refused to accept the rulership of Murchadh and fled Ireland, heading across the seas to the friendly Kingdom of the Isles as well as Iceland, and other lands much farther from the British Isles.

As a result of the so called “Great Flight” by the Connachta, Murchadh was finally secure in his position, and became the first ever true High King of Ireland to rule over the entire island in all of it’s recorded history. He chose not to waste his time, focusing on centralizing the numerous provinces and fiefdoms into a singular and cohesive nation. He issued the Cill Dara reforms in 1019, so called as they were issued from Cill Dara, which completely restructured Irish governance. As the nobility of provinces like Ulaid, Connacht, and Leinster were gutted after the campaigns of Brian and Murchadh, they were given a complete rework. No one but the High King could hold the title of King, and instead nobles were gifted titles like Duke, Count, and Prince rather than the classical Irish Chief or King. Men of Munster were also brought in to fill the gaps left in the other provinces, however these were men who had risen through the army through skill rather than their own birth, as Murchadh sought to undermine the constant noble scheming by not allowing established noble families to take the helm of major regions and large plots of land.

Rock of Cashel.jpg
Murchadh also abandoned the old itinerant court system, instead attempting to force his nobles to come to him by establishing a new capital at the Rock of Caiseal, having a new capital constructed around it and having people from all across the Kingdom brought over to the new town, once again attempting to imitate Otto III and his restoration of Rome. Murchadh also married himself to an English princess, Eadgyth the daughter of Æthelræd II of England and sister of Edmund Ironside. With her he had 3 children that survived into adulthood, one of them a son named Flann, became Murchadh’s heir-apparent and later successor.

After 1020, the rest of Murchadh’s reign was marked by peace and stability as trade flowed into Ireland from across the continent, and the cities of the isle saw the start of their rapid growth throughout the High Middle Ages. Murchadh himself would be remembered as even a greater man than his father, given the nickname “Rí Aontaithe”, or “Unifying King”.
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Thanks! I mainly wrote it this way since I didn't think first person POVs were a good way to do alt history
Oh, sorry, I meant it as in the placement of pictures - lots of authors here give their TLs a textbook style, but I think this one's more faithful to the textbook look
BTW, very cool timeline! I hope you take it far
Oh, sorry, I meant it as in the placement of pictures - lots of authors here give their TLs a textbook style, but I think this one's more faithful to the textbook look
BTW, very cool timeline! I hope you take it far
Oh yeah I just felt that text walls were too hard on the eyes and pictures were needed to spice things up. Thanks though! I have a pretty good long term plan for this stuff
Chapter IV: Halting The Waves

After the death of Sweyn Forkbeard while campaigning in England, his realm was torn in two. His eldest son and regent in Denmark, Harald, took advantage of the situation and crowned himself as King of Denmark while his brother Canute was overseas attempting to hold the army together. Norway had also broken out in revolt as Olaf Haraldsson, a petty King and descendant of Harald Fairhair, declared himself as King of Norway. Canute meanwhile had been left in the dust with no lands but holding a sizable army. As a result he did the only thing he saw he could do, conquering Norway.

With the remnants of his father’s great army Canute set out to take over his own lands, and Norway was the perfect choice for such an action. Olaf only held control around Vestfold, and the rest of Norway was under the leadership of other petty Kings who could be swayed to support Canute over Olaf. The majority of their campaigning was around the Norwegian Uplands, as they were the most valuable areas of land in the Kingdom and the petty kings of the region were crucial in determining who would be King. The war between the two lasted almost 3 years as neither was able to secure a proper victory over the other in battle. The Uplands were left devastated and it seemed as if the Kingdom would be divided between the two and forced into constant war, until Olaf was killed. Accounts differ as some sources like Adam of Bremen say that Olaf was killed in battle, while the official testimony of Bjorn Estrithssen makes the claim,

“As the King Olave remained alive and in good health, Canute put in motion a plan to displace the King without significant loss [of his own soldiers]. So when Olave came to use his latrine, he was stabbed up his behind by an assassin lying in wait with a spear.”

It is unclear which of these is the true story, but it is certifiably known that by late 1017, Olaf Haraldsson was dead, and Canute was
the undisputed King of Norway. He would later be crowned as King in the Nidaros Cathedral at the start of 1018, but he wouldn’t have the time to properly rule over solely Norway as also in early 1018, Harald II of Denmark died of illness. As Harald had no sons of his own, Canute became the new King of Denmark. He sailed off to Jelling and was also crowned as King of Denmark, now ruling over two of the most powerful Kingdoms in the North.

Canute’s main focus throughout the early part of his reign was the Christianization of Denmark and Norway. He brought in priests from Germany, France, and England to help convert the pagans of the land and to tear down the old pagan institutions. Temples throughout Norway and Denmark were burnt and destroyed, idols smashed, and whole pagan towns baptized in rivers. He even built a large Stave Church in the capital of Jelling that was sadly lost to time. His Christianizing efforts idolized him among later historians, and he was even canonized in the 1140s by Pope Eugene III as a Saint.

He also sought to have the strongest military he could, implementing multiple new taxes for his subjects to pay, as well as pillaging areas throughout the Baltic. He established one of the first standing armies in the form of his Húskarls, which were professional warriors under a permanent payroll from the King. Canute also constructed a large fleet of longships, over 40 in number. He seemed to have meant for this to not be used, instead to act as a show of force to deter foreign nations from invading his lands, though he did dream of an English conquest like his father.

Despite the attempt at instilling fear, his actions did quite the opposite and emboldened his enemies to attack him. In 1024 Olof Skötkonung, the King of Sweden, invaded Canute’s realm. He brought with him a young child, Harald Sigurdsson, claiming him to be the rightful King of Norway as a descendant of Harald Fairhair rather than the usurper Canute. In reality Olof likely invaded not to “restore the true King”, but instead to put Canute in his place and to tear down his highly threatening military. Large parts of the Norwegian Uplands fell to his forces, but he was halted by the arrival of Canute and his army. They fought at Sarpsborg, and for 3 days they fought until Olof’s army finally broke, and he attempted to flee. He was caught by soldiers of Canute despite his attempt and was killed by them. The young Harald did escape successfully, fleeing to the lands of the Rus and waiting for his time to reclaim the throne.

After the battle Sweden was left open to Canute and he subdued the entire nation, taking it over and declaring himself as the first “King of the Norse”, later rendered in Latin sources as “Rex Scadinavia”. He also married twice in this time-period, first to the daughter of a German Margrave by the name Matilda, and second to the English princess Wulfhilda. He had 2 sons, each from one wife, Harald and Harthacnut.

With all his great and amazing victories as well as conversion of the populous, Canute was constantly praised and flattered by his courtiers. Despite all the warm words he extremely disliked this form of flattery and decided to show them why they should stop.

He summoned many of his advisors and courtiers to a beach outside of Jelling and decided to show them how he was not the greatest of all to ever live. In the words of Johann Adamsen, a later Danish historian,

“continuing to rise as usual [the tide] dashed over his feet and legs without respect to his royal person. Then the king leapt backwards, saying: 'Let all men know how empty and worthless is the power of kings, for there is none worthy of the name, but He whom heaven, earth, and sea obey by eternal laws.' He then hung his gold crown on a crucifix, and never wore it again "to the honour of God the almighty King”.

Despite that attempt at humility Canute still earned the epithet “The Great” after his death, as well as sainthood, so it sadly seems that his attempt to settle down the flattery of his followers failed.
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Chapter V: Across the Ocean

In the year 1003 AD, over 140 settlers left from Eystribyggð in Greenland under the command of the Icelandic sailor Thorfinn Karlsefni. They came to a new land, looking to find new homes to survive upon as Greenland was growing ever more crowded and the small patches of fertile soil could not feed the whole island. They decided that it would be better for them to leave Greenland and risk this new world despite the fact that Skrælings were known to inhabit the lands.

There had been two expeditions made to Vinland before, although none of them were able to establish permanent settlements. The first visit was the discovery of Vinland by Leif Eriksson, and as such it wasn’t meant to establish a permanent settlement. The second was made by Thorvald Eriksson, brother to Leif. His was meant to be a permanent stay, however his aggressive tendencies got him into conflict with the natives of the land. There was a battle and while most of the Greenlanders survived Thorvald was killed and they were forced to return home.

Thorfinn himself was a warrior turned merchant from Iceland who had made large profits off of his large Trans-European trade. He eventually settled down and married Guðrið Thorbjornardóttir, a notable member of the Greenlandic community. While he had heard tales of Vinland before, even meeting with Leif himself, it was only now Thorfinn had the wealth to actually afford a voyage across the sea and the ability to amass enough supplies to survive for a year without producing crops, and as such he decided that he would be the best to lead an expedition across the sea into Vinland.

After preparation and the gathering of settlers from Iceland and Greenland, he set sail from and went across the Labrador Sea, crossing into Helluland, Markland, and finally Vinland. However in Markland around 17 settlers decided to abandon the journey southwards, instead establishing their own settlement called Skógarbyggð at the mouth of Blárfjörður [1]. Despite this Thorfinn continued on, first attempting to use the remnants of Leif’s colony as his own springboard for colonization. This failed to pan out as the land around the settlement was simply too hard to cultivate, and as such the settlers moved on after almost a week spent at Leif’s lodgings. With no other option, they continued southwards, eventually stumbling on a whole new island [2], this time much more fertile than the lands that they had previously discovered.

This island, retaking the name Vinland from the previous one which Leif had discovered, was where the Norse set up their settlement. They named their small settlement on the island Arnheidbryggð [3] after an extremely close former friend of Thorfinn's. Despite the fear that the natives would descend upon the settlers and drive them from Vinland like they did for Thorvald, it was quite the opposite. Under the level-headed leadership of Thorfinn there was no conflict, instead a peaceful trading system was established with the Migmaw [4] natives of the land.

According to the Karlsefni Saga there was an incident where the natives did come close to attacking the settlers, about a year after the colony was founded. Reportedly, a bull broke loose from its corral and began to rampage around the settlement. The natives, having never seen a bull before, thought that it was an attack by the Vinlanders and readied themselves for combat. However, while in the native’s line of sight, Thorfinn managed to halt the bull with nothing but his bare hands, bringing the beat to a full stop. The natives were said to have calmed down and realized that it was a simple accident and not an intentional conflict. This story is almost certainly made up, likely invented by his descendants for the sole purpose to idolize Thorfinn Karlsefni as a great and powerful warrior and them as relatives of such a powerful man.

Despite those few events the colony would continue to thrive, as native crops like corn, beans, and squash were imported and grown alongside wheat, barley, and turnips. Natives as well also took in Norse livestock like sheep, goats, and pigs. Communication was also established as both groups began to learn one another’s languages. Even religion was spread and a few missions were established to convert the natives.

Word of this fertile and peaceful land also spread out across the sea lanes of the north, and even more migrants began to come in from Iceland, Norway, the Western Isles, and even as far as Denmark. Many former nobles from Connacht fleeing the wrath of Murchadh Mac Brian also came to Vinland and settled there. As so many settlers were entering Arnheidbryggð grew to such size that it was simply too big for all the migrants to settle in, and so they established other settlements across Vinland, like Vesturhӧfn, Eiðar, and Lækjamót.

With the increase in size also came the foundation of an Alþingi to keep order and peace amongst the settlers. It functioned similarly to the Icelandic and Greenlandic Alþingis, as it was an assembly held yearly to oversee legal disputes and dispense justice. Even multiple representatives from the local tribes were allowed to participate within the Alþingi. One of the very first things the Alþingi passed was the banning of all thralls (slaves) from the land, becoming the first recorded state to have completely outlawed slavery.

Despite the attempt at working with the natives and establishing a harmonious nation with them, it never truly came to pass. As a result of the constant trading between the two groups and the adoption of Norse farm animals, diseases descended on the Migmaw communities of Vinland. A description of the aftermath comes from the written works of Magnus Ivarsson, who helped to codify the oral sagas.

“They died by scores and hundreds. Villages were depopulated. Corpses were scattered over the fields or piled up in the houses. The fields were uncultivated, the herds untended. Little escaped the foul disease. The brave souls who performed the tasks of the natives and gave them food were left untouched by the disease, as if it was directed solely upon the Skrælings.”

The island of Vinland itself was left decimated as a result, and the lands even more open to settlement. As such the size of the Norse colony would only grow, and tensions with the Skrælings as well.

[1]An Old Norse name for Lake Melville
[2]This new island is OTL’s Prince Edward Island
[3]OTL Charlottetown
[4]A Norse rendering of Mi’kmaq
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nice work so far it might be best to thread mark your posts as to make it easier to read/keep track of said timeline/story posts
1030-1070 AD

Chapter VI: The Pious and the Strong

In 1034 AD, Edmund Ironside died of illness while at Oxford. His reign was one of peace and prosperity, and as such he would be remembered throughout the ages as a virtuous and great King. He was succeeded by his eldest son, Edward, who became King Edward III of England. The young prince was much less of a brave warrior like his father, instead being recorded as a timid and unimposing man, unnoticeable if not for the crown upon his head. However, despite how he may have looked, Edward was not a man to be reckoned with.

After his ascension and coronation at Canterbury, Edward sought to finish the work of Edgar the Peaceful and rebuild the English monastic system and churches. He himself held a favoring stance on the Church, mainly written as piety in official sources but it is more likely that he found the Church easier to manipulate compared to the nobility. Re-using the old laws of Edgar, he rebuilt the Benedictine Monastic system and doled out land to the church, seizing these new properties from minor lords. He also received support from men like the Archbishop of Canterbury, Eadsige, and the Archbishop of York, Ælfric, who were all too happy to let the King increase the powers of the Church. In fact these large grants of church land are what likely granted him the epithet “the Pious”, as many later church sources exemplified him as a man of God.

He did face opposition from the nobility, as the Earl Godwin of Sussex challenged the King’s power. Godwin himself was an especially influential man, even being a former compatriot of the young princes Æthelstan & Edmund before their rise to power. He managed to rally a large block of nobles from throughout Southern England behind him and in 1038, raised their arms in rebellion against the King. To legitimize their revolt they claimed that Edward had passed these laws without the approval of the Witenagemot, and that Shire Reeves had falsified information to remove certain lords to make way for the new monasteries. All that they asked was that these redistributions be repealed and that the rights and landownership of the nobility be respected. None of these claims are verifiably false, and as a result it creates an air of mystery as to whether Godwin himself was justified in his rebellion or not.

Nevertheless Edward still refused to accept the terms of Earl Godwin and declared the men traitors and outlaws to the crown. In turn the Earl and his allies fired back, forming a Witan at Chichester and declaring Edmund Ætheling, the younger brother of King Edward, as the new King. It is unclear as to whether Edmund accepted this title or not, but it is likely that he was uninterested in being King. Most records like the Charter at Chelmsford show how the young prince was reckless and a drunken fool, as he seemingly killed a thegn in an act of drunkenness and gave his personal property to pay the wergild.

As tensions heightened the conflict grew more and more until it spiraled into all out war. Both sides raised their own armies and met in battle at Abingdon in Wessex. The battle lasted around 4 days in total, as neither side could gain an advantage until eventually the center of Godwin’s army crumpled after the long battle. No prisoners were taken, and instead nobles were butchered upon the battlefield instead of being imprisoned. Edmund isn’t heard from after this debacle and it is likely that he was simply put under house arrest or some form of light imprisonment. Godwin himself managed to flee with a clique of other nobles to Normandy, where they were received by the Duke.

It should be mentioned that the Duke of Normandy was also a claimant to the throne of England. After the death of Robert I in 1035 with no legitimate heir, the still living Emma of Normandy installed her son Edouard [1] as Duke with the approval of most Norman nobles. Edouard was also accepted by the French King as Duke, forcing Robert’s bastard and intended heir, William out of the country. He was also noted as being extremely pious, and was later canonized as a Saint, gaining the epithet “The Confessor” as a result. He also continued to claim the throne of England from his father Æthelræd II, though he made no major attempt to press this until the arrival of Earl Godwin.

In 1040, 2 years after his failed attempt at rebellion, Godwin returned to England in order to retake his lands and to “help the true King regain his throne”. While he lacked the men of Sussex backing him he did have around 4,500 Normans fighting with him, and around 5,000 more waiting as reinforcements across the Channel. He met King Edward once again in battle at Hastings, however he was unable to gain victory as the forces of Edward held firm on a hill against the onslaught of Norman cavalry. Eventually his army, not really keen on an English conquest, began to break and scatter, leaving Godwin and his own personal guard vulnerable. Afterwards it was said that Godwin was killed in battle, however it is unclear what the cause was.

It seems that after the failure at Hastings the Duke Edouard gave up hope of any English reconquest, though it is probably more likely that he never much cared for it having lived his life in Normandy. By 1042 he had made peace with his nephew King Edward, renouncing his claim to the English throne and pursuing a friendly relation with the English. King Edward also wished to
befriend the Normans, even inviting multiple Norman scholars and priests over from the Continent to his court. A notable event was the construction of Westminster Abbey, a new church made in the Continental French style with the help of numerous Norman architects. It was also in this period that royal power began to gravitate around London rather than Winchester, as Edward built a Romanesque style palace at Westminster and used it as a main royal residency.

Simple monastery and church construction was not the only thing Edward did throughout his reign, as most notably his court was a hotbed for exiled princes, as many came to London fleeing usurpation and received the help of King Edward. The two major ones were Harthacnut, the son of King Canute of Scandinavia, and Malcolm, the son of King Duncan I of Scotland. Harthacnut was the first to arrive in London and spent over 4 years in England before eventually leaving to take the empty throne of Scandinavia. The most important part of his stay was the Charter of Westminster, which reads,

“I, King Harthacnut have obtained royal rule over all the lands of [Scandinavia] [...], grant unto the King of the English Edward, a permanent peace between our own domains. For now until my death and beyond the lands of England will not be ravaged by [Scandinavian] raiders. [...] But may they who shall diminish or unjustly violate this promise, which God forbid should enter into the minds of the faithful, make part with those of whom, on the other hand, it is pronounced, ‘Depart from me, ye wicked, into everlasting fire,’.”.

While there would be conflict to come between the two nations later down the line, this Charter is a major marker in the turning point between the Scandinavian and English realms, and was formerly used as an erroneous date for the end of the Viking Age.

While Harthacnut would retake his throne without bloodshed, Malcolm’s story is much more different. His father was murdered by the Earl of Moray, Macbeth, who took the throne of Scotland for himself. Malcolm was a child at the time, fleeing to England and entering the court of Edward alongside his brother, Donald. He would spend his childhood within the Kingdom and even grew to be a favorite of Edward’s, marrying the King’s daughter Margaret. By 1057 he would march to Scotland with an English army in order to reclaim his throne, defeating Macbeth and his son Lulach at the battle of Lumphanan and retaking the throne of Scotland. He also accepted Edward’s over-lordship and became his vassal, though this would only last as long as Edward.

Despite the benefits he brought not only to the Kingdom but to the Church as well, he would still manage to ignite their indignity. After the death of the Archbishop of Canterbury,
Eadsige, there was a conflict of interest about who should become the next Archbishop. The cathedral chapter of Canterbury chose one of their own, a man named Æthelric, to be the next Archbishop. Edward on the other hand chose a different priest, one Robert of Jumièges, a Norman and a confidant of the King. While there was much grumbling amongst the churchmen, they did eventually come around to Robert as the new Archbishop. Robert even went to Rome to receive his pallium and once he returned he claimed that while in Normandy, the Duke Edouard told him that the King of England was to be his successor. This is accounted in a later 13th century hagiography, so it is debatable whether it is even true, but whatever the case the King chose to believe him which would set the stage for future conflicts to come.

Robert’s controversy wouldn’t simply end there however, as he continued to meddle in other affairs. He refused to inaugurate a new Bishop of London, claiming that the current candidate was guilty of simony, and he instead persuaded Edward to select another Norman, William, as King. While Edward again accepted this it would not go on for long as in 1052, almost a year after his ascension, Robert was driven out of Canterbury by an army of nobles and his own cathedral chapter. This was mainly due to a dispute over land, as Robert had attempted to take land from nobles in Kent without royal approval, claiming they were unjustly stolen. Edward, likely just tired of all the conflicts caused by Robert, allowed him to be deposed and driven out of England by the men of Kent. He instead selected a new Archbishop, the former Bishop of Winchester Stigand, with the approval of his nobles.

It was also at this same year that Edward’s son and successor Edgar was born, finally securing the position of his dynasty. The next decade was quiet and prosperous as England had relatively little conflicts to worry about and harvests were bountiful. Few writs were issued by the King at this time so it is likely that there was simply a lack of things needed to be done, as the nation was thriving and the nobles accepted him as their Lord and King. This was only a decade however, and the peace would be broken in 1066 by the death of Duke Edouard of Normandy. As he had no children or siblings to succeed him, there was a 3 way civil war as to who would claim the throne. Edward was a close relative and seemed to have liked the proposition of owning continental lands. King Philip I of France claimed it on the basis that, since there were no heirs it defaulted back to the Royal Demesne. Finally there was William the Bastard, son of Robert I and in
Frisia, receiving an army from the Roman Emperor.

Edward was the first to arrive and enforce his claims, landing at Dieppe with 5,000 soldiers and proclaiming himself as Duke of Normandy. Most nobles defaulted to supporting him, as few liked the prospect of losing their autonomy to the King, and very little supported the upstart bastard. Edward was proclaimed as Duke in Rouen, but he was unable to stay long as the armies of King Philip began to enter Normandy. Edward was lucky enough to only face one army at a time though as William was stuck outside of Flanders, being forced to negotiate with the Count for a price of passage through Flanders.

Edward and Philip met in battle at Évreux, with both having armies around 7,000 men strong. The battle between the two lasted long, but it was said that the right flank of Philip’s army was tricked into over-extending by a feigned retreat, being crushed and leaving the rest of Philip’s forces exposed. The King of France retreated soon afterwards, abandoning his claims on Normandy. Edward was able to return to Rouen, but only had a month’s rest as William soon entered the duchy, having paid the Flemish Count an exorbitant sum to pass. They met in battle at Clais, and pitted the whole of their armies against one another. They fought for 2 whole days, with no side making any headway against the other. However by the 3rd day it seemed as if the English army was in a rout, as word reached the Normans that Edward had perished. It is still unclear to historians whether this was an intentional retreat by Edward, or whether the English army truly believed that Edward was dead. Whatever the case, the army of William attempted to push the advantage and chased
down the English in a disorganized assault. It was at that point when Edward revealed that he was indeed alive, and led a counter-charge against the Frisian army. Many of these men were mercenaries, so when caught out of position and near encirclement, many broke and fled the field. William himself attempted to fight to the brave end with his honor guard, but he was captured by English forces.

With that, Edward had solidified his position as the Duke of Normandy, and had truly changed the course of history as a result. Many this would come as a result of this, but they will be seen more evidently down the line.

Despite the conflict between the two Kings, Edward still went to Paris and pledged his fealty to Philip, legitimizing his domains as a result. Edward did manage to avoid paying heavy tribute however, simply due to his firm grip over Normandy and Philip’s weak position. Edward returned to Rouen in late 1066 and spent the winter in Normandy, getting the allegiance of lower nobles and granting them lands. Edward also began a large reshuffling of nobles to break up their power, swapping out English and Norman lords across his domain and giving them lands on opposing sides of the Channel. This helped to further break down the power of the strong nobles and also saw a large mixing of English and Norman cultures.

He spent all of 1067 in Normandy as well, and drew up grand plans for England once he returned. However by the time he returned home in 1068 he had fallen ill with disease and later died in Canterbury a week after landing. His death was a surprising blow, but he still had his son Edgar to succeed him to the mantle as both King of England and Duke of Normandy. He would never live to see how the impact of his actions would shape the continental politics for years to come.

[1]I chose the French spelling to avoid confusion between the two Edwards
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