|Queen of Álengiamark|
|Reign||3rd January, 1341 - 7th July, 1387|
|Born||December? 1317 |
|Died||7th July, 1387 |
St. Hafdiss, Álengiamark
Elin III, was the eldest surviving granddaughter of Thorey II. Her long reign oversaw the Black Death, civil war and booming trade links and ended with the complete collapse of central authority in Álengiamark.
Elin had succeeded to a severely reduced state. Throughout much of Thorey II's reign rights had been given away piecemeal to the lords and cities, along with valuable taxable lands. The directly controlled royal domain, once covering almost a third of Álengiamark had been reduced to a 8th, concentrated mainly around St. Hafdiss and Darstraurineykst allowing a considerable chunk of the state's tax revenues to pass to the earls and lords. This process had been followed by a slow withering of the Althing. If the lords had need to ask the Althing for money then they had no real reason to appear at the Althing at all, and it all but stopped functioning as a government. Laws were still proclaimed there, and law suits heard, but the now autonomous earldoms and cities could ignore them as they saw fit.
At first Elin appeared resigned to this development however soon changed tack. She put an end to the division of the crown's land made sure and called her lords' bluff when they threatened to withhold service. Though this wasn't quite reversing the trend at least it stopped the complete irreverence of the crown. A royal army was fostered too; built from the lords of the royal domains and the militias of towns from which still held a vague allegiance. Although never huge it certainly reduced the crown's reliance on stubborn earls.
A small boon came in 1345 when Portugal completed its first voyage across the Atlantic via the Azores and Verão. This marked the opening of the 'Southern Route' (as opposed the Denmark's 'Northern Route') and partially freed Álengsk merchants from having to compete with Vinland for cargo space on the ships. The route would be haphazard for decades with ships frequently simply never arriving, however the potential profits were good and a small trickle of money entered the treasury too. It also encouraged Álengsk merchants to compete more and by 1380 regular voyages to Mexica were being undertaken. This helped develop Nahigavik and Darstraurineykst as entrepot ports.
A less welcome introduction was the Black Death. Historians are still unsure whether it came to Leifia via the Portuguese route or the Danish route but either way it was cutting a swath through the Álengsk population by the autumn of 1350. The initial outbreak killed an estimated 20% of the population and unfortunately hit the royal domain much more than other areas.
A second outbreak in 1370 led into a more serious breakdown in society. Earl Ingolfur of Langaeyjar died of the plague that year leaving the succession of the single largest earldom in dispute. His illegitimate nephew governed for a shaky year but had 'an insatiable appetite for gold' and exhausted the patience of his own theigns. Peasant revolts, influenced by the Vinlandic one, struck several areas protesting taxation and injustices. Belatedly the lords reconvened the Althing but proceedings quickly descended into violence. The brawling in St. Hafdiss soon turned into rival armies marauding across the country. The summer of 1373 crackled with intense battles and though the small royal army distinguished itself it was in no form to impose peace on the entire country. Therefore when the violence trailed off in the winter, and the lords concentrated more on subduing their own revolts than pursue feuds with each other, Elin was in position to reinstitute the crown's authority. Langaeyjar was eventually quietly handed over Elin's son Egill Sigurdursson who then quickly divided it up to raise funds for himself and his mother.
The clergy took advantage of the spread of the disease and subsequent weakening in tribal affairs by doubling down on their efforts to spread Christianity. The Eriac were finally fully converted in 1369 and the Susquehanock in 1374. Unlike in Vinland where paganism appeared to have a renaissance in Álengiamark Christianity was firmly entrenched and maintained. Missionaries continued to have little luck in converting the various tribes in the north or the Aniyunwiyans in the far west however.
Despite this Elin found herself unable to bring any authority to bear on the increasingly independently minded clergy. Her conflict with the church in many ways mirrored that of Snaedis II of Vinland, especially as they both had to deal with the same venal bishop, Nikulás of Jönköping. A large part of Álengiamark was directly controlled by the church, namely the great abbeys who had turned their donated lands into something resembling autonomous states, much like the sovereign ecclesiastical estates of Germany. Succession to these potentially lucrative lands was of great importance therefore and could enrich a family if played correctly. Of course it took money to ensure the successions and much of the earl's wealth began to flow in Nicolas' pockets to smooth through the elections. Accusations of simony were par for the course and Nicholas simply brushed them off like he did all other his supposed (or real) sins.
During the Emergency of 1373 Nikulás had his own private army, no doubt eager to carve out a directly held territory in the rapidly disintegrating Álengiamark. The royal army engaged it twice during this period managing to hold it off and stop the fall of Nýhófn. After a particularly blatant display of corruption in St. Hafdiss in 1380 he was set upon as his party crossed the Úlfuras and drowned in a sack in the fast flowing waters. It was publicly blamed on bandits but future historians would place the blame squarely on Elin, Snaedis and their advisors.
This may have eventually led to the strengthening of royal control over the church, especially as the new bishop of Vinland, Snaedis II's confessor Vilhjálmur of Rakvélvik, was less inclined to interfere in Álengsk matters. However the military situation was rapidly spinning out of control. The continued unrest in the 'Unami' lands had reduced tax revenues to zero in the west and the outlying lords had slowly seen their authorities shrink. Several fortresses were islands in extremely hostile territory. Finally in 1385 the Great Unami Revolt broke whatever Álengsk power was left. By 1386 the Erie had refounded their kingdom, soon followed by the Onondaga and Onayotekaono (who would unite to form part of the Six Nations.
The Álengsk finally broke the advances of the Erie and Haudenosaunee armies at the Battle of Kristjanabae. It would pay a hefty price however; it is claimed that 75% of the Álengsk army (probably meaning its cavalry) was killed that day along with three of Elin's brothers. She would apparently die of heartbreak the following week. In the interregnum that followed no less than six claimants attempted to seize the throne and the Quiripi lords threatened to cede completely if the rump Althing did not issue an immediate peace with the rebellions. No less than seven separate Álengsk delegations appeared at the Congress of Fjallasay later that year that was meant to divide up Álengiamark into more stable entities. The Álengiamark that emerged from the Congress would be smaller yes, but shorn of its troublesome lands it was less unstable. Its new queen, Asthurdur II had virtually no power at all; central authority had to all intents and purposes ceased to exist and would continue to do so until the reign of Herridr I in the 18th century.