|Queen of Vinland|
|Reign||5th April, 1621 - 1st December, 1647|
|Born||19th June, 1601 |
Fjallasay, Nor-Hafsvaedaland Fylk
|Died||1st December, 1647 |
Isafjordhur, Vinland Fylk
Born in 1601 the only child of Maídis and her second husband, Eythor Hjaltisson, Lord of Málrakkhrepháll, Freydis was brought up in a strict fashion by her father who essentially made it his sole job to ensure she would be become a pious and devoted wife for a Vinlandic, or foreign, noble. On her mother's remarriage in 1605 Freydis was removed from Fjallasay and was sent to live at Málrakkhrepháll with her equally strict uncle Vilhjamur. Málrakkhrepháll was a minor lordship, easily overshadowed by nearby Kastalinnur let alone Karantóborg where her elder half-sister, and heir to the throne, Thorey resided. Freydis certainly appears to have embraced the austere nature of the manor and railed against the opulence of the cities and the royal court. Following a visit to her mother in 1614 she would write, "the lavish meals and plentiful drinks which were ever-present during my blessed visit may have impressed some in the party and filled their bellies but they did not fill the soul"
To the young Freydis the chief problem with Vinland was its religious plurality. Though it had whole-heartedly embraced Lutheranism substantial pockets of Catholic and Pagan worship continued, whilst there was Muslim community in Eikland Fylk and Anabaptists in Hafsvaedaland. Added to this were a large number of Lutheran 'Puritans' whom had emigrated from Europe, chiefly Anglia, Hordaland, Denmark, Luxembourg, Brandenburg and the Rhineland. These groups advocated completely rejecting the Catholic structures which the Lutheran churches had replaced but not totally abandoned but were alienated by a lack of reform in their home countries. Whilst not a 'virgin territory' the groups were enticed to Vinland by its relative emptiness and readily took advantage of the religious freedoms given by Snaedis III and Maídis to establish their own communities and towns free from interference from nobles. Armed with often considerable wealth and mercantile contacts, they had bought up land during the sales of Maídis and quickly became a formidable political force.
Freydis sympathised completely with the Puritans and their austere take on Lutheranism, wishing to do away with numerous practices she considered almost Papist and enforcing a stricter take on Lutheran rituals. With no power of her own and physically isolated in rural Málrakkhrepháll she took to producing a copious amount of correspondence, to virtually every person of interest in Vinland and especially her half-sister Thorey. The letters beseeched their readers to abandon the residual papist practices blighting Vinland and even to wage religious war against heresy wherever it might occur. Thorey V and the large Puritan faction in the Althing were certainly beginning to make moves toward making Vinland more religiously unified; bringing in a witchcraft law which aimed to target lingering pagan rituals and banning alternative versions of the Bible to crack down on sects, but her reign was cut short by illness.
When Thorey V died in 1621 the Althing immediately ratified Freydis's succession. The nobles did not exactly rush to the side of the new queen. Most only knew her from the torrent of hectoring correspondence which flowed from the manor house and were perhaps worried her fixation on religion would get in the way of their business. Many did not particularly care what religion* their serfs practised in private as long as the harvests were brought in on time. She was however popular in the Puritan-leaning and merchant-dominated Althing.
*Historians generally agree that the peasantry mostly observed Lutheranism in the eastern Maritime fylkír (aside from the small Earldom of Pyronaber which was majority Catholic), the western Hafsvaedaland; was Lutheran too but had large minorities of various Protestant sects and native Leifian practices. Lutherans were probably in the minority in Saukland at the beginning of Freydis's reign but had a healthy majority by the end of it. The whole religious picture was completed by a overlay of Odinist and native Leifian folklore whose various festivals competed with the Christian calendar.
Eager to begin the clean sweep she had always dreamt of and lectured about she was counselled, by the frugal and popular Speaker Daniel Tómasson, instead not to sweep all the appointments of her mother and half-sister away immediately. This meant there was a considerable continuation in most offices of state. Freydis disliked this but as it turned out it would be crucial in ensuring Vinland would survive the pressures of the First Mexic-Leifian War.
In April 1622 a large conference of Leifian nations was held at the Inokian city of Cahokia. The aim was generally to settle the annexation of Illini lands by Inokia but that would be overshadowed by the arrival of Mexic delegation. The Vinlandic delegation reported back to the Althing that the Mexic had shown up with their usual 'bluff and bluster' and declared war against the entire assembled power of Leifia.
Vinland had long sent a yearly mercenary force, small but well armed and provisioned compared to some of its neighbours to help defend the smaller states to the west of the Mississippi from Mexic raids. Although discussed, the idea of pursuing a puniative war back into Mexica itself seemed quite beyond the power of eastern Leifia, especially as mercenary activities were quite lucrative for the nations which participated, and a war of that scale would require a level of agreement between the states which simply did not exist.
Assuming this war would just be another raid, preparations for the usual mercenaries were made although these were swept unceremoniously aside by the vast Mexic army which lumbered out of the south in June 1622. Rigsmarsk Mattías Baldursson, disliked by Freydis on account of his rumoured relationship with Thorey V but, crucially, trusted by the now worried Althing, arranged the full mobilisation of Vinland and gathered 4,000 men by the end of summer. The navy, bolstered by new ships, proved victorious against its Mexic counterpart in the Gulf.
In 1623 Baldursson took the bulk of the assembled army and routed the main Mexic army at Kahoka on 18th July but the sheer loss of men during the battle destroyed the core of the Vinlandic army. Vinland could not hope to make up the losses from its meagre population without risking famine in later years and hence needed a firm alliance to continue operations. Freydis went on charm offensive to try and build a consensus across eastern Leifia and the other Lutheran nations more or less fell into line. Álengiamark and Aniyunwiya (plus their catholic allies) their powerful armies intact, refused and arranged their own joint-operations. With this Vinland lost its claim to Leifian pre-eminence and for the rest of the war could only continue in the field as part of a coalition.
Away from the battlefield Vinland found itself severely disrupted. The diversion of so much manpower left food rotting in the fields and by 1628 a famine had gripped the country. The numbers of injured men returning was also a heavy burden and the Althing insisted every parish church setup a local almshouse to employ and care for the 'unfortunate'. This Starfhús system would only finally be abolished in 1987.
At home, Freydis slowly turned the screws in getting her way. Tómasson died in early 1624 allowing her to manoeuvre a Puritan, Ísak Mathíasson, into the Speaker's chair. This manifested almost immediately in sweeping powers increasing the authority of the crown in religious matters, which Freydis immediately used to strengthen the witchcraft laws. Under the previous law a dedicated itinerate witchcraft court was established but this still had to react to events locally, being called into action only after a local court asked for their intervention and in the end being subject to local judges' rulings. Freydis allowed the court to act under its own juristiction, searching for and trying cases under its own power. The inevitable result, and perhaps acerbated by the fact many able-bodied men were absent either fighting or dead; meaning land and property being in the temporary hands of women, was an upsurge in accusations, executions and redistribution of land.
Freydis not just take an interest in 'devilry' but targeted pagan practises too, particularly the holdovers from Odinist times. For instance the observance of the Vetúrblot, was expressly forbidden by royal decree, though less fervent Vinlanders merely changed the date of it (see Júl). The Muslim community on Eikland had its town rights stripped and its tiny mosque destroyed. Native Leifian practices were often targeted in the same manner as witchcraft, indeed there was considerable overlap, such as the in the case of Jónína Ragnarsdottír. However the witchfinders had their limits; they knew better than to stray into the Saukland where the Althing's power was tenuous and here the mix of religious practises would remain intact for much longer.
Anything that resembled Catholicism in Vinlandic church practice was excised with many precious artworks destroyed. Many other pieces of art were consciously hidden and some communities tactically smashed their own churches to stop the royal-sanctioned roving bands of puritans destroying much more. The great monastery of St Peter & St Michael was finally closed after its protector, the Earl of Pyronaber publicly converted to Lutheranism (following veiled threats) and its modest wealth appropriated to pay for the war effort.
The war itself ground to a halt in 1632. Stretched to their limits, the armies of eastern Leifia could not break into Mexica itself and so a cease-fire was called as they cooled their heels at the Mets'ichi Chena River. This lack of decisive victory meant there was little the diplomats could do in terms of imposing demands and when the Vinlandic delgation returned to Isafjordhur, essentially empty-handed, Freydis and her close advisors were aghast. The Althing was more concerned with working to end the famine conditions and shore up the failing treasury and was just glad the war was now wrapped up.
This failure in the royal court's eyes gave Freydis a fresh zeal to tackle the 'crypto-Catholics' and 'enemies of the crown' which she was convinced were to blame for the country's ills. Amongst many casualties to her sword; Baldursson was stripped of his Rigsmarsk title and continued arguments with the crown and Althing would lead him to sell his earldom and seek employment in Europe. The Bishop of Karantóborg, Björn Halldórsson, was hounded out of office for accusations of simony with him and several of his supporters imprisoned and executed in the 1630s. Kári Kristófersson, the eminent Maidís-appointed diplomat to Iberia dared to suggest Vinland might be best served by a marriage between Princess Elisábet and a Portuguese noble, which would soften relations and improve its trading position, and promptly found himself accused of treason and he narrowly escaped with his head still attached by fleeing to Iceland.
Meanwhile Freydis was constantly pressing for a 'Holy War' preferably against Catholicism and her badgering of the Althing for funds slowly turned the chamber, dominated as it was by a frugal merchant class, from a pliable ally into a resistant bloc. What little foreign policy Vinland pursued during her reign were usually driven by interested parties not the the Althing or the crown. A small Vinlandic contingent did indeed fight in Europe during the Fifty Years War but this was under the command of Baldursson and was paid for by Kalmar. The Vinlandic Southern Company forced Aismark to fly a recognised flag to distinguish its vessels from those of pirates, beginning many decades of future Vinlandic interference in the samll country. In the Far East merchants reached Japan but the isolation of the country was already beginning and no markets were found. Instead permission was sought from China to erect a trade factory in the Pearl River delta. This venture would begin to come into fruition in later reigns.
Vinland would also, eventually, react to events in the far south; a small fort called Mikillsléttborg was founded in what is now Charrasuyu on the south-eastern coast of Tawantinland in 1638. Adventurers from the Vinlandic Southern Company returned to Isafjordhur to petition Freydis for an earldom to be granted and for settlers and ministers to join the 'godly and pure' venture, but in the administrators' absence the locals rose up and destroyed the settlement. The Althing granted funds to raise a modest militia which, working with the Tawantinsuyu, pacified the region. As compensation the Vinlanders were given exclusive trading rights in the area and land for a refounded settlment at Ílmursbýl.
By the mid-1640s the building resentment between crown and Althing was reaching a head. Freydis was fully aware of the growth of absolute kingship in Europe (ironically mostly in Catholic countries), and was leaning, probably quite deliberately, toward an absolutist-style of government. The Althing continued to refuse her requests for money to pursue a war, and the assembly of 1644 presented a chamber in which the puritans and royalists were a minority. They promptly called for the return of religious tolerance and tried two witchfinders for gross corruption which essentially ended the itinerant witch trials. Freydis in turn was considering refusing to acknowledge the Althing's right to govern or even to meet without her express will. This was another challenge to the established dicotomy of Vinland's system of government; essentially a republic with a quasi-elected monarchy bolted on. Freydis and her allies attempted to pad the 1645 chamber out with royalists, but a return of plague and famine that year, plus the dispute over who should succeed Ísak Mathíasson as speaker, drowned out all other business. Freydis would fall ill in the autumn with bronchitis and spent the rest of her reign 'in chambers'. Freydis's ineffectual husband Pjetur Kristinnsson and their eldest daughter Greta largely took over the business of government, to middling effect.
Freydis had married Pjetur Kristinnsson, eldest son of the Margrave of Fyrir-Mishigamíland, in 1615, raising the estate to an earldom in the process. Maídis had arranged the marriage in part to shore up royal control over Vinland's western fringes and the fur trade which had an important focal point at Eikviksborg. Kristinnsson was described, disparagingly, as a non-entity; supportive of, but completely overshadowed by his head-strong wife. He proved a good local administrator however, turning his wild and under-populated earldom into a well-run estate filled with model puritan communities and overseeing the construction of a portage canal avoiding the rapids between Gichigamí and Mishigamí Vatnum. The royal couple would have ten children, all of whom survived into adulthood. Freydis seems to have had a strained relationship with most of her children.
Freydis would die in 1647. She was succeeded as queen by her daughter Greta who would thaw the realtionship between the crown and Althing.