|Queen of Vinland|
|Reign||14th November 1231 - 6th May 1252|
|Born||1st September 1207 |
Áinsjánta, Kongunglegursaey, Vinland
|Died||6th May 1252 |
|Freydis II Hrafnsdottír|
Freydis II succeeded to the Vinlandic throne on the death of her mother Jakobina I. Her reign would be instrumental in turning the previous century's somewhat chaotic government into a living breathing institution, though this was done more despite her rather than as a result of any conscious moves on her part.
The reign of her grandmother Iofridr had served to concentrate governmental power in the hands of the queen and her close advisors. This was fine if there was a personality as strong minded as Iofridr, or Kristjana I, but when a weak or indifferent queen came along as Thorey II was then the provinces and their earls soon took the opportunity to flex their muscles. Kristjana I's reign restored the Althing to its former position at the centre of Vinlandic government, crushing the earl's independent minded ways but as she did so she overbalanced the rights of the lower classes. The destruction of the earl's private castles took away much of the supervision of the farming communities, meaning while in Álengiamark and Europe most farmers had been already organised into villages closely monitored, recruited and taxed by the local lords, in Vinland no such mechanisms existed. Towns and trade could be taxed to a degree but for the most part the populace, scattered along a vast array of coastlines, were to all intents and purposes free. The Althing had been left relatively wealthy after the confiscation of much of the earl's wealth and by the capture of Fjallasay but the upkeep of Iofridr's bloated navy and a haphazardly organised army soon began to sap the funds. Famine, which had taken hold further south in 1231 soon blighted Vinland and constricted what little tax the Althing had been receiving.
At first the Althing did not appear to recognise any problem. Freydis was less intimately involved in the day-to-day workings of the Althing than her grandmother and allowed an elected speaker to carry much of the weight of government, only being sought out for advice on issues that concerned the earls. In fact much of her interest lay not in government at all but in hunting. Nicknamed 'Fálkandy' or Hawker, and the earls, eager for her family's patronage, would compete to put on the best hunting parties for her. The one piece of good legislation was to create, mint and regulate Vinland's own currency. Previously traders and farmers had simply used Scandinavian currencies (or even Passamaquoddy ones as they had already begun minting silver and copper coins at the end of 12th century), occasionally restamped with the head of the ruling queen but small amounts of gold found on Eikland at Hljothskild and silver on Vinland at Lítithskemmtilegaflóy soon gave the Althing enough to distribute and make a small income off. By restricting minting to Isafjordhur, even though a few more sites may have been better, the Althing kept a monopoly on the currency, sidelining the earls into merely skimming money off the few farmers they held in vassalage.
In 1234 Church elders began to report a worrying trend; the brightest minds tended to gravitate towards the wealthy monasteries meaning the vast number of tiny churches littering the sparsely inhabited coasts were often abandoned, functioning more as marketplaces than those of worship, or worse: sharing space with pagan gods. This process seemed most advanced in Markland and Ingolfursey though chroniclers would have us believe it was a country-wide epidemic. This revelation appears to have affected Freydis greatly. She eschewed hunting, or at least lost her zeal for it and instead spent most of her time in prayer. Marathon sessions in the royal chapel confessing the sins of the entire country to her confessor, could not shake her feeling that she herself was somehow responsible the terrible lapse in piety as well as the hardships inflicted on the country by the famine. She divested herself of much of the finery of power and lived a frugal life. Her servants reportedly ate better meals than she did.
The Althing had little time for indulgences such as guilt. The spread of famine increased the reports of thievery and abuses of power and so it re-established the itinerant courts that had lapsed during Kristjana I's reign. At the same time it pushed through a reorganisation of the Althing itself, extending the number of counties sending representatives as well as redividing Eikland. This gave the assembly fresh impetus and was well timed. By 1238 the lands to the south were being devoured by Edoha and his rapidly expanding Aniyunwiyan Empire. Álengiamark fell in the Autumn and Aniyunwiyan warships (or rather Erie pirates sponsored by them) appeared on the Fraeburt Votnum threatening Vinland's trading links. Whilst Freydis prayed for the souls of the Álengsk, and of her cousin Adalbjorg I being held hostage by the conquerors, the Althing set about building an more concrete answer. The thick forests and resurgent tribes of Wampanoag, Abernaki and Kanien'gehaga prevented the Aniyunwiyan host from venturing further north much as they had frustrated the Álengsk so for now Vinland was safe. The pirates were defeated on Ontario Vatnin in 1240 leaving the Vinlanders in control of the lakes and they fostered a rebellion in Erie to keep the Aniyunwiyans busy and to probe for weakness.
Then, in order to create a force able to take the Aniyunwiyans on, the Althing attempted to raise taxes. They were faced with a severe revolt in Eikland, Gudridsaeyjar and Ingolfursey. Abandoning plans to retake any Álengsk territory it could it put its energies into dampening the revolts. On this point Freydis was actually useful. Her good relations with her family, though a little strained over the previous few years, helped patch up any bad blood between the earls and the Althing. She restated the rights of the farmers. And anyway, after witnesses reported the vast Aniyunwiyan cavalry army destroy the Erie revolt enthusiasm for a military venture against them fell away. A delegation was sent instead foregoing Vinland's claims to Álengsk territory in return for Adalbjorg I. A host of priests sent to convert the Aniyunwiya were sent home with their tail between their legs however.
Blocked from either expanding southwards or raising more money from taxes the Althing began to look to the Fraeburt Votnum for expansion, both in trade and land, co-opting the earls to assist. This suited the earls fine; they were always looking for opportunities to bolster their wealth and blessed/cursed with a surplus of heirs. Many had already begun to hire Icelandic mercenaries for raiding parties and were happy for the chance to grab land and the first wave of invasions of the Hafsvaedaland began. All land captured was to be split three ways, a portion for the earls, a portion for the Althing and a portion for the church. The crown, thanks to Freydis's piety and deference to the church, did not get a look-in initially.
Freydis married Pjetur Jorundursson in 1223. They would have one son, Pjetur Pjetursson, who would die in 1281 after a long, bloody and glorious career fighting with the Icelandic Company in Europe. During her own lifetime she nominated her cousin Thorey as her successor, a move which the Althing readily accepted.