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Duchy of Greenland
Grønland (Greenlandic)

Kalaallit Nunaat (Thule)

10th Century – Present
MDM Greenland Map Larger.png
Map of the Duchy of Greenland in the year 1500
Capital Not specified
Languages Greenlandic, Thule (Kalaallisut, Tunumiit oraasiat), Icelandic, Vinlandic (-1400s), Beothukan (-1400s)

Common:
Norwegian, Danish, Swedish, English, Gaelic

Religion Roman Catholicism, Inuit religion, Celtic Church, Lollardism
Government Confederal commonwealth monarchy
Legislature Inatsisartut
Historical era Middle Ages
Early modern period
 -  Settlement by Erik the Red 10th Century
 - 1326-1341 Union with Vinland
 - 1342 Conquest by Iceland
 -  Disestablished N/A
Population
 -  1340 est. 9,500 
Currency Icelandic króna

The Duchy of Greenland (Greenlandic: Grønland; Thule: Kalaallit Nunaat) is a nation on the world’s largest island of the same name, located between the Arctic and Atlantic oceans, east of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. It is an autonomous territory within the Kingdom of Iceland], a member state of the Celtic Confederacy. Though physiographically a part of the continent of North America, Greenland has been politically and culturally associated with Europe, specifically Iceland, Scandinavia, and the British Isles. The majority of its residents are Inuit, whose ancestors migrated from Alaska through Northern Canada, gradually settling across the island by the 13th century.

Greenland was first settled by Europeans around the end of the 10th century. Much of its history during the 1300s is shrouded in mystery and legend, with it hard to discern the historical events prior to a major collapse in the middle of the century, brought on by disease, famine, and warfare, which almost caused the nation to be abandoned.

History

Independent Jarldom

In 1299 Jarl Eric ordered a “secret meeting” for all inhabitants to be held in the village of Bratthild to discuss the future of the jarldom. In the meeting it was decided that if Norway is attacked by an foreign power, Greenland would declare independence. A committee was also formed to help “adapt to the weather”.

In the 1300s a “longhouse” was constructed in the capital to serve as a community gathering place and a town hall. Greenland also took a greater interest in creating ports and ships. A road between two primary settlements was also built on the eastern coast.

On 12 May 1304 independence was declared from Norway and the current Jarl under the Norwegian vassalage was elected Jarl of Greenland. A new town hall was created in the capital, and a “royal army and navy” was declared. In 1306 the new capital was completed, and the town’s history of holding town meetings evolved into an official parliament, called the Inatsisartut. The parliament was established to have one member for each 100 people, and at the time of creation had 25 seats. The Jarl retained the capacity to dissolve parliament without their concern, but he pledged to listen to the parliament’s advice.

In 1307 the King of Sweden had his brother Valdemar and fifteen others exiled to Greenland. Valdemar was accepted but told he would have to work for a living. Goats and cattle also became plentiful around this time. On 12 December the Jarl became sick and he would die on 29 December, being succeeded by his younger brother Anders. He would be formally crowned on 1 January of the following year, in an event supposedly attended by 1,700 people.

In 1309 Princess Brunhilda gave birth to a daughter but refused to reveal who the father was initially. After pressure from the Jarl, the Swedish prince Valdemar admitted he fathered the child.

In the early 1310s the Jarl began a policy of giving out fur to settlers, and also promoted the settling of the Nuup Kangerlua. By 1312 approximately fifty people lived in the vicinity of modern day Nuuk.

On 1 September 1312 Prince Valdemar of Sweden stormed the home of Jarl Anders with fifteen others, and proclaimed himself Jarl of Greenland in a coup, after the guards of the Jarl were allegedly busy on a training exercise. According to legend, Valdemar’s rule was short-lived, as the guards eventually returned and launched a second coup. With both jarls deposed or dead, the Anders’ sister Brunhilde became the new Jarl, and she ordered Valdemar executed by being buried alive in the Greenlander wasteland. In 1314 the Jarl considered moving the capital, and undertook a census that counted 2,785 Norse settlers. Also around this time, the history of Jarl Brunhilde claims there were horses used in Greenland, and that she built a “stable in every town”.

In 1318 Jarl Brunhilde contacted the Kingdom of Sweden and proposed that her daughter be made ruler of Sweden. Also that year the Jarl gave birth to twins: Ingegjerd and Anders.

By the late 1310s the Thule People had begun to settle in the vicinity of the Norse, and initiated contact for the first time. In 1319 the Jarl proclaimed that no Greenlander should attack the Thule unless attacked first, beginning a policy of cooperation. A “royal cavalry” force was also created, consisting of 25 cavalrymen to serve as mounted police. In 1320 Jarl Brunhilde died after falling off a horse, and her apparent oldest child, Alexandra, became known as Jarl Brunhilde II, likely because her son was not old enough to inherit. Brunhilde II would supposedly spend her early reign in search of precious metals, after a long coronation ceremony revealed she did not possess any crown jewels.

During the reign of Brunhilde II an effort was made to understand and learn the Thule language. A tower was also built in the capital overlooking the ocean, commemorating 3,000 citizens.

In 1323 a mystical woman appeared claiming to be the half-sister of the jarl, and she began spreading rumours to divide the population. Apparently this worked, as on 28 March the Jarl’s half sister Ingeborg launched a coup and seized control over the eastern and the southern settlements, while Jarl Brunhilde II managed to keep control of the northern settlement as well as the capital. Brunhilde II launched a military campaign to retake the rest of Greenland, apparently marching on foot and losing 25 men in the process of the journey. A battle occured on 21 April, in which Brunhilde II managed to march into Ingeborg’s capital. Brunhilde would be killed by an arrow, but not before decapitating Ingeborg.

Brunhilde’s house was declared extinct, her half-brother Anders having apparently died prior to this, and a general also named Anders became regent. Anders would aid in the rebuilding of damaged towns, even gaining the aid of indigenous peoples. On 23 November Anton af Nuuk was elected the next Jarl from among the populace, and he was crowned on 31 December.

In 1324 a funeral was held in the capital of Greenland to formally lay to rest those of the civil war, including the Jarl, who was recorded to be the last Jarl of Eric the Red’s dynasty. A mausoleum would be built in the city and a “newspaper” would record the event. According to legend 1,000 indigenous people attended the event.

In 1325 a coronation for Jarl Anders III was held, with Jarl Anton having seemingly disappeared from the historical record. Jarl Anders would claim to have integrated 1,000 natives into Greenlander society, and would famously write a book called the Chronicles of Jarl Brunhilde II. Copies of this book supposedly reached as far as Scandinavia. Also that year, Anders would send an expedition to the abandoned Norwegian colony of Winland (OTL Newfoundland), where he sought to found a town called Brunhildetown.

Vinland Union

The following year Jarl Anders succeeded in making contact with settlers of the west, and on 21 September a union was created, called the United Jarldoms of Greenland and Vinland. Jarl Anders considered Vinland to be a “home of the natives” and an equal partner in union. He also sought to elevate the native languages of the region to the same status as the Greenlander language, and declared 29 September as Unification Day.

In 1327 English historian Richard of Wallingford related the story of the Greenlandic Civil War for the first time in print. Jarl Bruhnilda II became regarded in his work as a kind of epic hero and an example of piety for the Christian world.

After hearing of this tale, Ólafur of Iceland attempted to establish relations with Greenland, and commissioned a portrait of Brunhilde II to hang in the “Great Church”. It was allegedly the third biggest portrait of its kind, only surpassed by a portrait of Archbishop Ari and another of St. Thorlak. But then later that year Ólafur decided to invade Greenland instead, sending an army of 2,500 soldiers to the region. The invasion went unnoticed for over a year, with Jarl Anders being preoccupied with matters in Vinland, where he was finally crowned as Anders I in late 1327. He would also be busy creating a new flag.

The Icelander invasion would eventually be defeated by 1328, and Ólafur Sturlungur died of pneumonia. After securing victory Anders offered a white peace to the Icelanders, after prisoners of war were exchanged. He also raised the army to include 300 mounted soldiers, and expanded the seats in parliament to 40 seats in total. Fortifications would be built in the capital to deter future attacks. The following year, with peace having been established, the new Jarl of Iceland, Arnar, sent an apology and a large donation of money to Greenland to “build a public school”. The area around Brunhildetown, also known as “Brunhildeville”, would come to be called Nyfundaland.

In 1330 Jarl Anders supposedly got into a fight with native Beothuk inhabitants in Vinland, and when he did not return, his son Sven became acting regent. The Jarl would be rescued by Sven, with a battle taking place that cemented Anders as a “legendary Jarl”. According to legend, his bravery was so great that the Beothuk decided to surrender to the Jarldom and join it instead. The parliament of Greenland deemed the Beothuk a “protectorate state” until it was brought up to “Greenlander standards”. The Greenlanders would also elect to go on a quest to buy a cannon after hearing a rumor of such a device, and congratulated Iceland for abolishing their republic.

In 1333 the King of Iceland invited the Jarl of Greenland to attend a play in Iceland, but he would not attend. The following year Anders III died in his sleep, and was buried in a church in the capital. His son Ragnar I would succeed him. Early in his reign Ragnar I would apparently create a university in the capital, which was so egalitarian as to allow both male and female students. He also envisioned creating a coastal fortress near the capital. In 1336 the Jarl would depart Greenland for the first time and travel to Iceland, where he proposed an alliance. He would also dispatch his son to Milan to learn about the cannon. When his son returned the following year, Ragnar ordered a “Vinlandic” sword be commissioned for him, which the Jarl pays for with “some jewels”.

In 1338 the Icelanders sent a detachment of 200 people under the command of Páll Snorrason, and they traveled from Greenland to the Vinlander colonies to create a settlement south of them. Also that year, Greenland would debate to expand their own colony, but the Jarl vetoed this. The Jarl would also raise the military to be 350 people strong.

The following year the “Expansion Bill” was created by the parliament and signed into law by Ragnar I, which was to expand their colony in Vinland. Ragnar declared war on “the nearest native nation” and sent 490 soldiers, supposedly all mounted on horses, to Vinland to conquer the region. The Jarl promised that any native who surrendered would be made a Vinlander citizen. He would later raise the number of seats in the parliament by one to account for this gain.

In 1340 a famine caused by falling temperatures caused many tens of thousands of people in Iceland to die of starvation. In Greenland and Vinland, the temperatures did not cause as significant a problem of starvation, however, due to the integration of Inuit people groups into the nation, thousands of citizens in Greenland and Vinland abandoned city life and embraced the lifestyle of surrounding natives, become nomadic hunter-gatherers. The Jarl responded by issuing a royal decree saying that all hunter gathers must report to the nearest “recivilizing center” to become civilized once more. Native identities in Vinland began to be erased, through the promotion of new names for citizens. These policies would backfire, leading to protests and pillaging from the native population. The Jarl ordered that all dissenters be murdered. Then he decided to commit suicide, and his son became Ragnar II.

Then in late 1341 a group of natives stormed Ragnar II’s home and slaughtered the entire royal family, except for a daughter named Anna-Brunhilde. She would flee with the treasury and a group of people supposedly numbering 3,000, and they fled Greenland en masse for Vinland. A town called “New Nuuk” was founded, and upon arrival she ordered immediate attacks on the Beothuk, while simultaneously raising 100 Beothuk cavalrymen by promising them parliamentary seats.

Conquest by Iceland

A ship was sent back to Greenland to retrieve the body of Jarl Brunhilda II from her mausoleum. They discovered that the remaining population of about 2,000 people had formed a commonwealth government in Bratthild, and had reverted largely to their Nordic traditions. Contact between Greenland and Vinland was cut off.

In 1342 a group of 2,000 Icelanders under the command of Róbert Sigurðsson and Páll Snorrason invaded Greenland. Because of worsening conditions there, many Greenlanders allowed the Icelanders passage unmolested. Meanwhile in Vinland, a Vinlander parliament was established with three seats for native people and three seats for those from Greenland. The Vinlanders offered to integrate all of the Beothuk into the nation, to which they almost unanimously declined.

The Icelander invasion succeeded and Ólaf II became Duke of Greenland. He would construct a new church in Greenland, transferring the famed portrait of Brunhilde there. In 1345 a group of 500 settlers would be sent from Iceland to Greenland, founding the town of Róbertstorg, and building a church and school. A “Bishopric of Greenland” was established with Seosamh Mac Diarmada as its Bishop. He would create the “Helpers of the Helpless” as a charity for people in Greenland. In 1346 Ólaf decided to build a palace and a headquarters for the church’s charity organization in Róbertstorg after a crowd “chanted for him” there. He would also create an advisory council made up of seven Greenlanders, and would add six seats to the Althingi for the Greenlanders. Despite contact with Greenland and Vinland, records claim 150 people fled Greenland for Vinland by boat around this time.

In 1347 a “longhouse” was built in Róbertstorg, and the King banned having more than two children among the kingdom. He also split Greenland into three counties: Róbertstorg, Nuuk, and Bratthild, with the latter two being held by natives. According to legend around this time, the Jarl of Vinland tried to sail back to Greenland and her ship mysteriously sunk, but she was found miraculously back on the coast of Vinland. Her daughter, Alva I, would vow to retake Greenland.

A continuing drop in temperature would strain Iceland’s ability to hold onto Greenland. The Nordic population began to dwindle, and they began to suffer increased attacks from natives further inland. In desperation, in 1350 the King of Iceland sent the “entire military” to “kill every single Inuit”. The Duchy of Greenland was also formally separated from the King’s direct control, being given to Arnar Róbertsson, son of Róbert Arnarsson. A scheme would also be proposed to the Pope in which the Cardinals of the Catholic Church were to be isolated in a small village on Greenland to prevent them from catching the plague, in what became nicknamed the “Little Vatican” plan. Ólaf II would call himself Olaf “the Great” after “only 4,000 extra people” died in 1351 of the plague.

He would also attempt to compromise with the natives by offering them the creation of a “County of Thule” and four additional seats in parliament in Greenland and three in national parliament, but they refused on the grounds that they wanted to be equal to the Norse, not separate. The following year he tried again by renaming Iceland to the “United Kingdom”, offering the Thule a position as an equal partner in the union, creating a new duchy and county, offering a five-person gubernatorial council, four seats in Greenland’s advisory council, and seven in the National Parliament. The Thule people would also given a building for education. This led some natives to accept, but others rejected preferring to stay to their nomadic way of life.

In 1354 Greenland appears to have had a Cardinal, and he famously translated “Ari’s Visions” to Gaelic. Later he wrote a fictional story that is credited with beginning the birth of Iceland’s literary tradition.

In 1357 the Duke of Greenland and nine Thule men personally ventured on an expedition to explore northern Greenland. They would be attacked by polar bears, killing three of them. In 1359 the new constitution of Iceland created a minister of Thule and A Minister of Greenland.

However, over the course of the next decade Greenland would continue to experience de-population, with Nuuk being abandoned and most of the population of that region becoming nomadic. In 1368 the Kingdom of Scotland decided to enact a policy of forcing a certain quota of people to move to Greenland, hoping to prop up the ivory industry there. Iceland would also ask Scotland and Sweden to send 750 people to Greenland each, where they formed trade posts called Skotaland and Hákonsbær respectively. Beginning in the 1370s, Scotland would deport at least fifty people to Greenland per year.

In 1369 the Cardinal of Greenland built the “Church of the Sick” to remember the people that died from the plague and famine. The Cardinal of Greenland also wrote “Home Prayers and Biblical Stories”. The leader of the Helpers of the Helpless was given Jan Mayen as an honorary county, although that place would not be formally discovered until the following year. The Cardinal of Greenland would later receive the title of “The Great Commoner” since he helped people to learn about their religion, not only in Iceland but also across the entire Catholic World, and a county was created and named “Diarmadaland” in his honor, with the Cardinal's nephew being named the first Count of Diarmada.

In 1371 a single ship was built in Iceland that was tasked with patrolling the seas being Iceland and Greenland. Five people were added to the "police force", and the Duke was Greenland was named the "Chief of Police" across Iceland and Greenland. In 1373 Greenlander forces participated in the Owain War in the British Isles, and an expedition from Greenland to the west discovered a new landmass, called Arnarsland (Baffin Island). The Duke of Greenland would supposedly take part in the expedition personally, and would travel with 150 men to settle Arnarsey (Resolution Island), of which eighteen men survived. In 1378 Iceland suddenly expelled 4,500 people to Greenland and 500 people to Jan Mayen, and from that point Scotland doubled its yearly quota of expelled people to 100. By 1405 the colony in Arnarsland would collapse and any survivors fled back to Greenland, although the title of "Earl of Arnarsland" remained.

In 1379 the Duke of Greenland would lead an army of 1,500 Icelanders in a war in Ireland. In 1381 he would lead 2,000 militia and 15 longboats into battle in Scotland. Likewise in that year the Duke's third son married the Princess of Iceland, and a young explorer named Friðjófur Nanson attempted to sail westward but perished in the attempt.

By the mid 1380s the drop in temperatures globally began to effect Greenland to a greater degree, causing the beginnings of agricultural collapse, as food cannot be grown in the region in any meaningful amounts due to the growing season being shortened. This by extension caused emigration to Iceland or back to Europe proper as it became clear maintaining a life on the landmass was becoming ever more untenable. Northern Europe would respond by designing a ship that could get through the increasing ice floes of Greenland and maintain a connection with them. A ship known as the Oighear (Ice in Gaelic) ship, with a seventeen metre keel, single square sail, clinker construction, flat hull, largely square rudder, an additional belt of planking at the water line, a false keel, space for two iceboats, and a sloping and spoon shaped reinforced bow. Its flat hull was designed so that in the event of being sandwiched between ice it would be forced up onto the ice, and it's sloping and spoon shaped hull was to allow it to crack ice it were to land upon. Horticultural glass for the construction of greenhouses, ice boats, sleds, fishing equipment including ice fishing equipment, winter clothing (made of wool and leather), fishing boats and ice shanties (portable wooden huts which can be pulled by men and or dogs) would also be imported to Greenland.

Using horticultural glass provided by the Irish and Scottish, glass houses would be constructed in the eastern settlement of Greenland to grow carrots, broccoli, and beetroot, while a barrier of infant trees was placed around the settlement to grow in size and shield the settlements from winds. The settlements would begin to incorporate earth insulated barns and greater housing for animals and people. The amount of cattle was increased, while clover was introduced as a crop to be used as winter fodder for the cattle. The change to increase fish and meat as well as eat foods which grow better in cold conditions helped to preserve the population.

In 1407 a ship carrying supplies to the Icelandic settlements in Greenland led by a merchant named Torgrim, his wife Steinunn, and another man named Kolgrinn. After the voyage was over, Steinunn left her husband and to live with Kolgrinn instead, who she fell in love with. Torgrim became furious and had Kolgrinn brought before the All-Thing, accusing him of sorcery. This case would lead to a decree that since Capital Punishments was illegal in Iceland, Kolgrinn was to be exiled, but a group of Greenlanders including the Duke and Earl sneaked up on Kolgrinn and stabbed him in the spine, immobilizing him, and then rolling him onto a boat and pushing him into the ocean.

In 1408 Henry Sinclair, Earl of Orkney started a journey traveling to Iceland, then Greenland, and became intrigued by the rumors of vast unexplored swathes of land near Greenland. He discovered there were hunting outposts based of a few islands, and headed there to investigate this unique phenomenon. His journey from Scotland to Iceland and then to Greenland took him a full year, overwintering in Greenland and waiting for the spring before setting sail for these mysterious hunting outposts. He was dedicated to recording every detail of his journey in his oceanic chart archive to present to the King for navigation and map charting purposes.

However, after a brief encounter with some hunters and trappers in these outposts as well as a bunch of indigenous people, he falls ill and has to sail back to Greenland to be treated, vowing to undergo the same journey once again to explore more parts of this unknown land next time.

In 1409 Eiríkur, the son of the Icelandic King, was sent to the colonial towns in Greenland to marry the Earl's daughter.

Demographics

Population

The population of Greenland consists of numerous groups, owing to the land’s history as a destination for countless peoples. According to historical records found in Greenland throughout its history, the region had approximately 3,000 Norse settlers in the early 1300s, and eventually rose to an estimated 9,500 inhabitants by 1340. The middle of the 14th century corresponded to a major decrease in population, as numerous wars, famine, plague, and migration to other lands such as Vinland, caused the population to heavily decrease, eventually reaching only an estimated 2,000 by the time of the 1360s. The population would only begin to recover through the introduction of a constant stream of settlers, primarily from Scandinavia and the British Isles.

The largest group on Greenland is the indigenous peoples, who are primarily Inuit or “Thule”. It is estimated that in the 14th century the native population reached 10,000, but outbreak of disease brought on through increased contact with native settlers eventually caused the native population to diminish by at least 25%. Of this number, the vast majority remain nomadic and outside the control of any Greenlander state, although there is contact and trade existing between many indigenous groups and the coast. According to legend, at the time of the height in Inuit population some 1,000 people had been integrated into Greenlander society, which would have been approximately 10% of the native population.

The second largest group is the helmingar, or people of mixed European and indigenous descent. As the European population became more reliant on indigenous aid throughout the 15th century, the helmingar became a major force within the nation, and likely were the majority of people surviving after the mid 14th century plague. Icelanders and other Scandinavians make up the third largest group in Greenland, followed by Europeans from the British Isles.

Estimated Population of Greenlander States by Year
Group 1300 1340 1360 1380 1450 1500
Total Incorporated Population 2,500 9,500 2,000 4,000
Unincorporated Natives 9,000 6,000 7,400 4,000 5,000 5,400
Incorporated Natives 0 1,000 200 2,000 1,000 800
Helmingar 0 2,500 1,000 1,000 1,200 1,500
Scandinavians 2,500 5,000 500 1,200
British 0 1,000 50 800

Language

Several languages are spoken among the population of Greenland. The earliest settlers of Greenland spoke Old Norse, a North Germanic language that was spoken by inhabitants from Scandinavia. In Greenland this developed into the Greenlandic Norse dialect, which became distinct from the rest of the Western Norse Dialect, spoken in such places as Iceland. Later rule by Iceland would see the Icelandic language imposed on Greenland, although a distinct dialect managed to remain. The Greenlandic language also came to incorporate a large degree of vocabulary from native languages, further distinguishing it from other Norse languages.

The native languages brought by the Thule are also considered official languages in Greenland. Broadly speaking the “Thule Language” is split between the western Kalaallisut dialect and the eastern Tunumiit oraasiat dialect. The Vinlander language and the Beothukan languages were also legally considered official languages of Greenland, as relics of the earlier union between Greenland and Iceland, however, these languages would die out in Greenland by the late 14th century.


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