|Herridr I, 1717 portrait by Kristjan Oláfsson|
|Queen of Álengiamark|
|Reign||14th February, 1712 - 30th September, 1771|
|Born|| 18th May, 1695 |
Pindasenaukstadt, Unamiland Fylk, Álengiamark
|Died|| 30th September, 1771 |
St. Hafdiss, Sudervik Fylk, Álengiamark
Herridr I long reign over Álengiamark is regarded as the country's turning point from a loose collection of semi-independent feudal states to a fully-functioning unitary 'nation' state.
Born in 1695, Herridr was the granddaughter of the aging and well-respected Mayor of the Palace Guðni Reynirsson, and great-granddaughter of the tireless politician Reynir Óskarsson. Her father Kristófer Guðnisson had almost single-handly turned the sleepy village of Pindasenaukstadt into an important market town Lenape River, whilst her mother Auður Hlynursdottír was from Unamiland nobility. As a member of the 'Mayoral Erikssons' Herridr was also directly descended from Thorey II of Álengiamark.
She was well-educated as the family of the Mayors tended to be, speaking Álengsk, Danish, Aniyunwiyan and Portuguese, and had been tutored in history and astronomy. She also had a working knowledge of accounting. She was adept at the theorbo lute and sang madrigals 'in a quiet but confident voice'. She eagerly devoured new compositions, both imported from Luxembourg which was then Europe's leading music publisher or composed in Leifia.
Election and Coronation
Usually Álengsk queens, at least since Elin IV's election in 1397, had been chosen by a cabal of the major earls. However in 1712 the usual bartering for the crown was absent, in fact as the acerbic Eyþór Magnússon commented; "Elin [VII]'s lasting legacy to Álengiamark was to gracefully die at the right time". The usual 'Queenmaker' Earls of Langaeyjar and Margirhaedeyja were at loggerheads over the dowry of Lady Soffía of Langaeyjar, who sadly died before the wedding to Jóhannes of Margirhaedeyja and then the returning bullion sank to the bottom of the Djórflarflóy in a storm. Sudervik and Quiripiland meanwhile had no obvious candidates for the throne. Meanwhile the experience of Elin VII's reign essentially showed controlling the crown barely meant anything at all anyway.
When Elin VII died in early 1712 it therefore fell to the more minor earls, lords and abbots to elect a queen. Initially they chose Jóhanna of Nanticokeland though she would die in childbirth only a week after her nomination. More concerned with stability and good governance than prestige they chose instead the 17 year-old Herridr of Pindasenaukstadt.
With the earls grudgingly agreeing to the nomination, assuming she would be as ineffectual as her predecessors, Herridr travelled to St. Hafdiss and was crowned in a understated ceremony by Archbishop Ásgeir. Guðni Reynirsson then presented her to the Althing. It would be at a feast later that week that she would meet her soon-to-be husband, Jóhannes Haraldursson, 16 year-old heir to Hjörtahvíliflói, a previously obscure lordship in the eastern Sudervik which was now on the rise thanks to a nascent whaling industry.
The Mayors of the Palace had always a relatively modest lifestyle. They saw themselves as merely custodians of the wealth generated by the Royal Domain, not the beneficiaries. So whereas the earls tended to spend their money on themselves the mayors, barring one or two exceptions, looked to invest the money for the future. Herridr, instilled with fiscal prudence from an early age, was perfectly at ease with this. She would eschew the Royal Palace, which Elin VI and Gunndis had used extensively, and built the much smaller Hollenskahúsið (which the more flamboyant Thorey V then massively extended) in Svangarður just outside what was then St Hafdiss' city walls.
She dressed and held herself modestly too, supposedly in 1714 the Danish and Svealandic ambassadors embarrassed themselves by believing a different woman was Herridr for an hour. This provoked the earls to insist she act and dress like a queen when foreign dignitaries visited, a practice she tolerated but apparently disliked.This quiet but fierce intelligence was respected in the Althing where she was a regular attendee. In typically modest fashion she generally did not sit on the Speakers Seat, where visiting queens normally sat, but instead sat with the scribes who noted down the points and actions agreed by the chamber. With a reformist agenda in the air they eagerly embraced the like-minded Herridr. And as as she was not beholden to any earl they sincerely hoped she would not swayed by the entrenched powers that be. The earls, once they realised she was not just going to disappear off like Elin VII, found her agreeable too. Keen to curry her favour the Earl of Quiripiland presented her with an African lion, procured from his newly established trading post at Jóhannsborg on the Mane Coast (Nýljóneyja)
In 1715, Herridr began a tour of the country, or at least technically the parts of it in the Royal Domain but this, by necessity, involved visits to the earldoms and a wide range of the semi-independent statelets which formed the country. Many of the local lords viewed these visits with suspicion, seeing the Royal Domain poking its nose into other's business, but equally many were taken in by the pageantry of this itinerant court.
In September 1715 another conflict between Vinlandic and Álengsk fishermen on Ontario Vatn erupted (the Álengsk complaining their nets were being cut, the Vinlanders complaining they were frequently being rammed) and lead to riots on both sides of the lake and clamour for war. Believing co-operation with Álengiamark's 'sister' better than constant conflict she sent off her brother Ísak to Isafjordhur to seek an agreement with Vinland. The Vinlandic Althing was tired of the friction too and a meeting of the two queens was arranged, the first since 1397.
On the way to this historic event Herridr noted the appalling state of the roads in Ontario, the Álengsk exclave on the Fraeburt Votnum, compared to the rest of the country. Ontario unlike the other parts of Álengiamark was not dominated by a single earldom and instead split into 40 or so small and poor lordships and chartered towns. So bad was the connection to the rest of the country that it tended to export its agricultural surplus to Vinland rather than the often hungry eastern seaboard. Herridr quickly earmarked the entire royal taxes of 1717 to repair the old roads and decrepit bridges, dipping into the Royal Domain's treasury to cover costs elsewhere. A special deal was arranged with the Six Nations whose land merchants had to cross, and roads and bridges were built there too (though perhaps wisely they demanded control of the road themselves). This act of largess, a move which the Althing on its own would have never been able to do, strengthened the ties of the generally rural lordships to the crown and Álengiamark proper, and the connections helped even out food prices in the Atlantic cities.
Meeting Eyfinna I of Vinland of Vinland on Bjóryjar, just upstream from Godifoss, the two countries reached a cordial agreement. The queens each arrived with a considerable entourage and over a week of feasting, in a large specially-erected tent in the centre of the island, agreed to numerous points of order. Neither set of diplomats exactly apologised for their past behaviour to each other but relations were 'normalised' and allegiances to the Kalmar Union was reconfirmed (even though at this point the Union was in a poor state of affairs). The Treaty of Bjóryjar also set up a commission to adjudicate on disputes on the Fraeburt Votnum, a body which would eventually set standards of mercantile shipping on the lakes.
Herridr would continue to correspond with Eyfinna (and her successors Greta II and Eyfinna II), going as far as to suggest a marriage between her youngest daughter Alexandra and Greta's son Páll. Religious sensibilities ruled out the match however.
With a reputation for public works already confirmed, Herridr leveraged the Royal Domain's treasury against contributions from the Althing and various allied smaller entities to repair and improve Álengiamark's creaking infrastructure, be it roads, canals, boatyards or mill races. From 1724 petitions from localities were heard in a new Konunlegr Áætlent Markaðr (Royal Planning Exchange) where investors, mostly the comptrollers of the independent states' treasuries, would pay in subscriptions to fund building or repairs in return for cuts of the expected profits. The Exchange originally operated from St. Hafdiss but soon moved to Kristjanaborg where a burgeoning merchant class eagerly embraced the chance to make more money.
Crisis in Langaeyjar
In 1732 the incumbent Earl of Langaeyjar, Benedikt, was declared unfit for government and a clique of Langaeyjarian nobles would attempt to rule the island on behalf of the new earl, Haraldr, who was barely out of the cradle. They attempted to line their own pockets first of course. Profits for livestock farming far outweighed that for crops and many tried to cash into this throwing a considerable number of indentured farmers off their land. This provoked riots in Langaeyjarsk towns as well as increasing grain and food prices in the rest of the country. The nobles proved unable to quell the unrest, as their usual pool of manpower were the ones in revolt, and other earls were wary of moving their own militias out of the simmering towns. With nowhere else to turn the clique called on the Royal Domain to assist.
Seizing the opportunity, the Althing, agreed to use the royal army to help quell the protests but only under certain conditions, namely that the government of the earldom was turned over to a civilian body answerable to the Althing at St. Hafdiss and that the various counties sent a full complement of representatives to the long-ignored chamber. The lords could of course keep their land, but actual governance of it or rights to raise taxes or private militias would be out of their hands. Any qualms the nobles had about this would be eased by the offer that all Royal Domain lands on the island would be handed to the new fylkthing to govern as well. Considering that the Royal Domain lands were well-run and profitable it seemed a good trade. Lord Páll of Saltvogur signed the Langaeyjar Treaty in the Althing, with Herridr witnessing. The Royal army duly arrived, quashed the revolt with only minimal loss of life and then enforced the terms of the treaty.
The small land 'clearances' which had already occurred were ratified but further advances firmly halted. The various militia forces belonging to the earldom and independent cities were disbanded or integrated into the Royal army. The small flotilla of the earl was taken too and added to the modest Royal fleet.
The Fylk of Langaeyjar with its elected fylkthing would come into existence on 1st September 1735. The process was slow (the island wouldn't be finally united until the final treaty in 1768) but methodical and transparent. Langaeyjar's counties (unchanged from the old medieval boundaries) sent a full compliment of representatives to the Althing that year too. The Althing would spend much of the following year cutting duplicated institutions, creating a singular military and naval academy and synchronising laws.
And ultimately it worked; other parts of Álengiamark, seeing how well the new arrangements were benefiting both parties, were soon clamouring to be turned into fylks.
Nobles from Ontario, signed a Fylk Treaty in early 1735 with its Fylkthing operating from October that year and contingent of representatives arriving at the Althing in the following Spring. Fylkthings were setup in the other natural groupings in which the disparate Royal Domain holdings were united with the smaller lordships and church lands whilst Herridr worked diplomatically on the larger lords and earls. Unamiland followed in 1742, Nanticokeland in 1744. Sudervik took longer to coalesce, originally divided into three fylks structured around the earldoms of Moheganland, Quiripiland and Sudervik with the bulk of the Royal Domain split between them, a united Sudervik Fylk was finalised in 1750.
With a unified navy now capable of working jointly Herridr organised a trade company (the Royal or 'Austurlenskur' Company) to which merchants flocked and pooled their resources with the crown operating a proper regulated insurance fund to support them. Quripiland lost its monopoly on Nýljóneyja and the island was turned over to the Company to administer. While warships were being built with with Althing funds the new naval academy at Grínnvik was rapidly training a officer corps. Given a level playing field Álengsk merchants were now playing catch-up with their competitors in Leifia and Europe, a task they took to with gusto. Purely Álengsk trade fleets (instead of latching on to Portuguese or Leonese fleets) were making their way to India by 1743 though the disruption of war meant some of this early potential was lost.
In 1736 the mathematician Eyþór Magnússon was employed specifically by Herridr as Master of the Royal Mint. Already renowned for his work with optics Magnússon oversaw the 'Great Recoinage'. The Álengsk Penning was still hand-struck (often with local heraldry) and frequently clipped which meant coins from one end of the country were mistrusted by the other. And as gold (and silver) was worth more abroad than in Álengiamark much of it was melted down and shipped to Europe, leading to inflation only barely kept in check by constant supplies from Snjorjamark. With his suggestions a new National Bank of Álengiamark was created and a new currency, the Ríkstaler. Magnússon bought minting machines from Portugal, standardised the designs (the Álengsk lion holding a sword and fern frond on one side, Herridr's profile on the obverse) and bought back the old Penning coins from trusted dealers by weight. The flow of bullion abroad continued but in general the new currency was successful and helped foster inter-fylk trade.
The restoration of the Althing was not perfect by any means. Mostly the old medieval counties had simply been resurrected without much forethought, a situation which tended to under-represent the cities and meant some rural counties with tiny electorates which were easily dominated by interested parties. For instance Gingoteagáyjar in Nanticokeland had 3 households meeting the voting criteria, compared to Kristjanaborg's 3,000, and was firmly in the pocket of the Bishop of Sjóvath. There was friction too between the Althing and the new Fylkthings over exactly what powers each had. It had outgrown its old venue too and Herridr granted the old Royal palace, specifically the grand Máluðháll, for the Althing's use until a dedicated new Althinghus could be built.
Debates whether to extend the reforms to Quisqueyanos whose two earldoms had largely run themselves without much interference since the 1550s were soon made moot by wider events in the Taino Sea.
War of the League of Arcachon (1743-1752)
Through the 16th century Mexica's large merchant fleets had been quietly growing and were regular visitors to Mediterranean ports from the 1560s, though had lost some ground as Aragon and Byzantium secured a strangle hold on the sea during the Fifty Years War and their shipbuilding practices ignored technological advances leaving them slow and plodding. Increasingly piracy cut into their trade and an entire fleet was captured by Barbary pirates off the coast of Morocco in 1700. Attempts to rectify this were haphazard and foolhardy, even going so far as to land an expeditionary force to capture the Berber town of Nouadhibou in 1704 which they held for 2 years before a Caliphate division could be spared to remove them. Further battles against the pirates led to the loss of most of its Atlantic fleet and by 1740 the majority of its exports were in the hands of European and Leifian traders.
In 1743 Mexica abruptly attempted to change this, it had undertaken a considerable programme of state-of-the-art ship-building and in that year launched a warfleet into the Taino Sea where it aimed to clear the sea of 'unwanted' foreign traders, targeting Portuguese and Vinlandic shipping especially. For several years the Mexic fleet engaged with the fleets of various nations across a broad swathe of the Atlantic, even making raids against the Portuguese mainland. Then in 1746 the Mexic landed a large army on Quisqueyanos making quick work of the Álengsk and Portuguese garrisons there.
With other European-held islands in the region threatened, and suggestions that Mexica might target the Myrland peninsula next, the individual nations were galvanised into action. The League of Arcachon (named after a Aquitainian fishing village outside Bordèu where the Vinlandic ship Jóný had run aground) allied the Kalmar nations (Álengiamark, Vinland, Iceland, Denmark, Gothenland and Hordaland) to Portugal, Granada and Aquitaine.
Whilst the European fleets began systematically hunting down their Mexic counterparts (too late to stop the invasion and occupation of Xaymaca however) Vinland and Álengiamark began drawing-up plans to invade Mexica itself. Sourcing mercenaries from their neighbours to add to their small national armies they would have a joint force of 20,000 men under the command of the Vinlandic general Axel Thórirsson (which the Álengsk Althing thought best as their own army reforms and restructing had not yet taken hold). By May 1747 they had installed themselves on the Chotilapacquen River having already secured much of the Táysha' hinterland. The Battle of Nautengi on 7th August was a Kalmar victory, though it exposed the weakness of their position. The Kalmar force fell back to the security of 'Fuglsborg', a temporary supply fort established in Coahuiltec land, from which they made successful raids on the Mets'ichi Chena and tested the strength of various fortresses along the river. Eventually in early 1749 a proper siege of the large fortress of Ocēlōtlātōyātlapilkoyan on the northern bank of the river was begun. It would fall in June. The Álengsk officers expressed their keenness to cross the river into Mexica proper but the Vinlanders and mercenary captains were more cautious and instead secured the fort and supply lines, fending off considerable retaliatory attacks from Mexica. The fort would be held for the rest of the war though constant pressure from Mexica and supply-line issues meant the Kalmar force would not be able to break-out across the river.
Meanwhile in the Taino Sea, Portugal would liberate Quisqueyanos in 1750, Xaymaca was recovered in 1751 and a year later the Mexic Ayotl Islands were seized. The islands held a significant portion of the Mexic arsenal and with this blow they sued for peace ceding the Ayotl Islands to Portugal but insisting Ocēlōtlātōyātlapilkoyan was returned, much to Kalmar annoyance.
Defeated, Mexica attempted to seize control of its trade in a different way; closing its ports to all but a select few preferred nations.
Kalmar victory in the war was followed with changes to the army. Herridr and her ministers imposed a meritocratic system which was slowly becoming the norm throughout the Kalmar states, and would, in time, take lessons from Svealand, eschewing forced conscription for a professional class of soldiers paid for by county contributions. The navy too had fared well during the war but it would undergo a massive expansion in the next two decades until the country's combined tonnage surpassed Denmark's.The victory was also celebrated by the construction of the impressive, and vastly expensive, monastery-palace complex in St. Kólumba & St. Óskar county in western Unamiland Fylk. Originally only meant to be a small Dominican monastery, plans soon expanded the site, in mostly untouched countryside, to a large royal palace, Alexandría Höfðingustr with attached monastery for 300 monks. Drafting in a small army of workers. A canal (now ornamental) had to be built from the Manajungh River to carry construction materials from Wíssahiconhur the final few kilometres. By the time it was completed in 1786 it housed royal apartments, the monastery with an over-sized gilded chapel, a hunting lodge and impressively stocked library, all set in elegantly sculpted gardens. The Althing complained it was an collossal waste of money considering its (then) isolation but the effort helped open up the Manajungh River to new farms, villages and industry, especially as coal was discovered nearby in the 1790s.
Overall Herridr was no longer the modest queen of her early reign, continued success in trade and war had convinced her of Álengsk exceptionalism and her beloved Þorsteinn's death in 1749 had deepened her piety which was reflected by the increase in lavish church building projects. This did not go unnoticed in Rome and Pope Innocent XIV would beautify 24 new Leifian saints, including the martyred Bishop Óskar Kristjánsson. A grand rebuilding of St. Hafdiss' St. John's Cathedral was also planned but the work would not begin in her lifetime. She was also eager to apply other trappings of royalty and in 1763, with papal support, had the earls cede control of the crown's succession. Henceforth the crown was hereditary, the heir-apparent granted the title Princess, other royal children were termed Baron and Grifinn (Countess) and it was enshrined in law that the Álengsk crown could never be inherited by a foreigner.
In 1754 the Earldom of Margirhaedeyja finally relinquished its continued aloofness from the Althing and submitted to a Fylk treaty. This was driven more by rioting in Kristjanaborg which was still taxed by the earls, than any pressure Herridr could bring and as Margirhaedeyja still practiced full-blown serfdom it would cause further issues in later years. Although some church lands would continue to hold out this effectively completed the 'Álengsk jigsaw'.
Where once Portugal sailed, now sail the Álengsk. The Lisbon earthquake of 1st November 1755 practically wrecked the Portuguese trading empire and Álengsk merchants eagerly stepped into the breach. With an ever-expanding merchant fleet often employing Portuguese officers the confident Álengsk popped up all over the world looking for opportunities. 1754 had seen the occupation of Ras Siyyan at the mouth of the Red Sea to facilitate the coffee trade, fuelling the national obsession with the drink, though the Caliphate would eject them in 1756. In 1757 they bought out Portuguese interests in the Keralan port of Mangalore with its rice, cinnamon and saltpeter trade and leading eventually to conflict with Mysore. A year later Álengsk force was used in the ultimately unsuccessful attempt to hold Mombasa from attacks from Zanizbar. In 1764 one of the Pearl River Delta islands, Zhu Zhou, or Bambusyrberg, was leased from the Chinese, opening a brisk and profitable trade for silk and porcelain.
This rapid growth in trade was reflected back home by a growing merchant class willing to show off its new-found wealth both domestically and publicly. New houses were built in Iberian or Italian styles, old churches were refurbished. The Althing meanwhile ploughed most of its revenue into the army and navy, both of which 'were the envy of Leifia' by the end of Herridr's reign.
Álengiamark's ascent was not without teething troubles however. In 1758-1760 a scheme to 'plant a new fylk' on the virtually uninhabited Tawantinland island of Majaro drew a huge investment but then abruptly collapsed as disease decimated the nascent colony then was permanently ended as the Tawantinsuyu army arrived, evicted the settlers and imprisoned its leaders. The scheme had sucked in funding from many of the abbey lands, and its collapse impoverished them, leading the final holdouts from the Fylk system to sign their independence away.
The Royal Planning Exchange, having started in a single room financing small projects had grown to large joint-stock operation underwriting ship-building and buying government debt amongst other things. And whereas it had initially only been the treasuries of the individual statelets and rich merchants who invested now it was increasingly the public who were buying shares. With shares driven up to unrealistic prices over the winter of 1769-70 the bubble finally burst in the spring of 1770, causing a financial depression, a foreshadowing of the even greater bubble of the Cheasapeake Company.
Family and Succession
Herridr and Þorsteinn Jóhannsson would have 5 children. After his death in 1749 his patrimony of Hjörtahvíliflói became a royal estate and Herridr would build a small summer palace (again extended by Thorey V) there.
- Jóhann (1715-1765) Married Lady Hannesína of Yrsakavelyk. No issue. Then Lady Vilhjálmína of Heligáeak. One child.
- Eiríkr (1718-1759) Married Princess Degonwadonti Maria of Erie. 3 children.
- Margrjet (1722-1783), Queen of Álengiamark 1771-1783. Married Caesare Gonzaga, son of Duke Antonio of Guastalla. 7 children including Queen Thorey V.
- Ingunn (1723-1780). Married Louis of Aquitaine. 5 children, only child surviving to adulthood was Duke Robert VII, last ruler of independent Aquitaine.
- Alexandra (1728-1748). Unmarried
Herridr would die in 1771 of throat cancer, having ruled Álengiamark for 59 years. She was succeeded by her daughter Margrjet. All subsequent Álengsk queens are directly descended from Herridr.