|People of The Kalmar Union|
|The Kalmar Union|
Matthías Baldursson, 28th Earl of Markland, had the dubious honour of seeing action in both the First Mexic-Leifian War and the Fifty Years War, commanding armies in the two defining conflicts of the 17th century.
Born in 1593 Baldursson inherited the title of Earl of Markland at the age of 15 and quickly became one of Queen Maídis's favourites. The earldom at that point consisted of much of Markland and also several extensive tracts in Nor-Hafsvaedaland. He quickly amassed a string of other land holdings and titles, the pinnacle of which was Master of the Horses, Skopstjór Hestann, and Marshall, Rigsmarsk, effectively giving him command of the Vinlandic army. His tenure saw a slight change in the organisation of the army. Although the command still was drawn exclusively from the nobles irrespective of actual ability the job of raising a militia was moved from the landed lords and given to dedicated officers of the crown. This tended to to mean Vinland could field more men then had done so previously. He also employed several Italian armourers, augmenting the well-regarded Armourer's Guild and a long list of Vinlandic nobles paid huge sums for custom-made parade suits of armour (fuelling a mini-rivalry with the Álengsk and Aniyunwiyan nobility).
He was one of the favourites of Thorey V and there were even rumours of a romantic dalliance, something which no doubt soured relations between Baldursson and her prudish younger sister Freydis III when she succeeded in 1621. However to begin with, Freydis' ministers counselled her against changing too much too soon and though she moved swiftly to tackle what she saw as the religious failings of Vinlandic society she did not touch the Althing or the appointments of Thorey. This meant that when Mexica declared war on much of Leifia in April 1622 Baldursson was still in charge of the army.
The usual small Vinlandic contingent which gathered in that spring expecting more of the same small-scale raid had been unceremoniously crushed by the vast Mexic army by June and it soon became clear that a more general mobilisation was required. Baldursson pulled the levers that he had implemented and by October (after the harvests) a body of 3,000 men had been assembled. This was affectively it. Sparsely populated Vinland could simply not provide any more men for a war unless it wanted to fall apart. The strong navy had already proved its worth in a major battle in the Mexic Gulf and Baldursson was eager to share the limelight. The army was drilled ruthlessly during the winter of 1622 in the Western Hafsvaedaland and then in Spring as the Mexic attempted to breach the Mississippi cordon by heading northwards Baldursson moved the army into Inokia. On the 18th July he met the Mexic army at Kahoka and, showing off the superiority of the Vinlandic cannon, gunpowder weapons and the well-drilled 'Luxembourg Square' formations, scored a considerable victory.
The battle however destroyed the core of the Vinlandic army. Afterwards Vinland could no longer attempt operations on its own. The loss of such a significant portion of able manpower had already caused disturbances at home and the other earls were concerned about the affect and effectiveness of sending 'mere boys' to war. Therefore all of Baldursson's subsequent actions were at the head of a 'Protestant League' army made up of Vinlanders, Abernaki, Passamquoddy and Kanien'haga alongside a considerable mercenary contingent. The Catholic Álengsk had made it abundantly clear they wanted no part of any joint force and simply due to the logistics of feeding it Baldursson was forced to steer clear of the main Álengsk and Aniyunwiyan armies. This meant he played no part in any of the further large battles and spent most of the rest of the war fending off flanking movements and besieging various fortresses on or around the Bah'hatteno River. Despite his declining reputation at home he was trusted by the alliance under his command and kept discipline until the very end of the war, unlike many other armies which saw massive desertions in the last year.
He came back to Vinland under a cloud and with few friends in positions of influence thanks to Freydis's sweeping away of her mother and sister's appointments. As well as the scandalous rumours she appears to decided he was a not particularly devout Lutheran (with little proof) and took against him. At the first opportunity his ranks were stripped and he was largely exiled from court. Further quarrels followed him and in 1635 he sold his title to his cousin Olaf Hlynursson.
Taking several hundred men he sought employment with Denmark, deep in the abyss of the Fifty Years War. The Kalmar side had plenty of commissioned officers, just no money to pay them and he had been relying of tactics long-since discredited and surpassed in Europe. However his experience with well-conducted sieges was noted and he was given command of 6,000 (including the Vinlanders he had brought). His force usually acted as a support to Johann Toll's huge force and spent much of his career in Europe besieging Dutch fortresses, though often Toll simply used Baldursson's forces to resupply his own. Baldursson would quarrel with Toll's successor, Christian of Münzenberg, and would retire to Fryslan in 1642.
He died in Groningen in 1649. He was survived by his third wife Theda, and three children; Snaedis, Thorey and Kristian. Kristian would later become an MP for Zuidhorn at the Anglian Witenage. Baldursson's will stated his heart should be buried in Leifia and it was buried at the family tomb in Thorsbae. It would however be re-interred at the war memorial at Kahoka in 1801.