|Queen of Vinland|
|Reign||14th November, 1579 - 8th May, 1603|
|Born||9th September, 1554 |
|Died||8th May, 1603 |
Isafjordhur, Vinland, Vinland
Snaedis III ruled over Vinland during the latter part of the 16th century. Her reign saw a huge 'revolution' in Vinland's finances; principally built off of confident naval and trade policies.
By the late 16th century Vinland was quietly booming. Religious intolerance in Europe led to a steady stream of dissenters arriving in Vinland. These tended to be cautiously welcomed and as long as the groups swore off any missionary activity they could be accommodated. Hence Lutherans fleeing Wessex or Italia, Anabaptists fleeing Anglia and the Luxembourg realms (such as Joost Cassens and his followers), even some Jews from Iberia, settled during Snaedis' reign. Not only did these groups bring vital industries or mercantile nous but they helped boost the population of the still relatively sparsely-populated kingdom.
Vinland had been famine free since around 1550. Most free citizens held their own personal garden-farms and the more feudal farms of Hafsvaedaland produced a surplus of food which allowed a healthy export market to grow and a population boom to occur. It also, significantly, allowed for more people to specialise, boosting the numbers attending the otherwise tiny universities at Hvilirábrey and Karantóborg to study natural sciences. Only a couple of poor harvests in the mid-1590s coupled with an outbreak of slowed this. By the end of her rule Vinland's population is estimated at around 650,000. Merchants were flush from the profits related to the two royal chartered trade companies: the 'Northern' and the 'Southern', and began to look for goods from further away.
The wrecking of a good proportion of the Portuguese fleet off Isafjordhur in 1569 would prove vital in this endeavour. The crew (who, apart from the officers were mostly German, Dutch or North African†) was largely saved and, from them a huge wealth of information was gleaned. Not only routes to best navigate the channel between Africa and Madagascar but also timings to meet the best sailing conditions for the Indian Ocean crossing. They also discovered how many ships Portugual sent yearly to India and the Vinlandic admirals resolved to match and out-gun them - not necessarily in terms of tonnage but simply to ward off any potential disastrous clashes. The Germans and Dutch were mostly re-employed by the Vinlanders, as they were experienced sailors and were generally well-paid.
The first trade fleet reached India in 1579, and so began a trading relationship with Tanur, avoiding Portuguese-held Calicut. Six years later a firm Vinlandic presence in India was established at Tanur when a small cargo 'factory' was erected. Here merchants could gather trade goods in between the visitations of Vinlandic trading fleets, which evened out prices and prevented scarcity. This was a conscious copying of Portuguese practice and of course this presence played into the rivalry with Portugal. It did not go unchallenged and there were naval engagements off the Keralian and Madagasacan coasts on several occasions. However, the large fleet tended to ensured the Vinlanders came off best. There was little attempt to go further than Tanur though. Whilst Vinlandic ships did indeed venture to Lanka, the Ganges Delta and the Arakan coasts no conscious effort was made to trade directly with these markets. More it spurred local traders to funnel goods themselves to Tanur. Indian spices (principally pepper, cinnamon and ginger) and cloth flowed back into Vinland, accompanied by goods from further afield. These in turn were shipped back to Fjallasay and then out to other Leifian markets.
The whole project was extremely expensive however and the size of the fleets in India never really produced a profit for the VIC, not only as it was tasked only to ultimately trade with Vinlandic ports (whereas selling to Europe would have been more lucrative and Fjallasay was hardly a convenient port) but especially as by the turn of the 17th century other nations were also barging into Portugal's weakening monopoly. Much of the real money was made into merchants distributing the rare spices from Fjallasay out to markets in Leifia. However, the prestige was enough for the crown and any losses could be made up from the burgeoning trade with West Africa, or by indulging in piracy if for instance a warship got separated from the rest of the fleet.
It also played out into the intermiable wars (the Pepper Wars) between Calicut and Tanur and other small kingdoms on the Keralian coast of India. Naval battles with Leon in the Atlantic continued too and piracy in the Carib was beginning to get out of hand. Trade with Tawantinsuyu and its client states on Tawantinland's eastern seaboard was probably more important than India. The Tawantin refused to allow countries to set up their own factories, insisting that trade remain exclusive to their own merchants, however thanks to muscling out Álengiamark during the Leifian War of Religion it had a semi-monopoly over the Brasilwood exports from Tupiniquimsuyu which was much in demand by Europe for dyes and for musical instruments. Sugar had been introduced to Potiguaraland in around 1530 and again, Vinland would fight Leon hard for primary access, though was less successful at maintaining a monopoly here. Though Vinland could not plant a permanent presence on the continent it did have an ace up its sleeve; Alkafuglaeyjar. The islands, discovered in 1562, had had been settled with in 32 Icelandic families in 1578. Iceland experienced a famine from 1576 to 1580 and many families eagerly took Vinland's offer to be resettled on the otherwise empty islands. Reindeer and sheep followed. The islands' position meant that traders did not have to make the full journey from Fjallasay to India, or even the western Tawantinland coast; instead Alkafuglaeyjar could act as a mid-way point allowing ships to offload, resupply and rest the crews. The colony would grow slowly but steadily throughout Snaedis' reign.
Politically, Snaedis' reign was dominated by the long finance debates of 1584/5. This began as a complaint by several Althing representatives over corruption and over-taxation of traders at Konunglegursaey and Quebec, was loudly championed by the growing merchant class and eventually bled into a power struggle between the vast and often barely inhabited rural counties and the small and mostly unrepresented cities. Snaedis and her advisors would effectively shelve the debate pending a royal investigation (which never materialised) and refused to allow the subject to be raised again, though royal customs sheriffs were employed to ensure trade on the Breidurass remained relatively corruption free. Snaedis is usually regarded as politically neutral, possibly due to being uninterested in really governing.
She married twice, both times to Hafsvaedaland lords and had seven children. On her death in 1603 she would succeeded by her eldest daughter Maídis.
†The North African survivors of the wreck formed the first Islamic presence in Vinland. They were treated much the same as any other religious minority in Vinland and allowed to start their own community, on the West Eikland coast. 'Nywahran' florished for a generation, with a small mosque being built. Islamic practises in the area were however utterly eradicated during the reign of Freydis III and the mosque demolished.