Pagan Viking America
From: David Ilowski (email@example.com)
Subject: Pagan Viking America
View this article only
Date: 2004-01-20 20:28:26 PST
This has probably been suggested before, but here goes anyway.
The Crusades work better than they did historically and the forces of
Christendom find themselves with a bit of extra time on their hands before
the Mongol incursions.
The gradual Christianisation of Scandinavia is moving along slowly but the
ever enthusiastic crusaders decide to try their hand at speeding up the
conversion and invade, or maybe crusader wannabes in France and Germany
decide to attack Scandinavia as all the best land on the Middle East has now
The resulting wars, and Scandinavian defeats, generate a lot of pagan
refugees who flee first to Norway, then to England and Iceland then via
Greenland to North America. The sea passage in the 11th to 12th centuries
was easier as the Northern Hemisphere was relatively warm at this time.
The original Viking settlements in North America failed IOTL for a number of
reasons. Probably one of the major reasons was that there were never enough
settlers to make up a self supporting economic base. Probably there were
never more than a few hundred Vikings living in Nth America, if that. This
also put them at a disadvantage militarily when having to deal with the
indigenous neolithic indians.
However, if tens of thousands of new settlers started turning up over a
century or so then the story might have been totally diffierent. Large
colonies established in Newfoundland would have led to further exploration
and expansion down the North American coast to the much more fertile and
accomodating lands of the coastal littoral that eventually supported the USA
in our time line.
The Vikings were vigourous and aggressive in their colonisation efforts and
given sufficient motivation would have readily moved to these new lands to
Trading with the old world would still occur but this passage would get more
and more difficult with the onset of the "mini ice age" of the 14th century.
So there could be a period of three centuries of colonisation and expansion
in Vinland ( Greater Vinland ) by the Vikings before a period of possibly a
century of limited contact, or even isolation during the cold period.
This cold period could also force another migration of Vikings from the
Newfoundland area southwards, prompting more wars with the Viking settlers
further south and/or indians.
I would not imagine a huge homogeneous Viking "Empire" being set up during
the three centuries. Royal houses might migrate en-masse to set up new
kingdoms and these kingdoms would most likely expand to exist within
predefined geomorphological boundaries. Similarly, settlers might set up
entirely new kingdoms.
Then they could get down to the exciting business of beating up on each
other and the indians. I guess they wouldn't be called indians in this time
line possibly they would retain the Viking slur-word Skraelings (Wretches).
It would be harder to speculate what the long term relationship between the
Vikings and the Skraelings might be. Possibly the Vikings could wipe them
out, certainly they would inflict massive defeats on them initially. But
long term there might arise Skraeling countries (kingdoms?) of similar
levels of technology and cultural achievement. There could also be a
possiblity of cross cultural transfer of art, religion and politics.
Two things, on one hand you still have the European disease environment, and on the other, a less technically advanced Scandanavian society settling in Vinland.
Also consider that pagan European belief systems were probably more compatable with the skraeling belief systems, so you begin to get odd cultural overlays and combinations.
For example, I know that many 'indian' beliefs involved a 'trickster' usually symbolized by Coyote, particularly in the Southwest, but the trickster is usually deeply involved in different creation myths.
How different is this "trickster' from some pagan beliefs, such as one aspect of Loki?
So, if the settlements are permanent, you get more technology transfer, up to and including horses, and you have a warrior society that is more open and understanding of other warrior societies (even as they try to kill them).
Yes, there will obviously be some fighting, but the Vikings will soon realize there's just not much of value to steal from the Skraelings. Especially when you can trade useless things to them for seeds and information. Yes, the Skraelings will suffer from diseases. But, I would not expect there to be massive fighting. I'd expect small scale battles fought occasionally but Vinland will become a rather peaceful place. I even expect the Vikings and Skraelings will start interbreeding to a certain extent.
Pluss, in this timeline, the skraelings would get the diseases centuries earlier than OTL, and thus have that much more time for the population to regrow (from what I've read, the Vikings wouldn't have aggressively expanded as much as OTL European settlers did).
However, these Vikings would still be pagan; what happens when Christian Europeans begin to settle the New World?