Keeping Vinland settled

Well it seems like this is going to be my first post on the forum, so allow me to begin by saying "Hello everyone!" Having done that, allow me to lay out the topic I am curious about.

While there no doubt have been discussions about this before, and likely even timelines about this before, I would like to embark (within a month or two) on creating a timeline in which the Norse explorers manage to form a permanent settlement in Vinland that survives and continues to grow.

While a butterfly as always seems like the most eloquent way to start an alternate timeline, for all I've managed to find about the Norse settlement, no single butterfly seems capable of allowing the Vikings to survive in a believable way. The Skrälings will always take them out eventually anyway. Therefore, I have decided to make it easy for me, and simply have the point of divergence being that because of a series of bad winters, much fewer (if any) Beothuk and Innu actually settles in Newfoundland and Labrador, allowing the Vikings to find a largely desolate, yet perfectly habitable land, much like Iceland. This will allow Thorfinn to be successful in leading a community to settle in North America, and, eventually allow for migration from Iceland and Scandinavia.

Allowing for this to happen, how will it affect future European history, and how long will we have to wait before non-Norse Europe is historically affected by this change?

Additionally, seeing that the Norse were more than successful in exploring the coasts and rivers of Europe (with, as you all know, some making it as far as Africa and the Byzantine Empire) and engaging in trade, it appears to me as only natural for a settled Viking community to eventually start fostering explorers who travels south along the North American eastern coast. Would it then be possible for them to eventually reach the somewhat more developed native civilisations in Mesoamerica? Additionally, is there any possibility that from trade and exchange of knowledge with the Norse, the native population begins to use iron in their weaponry centuries before the arrival of other European explorers?

Please fill me up with some input.
 
Is it really possible to keep Newfoundland completely uninhabited for all that time? A couple of bad winters might delay some people, certainly, but...When did the Beothuk arrive OTL? Do we know for sure that there weren't people there before they did?

Also, according to the following link, the wealth of "Vinland" may have actually been in New Brunswick, with L'Anse aux Meadows just being a base camp:
http://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/lhn-nhs/nl/meadows/natcul/vinland.aspx
 
Is it really possible to keep Newfoundland completely uninhabited for all that time? A couple of bad winters might delay some people, certainly, but...When did the Beothuk arrive OTL? Do we know for sure that there weren't people there before they did?

Also, according to the following link, the wealth of "Vinland" may have actually been in New Brunswick, with L'Anse aux Meadows just being a base camp:
http://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/lhn-nhs/nl/meadows/natcul/vinland.aspx
The Beothuk culture as we know it formed around 1500. What the Norse encountered were the ancestors or predecessors of the Beothuk and Dorset peoples.

EDIT: Never mind, the Beothuks were there when the Norse came. Sorry!
 
WI the Viking kings decide to exile politicol dissidents, enemies, and pagans to vinland. What I mean is as you know the viking relegion was fading so in order to escape persecution many vikings flee to Vinland. Also the King of the vikings decides to send all his enemies to this far off land. This might lead to much more settlement in Vinland
 
Is it really possible to keep Newfoundland completely uninhabited for all that time? A couple of bad winters might delay some people, certainly, but...When did the Beothuk arrive OTL? Do we know for sure that there weren't people there before they did?
Bad winters were the best I could think of, but I'm open to suggestions. I find it practically impossible to get any reasonable estimate of what the population figures were in northeastern Canada around the year 1000 (all I know is that from the Sagas, the natives outnumbered the Norse). There appears to exist two distinct subdivisions within the Innu population (at least when the French arrived), that is the Montagnais (settlers) and the Naskapi (nomads). While I personally find it plausible that a series of bad winters could drive most of the nomads further southwest, settlers will be a bit difficult to deal with.

Basically, I'm looking for any reasonably plausible excuse to, if not entirely eliminate the Innu and Beothuk, then at least decimate them. (Hrm... That sentence sounds a bit uncomfortably Nazi...)

Also, according to the following link, the wealth of "Vinland" may have actually been in New Brunswick, with L'Anse aux Meadows just being a base camp
To me it seems more likely that the Norse, arriving from Greenland, would begin to form a settlement in Newfoundland before going as far south as New Brunswick. However, the link you provided opens up for another interpretation.

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WI the Viking kings decide to exile politicol dissidents, enemies, and pagans to vinland. What I mean is as you know the viking relegion was fading so in order to escape persecution many vikings flee to Vinland. Also the King of the vikings decides to send all his enemies to this far off land. This might lead to much more settlement in Vinland

That sounds very tempting, and as a fan of Norse mythology, the persistence of Asatro in a region far beyond the influence of the Pope and the Christian kings sounds like the kind of -wank I would enjoy. The question is, would it be possible to get away with it? If so, then it would be likely to have first one wave of settlers arriving during king Olaf II (the Saint)'s Christianisation of Norway in the 11th century, and a second one, a few decades later, of Swedish pagans fleeing king Inge the Elder's persecution of worshippers of the old gods.
 
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Perhaps, instead of trying to eliminate the Dorset or the Beothuks through bad weather, you might instead postulate that a combination of weather deterioration and harassment from the Norwegian Crown make the Norse settlers in Iceland and Greenland migrate to Vinland (Newfoundland). In OTL this happened during what was called the "Little Ice Age", starting in 1350 or so, however, it could start sooner. The Norwegian Crown was also trying to assume control over Iceland and Greenland around this time.

If the colonists on Greenland and Iceland decide to reject the Norwegian Crown, and decide to move to Newfoundland, I am reasonably sure they could carve out a territory and hold it from Dorset and Beothuk incursions. Newfoundland, after all, is more hospitable than Greenland, and probably Iceland also.

However, should the above mentioned climatic deterioration be too severe to make even Newfoundland a suitable position for their colony, a short distance to the south there is a much more suitable island... Prince Edward Island. Warmer weather, fertile soil, and access to the Magdalene Island fisheries/walrus grounds would make it a very suitable place for them to start a colony and flourish. In addition, the fact that Prince Edward Island had no year-round native population would also make it easier.
 
Therefore, I have decided to make it easy for me, and simply have the point of divergence being that because of a series of bad winters, much fewer (if any) Beothuk and Innu actually settles in Newfoundland and Labrador, allowing the Vikings to find a largely desolate, yet perfectly habitable land, much like Iceland.
Wouldn't the harsh winters have a negative effect on the local flora and fauna? The resulting wasteland would seem an unlikely place for settling. The Saga of Erik the Red indicates that the initial explorers had brought cattle with them and consequently had need of pastures.

A better point of departure might be if events go slightly different for the natives due to internal reasons. C. 1000 AD the Thule culture (Inuit) emerge from western Alaska and attempt to expand eastward across the Arctic. Displacing the less advanced Dorset culture (Tuniit). They might be having their own population boom.

What if the Thule attempt to migrate towards the south, instead of the east? The result might be their own version of the Migration Period, with multiple tribes moving towards the Yukon and British Columbia. Wars with local tribes will preoccupy them for the next couple of centuries.

Meanwhile the Dorset culture is in population decline. Their way of life was based almost entirely on hunting sea mammals. With an ongoing climate change, due to the Medieval Warm Period, the ices are withdrawing and their sources for food and clothing are directly affected. In the original timeline the problem was resolved with gradual conquest and assimilation by the Inuit. In this one they fail to innovate on their own and are starving out. An easier target for an invasion from the east.

Additionally, seeing that the Norse were more than successful in exploring the coasts and rivers of Europe (with, as you all know, some making it as far as Africa and the Byzantine Empire) and engaging in trade, it appears to me as only natural for a settled Viking community to eventually start fostering explorers who travels south along the North American eastern coast. Would it then be possible for them to eventually reach the somewhat more developed native civilisations in Mesoamerica? Additionally, is there any possibility that from trade and exchange of knowledge with the Norse, the native population begins to use iron in their weaponry centuries before the arrival of other European explorers?
While it was possible for them to reach Mesoamerica, they might hesitate to spread weapon technology. The Saga of Erik the Red includes a scene where the Skraelings attempt to buy iron weapons from the Vikings. The Viking leaders prevent this kind of trade. ..."a market was formed between them; and this people [the Skraelings] in their purchases preferred red cloth; in exchange they had furs to give, and skins quite grey. They wished also to buy swords and lances, but Karlsefni and Snorri forbad it." See: http://sagadb.org/eiriks_saga_rauda.en#5
 
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Perhaps, instead of trying to eliminate the Dorset or the Beothuks through bad weather, you might instead postulate that a combination of weather deterioration and harassment from the Norwegian Crown make the Norse settlers in Iceland and Greenland migrate to Vinland (Newfoundland). In OTL this happened during what was called the "Little Ice Age", starting in 1350 or so, however, it could start sooner. The Norwegian Crown was also trying to assume control over Iceland and Greenland around this time.

If the colonists on Greenland and Iceland decide to reject the Norwegian Crown, and decide to move to Newfoundland, I am reasonably sure they could carve out a territory and hold it from Dorset and Beothuk incursions. Newfoundland, after all, is more hospitable than Greenland, and probably Iceland also.
I like this idea a lot. It would appear that the Althing was established in 930, and Norway assumed control over Iceland fully in 1262 after a longer time of establishing the island as a vassal state.

However, if this active attempt by the Norwegian Crown is taken up earlier (say by Canute the Great, after all, that man was pretty serious about extending his realm of influence) the Icelanders, by this time far more Pagan than the settlers in the continental Nordic countries sees the assertion of Norwegian rule along with pressure for them to adopt Christianity leads to a many Icelanders and Greenlanders migrating westward. Since there were considerably less natives in Vinland in this timeline, a small settlement on Vinland has been allowed to survive. When a fleet of immigrating Icelanders and Greenlanders arrive, they are numerous enough to form a permanent settlement and keep the Dorset and Beothuk at bay. This is then followed by an Ásatrú Exodus from Scandinavia, significantly boosting the population numbers in Vinland, and soon leading to the establishment of central government in the form of an Althing. Norway will most likely then continue to claim Vinland as a province for ages to come (much like the Danish kings would claim Greenland for centuries), however the Little Ice Age puts an end to any serious attempts by the Norwegian Crown to assert its power there, and also (like how contact with Greenland was lost in the early 15th century), contact with the New World is also lost during the Little Ice Age. And thus, far away from Europe, a Norse nation continues to grow isolated from Europe.

Would that be probable?

A better point of departure might be if events go slightly different for the natives due to internal reasons. C. 1000 AD the Thule culture (Inuit) emerge from western Alaska and attempt to expand eastward across the Arctic. Displacing the less advanced Dorset culture (Tuniit). They might be having their own population boom.

What if the Thule attempt to migrate towards the south, instead of the east? The result might be their own version of the Migration Period, with multiple tribes moving towards the Yukon and British Columbia. Wars with local tribes will preoccupy them the next couple of centuries.

Meanwhile the Dorset culture is in population decline. Their way of life was based almost entirely on hunting sea mammals. With an ongoing climate change, due to the Medieval Warm Period, the ices are withdrawing and their sources for food and clothing are directly affected. In the original timeline the problem was resolved with gradual conquest and assimilation by the Inuit. In this one they fail to innovate on their own and are starving out. An easier target for an invasion from the east.
In all honesty, I think that POD is just perfect. I'll go with that one (though I'm still tempted to keep the aspect about Canute the Great and the Norwegian Crown trying to assert his power over Iceland in order to allow a population boost in Vinland).
 
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I like this idea a lot. It would appear that the Althing was established in 930, and Norway assumed control over Iceland fully in 1262 after a longer time of establishing the island as a vassal state.

However, if this active attempt by the Norwegian Crown is taken up earlier (say by Canute the Great, after all, that man was pretty serious about extending his realm of influence) the Icelanders, by this time far more Pagan than the settlers in the continental Nordic countries sees the assertion of Norwegian rule along with pressure for them to adopt Christianity leads to a many Icelanders and Greenlanders migrating westward. Since there were considerably less natives in Vinland in this timeline, a small settlement on Vinland has been allowed to survive. When a fleet of immigrating Icelanders and Greenlanders arrive, they are numerous enough to form a permanent settlement and keep the Dorset and Beothuk at bay. This is then followed by an Ásatrú Exodus from Scandinavia, significantly boosting the population numbers in Vinland, and soon leading to the establishment of central government in the form of an Althing. Norway will most likely then continue to claim Vinland as a province for ages to come (much like the Danish kings would claim Greenland for centuries), however the Little Ice Age puts an end to any serious attempts by the Norwegian Crown to assert its power there, and also (like how contact with Greenland was lost in the early 15th century), contact with the New World is also lost during the Little Ice Age. And thus, far away from Europe, a Norse nation continues to grow isolated from Europe.

Would that be probable?
Sounds like a fascinating scenario. If the Vinland Norse trade at all with the Native Americans, then horses (and possibly cattle and pigs as well) will sweep across North America, probably as fast as they did OTL from the Spanish. If that happens, Native American population densities will explode, and societies will become more sedentary, and they'll begin to gain resistance to some diseases (possibly smallpox, if the Norse bring it over as well).

By the time European contact with the New World is reestablished (as it almost inevitably will be), it will be much harder to colonize, although likely still possible. This scenario has endless ramifications. I'd love to see a timeline based off of this idea.

And by the way, welcome to the forum! It's always great to have new members who come in thinking right off the bat. It took me a while to find my feet, but you seem to have found them.
 
This is then followed by an Ásatrú Exodus from Scandinavia, significantly boosting the population numbers in Vinland,
I do find that quite implausible, considering how hard and risky it would be to ferry people across. Maybe a small diaspora would actually make the effort, but hardly a significant amount.
 
And by the way, welcome to the forum! It's always great to have new members who come in thinking right off the bat. It took me a while to find my feet, but you seem to have found them.

Thank you!


Sounds like a fascinating scenario. If the Vinland Norse trade at all with the Native Americans, then horses (and possibly cattle and pigs as well) will sweep across North America, probably as fast as they did OTL from the Spanish. If that happens, Native American population densities will explode, and societies will become more sedentary, and they'll begin to gain resistance to some diseases (possibly smallpox, if the Norse bring it over as well).

I never thought about horses and pigs (then again, the Norse did manage to get horses to Iceland, perhaps they could get them the final trip to Vinland), thinking more about bringing the natives knowledge about how to smelt iron, and make weaponry out of it. However, the more to equip the natives for the eventual confrontation with the Europeans, the better.


I do find that quite implausible, considering how hard and risky it would be to ferry people across. Maybe a small diaspora would actually make the effort, but hardly a significant amount.

You do (much to my annoyance) probably have a point there. But then again, it doesn't have to be in the thousands that the Pagans arrive, say 200-400 at each “exodus”? Enough to ensure the continued practice and prominence of Ásatrú in Vinland (keep in mind that by around the year 1100 there will probably only be a few thousand Norse in Vinland)?
 
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What if the Thule attempt to migrate towards the south, instead of the east? The result might be their own version of the Migration Period, with multiple tribes moving towards the Yukon and British Columbia. Wars with local tribes will preoccupy them the next couple of centuries.
Although I agree this is better than trying to move the Beothuk out, I do see one problem. The reason the Inuit spread east is because their culture and traditions was built around living in the Arctic and the animals and plants they can find there. While I wouldn't see any problem with them adapting to a different way of life if they had to, it would be easier for them to spread into areas to the east where the same kinds of animals and plants they are used to also live. Is there any way to keep them from moving East, so that they have to move south?
 
Although I agree this is better than trying to move the Beothuk out, I do see one problem. [...] Is there any way to keep them [the Inuits] from moving East, so that they have to move south?
Hrm... this web page (http://www.mnh.si.edu/vikings/voyage/subset/markland/archeo.html) has the following to say about the Dorset:

"Dorset are an old arctic culture that preceded that of Thule and modern Inuit (Eskimo) culture. Dorset people living in the Eastern Canadian Arctic and northern Greenland during the early period of the Norse occupation in Greenland (1000-1200). Dorset people did not use dogs or dogsleds, or the bow and arrow, and for this reason they probably were not a major threat to Norse explorers."

Whereas of the Thule, the following is said:

"After A.D. 1200, a new Eskimo culture named Thule expanded east from Alaska and colonized northern Canada and Greenland. Thule people had more efficient hunting and transport systems than Dorset people. They hunted large whales and walrus, used dogs and dog sleds, and lived in larger communities. Their Asian-style sinew-backed bows would have made them dangerous adversaries for the Norse as well."

How about if the Thule first manages to tame dogs or develop sleds later in this timeline, thus halting, or at least impeding their progress into the east for enough time for the Norse to settle more thoroughly?
 
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Well it seems like this is going to be my first post on the forum, so allow me to begin by saying "Hello everyone!" Having done that, allow me to lay out the topic I am curious about.
Hello, and welcome to AH.com!

While there no doubt have been discussions about this before, and likely even timelines about this before, I would like to embark (within a month or two) on creating a timeline in which the Norse explorers manage to form a permanent settlement in Vinland that survives and continues to grow.
Somewhat cliché and beaten to death at this point, but possible. Some of us have already considered doing just that or have already done so.

While a butterfly as always seems like the most eloquent way to start an alternate timeline, for all I've managed to find about the Norse settlement, no single butterfly seems capable of allowing the Vikings to survive in a believable way.
The Battle of Svolder, perhaps? If that POD is played right, then it's possible to not only have waves of people coming over (accompanied by positive propaganda), but also medieval Christianity arriving at Vinland's shores. At least that's a POD I would use, but that's because I like complex POD's.

The Skrälings will always take them out eventually anyway.
Not necessarily. It is certainly possible to have a positive relationship between the Norsemen and the Aboriginals, if played right. The Mi'kmaq or the Innu, for example, would react differently than the Beothuk.

Therefore, I have decided to make it easy for me, and simply have the point of divergence being that because of a series of bad winters, much fewer (if any) Beothuk and Innu actually settles in Newfoundland and Labrador, allowing the Vikings to find a largely desolate, yet perfectly habitable land, much like Iceland.
That really does not work, due to one little factor called the Medieval Warm Period. Have them leave earlier, and the Norsemen would have to deal not with the Beothuk, but with the Tunit (aka the Dorset culture - the term "Tunit" is actually a borrowing from Inuktitut) - which I don't think is preferable, given how they were so weak in the High Arctic that they were easily overrun by the Inuit. So, the Beothuk it is - with or without the Mi'kmaq further south.

Or, have someone other than Þórfinn and/or Leifur Eiríksson make the crossing. Which is unfortunately ASB - or not, if there are waves of refugees from Svolder.
 
However, should the above mentioned climatic deterioration be too severe to make even Newfoundland a suitable position for their colony,
Umm, Newfoundland is further south than Iceland and Greenland and is along ocean currents that would make it quite warm in comparison to the latter two during the Little Ice Age. Labrador I could see, but not the Island of Newfoundland.
 
And thus, far away from Europe, a Norse nation continues to grow isolated from Europe.

Would that be probable?
That bit - not really. The Grand Banks had been long known in OTL amongst fishermen from the western shores of Europe, such as the Basques, Normans, Bretons, and the English, for its abundance of fish - long before any colonization of the New World. With that backdrop, it would be hard for Vinland to be completely isolated. That plus, in OTL, the explorations of the Portuguese (the name "Labrador" is of Portuguese origin, for example) - meaning that, if OTL ran its course in Europe, the Portuguese would inevitably "Christianize" the Vinlanders (of which Ásátru could theoretically survive in Christianized form, if disguised well enough) and local Aboriginal peoples with the help of the Templars (well, actually, the Order of Christ - but let's not have semantics get in the way) and probably turn Vinland into a colony or a protectorate. After a while, the Templars are probably replaced by the Jesuits.
 
Umm, Newfoundland is further south than Iceland and Greenland and is along ocean currents that would make it quite warm in comparison to the latter two during the Little Ice Age. Labrador I could see, but not the Island of Newfoundland.
Yes, Newfoundland would be warmer than Greenland but from all I have read on the Greenland Vikings, by the time of the Little Ice Age they were farmers, or pastoralists in any event. With the onset of the Little Ice Age, conditions in Newfoundland may become too hostile for them to flourish. Even now, Newfoundland, except for a few spots is not farming country. Therefore, in my opinion, if you don't want them in New England, Prince Edward Island is the most suitable farming country in Atlantic Canada.

Its a dead certainty that if the Greenland Vikings moved to Newfoundland, merchants would follow them. After all, medieval merchants sailed to Greenland, its not a great stretch to sail from Greenland to Newfoundland, even with say 14th century sailing technology. In fact, if some of the Viking legends are taken at face value there was cross-Atlantic exploration/trading at that time.
 
Is it really possible to keep Newfoundland completely uninhabited for all that time? ... Do we know for sure that there weren't people there before they did?
Yes we do. The Maritime Archaic culture of sea mammal hunters appears in Newfoundland and Labrador around the year 7,000 BC. They are theorized to be direct ancestors to the Dorset culture, the Beothuk and even the speakers of the Algonquian. The people of this culture engaged in long-distance trade with their boats. Though the southernmost evidence of their presence has been found in Maine. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maritime_Archaic

There is evidence of continuous settlement in Newfoundland ever since. But the Beothuk in Newfoundland might not have the best population base for expansion. They were next contacted by Europeans in the early 16th century. Estimates of their numbers at the time vary between the low estimate of 500 people and the high estimate of 2,000 people.

Which might still seem as overwhelming numbers to the Viking explorers and settlers. Because their own numbers were underwhelming. "During this time much talk took place in Brattahlid about making ready to go to Vinland the Good, and it was asserted that they would there find good choice lands." ... "There were one hundred and sixty men in their ships."

A better organized expedition with more people involved might have better chances at survival.
 
To me it seems more likely that the Norse, arriving from Greenland, would begin to form a settlement in Newfoundland before going as far south as New Brunswick. However, the link you provided opens up for another interpretation.
Not necessarily. The settlement in L'Anse aux Meadows included white walnuts in its food stores. The trees growing them, Juglans cinerea, are not native to either Greenland or Newfoundland. But there is a population of them in New Brunswick. Which has been used as evidence that the settlers regularly traveled south to locate food sources or traded with people settled there.

That sounds very tempting, and as a fan of Norse mythology, the persistence of Asatro in a region far beyond the influence of the Pope and the Christian kings sounds like the kind of -wank I would enjoy. The question is, would it be possible to get away with it? If so, then it would be likely to have first one wave of settlers arriving during king Olaf II (the Saint)'s Christianisation of Norway in the 11th century
1) You might be overestimating Olaf II's role in the Christianization process. The settling of Vinland took place late in the reign of Olaf I Trygvasson, King of Norway (reigned 995-1000). See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olaf_Tryggvason#Forcible_conversions and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christianization_of_Scandinavia#Norway

"Olaf I then made it his priority to convert the country to Christianity using all means at his disposal. By destroying temples and torturing and killing pagan resisters he succeeded in making every part of Norway at least nominally Christian. Expanding his efforts to the Norse settlements in the west the kings' sagas credit him with Christianizing the Faroes, Orkney, Shetland, Iceland and Greenland. After Olaf's defeat at the Battle of Svolder in 1000 there was a partial relapse to paganism in Norway under the rule of the Jarls of Lade."

2) The sagas indicate that Olaf I had managed to convert Leif Ericson, prior to the Vinland mission. And that Leif served for a while as a missionary in Greenland. :

"He joined the body-guard of King Olaf Tryggvason, and the king formed an excellent opinion of him, and it appeared to him that Leif was a well-bred man. Once upon a time the king entered into conversation with Leif, and asked him, "Dost thou purpose sailing to Greenland in summer?"

Leif answered, "I should wish so to do, if it is your will." The king replied, "I think it may well be so; thou shalt go my errand, and preach Christianity in Greenland."

Leif said that he was willing to undertake it, but that, for himself, he considered that message a difficult one to proclaim in Greenland. But the king said that he knew no man who was better fitted for the work than he. "And thou shalt carry," said he, "good luck with thee in it." "That can only be," said Leif, "if I carry yours with me." "

3) Iceland was officially Christianized in the year 1000. Though how sincere were the converts is another question.

Olaf's efforts to Christianize Iceland were at first only partially successful. His representative Thangbrand managed to convert several prominent Icelanders between 997 and 999. But the guy was a little too eager to convert people at sword point and his "violence and murders" got him outlawed. So Olaf I got creative. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thangbrand and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christianisation_of_Iceland

"He refused Icelandic seafarers access to Norwegian ports and took as hostages several Icelanders then dwelling in Norway. This cut off all trade between Iceland and its main trading partner. Some of the hostages taken by King Olaf were the sons of prominent Icelandic chieftains, whom he threatened to kill unless the Icelanders accepted Christianity."

The response was somewhat predictable. The adherents of the two rival religions heatedly argued about the proper way to adress the situation. But pragmatism won the day. In 1000, Thorgeir Thorkelsson, law speaker of the Althing , decided in favor of converting Iceland to Christianity. He was himself a pagan priest but made a show of his conversion to the new faith. His initial terms included that the pagans were still allowed to privately practice their religion at home. The church banned this practice a few years following the official conversion. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Þorgeir_Ljósvetningagoði

, and a second one, a few decades later, of Swedish pagans fleeing king Inge the Elder's persecution of worshippers of the old gods.
Sweden already had a Christian minority since the 830s, resulting from the efforts of Ansgar, the Apostle of the North. Through the 9th century, Västergötland (West Gothland) became increasingly Christian. While the rest of Sweden probably had few Christians, if any at all. Olof Skötkonung, King of Sweden (reigned 995-1022) became the first true Christian King. Baptized by a missionary called Sigfrid. But unlike his counterpart in Norway, Olof was in no position to violently convert his subjects. He helped set a new Bishopric at Skara, but conversions were peaceful, voluntary and few in numbers. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ansgar and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christianization_of_Sweden#Sweden and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olof_Skötkonung
 
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