The Legacy of Saint Brendan: A History of the Western Hemisphere, 512 to 1400

Introduction
Introduction: Or where I, Rognvald, try to explain the thesis

It has been many years since I have participated actively on alternatehistory.com, and I recognize that the culture of the board may have changed since those long off days of 2015. The rigors of scholarship and accuracy and the hatred of the crime of implausibility may well have increased, and indeed I would hope have increased, since those days. And yet, at this time I prepare to present to you a work of alternate history that may belong more to the fringes of the History channel, rather than this illustrious board.

For what I intend to write about, and discuss in the following pages, is the effect of an Irish discovery of the New World in the 6th-century.

Now, before the pitchforks are distributed and the torches lit, let me explain myself.

In the 6th-century AD, a monk named Brendan (later a Saint) and his band of Irish clerics went on a voyage. They encountered many hardships, both theological and physical. They discovered the island on which Judas Iscariot, on Sundays and feast days, enjoyed temporary respite from the pit of Hell. They discovered a fish as large as an island (a commonly recurring theme in antiquity and early medieval nautical adventures), and they also discovered a new land- the “Island of the Blessed”, where the Saints of God do dwell.

All well and good- but what does the (mostly second hand) account of the voyage of a monk in the Dark Ages have to do with the New World?

Over the years, various individuals have maintained that Saint Brendan and his fellows, in discovering the Island of the Blessed, discovered the Americas. These were and remain fringe theories- there is no proof that the Irish monk even came close to the Atlantic seaboard of North America. In fact, with how much mythology and theology is mixed in with the account, some could argue that the voyage never took place at all or was, more likely, much smaller in scope.

However, and stay with me here-

What if St. Brendan did, in fact, discover the Americas?

The main concern some would have is whether the boat Brendan used could have made the journey from the Emerald Isle to, say, Newfoundland. However, a more modern explorer, Tom Severin, undertook the trip in a similar boat to what Brendan would have used (a currach), and was able to accomplish the voyage. So it is theoretically possible for Brendan to have accomplished this trip.

But this, then, begs the question (at least from myself)-

What impact would St. Brendan’s discovery had had on the history of the world?

I veered between two extremes in my brainstorming of this project. The first (or, as I termed it, the “Vinland” Theory) held that this discovery would have had little impact on world affairs. Maybe Brendan or another monk would revisit the New World, maybe erect a monument of some kind, but due to hostile natives and a general lack of support from the outside, the discovery would have no impact on future developments in the New World or the Old.

The second (or, as I termed it, the “Turtledove” Theory) held that this discovery would have unalterably changed the future of both the Old World and the New. While perhaps more suited to the ASB forum, due to a heavy use of butterfly-pesticide, I envisioned medieval kingdoms propping along the East Coast of the OTL United States and Canada. Anglo-Saxons fleeing Norman oppression! Jews! Lost Byzantine traders! But, unfortunately, this would not be very likely either.

So, my conclusion, the one that I’m basing this project on, is somewhere in the middle. Perhaps St. Brendan’s discovery would not have any major impact initially. But later on, over the years?

It would change the course of human history forever.

So, I hope that you all enjoy my explorations of this idea, as the butterflies, unimpeded, begin to flap their wings, and as a monk, his beard flecked with sea-spray, takes his first steps into a brave new world...
 
Really interesting idea for a TL. I'm no expert on Irish history, but am curious to see where this goes. Have you considered having Irish monks flee to North America in response to a Norse like group?
 
Chapter One, Part One: The Voyages of Saint Brendan
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Chapter One, Part One: The Voyages of Saint Brendan, 512 to 517



For being the “discoverer” of a new continent, Brendan was surprisingly reluctant to follow up on his initial expedition. He had encountered what he had termed as the Insulam de Benedictus in 512, during a voyage to deliver supplies to a monastery that his Irish brothers had established on what most churchmen referred to as the “isle of Thule” [1]. When he was forced to divert course due to a storm and after wandering the sea for weeks (relying on the supplies bound for Thule to survive), he and his brothers came across an island that none of them had ever seen or heard of.

This initial discovery was disconcerting to the Irishmen, who put ashore to try to replenish their increasingly diminishing stock of food. They found the land teeming with game, from which they were able to harvest meat to dry and salt to prepare them for their coming journey to try to rediscover civilization. They did find some indications of life, such as abandoned camp sites and ashes from cooking fires, but they did not encounter any human inhabitants. After just short of a week, Brendan and his fellow monks erected a makeshift cross, thanked the Lord for His bounty, and set off again in their currach.

After a perilous voyage, Brendan and his fellows managed to all but stumble back to Ireland, arriving at the monastery he had founded near Ardfert. There, they rested and told the tale of their journey. It was here that Brendan identified the island as the Insulam de Benedictus, theorizing that the abandoned camps they had discovered were where saints had been staying before “secreting themselves, so as to not blind us mortal creatures with their brilliance.” This was enough for word to spread across Ireland and for Brendan’s name to crop up in a missal to the Pope, but the reaction in the Irish Christian community was mixed, to say the least.

To the “younger” churchmen [2], as well as many lay people in Western Ireland, the report was seen as an exciting piece of news. Ireland, still a relatively new member of the Christian fold, was obsessed with tales of miracles. This both confirmed the veracity of the faith to those that may have still harbored pagan sentiments. This culminated in a movement among a small group of clerics and lay brothers to visit the island again, to see it for themselves, and to, perhaps, receive wisdom from the saints who dwelt thereon.

To the “elder” churchmen of Ireland, many of whom were Brendan’s peers, the idea of the island was viewed either with vague interest or thinly veiled disbelief. As the movement to return to the island became more influential in Western Ireland, these elder churchmen began to be frustrated with the entire tale. There was still great work to be done, with missions to the Picts and missions to the Anglo-Saxons underway. One churchman lamented that “young men, ideal for the work of God among the unbelievers, stare at the sea and talk of sea voyages.” Even though those who desired to sail to the Insulam de Benedictus were never close to a majority among the Western Irish faithful, evidently many intelligent and quick believers were among their ranks.

For his part, Brendan acted much like nothing at all had happened. He went around Ireland, establishing monasteries, much as he had before embarking on his voyage. He did not speak very often on his trip, sometimes fleeing from crowds who wished to here of his time on the island. As time went on and the other church leaders became less enamored with what his story had wrought, he found his support from the Christian elite dwindling. This drove Brendan to anguish, as he lacked the means to continue what he viewed as his life’s work. He withdrew from public church life and secluded himself in the monastery at Ardfert.

However, his desires for monastic seclusion did not prevent his door from being thronged by the small but increasingly vocal club of those that wished to sail to the island. Now that he was in one place, it made for an easy target for those trying to glean knowledge from him. Brendan felt so harassed that, according to legend, he dug a tunnel from his room to a nearby hilltop so he could sneak out and sit in peace.

His refusal to engage with his, for lack of a better term, fan club, eventually annoyed some of the more zealous members. Ten men, obtaining a currach, proclaimed that they would travel to the Insulam de Benedictus themselves. Relying on notes and suppositions, they set off and were never seen again. Perhaps it was the guilt of their deaths that finally shook Brendan out of his stupor and encouraged him to set off on a second voyage in 517- five years after his original trip.

This decision was met with glee from those that remained of his following, and with measured optimism by the elder churchmen. They reasoned that if Brendan and his followers disappeared, like the first follow-up expedition had, they would be able to direct Christian attentions towards more immediate concerns. If the voyage did end up being successful, however slim the chance, they could felt that the standing of the Irish Church in all Christendom would rise higher. Therefore, Brendan found a surprising amount of support for his voyage.

With twenty-eight others in six currachs, Brendan set off for the Insulam de Benedictus. He traced his path the best he could remember, and, much to his own surprise, he and his fellows arrived at the island after a few months. Two had died along the way, leaving this first purposeful voyage with twenty-seven men.

Construction of the planned monastery began almost immediately, in the shadow of the cross Brendan and his fellows had erected five years before, in the style of the monastic houses of western Ireland- rocks, fit tightly together, to form almost beehive-like structures. For a month, the work went on with no interruptions; some men reported being watched, but most attributed it to the eyes of saints.

They would get a shocking awakening, when five men clad in furs arrived when they were holding Mass one Sabbath morning.

These men were dark of skin and dark of hair, unlike any men that the Irish monks had ever seen. They spoke a language unfamiliar to them as well. What was worse, they did not seem to recognize the sign of the cross, nor the name of the Christ. For a long hour, the two groups tried to converse, until they managed to develop some kind of rudimentary signing. From what the monks could gather, the men wanted to know from whence they came. They pointed to the sea, in the direction of Ireland. The men wanted to know if they had any food. The monks gave them some meat, which they ate quickly. The men then wandered around the camp, followed by small clumps of clerics. One stared at the crucifix carried by Brendan, fixating on the figure of the crucified Christ and looking rather uncomfortable; another rummaged through a basket, before a sharp cry stopped that line of investigation. Eventually, the five got bored and left, leaving the monks confused.

This confusion soon turned into anger, as they rounded on Brendan. These men were not saints, they cried, and Brendan had led them to some other island by trickery. Brendan pointed out that the cross he had built was still there; he lamented that, by mortals treading on the island, perhaps the Saints had abandoned the now tainted ground and allowed strange men to settle. While this mollified most, six monks, frustrated and sad, took one of the currachs and were never heard from again. This left twenty-one men under Brendan’s authority.

As the year wore on and the monastery continued to rise, the strange men (that the Irish began to call Daoine Craiceann, or “Skin People”, for their animal skin clothing) made periodic visits. These were usually brief, and left the Irish feeling unsettled. The Skin People seemed to have little concept of personal property (at least Irish personal property), and tended to steal whatever wasn’t being carefully watched. Brendan, growing frustrated but trying to maintain Christian patience, ordered the erection of a makeshift palisade to help secure the monastery and prevent the entry of the Skin People at will. This seemed to quiet things down, especially after Brendan made it his own policy to assign a monk to shadow a Skin Man if he entered the palisade.

The Skin People, seeing that they could no longer just take what they wanted from the hapless Irish, began to offer trades- animal pelts, bone beads, baskets, and even, much to the embarrassment of the monks, at least one or two young women. Over time, the two groups even began to develop a sort of working language- while they were unable to fully understand each other, by the time the monastery was complete (the beginning of winter 517), the two groups could hold trade conversations and exchange basic information.

The chief of the Skin People and some of his men even attended the ceremony when Brendan dedicated the monastery, on November 22, 517. While they had no idea what was going on and acted benevolently confused for most of it, Brendan took it as a sign that they were slowly coming around to a belief in Christ Jesus.

The completion of the monastery in 517 marked the first permanent structure built by Europeans in the Western Hemisphere. It also marked the beginning of the long history of contact between the New World and the Old.

[1] Likely referring to small outposts of Irish Christianity in what was later known as Iceland, or some other island outpost North of the British Isles.

[2] All relative terms. Brendan himself was very young, as were several of his peers.
 
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Really interesting idea for a TL. I'm no expert on Irish history, but am curious to see where this goes. Have you considered having Irish monks flee to North America in response to a Norse like group?
Thank you! I hope that this holds your interest. I have thought about that, and something like that may indeed happen.

Looking forward to this.
Thank you!

Hmmmmm. This sounds promising! Please, do continue :)
Thank you! I will do my best to continue.

Continue this, and don't abandon it!!!
I will most certainly try!
 
Great first update. Curious to see how many colonists St. Brendan can recruit, and when women and children are going to come over.
 
Great start, thank you.
Very interested to see where you take this. I can see the butterflies being relatively limited early on but breeding faster later!

Just a couple of points*:
One stared at the image of the crucified Christ, looking rather uncomfortable
It's actually most likely that the crosses erected by the Irish monks would have been empty crosses, not crucifixes. There would probably have been some crucifixes, yes, but these would have been small ones for personal use, not the larger altar, processional or erected ones. This wasn't just for religious reasons (the ban on idolatry, etc) but also practical - making large human-shaped images was difficult and costly. The crucifix became more common from the 11th to 14th centuries, particularly popularised in the 13th century following a vision of Christ on the cross by Bernard of Clairvaux, IIRC. The use of the crucifix instead of the empty cross on the altar as an integral mandated part of the Roman Catholic rite was established much later (late 16th century by Pope Pius V, I think).
at least one or two young women
Curious to see how many colonists St. Brendan can recruit, and when women and children are going to come over.
The Celtic/Irish clergy were not required to be celibate, so there is a chance of some relationships occurring if (and it's a big if) the women were converted and baptised. Relationships with pagans, either by clergy or laypeople, would not be allowed (though human nature will probably lead to some anyway :rolleyes:).
the beginning of the long history of contact between the New World and the Old
Irish monks flee to North America in response to a Norse like group
This is well before the Mediæval Warm Period so there's a good chance of some long-term contact. Similarly there's still a couple of centuries before the first Norse raids on Ireland (OTL end of 8th century), so having an established colony to flee to is within the bounds of plausibility, I think - lots of people would be lost at sea, but some would get there. The main problem is that although the sea currents are okay for Ireland to the Blessed Isle, the winds are not.


* I only bother to nit-pick on good TLs, so please take my comments as constructive criticism - and feel free to ignore me to tell the story the way you want to.
 
Great first update. Curious to see how many colonists St. Brendan can recruit, and when women and children are going to come over.
At first this will likely be an ecclesiastical settlement, but over time? Who knows!

rooting for a "metis" irish society emerging in the region out of this.
Mixing will definitely take place over time!

Hoping to hear about basque settlements in the future :)
Perhaps!

This looks to be something of epic scale. I love it already.
Thank you!

Great start, thank you.
Very interested to see where you take this. I can see the butterflies being relatively limited early on but breeding faster later!

Just a couple of points*:

It's actually most likely that the crosses erected by the Irish monks would have been empty crosses, not crucifixes. There would probably have been some crucifixes, yes, but these would have been small ones for personal use, not the larger altar, processional or erected ones. This wasn't just for religious reasons (the ban on idolatry, etc) but also practical - making large human-shaped images was difficult and costly. The crucifix became more common from the 11th to 14th centuries, particularly popularised in the 13th century following a vision of Christ on the cross by Bernard of Clairvaux, IIRC. The use of the crucifix instead of the empty cross on the altar as an integral mandated part of the Roman Catholic rite was established much later (late 16th century by Pope Pius V, I think).


The Celtic/Irish clergy were not required to be celibate, so there is a chance of some relationships occurring if (and it's a big if) the women were converted and baptised. Relationships with pagans, either by clergy or laypeople, would not be allowed (though human nature will probably lead to some anyway :rolleyes:).


This is well before the Mediæval Warm Period so there's a good chance of some long-term contact. Similarly there's still a couple of centuries before the first Norse raids on Ireland (OTL end of 8th century), so having an established colony to flee to is within the bounds of plausibility, I think - lots of people would be lost at sea, but some would get there. The main problem is that although the sea currents are okay for Ireland to the Blessed Isle, the winds are not.


* I only bother to nit-pick on good TLs, so please take my comments as constructive criticism - and feel free to ignore me to tell the story the way you want to.
Thank you so much for the feedback! I’ll admit the finer details of the life of Irish Clergy in the 6th century is something I’m not an expert in. My research has generally focused later (11th on) and (if my username doesn’t give it away) from the opposite end of the trench lines. I can trim the references to crucifixes up for sure.
 
Chapter One, Part Two: Establishing a Routine
Chapter One, Part Two: Establishing a Routine at the Edge of the World, 517 to 535

After the dedication of the monastery (simply called the “monastery” by the monks, who had no real need to differentiate), the monks settled in for one of the strangest winters of their lives. More snow fell on them then ever had before, though the temperature remained surprisingly mild. Only a few monks took ill during the winter, and all recovered by the time spring came. Or should have come- the month of March was dominated by what the monks called “Judas’s Tears”- freezing rain, for almost every day of the month. It was not til April of 518 that the weather returned to a “normal” routine.

The Skin People had spent much of the winter near to the monastic settlement, trading food to the monks for various trade goods, though they departed in the spring to the other end of the island. No converts had been made yet, but Brendan was sure that would change with time. He was also excited- from what the chief of the Skin People had told him (or from what he could understand), they were going to a meeting of other tribes. Brendan believed that the news of their arrival would spread, and bring more potential converts to meet them.

Brendan believed that the chief was of a rank similar to the petty kings of Ireland; however, he could not have been further from the truth. Arjalinerk [1] was his name, though the Irish had dubbed him “Abraham”, and he was the leader of a small family band of no more than 30 or 40 individuals. The natives of the Insulam de Benedictus lived in such bands, all roughly the same size. They were semi-nomadic by nature, and had lived much the same way for centuries. During the late summer through winter, Arjalinerk’s clan dwelt near to where the monastery had been built; during the rest of the year, they hunted on the western reaches of the island.

Arjalinerk’s clan, in this western journey, would meet up with a few of the other bands that roamed the island for trade, exchange of news, and marriage ceremonies. It was no formal rendezvous as imagined by Brendan; at no time were all of the 500 or so souls that lived on the island at the same place.

At least, until the monks had arrived.

As Arjalinerk made contact with the other bands, he exchanges pleasantries and then excitedly talked about the strange men that had landed on the island, led by a man he had dubbed “Nippikortuyok” (meaning “Loud”). This was generally taken with mild interest by the other bands, until Arjalinerk showed some of the things he had traded for.

Eyes widened as the chieftain displayed such wonders as metal knives, a pot, brooches for a cloak. Tongues wagged, and soon bands began to change their plans for the other half of the year.

In the meantime, Brendan and the monks did their best to cultivate the ground. They has brought some seed to plant some vegetables and a small field of wheat to help provide for their needs. They would be frustrated with their effort, as the soil turned out to be hostile to much beyond some turnips and cabbages. They would have more success with their fishing efforts, bringing in more fish than they ever could have eaten. They dried and salted what they could for the coming winter. This would prove a Godsend come winter.

Arjalinerk’s band returned in September, followed by a slow trickle of other bands. Soon, nearly 160 people were camped around the monastery. For many of the Skin People, this was the largest gathering they had ever seen. Brendan was ecstatic, believing that the Spirit was moving upon these people. However, he would be disappointed as the bands demanded to trade for his metal goods.

Brendan had traded, basically, everything extra he had to Arjalinerk to help survive the winter of 517-518. He had no more to trade, and the Skin People began to become increasingly agitated. Arjalinerk did his best to try to calm his fellows, but even this had barely walked them back from outright robbery and violence to try to take what they knew Brendan was hiding. An uneasy peace settled over, and then winter hit in October.

It was a bitter winter as well, and the bands were caught in a major problem. Usually, fall would have been the time to gather certain berries, finish hunts, and fish to prepare for winter. Except for Arjalinerk’s tribe, they had detoured from their traditional hunting grounds to visit the monks, and now were stuck save for a hard trek through increasingly heavy snow. Anger rose, and a few fights broke out.

It was here that Brendan saved the day, the tribes, and likely his own skin. Made aware of the plight by a worried Arjalinerk, Brendan made available the supply of salted fish he and his monks had taken over the spring and summer. While no one was totally satiated, no one starved. When winter began to draw to its slow close, everyone was still alive.

Over the course of the winter of 218-219, Brendan made a few decisions. The first was that he would send a currach back to Ireland to gather up supplies for trading, to avoid a repeat of the threats from the previous fall. He also determined that he would travel with Arjalinerk’s band, to learn more about the island and try to map the land out better. And finally, before the tribes departed, he was determined he would preach a sermon in the tongue of the Skin People.

This sermon, the first taught in a New World language, was exceptionally brief. Given in the midst of the “Judas” season, to about fifty men of the Skin People, Brendon clumsily stumbled through the story of the loaves and the fishes, and likened it to the experience the two groups had shared over the winter. The reaction ranged from polite silence to irreverent laughter at his conjugation, but history had, once again, been made.

The Monks Return

As the bands dispersed, Brendan in tow, four of his monks set off East to try to reestablish contact with Ireland. For three months they struggled across the North Atlantic; at one point, they ran out of food, and were only saved when a shark came close enough to the surface for them to spear. They stumbled into Ireland, beards matted and looking crazed, landing in the lands of the Kings of Ailech. There, they rested before publishing abroad that they had returned from the Insulam de de Benedictus.

This set a wildfire across Ireland as the news spread from kingdom to kingdom and monastery to monastery. The elders of the Church were just as happy to have pretended the whole expedition didn’t exist, and were dumbfounded when they arrived and claimed that a monastery had been established on the (not-so mysterious) island. The laymen and lower clergy were ecstatic- while it was disappointing that the Saints had, apparently, left the island, there was still a new land to explore, people to bring to the Christ, and, for some starved paupers, game in abundance.

However, unlike later literature states, there was no great clamor to sail to the island. The distances were vast, and many of the expressions of a desire to travel were metaphorical. Few Irishmen were willing to drop everything and sail for months across the North Atlantic. However, what they were willing to do was donate to the cause; soon, the monks had loaded their currach and another purchased vessel with cheap knives, pots, pans, and other baubles to trade with the Skin People. Two other monks decided to join the return voyage.

The church hierarchy also gave a few statements of support, though the most surprising avenue of upper-class backing came from the King of Ailech, Muirchertach mac Muiredaig (called, more simply, Mac Ercae). Mac Ercae had taken the monks into his hill fortress when they had arrived and had seen the fine furs they had brought back from the West. Mac Ercae, knowing the worth of trade, offered the monks gifts and words of encouragement in exchange for more knowledge of the dispositions of the Skin People towards commerce.

The monks would return near the end of October, luckily before any snows fell. They were met with joy by their coreligionists, and the Skin People hailed their arrival. Trade would begin in earnest that winter, adding another role to the monastic settlement- that of a trade hub.

The Wanderings of Saint Brendan

Whilst the volunteers were making their way to Ireland, Brendan joined with the band of this Arjalinerk to explore the rest of the island. Almost immediately, the cleric realized that these people had much more endurance than he. This amused the Skin People at first, though they grew more annoyed as they realized that the monk would be more of a hindrance than anything else. Arjalinerk rejected attempts to abandon him in the wilderness, thinking it bad luck. By this point, the chieftain recognized that Brendan was some sort of shaman, and thus felt that he needed to be treated well.

In his journeys, Brendan encountered several other bands than those he had wintered with. Most were confused when they saw him, for with his white skin, long beard, and tattered robes, he looked like no one they had ever seen before. Others wanted to rob him or his personal items, such as his crucifix or his bag. Many listened to Arjalinerk describe how “Nippikortuyok” had fed several tribes with fish through the winter, and that he would have several wondrous items at his home in the fall. This would bring more tribes to the monastery, though most came only to see what was going on before leaving.

Brendan also realized that the island was much bigger than he had originally thought. The coastline kept going and going, not turning. By the time he got to the other side of the island (the tribe did not go directly there, instead following a wandering path), he was shocked, for if his measurements were correct, the island was bigger than Ireland. He was even more shocked when Arjalinerk pointed across the sea, and he could make out another shoreline on the horizon.

“There are other people there. We trade sometimes, we fight sometimes,” Arjalinerk explained to Brendan. The cleric was silent for some time after this information was given. For it confirmed his suspicions that this had never truly been the Insulam de Benedictus; but it also showed that there were more people who could be brought to the Christ.

In his journey, Brendan also honed his understanding of the language of the Skin People, as well as encountered the representatives of the local faith. The Skin People did not follow any gods, as far as he could tell; rather, they believed in spirits that dwelt in every living thing and most non-living things. The shamans that conducted the rituals to please these spirits or ask for boons from them terrified the monk. They wore intricate masks, and costumes that made them appear half-beast and half-man. These shamans, who dwelt across the island in pairs or alone (forced out of polite society by their ability to connect with the other world), did not think very highly of Brendan. Despite Arjalinerk’s insistence that Brendan was one of their peers, they deemed that he was no real shaman, and that the “High Chief Spirit” he worshipped was, perhaps, a perversion of the Sky Spirit they invoked for the weather.

Brendan would return from his time with Arjalinerk’s band in the fall, and would seclude himself for much of the winter, trying to compose a letter to the Pope in Rome and to his mentor in the faith, the venerable monk Finnian.

The New Normal

The patterns established in 519 would repeat themselves almost like clockwork for the nearly the next twenty years. The monks would spend the spring and summer fishing and tending to their turnips and cabbages. Some of them would sail to Ireland, trading in the markets of Ailech for the goods that the Skin People demanded. Sometimes other monks or lay brothers would join them; sometimes, a monk stayed behind in Ireland; sometimes (too many if Brendan was asked), a monk was buried at sea, caught by the chills or simply fallen from the boat.

In the meantime, several of the tribal bands would spend the winter around the monastery, trading and taking advantage the charity of the monks. The numbers would fluctuate year to year, but generally a hundred or so Skin People would winter there. Arjalinerk would always do so, often talking with Brendan at length.

Brendan never left the monastery again until 535, devoting himself to study, writing letters to Christendom, and overseeing the day to day affairs. His letters would excite the Christian world, though it would not excite them to full action and support of his efforts. He remained a sort of exciting curiosity for most Christians of letters, and his exploits often became shrouded in myth among the younger generations.

For a time, it seemed as if a balance had been struck on the island. The natives, though increasingly friendly, did not convert; the monks, though ambitious, did not seek to expand.

But the Lord works in mysterious ways, and in 535 He would hasten His work in the New World in the most tragic of ways.

For 535 was the year of the Plague…

[1] The natives of Newfoundland at this point in history belonged to the “Dorset Culture”, of which there is little to no linguistic evidence; the Beothuk who would later settle the island left behind relatively little linguistic information before driven to extinction. Therefore, for the sake of this work, I am using Inuit names for individuals.
 
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Great start, thank you.
Very interested to see where you take this. I can see the butterflies being relatively limited early on but breeding faster later!

Just a couple of points*:

It's actually most likely that the crosses erected by the Irish monks would have been empty crosses, not crucifixes. There would probably have been some crucifixes, yes, but these would have been small ones for personal use, not the larger altar, processional or erected ones. This wasn't just for religious reasons (the ban on idolatry, etc) but also practical - making large human-shaped images was difficult and costly. The crucifix became more common from the 11th to 14th centuries, particularly popularised in the 13th century following a vision of Christ on the cross by Bernard of Clairvaux, IIRC. The use of the crucifix instead of the empty cross on the altar as an integral mandated part of the Roman Catholic rite was established much later (late 16th century by Pope Pius V, I think).


The Celtic/Irish clergy were not required to be celibate, so there is a chance of some relationships occurring if (and it's a big if) the women were converted and baptised. Relationships with pagans, either by clergy or laypeople, would not be allowed (though human nature will probably lead to some anyway :rolleyes:).


This is well before the Mediæval Warm Period so there's a good chance of some long-term contact. Similarly there's still a couple of centuries before the first Norse raids on Ireland (OTL end of 8th century), so having an established colony to flee to is within the bounds of plausibility, I think - lots of people would be lost at sea, but some would get there. The main problem is that although the sea currents are okay for Ireland to the Blessed Isle, the winds are not.


* I only bother to nit-pick on good TLs, so please take mthey comments as constructive criticism - and feel free to ignore me to tell the story the way you want to.
This is some fascinating info! I'm actually drifting into Church History as of late (to the point that I'm considering aspects of it for a potential PhD - but I'm not as 'up' in my knowledge of the Early Medieval Church as I would like. This is also particularly an issue since I plan on dealing with such topics in my Amalingian Empire timeline.) Might you be able to suggest a few good monographs on the subject to get started?

Sorry for intrusion! Carry on everyone :)
 
This is some fascinating info! I'm actually drifting into Church History as of late (to the point that I'm considering aspects of it for a potential PhD - but I'm not as 'up' in my knowledge of the Early Medieval Church as I would like. This is also particularly an issue since I plan on dealing with such topics in my Amalingian Empire timeline.) Might you be able to suggest a few good monographs on the subject to get started?

Sorry for intrusion! Carry on everyone :)
Tis no intrusion! I’d like to see info along those lines as well!
 
Loved the new update; your writing style is engaging, informative, and seems to have a trace of dry wit :) Can't wait to see what comes next.
 
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