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

Would you link the new thread here once the TL starts up again?
Oh, yes I shall! I’ve been swamped with work and another project (check the ASB forum in the coming week), but when things ease up I’ll post it up!

I might even post a few teasers in this thread as well, if y’all would like.
 
Previews: The Christian Powers, 1400
Frithrborg, Kingdom of Setraland

St. Brendan’s was the ecclesiastical heart of Talbeahan Christianity. The cathedral that dominated the center of town of Frithrborg was truly glorious. It represented the best that this continent had to offer- obsidian and jade from Fjothrland adorning great murals on the walls, dreki leather from Myrwick covering the massive Bible, and gold liberally used throughout. In the center of the chapel lay a stone monument of a bearded man in simple robes, eyes closed in the sleep of death but fingers still forming the sign of blessing. This was the Saint himself, the seafarer who had discovered this place.

Today, as it was a new year, the great bells chimed and the citizens of Frithrborg gathered in the great church for a special mass. The Archbishop of Tarngire, the head of the Church in the Western Hemisphere, read a verse from the Book of Ecclesiastes. Given the splendor around him, his choice must of seemed ironic to those who spoke Latin:

“Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.”

But perhaps it was a fitting choice of words.

Frithrborg, known for centuries before the arrival of the Ostish as Baile na Síochána (Peace-Town), had once been more than the religious capital of Talbeah; it had been the political capital of one of its greatest powers. For nearly three-hundred and forty years, the Hreining Kings of Setraland had called the city home. Most were born in the palace’s Chamber of Saint Brigid, so named for the blessed woman’s visage being painted on the ceiling for laboring mothers to take comfort from. When they grew older, they would be trained for war in the courtyard of the sprawling royal compound. When they ascended to the throne, they would be crowned by the Archbishop amidst cheering crowds at St. Brendan’s Cathedral (which had been built under royal patronage). And when they died, they would be laid to rest in the Royal Chapel, in a tomb built just for them.

Now, though, they weren’t even buried here.

In 1336, the newly elected King Kjaran had traveled to Dun Cormac on the continent alongside his pregnant wife, his retainers, his advisors, and the other hangers-on a royal tends to accumulate. He went ostensibly to accept the crown from the King Thing, the body of nobles and clergy that selected which member of the royal family would become the nation’s leader. Four months later, a message came to the Archbishop, requesting he come to Dun Cormac to anoint him King at the Cathedral of the Queen of Heaven located in that city. Though the Archbishop initially resisted, he eventually gave in.

That was the final blow to the importance of the island of Setraland, formerly known as the Insula Benedicta or Inis Tarngire. Since Brendan’s arrival, the island and the city thereon had been the center of Christian politics. The Gofordi’s had held court on the island, and the Bishop-Abbotts of Brendan’s Monastery had dictated policy from its shores before them. But the creeping cold of the Great Frost and the shift of population centers to lands along the Tullaha River or Wabahhanik coasts had weakened its central importance. Now, Setraland only lent the Kingdom its name.

Dun Cormac, Kingdom of Setraland

A thousand miles away from the Archbishop in Frithrborg, the King of Setraland held a very different celebration of the New Year. After tying his wife’s veil around his arm, King Myrkjartan spurred his horse forward. As he thundered along, he reached into the quiver of javelins at his mount’s side and expertly threw them through the hoops set up alongside. The spears whistled through and buried deep inside the targets behind. A cheer went up from the crowd- the King had made a near perfect run.

This was not the climax of the day, however. As Myrkjartan settled himself back into the royal box, a brave marchawc named Siomon stepped forward into the arena, gripping a spear with an unusually long and narrow blade. He knelt before the King, and made declaration that he would “do a great deed, to win the right of his own patrimony”. When the royal signal was given, a wall on the other side of the arena was opened and out stumbled a truly massive brown bear. The wretched beast had been starved, beaten, and made more aggressive, all for the sake of this show. The marchawc readied himself; the bear, seeing him, charged forward, driven reckless by hunger and rage.

“Though the creature came on boldly, Siomon held his ground till the beast nearly grabbed him with his paw. Then, leaping to the side, he dashed his spear into the creatures eye, lancing it and felling it with one stroke.” The King, impressed, granted him a patrimony of a small village in the far northern frontier.

Alongside mock battles, archery contests, horse races, animal baiting, and games of bata, these events were typical of a commorthas. Similar to the hastiludes of Europe, the commorthas was nevertheless a much more Talbeahan invention. While martial preparations were part of it, a commorthas also had the role of establishing a King as a man of wealth and power. The more magnificent events that were put on, the more evidence it was of a King’s right to rule.

This commorthas in particular had an additional political objective. Myrkjartan, elected by the King Thing just two years before, was trying to gather support for an expedition against the Zhingobiiwaatig Ningodwaaswi, a state which occupied the Neshnabé peninsula. [1] The Zhingobiiwaatig Ningodwasswi (the “Six Pines”, hereafter referred to as the Zhingobiiwatig) had been interfering with Setralander efforts to secure domination over the trade on Lake Cullaun and Lake Kinale [2]. In earlier years, this would have been enough of a justification for war; by the dawn of the 15th century, however, the nobility were less willing to risk war than two or three centuries earlier. The traditional royal policy of allowing fighting among grandees, as long as the flow of sugar continued, had reared up strongly again by this point. Therefore, Myrkjartan’s desired war would take a strong political effort, of which the conmorthas was only a part.

Kathlin, his 5 year old daughter, was promised to the son of the Company Chief of the powerful Crotaigh Company; this had been affirmed in a handfasting over Christmas. At that same ceremony, Myrkjartan had liberally given gifts to various grandees. These ranged from land grants in the frontiers to “ten bolts of silk”, a luxury valued in Talbeah almost as much as territory. This highlighted the seemingly archaic aspect of kingship in Talbeah; while the various states of the Second Empire were beginning to focus more on the power of the monarch, Myrkjartan still had to juggle the delicate game of pleasing the petty nobility.

Asgard, Asgardian Commonwealth

New Year’s was also being celebrated thousands of miles to the South. In the warm, near-tropical environments of Mirwick, there loomed a city built by the flow of gold and trade goods. Ostish-style wooden churches were crammed between drinking dens that were little more than poles supporting palm-leaf roofs. Castles, in the style of the Setralander fortresses, guarded the perimeter, while in the center of the city three massive pyramids loomed. These were created with imported stone blocks- the prime example of the Mirwick Pyramids, mimicking those structures of Fjothrland.

This was Asgard- capital of the Commonwealth of the same name.

At the top of the greatest of the Pyramids sat the Council of Asgard, three men and one woman. Attendants and advisors swarmed from the pyramid’s interior, emerging from near-hidden antechambers to deliver reports and information to their masters. Along the long exterior stairs leading to the central platform came a procession of petitioners, some wealthy, some poor, some wearing the little-to-no clothing of the Lukkai. For the Asgardian Council was spending this first day of the New Year forgiving debts, resolving disputes, and otherwise playing at the attentive overlords.

The rest of the year, they generally ignored such business, fobbing it off on a variety of lesser officials. They were too focused on issues of more grave importance- the expansion of trade, especially vis a vis the Purepechan Empire. Over the past few hundred years, the Purepechans had brought much of Fjothrland under their direct or indirect control. This had placed the Asgardians at a disadvantage; no longer could they play petty states against each other for better trade deals. The Purepechans possessed a strong business sense, and were firm negotiators.

This was the second of a string of missteps that had afflicted the thalassocracy in the past century. The Pawu War, a titanic conflict over control of trade along the Shigu River, had drained many men and much treasure until that island state was reduced to so much rubble. The prize itself had been squandered; European diseases tore through the communities of the virgin interior, forcing people to flee their settlements for the jungle. Even now, the former trading towns and farmlands were being reclaimed by nature, the trade route all but forgotten (save for a few adventurous souls).

As they half-listened to pleas about fences and cattle grazing rights, the Council was already plotting their next move to restore Asgardian prominence. Their eyes were cast towards the Kikadit River, the mighty thoroughfare of Talbeah. A small outpost at the mouth of that river marked their only presence on this vital trade organ. Wheels were already in motion for trade expeditions to be sent upriver, to try to bring the natives there to trading terms.


[1] OTL Michigan

[2] Lake Erie and Lake Huron
 
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Great Work as usual! I hope you start back again soon. This remains one of most original TLs and I'd love to see it continue.
 
Ah, I was a bit lost with references to all the rivers and islands. I suppose the island the Asgardians ruined was Cuba? But I don't know of any great Cuban river, but then I've hardly studied the geography of Cuba closely. Generally I wouldn't expect a river worth worrying about on any Caribbean island but that might just show how little I know.

Or is the island Santo Domingo? One of the greater Antilles I imagine, Bahama islands would have even less in the way of rivers.

So I was hoping there would be added footnotes for all the place names--I remember that "featherland" is Mexica, or possibly more the Mayan country (by this time the great golden age of the Maya OTL has come and gone, but possibly trade with the northlanders has enabled a revival on newer terms). It could be either Mexico or Central America then I guess, or the rising new empire might straddle both, southern Mexico and most of Central America. Have the Mesoamericans undergone a fair number of waves of infections and thus developed the ability to maintain enduring ties with Mirwick on their own stable terms? (That won't mean Eurasian diseases won't be decimating, the Old World stew is just plain virulent and diverse, but it gives them a leg up anyway). Or have Mirwick traders just learned to be cautious about killing off their trade partners (usually anyway)? But by and large the river names and so on would send me searching the thread to remind myself. Can there be a map at this point?

And what, by 1400, are the limits of the Known New World? Has anyone journeyed down to say the mouths of the Amazon, or even beyond to say Rio de Plata? Have any of the European influenced peoples gotten to the Pacific coast, say by Balboa's shortcut in Central America (these as guests, not conquistators, obviously) or by some epic exploration beyond their organized Native rivals around OTL Michigan to leapfrog past to say the Columbia, or is everything west of the Mississippi and south of the Caribbean all Here Bee Dragouns territory?
 
Ah, I was a bit lost with references to all the rivers and islands. I suppose the island the Asgardians ruined was Cuba? But I don't know of any great Cuban river, but then I've hardly studied the geography of Cuba closely. Generally I wouldn't expect a river worth worrying about on any Caribbean island but that might just show how little I know.

Or is the island Santo Domingo? One of the greater Antilles I imagine, Bahama islands would have even less in the way of rivers.

So I was hoping there would be added footnotes for all the place names--I remember that "featherland" is Mexica, or possibly more the Mayan country (by this time the great golden age of the Maya OTL has come and gone, but possibly trade with the northlanders has enabled a revival on newer terms). It could be either Mexico or Central America then I guess, or the rising new empire might straddle both, southern Mexico and most of Central America. Have the Mesoamericans undergone a fair number of waves of infections and thus developed the ability to maintain enduring ties with Mirwick on their own stable terms? (That won't mean Eurasian diseases won't be decimating, the Old World stew is just plain virulent and diverse, but it gives them a leg up anyway). Or have Mirwick traders just learned to be cautious about killing off their trade partners (usually anyway)? But by and large the river names and so on would send me searching the thread to remind myself. Can there be a map at this point?

And what, by 1400, are the limits of the Known New World? Has anyone journeyed down to say the mouths of the Amazon, or even beyond to say Rio de Plata? Have any of the European influenced peoples gotten to the Pacific coast, say by Balboa's shortcut in Central America (these as guests, not conquistators, obviously) or by some epic exploration beyond their organized Native rivals around OTL Michigan to leapfrog past to say the Columbia, or is everything west of the Mississippi and south of the Caribbean all Here Bee Dragouns territory?
The island was mentioned in the latter updates in the main timeline. There was once a theiving trade culture on Marajo Island, or Pawu in this timeline, which controlled Amazonian trade. That was the island the Asgardians messed up.

It honestly would take me a lot of time to try to make a compendium for this timeline’s terms, which... I need to do, haha, for the sequel thread. When the Series Bible is made, I don’t know... I’ll post it here? It might be a bit big... maybe I’ll link it somehow? I’ll figure it out.

Setralanders have a vague idea about the Pacific Northwest, but all trade there goes through Horse People intermediaries. South America‘s East Coast is roughly understood, but it getsvauger the further south you get. Few organized coastal settlements means the Asgardians care little. The Pacific has been visited more than anything else, and the West Coast of all but Central America is a little-known territory. Though people are coming to realize thereis something BIG southwest of Fjothrland (in what would be Peru), contact has been spotty.
 
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