"The Middle Ground" in Norse America

Okay, for backstory: The Middle Ground was a groundbreaking work on Native Americans in the Great Lakes Basin first published in 1991, discussing and showing how French, Britons, and Americans interacted with the Algonquin peoples of the region. The Divided Ground, which came out int eh 2000s, showed a similar process with the Iroquois, but also how the process ended up breaking down as states developed and the natives were demographically swamped.

But what about in Norse America?

Well, this is interesting; it looks like New England Canada were at some point in the proess of adapting the agricultural process we associate with Native Americans; the three sisters complex. This is also prior to the development of the tribal confederations we associate with precontact North America, like the Iroquois. But, presuming *some* degree of cultural continuity, it seems like the overlap between Norse culture and the Native Americans would be substantially greater.
 
I am not sure where you're going with this but it sounds like something I want to hear.

Norse America is always a hell of an AH challenge.
 
Sounds interesting.
I guess the beginning of the relationship of th 1650 is of trappers and other white like traders moving into Natives lands though I may wrong on this.
Problem with Norse coming from Greenland is they are a ships crew of a size which seemed to escalate fast into conflict; the Norse I think were simply too many to not be a threat to the Natives though too few to do what they wanted except in Newfoundland!
The bringing along of women and cattle certainly points to that they wanted to found a settlement which would soon compete with the Natives and then escalate into conflict over land rights.

Seems like if you comes a few trappers or shipwrecked men you're no threat to Natives; if you come an armed shipload you simply comprise a threat. Do remember - and I think you do - that Norse were no strangers to use arms even if on a trading mission.

So what you would want for early contact is much fewer Norse arriving going home and then returning with a few more; still not too many to be a threat and then slowly build up.
Looking forward to more enlightenment on this.
 
I am not sure where you're going with this but it sounds like something I want to hear.

Norse America is always a hell of an AH challenge.
Basically, it seems like Norse Culture has more in common with the Native Americans than the French and British did, which would make cross-cultural transmission easier.

For instance, Native Americans tended to see murder and interpersonal violence as a group responsibility; there was the idea of covering the gave, or bringing back the dead, where a tribe would offer a slave or or goods to compensate a family for their dead. The French and Britons saw this as absurd, and would demand the individual be punished. On the other hand, "covering the dead" sounds very similar to weregild, and how murder was dealt with in Iceland based on the Sagas.

Another example is religion. Iceland became Christian in the 10th Century, and I think Vinland would be as well. But the Vinlanders wouldn't be Jesuits or Puritans; they'd be like Iceland, with a strong pagan continuity and a willingness to recognize some sort of natural spirits. Native American folk beliefs might well last in Norse America in a way they didn't in early America.

More as I keep reading, if people think this is interesting.
 
Some more thinking about the structure of Vinland, or every man a Chieftain.

Icelandic society was dominated by chieftains known as godar, but up until the end of the Icelandic Free state (the late 13th century) they had relatively little power. Chieftains were followed by thingmenn, but these followers were not bound by any hereditary ties. Chieftaincies in Iceland were limited, but they could be purchased, shared, or given as a gift. These chieftains had little power, although this increased as the medieval period went on; and the relative absence of class distinctions is confirmed both by Icelandic law, which imposed the legal fine for murder as the same for freemen and chieftains, and Norwegian law, which held that all Icelanders in Norway would be treated as upper class yeomen when in Norway.

What sort of government would the Vinlanders set up? On the one hand, unlike in Iceland, which was unpopulated and had no need for external defense, the Vinlanders would face threats from first the Boethuk and then, if/when they expand on the mainland, other organized tribes.

On the other hand, the Sagas make clear that Icelanders saw themselves as the descendants of men freeing royal tyranny in Norway; regardless of whether this was the cause of the settlement, it says a lot that Icelanders saw this as the reason for it.

Vinlanders will see themselves as the descendants of freeman; but unlike in Iceland, where power and land became concentrated in an upper class as the quality of land diminished, the Vinlanders will have a semi-open frontier. Therefore, freemen will continue to play a prominent role in Vinland's cultures and politics, with poor farmers perhaps swearing loyalty to chieftains who moved to open new land along the frontier, albeit slowly.

This will be a backwards, fairly primitive society. But it will be literate, thanks to Christian priests, and it will be a good place to be poor.

Thoughts?
 
Well, my mind turns to how fast and how far we can expect them to expand. After all, they won't be bringing much in the way of disease, not from Iceland. If it is slow enough that cultural transition outpaces colonization, even a successful Norse colony could find itself locked out of the higher quality lands to the southwest.
 
It's interesting that you bring this up. I'm taking a course right now that is starting off with this book. (And of course procrastinating on doing some of the work for said course...)

While you mention the frontiermen, these seem like they would be come akin to the settler farmers from England, not the Coureur de Bois that traded furs, which is going to be destructive toward creating a Middle Ground. As far as I understand it, the reason why the Middle Ground existed was because the French wanted something that they had neither the skills nor the projection power to obtain, and at the same time the Natives were desiring goods (and allies) from the Europeans, while able and willing to trade goods that could be obtain by tapping into an already existing system of trade. Neither side could force each other to do what they wanted, so they had to accommodate each other.

It's obvious that the Norsemen settling in Vinland couldn't force the natives to do what the Vikings wanted, so that is fulfilled, but if the Norse want land, that is already going to upset the balance. Further, is there anything extremely valuable that would be best gotten from the natives by trade? Can furs fulfill the same role here? I have no clue, but I suspect the fur market isn't quite as important in Europe at that time. And for the natives, would could they want from the Vikings? European technology would still be more advance than what the natives of the area would have, but how regular and large was trade with Europe at that point?

I don't think that it would be ASB for there to be a longer lasting Viking Settlement with a Middle Ground forming, but it would be a very tough thing, especially with a settler colony mindset among the Vikings.
 
The irony is that Norse North America is not really that hard to do... it really was a bad series of events that led to the failure of the colonies. A few minor tweaks and we'd have a norse state or three in North America.Funny how history is often like that.

What it comes down to is critical mass... "Hop" (the largest of the colonization attempts we know of), consisted of somewhere between 120 and 200 souls, livestock, trade goods, etc. They built a fortified hamlet and lived there for three or five years (at least one child was born but probably more were) before giving up due to an ongoing conflict with the locals. Hop was situated somewhere in the Gulf of St. Lawrence region... now, had Hop received another shipload or two of settlers, bringing their numbers up to five or six hundred, chances are the settlement would have stuck and we'd have the beginnings of a long-term Norse colony in N.A...

Had this happened, I could see a N.A. divided into several Norse and Native Kingdoms/states in the North East, all of which would make for an interesting world imho. :)
 
The irony is that Norse North America is not really that hard to do... it really was a bad series of events that led to the failure of the colonies. A few minor tweaks and we'd have a norse state or three in North America.Funny how history is often like that.

What it comes down to is critical mass... "Hop" (the largest of the colonization attempts we know of), consisted of somewhere between 120 and 200 souls, livestock, trade goods, etc. They built a fortified hamlet and lived there for three or five years (at least one child was born but probably more were) before giving up due to an ongoing conflict with the locals. Hop was situated somewhere in the Gulf of St. Lawrence region... now, had Hop received another shipload or two of settlers, bringing their numbers up to five or six hundred, chances are the settlement would have stuck and we'd have the beginnings of a long-term Norse colony in N.A...

Had this happened, I could see a N.A. divided into several Norse and Native Kingdoms/states in the North East, all of which would make for an interesting world imho. :)
Can you link to that? I'm not aware of multiple colonies, colonies on the Saint Laurence Gulf, or even the name Hop. Is it new?
 
GrizzlyTrotsky;873953While you mention the frontiermen said:
I think this is true to a large extent, but, I don't think this was all of it. French traders (and to a degree the French themselves) were able to cut a deal with, and work with, Native Americans because they were able to adapt and play by the rules of Native American culture. The most successful Britons were able to do so as well.

The thing is that the Norse look more like an (advanced) tribe than they do a European polity, with a cultural ethos that looks more at home in Native America.

I also don't want to say all Norse were the same, but given the differences in how OTL's Dublin, Normandy, and Russia developed, I think a lot of cultural interaction is likely.
 
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TFSmith121

Banned
If the Norse colonies remain viable, does that require

continuing contact by sea with (Norse) Europe?

And if so, does that speed up the entire Columbian exchange - particularly the "germs" element - by about what, five centuries?

If the Norse are sailing back and forth in the 11th Century, granted, Western Europe is hardly as politically and technologically developed as it was five centuries later, but presumably one (or more) of the powers is going to start hearing about these new lands (Hesperia?) to the west...

The English and Normans are fairly busy, but they are capable of doing a fair amount of sailing at this time, as are (presumably) the Franks/French under Capet, the various states in Iberia, and presumably the HRE and early Nordic states.

Best,
 
Can you link to that? I'm not aware of multiple colonies, colonies on the Saint Laurence Gulf, or even the name Hop. Is it new?
The name "hop" (or hope as it would be in english) was the largest/actual attempt to colonize. It lasted several years. It was led by Karlsefni. From the sagas/information in the Sagas, it was likely somewhere in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, where both pasture land and several types of wild grapes exist (not to mention good timber, game, wild edibles etc).

The ruins found on the northern tip of newfoundland, seem to be the camp/settlement Leif Erikson built for the winter/was used as a later waystation for supply runs in vinland/markland (butternuts were found there, indicating at least one voyage to the southern side of the gulf of st. lawrence).

Stormfiord (spelling) was another "settlement" - or at least an over wintering camp somewhere in the vinland/markland region.

There may have been other settlement attempts (it appears as if there was a small trading settlement on baffin island and "possibly" one on Ellesmere island, though the later hasn't been proven yet, though there is archaeological evidence pointing towards it). Most likely, this is what happened to the "vanished" western settlement on greenland. They left for "warmer" pastures, most perishing along the route and any survivors blending into the local populations.

For N.A. was well known to the greenlanders, who went there probably yearly to harvest wild fruits/timber/game and trade with the natives. Sadly, this is a little studied area of our history. :/

As for links, I can search for some tonight after work if you wish. :) But in case you're eager, a lot of the evidence comes from the sagas/archeological work and can be found with a little searching through studies/papers.

Cheers
 
continuing contact by sea with (Norse) Europe?

And if so, does that speed up the entire Columbian exchange - particularly the "germs" element - by about what, five centuries?
Maybe, but remember, smallpox didn't hit Iceland itself until fairly late. But what's the pull? What pushes for a big drive to get there? Fish, eventually, but even the fishing resources off of Iceland weren't exploited until the 13th century OTL.

The name "hop" (or hope as it would be in english) was the largest/actual attempt to colonize. It lasted several years. It was led by Karlsefni. From the sagas/information in the Sagas, it was likely somewhere in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, where both pasture land and several types of wild grapes exist (not to mention good timber, game, wild edibles etc).

The ruins found on the northern tip of newfoundland, seem to be the camp/settlement Leif Erikson built for the winter/was used as a later waystation for supply runs in vinland/markland (butternuts were found there, indicating at least one voyage to the southern side of the gulf of st. lawrence).

Stormfiord (spelling) was another "settlement" - or at least an over wintering camp somewhere in the vinland/markland region.
I would like to know more.
 

TFSmith121

Banned
Fair point - "westward for spices, maybe?"

Maybe, but remember, smallpox didn't hit Iceland itself until fairly late. But what's the pull? What pushes for a big drive to get there? Fish, eventually, but even the fishing resources off of Iceland weren't exploited until the 13th century OTL.

Crusading spirit goes west?

Second sons and the losers in conflict in Europe looking for a refuge?

First thing that came to mind were Anglo-Saxons pulling out of England because of Norman pressure in 1100 CE or so...

Best,
 
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