Viking/Norse Church in A.D. 800

Viking/Norse Church: A.D. 793 - A.D. 857

In A.D. 793, while participating in a raid on the Christian monastery on the island of Lindisfarne, a young Viking by the name of Ragnaar Thorvald was captured by a few local citizens. For the next twelve years, Thorvald lived as a captive within the rebuilt monastery where he learned to read and write using the Latin alphabet. The monks at the monastery allowed him only one book: The Bible. Although the young Viking was not particularly moved by the book itself, it did give him an idea.

Throvald immediately began compiling the stories of Baldur, who, unsurprisingly, happened to be Thorvald’s favorite Norse god, reorganizing them and writing them down in a book he simply calls, “The Chronicle.” From the time he began writing, in A.D. 797 to the time he stopped, in A.D. 805, Thorvald wrote four copies of his book. The text followed the story of Baldur in Norse mythology. The other gods of Norse mythology made appearances but, with one exception, did not play key roles. The story, as recorded by Thorvald, went as follows:

Baldur was the god of light and joy and the son of Odin and Frigga, king and queen of the gods. Having dreamed that Baldur's life was threatened, Frigga extracted an oath from the forces and objects in nature, animate and inanimate, that they would not harm Baldur, but she forgot the mistletoe. The gods, thinking Baldur safe, cast darts and stones at him. The malicious giant Loki put a twig of mistletoe in the hands of Baldur's twin, the blind Hoder, god of darkness, and directed his aim against Baldur, who fell pierced to the heart.

After the death of Baldur, Odin sent another son, the messenger Hermod, to the underworld to plead for Baldur's return. The god would be released only if everything in the world would weep for him. [Warning: Thorvald was imaginative and young, hence, he changed the story to meet his own needs.] Everything wept and Baldur returned to life. Through the help of his warrior brother, Thor, Baldur manages to trick Loki and, thus, Loki himself is banished to the underworld. Hence forth, Thor and, particularly, Baldur, became the most powerful gods. Baldur spreads light and knowledge to the Norse peoples while Thor strikes down the enemies of Baldur.​

In A.D. 805, however, Thorvald was moved, along with Harold Bruce, the young monk who had befriended him following the attack on Lindisfarne, to the monastery of St. Columba in the Hebrides islands. The next year, in A.D. 806, the monastery of St. Columba was sacked by another group of Vikings. Thorvald managed to convince the group of raiders to spare the lives of himself, Harold Bruce, and Malcolm Duncan, another young monk at the monastery. Thus, at the age of twenty-eight, Thorvald, accompanied by Bruce and Duncan, both of whom are completely dependent on Thorvald for their well-being, was finally returning to his homeland.

The three men arrived in Stavanger. The port on the North Sea was, at the time, the largest Viking settlement around, with nearly 2,000 inhabitants. Over the years, the port village of Stavanger will become the center of Thorvald’s activities. Thorvald’s first goal upon arrival was the conversion of a group to follow The Chronicle. He began by converting Bruce and Duncan, who, never the most devout of Christians, reluctantly accept the teachings of Thorvald’s Chronicle, mostly out of thanks to the young man who saved their lives.

Thorvald then found a group of eighteen men, all of whom were of above average intelligence. Thorvald, Bruce, and Duncan then set about to teach these eighteen men how to read and write. The process took several years but, by A.D. 811, Thorvald had a loyal following of twenty men, each of whom could read, write, and spread the word within his Chronicle. The next year, at the age of thirty-four, Thorvald and his followers spread out on the Viking trading ships, heading to all parts of the north.

For the next eleven years, the twenty-one men preach The Chronicle to thousands of Vikings and their families, passing out hand-written copies of The Chronicle in most major villages throughout the north. The teachings of The Chronicle and the story of Baldur fit in quite nicely with both the Viking way of life and the older pagan beliefs. The Viking raiders saw themselves as the incarnations of Thor, protecting and striking at the enemies of the Norse people and their guide, Baldur.

By A.D. 823, with converts and ministers throughout Scandia, the seventeen living men of the original twenty-one return to Stavanger, where they set about producing more copies of The Chronicle. By A.D. 839, the time of Thorvald’s death at the age of sixty-one, The Chronicle had spread to every part of Scandia and nearly forty percent of the Viking population were converts to the Scandian Church. By A.D. 857, the date of the death of the last living of “Thorvald’s Twenty,” a full seventy percent of the Vikings were converts to the Scandian Church. It was later revealed that the twenty-one original (incl. Thorvald, Bruce, and Duncan) wrote nearly six-hundred copies of The Chronicle. An amazing feat considering each was handwritten and required two to three years to write a single copy.

More to follow.

I made this section by combining the ideas of DuQuense and Tom B in the "Scandinavian Religion" thread.

Walter. Glad my idea was useful. I like how you went into some details of the very earliest stages of the new religion using 21 (three times seven) as a mystical number. Look forward to what comes next. Will the new religion be very hierarchical?
Tom_B said:
Walter. Glad my idea was useful. I like how you went into some details of the very earliest stages of the new religion using 21 (three times seven) as a mystical number. Look forward to what comes next. Will the new religion be very hierarchical?
I think the church is not going to be very organized for the first 75 - 125 years, at which point I'll have it unified and organized under an emerging Scandinavian King. I reason that there will be a fairly strong monarch about 50 years earlier because the Vikings are much more bonded together by a common religion.
Why not move it to the 7th century?

That way, the outwardly expanding Norse carry their religion with them.
Moving it to the 7th century presents problems. The attack and date I used (A.D. 793 Lindisfarne) was the first recorded Viking attack on a Christian monastery. This was the earliest I could have someone captured without having awkward questions about what the Viking was doing in Britain in the first place.
Plus, Scandianism will be allowed to spread with the Norse anyways, as the Norse didn't colonize Iceland until A.D. 870, Russia in A.D. 930, Normandy around the same time, Greenland in A.D. 950, Vinland in A.D. 1000, with Harald's attack on England coming in 1066.
Walter_Kaufmann said:
Plus, Scandianism will be allowed to spread with the Norse anyways, as the Norse didn't colonize Iceland until A.D. 870, Russia in A.D. 930, Normandy around the same time, Greenland in A.D. 950, Vinland in A.D. 1000, with Harald's attack on England coming in 1066.

Yeah, but earlier dates let you push the religion into northern europe as well.
I plan on having push into Holland and Northern Germany, which, with the retreat of the Carolingian Empire will be possible. We'll probably see some fighting between Christians and Scandians but, in OTL anyways, around 900, the Vikings defeated everything thrown at them anyways.
Prussia should be fairly easy to convert to Baldurism before the Christian missionary effort to that region gets serious.
Viking/Norse Church: A.D. 858 – A.D. 899 (A.C. 61 – A.C. 102) [1]

As the years went on, The Chronicle spread throughout Scandia as more and more copies were made by the ministers of the as yet unorganized Scandian Church. A growing segment of the Viking population was becoming more and more interested in reading The Chronicle on their own and, thus, many of the ministers became not only religious mentors but teachers as well, teaching the Futhark [2] written language to the Vikings themselves.

Meanwhile, the extremely limited organization of the Scandian Church continued to be supported by the yearly raids on the richer cities to the south. The most wealthy of Scandian churchgoers, a Dane by the name of Ragnaar Lothbrook supported the Church through his spoils in combat in England and France. Ragnaar Lothbrook was to play an important part in the future of the Scandian Church.

With the return of Ragnaar Lothbrook in A.D. 864, victorious from his campaigns in Ireland and Scotland, the extremely wealthy and powerful Lothbrook began consolidating power on the Jutland peninsula. By A.D. 867, Lothbrook had deposed the weak feudal “King” of Denmark and had seized the throne. Lothbrook inherited three small domains in eastern, central, and western Denmark from his father, Eric the Black, and set out to conquer the rest of the country. After many years of campaigning, during which the chieftains of eastern Denmark offered the most stubborn resistance, Lothbrook gained his final victory in the Battle of Ebeltoft, which took place around A.D. 871, although it may have been some years later.

Assuming the weak throne, Lothbrook, now known as King Ragnaar I, Lothbrook ruled with a strong hand and consolidated his realm. By A.D. 876, Lothbrook had peacefully taken most of southern Sweden into his possession as the Christians on Denmark’s southern border, the Elbe River, tried to push further north. The first copy of The Chronicle arrived at the Vatican around this time, where it was immediately banned by the Pope.

Meanwhile, the first copies of The Chronicle began to arrive in northern Germany and Iceland. The growing influence of Scandian ministers and their banned book upset the Christian hierarchy in Rome. Hoping to deter the wild men of the north, the Pope declares the Scandian Church to be heretical but it has almost the exact opposite effect on the Vikings. Many of the Vikings of the region soon united under Ragnaar, who incorporated most of Norway and Sweden into his possession by A.D. 887. In A.D. 887, Ragnaar announced the formation of the Scandian Empire, moving the capital (of the empire and of the increasingly organized Scandian Church) to a more protected location at the newly built village of Thorsborg [OTL Oslo].

The new Scandian Empire, at this point still loosely ruled, was home to the raiders, plunderers, and traders which were the Vikings. By A.D. 894, King Ragnaar started putting together an organized Scandian military and started to reform the Scandian Church with the kings of the Scandian Empire nominally the head of the Church. With a new empire founded, the stage was set for the dramatic expansion of the Scandian realm.

More to follow.

[1] Dates hence forth will use the Scandian calendar, beginning with the year 0 which is the Christian year 797. The beginning of Scandian calendar coincides with the beginning of the compilation of The Chronicle. Thus, the year 2004 in Scandian years is, instead A.C. (After Chronicle) 1207. The year 0 in Scandian years is B.C. (Before Chronicle) 797.

[2] Futhark is the written language commonly known as Runic. It will be the Scandian written language and that of The Chronicle until A.D. 1100.
A few quibbles

Overall very good work as far as I can see. You avoided making the early phase of expansion too rapid which is common mistake in Alt Hist.

My quibbles:

The Year Zero. Do the Vikings possess the advanced mathematical concept of zero? The Christian Church goes from 1 BC to 1 AD--it does not have a year zero.

Heresy: The Church would regard the Scandian religion as heathen not heretical. Quite possibly as a mockery of the True Faith created by the Devil--which is what some OTL monks did think of the Baldur Myth when they encountered it.
Also you might want to consider the impact of having "The Chronicle" actually written in Old Norse. Vikings who are able to read and write and have a "holy Text" of their own are much less likely to change their language to match those of the people with whom they live.

Thus, the viking 'Normans' and the Rus would be more likely to keep all or at least a fair amount of Norse in their daily speech.