K is for Kalmar Union

A2Z-BADGE-100 [2017]

My 2017 A to Z Challenge theme is “The History of Kanata”, the parallel world that is the setting for “Eagle Passage”, my alternative history novel that all began when I wondered, “What would have happened if Leif Eriksson had settled Vinland permanently in 1000 AD? For further details and links to my other A to Z posts – and hints at the ones to come visit “Kanata – A to Z Challenge 2017”.

K (1)

K is for Kalmar Union: 12 June 1397 – Kalmar Castle, Denmark: Outnumbered by superior forces, two rival Hanseatic merchant captains, Palle Fisker and Izaak Rusnak, are escorted to Kalmar Castle by Captain Urika Migisi and her three Kanatian warships. Queen Margaret I of Denmark is hosting a gathering of merchants and nobles from across the Baltic to form a trading alliance across Northern Europe. The delegates agree as long as Kanata sets up a neutral trading post to secure the arrangement, based at Palle’s home port of Visby, on the strategic island of Gotland. Urika wins Palle’s heart, but his rivalry with Izaak spills down the generations – all the way to 2020.

 

Skibsflaget_fra_Mariakirken_i_Lübeck

A medieval ship flag captured from a Danish ship by forces from Lubeck in 1427 displaying the arms of Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Pomerania – Illustration by Professor Julius Magnus Petersen. (Public Domain)

 

In our timeline: The Kalmar Union was created and existed from 1397 to 1523, joining under a single monarch the three kingdoms of DenmarkSweden (then including Finland), and Norway, together with Norway’s overseas dependencies (then including IcelandGreenland, the Faroe Islands and the Northern Isles). Queen Margaret of Denmark was the regent at this time and a prime mover. One main impetus for the Union’s formation was to block German expansion northward into the Baltic region. The Hanseatic League were one of the major rivals of the Scandinavians, as were the Victual Brothers, a loosely organised guild of pirate operating at one time from Visby, a former Hanseatic city.

Although the Kalmar Union suffered from all the rivalry around the Baltic, including conflicts between the Scandinavian nations, could a powerful intermediary like Kanata have safeguarded Baltic trade? This might have been feasible, especially as Visby as the main port on the island of Gotland was well-placed to monitor traffic.

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