Althingi - Contributor Resources
This is a shared resource page with materials collected by the co-editors of Althingi, Muhammad Aurangzeb Ahmad and Joshua Gillingham. There is no requirement to read these resources or to include any of the characters or events listed below but you are welcome to explore them as you draft and plan. It may also be appropriate to re-iterate that these stories will be works of historical fiction; the characters in the game are fictional and you are invited to fill in the details of their lives with real history simply serving as a backdrop.
Highlights from Viking History for the Althingi Anthology
Raven-Floki's Expedition to Iceland (868 C.E.) - Hrafna-Flóki Vilgerðarson (Raven-Floki) heard of a large island in the North Atlantic that had been accidentally discovered by fellow Norwegian, Garðar Svavarsson. He sailed through the Shetland and Faroe Islands with his family, though his daughter tragically drowned along the way. It was said he took three ravens to guide him to Iceland when he departed from the Faroes, thus his byname; he and his family are considered by many to be the first Scandinavian settlers in Iceland.
Harald I, a.k.a. 'Harald Finehair' Unites Norway (~890-930 C.E.) - Harald Finehair swore an oath to Princess Gyda of Denmark that he would win her hand in marriage by conquering all of Norway; as a sign of his dedication, he did not cut his hair until he had completed the task. After a series of successful campaigns he established himself as the first King of Norway. His sons, Eirik Bloodaxe and Haakon the Good, succeeded him around 930 C.E.; it is perhaps worth noting that Haakon the Good was brought up in the court of the Anglo-Saxon King Athelstan. This event is particularly important for the anthology as it drove many Vikings from their ancestral homes in the fjords of Norway; many of these people became influential settlers in Iceland.
Rollo the Pirate (912 C.E.) - Rollo, a powerful Viking raider, departed from Norway in the wake of King Harald Finehair's consolidation of power and continued marauding in mainland Europe. In a peace settlement with the King of France, Rollo became the Duke of Normandy which would, more than 100 years later, be ruled by William the Conqueror.
Ulfljotr's Laws (~927-930 C.E.) - As Iceland established itself as separate from Harald Finehair's Kingdom of Norway, Ulfljotr was appointed by the Icelanders at the thing ('gathering') in Kjalarness to travel to Norway and study the Norse law codes. He returned a few years later and presented 'Ulfljotr's Laws' which helped in establishing the first Althingi (Old Norse: Alþing) in 930 C.E. These are later recorded, in part, as part of Gragas ('The Grey Goose Laws') which remained the core of the Icelandic law code until about 1260 C.E.
Highlights from Islamic History for the Althingi Anthology
The Muslim Conquest of Sicily (~902 C.E.) - After decades of conflict, the Byzantine Empire's control of the island of Sicily came to an end in 902 C.E. when Emir Ibrahim II conquered the fortress at Taormina. This is notable in terms of the anthology because Byzantine emperors often employed foreign mercenaries and, beginning around 900 C.E., had a personal bodyguard composed almost exclusively of Vikings called the Varangian Guard. In 909 C.E., Sicily came under the control of the Fatimid Caliphate which ruled large parts of Northern Africa; at one point this empire extended all the way to Egypt and into Arabia. At the end of the century these rulers were ousted from Sicily by Norman conquerors; Normandy, of course, also happens the kingdom established by Rollo the Pirate as mentioned in the Viking history section.
The Golden Age of Spain under Abd al-Rahman III (912- 961 C.E.) - Abd al-Rahman III ruled the powerful Cordoba Caliphate from 912 - 961 C.E.; his reign was remembered as the The Golden Age of Muslim Spain. A very interesting historical fact is that his predecessors took concubines from mainland Europe and so Abd al-Rahman, while he was truly of Arab descent, also had blonde hair and blue eyes; it is recorded that he dyed his beard black in order to appear more like his Arab contemporaries. In campaigns against both the Christian Kingdoms in the North of Spain and rebels within Cordoba, Abd al-Rahman strategically used foreign mercenaries to bolster his forces, including Turks from far to the East and Berbers from North Africa. Viking mercenaries may have been employed as well. Historians often note that this period of time was marked by the peaceful existence of Muslims, Christians, and Jews within al-Rahman's empire.
Ibn Fadlan's Account of the Rus (921 C.E.) - A court scribe named Ibn Fadlan was sent north by the Abbasid Caliph al-Muqtadir to serve as an ambassador to Volga Bulgaria; he created detailed written accounts of the people he encountered there. Among his writings is a description of a people he called 'Rus' which were almost certainly the Vikings who inhabited settlements along the Volga River. His writings are one of the few reliable contemporary descriptions of Vikings, both their physical appearance and their customs.
The Qarmatians Sack Mecca (930 C.E.) - A unique Islamic sect known as the Qarmatians took control of large parts of Eastern Arabia and established what many have hailed as the first communist society to have lasted more than a generation. Their influence and wealth was great, but their legacy was tainted by a campaign led by Abu Taher Sulayman who sacked Mecca in 930 C.E.; holy relics were taken by the invaders and this is the only time in Muslim history that such a thing as that happened. This event was perhaps the climax, at least culturally speaking, of the infighting between the many powerful Islamic Caliphates in the Mediterranean during that time period.