Harald of Stormark
Harald Freyjugjöf of the House of the Descendants of Freyja (born in Flóðhǫll in the Mysterious Isles, circa 1446), is the first and current High King of Stormark (since 1471), and a former Duke of Elwynn (Froyalan), Duke of Brookshire, and Steward of Shireroth. He is indefinitely exiled from Shireroth and Elwynn as of 1651.
Names and sobriquets
Harald has been known under several names. His birthname is Harald Thorstein Gudrödarson, but left off the patronymic upon ascending to royalty. He has been known as Harald of Ettlingar Freyu (after the Hurmu Norse version of his house name) and Harald of Froyalan (due to him being the only Duke of Froyalan ever). In honour of his hierogamous devotion to the Goddess Freyja, Harald changed his second name from Thorstein to Freyjugjöf (Freyja's gift).
In the year 1474 David Northworthy Beckford bestowed the sobriquet "The Generous Giver" upon Harald out of gratitude after Harald had given him the Kingdom of Middarthian. Hence, is Harald often referred to as Harald Thorstein the Generous Giver or as Harald Freyjugjöf the Generous Giver.
Harald grew up in Flóðhǫll in the Mysterious Isles. His father was Gudrödar Grjotgardsson, a local lord and jarl of the not very significant Kjøpsvik jarldom, and his mother was Gudrid Thorbjarnardottir, from the House of Kaupsted. He grew up with a close relationship with most people in his vicinity, but his closest childhood relationship was probably with his sister Ærinndís. Large parts of every year, the siblings spent at Klædaská Rock, because of a threat to the family from an evil petty king called Ivar the Impaler. It was at Klædaská Rock that Harald would get to know Geirbjörg Gefialdrsdottir, who would later become the mother of Harald's biological children, the twins Hallbjörn and Æsileif.
At the age of 12, Harald was sent to court in Alexandria, where was fostered by Emperor Edgard I for two years. Having been raised a fervent believer in the Vanir, being now in a Catholic setting was upsetting for Harald. However, he developed a great respect for the Catholic religion, and promised to support the religion wherever he went.
When he was 14, Harald's stay in Alexandria ended abruptly. A cousin of Harald's father, The Jarl of Hattfjelldal died of old age, and unexpectedly willed his jarldom to Harald, by-passing other relatives.
Conquest of the Heartland
According to the beliefs and teachings of the Froyalanish Ancient Ways, Harald would early in his jarlship meet the Goddess Freyja. After a series of meetings, some of sexual nature, Freyja would promise Harald to rule over a great piece of land, in the Heartland, which he was to call Stormark ("great land").
Harald knew very little of the land that Freyja would give him, but he believed in the visions and trusted in his goddess. Freyja introduced him also to her sister Goddesses, Idunn and Frigga, who would help him rule his future kingdom. Idunn is especially important in a secular setting, as in the Vanic beliefs, she holds apples that stops old age. As such, Harald of today looks more or less the same as he did when he was 25 (aside from trends in fashion, Harald hates all pictures of him from the 1490s…, and is said to be particularly pleased with his outfits in the 1550s).
Trusting on those beliefs, he set off by building longships that were able to cross the oceans. After going around to more or less every town in the Mysterious Isles, Harald managed to gather a crew for his ships. Most strong and able-bodied men refused to believe Harald's visions of meeting Freyja, but a small number did, and they formed Harald’s loyal regiment, and became the basis of Stormark's nobility after the conquest of the Heartland.
The trip to the Heartland was an arduous one. Religious tales tell of struggles with Kraken, pirates and evil men. Secular studies give little insight to the actual journey, but what is known is that Harald and his two ships survived the journey intact. They set foot on Hnossa Isle, just outside what is today Haraldsborg. Upon embarking the ship, Harald said, "Here I shall build a fortress", and bulding started immediately. The first version of the fortress was a simple one, made out of wood from trees growing locally. The fortress was named Vanadísarhall, after Freyja (who is also known as Vanadís). However, in common parlance the fortress was simply known as Haraldsborg ("Harald's fortress") which would later become the name of the conurbation that quickly grew around the fortress (today Vanadísarhall is a giant stone palace, and bears little resemblance to the wooden shanty fortress of old).
Harald and his men, loyal to Freyja's promise, began incursions to the inland of the Heartland. At this time, the Heartland was ruled by five different tribes; the Gula, the Eidsiva, the Frosta and Borgar tribes were at constant war with one another, and commanded their people's obedience through dictatorial and oppressive ways. The last tribe, the Hurmu, lived around the lakes of the north of the Heartland, and were a peaceful, pacifict nation. Not long before Harald's invasion of the Heartland (maybe only 10 years), the Hurmu people controlled most of the Heartland. Due to their pacifist nature, however, they were easily subdued by the other four tribes and reduced to living in the inaccessible far north of the Heartland.
On one of Harald's quiet days (they were not many given how much war and killings he was engaged in), he was walking in the forest, when he saw a beautiful woman bathing naked in a lake. Struck with attraction to the woman, he soon realised that the woman bathing was the heiress of a mighty lord and landowner, Lady Hervör. If he managed to get a marriage with her, his acceptability as ruler of the Heartland would soon be realized. Accordingly, he introduced himself to the woman and explained to her the promises of Freyja, the conquest he was undergoing, and how he needed to uphold Freyja’s promise and commandment of conquering the Heartland. After some initial scepticism towards Harald’s words wore off, she agreed to marry him. This quickly gained Harald the support of all landowners in the south, and southern Heartland became a safeground, and large-scale infrastructure and industry took root.
Harald and Hervör continued fighting heavily across the Heartland and the nearby Hålogaland. Learning that Ivar the Impaler controlled many fishing, trading and whaling stations along the coasts, Harald was angered. He knew of the Impaler's hate for his family and kin, and decided to eradicate that threat once and for all. However, the Impaler managed to find out of Harald's plans (by help of a widowed queen of one of the local kings that Harald had earlier killed) and attacked pre-emptively Harald’s camp. It was a bloody massacre. Almost all of Harald's men were killed, however Harald and Hervör, along with a small number of soldiers, managed to escape. They headed to Hurmu’s peaceful lands, hoping to rest there and gather support. The Hurmu, true to their pacifist nature, refused to engage in any war of any kind and declined to join Harald’s army. Harald asked the tribesmen there rhetorically if they would rather be slaughtered by a foreign army, and the tribesmen answered "yes, we would rather die true to our beliefs than die killing other of the children of Ash and Elm". Surprised with their answer, Harald developed respect for the un-Viking-like behaviour of the Hurmu people, and decided that they indeed had bravery worthy of admiration. Accordingly, he acceded to the Hurmu people's wishes of being independent. In a letter to them, entlitled the Epistle of the Peaceful Pastures, he confirmed that he would never lay arms upon Hurmu's people or lands.
Renewed with strength, Harald and his men moved eastwards and found support to gather a new army there. Unfortunately, that army was not trained well, so he pawned a lot of his possessions to buy the support of pirates. Thanks to the pirates and their terrorizing the Impaler's last stations, Harald and his men marched in without much let or hindrance to the the station Ógnarvígi, Ivar the Impaler's last seat of power, where Harald proudly executed the Impaler. Thereby, the Heartland, except Hurmu, was under Harald’s firm rule.
Harald’s accession to rule came so quickly that the landowners of the Heartland were worried that Harald would remove their lands and powers from them. Willing to alleviate their concerns, Harald and the landowners negotiated the Pact of the Heartland which lay down the conditions for the future kingdom, Stormark. The Froyalanish Ancient Ways teach that Harald now joined his three-helper goddesses, Freyja, Idunn and Frigg, in a holy marriage, the consummation of which the religion underscores and deems theologically relevant and significant. Thereafter Harald was crowned High King (previously translated from Storish as “Sovereign Viking Emperor”, though “High King” is a better translation that was adopted later).
Early rule in Stormark
As high king, Harald ruled with a firm hand. He was very interested in foreign affairs, and later befriended Richard Lyon (Rashid Arsalani), the Babkhan baron in the Arminian territory of Hurmu. Hurmu had been cut off from communications with Stormark after Menelmacar took on a protectorate role in Hurmu, but they were now restored. Large-scale cooperation and cultural exchanges took place. When Hurmu, along with Arminy, joined Shireroth as a barony (and duchy, respectively), Harald joined too. Richard Lyon abdicated the barony of Hurmu to the Slobovian Troy Thompson, but after this man was ousted by the Duke of Arminy, Harald’s friendship to Richard paid off, and Harald was named the new Baron of Hurmu. Arminy soon seceded from Shireroth to become the Royal Crandish Republic, in which Hurmu was one of the constituent states, and Harald was named Duke and Prince of Hurmu. Upon the dissolution of the Royal Crandish Republic, Hurmu was by Prince Harald declared a joint Grand-Commonwealth and Storish protectorate, with Richard Lyon as the new prince (who took on the name Prince Andelarion there).
Meanwhile, in Stormark, Harald did not manage to remove all opposition to his rule in Stormark despite all good government and the many reforms undertaken. Stormark expanded heavily, and became one of the richest and largest empires there ever was. After a few decades some men loyal to their former king, gathered enough support to challenge Harald’s rule at Myrkviðr. They called themselves the Harkalegar. The incoming army toward Haraldsborg, now a buzzling city of more than a million people, came as a big surprise. Stormark’s armies were in Normandie helping a local duke there beat a rebellion, and the local city guard was heavily outnumbered in comparison to the incoming Harkalegar. Hervör, Harald’s wife, decided to lead the frighetened guard herself. After an inspiring speech, she restored morale among the men, and the Guard marched out to Myrkviðr to fight off the incoming Harkalegar. The battle was extremely bloody, on both sides, and the City’s loyal guardsmen died one after the other. Hervör was devastated, but by, as the Froyalanish Ancient Ways teach, divine intervention, a regiment of soldiers from Normandie arrived at Haraldsborg far earlier than estimated, and reinforced the Storish army outside Haraldsborg. At this time, however, Hervör had been mortally wounded. Enraged, Harald went out in battle himself, leading the newcomers into the last episode of the battle. Harald rallied the newcomers into such anger that none of the Harkalegar were spared. Minutes after the last of the enemy died, Hervör died in Harald’s arms.
Struck with grief, Harald sought comfort with his friend, Ása Bloodhelm. She the grieving widow of Lord Rob Davis Bloodhelm of Haldarsvik (and former chief justice of Elwynn). Soon the Lady Ása and Harald began courting. After a difficult dowry negotiation process (due
Rise to power in Elwynn
In Elwynn, Harald was now the Count of Araxion, and his loyalty to the Barony of Elwynn was put to trial when the Antyans invaded. With help from his former compansions at the conquest of the Heartland, he led a conscripted army of northern Elwynnese to Vijayanagara where the foe met its fate in battle. Very few of Harald’s soldiers died (149 out of 13,000), but among Antya's 10,000 soldiers, all but less than 900 survived. Harald's ruthless and decisive victory secured Elwynn's respect as a power in Shireroth to be reckoned with. Shortly therafter, in 1509, Elwynn was elevated to a duchy.
After Harald's friend Richard Lyon was made Babkhan shah under the name Rashid Shahanshah in 1529, the Duke was more and more absent from Elwynnese government. This angered Kaiser Mors V, who wanted a more active duke in Elwynn. Accordingly, the Kaiser removed Richard Lyon from the Ducal Throne and put Harald there. The Kaiser wanted to change Elwynn's name, and heeding the Kaiser's advice, Harald changed the name of the Duchy to Froyalan.
As duke of Froyalan, Harald began a series of law reforms in the duchy. Ironically, in an effort to de-Elwynnize Elwynn with the name Froyalan (mainly on the ill advice of the Kaiser), Harald actually managed to do the same. He soon realized his mistake and encouraged cultural development. To deal with angry sub-nobles, Harald created the first Elwynnese legislature, the Logthing, which was to evolve to the Council of Eliria and the Elwynnese Senate. However, he did not restore Elwynn’s name, which was done only in 1542, after Harald’s abdication.
[more to write…]
[1587, making babies with Geirbjörg, born in 1588 not knowing of them until they are teenagers, rescue mission]
[death of Asa]
[post-Auspicious Occasion life & regency]
|Duke of Froyalan