I didn't work on this alone: this was a collaborative effort between myself and a friend, intended to be a full timeline. It never got to that stage, but I decided to do something with the work we had done.
Olaf Tyggvason, King of Norway, ascended to the throne in 995 and attempted to convert his lands to Christianity. In 999, decided to suspend trade with Iceland and took a few hostages, among them the sons of Icelandic chieftains. Although Iceland typically appeased Norway, due to the religious divide there was heavy societal resistance and civil war nearly broke out. At the summer meeting of the Althing, it was decided that Thorgeir Thorkelsson would be a mediator to determine if Iceland would become Christian or not; he was a pagan priest, but also considered a moderate and reasonable man. Both sides agreed to follow through which his decision, and he spent a day and a night under a fur blanket contemplating what to do.
Thorkelsson made the fateful decision to stay pagan, but the local Icelandic Christians refuse and tensions rise. Over the next two years, they only increase as the effects of the embargo with Norway take their toll on the Icelanders and larger segments of the population convert, hoping to curry favor with the powerful Christian chieftains. Ultimately, Olaf declares an ultimatum for the island: either convert or face direct persecution. Although a large number do convert, a number of pagan chieftains and their followers, about a thousand in total, instead exile themselves to the west. Around early summer, the roughly 1000 pagan refugees, referring to themselves as the Útlægar, migrate to the New World. There, the Útlægar would greatly bolster the Norse colonies in what would later be known as Vinoria. Other pagans would follow them, as Iceland grew increasingly hostile to pagan beliefs. There, the Norse would intermarry with the local skraelings, and form a new group called the Westmen.
There was a limited exchange of crops and diseases between the Old and New worlds changed both considerably. In Europe, the introduction of maize and squash helped the continent support a much larger population, helping Europe recover after the Pestilence, while the introduction of Old World disease and horses allowed the Westmen to take large swaths of territory before the skraelings gradually gained immunity from these diseases. The end of the Medieval Warm Period at around 1250 saw a growth in Atlantic pack ice great enough to cut Vinland off from the Old World, but a large enough Norse and Westmen population existed to keep Vinorian society functioning. The two continents would not be reunited until the 1450s, when the aftermath of the Pestilence and the growth in European interest in the outside world grew.
European contact with the Westmen was wrought with confusion and hostility. The Europeans did not expect Vinoria to be so large, while the Westmen believed that some great disaster had wiped out European civilization. While the Westmen converted to Christianity, it was a strange variant which incorporated Norse and skraeling beliefs, and was declared heretical by the Catholic Church. However, they were still Christian and retained some cultural aspects which were familiar to the Europeans, making relations between the Westmen and Europeans better than those between Europeans and the skraelings. Westmen cultures profited from trade with the Europeans, and acted as guides for colonial expeditions. Some Westmen polities in southern Vinoria even bought African slaves from Europeans.
History happens. The Westmen eventually united under the Vinorian Empire sometime in the 18th century, partially a result of European interference with Westmen alliances and the rise of nationalist sentiment among the Westmen. The French and Spanish are kicked out of their Australian colonies, replaced by local monarchies which are later replaced with theocratic governments. In Central Europe, the Dutch Revolution ends with Germany is split between the growing Dutch Republic and the extremely traditionalist Holy Roman Empire. But perhaps the greatest event in human history was the Global War, which saw the destruction of the English, French and Russian empires and the foundation of the first communitarian state in the British Isles. The Global War was only ended with a Dutch nuclear attack against the remnants of the English military.
By 1999, a thousand years after Thorkelsson’s decision, the world is at the brink of nuclear war. The Global Consensus, made up of the victorious powers of the Great War, face off against the Revisionists, who desire to reshape the world in their image. No one power stands above the rest, although the Vinorians, Chinese and Dutch may be able to claim the title of first among equals.
The Global Consensus is diverse and united only by their desire to maintain the status quo. Perhaps the strangest arrangement within the Global Consensus is the Celtic-Dutch System, an alliance between two radical republics, with the traditionalist monarchists within the Holy Roman Empire and China. Both blocs are largely composed of authoritarian governments, with the Dutch and Celts gleefully killing counterrevolutionaries while the monarchists kill revolutionaries. Indeed, the Dutch have elevated their revolution’s leaders to godhood, as have the Chinese with their emperor. Nonetheless, the two blocs have reached an understanding that the Revisionists must be opposed, and so work together to keep the current global system stable.
The Revisionists are mostly authoritarian governments which have grandiose foreign ambitions. The Vinorian Empire has undergone a cultural revival which looks back toward its Norse roots and implements a strange racial policy which regards the Westmen as superior and destined to take over the entirety of Vinoria. Aligned with them is the Union of Astland, another racialist state where one’s English heritage determines one’s place on the social hierarchy. Great Russia, still under the Tsar in exile, wishes to reclaim and reunite the fractured Russian Empire. And in Australia, the dual theocracies of Nouvelle Orleans and Filipinas have their own ambitions within the Catholic World. Aligned with the Quintuple Alliance is the Eastern System, led by the Lithuanian Combine. Although the Lithuanians were one of the great winners of the Global War, their eyes have turned westward, wishing to expand into Central Europe to forge a Greater Lithuania. And in Asia, the modernized Kingdom of Siyem is challenging China and the Dutch for hegemony in Southeast Asia.
Only nuclear annihilation keeps the Revisionists from launching a strike for their birthrights, or the Global System from putting down the troublemakers. But with so many potential flashpoints throughout the world, it seems that some major confrontation is inevitable. And with the Vinorians launching a new laser defense system which they believe make them immune to nuclear attack, it’s only a matter of time before someone gets too cocky.