Monks vs. Vikings

Watch a demo.

From the fury of the Northmen, o Lord, deliver us!

An unstoppable wave of Viking raiders is ravaging Northwest Europe. Much of England and Ireland have fallen to the Norse conquerors, and Viking colonists have even established a foothold in France. The poor and disorganized Christian kingdoms are currently unable to defend themselves. It falls upon the Church to stop the Viking invasion and save Christendom.

This is really a game about the role of the Church in 10th and 11th Century Europe. In 900 AD, Europe was a pretty dismal place, regularly ravaged by Viking, Magyar and Arab raiders. By 1100 AD, European kingdoms were powerful and secure enough to dispatch an army of crusaders to the Middle East to recapture Jerusalem. Of course, lots of factors helped fuel this dramatic turn around. Warmer weather and better plows certainly helped generate an agricultural surplus that spawned a population boom in Western Europe. Unfortunately for us, there is already a really good game about medieval agriculture on the market. Simulating the rise of the Medieval Church and the christianization of Scandinavia is the second most interesting topic for a Medieval strategy game about vikings.

There are lots of games about vikings sailing around the North Atlantic exploring, pillaging and raiding monasteries, if you are into that sort of thing. Things generally do not go well for monks when they run into vikings. However, the monks ultimately win in the end. By the end of the 11th Century, vikings had stopped their raids and adopted Christianity. True, Norman’s (who were pretty much vikings that learned to speak a bit of French) took over England and Southern Italy. However, they conquered these places with the blessing of the Pope, and left Church lands intact. The Normans were a far cry from the raiders who sacked Lindisfarne. This game attempts to simulate this process of “Europeanization” that turned pagan vikings into members in good standing of feudal society. The game mechanics simulate this process in three ways:

1) Conversion: Scandinavian society slowly adopted Christianity for a variety of reasons. Viking kings agreed to convert in exchange for peace with their neighbors. Vikings also conquered and colonized lands that already had large Christian populations. Eligible viking bachelors eventually settled down and married local Christian women in places like England and Ireland. Viking Christian offspring inevitably followed. Both of these phenomenons are simulated in the game.

2) The rise of monasticism: monasteries became a dynamic force in medieval society as the Cluniac reforms took hold. Well run monasteries became valuable sources of revenue for bishops and the Kings who appointed them. Nobles and merchants donated to monasteries, putting more assets indirectly under the control of Christian monarchs. Revenues from monastic lands provided Frankish and English monarchs with the cash they needed to build castles, raise armies, and ultimately fight vikings.

3) The rise of feudalism: trading labor for security and access to land was a pretty good deal for a 10th Century peasant. Nobles turned free peasant labor into castles. The proliferation of these castles in 11th century Europe made life really difficult for viking raiders. Even vikings like the Normans started to see the logic of settling down, building a few castles and becoming vassals of the King of France.

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