Eleanora of Caldia

Eileanóra Ní Mealla
Elanora of Caldia, Drisina Cathedral, Viktor Krachewsky, 1886.png
Religious work depicting Elanora (1886), painted by Viktor Krachewsky and located in Drisina Cathedral.
Queen of Maltaire
Reign949–970
SuccessorFlaithbertach Uí Mealla
Queen of the Uí Mealla
Reign943–970
PredecessorEiric Uí Mealla
SuccessorFlaithbertach Uí Mealla
Born920 or 921
Clóghál, Uí Mealla (present-day Cloghel, County Sackmannan, Caldia)
Died970 (aged 49–51)
Drisína, Kingdom of Maltaire (present-day Drisina, Narozalica)
SpouseLachlainn[a] or Gillechrìosd[b]
IssueFlaithbertach
Finnean
Muirgheal
Máirín
HouseUí Mealla
FatherEiric Uí Mealla
MotherAithbhreac Ó Broin
ReligionSolarian Catholic Church

Eileanóra Ní Mealla, often referred to posthumously and historically as Eleanora of Caldia was a Ghaillish marauder who raided and conquered the city of Drisina as head of the Uí Mealla clan, establishing the Kingdom of Maltaire in modern-day Narozalica, eventually rising to becoming one of the most powerful marauder kingdoms during the height of the Marauder Age.

Eleanora was born to Uí Mealla chief Eiric Uí Mealla as his sole daughter in 920 or 921, in the city of Clóghál (now Cloghel), the largest city in the Uí Mealla demesne. When her father died in 943, she ascended to the throne of the Uí Mealla, continuing her father's marauder legacy by raiding the coasts of the Perovo Sea. Likely commanding her own long fada, although this is disputed, Eleanora raided, sieged and overran the city of Drisina, then under the administration of Marolevic tribes shortly after the fall of the Great Vesemir in Narozalica. Eleanora established the Kingdom of Maltaire in 949 and became its first queen, encouraging migration from the Uí Mealla, a small clan dissatisfied with their status under the Ghaillish kings. Eleanora greatly expanded the lands of Maltaire during her reign, elevating it to a significant position of power among the North Sea nations and becoming one of the most powerful marauder kingdoms, with a formidable navy that was likely the largest marauder navy ever built.

Eleanora died in 970, in Drisina, with four children – Flaithbertach, Finnean, Muirgheal and Máirín – of which she was succeeded by the former. Historians debate whether her husband was the legendary marauder figure Lachlainn or Gillechrìosd, who is mentioned by Karopophores as her husband in the 959 Codex Maroleviæ. She is a controversial figure in Narozalica, who recognise her as an important figure of their national history, while marauder historians laud her for her ability to quickly establish one of the most powerful states of its era.

Early life

Eleanora was born in either 920 or 921 (the exact date is not known) to Eiric Uí Mealla and his wife Aithbhreac Ó Broin, who was the sister of Beareach Ó Broin, who ruled over a small fiefdom bordering the Uí Mealla demense and had married into the clan on the basis of good relations. She was born in the city of Clóghál, the largest city and de facto capital city of the Uí Mealla clan.

Her father was also a marauder raider and it is likely that Eleanora accompanied him on ships from a young age, although it is unknown whether or not she actively participated in a raid at an early age. Marauder-era Ghaillish historian Muireann Ó Mocháini suggests Eleanora first saw raider combat off the coast of Werania aged 13, however this is disputed by Amathian historian Faustus, who suggested Eleanora was participating in raids since relative infancy. Karopophores' Codex Maroleviæ alludes to Eleanora taking control of her first long fada aged around 16 to 17, a figure generally agreed upon by historians.

Eleanora was also monolingual, only speaking Old Ghaillish, and was a devout Solarian Catholic following the Sotirianisation of Caldia in the 8th century. Remarkably more religious than her father, Eleanora regularly attended church services in Caldia before her departure.

Historiography

Eleanora has a wide range of historiographies that both confirm and conflict facets of her life, rule and death. Due to the location and period of time in which she ruled, many primary sources on her life have been lost or destroyed. One of the most comprehensive accounts of the life and rule of Eleanora is in the Codex Maroleviæ, an extensive collection of stories and information on 10th-century Marolevia. Written by Arcilucan-Piraean historian Karopophores, it provides some of more detailed insights into Eleanora's raids on Drisina, as well as its conquering and subsequent settlement of what became the Kingdom of Maltaire. Historians often look to the Codex Maroleviæ as the most reliable source on Eleanora.

Another version of Eleanora's history is told in the chronicles compiled by Muireann Ó Mocháini, a 10th-century Ghaillish historian based in the Caldish Isles. Known as the Tiomsú Stair Ruathar, roughly translated to "Compilation of Raiding History", deals more with the naval and logistical aspect of marauders and their ways of life, although has an uncharacteristically detailed outline of Eleanora, possibly due to her importance or through close connections. Some historians suggest Eleanora and Ó Mocháini were acquaintances, friends, or knew of each other through other connections. Regardless, the Tiomsú Stair Ruathar outlines an overview of Eleanora's life before sailing for Narozalica, and in much greater detail and scrutiny than the Codex Maroleviæ. Despite the amount of content provided by Ó Mocháini in her works, archaeological evidence in both Caldia and Narozalica has come to disprove some claims made by her in her historiography, leading historians to somewhat doubt its reliability, especially due to the fact it often comes in conflict with Karopophores' recount of her life.

While the two aforementioned sources are the most considerable and lengthy recounts of her life in that era, many more historians in the modern day have sought to compile an accurate, detailed and modern recount of the life of Eleanora. A resurgence in the study of marauders during the 18th and 19th centuries, coupled with the rise of romanticism in Euclea, saw historians such as Mícheál Ó Mealláin (1816–1888), Comhghan Ó Donnghaile (1851–1910) and Finguine Mac Eochagáin (1897–1967) attempt to use historical and archaeological evidence to publish their own historiographies on Eleanora. In Narozalica, dives have been conducted to bring back wreckage of marauder-era ships and supplies from the Maltaire area in an attempt to gain more insight into the possible workings of Maltaire under Eleanora.

Reign

Queen of the Uí Mealla

A Ghaillish long fada bearing the shields of the Uí Mealla as envisioned by Íon Ó Caiside (1880).

Eleanora became Queen of the Uí Mealla upon the death of her father, Eiric, in 943. Legend suggests she was crowned on a long fada whilst sailing the North Sea, but she was likely coronated in her birth town of Clóghál. She led the clan to the southern coasts of Caldia, encouraging migrations and travellings of the clan to bring it towards an increasingly seafaring clan. The Uí Mealla chiefs, as well as Eleanora herself, were generally dissatisfied with centralised rule under the Kingdom of the Ghailles, and based on prior marauder success both with other clans in establishing states and her father in raiding cities, wanted to establish a state for her own clan.

As the Uí Mealla did not control a sizable naval force, Eleanora began by raiding smaller, relatively unfortified towns for their supplies, mainly fish and sometimes other livestock such as cattle, who would be slaughtered in the city, or other smaller animals. Engenreute, Obergrenzebach and Kaichen, all in south-eastern Werania, were subject to some of Eleanora's earlier raids, before gradually expanding her range to northern Werania (Ackendorf in 944, Reundorf in 945 or 946 and the city of Hauptenburg in 947) and Kirenia. Possibly inspired by the earlier successes of the First North Sea Empire in raiding and settling the Ludoy Islands and their fort in Eryksborg, Eleanora took her ships and sailed west to the Perovo Sea with the intent of conquering and settling land for her clan. The Codex Maroleviæ states that Eleanora likely reached the coast of northern Rykovychi Province in Narozalica, before following the coast eastwards until she located the city of Drisina.

The Kingdom of Maltaire and domains of Eleanora in 960.

Over a period of around half a year, Eleanora raided Drisina three times, breaching its defenses and conquering the city the third time in 949. It is likely that the city was ransacked for its supplies and some of its Marolevic tribal population forcefully relocated in a reactionary move by the Ghailles and Eleanora, with relocations rarely occurring after the initial conquering. Eleanora was declared Queen of Maltaire (likely called Tír Mealla by the marauders, from tír, meaning "land" in Old Ghaillish, and the clan name Uí Mealla).

Queen of Maltaire

Eleanora (top left) on a bedsurrounded by bishops and her husband (either Gillechrìosd or Lachlainn) during her near-deadly illness in 965.

Maltaire in its statehood form was founded in 949 upon the conquering of Drisina. Eleanora was crowned as its first queen (Rígan ó Tir Mealla) in the city in the same year by Aodhan of Bagaí, a Ghaillish priest of the Uí Mealla clan that sailed with them to Maltaire. Eleanora exhibited a mostly co-existive policy with the Marolevic tribes in the area following the reactionary deportations after the annexation of Drisina. Most of the natives there were converted to Solarian Catholicism, over their native pagan faiths. Eleanora's arrival and settlement in Narozalica was around the same time that Hippodalia, a Piraean missionary of the Empire of Arciluco, began converting the Marolevs from paganism to Sotirianity. Aged 30, Eleanora married Gillechrìosd in a ceremony overseen by Aodhan at the Drisina Monastery.

Beginning around 951, Eleanora began expanding the domain of Maltaire, settling inland as well as across the coast both north and south of Drisina. Auchdarnaig (Bulgakovo), Braelyne (Yagodzin), Cairnnafearn (Pokhoreltsy), Coldarrígg (Velimche), Colmamuir (Lisichniki), Largfar (Gvozdets), Daíllíesh (Belokamennoye) and Mallaíg (Velikaya Kamyshevikha) were among the towns founded and populated by Eleanora in the 950s. These towns were often led locally by elders (arsaid) who exercised localised power in the absence of Eleanora, and were more akin to extensions of her direct power rather than separate vassal states. By 960, Maltaire had expanded considerably across the western coast of the Bay of Lipa (referred to by the Ghailles as Cúan ó bledmil; "Bay of Whales"), and has ascended to a position of prominence among the Marauder kingdoms.

Drisina as a port city had also expanded massively, with an estimated quadrupling of its population between 949 and 960, many of whom came to work at Marauder docks building and maintaining Maltaire's large and expansive navy. Maltaire's navy regularly raided the coasts of the Perovo Sea, launching frequent raids on Samistopol and Luchintsy in Narozalica, as well as Eryksborg to the north, the Kirenian coast, Werania and raids documented as far as the lands of the successor states to the First North Sea Empire on the Isle of Svøyen, including Hrodmir, one of its most powerful successor states. The Maltairean navy was well-documented, notorious and feared for its strength, size and experienced commanders and sailors. Historians estimate that the navy conducted over 200 raids over the course of forty years from Maltaire's foundation in 949 to the death of Eleanora's successor Flaithbertach and the rapid decline of Maltaire. Eleanora herself was instrumental in the progression of ship building and the raids that her kingdom's navy participated in.

Eleanora's frequence of raids made her susceptible to disease outbreaks on ships as well as waterborne diseases such as cholera, in 965 she came down with an unknown disease that left her close to death, but eventually survived and recovered enough to continue governing, albeit in a much lessened capacity. Eleanora did not accompany her ships on another raid after her death scare, and began increasingly retreating indoors surrounded by her close family as well as several bishops and other religious figures, leading some to believe she was susceptible to religious influence during the later years of her reign.

Death

The last years of Eleanora's reign over Maltaire were uneventful, as the state was posed with no significant threat with Pavatria still consolidating its land east of Ovdapol on the opposite side of the bay. Eleanora delegated most of the rule of Maltaire to Flaithbertach in her final years, falling ill once more in 970. It is unknown exactly what disease Eleanora fell ill with for the second time, however the Codex Maroleviæ mentioned "the plague" twice in its passages regarding the death of Eleanora, leading some historians and historiographers to point to the bubonic plague as a probable cause of death, which was well-documented and present in Narozalica in the 10th century.

Eleanora was bed-ridden in her final month, surrounded near-daily by her husband, her children, and several religious bishops, including Aodhan of Bagaí, who had married her nearly twenty years prior. Religious processions and ceremonies took place regularly in an attempt to heal Eleanora on her death bed, but they were ultimately unsuccessful and Eleanora passed away in Drisina in 970.

Descendants and ancestors

The descendants of Eleanora past her direct children are debated by historians. With her husband, either Lachlainn or Gillechrìosd, Eleanora had four children, Flaithbertach, Finnean, Muirgheal and Máirín. Her first-born son Flaithbertach Uí Mealla succeeded her as both King of Maltaire and King of the Uí Mealla, but the descendants of her other three children are subject to historical debate, mainly due to the lack of historical evidence or account of their children.

Flaithbertach had seven children, five boys – Diarmad, Eachann, Fearghas, Catan and Eircheard – as well as two daughters – Aignéis and Éirinn, all of whom are backed by historical accounts as to their existence. Finnean likely had two children, both daughters – Doireann and Ciara – with his wife Mòr Ó Caisidei, who were married whilst Eleanora was still alive. Eleanora's two daughters Muirgheal and Máirín both married into the neighbouring Mac Coinneach clan, some of whom had accompanied the Uí Mealla on their voyage to Maltaire.

Eleanora was born to Eiric Uí Mealla and Aithbhreac Ó Broin. Aithbhreac was a member of the Ó Broin clan, a small and relatively insignificant clan who controlled a small demesne and fief bordering the lands of the Uí Mealla under the Kingdom of the Ghailles. Her father was Murchadh Ó Broin, who also fathered Beareach Ó Broin, the ruler of the Ó Broin fief when Aithbhreac married Eiric, but her mother is unknown. Some historians suggest her mother was also a member of the Ó Broin clan, whereas others dispute this claim.

Eiric himself claimed descent from a long line of Uí Mealla rulers stretching far before Caldish unification under the Kingdom of the Ghailles. Stretching back some 400 years, Eiric, as well as the other Uí Mealla rulers claimed their descent to be from the semi-legendary, possible mythical figure Madadh Uí Mealla, who, according to Ghaillish mythology, founded the domain of the Uí Mealla in the 6th century. The Uí Mealla were one of the first túatha to emerge on the Caldish Isles and controlled a portion of territory straddling the border between the Caldish Lowlands and Highlands. These Uí Mealla mythological figures also claimed descent from a long list of probably-mythological monarchs on the Caldish Isles stretching back thousands of years.

Legacy

Marble statue of Eleanora on Zapilen Hill, overlooking Drisina to the west.

For the time period, and among her marauder contemporaries, Eleanora has a far-reaching and notorious legacy that surpasses most marauder figures of the period. She is considered one of the legendary marauders of Ghaillish history, and was revered within Caldia when the Uí Mealla clan were eventually forced back to the Kingdom of the Ghailles in the late-10th century. The story of Eleanora, including its historiography, collection of sources and depictions, is associated in large part with Caldish romanticism and the explosion of romanticised art and literature in Caldia and its associated connotations of national pride and power. Throughout the late-18th and early-19th century, Eleanora was one of the forefront figures of Ghaillish marauder history and mythology (despite being real) and its romanticised revival. In modern Caldia, her legacy has begun to be questioned, although she remains largely a positive and admirable historical figure among Caldians.

Eleanora has not seen such a warm revival elsewhere, especially in Narozalica, where her kingdom was located. Eleanora is portrayed negatively for her deportations and relocations of the Marolevic tribes of the area in the early settlement ages of Maltaire, as well as her Catholic nature, which she used to convert the Marolevic pagans. Being viewed negatively for her religion in Narozalica is a relatively recent development accredited to the promotion of religion and the church as part of Eduard Olsov's republican reforms in the late-19th century, although she was generally viewed negatively in the imperial era. Despite this, some in Narozalica view her in a positive light, and the subject is neither controversial nor taboo to talk about in the country. Especially among naval commanders and enthusiasts, Eleanora's naval prowess remains an admirable trait of hers that was seldom replicated in her era.

As well as her personal legacy, Eleanora also left a significant cultural and religious legacy in the area which she reigned. The Uí Mealla clan and Eleanora herself originally spoke Old Ghaillish, however this eventually evolved into a localised dialect, taking loanwords from languages spoken in Marolevia, predominantly Old Church Levonic, Zirnian, Solarian and Middle Piraese, as well as other dialectical rules and identifiers to create a new dialect of Old Ghaillish known in Narozalica as Haillo-Stomiaz (from Levonic Въстокъ; V'stok, meaning "east" and мѫжь; miazh or meazh, meaning "man" or "men"). Throughout most of the world, including Caldia, the language is referred to Ghaillo-Maltairean, and became essentially extinct by the 12th century. Louis II led a cultural eradication campaign to rid the area that used to be Maltaire of Ghaillish-derived names, eventually renaming most of the towns and cities in the area by 1650.

Depictions, renditions and eponymous dedications

As a highly documented and notorious historical figure, Eleanora has seen multiple varying depictions and renditions in cinema, music, art, television as well as having her name given to many places around the world. The first known cinematic depiction of Eleanora was in the Weranic film Königin des Westens ("Queen of the West") a monochrome silent film first published in 1922 and directed by Eggert Kohl. After the Occupation of Caldia, Caldish romanticism saw a brief, modernised revival that reflected in film, with three famous films, Banríon Lípa ("Queen of Lipa"; directed by Nechtan Ó Gormáin, published in 1937), Bean na Croise ("Woman of the Cross; directed by Nóe Ó Luinigh, published in 1938) and Gaoth chuig Breacadh an Lae Nua ("Windward to a New Dawn"; directed by Isibéal Ní Luain, published in 1939) directed and published in the 1930s. More modern depictions include Elanor (Narozalica, 1977), Une princesse perdue (Gaullica, 1998) and Reis naar het nieuwe oud (Hennehouwe, 2014), the latter of which won the béco aùreo at the 2014 Montecaran Film Festival.

Eleanora has also seen numerous religious depictions, both in Caldia and Narozalica, cathedrals near Drisina sometimes adorn large mosaics or portraits of Eleanora from the 19th century, particularly famous is the work of Miersan artist Viktor Krachewsky, whose famous piece entitled Eleanora, painted in 1886, hangs in Drisina Cathedral, and is the most famous work depicting her. Scrolls, tapestries and codexes from the era can often be seen depicting Eleanora or her voyage, especially those that recount marauder history.

Several places have had their names given to them by Eleanora, and below is a list of some places named after her:

Notes

  1. May be legendary.
  2. Gillechrìosd is mentioned by Arcilucan-Piraean historian Karopophores as the husband of Eleanora in the Codex Maroleviæ (c. 959)
  3. Possibly a member of the Ó Broin clan.