The Northern Wars
When the Protestant Reformation was happening, Midgard generally supported the Protestants, agreeing with them that the church was just a political tool, and not one of religious use. Although given a friendly warning by the Ottomans, Midgard aligned itself with the Protestants in their fight against the Catholic Church, and opened its borders to Protestants and Reformed Catholics alike.
In 1637, Midgard officially joined the Protestant side of the Thirty Years' War, and sent the Tjodsvord down to the Holy Roman Empire. This time, the Catholic armies were stronger, and the war left both nations hurting from the war. In the end, although the Protestants and Midgard won, it would turn to be a Pyrrhic victory for Fylkir Ralv II. A year after the victory in the Holy Roman Empire in 1648, Brandenburg, Bohemia, and a few other German nations declared war on Midgard. In 1650, England declared war on Midgard, invading their American territories and the Jarldom of Skotland. Overwhelmed and unable to mobilize the Great Heathen Army in time, Midgard had to concede defeat to both nations. Estonia was taken by Brandenburg, and Christian missionaries would be allowed within Midgard. In America, Midgard lost all territories to England, except for the island of Vinland, which retained its semi-autonomy under the Norse crown.
The Second Northern War was started by Russia in 1655, who was seeking to claim Finland and Karelia, yet again. This time, the Great Heathen Army was fully mobilized, but still lost ground to Russia before sustaining a stalemate. In the end, Russia was able to sue for peace, claiming Ingria and the city of St. Petersburg.
Fylkir Ralv II, while overseeing the loss of significant territory, was not considered a bad leader, just unlucky. One example of this was his decree in 1652, where he allowed human sacrifices to be made at the yearly Blot, in honor of some special anniversary that he dug up. This scared many Christian missionaries from proselytizing in Midgard, and as no nation wanted to challenge the Great Heathen Army on their own ground, the decree went unchallenged. Ralv II also declared that Midgard would no longer be a European nation, and would stay out of their affairs, focusing only on trade and sciences.
((This is where my canon diverges from CNRP canon, as in CNRP canon Scandinavia is conquered by Russia and the Christians, and all lands except Iceland are lost.))
Viðarr IV Ralvsson Hármyrkr, Fylkir af Miðgarðr (b. 1647, c. 1679, d. 1725)
After the death of Ralv II, people began to doubt the role of the Fylkir as the voice of the gods, wondering how Ralv II lost two wars. Vidarr echoed these thoughts, and decided that matters of the nation should be left up to democratic processes, so that the people have a say in whether or not to go to war. As all local regions had their own Landthing, which presided over locals laws and matters, Vidarr IV laid the groundwork for the Althing, or general assembly.
With the Althing came a constitution for the assembly as well as the crown, essentially codifying what had been in effect for centuries, and democratizing the process. Each local thing would vote on local laws and customs, with there being an overarching national law that each locality had to conform to. The Althing would be democratically voted on (the first universal sufferage), and then vote on legislation proposed by members of society. This constitution was ratified by a constitutional assembly, and signed by the Fyklir on September 5, 1680, becoming the first Constitutional Monarchy.
The Next Few Centuries
Midgard, would grow to become a sleeping giant. Through a heavy focus on trade and a powerful navy, she became a rich nation, dominating the main North Sea Trade routes, which ended up going through Vinland. Through their alliance with the Ottomans, they maintained a heavy influence over the silk road, gaining them even more wealth, and allowing them even more knowledge. While the Norse did not consider themselves a Militaristic nation, they prided themselves on the organization and the equipment available to the Tjodsvord, which was now on the technological forefront.
Midgard also made great strides in non-military technology as well. Half of the inventions of western civilization during and after the scientific revolution were either made by or influenced by technology made by the Norse. Culturally and Politically, they made great strides to be on the forefront of progressiveness.
Diplomatically, Midgard remained open only to the Ottomans, even when other European nations wanted to open relations and alliances with the most advanced nation in Europe. Midgard only commented on European affairs when the French were revolting (which was was always, according to then Fylkir Leif II), and Sigurd II's recognition of the United States of America. Sigurd II only recognized them out of schadenfraude for the British.
When Napoleon was doing his conquering, Fylka Lagertha II was remembered for her intimidation of him. The Fylka was quick to mobilize the Great Heathen Army, putting them in constant drilling in preparation for Napoleon. Napoleon knew that if he tried to invade Midgard, his armies would be crushed, and he would be sacrified to their gods. On top of that, Lagertha as a person scared him. She was tall, muscular, and very outspoken. She would frequently emasculate men who tried to go over her head or assume societal dominance over her. Even with her husband, she assumed the familial leadership role. Many European comics at the time depicted her as a hairy, ugly amazonian, but painters at the time captured her likeness as a fair, commanding looking blonde woman, who was depicted in traditional battle armor, wielding a large axe. The biggest reason Napoleon was afraid of Lagertha II, was that she would send the amputated genitals of various animals to Napoleon as warnings.
Eventually, the European powers defeated Napoleon twice, and things went back to normal. Alliances began forming, and power-blocs were rearing their ugly heads. Fylkir Ragnar III (r. 1877-1924) attempted to warn other Europeans that this was a dangerous idea, but none were interested in listening to a godless heathen.
The World in 1918