The Thing, 850

Raiding? Pillaging? Diplomacy? Whereas most stories we hear of Vikings today consist of raiding and pillaging, this constituted only a small portion of the true age of the Vikings. An industrious and innovative people, the Vikings bore some of the earliest examples of parliament, then referred to as “Things.” Things set the guidelines for many modern systems of criminal justice and helped make decisions on behalf of Viking Tribes. In the mid to late 9th century, the Viking settlements in England were at war with the Kings of Wessex and Alfred the Great in a battle for control of England. A battle to seize control of Europe for the Vikings and the Scandinavian way of life.

This raised many complexities among the modern Viking world. How will they gain control of England? How would it be led? Which Viking tribe’s customs would be placed into rule? What laws and traditions should become commonplace among the undiscovered world? How would tribes of different origins come together to shape the new unified world? Through exploration, diplomacy and strategy, it is up to the unified Thing to answer these questions and navigate the world of the Vikings in Northern Europe and beyond, and through the 9th century and forward.


Director's Letter

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Dear Delegates,

My name is Seth Filo, and it is my absolute pleasure to welcome you to HNMUN 2020. I look forward to serving as your director of The Thing, 850. The Thing is based on the earliest recorded parliaments in human history by the Nordic people of Scandinavia, better known today as the Vikings. As members of The Thing, you will have the opportunity to explore the undiscovered world, set up a new government for Northern Europe and beyond, and dictate the future of the Viking world. This committee will be extensively substantive, and I expect each delegate to have comprehensive, creative, and realistic goals and plans in order to succeed in committee. This committee will challenge your diplomacy, vision, and strategy, and I am so excited to share that challenge with you all. I am a sophomore at Harvard College, raised in the great state of Ohio before moving to Arizona the past 9 years. While the deserts of Arizona are far separated from the harsh colds of Scandinavia (and Massachusetts for that matter) I have always been intrigued by the customs of Northern Europe and their origins. An infatuation with the natural beauty of Iceland led me to explore its history and customs, and upon discovering its Nordic origins (with Nordic customs still prevalent there today) I was gripped by the sagas of Eric the Red and Ragnar Lothbrok. I hope to travel to Iceland in the coming year and hike some volcanoes.

Beyond my love of Scandinavia, I am also a member of Harvard’s competitive Model UN team and a director at our sister conference for high school students, HMUN. Aside from Model UN, I am a researcher at Harvard’s Institute of Politics, where I am currently studying the burden of student loan debt and working with the Massachusetts State Legislature on a Student Loan Bill of Rights. I’m a political nerd, infatuated with rhetoric, procedure, and problem solving. My current proposed concentration (fancy Harvard word for major) is Government with a secondary in Economics, but I am a true political junkie at heart.

I will disclaim that I have an affinity for substance and have a strong disdain for directives that are worth as much as the paper they are written on. Make sure you are arguing for things with actual committee impact and help us push forward towards a solution. I also value perseverance, regardless of whether or not the committee is working in your favor. Never stop fighting and never give up, we will take notice of your efforts. I will also note that this committee is distinctly open and welcoming to all, regardless of identity.

The Thing, 850 is an important and unique committee at HNMUN this year because it hopes to unravel historical prejudices and misunderstandings about the Viking people. Vikings have been represented unfairly by general sensationalism in modern media. While pillaging and raiding makes for more illustrious storytelling, the governmental structures, exploration, innovation, and societal customs are a much less discussed, though a far more accurate depiction of who these people were and where their values lied. While battles will occur, and raids may happen, the true value in this committee lies in your ability to secure, unify, and lead the Viking world into the new age. I sincerely hope each of you leave the crisis room with an improved knowledge of the Viking people and an increased appreciation for the ways they helped to shape the modern world.

I look forward to meeting you all, and feel free to contact me with any questions you may have.


Seth Filo
Director, The Thing, 850


Crisis Director's Letter

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Dear Delegates,

My name is Bliss Perry, and I could not be more excited to be your crisis director for the committee with the coolest name - the Thing, 850!

I’m currently a junior taking full advantage of Harvard’s liberal arts education by pursuing a Joint Concentration (double major) in the surprisingly related fields of Computer Science and Classics. Outside the classroom, besides Model UN – I’m a member of Harvard’s travel MUN team (ICMUN) and have also directed for our high school conference in Boston, HMUN, and its international equivalent in Beijing, HMUN China . You might find me coding mobile apps or translating Roman elegy – or, more often, eating my way through Boston’s restaurants, spending time with friends, skiing in the woods of New England, and, of course, sleeping!

During my senior year of high school, I self-studied Old Norse so I could read Icelandic sagas in their original language and soon became captivated with the Vikings who spoke that beautiful tongue. The Viking Era is a fascinating part of history long oversimplified into tropes of a people bent on looting and pillaging. In all honesty, while Viking raids were a very tangible threat to Western Europeans for centuries in the medieval era, the Vikings constituted a much more nuanced society. Not only did they not constantly wear helmets with horns - a myth originating from German opera of later periods - they also managed to accomplish incredible sophistication in naval exploration, government, and literature, among other disciplines.

As such, given this tremendously multifaceted society the Vikings managed to create, I am looking forward to the many different trajectories this committee might take. Perhaps you might choose to focus on Viking invasions of Britain and relations with continental Europe. Maybe you’ll seek to further trade with Russia and the Byzantine Empire along the Volga and Dnieper rivers. Or perhaps you’ll even take to the seas in search of riches and discover new lands across vast oceans?

As a CD, I hope to see delegates push beyond what is conventional for crisis committees - I’m particularly fond of creative, unique arcs and humorous anecdotes that are grounded in real historical substance, and you can expect to see many surprising crisis breaks in committee which will surely keep you on your feet. However, despite the wide liberty of actions Vikings can take in this committee, there are a few topics which are inappropriate and which will be met with stern rebuke by our team. Although war in some form is nearly inevitable given this committee’s topic, we expect delegates to shun lengthy or detailed descriptions of physical violence or torture, and we will not tolerate any attempts to stoke ethnic, religious, or gender-based violence through notes. HNMUN truly seeks to create a welcoming environment free of discrimination for all delegates, and notes of this sort run counter to this spirit. I want to reiterate this committee’s and this conference’s commitment to providing an equally positive experience for all, regardless of identity.

I am so excited to hear the opinion of each and every one of you regarding this fascinating topic. Please feel more than welcome to reach out before committee with any questions, and see you soon in February!


Bliss Perry
Crisis Director, The Thing, 850