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Leif Eriksson


Leif Eriksson

b. c980, Iceland; d. Greenland ?


The Viking explorations of the 9th to 11th centuries were recorded in long tales called sagas in which the Norse, or Northmen, are either pictured as pagans (someone who has little or no religion and likes a lot of material possessions) and plunderers (someone who takes things by force) or settlers and traders. Around 950 the Norwegian chieftain Thorvald, was kicked out for manslaughter.  He found shelter among the Viking settlements of Iceland. In 982 his son, the flame-haired Erik, was sent away from Iceland for a similar crime. Sailing west, Erik discovered a place which he gave the name "Greenland."  When he was allowed to return home to Iceland three years later, he recruited 500 people to help him start a colony in the new land he had found. That same year, an Icelandic trader (a trader from Iceland) named Bjarni Herjulfson also set sail for Greenland but wandered off course, drifting into a fog for days before seeing a ghostly shoreline; however, it did not match the description he'd been given so he did not stop.
Mindful of this huge mistake in seamanship made by Herjulfson, around the year 1000 Erik the Red's oldest son left Greenland with 35 men and sailed southwest. His name was Leif Eriksson, but he was called "Leif the Lucky". The reason for this was because he had rescued some men at sea who showed their thankfulness by  turning over their rich cargo to him, which he sold for a great profit in Norway. He stayed around there long enough to embrace the religion Christianity. He took this religion back and introduce it in Greenland  to the colonists. (His own mother became so involved that she built a turf-walled chapel, the remains of which were later unearthed by archaeologists.)
When Leif and his men finally reached the North American coast, they landed on and named three regions; Hellunad ("land of stone slabs," probably Labrador), Markland ("land of forests," probably Nova Scotia), and Vinland ("land of wine," most likely New England or Newfoundland). They spent the winter and then returned to Greenland , where Leif ruled until he died.
Member's of Leif's family tried to settle in North America but failed. Finally Leif's sister Freydis, heading a small group of colonists, made a frantic stab at gaining a foothold in the New World. She was, however, returned to Greenland  in disgrace over the non-diplomatic (not being able to solve problems without violence) way she'd chosen to resolve some minor differences - she had had her two partners killed, and she herself single-handedly axed their two wives to death.




                                             Click on the image to see                                        Click on the image to see                                          Preparing for battle    

                                                        Viking routes                                                  Head protection worn by the              .

                                                                                                                                               leaders of this expedition.

                                                                                                                                               Note also, the use of metallic                                                   

                                                                                                                                               studs on the leather coats.


Below are some links and sites for more information on Leif Eriksson.




Leif Eriksson

Icelanders Discover Greenland and Vinland (North America)

The Viking Network: Leif Eriksson

Leif Eriksson






This site was last  updated 08/04/2004 08:08 PM -0400