Leif Ericson

Leif Ericson

Leif Ericson (Old Norse: Leifr Eiríksson) [In modern Icelandic the first name is Leifur and in modern Norwegian Leif or Leiv. The patronym is Anglicized in various ways, such as Ericson, Eriksson, Ericsson, Erickson, Erikson and Eiriksson.] (c. 970 – c. 1020) was a Norse [ [http://visindavefur.hi.is/svar.asp?id=5433 Vísindavefurinn: Shouldn't Leifr Eiríksson ('Leif the Lucky') really be viewed as a Greenlander with family roots in Iceland and Norway? ] ] explorer who was probably the first European to land in North America (excluding Greenland). [cite web
title=Leif Erikson (11th century)
accessdate=April 2008
] According to the Sagas of Icelanders, he established a Norse settlement at Vinland, which has been tentatively identified with the L'Anse aux Meadows Norse site on the northern tip of the island of Newfoundland in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada.


Early life in Greenland

It is believed that Leif was born about AD 970 in Iceland, [In both "Eiríks saga rauða" and "Landnáma", Leif's father is said to have met and married Leif's mother Þjóðhildur in Iceland, so Leif was in all likelihood born there. Leif also had many names (Leif, Leiv, etc.). However, no official site is known. See [http://www.visindavefur.hi.is/svar.asp?id=1790] ] the son of Erik the Red (Old Norse: "Eiríkr inn rauði"), a Norse explorer and outlaw and himself the son of an outlaw, Þorvaldr Ásvaldsson. Leif's mother was Thjodhild ("Þjóðhildr"). [Sanderson, Jeanette. (2002) "Explorers", Teaching Resources/Scholastic. p. 14. ISBN 0-439-25181-8.] Erik the Red had founded two Norse colonies in Greenland, the Western Settlement and the Eastern Settlement, as he named them.

Leif Erikson had two brothers, Thorvald and Thorsteinn, and one sister, Freydís. Leif married a woman named Thorgunna, and they had one son, Thorkell Leifsson.

Exploring west of Greenland

During a stay in Norway, Leif Ericson converted to Christianity, [ [http://encarta.msn.com/encyclopedia_761558409/leif_eriksson.html] "Leif Eriksson" Encarta Encyclopedia] .] like many Norse of that time, at the behest of the King of Norway, Olaf I. When he returned to Greenland, he bought Bjarni Herjólfsson's boat and set out to explore the land that Bjarni had seen (located west of Greenland), which likely was Newfoundland, Canada.

The "Saga of the Greenlanders" tells that Leif set out in the year 1003 to follow Bjarni's route with 35 crew members, but going north. [Another saga, "The Saga of Eric the Red", relates that Leif discovered the American mainland while returning from Norway to Greenland in 1000 (or possibly 1001), but does not mention any attempts to settle there. However, the "Saga of the Greenlanders" is usually considered the more reliable of the two.]

The first land he went to was covered with flat and shiny rocks (Old Norse: "hellur", German: "hell"). He therefore called it Helluland ("Land of the Flat Stones"). This was possibly Baffin Island. Next he came to a land that was flat and wooded, with white sandy beaches. He called this Markland ("Wood-land"), which is possibly Labrador.

ettlement in Vinland

Leif and his crew left Markland and again found land, which they named Vinland. They landed and built a small settlement. They found the area pleasant as there were plenty of salmon in the river and the climate was mild, with little frost in the winter and green grass year-round. They remained in the region over the winter.

The sagas mention that one of Leif's men, Tyrkir, possibly a Hungary man (because at that time the Hungarians were referred to as Turks) [ [http://www.regikonyvek.hu/book.php?id=32804&PHPSESSID=a4dea84e706fbae8a3f15e8ae Erdődy János: Küzdelem a tengerekért - A nagy felfedező utazások kora] (the title in English: "Fight for the Seas - Age of the Great Geographical Discoveries"); Móra Ferenc Könyvkiadó, Budapest, 1981., pp. 10-11.] or a German, found wild grapes. [see also the Vinland's location debate, particularly about the short-i vs. long-i objection]

On the return voyage, Leif rescued an Icelandic castaway named Þórir and his crew — an incident that earned Leif the nickname Leif the Lucky (Old Norse: "Leifr hinn heppni").

Research done in the 1950s and 1960s by explorer Helge Ingstad and his wife, archaeologist Anne Stine Ingstad, identified a Norse settlement located at the northern tip of Newfoundland, known as L'Anse aux Meadows, which many have connected to Leif's settlement.

United States commemoration

In 1964, the United States Congress authorized and requested the president to proclaim October 9 of each year as "Leif Ericson Day". That date was chosen for its connection to the first organized immigration from Norway to the United States, not for any event in the life of the explorer. The day is also an official observance of several U.S. states.

ee also

* John Cabot
* Matthew (ship)


External links

* [http://www.bartleby.com/43/1.html Account of the discovery of North America from the “Saga of Eric the Red”.]
* [http://www.reportret.info/gallery/leifericsson1.html A reconstructed portrait of Leif Ericsson] – Based on historical sources, in a contemporary style; from Reportret: gallery of reconstructed portraits
* [http://www.biographi.ca/009004-119.01-e.php?&id_nbr=401 Biography at the "Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online"]
* [http://www.mnc.net/norway/Leif.htm Leif Ericson Homepage] – From the Great Norwegians webpages, hosted by Metropolitan News Company's website MNC Online.
* [http://www.mnh.si.edu/vikings/voyage/subset/vinland/archeo.html] A writing about the Vikings in "vinland".

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