Hans Egede

Hans Egede

Infobox clergy
name = Hans Egede

image_size =
caption =
birth_date = January 31, 1686
birth_place = Harstad, Northern Norway
death_date = November 5, 1758
death_place = Falster, Denmark
church = Church of Denmark (evangelical Lutheran)
other_names =
education =
ordained =
writings =
congregations =
offices_held = Ordained pastor
Missionary to Greenland
title = National Saint of Greenland
spouse =
children =
parents =
footnotes =

Hans Poulsen Egede (January 31, 1686, Harstad, Northern Norway–November 5, 1758, Falster, Denmark) was a Norwegian Lutheran missionary, called the Apostle of Greenland. Egede was an evangelist on the northern Norwegian islands of Lofoten when he heard stories of a green land settled by the Vikings but with which contact had been lost years before. In May 1721, he asked Frederick IV of Denmark for permission to seek the colony and establish a mission there, presuming that it had remained Catholic or lost the Christian faith. Frederick gave consent at least partially to reestablish a colonial claim to the island.

Egede landed on the west coast of Greenland on July 3. He was sent to seek the old Viking colony on Greenland but he found no survivors. The last communication with that colony had been over 300 years earlier. He did, however, find the Inuit and started a mission among them. He studied the Inuit language and translated Christian texts into it. This required some imagination as, for instance, the Inuit had no bread nor any idea of it. So the words of the Lord's Prayer were translated by Egede as the equivalent of "Give us this day our daily harbor seal".

Egede founded Godthåb (now Nuuk), which later became the capital of Greenland. In 1724, he baptised the first children. The new king, Christian VI of Denmark, recalled all Europeans from Greenland in 1730. Egede remained, however, encouraged by his wife Gertrud. Egede's book "Det gamle Grønlands nye Perlustration", (The old Greenland's new Perlustration, or an accurate description of those old Nordic Colonies in Greenland) appeared in 1729 and was translated into several languages.

In 1733, the Herrnhut missionaries of Nicolaus Ludwig Zinzendorf were allowed to establish New Herrnhut, south of Nuuk. In 1734, a smallpox epidemic broke out which spread through the Inuit and claimed Gertrud Egede in 1735. Hans Egede left his son Paul in Greenland and traveled on 9 August 1736 with his daughters and his son Niels to Copenhagen. In 1741, he was named bishop of Greenland. He established a catechism for use in Greenland in 1747.

Egede became a national saint of Greenland and the town of Egedesminde (literally: memory of Egede) commemorates him. It was established by Niels Egede, Hans' second and surviving son, in 1759 on the Eqalussuit peninsula but moved to the island of Aasiaat in 1763, which had been the site of a pre-Viking Inuit settlement.


Hans Egede gives one of the oldest desciptions of a sea serpent. On 6 July 1734 his ship sailed past the coast of Greenland when suddenly those on board "saw a most terrible creature, resembling nothing they saw before. The monster lifted its head so high that it seemed to be higher than the crow's nest on the mainmast. The head was small and the body short and wrinkled. The unknown creature was using giant fins which propelled it through the water. Later the sailors saw its tail as well. The monster was longer than our whole ship", wrote Egede. (Mareš, 1997)

A hulk named after Hans Egede can be found at the point where Cliffe marshes meet the Thames, adjacent to Cliffe Fort.



"This article incorporates material translated from the Danish and German articles on Hans Egede."
* J. Mareš, "Svět tajemných zvířat", Prague, 1997

External links

* [http://nettportal.samlaget.no/nn/norge_for/kap8/portrett/hans_egede.html Entry on Hans Egede in online Norwegian history book (in Norwegian)]
* [http://bell.lib.umn.edu/Egede/ Entry on Hans Egede from The James Ford Bell Library at University of Minnesota, "Hans Egede, The Apostle of Greenland"]
* [http://13.1911encyclopedia.org/E/EG/EGEDE_HANS.htm The 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica]

NAME=Hans Egede
SHORT DESCRIPTION= Missionary to Greenland, Lutheran pastor
DATE OF BIRTH= January 31, 1686
PLACE OF BIRTH= Harstad, Northern Norway
DATE OF DEATH= November 5, 1758
PLACE OF DEATH= Falster, Denmark

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Look at other dictionaries:

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