One of the most arresting stories in the history of exploration, these two Icelandic sagas tell of the discovery of America by Norsemen five centuries before Christopher Columbus. Together, the direct, forceful twelfth-century Graenlendinga Saga and the more polished and scholarly Eirik's Saga, written some hundred years later, recount how Eirik the Red founded an Icelandic colony in Greenland and how his son, Leif the Lucky, later sailed south to explore - and if possible exploit - the chance discovery by Bjarni Herjolfsson of an unknown land. In spare and vigorous prose they record Europe's first surprise glimpse of the eastern shores of the North American continent and the natives who inhabited them.
On his historic voyage, Erik’s son backtracked on a course followed by another Viking fifteen years earlier. In a frail, all-purpose merchant vessel known as a knörr, Leif sailed northward along Greenland’s west coast, crossed the frigid waters of present-day Baffin Bay, and turned southward to what is generally believed to be Newfoundland. There, Leif established the first European colony on the North American continent. Find out about his family’s murderous history, and what it took to brave the icy waters and stormy lands of the North Atlantic during the Viking Age.
Erik the Red, perhaps the most legendary of the Vikings, founded a settlement in Greenland that would survive for nearly five centuries. His son Leif burned with the same desire to reach westward beyond their Scandinavian homeland. Their hungering took him to the apogee of Norse explorations: America, which Christopher Columbus was not to encounter for another millennium. Step by step - from Norway to the Faroes to Iceland to Greenland, and, finally, to America - the Vikings traversed the North Atlantic, a perilous journey of more than 3,000 miles, entrusting their lives to their seamanship and the sturdiness of their ships. Here, in this essay, is the story of where the Vikings went, how long they stayed, what they did, and the surprising reason they left.
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