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Famous vikings

Leif Eriksson

Leif Eriksson probably was born in 970, he lived for about 50 years.
He was a Norse explorer who apparently reached North America around the year 1000. His exploits are known through the Icelandic Sagas of the 13th century. Leif the Lucky was the son of Erik the Red, the colonizer of Greenland. He grew up in Greenland but he visited Norway around 999, where he was converted to Christianity. According to one saga, he was then commissioned by King Olaf I to convert the Greenlanders to Christianity, but he was blown off course, missed Greenland, and reached North America.

The other, more probable version describes Leif sailing on a planned voyage to lands to the west of Greenland that had been sighted 15 years earlier by Bjarne Herjulfsson. He landed at places called Helluland and Markland and wintered at Vinland (= wineland). These may well have been Baffin Island, Labrador, and Newfoundland, respectively, but historians differ in their identifications of the sites. Leif went back to Greenland, but an expedition led by Thorfinn Karlsefni returned to settle Vinland. Leif may well have helped to Christianize Greenland.

Erik the Red

Eric the Red discovered Greenland and established there the first European settlement in the New World. Born as Erik Thorvaldsson, in Norway in the mid-10th century, Eric the Red descended from Viking chieftains. He went to Iceland as a child, when his father was banished from Norway.

Being a violent man, Eric himself was banished from Iceland for homicide. Outfitting an expedition, he sailed westward from Iceland and discovered Greenland around 981. He gave the island its name and spent three years exploring it. He then returned to Iceland and led an expedition of 25 ships to settle in southwestern Greenland (c.985). This settlement survived until the late 15th century. Eric himself settled at Brattahlid (Tunigdliarfik) in Greenland, where he died sometime after 1000. The Christian church built by Eric's wife at Brattahlid was excavated by Danish archaeologists in 1962.