What Do We Know About Vikings?
We know they had their gods to worship, they were cruel, and they sailed to find riches and women. They were fans of human sacrifices for their gods, hoping to bring luck in future sea expeditions.
Women were free to divorce, and they were equal to men. Therefore, they could even fight side by side with them. The children often called them by their names, not by “mother” as we would typically expect. The expeditions they dared to make was incredibly valuable for the whole world.
About the year 1000, the Icelandic Norseman Leif Eiríksson was organizing expeditions in the West, while trying to find new lands to rob and to cultivate. The locals all thought that the world was much bigger than their immediate area, so the discoveries were welcomed.
In one of their expeditions, they discovered a piece of nowadays Canada which they called Vinland. We now know about this expedition due to two Norse books called “The Saga of Erik the Red” and “The Saga of the Greenlanders.” We can also use modern technology together with archaeological findings to estimate what kind of journeys the vikings made over time.
What Did Vikings Discover?
Vikings discovered Greenland and Vinland, and they explored and settled there as they would do at home. At that point, they didn’t realize they had found another continent; another world other than theirs. After meeting the natives, they understood the differences between here and their homeland. These natives didn’t look at all like the Irish monks they already met in Iceland.
The Norsemen tried establishing a settlement in Vinland twice, but none of these attempts succeeded, because people began fighting each other, and the natives they found here. In less than two years, the settlement disappeared.
The colonization only began after the visit of Christopher Columbus after many years. Geographer and historian Adam of Bremen first recorded Vinland in the book called “Descriptio Insularum Aquilonis” about 1075. To write it accurately, he had to visit King Svend Estridsen to ask for information on the northern islands. They loved beer, and they even had a popular viking drinking game which we can now see in movies or TV series.
All About Leif Eiríksson
Leif Eiríksson was a Norseman from Iceland, who is nowadays known as the first person to ever set foot on Northern America. He was known as the son of Erik the Red, a Norwegian and the first person to establish a settlement in Greenland.
The place he was born is not known, but archaeologists suggest it was Iceland because Norsemen who had come from Norway colonized it at that time. He was also related to Naddod, the person who first discovered Iceland.
He had two brothers, and one of them was banished from Norway into exile in the island of Iceland along with him. At one point Erik was banished from Iceland, and that’s the point when he went sailing and discovered Greenland.
Here he created the first settlement back in 986. In 999 he left for Norway, but he was blown off course, and he arrived later that year in Norway. Here he became the hired man of the king while converting to Christianity.
After some time he left for Greenland to introduce Christianity there too when he was blown off course again and accidentally saw Vinland.
He had two sons, of which one succeeded him in the Greenland settlement as the chief ruler.