Eric the Red (950-1003) - Scandinavian navigator and discoverer: biography, family

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Eric the Red (950-1003) - Scandinavian navigator and discoverer: biography, family
Eric the Red (950-1003) - Scandinavian navigator and discoverer: biography, family

The end of the 10th century in history is marked not only by major military and political conflicts, but also by the colonization of Greenland by Scandinavian settlers. The "Green Country" owes its discovery to the Norwegian Eric the Red (950-1003), who went in search of new lands, as he was expelled from Iceland for his violent temper.

Eric Rauda (Redhead): family, first difficulties

On the childhood and youth of the discoverer, not much information has been preserved. It is known that Eric the Red was born in Norway, not far from Stavanger, on the Jerene farm. His bright sunny hair color did not go unnoticed, and soon the nickname Red was assigned to him. As a teenager, he and his family were forced to leave their homeland due to a blood quarrel between his father and neighbors. They sailed west and settled on the Hornstrandir peninsula. At this time, the migration to Iceland had already ended, so they got far from the best lands on a rocky coast.

When Eric the Red matured, hetried to escape from poverty and constant need. After the death of his father, by hook or by crook he moves to the south of Iceland and marries a girl from a we althy family in the Haukadal district. It seemed that things were going uphill: with his wife's dowry, Eric was able to purchase a plot and equip a farm. However, problems were not long in coming.

carved viking pillars

Hot Blood

It should be noted that in fiction, Eric the Red, like other Vikings, has a somewhat ennobled image, but in fact his real life was a series of endless skirmishes, including bloodshed and robbery.

As soon as he got married, the future navigator was involved in a feud with a neighbor whose estate was robbed by Eric's slaves. The conflict escalated when one of the relatives of the affected neighbor, unable to bear the resentment for the damage caused, killed Eric's people. But the young warrior did not remain in debt. He committed lynching and killed this relative and his friend. As a result of these actions, he was expelled from the Haukadal district.

After the verdict, leaving the estate in a big hurry, Eric the Red forgot to grab the ancestral carved pillars, which were a sacred value for every family. Thorgest (the owner of another neighboring farm) appropriated someone else's property, which subsequently served as the beginning of new troubles.

Eric the Red Norway


The following winter, the young Viking wandered with his family through the islets of the Breidafjord region, enduring all the hardships of life as exiles. With the onset of spring, he decidesreturn to Haukadal to collect his family pillars and other property left in a hurry by him. But the dishonest neighbor categorically refused to give them away. Eric and his friends were forced to hide in the nearby forest, waiting for the time when he would go somewhere on business or to hunt. Having seized the moment, they made their way to the estate and returned the pillars, believing that the story would end there. However, in those harsh times, nothing was for nothing. An attempt to return their property turned into another bloodshed. Thorgest, discovering the disappearance of the pillars, rushed in pursuit of Eric. Lost his sons and followers in the ensuing brawl.

New deaths stirred up eminent families. They forced the heads of the districts of Haukadal and Breidafjord to officially declare Erik Thorvaldson (Red) outlawed. Numerous supporters of Thorgest in the spring of 981 took military action against the restless Norwegian. As a result, despite the support and friends, Eric was proclaimed an exile for a period of three years.

Eric the Red Scandinavian navigator

Land search

Sources say very little about the most epochal discovery of the Scandinavian navigator Eric the Red. It is known that, while executing the sentence, he says goodbye to his friends and decides to go in search of the land previously discovered by the Norwegian Gunnbjorn, when his ship was driven west by a storm. Taking the same course from the coast of Iceland, Eric moves between 65-66 ° north latitude, successfully using a tailwind. After four days of travel, he and his people found themselves at the easterncoast of an unknown land.

After a series of unsuccessful attempts to break through the ice to the shore, the sailors moved along the coastline to the southwest. Contemplating the lifeless ice deserts and mountainous landscape, they approached the southern fjords, and from there through the strait headed for the western coast. Here the ice cover began to gradually recede. Weary travelers landed on a small island, where they spent the winter.

Expedition of 982

In the summer of 982, Eric the Red, with a small team, set off on a reconnaissance expedition and discovered a coast to the west, indented with many deep fjords. He enthusiastically marked the sites for future farms. Further (according to the modern Canadian prose writer F. Mowat), on some coastal peak, the discoverer noticed high mountains in a westerly direction. It is noteworthy that on fine days, beyond the Davis Strait, it is quite possible to see the icy peaks of Baffin Island.

After crossing the strait, the Vikings reached the Cumberland Peninsula, where they were able to explore the highlands of the entire east coast. There they spent most of the summer engaged in fishing: they hunted walruses, prepared fat, collected walrus bones and tusks of narwhals. In the future, it is the discovery of Vestr Obyugdir (“Western Desert Regions”) that will play a significant role in the difficult life of the Greenland colonists.

the saga of Eric the Red

Southwest coast of Greenland

Based on sources, in the summer of 983, Eric the Red took a course from the Arctic Circle to the north, where he discovered the island and Disko Bay,the Nugssuak and Swartenhoek peninsulas. He was able to get to Melville Bay (76 ° north latitude), thus examining another 1200 km of the western coast of Greenland. This region filled with beauty impressed the Norwegian with an abundance of living creatures: polar bears, reindeer, arctic foxes, whales, walruses, eiders, gyrfalcons.

After persistent research, Eric found several suitable flat places in the southwest, relatively sheltered from the harsh winds of the north and having dense green vegetation in the summer. The contrast created between the icy desert and this area was so impressive that the red-haired navigator called the coast "Green Land" (Greenland). Of course, this name did not correspond to a large island, in which only 15% of the territory is free from ice cover. Some chronicles claim that Eric intended to attract his compatriots with a beautiful word in order to persuade them to move. However, the beautiful name was originally related only to the picturesque areas of the southwestern coast, and only in the 15th century was it spread to the entire island.

Eric the Red (950-1003)

The first settlers of the "Green Land"

At the end of the established period of exile, Eric the Red safely returned to Iceland (984) and began to convince the local Scandinavians to resettle in a "fertile paradise". It should be noted that in those days Iceland was full of discontented people, many of whom were emigrants of the last streams. Such families readily responded to the call of the navigator to go to the "Green Land".

In June 985, according to the sagas of Eric the Red, 25 ships with settlers on board set sail from the coast of Iceland, but only 14 of them managed to reach South Greenland. Ships were caught in a terrible storm, and some part, unable to cope with the elements, drowned in the sea or was thrown back to Iceland by a storm.

On the western coast of the island in the previously noted fjords, Eric and his compatriots formed two settlements - East and West. The reliability of the chronicles is confirmed by the results of archaeological finds that were discovered at the site of the organization of the estate of Eric the Red (now Kassiarsuk).

Eric the Red biography

Life in a harsh land

The colonists settled in a narrow strip along the sea, it was pointless for them to move deeper into the island. Under the leadership of Eric, they settled in new places, mainly engaged in fishing and hunting. Their lands also had excellent pastures for livestock brought from Iceland. In the summer season, when the settled weather favored travel, a call was made among the male population to hunt in Disko Bay, beyond the Arctic Circle.

Greenlanders did not break ties with their homeland, because their life depended on this communication. They sent furs, blubber and walrus tusks there, and in return they received iron, fabrics, bread and timber. It was because of the last resource that great difficulties arose on the island. The forest was sorely lacking. It was available in abundance on Labrador, located near Greenland, but sailing for it in a harsh climate was practicallyimpossible.

Eric Thorvaldson the Red

Family, faith and the last journey

Eric Ryzhy's biography does not give a detailed picture of his family life. There is an assumption that in marriage he had three sons and a daughter. The first-born Leif took over his father's craving for sea travel. He became the first Viking to visit the land of Vinland in North America, not far from what is now Newfoundland. Other sons also took an active part in various expeditions.

It is known that, having a difficult character, Eric often reproached his wife and his children for bringing a priest to the island, who managed to baptize most of the adult population. The navigator himself remained faithful to the pagan gods to the end, and treated Christianity with frank skepticism.

The discoverer of Greenland spent the last years of his life on the island. The sons called their father to sail, but shortly before the ship was sent, he fell off his horse and saw this as a bad sign. Without tempting fate, Erik Thorvaldson remained on land and died in the winter of 1003. Legends say that from all over the island people flocked to Cape Geriulva to pay him last honors. The funeral procession went down to the sea, and on the Viking ship the ashes of Eric the Red were burned, he made his last journey.

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