Who was really the first to discover America? Leif Eriksson

Seeking the answer on the question of who was really the first to discover America will eventually lead us to the name Leif Eriksson curved deep into the history of Vikings and their exploration venture over the Atlantic ocean.

Who Was Leif Eriksson?

Leif Eriksson was the owner of a family business that implied the exploration ventures with a goal of gathering wealth. This was nothing unusual for a Norseman as all of the tribes inhabiting areas of Norway, Sweeden, and Denmark’s Jutland peninsula started engaging in sailing for wealth around 750 A.D. marking the history with numerous raids and plunderings. It is how Vikings were named in the first place. The term Viking was never related to a single race of people but assembled groups of Norsemen who, on their ships, sailed around Europe looking for riches. Iceland is very likely the place where Leif Eriksson was born around 970 A.D.

Vikings in America

Exodus for Murder

In 985 A.D, when Eriksson was a teenager, his father was exiled from Iceland for murdering his neighbor. Besides gathering wealth this circumstance was another reason for engaging in a new expedition. To make things more interesting, Erikson’s birth in Iceland was also a consequence of manslaughter committed by his grandfather who originated from Norway. After Erik the Red was exiled, bringing his family with him, he had sailed to Greenland and established a colony. After fifteen years in icy desolates, Erik returned to the country of his ancestors – Norway. There, King Olaf the First converted him to Christianity and delegated him a duty of proselytizing Jesus’s creed to the heathens of Greenland. It is from this quest that the discovery ensued. There are two versions of the story regarding the way in which America was discovered.

Greenladn Nature

Greenland nature

Ambitious Venture or Pure Fluke?

The saga of Erik the Red claims it was the coincidence that took place while crossing the Atlantic ocean that led to the discovery. Allegedly, Eriksson had troubles with navigation and had sailed off the course. The Saga of the Greenlanders states the opposite. By another version, Eriksson heard the rumors about Iceland merchant Bjarni Herjolfsson who sailed over Greenland reaching the shores of North America. However, the crew remained on the ships and no man had set foot onto the American shores. Eriksson found the trader, both his ship, acquired the crew of 35 men, and set sails into the unknown.

Reaching Canada – Welcome to Baffin Island

Canada was the part of the continent where the European foot met the American soils for the first time. The precise location is Baffin Island. Stone Slab Land was the term Eriksson used to both describe and name the space he discovered and deemed for very boring. They have traveled south and eventually settled in the are of New Found Land’s northern tip. They have spent the whole winter there finding the benefit in a milder climate. After the winter they sailed back to Greenland. Eriksson never returned and his brother was slain during the battle with indigenous tribes. These conflicts are probably the reason why most of the Viking settlements remained on Greenland. However, in 1960 archeologists discovered the remains of Norse building on the northernmost tip of Newfoundland at L’Anse aux Meadows.

Leif Eriksson Day

Columbus is not the only one to have a day. Although the celebration of Columbus day is prevalent, 9th October is reserved for commemorating Leif Eriksson’s discovery. The date was chosen because it is the anniversary of the 1825 arrival in New York of the ship Restauration, carrying Norwegian immigrants to the United States.


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