The Adventures of Erik the Purple & Leif Erikson, the Most Well-known Vikings in Historical past

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Should you’re solely casually aware of the historical past of the Vikings, you may consider them because the fearsome seafaring warriors who left their Scandinavian properties in quest of wealth, raiding numerous coastal websites alongside the best way.

Since historical past is often written by the victors, maybe it’s no shock that the Norsemen have been portrayed as savage heathens who pillaged and plundered their method throughout Europe.

However historic archaeological websites and proof means that there’s much more to intrepid adventurers than meets the attention.

Due to their superior shipbuilding abilities, the Viking Age (from the late eighth to the late eleventh century) noticed Scandinavians increasing their army, commerce, and cultural presence into the Mediterranean, Center East, North Africa, and Central Asia.

Consequently, the Vikings left an indelible imprint on early medieval historical past, and in flip introduced exterior cultural influences again to their native lands. 

Few Vikings are extra well-known immediately– over 1000 years after his demise– than Erik the Purple.

Born in Norway round 950AD and nicknamed for his hair/beard coloration, Erik Thorvaldsson settled Greenland and fathered one of many best Viking explorers of all time.

READ MORE: Well-known Vikings in Historical past that Impressed Vikings: Valhalla

Famous Vikings in History - Erik the Red
Viking together with his ax and sword ready for a battle by way of Canva


As referenced within the historic Icelandic sagas about his adventures, Erik the Purple was well-known for his fiery mood.

If historical past is any indication, he could very effectively have inherited that trait from his father. 

Erik’s dad, Thorvald Asvaldsson, was exiled from Norway across the 12 months 960 for “some killings.”

So the whole household moved west to the Hornstrandir peninsula, in northwest Iceland.

There they joined a longtime colony of Vikings who had fled Norway as a result of overcrowding and the iron-fisted rule of King Harald Fairhair (a.okay.a. Harald I, the primary king of Norway). 

Most Viking kids have been primarily raised by their moms, serving to with family chores. Boys like Erik have been skilled in weapons and fight abilities from an early age.

In addition they participated in strength-building sports activities reminiscent of spear-throwing, swimming, wrestling, fist-fighting, and stone-lifting.

By the age of 12 they have been legally thought-about to be adults, allowed to decide on whether or not they wished to be a warrior, farmer, service provider, or pursue another commerce. 

By the 12 months 982, Erik had wed Tjodhilde and established a farming homestead within the Dalasýsla area of western Iceland.

However not lengthy after the couple had their first son, Erik killed a person generally known as Eyiolf the Foul for killing his slaves, then a number of different males throughout a property dispute.

Consequently, Erik was exiled from Iceland for 3 years, so he headed west in quest of new lands.

READ MORE: The Norse Gods: An Intro to Viking Mythology & Key Websites in Norway

Viking Long Boats / Row Ships on River
Viking Lengthy Boats / Row Ships on River by way of Canva


There’s a preferred false impression that Erik the Purple found Greenland. However the Icelandic sagas counsel different Vikings tried (unsuccessfully) to settle the nation practically a century earlier than his arrival.

So Erik is extra correctly credited as the primary everlasting European settler in Greenland, in addition to the chief of its colonization. 

Based on the Saga of Erik the Purple, he sailed across the southern tip of the nation (now generally known as Cape Farewell) and up the western coast.

Finally he reached an ice-free space whose majestic fjords and verdant valleys held the promise of prosperity and fertility.

After his exile ended, he returned house with grand tales of his adventures within the “Inexperienced Land.”

He selected the identify intentionally to make it sound extra enticing than Iceland, the place many Vikings had endured a famine.

His salesmanship abilities proved potent. In 985 Erik the Purple left Iceland main a fleet of 25 ships containing round 500 women and men, home animals, and different issues wanted to determine their lives in Greenland.

Sadly, 11 of these ships by no means made it. However the survivors established farming settlements in Brattahlið (Erik’s seat of energy as chieftain, now generally known as Qassiarsuk) and additional north, close to present-day Nuuk.

Throughout summers, the boys would head above the Arctic Circle to Arctic Animals reminiscent of seals and walrus in Disko Bay.

By the flip of the millennium, there have been round 3,000 Vikings dwelling on 300-400 farms.

Their society survived on Greenland for an additional 500 years earlier than disappearing for causes that stay unknown.

As we speak there’s a museum in Narsaq, the place a whole Viking longhouse believed to be Erik the Purple’s first settlement was found, with a formidable everlasting exhibit on the early Viking settlers. 

READ MORE: A Uncommon Look Inside 900-Yr-Outdated Urnes Stave Church in Norway

The ruins of a Viking Roundhouse
The ruins of a Viking Roundhouse by way of Canva


Erik the Purple is remembered immediately as a trailblazing Viking explorer and the founding father of Greenland.

However he’s not the one member of his household who continues to be celebrated in Scandinavia immediately. 

Tjodhilde and Erik’s second son, Leif Erikson, got here again to Greenland after a protracted go to to Norway, the place he had been transformed to Christianity by King Olaf I.

He introduced with him the primary Christian missionaries.

Quickly thereafter they constructed Tjodhilde’s Church in Brattahlið, making it the primary Christian church on the North American continent.

Vacationers to Greenland immediately can go to a reconstruction of the small church in Qassiarsuk.

However “Leif the Lucky” is finest generally known as the primary European ever to set foot on the North American continent.

Although it’s unknown how or why he ventured west, Erikson explored lands he referred to as “Helluland, Markland, and Vinland.”

Historians imagine that these would be the Canadian maritime areas now generally known as Baffin Island, Labrador, and Newfoundland. 

In 1963, archaeologists unearthed greater than 2,400 historic Viking relics in a settlement at L’Anse aux Meadows, in northwest Newfoundland.

Many historians imagine that this– the oldest identified European settlement within the New World– is proof that Vikings found North America practically 500 years earlier than Christopher Columbus arrived.  –Bret Love



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