Leif Eriksson: The Norse Explorer Who Discovered Vinland in North America

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TommyBee, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Leif Eriksson was a Norse explorer and adventurer born in the late 10th century in Iceland. He was the son of Erik the Red, who founded the first Norse settlement in Greenland. Leif’s family was well known for their seafaring skills and their thirst for adventure, and Leif was no exception.

As a young man, Leif set out on his first voyage to Norway to serve in the court of King Olaf Tryggvason. It was during this time that he became a Christian and was baptized. When he returned to Greenland, he was given the task of converting the people there to Christianity.

However, it was on his second voyage that Leif made his mark in history. In the year 1000, Leif set out from Greenland with a crew of around 35 men in search of a land that had been spotted by another Norse explorer, Bjarni Herjólfsson. This land, which was later named Vinland, was believed to be to the west of Greenland. After sailing for several days, Leif and his crew landed on the coast of what is now Newfoundland, Canada.

Leif and his crew spent the winter in Vinland, which they found to be a rich and fertile land. They named it Vinland because of the abundance of grapes they found there. The following spring, Leif and his crew returned to Greenland with a cargo of timber and grapes.

Leif’s discovery of Vinland was significant because it was the first known European settlement in North America, pre-dating Christopher Columbus’s arrival by almost 500 years. The discovery of Vinland opened up new opportunities for trade and exploration, and it helped to establish the Norse as a powerful force in the North Atlantic.

Leif continued to be involved in exploration and trade throughout his life. He is believed to have traveled to Norway and England, and he may have even visited Rome. He died sometime in the early 11th century, but his legacy lives on as one of the greatest Norse explorers of all time.

In the new Series Vikings Valhalla, he is played by Sam Corlett.

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