Do you want to learn facts about Leif Erikson? This article will take you on a journey back to the time of Vikings, so you can get to know all the details of Leif Erikson’s adventures!
Leif Erikson was a Norse explorer who became famous for leading the first European journey to continental North America. His Father was Erik the Red, and his mother was Thjodhild. His father was also a famous Viking. In Greenland, he founded the first Norse settlement in Greenland. He had two brothers, called Thorsteinn and Thorvaldr, and a sister, called Freydís.
Interesting Facts about Leif Erikson
1. Leif Erikson’s biography comes mostly from the Icelandic Sagas.
The Icelandic Sagas are a set of historical narratives, written in 13th and 14th centuries. Among these, “The Saga of Erik the Red” and “The Saga of the Greenlanders” depict the life of Leif Erikson. Sagas usually tells these tales with fictional elements such as exaggeration. However, there are archeological evidence that shows these sagas were true. Although his exact date and place of birth is not known, historians believe that he was born in 970 or 980. Also, he was believed to be born in Iceland, where his parents met.
2. He converted to Christianity and became a missionary
In 999, Leif became the royal bodyguard of King Olaf Tryggvason, who was the king of Norway. There, he converted to Christianity, and the King told him to preach Christianity in Greenland. In Greenland, his father refused to believe in Christianity, but his mother quickly embraced the new religion. This is a cool fact about Leif Erikson!
3. Leif Erikson landed in continental North America 500 years before Columbus.
He is known to be the first European who discovered America. According to the sagas, there are two different stories on how this happened. “The Saga of Erik the Red” tells that he landed in North America because of the storm while he was going to Greenland.
However, “The Saga of the Greenlanders” describes Leif Erikson deliberately made the trip after a trader called Bjarni Herjólfsson told him a story. Bjarni said that he has seen a land after his ship was off-course west of Greenland. Fascinated by this story, Leif gathered a crew and started to explore. The stopped at three different pieces of land. First place was what he called Helluland, and historians believe that it is present day Baffin Island. The second place was what he called Markland, and historians believe to be Labrador. This place was also described to have many forests. The third place was what he called Vinland, and he described it to be a place full of grapes.
4. There is a debate about the exact location of Vinland.
In the 1960s, an explorer and an archaeologist found a place that might have been a Norse site in L’Anse aux Meadows, Canada. Historians suggest that this might have been a settlement in Vinland established by Leif Erikson. However, historians now believe that Vinland was located in Gulf of Lawrence and that L’Anse aux Meadows was a place where they have done repairs.
5. He was called “Leif the Lucky”.
After landing in North America and when he was going back to Greenland, he rescued a man in his crew who had sunk. From that moment on, he was called “Leif the Lucky”.
6. He never got married, but he had two sons.
When he was going to Norway, he stayed in the Hebrides for some time because he was lost. There, he fell in love with Thorgunna, who was a noblewoman. They had a child together and agreed that Leif would raise him in Greenland, but his son was never popular there. He also had another son, called Thorkell, who became a chieftain at a settlement Eiríksfjǫrðr.
7. There is no information about his death.
This is one of the mysterious Leif Erikson facts. After his second son becomes a chieftain, nothing is said about him or his family. It is believed that he died sometime after the year 1025, which is when his son became a chieftain.
8. October 9th is the Leif Erikson Day.
In 1964, October 9th was proclaimed as the Leif Erikson Day in the United States. This date was chosen because in 1825, a Norwegian ship Restauration, arrived in New York on this day. This ship marks the start of immigration from Norway.
9. There are several statues of him in the United States.
The journey of Leif had a significant effect on the identity of Nordic Americans in the US. That’s why a statue of Leif was erected in 1887 in Boston, along with an identical one in Milwaukee. Other statues were erected during the first half of the last century: one in Chicago (1901), one in Minnesota (1949), one in Seattle, and one in Duluth, Minnesota (1956).
I hope that you enjoyed learning facts about this great man, Leif Erikson. If you want to learn more about other historical figures visit historical people page.