Erik Thorvaldsson, also known as Erik the Red, was a Viking explorer and settler who founded the first Norse settlement on Greenland. Erik was born in the Jæren district of the Rogaland county in Norway. His family settled in Hornstrandir in northwestern Iceland after his father Thorvald was banished for murdering a man. His nickname 'the Red' was because of his red beard and hair and possibly also of his fiery temper.
Erik married Thjodhild and moved to Haukadal in Iceland to set up a farm. After a violent dispute he was banished from that area and then moved to the island of Öxney. Another dispute occured involving setstokkr, which his father had brought from Norway. During the dispute Erik killed a number of men and was banished from Iceland for 3 years in 982 AD.
When hearing of the discovery by Gunnbjorn Olfsson of islands to the west of Iceland, Erik decided to sail to these lands during his banishment. With his ship and crew he sailed due west from the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. He found the Gunnbjörn's skerries and then landed on the coast of eastern Greenland. Erik then sailed south along the coast round Cape Farewell and landed on the southwestern coast. After spending the winter on an island he sailed up Erik's fjord and spent the two following winters at the southern tip of Greenland, exploring the area.
Erik's exile and exploration
Erik's settling of Greenland
In 985 Erik's banishment was over so he returned to Iceland once again. He called the new explored land Greenland to make it sound more appealing and to encourage settlers. Erik the Red clearly was somewhat charismatic as in 986 he set sail once more leading a fleet of 25 ships on course for Greenland. Onboard the ships were around 500 men and women, domestic animals and all the other things required to start a new existence. Of the 25 ships only 14 made it to their destination, 11 returned or got lost.
Erik the Red founded the first settlement at Brattahlið, whilst others continued further north to the fjord near Nuuk to establish a second one. Both settlements established on the southwest coast of Greenland, proved the only two areas suitable for farming. The two societies were known as the eastern- and western settlement. Erik established the chieftain's seat of power in Brattahlið the eastern settlement.
The settlements flourished growing to over 5000 inhabitants which were spread over a considerable area. More immigrants joined until one of them brought an epidemic disease, which killed many inhabitants, but eventually the colonies survived.
Erik had a daughter, Freydis, and three sons, the explorer Leif Erikson, Thorvald, and Thorsteinn. Erik remained a follower of Norse paganism, but his wife and his son Leif became Christians. Erik died sometime during the winter of 1003 when he was a victim of an epidemic which arrived around 1002.
Erik is a man of initiative and character. He has primary skills in exploration and fishing, his secondary skills are maneuvering and sowing crops. He leads his chieftain position successfully until his death.
Erik's assets are average in size, he has one medium karve ship (1 medium sized karve ship card; this contains 1 small skute), a small number of karls (2x warband card of 5 karls), a fair number of thralls (2x warband cards of 10) and a considerable amount of resources such as livestock, lumber, crops and tar (30 resources of each). He also owns 50 silver and has an income of 4 silver.
- Erik the Red - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
- Erik the Red - the discovery of Greenland
- Eric the Red: Explorer - EnchantedLearning.com
- The Saga of Erik the Red - Icelandic Saga Database
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