Before we even begin to discuss Leif Eiriksson we need to give a very special mention to Bjarni Herjolfsson. Who you may ask was he ? Bjarni Herjolfsson sighted but did not land in Vinland circa 985/986 A.D.. He was an Icelandic merchant who sailed for Iceland to meet up with his father in Greenland, but was driven off course, saw the new lands, then later went to Norway and told his tale in Earl Eirik's court. It also is said that he sold his ship to Leif Eiriksson for his Vinland expedition.
I will skip all the supernatural events that take place in the Eyrbyggja Saga and stick to the events as they are told in the Vinland Sagas. But first I would like to mention one thing that is seldom mentioned about Leif. Leif Eiriksson had sailed to Norway in the autumn and joined the court of King Olaf Tryggvason, who honored him as a man of accomplishments. Leif was now a Christian and agreed to go back to Greenland in the summer to preach Christianity in the name of the king. Once in Greenland he did manage to convert some in Greenland, like his mother, but his father refused to be persuaded.
Leif's father, Eirik the Red, was supposed to lead the expedition to the new lands but was thrown from his horse. In those days this was an ominous sign and Eirik backed out. Eirik the Red actually had three sons, Thorstein, Thorvald and Leif. Leif set sail but ran into great difficulties at sea. Finally, reaching the lands that he had never seen before, he described fields of wheat, vines and maple trees. Leif built houses there that would later be used in other voyages. He took samples of everything and headed back to Greenland with his amazing tales. Leif named this land Vinland after the vines he had found there. On his journey back to Greenland Leif came across fifteen shipwrecked seamen and brought them back to Greenland with him. Leif then gave his ship to his brother, Thorvald, so he too could explore Vinland. I will discuss him in Part 2.
The significance and lasting effects of Leif Eiriksson's landing in the New World had little or no impact on the future of Vinland/America, which is probably a good thing when you here the horror stories of what the French, British, Dutch and Spanish did to the native population ! I acknowledge and honor him because he embodies the adventuresome spirit of our ancestors. I raise my horn to you Leif Eiriksson, Skal !
I should also mention his father Eirik the Red briefly. Eirik the Red was not so much an explorer as he was an outlaw. Eirik the Red and his father Thorvald left their home in Jaederen, Norway because of some killings and went to Iceland. Eirik was first banished from Haukadale after killing Eyjolf Saur and Hrafn the Dueller. He then settled on Oxen Island. After quarreling and fights broke out there he prepared his ships for a sea voyage. Eirik decided to look for the land that Ulf Crow had sighted when he was driven off course. He made land at what is now called Blaserk, in Greenland. He called it Greenland because he believed that people would come there more readily if it had an attractive name. Eirik explored Greenland in 981 and colonized it in 985/986.
Although Eirik's exploring was done out of necessity his acievement of exploring Greenland and colonizing it can not be denied. So I raise my horn to you also Eirik the Red, Skal !
Go with Odin's wisdom, Freyja's love and Thor's protection !