The Saga of Erik the Red Essay
The Saga of Erik the Red
The real name of Eric the Red was “Eirikr Thorvaldsson” (Chuck Ayoub, 2004). He was a Viking and Norse chieftain born in Jaeder district of south-west Norway (Ingrid Shumway, 2005) in 950 AD (Tiffany Kaylor, 1976). His father name was Thorvald Asvaldsson (Duncan Thompson, 2006). Eric is given the name of Eric the Red because he had red beard, red hairs (Jan Furst, 2004) and florid complexion (Chuck Ayoub, 2004). His father was exiled from Norway in 960 AD because he murdered a person there (Ingrid Shumway, 2005).
The family moved to Iceland and settled in a Norse colony on the coast of Iceland (Jan Furst, 2004). After some years his father dead and Eric married a woman Thorhild (Duncan Thompson, 2006). After some years Eric the Red was exiled for three years from the country because he got involved in the murder of some people (Tiffany Kaylor, 1976). He then decided to explore the land which was at a distance of about 500 miles west of Iceland (Jan Furst, 2004). Eric heard about the land from different people.
Later on Eric gave this land a name that was Greenland (Tiffany Kaylor, 1976). It is believed that Gunnjborn Ulf-Krakuson (Tiffany Kaylor, 1976) was the first person who reached Greenland when he was accidentally pushed by the harsh winds towards the land (Ingrid Shumway, 2005). Eric made his voyage towards the land in 982 (Jan Furst, 2004) and spent three years in exploring different parts and coasts of the land (Chuck Ayoub, 2004). He established the first Nordic settlement in Greenland (Jan Furst, 2004) and he is called the founder of Greenland (Tiffany Kaylor, 1976).
After three years of banishment he returned to Iceland (Jan Furst, 2004) and told people about new land and gave it a name of Greenland to attract people towards it (Jeff McIntire-Strasburg, 2007). He then made another journey with a group of people towards Greenland in 985. These people were settled in Greenland and established their colonies there. The land grew prosper and soon there were 3000 people living there (Ingrid Shumway, 2005). Eric was also one of the early Viking explorers of North America (Tiffany Kaylor, 1976).
He was willing to explore more lands along with his children however he was injured after falling from horse (Jan Furst, 2004) and didn’t managed to go with them. He lived in his farm in the Greenland till his death in 1003 (Chuck Ayoub, 2004). Eric Exiled from Iceland Eric came to Iceland as a child as his father was exiled from Norway when he murdered a person there (Tiffany Kaylor, 1976). Eric the Red was settled down in Iceland along with his family. He got married with Thorhild (Tiffany Kaylor, 1976) who was the daughter of Jorund Atlisson (Ingrid Shumway, 2005).
He received some land at Eriksstadir in Haukadale from Jorund Atlisson as a dowry (Ingrid Shumway, 2005). He built his farm on the land (Jan Furst, 2004). He didn’t get any lesson from the mistake of his father and in 982 following the footprints of his father, Eric also murdered some people. Thorgest was the neighbor of Eric who borrowed few wooden bench boards from him (Chuck Ayoub, 2004). Thorgest refused to return the bench boards and Eric went to his home enquiring about them and tried to steal them. They started fighting and eventually Eric murdered two sons of Thorgest (Ingrid Shumway, 2005).
Some historians have also stated that the wooden bench marks were not the matter of dispute among them but there were some “diasposts” (UXL Newsmakers, 2005) that Eric leave with Thorgest for some time and when Eric ask to give them back, Thorgest refused. These diasposts were symbols of Vikings authority and possess great religious significance for Eric that why he was much concerned about getting them back from Thorgest. The second incident was the murder of Valthjof (Tiffany Kaylor, 1976). Some slaves of Eric started landslides on the farm of Valthjof, in return he murdered the slaves as punishment.
Eric took the revenge of his slaves’ deaths (Duncan Thompson, 2006) and killed Valthjof (Ingrid Shumway, 2005). These murders became the basis for the Eric banishment from the Iceland. Thorgest went to the court and complained about the murder of his sons (Ingrid Shumway, 2005). Eric was found offender and the judge Thorness Thing (Chuck Ayoub, 2004) exiled him from Norway and Iceland. He then decided to explore the land which was about 500 miles west from Iceland. The Voyage towards Greenland After exiled from Iceland and Norway, Eric had no other way to go and live.
He decided to explore a new land which was situated at the western side of Iceland at a distance of about 500 miles. It could be seen from the peaks of the mountains standing in the western island (Ingrid Shumway, 2005). Eric has also heard about the land from different people. The land was already explored accidentally by Gunnjborn Ulf-Krakuson (Tiffany Kaylor, 1976) who was pushed towards the land by the harsh winds. After him another sailor Sn? bjorn Galti reached the land. Galti was the first Norseman who attempted to establish a colony in Greenland however he failed to do so after facing severe disasters (Chuck Ayoub, 2004).
Finally Eric decided to explore the land. He arranges a boat called “Knorrs” (Duncan Thompson, 2006) that could be helpful throughout his journey. The Vikings used to travel in long boats (Tiffany Kaylor, 1976) and Eric also selected a 100 foots long boat for him and started his voyage. Exploring Greenland The journey was very tough however they managed to reach the southern part of the island. He then moved towards the west coast and settle in that part of the island Ingrid Shumway, 2005). When he reached the land, he found it bit warmer then Iceland.
He saw that there were fertile meadowlands that could be best place for farming and keeping the animals. There were many wild animals present in the island but there were no signs of human life (Jan Furst, 2004). Eric decided to establish a colony in the land. Eric the Red passed three years of banishment in the island. He kept on exploring different parts of Island during these three years. He spend his first winter in Eiriksey, the second winter he moved towards Eiriksholmar and in the third summer he explored the northern part of the island and stayed at Snaefell and Hrafnsfjord (Chuck Ayoub, 2004). Back to Iceland
After spending three years of exile, Eric returned to Iceland (Ingrid Shumway, 2005) where he told people stories of the new land that he discovered during the last three years. He gave name of “Greenland” to the island in order to attract the people towards it (Tiffany Kaylor, 1976). Iceland was getting over populated and people were looking for some place where they could have more land for farming and houses (Chuck Ayoub, 2004). The Eric’s portrayal of Greenland attracts many people and they took it as a great opportunity to move towards a land that seems more fertile and favorable for them Ingrid Shumway, 2005).
Many Icelanders showed their intentions for traveling towards the new island Greenland. Second Voyage towards Greenland Eric spent a winter in the Iceland and then in 985 (Duncan Thompson, 2006) finally he began his second trip to the Greenland. At this time many people were following him (Ingrid Shumway, 2005). They prepare themselves for the tough journey. People keep their gears and livestock with them in the long boats and then they started their voyage on 25 boats Ingrid Shumway, 2005). The journey was very tough and just 14 boats out of 25 succeeded to reach the destination safely along with their livestock and other luggage.
Out of the rest 11 boats some were destroyed in the sea and some people also go back when they find it difficult to reach the new island. Among the 350 survivors (Duncan Thompson, 2006) some became sick and some got injuries also. However the team reached the island and became the first European group to reach this destination (Tiffany Kaylor, 1976). Settlement in Greenland These people started their lives in Greenland. In the beginning there were two colonies established on the west coast of the island.
One was eastern settlement and another was western settlement. Eric gave new colonies the names of Eystribygg? nd Vestribygg? respectively (Chuck Ayoub, 2004). Both of these two colonies were established in western coast of the island because only that land was suitable for farming (Duncan Thompson, 2006). The other parts were not fertile and suitable for farming or livelihood. Very soon Middle settlement was also established. Eric choose suitable place for his home and farm and start lining at their like lords along with his family. Eric was also given the title of “paramount chieftain of Greenland” (Chuck Ayoub, 2004). Eric the Red not only got lot of respect from the people but also become wealthy.
He lived with his wife and four children. He had three sons Leif, Thorvald, and Thorstein and a daughter named Freydis (Duncan Thompson, 2006). Eric belonged to pagan religion (Tiffany Kaylor, 1976). His con Leif become a follower of Christianity and spread the religion among the people settles in Greenland (Ingrid Shumway, 2005). He was considered as the person who brings Christianity in Greenland. The wife of Erik also turned to Christianity and she was the one who build this first Christian church of the America along with his son Leif on their farm (Chuck Ayoub, 2004). Why “Greenland”?
When Eric the Red came back Iceland and told people about the new land that he explored he gave the land a name “Greenland” because he want to attract people towards the new land. He made the new island appealing for the people of Iceland who were suffering from overpopulation and food shortage (Ingrid Shumway, 2005). Eric the Red believed that name of a land could have great impact on the mind of people that’s why he selected a name that express the quality of island and make people to think about it. He explained his logic that “”people would be attracted to go there if it had a favorable name” (Chuck Ayoub, 2004).
There were many reasons behind his thought of attracting people towards Greenland. Eric was exiled from Iceland after committing murders of some people so he doesn’t have good reputation among the Icelanders. Eric want to restore his good will that’s why he talk about new land and show sympathy for the people who were facing difficulties in surviving in Iceland (Duncan Thompson, 2006). He was also aware of the fact that in order to make a successful settlement in Greenland it is necessary that he should have cooperation of many people. That’s why he attracted and encouraged people so that they join him in his second voyage.
Eric possessed good qualities of salesmanship and he utilized these skills very (Chuck Ayoub, 2004). He made people to decide for migration and many people were among him in his second voyage (Ingrid Shumway, 2005). Eric show people wrong picture of the new island so that they went with him. While living in Greenland, Eric choose that best part of land for himself and made his house in the eastern settlement which was the most fertile and green part of the island. (Jeff McIntire-Strasburg, 2007). He did all that just because he wanted more people to move towards Greenland.
Iceland was already overpopulated. Eric the Red had already realized that it would be difficult for him to have more land area for farming and living in Iceland whereas in Greenland there was a great opportunity for him to build his home and farm at place of his own choice. When Eric the Red and his followers reached and settled in Greenland, Eric also decided to live there and he spend the rest of his life staying at the same island. He was also dead at the same place that he gave a name “Greenland” (Duncan Thompson, 2006). Was Greenland really Green?
Greenland was actually not a lush green land even in those days (Jeff McIntire-Strasburg, 2007). There were some areas that were suitable for the farming and inhabitation but over the entire island possessed harsh climate. The reality was different from what Eric showed the people. In reality Greenland is icier then Iceland and Iceland is more green then the Greenland (Tan Wee Cheng, 2001). Most of the area of Greenland is covered with ice and there is not much greenery and fertility in the land. The island remained blocked due to ice in many months of the year and activities of people are also badly suffered during these months.
From July to September people restored their activities and make arrangements for their survival through out the year (Tan Wee Cheng, 2001). The act of Eric to insist people towards Greenland by portraying a wrong picture in front of them is considered by some people as a “greatest fraud in the history of the world property” (Tan Wee Cheng, 2001). Because many people leave Iceland and go with him towards Greenland by imagining greenery of Greenland but in real there was a “desolate coldness and hostile environment” in the island (Tan Wee Cheng, 2001).
Though the colony grew but the people soon died due to unfavorable climatic conditions. Difficulties of the Settlers The livelihood was not very charming at Greenland (Ingrid Shumway, 2005) especially in winters traveling and hunting became very difficult. However in the season of summer the traveling and farming conditions of the land became much better and favorable to the colonists. Each of the settlement form a group of people who went to the bays of the island and hunt there for food and other essential living commodities like ropes beached whales and tusks etc (Chuck Ayoub, 2004).
Eric and his fellow settlers of the Greenland faced several problems in the island. First of all they have to maintain a balance between population level and food supply otherwise there would always a chance of food shortage. They managed to get enough food that they hardly keep their bodies and soul together (Chuck Ayoub, 2004). Many historians believe that the settlers were facing certain problems while living at new place because they failed to blend themselves in the new surroundings.
They were familiar to a different life style but in the new place the situation demanded something else. Many of them could not change themselves according to the requirement of the situation and faced many difficulties in their lives. Many people missed their fellows and relatives who were left in the Iceland and they feel depressed and lonely without them (Chuck Ayoub, 2004). They faced many problems but succeeded to establish a colony in Greenland that properly grew with time and the colony became “one of the great stepping stones in Norse expansion and exploration” (Chuck Ayoub, 2004).
University/College: University of Arkansas System
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 19 February 2017
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