- Leif Eriksson the Lucky
▪ Norse explorerEriksson also spelled Ericson, Eiríksson, or Erikson , Norwegian Leiv Eriksson den Hepne , Icelandic Leifur Eiríkssonflourished 11th centuryNorse explorer widely held to have been the first European to reach the shores of North America. The 13th- and 14th-century Icelandic accounts of his life and additional later evidence show that he was certainly a member of an early Viking voyage to North America, but it remains doubtful whether he led the initial expedition.The second of three sons of Erik the Red, the first European colonizer of Greenland, Leif sailed from Greenland to Norway in 1000, according to the Icelandic Eiríks saga (“Saga of Erik”), and was there converted to Christianity by the Norwegian king Olaf I Tryggvason. The following year Leif was commissioned by Olaf to urge Christianity upon the Greenland settlers. He sailed off course on the return voyage and landed on the North American continent, at a region (possibly Nova Scotia) he called Vinland—perhaps because of the wild grapes and fertile land he found there. On returning to Greenland, he proselytized for Christianity and converted his mother, who built the first Christian church in Greenland, at Brattahild.According to the Groenlendinga saga (Grænlendinga saga; “Tale of the Greenlanders”) in the Flateyjarbók (“Songbook”), considered more reliable than the Eiríks saga by many modern scholars, Leif learned of Vinland from the Icelander Bjarni Herjulfsson, who had been there 14 years earlier. The Saga pictures Leif as reaching North America several years after 1000 and visiting Helluland (possibly Labrador) and Markland (possibly Newfoundland) as well as Vinland. Further expeditions to Vinland were then made by Thorvald, Leif's brother, and by the Icelander Thorfinn Karlsefni.
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