The Norse explorer 11th Century Leif Ericson, who probably became the first European to reach North America, was born in Iceland at 970 CE. His father was the famous Viking, Eric the Red. He spent his childhood on his father’s estate in Brattahild, a settlement in what is now East Greenland. There is no trace of his education but, as the son of a rich explorer and leader, he probably would have spent his early years studying navigation and mathematics. As a young man, people considered him thoughtful, intelligent and good-looking. He became a Christian after meeting King Olaf of Norway and being exposed to Christian beliefs.
Leif Ericson was born of a clan of Norwegian explorers, which led him to follow in the footsteps of his pilgrimage. He learned from a friend about a new land to the west, though his friend never made land with himself. Leif was so excited to find him that he bought his friend’s ship just for the task. Leif set sail and reached the new land, and built a settlement where he found a land full of munificence. His brother Thorvald also sailed to the new land, but met the fierce natives. Unfortunately, Thorvald was killed in a fight with these natives, although his crew was able to return to Greenland with timber and vines.
On his trip to North America, Leif Ericson showed the other norrors that there was a land of plenty across the ocean. That the earth was covered with vines and wheat. Lumber was everywhere. The salmon crowded the rivers and other fish filled the lakes. The deer roamed the forests. He built a settlement there, probably in what is now Newfoundland, in Canada, doubling as Vinland . Some historians believe they have been able to venture as far as Minnesota, through Hudson Bay, and even into the Great Lakes along Michigan. On his way back home, he managed to save a shipwreck and his crew, and was later rewarded with their rich cargo.
The Vinland settlement was a good place, but continued to explore nearby places. After a while, he and his men returned home. He also visited Norway, the birthplace of his father, Eric the Red. He was welcomed by King Olaf, whose influence saw Leif convert to Christianity. On a mission for the same king, he returned to Greenland and converted as much as possible to Christianity. His father, however, was lukewarm about these religious ideas, but Leif was able to convert his mother, who would later build a Christian church on their estate. Later, he succeeded his father as a tribal chief in their settlement in Greenland.
Death and inheritance
Leif Ericson lived an extraordinary life as an explorer. He married and had two children, including one illegitimate, named Thorgils and the other legitimate, named Thorkell. Thorgils and Thorkell succeeded Leif as head of the eastern settlement in Greenland after his disappearance, sometimes between 1019 and 1025. The other Greenlanders followed in his footsteps to establish new settlements in North American lands which he discovered to be Leif’s greatest legacy Ericson for his people. It was also said that Columbus heard of Newfoundland when he visited Norway in 1477.