Eric the Red, Leif Ericson. These are the names of two famed Vikings known for their intrepid exploration of new lands during the Viking Age. But what do you know about these two men?
Here are some quick facts about Lief and his father Erik!
Fact 1: Leif Ericson was born on Leif Ericsson Island?
Leif Ericson was born sometime between 960-970 A.D. in Iceland, but it is widely believed that he was born on an island off the coast which is also named after him: LEIF ERICSON ISLAND.
Fact 2: Leif Was Christian
Leif was first introduced to Christianity by his father Erik but had experienced a change of heart later on after reading a book of stories about Jesus. He was baptized as a child and later became an ordained deacon
Fact 3: Leif Was Imprisoned by King Olaf
Leif had also set sail with his father on another voyage to Norway in the year 999 A.D., where they were quickly captured and thrown into prison by King Olaf I Tryggvason for 3 years. They were released under oath that neither of them would ever return or tell others about Christianity.
When they got home, both father and son told everyone of their experience with Christianity which caused many of the Vikings living back at home to convert as well, causing a rise in tension between those who remained pagan and those who converted to Christianity.
Fact 4: Leif was then baptised by the same King Olaf!
Leif had taken his Christian mentor’s advice and made a second voyage to Norway in the year 1000 A.D., this time to be baptized by King Olaf I Tryggvason himself. While there, he’d been given the title of “Lord” from the king after promising to convert all Greenlanders into Christianity–something that would become a struggle later on due to many settlers already practicing Norse paganism.
Fact 5: Leif Ericson was Erik’s son (Ericson)
The name Leif Erickson may have come from Icelandic poet and politician Eiríkr Magnússon who wrote a poem about Erik the Red entitled “Eirik’s Son.” It is believed that this was how Leif got his first name because he was named after the poet.
Fact 6 – His Father Went To Canada
Erik the Red had traveled to an unnamed place during his expeditions that he called “Helluland” which meant “land of flat stones.” This land is believed to be modern-day Baffin Island, Canada.
Fact 7 – And Then Leif went to Canada too
On his third voyage to Vinland (what is now Newfoundland), Leif encountered a marooned man who claimed that 3 men had already been killed by the natives and because of this, they’d ran away back to Greenland leaving him behind; however, Leif’s crew went on without fear and he renamed Helluland as Markland (“forest land”) because there were so many trees growing there–this name would later become known as one of the early names for Canada.
Fact 8 – Leif was one of the first Vikings to meet Native Americans
While exploring Markland, Leif’s crew had an altercation with some natives there who ended up stealing their cargo which included grapes and other things that were unfamiliar to the Vikings – this is believed to be the first encounter between Europeans and Native Americans in history.
Fact 9 – Leif’s Father founded a Viking city in Greenland
The Viking city of “Drafn” (what is now modern-day Nuuk, Greenland) was founded by Erik the Red after he’d settled his family there during the winter 985 A.D., but it wasn’t until 986 when Erik officially declared it a colony for all Icelanders to live at next summer known as “Erik’s Fjord.” This would later become modern-day Nuuk, Greenland.
Fact 10 – Leif Discovered Grapes for the Vikings!
Sometime around the year 986 A.D., Leif had landed on “Straumfjord” (modern-day Qaqortoq, Greenland) where he’d found wild grapevines which is believed to be the first-ever encounter between Vikings and grapes in history.