Eric the Red


Eric the Red (lived about 950-1001), Norwegian explorer, the first European to explore Greenland and to found a colony there. His second son, Leif Ericson, is believed to have been one of the first Europeans to reach North America.

Eric, whose patronymic was Thorvaldson, was called Eric the Red because of his red hair. When his father was exiled for manslaughter, Eric left Norway with him, and the family settled in Iceland. In 980-981, faced with manslaughter charges himself, Eric decided to explore land sighted by his friend Gunnbjörn Úlfsson to the west of Iceland. The course Eric followed took him to the island he named Greenland. Returning to Iceland in about 985, he persuaded several shiploads of relatives and friends to join him in colonizing the new land. Because the eastern coast was sheathed in ice, he rounded Cape Farewell in the south and founded a settlement called Brattahlid. Others of his party established another settlement near present-day Nuuk (Godthåb). Both communities were on the western coast.

An injury prevented Eric from accompanying his son Leif on the voyage that eventually took him to Vinland (North America) in about 1001. He died the winter after Leif returned home. Another son, Thorvald, also visited Vinland.

"Eric the Red," Microsoft® Encarta® Online Encyclopedia 2000 © 1997-2000 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

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