Lief Erickson

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Leif Ericson: Columbus' Predecessor by Nearly 500 Years

Discoverer of America

Actually, "Leif Ericson" or Leifur Eiriksson or Leif Erikson or Leif Ericsson or Leif Eriksson or Leif Erickson or Leiv Eiriksson or Leiv Eriksson.

In 986, Norwegian-born Eirik Thorvaldsson, known as Eirik the Red, explored and colonized the southwestern part of Greenland. It was his son, Leiv Eiriksson, who became the first European to set foot on the shores of North America, and the first explorer of Norwegian extraction now accorded worldwide recognition.

The date and place of Leiv Eiriksson's birth has not been definitely established, but it is believed that he grew up on Greenland. The Saga of Eric the Red relates that he set sail for Norway in 999, served King Olav Trygvasson for a term, and was sent back to Greenland one year later to bring Christianity to its people.

Erick the Red was a great explorer known by many names including Erick the Red, Erick Thorvald, Erick Raude. Erick was the father of Lief Ericksson, founder of Greenland.

The second of three sons of Erik the Red, and the first European colonizer of Greenland, little is known of Leif Erikson's early years. However, he reputedly sailed from Greenland to Norway in 1000, where he was converted to Christianity by King Olaf I. The following year, Erikson was commissioned by Olaf to promote Christianity to the Greenland settlers.

What happened next remains unclear. Some think that he sailed off course and landed in North America at a region he called Vinland (possibly Nova Scotia). However, according to the more reliable Groenlendinga saga, Erikson learned of Vinland from the Icelander Bjarni Herjulfsson, who had been there 14 years earlier. Herjulfsson, driven far off course by a fierce storm between Iceland and Greenland, had reported sighting hilly, heavily forested land far to the west. Herjulfsson, though possibly the first European to see North America, never landed.

Christopher Columbus was not the first European to discover the New World! This commonly held belief is wrong. Columbus didn't reach the New World until 1492, 500 years after Leif Erikson's arrival in 1001 AD.