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Eric the Red

Eric the Red, fl. 10th cent., Norse chieftain, discoverer and colonizer of Greenland. He left (c.950) Norway with his exiled father and settled in Iceland. A feud resulting in manslaughter led to his banishment (c.981) from Iceland for three years. He sailed c.982 to seek land reputed to lie W of Iceland. The discovery of Greenland followed, and Eric and his Viking followers spent three years exploring the south and west coasts. On his return to Iceland he promoted a colonizing venture and is said to have given Greenland its attractive name to encourage settlers. He led (c.986) to the new land a group of 25 ships, of which 14 arrived, carrying about 500 people. Eric established a farmstead, Brattahlid, near present Julianehaab and was a leader of a southern settlement at Osterbygd. He resisted in vain the introduction (c.1000) of Christianity by his son Leif Ericsson. Although the colony grew to approximately 1,000 settlers, it gradually died out; other Norse settlements in Greenland, however, survived.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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