Leif Ericsson

Leif Ericsson, Norse explorer of America (b at Iceland), son of ERIC THE RED. He spent his youth in GREENLAND and around 999 visited Norway, where, according to one source he was converted to Christianity and commissioned by King Olaf Tryggvason to carry the faith to Greenland. According to the Greenlanders in the collection known as the Vinland Sagas, he organized an expedition circa AD 1000 to explore sections of the North American coast discovered by the Icelandic trader Bjarni HERJOLFSSON 15 years earlier. Establishing a base camp in the southernmost of these regions, he explored several areas, noting abundant resources. Of these, lumber and wild grapes were of the greatest interest, and he named the richest area "Vinland", Land of Wine.

Recent archaeological evidence has shown that Vinland was most likely the coastlines around the Gulf of St Lawrence. Leif is also mentioned in Erics Saga, but this version is generally considered distorted in favour of the Icelander Thorfinn Karlsefni. Leif succeeded his father as paramount chieftain of Greenland and was himself succeeded by his son Thorkell some time after 1018.

See alsoNORSE VOYAGES.