Leif Eriksson was the explorer of the millennium. As the leader of Viking expeditions, he was the first European to set foot in the New World, 500 years before Christopher Columbus. He opened a new land rich with resources for the Vikings to explore. Leif started the first European settlement of Greenland in 985. But for some unknown reason, the Vikings only made a few voyages to the New World after Leif. This unfortunately caused his discovery to remain unknown to nearly all of Europe.
Leif was born in Iceland in about 960 AD, son of Eric the Red. Leif did not grow up with his family as with Viking tradition. Instead, at the age of eight he moved in with a man named Thyrker. Thyrker was from Germany where Eric the Red captured him taken him to Iceland, but did not enslave him. Thyrker taught Leif everything he needed to know, including reading, writing, Celtic language, Russian language, and the ways of trade. Leif also learned the old sagas, plant studies, and the use of weapons. When Leif was not learning he and his friends would watch the ships come in the harbor and listen to the tales of the sailors.
Leif was considered a man at the age of 12 and traveled back to his father’s house. Eric was banished from Iceland after feuding with and killing another man. Eric decided to investigate rumors of lands to the west. Eric took his wife and kids, some slaves, supplies, and traveled west. A few days later they landed on a new land. This voyage is when Leif believed he had learned how to be a good deep-sea sailor.
Leif remained with his father until the age of 24 in Greenland when he was asked to captain his first voyage. This voyage was to bring gifts to King Olaf in Norway. Leif was very excited and took along a crew of 14 and Thyrker. The wind was fair in the beginning but slowed to a gently breeze. This caused them to take five days before they sighted land, Iceland. Most voyages only took two days to reach Iceland...
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