The saga of Erik the Red

The saga of Erik the Red

Written by John Sephton

About this book

Year of first publication: 1880
Estimated reading time: 49 minutes

The Saga of Erik the Red is one of the historic Icelandic sagas. Together with the Saga of the Greenlanders (“Grœnlendinga saga”) it is one of the two main sources describing the Norse discovery and attempted colonization of North America. There are many differences between the two saga, but there are also many similarities. Much in the stories is probably fiction, but they undoubtedly also contain historical truth. Of the two sagas, it was initially The Saga of Erik de Red that was considered the oldest and most reliable story, but today historians are still more inclined to see the Saga of the Greenlanders as the saga closest to reality .

The Saga of Erik the Red has probably been composed some time before 1265. The saga mainly chronicles the life and expedition of Thorfinn Karlsefni and his wife Gudrid, characters also seen in the Greenland saga. The Saga of Erik the Red also details the events that led to Erik the Red’s banishment to Greenland and Leif Ericson’s preaching of Christianity, as well as his discovery of Vinland after his longship was blown off course. By geographical details, Vinland is thought to be present-day Newfoundland, and was probably the first European discovery of the American mainland, some five centuries before Christopher Columbus’s arrival in the new world.

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