Eric the Red - George Upton

Discovery of Greenland by Erik the Red

In the first half of the tenth century, Thorwald, son of Oswald, with his son Erik the Red, fled from Jadar, in the western part of Rogaland in Norway, to Iceland, because of a murder the latter had committed, and settled at Dranga in the northwestern part of that country.

After the death of Thorwald, Erik married Thorbild, daughter of Jorund, left Dranga and settled at a place afterward named for him, Erikstad. On account of another murder he committed in Iceland he was forced to leave Erikstad and went westward to Oexnaga. He was finally declared guilty by the court at Thorsmes and a sentence of banishment for three years was issued.

Thereupon, in the Spring of 982 he set sail westward, accompanied by Styr, son of Thorgrim, with his people, toward a land which had been seen by Gunnbiorn, son of Ulv Kraka, when driven to the western ocean by a storm. Upon Gunnbiorn's return he urged his friends to go to this new land which he had found. Erik at this time was forty-seven years old. He reached the new country, Greenland, in Summer and spent the first Winter at Eriksaya, in the middle of the east coast. In the following Spring he went inland and settled at Eriksfjord. In the Summer of 983 he made an expedition to the west coast and named several places. The second Winter (983-984) he spent upon an island near Hafusquip, and in the third Summer returned to Iceland, landing at Breidafjord. As Pliny the Elder, and after him Bede the Venerable, had already named the sea surrounding Thule or Iceland the Mare Cronicum, Gunnbiorn, when he saw the new land, called it Cronland. Erik named it Grunland (Greenland) on account of the green meadows he found there, and, as he stated, because people would be induced to go there on account of the inviting name.

During his stay in Iceland (984-985) Erik must have been very actively engaged in circulating glowing descriptions of his new green home, for in the Summer of 985 the number of those who decided to go to Greenland was so great that the emigrants with their animals and domestic effects filled twenty-five vessels, which sailed from the two bays of Breidafjord and Borgafjord. They took with them horses, cows, and oxen, animals which do not exist in Greenland in our times. But of all these vessels only fourteen were fortunate enough to reach Greenland from the west coast of Iceland, a distance of not over two hundred English leagues. We have no further intelligence of the fate of the remaining vessels.

Arrived at their destination, Erik fixed his settlement at Brattalid on the Eriksfjord. After the rest of the colonists had established themselves, Erik was elected their protector and judge, and as the Chronicles affirm, managed their affairs very wisely. Some of the heads of families settled on the west coast of Greenland,—Ketil at Ketilsfjord; Rafn at Rafnsfjord; Solvius at Solvadal; Helgius, son of Thorbrand, at Alptafjord; Thorbjorn Glora at Siglafjord; Einar at Einarsfjord; Haugrim at Haugrimsfjord and Vatuahverf; Arnloeg at Arnloegsfjord; and Hjerulf at Hjerulfsfjord, which he named Hjerulfness.

Among the new colonists, the last named, Hjerulf, is a personality not to be overlooked. He came of a noble family in Iceland which owned valuable properties and exercised great power. By his wife Thorgerde he had a son named Biorn, or Bjarni, an account of whom will be found in the next chapter. In their new Greenland home, Hjerulf of Hjerulfness, next to Erik the Red, was the richest and most important man. Erik's daughter Freydisa married Thorward, who lived at Gardar, the subsequent seat of the Episcopate of Greenland.

Journey of Biorn, Son of Hjerulf, to Greenland

An overpowering passion for exploration and the longing to know of foreign men and countries by personal acquaintance, characterized Biorn, the young and strenuous son of Hjerulf. On his cold island he found nothing that his heart longed for. In the circle of his friends and relatives and in his commonplace everyday life there was nothing that could satisfy the young Northern hero. Fame and riches were a magnet drawing him away from the home place with irresistible force. Favored by various circumstances, he at last came into possession of a trading vessel with which he made trips during the favorable season of the year, remaining at his father's house during the winter season.

Upon returning from a voyage to Norway, he found that Erik had been banished from Iceland for three years, as related in the last chapter, and that Hjerulf, his own father, had followed him to that country. His decision was not long delayed. His disappointment at not meeting his father was bitter, but our Northern hero was made of stout stuff. He did not unload his vessel, which lay at anchor in the Bay of Eyrar, and replied to his crew when they asked what he proposed to do that he was going to spend that Winter with his father in Greenland. "I will steer my course to Greenland," he said to them, "if you will go with me." All assented, although Biorn did not conceal from his crew the difficulties and dangers of the undertaking. "Our voyage," he said, "will be regarded as foolhardy, as none of us has been on the Greenland Sea before." But well pleased, they weighed anchor and set forth courageously upon the high seas.

On board Biorn's vessel was a Christian, a monk from a monastery in the Hebrides Islands. To him we are indebted for saving the song of Biorn, appealing for divine protection, which was sung on board, the last verse of which runs:

To the Tryer of holy men,

To the Knower of danger,

I pray He favor my voyage.

May the Lord,

Who holds heaven and earth,

Protect me with His power.

This simple, heartfelt song, written and sung upon the vessel reeling among the fearful billows of the Arctic Ocean may have been heard many a time sounding across the waves, especially when Christian missionaries were sailing to this unknown, strange land, surrounded by the majestic but terrible waste of waters.

The terror of the sea, however, did not abate. After the bold Icelandic seafarers left their coast a north wind sprang up. Shortly thereafter they were enveloped in a dense fog for several days and completely lost their course. When the weather cleared up, they sailed on for a day and a night and at last saw a land without mountains, which had rising ground and was covered with woods. They were convinced this could not be their destination and put out to sea again. ") ?>It is supposed that the two lands which Biorn approached were Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, which Leif the Lucky, son of Erik the Red, subsequently discovered. He was much censured in Norway and in Iceland because he did not explore the new lands he saw.") ?>

After two days' sailing they beheld another land which was low and wooded. Again they sought the open sea, and a favoring southwest wind filled the sails and after three days the third land came in sight which was high, mountainous, and ice-clad. After cruising along the coast, Biorn was convinced it was an island. As it was not very inviting, however, he did not land but steered further on in the same direction with favoring winds. At last his courage and faith were rewarded. After four days they reached the promontory of Hjerulfness in Greenland. In the bay they found a boat and not far away Hjerulf's house. Biorn was with his father once more and did not leave him until his death. After Hjerulf passed away, Biorn came into possession of his estate. He made a voyage to Norway, probably in 994, when he told Earl Erik, one of the Norwegian jar's or princes, of his travels and experiences, though he must often have reproached himself because he had not sufficiently made himself acquainted with the new country.

This Earl Erik at a later period played an important part in the history of Norway. He was one of the sons of Hakon Jarl. With his brother Svend, King Svend Gabelbart of Denmark, and the Swedish King Olaf Schoos, he closed an alliance against Olaf Trygvasson (995), King of Norway. The allies defeated the latter in a naval battle on September 9, 1000, which was fought either near Swolder on the Pomeranian coast, or in Oresund, between Zealand and Skane. When Olaf Trygvasson saw that all was lost he threw himself, armed as he was, from his vessel, The Long Serpent, into the sea. The sagas say that he was rescued by divers, made a pilgrimage to Rome and Jerusalem, and spent twenty-four years of his life as an abbot in a Syrian or Egyptian monastery. Eric and Svend after these events received the greater part of Norway as their fief.

Leif, Son of Erik, Becomes a Christian

Arius, the polymathist, has handed down a detailed narrative of an important event, the authority for which is his grandfather, Thorkell Gellerson, who was a companion of Erik on his expedition to Greenland. In the fourteenth or fifteenth year of the settlement in that region, Leif, Erik's eldest son, made a business journey to Drontheim.

Shortly after his arrival he learned that King Olaf Trygvasson had come to Halogaland, and at once betook himself to Olaf's palace, where he was handsomely entertained. King Olaf was accustomed to extend special hospitality to distinguished heroes, with the well-meant intention of convincing them during their stay, by the efforts of priests and other Christian scholars, of the folly of paganism and of the truth and happiness of the Christian religion. He well knew that if he could win over the great men of the country the common people would quickly follow their example. He also possessed all the characteristics which would attract a genuine Norman. He was the ideal of a Northern hero and sovereign.

Olaf was tall of stature, unusually handsome, and exceedingly strong. In the use of weapons, both with the right and left hand, in swimming, rowing, and mountain climbing, no one surpassed him. He could catch arrows and javelins with either hand and at the same time hurl them back with both. Besides this, he was exceedingly genial and fond of fun, friendly and affable, generous and a lover of display, full of courage and resolution, but under some circumstances irascible and imprudent.

One must acknowledge that some of the methods which he adopted for the spread of Christianity in the North are open to criticism. In his religious zeal he sometimes went too far, for when he did not succeed in making conversions by legitimate means he not only resorted to gifts and marital schemes but employed threats, cunning devices, force, and penalties such as banishment, imprisonment, and even execution in order to induce the heathen to accept the Christian religion. He destroyed their idols and temples that he might thus demonstrate to them the powerlessness of their divinities.

He met the resistance of heathendom by determined courage and firm handling, and thus in a short time succeeded in giving it its death blow in Norway, and subjecting the entire country to Christianity. Nor did he limit his operations to Norway. He made similar efforts in Iceland, Greenland, the Orkney, Faroe, and Shetland Islands. Upon the occasion of his passage from England to Norway in 995, he touched at the Orkneys and induced, by means nowise kindly, the Jarl Sigurd Lodwesson and his people to embrace the Christian faith and make a friendly alliance with him. Sigurd did not remain true to his friendship but adhered to the faith, and the conversion of the Shetland and Hebrides Islands, which were subject to Sigurd, followed.

We will now return to Leif, a guest at the Norwegian court. Friendly relations with the oldest son of the distinguished Greenland family were greatly desired by Olaf. He entertained Leif and his crew as welcome guests all that Winter. He had imposing services conducted in the cathedral, which he himself had built at Drontheim, and dedicated to Saint Clemens, patron of seafarers. Bishop Sigurd, whom Olaf brought from England, the priest Thorwod, and other learned clericals used their utmost efforts to bring Leif and his crew over to the teachings of Christianity and convince them of its truth. These efforts were soon successful and in the Spring of 999 Leif and his crew were baptized with imposing ceremonies. Then in company with Thorwod the priest and other clericals he returned to Greenland.

He worked with all the enthusiasm of a new convert to spread the doctrines of Christianity in Greenland and especially to convert his own family, and succeeded speedily in winning over his mother, Thorbild, his brother, and their friends and neighbors. His efforts indeed were so successful that in the next Winter Christianity had been accepted on the whole east coast of Greenland. Thorbild was so delighted that she built a church in Brattalid, which later was known as Thorbild's Church. Leif's father, Erik, on the contrary, remained unconvinced and adhered to his superstitious faith, according to some writers, to the end of his life, though others affirm he was baptized just before his death.

Leif's Expedition to Vineland

After Biorn returned to Greenland from his visit to Earl Erik, in 995, many other persons shared the opinion of the Earl that the country which Biorn accidentally discovered in 986 ought to be thoroughly explored. After his father's death Biorn had succeeded to the inheritance and was no longer inclined to make explorations. He sold his ship to Leif, who was determined to conduct an expedition. He manned the vessel with thirty-five sailors, among them a German, named Tyrker, who had lived with Leif's father several years and to whom as a boy Leif had been very closely attached.


The projected expedition was undertaken in the year 1000. Leif earnestly urged his father to take command, but Erik at first declined because of his extreme age, which would render him inefficient, and also because he could not endure the fatigue and dangers of sea life as he used to when young. But when Leif set before him the great profit and advantage which would accrue to him and the family, he consented. After everything was in readiness Erik mounted his horse to ride to the bay where the vessel lay at anchor, but on the way the horse stumbled and fell in such a manner that Erik's foot was crushed. The accident caused him to change his mind and he said: "It is not my fortune to discover any other countries than the one in which I live and I will go no farther." Thereupon he returned to his house at Brattalid and Leif sailed in command of the expedition.

They first came to the country which Biorn had seen last (Newfoundland), dropped anchor and went ashore. There was no grass to be seen, but several mountains in the interior covered with perpetual snow. The soil was as unproductive as if it had been made of stone, from the coast to the snow-covered mountains. Then Leif said: "We have not done as Biorn did, who never set foot upon this land. Now I will give it a name and call it 'Helluland,' the land of the rocky plain or broad stones."

Thereupon they returned to their vessel, stood out to sea, and shortly after came to a new land (Nova Scotia) They did not sail up to the shore but cast anchor and landed in their boat. This region was flat and woody. As far as they went they found low beaches and white sand with a gradual rise of the coast. Here Leif said to his companions: "This country must be called after that which is found here in the greatest abundance, therefore we will call it 'Markland."' (Woodland) As a favoring breeze arose they hoisted sail and sailed before a northeast wind for two days before they espied land.

At last they perceived an island which lay to the north of the mainland and there they landed on a beautiful day. The dew lay upon the grass and to their great delight it tasted as sweet as honey. Returning to their vessel, they set sail and cruised along a bay between the island and a cape stretching northward. Then they went up a river flowing out of a lake and there they at last landed, carried their provisions and belongings ashore, and erected temporary huts.

They decided to make this place their winter quarters and erected large houses which later were called Leifshutten. In the river and lake as well as in the sea they found salmon in greater abundance than they had even known before. The soil produced fruit luxuriantly. They did not even have to provide winter fodder for their animals, for the grass did not wither and there was no ice there in the Winter.

After the houses were finished, Leif said to his companions: "Now we must divide into two companies, for I wish to explore the country. Alternately one-half shall remain at home while the others advance into the country, but do not go so far that you cannot return each evening, and keep together on the way." Thus considerable time was spent. Leif shared his people's duties, going out one day and remaining at home the next. He was a man of extraordinary intellectual ability as well as of physical strength and endurance, wise and moderate in every way, and thus well fitted for great undertakings.

One evening he found a man of his company missing, the German, named Tyrker, already mentioned. He was greatly concerned and after reproaching his people for their negligence, selected twelve men and set out to find the lost man. After going a short distance, they met Tyrker and were much delighted. Leif had had many proofs that his ward had more than usual ability and a good mind. Tyrker was of slight build, and had pleasant features and sharp, quick eyes, and was a skilled mechanician. Leif said to him: "Why do you come back so late and why did you stray away from your companions?"

Tyrker cast down his eyes, hesitated, and at last said in German: "I have not been far from here but I have something new to tell you of. I have found vines and grapes."

"Is that true, my old one?" said Leif.

"It is really true," Tyrker replied. "I should know, for where I was brought up there are plenty of vines and grapes."

That night they devoted themselves to sleep and on the following morning Leif said to his men: "We have now two matters to attend to, to gather grapes and fell timber, and have it ready for the loading of the vessel." All were delighted, and the ship's long boat was filled with grapes and the vessel with timber. They found fields of wheat which grew wild, and maple trees. They took samples of the one and enough of the timber to build a house. In the Spring preparations were made for departure, but before leaving, on account of its fruitfulness in grapes, he named the country "Vineland the Good."

They now put to sea and sailed with favoring winds until the icy mountains of Greenland came in sight. Then some of the sailors asked Leif why he steered the ship so hard against the wind. Leif answered: "I am attending to the steering but I keep a lookout also. Do you notice anything strange?"

They replied they could see nothing of any consequence. Then Leif answered: "I am not sure whether I see a vessel or a rock."

When they had sufficiently observed the situation they discovered a steep rock rising above the water. Leif, whose eyes were sharper than the others, espied several persons on the rock. Then he said to his people he would sail still closer to the wind and see if these unfortunates needed any help. As they neared the rock they cast anchor and sent out the small boat. Tyrker asked the shipwrecked men who was their leader. They replied, Thorer, of Norwegian birth. In return Thorer asked their names, and when he heard that of Leif, asked if he were the son of Erik the Red. Leif replied in the affirmative and informed him he would take him and his people on board, and all of their effects his vessel could carry. Thorer and his crew expressed their gratitude.

Once more they set sail and were soon at Brattalid, where their cargo was landed. Leif was very gracious to Thorer and invited him and his wife Gudrida and three of his companions to stay with him. The remainder of Thorer's men were accommodated elsewhere. In all, Leif rescued fifteen men from those rocks and for that noble deed he was known as Leif "the Lucky." In reality, Leif was not wealthy, but he had a good name and great influence among the people. In the following Winter they were attacked by an epidemic, which carried off Thorer and several of his men, as well as Erik the Red.

Thorwald's and Thorstein's Voyages of Discovery

The news of Leif's fortunate discoveries gradually spread among the Greenland colonists. As Thorwald, Leif's brother, did not think that the discoveries had been followed up with sufficient energy, Leif said to him, one day: "If you wish to see Vineland, you can take my ship and go there." Leif himself had already intended to send the ship to the rock to get the timber which Thorer had left behind when he was rescued. So Thorwald, with his brother's consent, secured thirty sailors and prepared for the voyage. After everything was in readiness the anchor was raised, sails spread, and they soon came to the open sea (1002).

We have no reports about the voyage until they reached Vineland and landed at the same place where Leif had built his huts. There they wintered, supporting themselves by fishing. In the Spring of 1003, Thorwald sent some of his men in the long boat southward to explore the country. They found a beautiful, wooded region. The space between forests and sea was narrow and the beach was of pure white sand. Wherever they landed they found no traces of human habitations except a corn shed made of wood upon a certain island far to the westward. Early in the Autumn they returned to the huts. In the following Summer (1004) Thorwald sailed eastward and then northward along the coast, (probably the coast of Cape Cod), where a fierce storm drove them ashore and damaged the keel of the vessel. There they remained until a new keel was made. After this was done, Thorwald said to his people: "It is my intention to set up the old keel here and name the place 'Kjalarness," and this was done.

After the vessel was repaired, they cruised again along the east coast, sailed into neighboring bays, and at last reached a wooded promontory (probably in the vicinity of Plymouth; some think it was in Boston Harbor.) There they entered a harbor, made a bridge from the vessel to the land, and Thorwald and all his men went ashore. Then Thorwald said: "This is a pleasant spot. Here I would like to erect my dwelling."

Returning to the ship, they discovered in a secluded place three canoes set up for tents and three men under each. Thereupon a fight ensued. Eight of them were captured and killed, but one escaped with his canoe. Then they laid down to sleep but were awakened by a sudden shout: "Wake, Thorwald, you and all your men, if you would save your lives. Go back to your ship and sail away as far as possible from this region." Almost at the same instant a multitude of canoes appeared, loaded with Skraellings, prepared for attack.

Then said Thorwald: "Let us fly to our ship and defend ourselves as bravely as possible behind the breastwork of our shields, but do not pursue them." This they did. The Skraellings fired their arrows for a long time and then took to flight. Thorwald asked if any of his men were wounded, but all had escaped injury. Then he said: "I have a wound under my arm, for an arrow found its way between the ship's edge and the shield, and, look you, here is the arrow which will cause my death. Now I advise you to return home as soon as possible, but first take me to the cape where I thought to erect my dwelling. It may have been a true word that came from my lips, that I would like to dwell there a long time. There bury me and place a cross at my head and feet, and name the spot 'Krossaness.' (meaning Cross Cape)"' Thorwald died and his people did as he bade them. Then they sailed back to Leif's huts and related the tragic news to their companions. During that Winter they loaded their vessel with grapes and timber and returned to Greenland. In 1005 they arrived at Eriksfjord and told Leif the sad story of what had happened.

In the meantime, Thorstein, the third son of Erik, had married Gudrida, daughter of Thorbjorn and widow of the dead Thorer, whom Leif had rescued. Thorstein was anxious to go to Vineland and bring back his brother's body. With this object in view he procured a vessel, manned it with twenty-five sailors, and took his spouse Gudrida with him. When all was in readiness they set sail and were soon out of sight of land.

They were tossed about on the ocean all that Summer without knowing where they were, until at last, toward the end of the first week of Winter, they reached the bay of Lysufjord on the west coast of Greenland. Thorstein then placed his men in winter quarters, but as he had not prepared a place for himself and his wife, they remained on board. One day it chanced that some men in the early morning came to Thorstein's quarters. Upon asking who was their leader, the stranger replied, "I am called Thorstein, Thorstein the Black, and I am come to offer hospitality to Thorstein and his wife."

Thorstein explained that he left all such matters to Gudrida, but in consideration of his good intent, he would accept the offer. Thereupon Thorstein the Black said he would come in the morning with oxen and accompany them to his dwelling. He had everything necessary to make a shelter for them. In accordance with his promise, Thorstein the Black came the next morning with the oxen to take his guest, and when they arrived at their dwelling they were given most hospitable reception.

During that Winter a deadly sickness broke out which was fatal to many of the people of Thorstein, Erik's son. Thorstein had the bodies taken to his vessel with the intention of having them buried the next Summer at the home place in Eriksfjord. After a short time, Thorstein's (the Black) family was also attacked. His wife, Grimhild, who was a woman of robust health, was the first victim of the scourge. Almost at the same time Thorstein, son of Erik, was attacked and soon died.

Gudrida was overcome with sorrow as she sat by the death-bed of her husband. Thorstein the Black sought to console her and promised to take her husband's body and those of his companions to Eriksfjord. She thanked him. Thereupon Thorstein, son of Erik, rose up and spoke: "Where is Gudrida?" Three times he repeated these words but she kept silence. Then she asked Thorstein the Black whether she should answer the question. He advised her not to. Then he himself approached the bed, seated himself and said: "What willst thou, comrade of my name?"

After a little Thorstein answered: "I desire to predict my Gudrida's destiny so that she may bear my death more easily. I am in a pleasant resting place. I say to you, Gudrida, that you will marry an Icelander and will live long with him. You will have very wealthy and famous descendants. You will go from Greenland to Norway and thence to Iceland, where you will set up your house and live long. You will outlive your husband and make a journey to the East, to seek the Holy Place. Then you will return to your house in Iceland and erect a sacred building, where you will remain as a nun until you die."

After these words Thorstein fell back again and his body was taken to his vessel. All that Thorstein the Black promised Gudrida was carried out. The next Spring he sold his property and animals, took Gudrida and her effects to a vessel, which he had manned and equipped, and went to Eriksfjord. The body was buried in consecrated ground near the church. Gudrida went to Leif's home at Brattalid, but Thorstein the Black erected a house at Eriksfjord, where he lived the remainder of his life, loved by all for his good deeds.

Thorfinn Karlsefne Founds a Colony in Vineland

and Other Expeditions

In the Summer of the year 1006 two vessels came to Greenland from Iceland. The one was commanded by a man named Thorfinn Karlsefne, son of Thordun Hesthofdi. He was very wealthy and of distinguished family. Among those who accompanied him was Snorri Thorbrandson, also a man of famous lineage. The other vessel was under command of Bjarni, or Biarne, of Breidafjord and Thorhall Gamlason of Austfjord. They spent the Winter with Leif, son of Erik, and celebrated the Christmas festivities together. During this Winter Thorfinn and Gudrida, Thorstein's widow, became engaged and their nuptials were celebrated with Leif's consent. At all their gatherings the discoveries in Vineland were the most frequent topic of conversation.

All were agreed that Thorfinn was the most suitable man to undertake an expedition there and at last he was influenced to make a favorable decision. In the Spring of 1007, Karlsefne and Snorri fitted out their vessel for the voyage and Biarne and Thorhall did the same. A third vessel, in which Thorbjorn, Gudrida's father, had once come to Greenland, was under command of Thorward, who was married to Freydisa, daughter of Erik the Red.

Upon this vessel there was a man named Thorhall, who had been in Erik's service a long time as a hunter in Summer and steward in Winter, and who had the best knowledge of the uninhabited parts of Greenland. The whole expedition consisted of one hundred and sixty men. As it was their intention to found a permanent colony, they took with them all kinds of domestic animals. They first sailed to Westerbygd and thence to Disco.

Then they steered southerly to Helluland, where they found many foxes. Then for two days more they sailed southward and came to Markland, where they saw much timber and game. They next directed their course in a southwesterly direction until they came to Kjalarness, where they saw great sand dunes, sandy beaches, nothing but sand, which spot they called Furdustrand or Wonderstrand. After they had passed this spot they found the shore intersected by a bay.

Among their crew were two Scots, named Haken and Hekla, a woman who was very swift of foot. Leif had obtained them as thralls from Olaf Trygvasson, King of Norway. They were set ashore with instructions to run in a southwesterly direction and spy out the land. After an absence of three days they returned bringing with them grapes and ears of corn which grew wild in that region.

They went on board and the voyage was continued until they came to a place where another bay extended far into the mainland. At its entrance was an island where the currents on each side were exceedingly swift. On this island eider ducks were so plentiful that it was almost impossible to walk without treading upon their eggs. They called the island Straumey (Stream Island) and the bay Straumfjorder (Stream Firth).

They landed at this place and made preparations to winter there. As the region seemed exceedingly favorable they busied themselves in reconnoitring it. Thorhall was anxious to sail farther north and find Vineland, but Karlsefne was determined to go in a southwesterly direction. Thorhall took eight men with him and left the others. He sailed past Furdustrandir and Kjalarness, but was finally driven by the western storm winds to the coast of Ireland, where he and his men were captured and enslaved, according to the reports of merchants of that country.' Karlsefne, on the other hand, sailed with Snorri, Biarne, and the rest, in all one hundred and fifty-two men, in a southerly direction and came to a place where a river emptied from a lake into the sea. At the mouth of the river were several large islands. They sailed up the river and named the place Hop.

In the lower places they found fields of wild corn, and grapevines in the higher. On one fine morning they observed a large number of canoes and gave them friendly signals. The canoes came nearer and the natives regarded the newcomers with astonishment. At first they rowed away southwest around the point, but when Karlsefne raised a white shield as a sign of peace, they immediately approached and began bartering. For red cloth they exchanged furs and skins. They also wanted to purchase swords and spears, but Snorri and Karlsefne had forbidden their sale. For a whole hide they would take a piece of cloth a span in width to bind about their heads. This business was kept up for some time, but when the cloth was gone the women made porridge, which satisfied the natives quite as well.

One day while thus engaged, a bull belonging to Karlsefne suddenly rushed at them and bellowed so loudly that the terrified natives took to their canoes and rowed away to the south. A fortunate prize was secured by Karlsefne's men when a huge whale was carried far up on the beach by the waves. Karlsefne also had trees felled and dried upon the sand for ship-building. For greater security he had his houses surrounded by strong palisades. About this time Karlsefne's wife, Gudrida, had a son who was named Snorri.

At the beginning of the following Winter the Skraellings returned in great numbers and manifested by their loud outcries signs of hostility. One day a Skraelling was killed by one of Karlsefne's men, whose weapons he was about to appropriate. The others took to flight but soon came back. Karlsefne hung up a red shield and both parties rushed at each other for battle. Arrows flew, spears were hurled, and lances broken. The Skraellings had a kind of war sling, a large bladder filled with stones fastened to a pole. When hurled among Karlsefne's men it made such a frightful noise as it struck the ground that they were scared and fell back. One of the Skraellings had found a Greenland hatchet belonging to a dead man, which he used so dexterously that he felled those nearest him to the ground.

There was one man among them who was distinguished for his great size and strength whom Karlsefne took to be their chief. He seized the hatchet and threw it far away into the water. Thereupon the Skraellings gave up the fight and hurried off. Karlsefne came to the conclusion that notwithstanding the great value of the spot and the comfort of living there the liability to attacks from the natives was too great. Besides this, Thorbrann Snorrison had fallen in the battle. So they made preparations to leave the next spring and go back to their old home.

They sailed eastward and came to Stromfurth. Thence Karlsefne set out in quest of Thorhall while the others remained behind. They steered north past Kjalarness and were driven to the northwest, where the land was at their left. There were dense forests as far as they could see in every direction. Scarcely an open spot was visible. They believed that the heights of Hop and these which they had just seen constituted an unbroken range.

The third Winter was spent at Stromfurth. Snorri, Karlsefne's son, was now three years old. They sailed from Vineland before a south wind and came to Markland, where they met five Skraellings, two of whom were taken prisoners and brought to the ship. They were boys and were carried back to Greenland, where they learned the Norse speech and were baptized. The boys said their mother was named Vethilidi and their father Uvaege. They also said the Skraellings were ruled by two chieftains, one named Avaldaman and the other Valdidida, and that they had no houses but lived in caverns and the hollows of rock.

Biarne Grimolfson was driven to the Irish Sea and came into waters so invested with marine worms that his ship began to sink. Some of the crew were saved in the small boats, whose keels they smeared with the grease of seals as the best protection against worms. But Karlsefne took the direct course to Greenland and at last arrived safely.

Freydisa's, Helge's, and Finnboge's
Expedition to Vineland

In the Summer of 1011, the year in which Karlsefne returned from Vineland, two vessels came to Greenland from Norway, commanded by two brothers from Austfjord in Iceland, named Helge and Finnboge. In the following Winter, Freydisa came from Gardar and made them a proposition for an expedition to Vineland, the profits of which should be jointly shared among them. It was arranged that the brothers, as well as herself, should have thirty fighting men on board the ships, besides some of the wives. Then she went to her brother Leif and asked him to give her the houses he had built in Vineland. Leif would not consent but offered to lend them to her. Freydisa then took her thirty men on board besides five more whom she hid away so that the brothers should not know they were there until they arrived. Thus Freydisa had already violated the agreement.

It was also arranged to go together, but the brothers reached Vineland first and had already taken their effects to Leif's houses when Freydisa arrived. After her vessel was unloaded and her goods brought to the houses she said to the brothers: "Why have you brought your goods to these houses?"

They replied: "Because we thought that was a part of the agreement."

But she answered: "Leif lent them to me, not to you."

"You are trying to cheat us," said Helge. They then removed their goods and built a house for themselves, and surrounded it with palisades. Then Freydisa had timber felled to be in readiness for shipment. As Winter came on, the brothers arranged sports as a diversion for their people. Things went well for some time but at last dissensions and quarrels arose. The sports were abandoned and all communication between them was broken off. This lasted during the most of the Winter.

At last the storm broke. At the instigation of Freydisa, the two brothers and all their men were murdered, and Freydisa herself seized a knife and slew five women in the brothers' house.

After this horrible deed was committed, she said to her men: "If we are fortunate enough to get back to Greenland, I will kill that man who says anything about this affair. We will say that they stayed here when we sailed away." Thereupon she loaded the brothers' vessels with all they could carry and after a favorable voyage they reached Eriksfjord in Greenland in the Summer of 1013.

Freydisa went at once to her house, which had been left uninjured. In the meantime she lavished gifts upon those who had been with her so that they should not expose her evil deeds. But at last rumors of her cruelty reached the ears of her brother Leif and gave him deep concern. He seized three of her men and under torture obtained from them a confession of what she had done. Then he said: "I cannot inflict upon my sister Freydisa what she deserves but I prophesy that her posterity will not meet with good fortune." And so it happened, for from that time she was dishonored among the people.

It should be noted here that Freydisa, after her arrival in Greenland, met Karlsefne who had come there with his vessel completely equipped for a voyage to Norway and awaiting a favorable wind for his departure. It was the universal belief that no vessel had ever left the coast of Greenland with a richer cargo. He sailed to Norway, where he arrived that winter, and sold his cargo. When in the following spring he was about to sail for Iceland, a Saxon came from Bremen and bought a weather cock he had brought from Vineland, made of maple, paying him a half gold mark.

Karlsefne next went to the northern part of Iceland in the following year and bought the property of Glombyland, or Glaumboe, where he remained the rest of his days with his son Snorri, who was born in Vineland. When Snorri, after his father's death married, his mother, Gudrida, made a pilgrimage to Rome, returning shortly after to Glaumboe, where her son had built a church. She entered the cloister and at last died as a nun. The descendants of Karlsefne were numerous and famous. The learned Bishop, Thorlak Runolfson, son of Hafdride, daughter of Snorri, was born in 1085. To him we are indebted for the oldest church codex in Iceland, which contains accounts of these voyages of discovery, probably written by him. A later bishop was Brandus of the Snorri family, whose father was Ingevoldis, son of Thorgeis, himself a son of Snorri. A third bishop was Biorno, whose mother was a daughter of Biorno, son of Karlsefne.

The Expedition of Madoc, the Welsh Prince

In the year 1168 or 1169 Owen Gwynedd, the ruling prince of Cambria, North Wales, died. A strife immediately arose among his sons as to who should be his successor. Madoc, one of the sons, who had command of the fleet, took no part in the strife. Disgusted with the quarrel among his brothers and the civil strife, and powerless to bring them to any agreement, he decided to leave Cambria and go to sea in quest of new lands. He thoroughly equipped his vessels and left his fatherland in 1170. After sailing southward from Ireland he took a westward course until he reached an unknown country where he made many important discoveries and selected a place for a settlement. Leaving a hundred and twenty men in the colony, he returned to his fatherland and informed the Cambrians about the rich and fruitful country he had discovered, which still remained unpopulated. "Why," said he to them, "should you be fighting each other for the possession of this rough and unproductive land? Why are you arrayed, brother against brother, daily cutting each other's throats? Now you have an opportunity to avoid all these dangers, to escape these scenes of civil strife, and take possession of that fair and extensive region."

His own people, as well as the Irish, were so convinced by his advice that they fitted out ten vessels and filled them with everything they might need. A great multitude said farewell to their fatherland and sailed with Madoc.

This information is contained in the old annals of Wales, preserved in the Benedictine abbeys of Conway and Strat Flur. These annals were consulted by Humphrey Llwyd for his translation and revision of Caradoc's "History of Wales." The wanderings of Prince Madoc were sung by many of the Welsh bards who lived before Columbus' time. Richard Hakluyt copied his report from the writings of the bard, Gultum Owen. Meredith, son of Rhy, composed these lines, in 1477, about Madoc:

In Welsh:

Madoc wyf, mwyedic wedd,

Jawn genau, owyn Gwynedd;

Ni fymum dir, fy enaid oedd

Na da mawr, and y morvedd.

In German:

Madok bin ich, der Owen Gwynedd Sohn

Bin stark, hab Muth, wie's freiem Mann geziemt;

Kein Gut zu Haus, noch's Land mir mehr gefallt,

D'rum zieh ich aus and such' ne andre Welt.

In English:

Madoc I am, the sonne of Owen Gwynedd,

With stature large, and comely grace adorned,

No lands at home nor store of wealth me pleas,

My minde was whole to search to ocean seas.

Later English version:

On a happy Hour, I, on the water,

Of Manners mild, the Huntsman will be,

Madog bold, of pleasing Countenance,

Of the true Lineage of Owen Gwyned.

I coveted not Land, my Ambition was

Not great Wealth but the Seas.

Hakluyt says at the beginning of the third volume of his history: "It is believed that this Madoc and his Cambrians whom he took with him were the first who came into possession of a part of the American continent." It is also significant that they, as Franz Lopez de Gomara relates, found Indians who worshipped the cross, which was also the case in Yucatan.

It is supposed that Madoc did not venture upon the high seas to discover new countries but to obtain information about the discoveries of the Norsemen, or his neighbors of the same race as his own, the Irish. It has already been stated that a part of the east coast of America had borne the name of Grossirland. Gudleiv heard the Celtic language spoken there. He had grown familiar with it in commercial visits to Dublin and during several years spent in Ireland, so that he may be credited when he says the natives used the Irish speech. Madoc and his people also spoke the Celtic, or Gaelic, language, which was in use all over England among the Britons when the Emperor Claudius (4154 A.D.), together with his generals, Galba and Vespasian, overran the southern part of Britain, and it remained in use until its overthrow by the Anglo-Saxons in the middle of the fifth century—the same language now heard in Ireland, in the highlands of Scotland, in Wales, upon the Isle of Man, and in Brittany.

It is conjectured that Madoc settled upon the coast of North or South Carolina, and that the colonists never returned to Wales but gradually were assimilated with the powerful Indian stock, though they preserved their language. At the beginning of the English colonization in these regions there are not lacking reports concerning this Welsh remnant of Madoc's and also of Gaelic speech used by the Indians. Some of these reports attracted little attention and were not credited at the time, but one of them, which deserves careful consideration, is that of Rev. Morgan Jones, who wrote a letter in 1686, setting forth his experiences among the Tuscarora Indians in 166o. In this letter is the following remarkable statement:

"In the year 1660, when I lived in Virginia and was Field Chaplain for Major General Bennett, the General and Sir William Berkeley sent two vessels to Port Royal, now called South Carolina, which lies sixty leagues south of Cape Fair and I was sent there to serve as chaplain. We left Virginia on the eighth of April and arrived on the nineteenth of the same month at the entrance of the harbor of Port Royal, where we waited for the other vessels of the fleet to arrive from the Barbadoes and Bermuda Islands with the Honorable Mr. West, who had been appointed Vice-Governor of this place. As soon as the fleet came, the smaller vessels sailed up the river to a place called Oyster Point. There I remained eight months and as we often suffered for the necessities of life, five other men and myself travelled through the wilderness until we came to the country of the Tuscaroras.

"The Indians made us prisoners and we told them we were going to Virginia. During the night they took us to their village and confined us in a secure place, much to our dismay. On the next day they held a council over us, after which an interpreter informed us we were condemned to die on the next day. At this intelligence I was greatly dejected and said in Welsh speech: 'Have I escaped so many dangers only to be killed like a dog?' Thereupon one of the Indians, who was a war chief, and the chief of the Doegs (who are descended from the old Britons or Celts) came up to me and seized me about the waist and told me in Welsh I should not die. Thereupon he took me to the 'Emperor of the Tuscaroras' and arranged for my ransom and that of my companions. They, the Doegs, made us welcome in their village and cordially entertained us four months during which time I had frequent opportunities for conversing with them in the Welsh language and I preached to them in the same language three times a week. They spoke to me about something which was difficult to understand. Upon our departure they provided us with an abundance of everything we needed. They lived on the Pontige River, not far from Cape Atios. This is a brief account of my journey among the Doeg Indians."

Son of John Jones, of Basateg,
at Newport, in the county of Monmouth.

I am ready to take a Welshman or others to that region, at any time.

NEW YORK, March 10, 1685-1686.

These Tuscarora Indians were of lighter skin than the other races and the difference was so marked that they were commonly called the "White Indians."

Scandinavians in Brazil
Some Historic Memorials

Many historians have expressed the belief that the Normans reached Brazil in their expeditions. Even if this were not confirmed by historical documents, it would not appear improbable. For, as Bastian says, in his ethnological treatise, it would be rank absurdity to believe that these chivalrous heroes of the sea, who attacked Frank and Byzantine Emperors and wrested empires from them, for whom the Mediterranean Sea was too narrow and who sailed to the Canary Islands at an early day and to America, where they had to contend with naked savages, should have halted half way and not gone farther south, where the fruitage of their passion for discovery would have been so much more luxurious. The theory is also confirmed by antiquarian discoveries. At Lagoa Santa, in Brazil, Dr. Lund found a broken stone tablet with runic inscription, in which, notwithstanding its defacement, he could make out several Icelandic words. Further investigation revealed the foundations of houses exactly like the ruins of those in northern Norway, Iceland, and West Greenland. The inference, therefore, is clear that the Normans established settlements there.

Kingiktonsoak Rock


The rune is a magical character, also a mystery. Its latter significance may well have arisen from the fact that originally only a few were acquainted with this style of writing. Rune writing has peculiar characters, some of them, I, R, K, B, D, T, of Latin and Greek parentage; others are of a wholly different character and appear in the oldest times to have had the form of twigs and branches. Sometimes several were joined together or made into a single letter, like the Latin "YE." In the beginning there were only sixteen characters but later six others were added for completeness. The inscriptions were carved or cut upon wood or stone, seldom appearing on parchment, and usually read from left to right.

The time of the origin of rune-writing is a mystery. Scandinavian scholars believe that their race had a historian who wrote in Gothic before the birth of Christ. It is also well known that Ulfila, or Wulfile, the Maesogothic bishop, translated the Scriptures into Gothic, and that the Scandinavian, Ablabius, about the year 560, wrote the history of his people in Gothic in twelve volumes, which fourteen years later his countryman, Jomander, Bishop of Ravenna, translated into Latin.

The old Greenlanders probably traversed the west coast of their country as far as we know it to-day. The following incident seems to confirm the statement. In the Spring of 1824 a certain Greenlander, named Pelinut, found a rune-stone upon the island of Kingiktonsoak in 72 55' north latitude and 56 05' west longitude from Greenwich, four miles to the northwest of Upernavik, the most northerly Danish colony in Greenland. After the finder of the stone had vainly tried to sell it to some English fishermen he turned it over to a Danish ship captain, Graah, who took it to Denmark. The stone aroused great curiosity among the antiquarians. An exact drawing was made of it and sent to Dr. Gislius Brynjuloson, a priest in the church at Holmn, in Iceland, who was famous among scholars and archaeologists for his rune knowledge. Before his early death he found time to decipher it. Two other runologists of Copenhagen also read it and confirmed Dr. Brynjuloson's finding. The stone is greenish in color. The inscription is as follows:

Evling, son of Sighvat, and Bjarn, son of Thord, and Eindridi, son of Odd, erected this memorial on the seventh day of the week (Saturday) before the day of victory in 1135. (The day of victory was celebrated April 25)

Back of the bay of Igolikoc, at the same place where this rune-stone was found, they also discovered, according to the statement of Captain Graah, a structure eight hundred and twenty feet in length and a hundred feet in width, built of stones of extraordinary size. Undoubtedly there was a monastery there or it may have been the seat of a bishop. The church, called Kakortoki, is the finest of all the structures on that coast. The architecture shows not only elegance but simplicity. Each stone was placed with the most exact nicety in the interior, the one adapted to the length, the other to the breadth of the wall. On the outside of the wall one can discover no trace of their union or of cement of any kind. Inside, there are traces here and there between the joints of a hard, white mass. The side of the church looking towards the sea has four openings for windows and two doors, of which the one farther towards the east is two and a half feet lower than the other. Apparently one was intended for the church officials and the other for the congregation. The whole structure was once surrounded at a distance of fifty or sixty feet away by a wall which has been demolished.

Arctic Expeditions in 1266.
More Markland Expeditions

A letter written by the priest Halldor to another clerical, named Arnold, contains an account of an expedition to the Arctic regions in 1266. This Arnold, who had previously been stationed in Greenland, was Court Chaplain to Magnus VI, King of Norway, surnamed "Lagaboeter" ("Reformer of the Laws ").Several clericals of Gardar were at the head of this expedition. To secure a vessel for such an undertaking was not a difficult task, for as the Chronicles tell, every well-to-do man in Greenland owned "a great ship," which was used not only in fishing but for hunting seals and bears.

The high northern regions which they proposed to visit and explore were called "Nordsetur." Their principal stations were Greipar and Kroksfjarheidi. It is conjectured that the first of the stations was directly south of the island of Disco, which lies in the seventieth degree of north latitude. As to the geographical position of the second station, it is supposed to lie north of the other and served as the summer quarters of the Greenland fishermen. This was the place they intended to find.

They first reached Kroksfjarheidi and then set out for the region farther north, which was the goal of their ambition. They soon found themselves in a dense fog which compelled them to let their vessel go before the wind. After the fog lifted, they beheld many islands and various kinds of creatures, such as seals, whales, and many bears. They discovered traces which showed that the Skraellings in earlier times had lived there, but they could not land on account of the bears. Then they turned and sailed back for three days, discovering more traces of Skraellings on some islands which lay south of a mountain which they named Snidfell. After this, it was on St. James' Day, they went farther south, and rowed industriously all that day. During the night it froze in these regions, but the sun was above the horizon both day and night, and when it entered the southern meridian it was no higher but cast a shadow on that part of the vessel which was next the sun. At midnight the sun was as high as in the northwestern part of the Greenland colony when it is at its highest. Thereupon our adventurers sailed back to their home at Gardar.

The next important event was an exploring expedition made by two brothers, the Icelandic priests, Adalbrand and Thorwald Helgason. The reports of their contemporaries contain only the brief announcement that in 1285 they discovered a new country to the west of Iceland. Some years later King Erik, the priest-hater, commissioned the priest Rolf, who went by the name of Landa-Rolf, or Land-seeker, to undertake a journey to this country, which was believed to be Newfoundland. Prof. Rafn is of opinion that the two priests discovered the island called Dunejar on account of the great quantity of eiderdown found there. The outcome of Rolf's commission is not known, but the name of Landa-Rolf was preserved in token that he had carried out his purpose to the limit. The discoveries of the Scandinavians are preserved in the geographical publications of a later period and the charts of the fifteenth century contain traces of those of the priest Rolf.

Another report concerning America contained in the old Chronicles shows that an expedition was made from Greenland to Markland in 1347. The vessel had a crew of seventeen, and the object of the voyage probably was to secure timber and other useful articles. On the return from Markland the vessel was overtaken by a storm. The crew lost their way and their anchor and were finally driven upon the west coast of Iceland. From the scanty account which was written by a contemporary nine years after the event, it may be assumed that there was regular communication between Greenland and America at that time, as it expressly says that the vessel sailed to Markland, which shows that there was a specified country of that name and that it was well known.

Journeys and Adventures of the Brothers Zeno

In the year of grace 1200 a certain Marinus Zeno, of the city of Venice, enjoyed an enviable reputation not only for his conspicuous virtues but also for his intellectual attainments. Called to the management of public affairs in Italy, he discharged them in such manner that it added to the affection and respect in which he was held. Among his many important accomplishments it is recorded that by his extraordinary tact and his good advice he settled a controversy among the Veronese citizens which threatened to lead to civil strife. He was also the first governor of Constantinople, in the name of the Venetian Republic, in 1205, at which period that kingdom was under Gallic and Venetian rule.

This Marinus Zeno had a son named Petrus Reymer, who became the father of a duke or doge of Venice. As this doge had no male heir, he adopted Andreas, a son of his brother Marcus. Andreas had a son named Reymer who became a famous senator, and whose son Petrus was a leader against the Turks in the Christian army which Venice sent to the Crusade. He was surnamed "the Dragon," as he had chosen the dragon for his insignia. His son was named Magnus and became famous as the procurator and leader of the army in many critical wars which were carried on at that time with the Genoese. Several princes fought for the freedom and power of Venice, but he freed it from all danger by his bravery.

His sons were Karl, Nicolo, "the Golden Knight," and Antonio. Nicolo was a man of great courage and lofty ideals. He had a passionate longing to venture forth and see the world, observe the habits of people and learn their languages, so that when the opportunity came he could be of service to his country, and acquire honors and a great name for himself also. He fitted out a vessel, sailed through the Mediterranean and out through the Straits to the open ocean, finally taking a northward course. He intended to visit England and Belgium, but a fierce storm arose. He was driven about by wind and wave, and when utterly ignorant where he was, saw land in the distance. His vessel, however, was no longer able to withstand the storm and it was wrecked on the shore of an island, but his crew and his effects were saved. This happened in the year 1380. When the islanders discovered that the vessel was wrecked, they rushed to the shore in great numbers and accosted Nicolo and his companions in such a threatening manner and with such a display of weapons that our helpless explorers, already exhausted by the storm and wreck, gave up hope and confidently expected death.

By good luck, however, a prince with an armed force was in the neighborhood. He heard of the wreck and of the threatened attack upon the sailors. He at once advanced to the shore and drove the islanders off. As they could not understand the language of the country, the prince addressed them in Latin and inquired whence they came. When he found that they were Italians and had come thence from Italy, he displayed the utmost good will and assured them they should not be harmed, but under his protection should be well treated and respected by all. This man was a powerful prince, for he possessed several neighboring islands, among them Porland, which were very rich and well populated. The name of this prince was Zichmni. Besides the island of Porland he was also regent over the dukedom of Soran, near Scotland.

Zichmni was not only powerful and rich in possessions but he was ambitious and warlike, especially upon the sea. In former years when he had defeated the King of Norway, who was master of the island at that time, he had been fired with zeal to win a still more famous name and to establish his authority over Frisland, an island even greater than Ireland.

Observing that Nicolo was a man of great ability and skilled both in seamanship and military warfare, he invited him and his companions to remain with him, which they did. His service was so important, indeed, that Nicolo was made commander of the fleet and given other honors. The fleet consisted of thirteen vessels, two long rowing and eleven sailing vessels, of which one surpassed all the others in size. With these they sailed westward and took possession without much effort of the islands of Ledova, Hosa, and some smaller ones, then changed their course and ran into a bay called Sudera, where, in the harbor of a place called Sanestola, they carried away several boats loaded with salted fish. After Zichmni had subjugated the entire country they went northward, and rounding a promontory sailed into a bay. They made a landing there, and other islands were added to Zichmni's possessions. The sea in that vicinity was so full of shoals and sand bars that it was the universal opinion that the whole fleet would have run aground had it not been for the extraordinary seamanship of Nicolo and his companions.

Shortly after this, upon the advice of Nicolo, an attack was made upon a city called Bondendino, still further to extend the sovereignty of Zichmni. After winning a victory the island sent messengers to Nicolo and acknowledged Zichmni's authority. Thereupon Nicolo went back to Frisland and wrote to his brother, Marcus Antonio, an enthusiastic letter, urging him to come. Marcus was not less eager to see the world than his brother Nicolo, and had always longed to visit strange peoples and acquire fame and honor for himself. Without delay he purchased a vessel and set forth in quest of his brother. After many difficulties and dangers he at last reached Frisland, where Nicolo welcomed him joyfully. Marcus settled down and lived fourteen years upon the island, four of them with Nicolo. Both enjoyed the favor of the prince, and Nicolo rose to supreme command. Their next venture was directed against Estland, which lies between Frisland and Norway, but there they met with severe loss.

Hearing that the King of Norway was approaching with a large fleet to attack them, they weighed anchor. In the meantime a furious storm arose, which drove them upon sand bars. The larger part of the fleet was lost at this place and the rest were wrecked upon a large, unpopulated island called Grisland. The Norwegian fleet was also mostly destroyed by the same storm. When Zichmni heard of the disaster, from one of the enemy's vessels which had escaped the storm, he replaced his fleet and set out to attack Iceland, which was then subject to Norway. He found it, however, so well fortified and protected that he decided it was wiser to refrain from any further expeditions at present and strengthen his fleet. Nevertheless he took seven islands in that part of the ocean, namely, Talas, Braas, Iscant, Trans, Mimant, Damberea, and Bressa. At Bressa he erected a fort of which he placed Nicolo in command. He left all he could spare of men, vessels, and munitions and returned to Frisland, which he reached in safety.

Nicolo, left in Bressa, determined to go to sea in quest of new countries. With this object in view he equipped three small vessels and sailed northward in July, reaching Engroneland, where he found a monastery of friars of the Order of the Preachers, and a church dedicated to St. Thomas, built at the foot of a hill, or volcanic mountain, like Vesuvius or Etna. There also they found a spring which supplied the friars with hot water for their cooking and other purposes. They had become so experienced that they could heat their ovens with the steam and bake their bread. They also used it to heat their gardens, which were covered in Winter, and cultivate the flowers and vegetation which belong to a more temperate climate. The native barbarians, regarding all this as something supernatural, held the monks in great respect and looked upon them with a kind of superstitious awe.

In the Winter time, when everything was covered with snow and ice, the monks warmed their cells with the hot water, conveyed to them through pipes. In their workrooms they used the same water, and the stones thrown up from the crater were reduced to lime by the hot water which was poured upon them, which lime became so hard that they easily made arches and vaults with it. They made indeed such good use of this material in building that the visitors regarded it with astonishment.

The Winter lasted there nine months and the inhabitants lived upon fish and game. They found there also many convenient harbors which did not freeze, owing to the hot water which ran into them. Consequently they were filled with seafowl in such multitudes that great numbers of them were easily caught every day. The dwellings of the other people were usually built in circular form, having only one opening for air and light, and the ground under them was so warm that the people never suffered from cold.

During the Summers vessels from Drontheim and the neighboring islands frequently landed there, bringing the monks articles which they needed, for which they exchanged furs and dried fish. The articles they brought usually consisted of material for clothing, grain, and timber. Brothers of the order often visited them, coming from Norway, Sweden, and other countries, but mostly from Iceland. The fishing boats were usually made of shagreen or fishskins, fastened together with fish-bone, and constructed in such manner that the fisherman could protect himself even in the roughest weather and expose himself to wind and wave without fear, as the boats stood the hardest shocks without damage.

This is what has been made known to us of Engroneland in Nicolo's accounts and in the chart which he has left. As he was not able to endure the severe cold and became ill in consequence, he returned to Frisland, where he died. He left two sons in his fatherland, Johann and Thomas, from whom was descended the famous Cardinal Zeno.

Zichmni was a man of undaunted spirit and never abandoned the hope of acquiring the sovereignty of the sea. Antonio, after his brother's death, was eager to go back to Venice, but Zichmni retained him in his service and despatched him upon an expedition to the westward to search for rich and thickly populated islands which had been described to him by a fisherman. Antonio has described this discovery in a letter to his brother Karl, the substance of which is here given:

"It was said that six and twenty years before this time four fisher-boats were tossed about on the ocean several days by a terrible storm. When the storm subsided they discovered an island, named Estotiland, lying more than a thousand miles west of Frisland. One of the boats was wrecked on the coast of this island. The six sailors were made prisoners and brought before the prince, who had many interpreters, but none could understand them except one, who spoke Latin. When the prince found who they were and whence they came, he retained them in his service and they remained there five years and learned the language of the natives. They saw much of the island and found that it was smaller than Iceland but much more productive, and that in the middle of it was a lofty mountain, from which flowed four rivers that watered all the land.

The natives were very intelligent and practised many of the arts. In the prince's library they found several Latin books, which none could understand however. The people had their own language and writing, and in the south there was a great, rich country, abounding in gold. Their intercourse was mainly with Engroneland, whence they procured furs, sulphur, and pitch. They planted maize and brewed ale, which the Northmen use as we do wine. They had forests of great extent and many towns and villages.

They had small sail vessels but they were ignorant of the use of the compass, though they held it in such esteem that they fitted out twelve boats and sent the strangers in them to a land farther south, called Drageo. After a dangerous voyage they made a landing, but the natives were cannibals and devoured most of the crew. The fisherman and his people were saved, for they understood the art of fishing with nets so well that they were employed to teach the natives and thus escaped being eaten.

In this manner they were employed for thirteen years and during that time served no less than twenty-five princes. In the course of his travels the fisherman obtained much information about the country. He described it as a very great land, a kind of new world, whose people were fierce and uncivilized. They went naked and had not sense enough to cover themselves when they were cold. They lived by hunting, and as they had no metal, used wooden spears with bone tips. They fought bravely and ate those they killed. Toward the southwest, however, there were more civilized people. The climate was milder. They had cities and temples to their deities, to whom they sacrificed human beings and then ate them. In those regions they had knowledge of gold and silver.

"At last the fisherman determined if possible to return to his country. After remaining three years in Drageo, he came by vessel to the coast of Estotiland. Thence he reached Frisland and told the story of the newly discovered country to Zichmni, who fitted out an expedition at once to ascertain the truth of the fisherman's reports. Three days before sailing, however, the fisherman died. Zichmni did not abandon his purpose on that account, but took several sailors with him who had been with the fisherman. He sailed westward and came to several islands belonging to Frisland. Thence sailing past many sand bars he reached Ledova, where he remained seven days to repair the vessels and provide necessary supplies. Thence he resumed the voyage and reached the island of Hope on July 1. As the wind was favorable he made no stop, but not long after a fierce storm arose and before it subsided he had lost his way and some of the vessels.

At last, however, the vessels came together, and a country was discovered to the westward. He steered for it and reached a quiet, secure harbor and encountered a multitude of armed natives ready to protect their island. Zichmni made signs of peace and they sent ten men to him, but only one of them could be understood. That one, upon being asked the name of the island and its people, and who ruled it, said the island was called Icaria and all the rulers had been called Icari, after the first King, who was said to have been a son of Daedalus, King of Scotland, who overcame the island and left his son to rule over it, promising to come back again. But he was overtaken by a storm and drowned, and in memory of his death it was called the Icarian Sea. They were contented with the condition in which God had placed them, whether they lived under their own laws or those of a stranger. When Zichmni realized he could effect nothing then and that if he prolonged his stay the crews would suffer for lack of subsistence, he availed himself of favoring winds and sailed home."

The adventures of these Venetian seafarers are set down in many geographies and historical narratives. Nicolo Zeno writes that he suffered shipwreck on the island of Frisland, in 1380, and was well treated by a prince named Zichmni. Zeno's description of Frisland does not in any way correspond with the well-known Dutch province of the same name, for we know that the Frisians, an old German people of the Istavone and Ingavone stock, dwell to-day, as they did then, between the confines of the Rhine, the North Sea, and the river Ems. Its history makes no mention of a prince named Zichmni. The Icelandic historian, Arngrim, in the second part of his work, "Icelandic Specimens," and others after him, do not hesitate to declare the Zeno narrative a fable.

On the other hand, we find geographies, like that of Camaldulenser Marurus of Venice, of the year 1459, which has a map containing the islands and countries described by the Zeno brothers and with the same names. Ortelius, in his Theatrum Orbis Terrarum  (1570) also speaks of them. Isaak Pontanus accepts the narration in his History of Denmark, and it is also to be found in the second volume of Histories of Exploration, by Ramusius. Plazidus Twela, in his work upon Marco Polo and other Venetian explorers, speaks particularly in his second volume of the genealogy of the Zeno family and about the original manuscript of the doubted narrative. In private records as well as in the royal archives of Venice, the pedigree of the patrician family Zeno is found, from which it appears that there were three brothers in the year 1381, Karl, Nicolo, and Marcus Antonio, of whom the first remained at home while the other two lived in foreign countries. Marco Barbaro published an authentic work in 1536, concerning the genealogy of the Venetian patricians, in the seventh volume of which we find mention of Antonio Zeno, in 1390, a description of himself and his experiences in the northern islands, and the statement that he lived fourteen years on the island of Frisland, four years of the time with his brother Nicolo.

It appears also that one of his descendants, Nicolo Zeno, born in 1515, when he was a boy, tore up the papers containing the narrative, the value of which he did not appreciate. When older, he realized their importance, collected the fragments, and from these and some documents which were intact constructed the narrative as it was given to the world. He also found in the palace a map, half mouldered by age, upon which the voyages were traced. He made a drawing of the map and restored the entire narrative as well as he could. The narrative of the Zeno brothers, however, offers difficulties of various kinds for historians as well as geographers. Besides the scanty knowledge of geography in the fourteenth century, we find another difficulty in the orthography of countries and names of persons, as they are written by a Southerner and pronounced by a Northerner. Besides this the reader is surprised to find the brothers Zeno using a style as bombastic and exaggerated as that of Don Quixote.

We shall now take up and endeavor to explain the names of persons, islands, and countries heretofore mentioned in this chapter.


The island of Frisland of the Zeno brothers is undoubtedly one of the Faroe Islands. The name Frisland must have been derived from Ferrisland, for thus the islands were called by English mariners. Upon the old maps we find the name written, Uresland and Vresland.


In the year 1784 John Reinbold Forster, a prominent companion of Captain Cook, called attention to the fact that Zichmni was the equivalent among Southerners for Sinclair. Henry Sinclair was, at a time which is uncertain, the earl or prince of Orkney and Caithness, and the geographical, political, and historical circumstances agree in the identification of Sinclair as Zichmni. The principal facts are the following: The earldom of Henry Sinclair came into the family through the marriage of his father, Sir William Sinclair of Roslyn, with Isabella, daughter and heiress of Malise, Earl of Strathearn, Caithness, and Orkney.

The last Scandinavian earl was Magnus, father of the first wife of Malise. In 1379 Henry Sinclair acquired from the King of Norway the recognition of his claim upon the earldom, but his investiture was loaded with severe conditions. In the "Orcaden" of Torfxus we have Sinclair's own explanation of his feudal relations with the King of Norway, wherein he binds himself to carry out the following conditions: "We agree also that upon our promotion to the earldom by our master and king, our cousin Malise shall renounce his claims and title to the countries and islands named so that our lord and master the king, his heirs and successors, shall not suffer from any obstacles or molestation from him or his heirs." Further on in the same work, it is written: "In 1391 the Earl of Orkney slew Malise Sperre of Shetland and seven others."

Assonet Rock



Estlanda, the locality of the battle in the Zeno narrative, is undoubtedly Shetland, lying between the Faroe Islands, or Zeno's Frisland, and Norway. The Shetland Islands also were a part of the earldom of Sinclair which was disputed by his cousin Malise Sperre. Hence it follows that the narration of Zeno can have no other meaning than that Sinclair in reality took from Malise what rightly belonged to him. In the meantime his struggle with his Scandinavian rival became, in the fantastic idea of Zeno, a war against Norway itself. Estlanda and the seven enumerated Icelandic islands adjoining signify Shetland and the group of small islands in its vicinity.


The people of the Southland are accustomed to use more vowels in their words than those of the Northland. They therefore seldom close a name of their own with a consonant and frequently in expressing a foreign word, which should begin with two consonants, put an "a" or an "e" before it, and sometimes in the middle of a word, where two consonants come together, they choose to insert a vowel. Thus Zeno spoke the word "Gronland" and wrote it "Engroneland."

We have authentic statements by Biorn Jonaus and Ivar Bardson that there were hot springs owned by a cloister in Greenland but they state that it was a cloister of Benedictine nuns. They also affirm, as Zeno wrote, that these springs were near the cloister and were utilized. In our day the existence of hot springs about twenty-five miles from Ounartok in Greenland is well known. But Jonaus does not mention a cloister of the Dominican Order of Preachers. According to Messenius, the first Dominicans came to Scandinavia in 1220 and settled upon the Swedish peninsula of Schonen and erected several houses of their order in various parts of the country. Old geographies mention the cloister of St. Thomas on the eastern coast of Greenland in latitude seventy. Alzog, in his church history, mentions the existence of a Dominican cloister in Greenland upon the authority of the Dutch Captain Hani (1280). But this could not have been the one dedicated to the Dominican Saint Thomas Aquinas, who died in 1274 and was canonized in the fourteenth century.

Nicolo was so astonished at the discovery that the monks used the steam for cooking, baking, and gardening, something unknown in the South, that he naturally assumed the natives would ascribe it to magic or something supernatural and that this accounted for the esteem in which they held the monks, who were their benefactors and devoted their time in that rigorous climate to the beneficent offices of their religion. Nicolo, who stood so high in the esteem of the wealthy and powerful Prince Zichmni, must have been quite humbled when he found that the Greenlander was of more consequence to these monks than he, whose pedigree filled a folio volume and who enjoyed the privilege of having a dragon or lion traced upon his shield.


Estotiland, which, according to the statement of the fisherman, was a thousand miles to the west of Frisland, appears upon the old maps as Festland, and corresponds to Labrador. Ortelius locates Estotiland as the most northern point of the American continent. The story of the fisherman apparently related to three regions of America, of which two went by the name of Estotiland and Drageo, while the third, the name of which was not given, was still farther south. Drageo also was farther south. There the cannibals were found who killed and devoured some of the seamen. Finally, we come to a great country in a New World to the southwest. The name of this country is unknown. There were cities and temples there. Human sacrifices prevailed and gold and silver were in use. This last region corresponds to Mexico or the peninsula of Yucatan, where we now find the ruins of pre-Columbian cities, such as Uxmal, Kabah, Mayapan and others.


The last expedition to be considered is one to arouse the curiosity of the reader. Unfortunately, Antonio Zeno writes to his brother Karl, the journey was undertaken at an unlucky moment. The fisherman who was to have been the pilot died three days before their departure and Zeno says they were obliged to take some of his sailors as pilots. After a severe storm they not only lost their course, but the entire voyage seems in reality to have been a haphazard wandering about on the Atlantic, until at last they discovered a region which bore the mythological name of Icaria, whose king, as well as the sea which washed its coasts, was called Icarus. This part of the narrative, more than any other, appears to be fabulous.

Johann of Kolmo

Franz Lopez von Gomara, so called from one of the Canary Islands, upon which he was born, according to his statements, learned much about the Norwegian nature and navigation of Olaus the Goth. In his Universal History of the Indies  we find a description of Labrador and the statement that Norwegians came there with the pilot Johann Scolvo. After him Herrera makes the same general statement but calls the pilot Juan Seduco. In a later narrative, in which Estotiland and Labrador are treated as the same country, mention is first made of the fisherman from the Faroes and the brothers Zeno. We also learn from it that eighty-six years after the voyage of the brothers, the Pole, Johann Scolvus, in the year 1476, had started toward the north pole and landed in Estotiland. Selewell for the first time acquaints us with the true name of the pilot who accompanied the expedition, and notes the significance it had for Columbus.

Johann of Kolmo, a little place in Massovia, was commissioned by King Christian I of Denmark, in 1476, to open up unbroken communication with Greenland. He went to Labrador and to the strait afterwards known as Hudson's. The report of this expedition was circulated through Spain and Portugal. It was specially notable because of the influence it had upon Columbus, and because it was the first journey made to the north with the hope of finding a passage through what is now known as Behring Strait.

Columbus' Interview With Bishop Magnus in 1477

In the Icelandic archives we find authentic statements which indicate that Columbus, in February, 1477, sailed from England upon a Bristol merchant vessel and reached the harbor of Hvalfjardareyr, in the southern part of Iceland. This harbor was frequently visited at that time by merchant vessels, especially from England and Ireland. Columbus himself says that in the year named, the ocean in the vicinity of a great island near England was entirely free of ice. Voyages to Iceland at this season were not uncommon but the entire absence of snow was very rare. But public documents show that this was the case in the months of February and March of that year. This fortunate event proved the opportunity for a memorable interview.

At this time one of the most conspicuous clericals of Iceland was the Benedictine, Magnus, son of Egolv, who was appointed to the abbacy of the monastery of Helgafellen. In relation to the earliest voyages of discovery from Iceland to America, Helgafellen may be called classic ground, for it was from that spot the first discoverers and settlers of Greenland and other parts of America set out. There dwelt Kjartan, the son of Biorn Asbrandson, whom Gudliev Gudloegson found in Grossirland. There also the costly gifts are preserved which Biorn sent by Gudliev to Kjartan and Thurida in Grossirland.

In 1475 Magnus, abbot of the Benedictine monastery at Helgafellen, was consecrated by Archbishop Gauto of Drontheim as Bishop of Skalholt. In the Winter of 1477 it happened that Bishop Magnus was visiting the church of his diocese at Hvalfjardareyr when Columbus arrived there. He met Columbus and they conversed in Latin. Columbus inquired about the western regions, according to Professor Rafn, in the preface to his "American Antiquities," but what information he received or what reply the bishop made still remain a question, for the authentic writings make no mention of it. But it is entirely reasonable that the bishop told Columbus of the well-known discoveries of western countries made by Icelanders, for he had ample information concerning them, derived partly from the history of his fatherland and partly from the chronicles of the monastery of which he was abbot. It would be superfluous, however, to show that the knowledge of these western countries and of America was limited to Iceland. An unnamed historian, describing the crusade of the Danes to the Holy Land in 1185, states, in speaking of the city of Bergen, that merchant vessels sailed from there to Iceland, Greenland, England, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, and Gothland.

Hoei-Shin's Narrative

It is somewhat curious that no account appears in the original volume from which this is translated of the Chinese explorations of America, which antedate all others and which are as fully entitled to belief as those of Madoc or the Zeno brothers. The translator therefore appends a brief sketch of the alleged Celestial visitation, to make the narratives of disputed explorations and discoveries more complete. There is certainly as much to be said for the Chinese as for the Welsh or the Venetians in the matter of pre-Columbian voyages to America.

The Chinese Year Books, wherein are preserved all events of importance occurring in the Empire, contain the narrations of Hoei-Shin, a Buddhist priest, who affirms that in the year 499 he visited a country 15,000 li  east of Tahan. Of course at the present time we know not the length of a li in the fifth century, nor is there any clear idea where Tahan may have been. But that is not Hoei-Shin's fault. The Chinese in his time knew many things that we know nothing about.

Hoei-Shin called this country Fusang because of a great and useful tree which grew there somewhat resembling the bamboo. Its sprouts were used for food like those of the bamboo, and its bark and leaves were utilized for clothing and paper, for the Fusangites could read and write. They had domestic animals of all kinds, used stags for draft purposes, and their oxen had horns so huge that they held ten bushels. Of the useful metals they had none, but plenty of gold and silver, which they considered of no account, like the natives found by Cortes and Pizarro. They had a king called Ichi, a pompous sovereign who wore his clothes by astronomical rule, showing he was a scientist, and never took his walks abroad except with the fanfare of trumpets and much gorgeous display, thus recalling the Incas of Peru. The people were very peaceful and had no weapons of war.

A thousand li  east of Fusang, Hoei-Shin found another country much more remarkable than Fusang. Its people were all white, entirely covered with hair, and all women. In this Adamless Eden the population achieved maternity by bathing in a certain river renowned for its natal properties, and the children derived their nourishment from the maternal hair instead of the maternal bosom. Hoei-Shin, it would appear, did not make a detailed investigation of this country. He may have been appalled by the "eternal feminine" or driven away by the Amazons.

All the people of Fusang, curiously enough, were Buddhists, which is due to the fact that Hoei-Shin was not the original discoverer. He relates that five beggar monks had visited the country long before his time and introduced the Buddhist religion. He does not state that the five beggar monks made any effort to convert the hairy ladies of the unknown country. Fusang became a great favorite with the Chinese poets—as much so as Fairyland with ours. They celebrated its beauty and its glories, the stateliness of its temples and the splendors of its palaces, which outshone in their verse the wonders of Cathay or Kublai Khan. They particularly delighted to dwell upon the marvel of the Fusang tree, which gradually increased to thousands of feet in height and nourished silk worms six feet in length. In their swelling verse it became a worthy rival of the tree Igdrasil.

More or less credence has been placed in Hoei-Shin's narration. Some writers think Fusang was California or Mexico and that the Fusang tree was the aloe; the big-horned oxen, bisons; the horses specimens of the extinct breed, relics of which are found in that region, and that Ichi (the king) corresponds to Inca. Others have assigned Alaska, and Kamschatka, as the old Fusang. Most, however, look upon Hoei-Shin's story as a fiction of his imagination or a purposely devised hoax. It is unwise, however, to deny that anything, however strange it seems to us, may not have occurred in those far-distant moons. There may have been nations and civilizations of which we have no knowledge now. It is unwise to denounce Hoei-Shin as an impostor. We must remember that the Chinese have a civilization so old that ours seems a modern invention compared with it; that they were navigating the seas long before the moderns dreamed of vessels; that they had gun-powder and the compass centuries ago; and that their junks were found everywhere. The wrecks of junks seen by the early Spanish explorers on the Pacific coast show that the Celestials were in quest of Fusang or some other Sang a long time before Columbus. It is not impossible the Yellow Peril was on our soil long before the Northmen. And who shall say there were not other perils before the Yellow one? If we could resurrect buried nations and civilizations, what strange stories they might tell!

It is not impossible, indeed, that the Arabs visited America long before Columbus found his way here. There is a circumstantial and weird story preserved by the Arab geographers to that effect and cited in more than one history. In the twelfth century there was a legend widely believed in Lisbon, then in Arab possession, of a mysterious sea far to the west, haunted by demons and infested by strange monsters, which was the special dread of mariners. The whole ocean was mysterious, and the Arabs who were not only courageous sailors but skilled in astronomy, geometry, and other sciences, were eager to solve its mystery, but the fearful sea, known as the Sea of Darkness, was too appalling to be risked.

At last, however, eight Arabs, of the same kin, determined to make the effort. They built a vessel and stocked it with provisions sufficient to last them many months. On the eleventh day out, sailing westward, they encountered water filled with floating grass and giving forth a foul stench. As it grew dark they were certain they were on the borders of the Sea of Darkness and fearing its demons and monsters they changed their course and sailed south. After twelve days they came to an island where, much to their dismay, the inhospitable natives came out to them in boats and made our eight adventurers prisoners. They were taken before the king of that region, who questioned them through an interpreter as to their purposes. When told they were seeking the limits of the Western Ocean he informed them that it ended in darkness where there was no sun. At the close of the interview he consigned them to prison and, when the wind veered to the west, he blind-folded and bound them, put them in a boat, and left them to drift. After three days they went ashore on the African coast, where the natives treated them very kindly and helped them to get back to Lisbon—where they were known ever after as the "strayed ones." A street was named for them,—"Almagrureu," or "those that go astray."

How far the Arab eight went astray or where they strayed is purely a matter of conjecture, but from the course they took it is contended they could not have gone far west of the Azores though they possibly may have reached some island on the American coast. Their tradition is not as circumstantial as that of Madoc, or the Brothers Zeno or Hoei-Shin, but let us give them the benefit of the doubt. There were great soldiers before Agamemnon. There were great scientists before Pliny the Elder and Ptolemy. There were great navigators before Columbus, and the ocean limits and its mystery must have been in the minds of men before Far Cathay took their places.

Appendix A: Skalds and Sagamen

The Discovery of Iceland

[From Joshua Toulmin Smith's Discovery of America by the Northmen ]

106 Iceland was colonized by Ingolf, a Norwegian, or Northman, and his followers in 875. He was the first who cast his doorposts towards the Icelandic shores. The island had, however, been discovered a few years previously by a pirate, or trader—for the term "pirate" was hardly understood in the same sense then as now—named Maddodd. It is, how ever, a very remarkable fact worthy to be recorded that Iceland was inhabited by a race of Christians long before the pagan Northmen settled there, which latter were not converted to Christianity till the year 1000. We have the highest authority for the truth of this fact. I will quote the words of the celebrated Landnamabok  (Landroll of the first settlers in Iceland), the authenticity of which none can dispute: "But, before Iceland was settled by the Northmen, there lived there men called by the Northmen 'Papa.' These were Christians and are believed to have come from the west, on the seas." This expression "from the west" would seem to imply that they came from America. There can, however, be no doubt that it refers to Ireland, which country was usually known to the Northmen by the name of the "west country" as being west of Norway, their original home.

Thorstein's Death

Another version of Thorstein's death runs as follows: "At the close of the same day, Thorstein died and Gudrida was much afflicted. Then Thorstein the Black desired Gudrida to retire and rest herself, for that he would watch by the dead body. He endeavored to comfort and console her in every mode and promised that he would take her, together with the dead body of her husband, Thorstein, and those of all his men, to Eriksfjord, 'and I will also,' he added, 'send for some friends here to comfort you.' She thanked him. At this moment Thorstein Erikson rose and cried, 'Where is Gudrida?' Thrice he repeated these words and then was silent. Thorstein the Black went to Gudrida, roused her, and having desired her to mark herself with the cross, and to ask the aid of her God, he told her what Thorstein Erikson had said: 'He wishes you to go to him; so determine whether you will or no, for I do not know how to advise you.' She answered:

'Perhaps this extraordinary circumstance has reference to some events of futurity. I trust that God will protect me, and I will, therefore, under His mercy, venture to go to my husband and hear what he wishes to say, for I shall be unable, at any rate, to escape if it forebodes evil. The matter may be of importance.' Then Gudrida went to Thorstein. He seemed to her to pour forth tears. He spoke a few words in a low tone to her, which none but herself could hear; afterwards he spoke as follows, in the hearing of all: 'They are blessed who hold the Christian faith, for they will have salvation.' . . . He also foretold to her something of her future lot, indicating that a high destiny awaited her, and he besought her not to marry any man of Greenland. He desired her to bestow a part of his money on a church, and a part on the poor. Having thus spoken, he expired."

Story of Thorhall and the Whale

[From an ancient manuscript]

"That winter was very severe, and as they had no stores provided, provisions ran short. So they passed over on to the island but found little better means of subsistence though the cattle were somewhat better off. Then they prayed to God that he would send them food; which prayer was not answered as soon as they desired.

"About this time Thorhall was missing and they went out to seek for him. The search lasted for three days. On the morning of the fourth day, Thorfinn and Biorn found him lying on the top of a rock. There he lay, stretched out, with his eyes open, blowing through his mouth and nose and mumbling to himself. They asked him why he had gone there. He answered that it was no business of theirs, that he was old enough to take care of himself without their troubling themselves with his affairs. They asked him to return home with them, which he did.

"A short time after a whale was cast ashore and they all ran down eagerly to cut it up, but none knew what kind of whale it was. Neither did Thorfinn, though well acquainted with whales, know this one. The cooks dressed the whale and they all ate of it but were all taken ill immediately after. Then said Thorhall, 'Now you see that Thor is more ready to give aid than your Christ. This food is the reward of a hymn which I composed to Thor, my god, who has rarely forsaken me.

"'I left the shores of Eriksfjord To seek, O cursed Vinland, thine, Each warrior pledges there his word That we should quaff here choicest wine.

Great Odin, Warrior God, see how There water pails I carry now; No wine my lips has touched but low At humblest fountain I must bow.'

"And this is the song which Thorhall mockingly sang as he sailed away from Vineland:

"'Now home our joyful course we'll take Where friends untroubled winters lead; Now let our vessel swiftly make Her channel o'er the ocean's bed; And let the battle-loving crew Who here rejoice, and praise the land— Let them catch whales, and eat them too, And let them dwell in Furdustrand."

"When they heard Thorhall's hymn, none would eat any more, and so they threw all the remainder of the flesh from the rocks, commending themselves to God. After which the air became milder. They were able to go fishing, nor from that time was there any want of provisions, for there was abundance of wild animals hunted on the mainland, of eggs taken on the island, and of fish caught in the sea."

Skalds and Sagamen

[From Wheaton's History of The Northerner.]

"The Skalds were at once poets and historians .. . A regular order of men was perpetuated and a list of two hundred and thirty in number, of those who were most distinguished in the three northern kingdoms, from the reign of Ragnar Lodbrok to Vlademar II, is still preserved in the Icelandic language. . . . The ancient literature of the North was not confined to the poetical art. The Skalds recited the praises of kings and heroes in verse, whilst the Sagamen recalled the memory of the past in prose narratives. . . . The memory of past transactions was thus handed down from age to age in an unbroken chain of tradition, and the ancient songs and Sagas were preserved until the introduction of book-writing gave them a fixed and durable record. . . . The recitations were embellished with poetical extracts from the works of different Skalds. Story and song were thus united together, and the memory was strengthened by this constant cultivation, so as to be the safe depository of the national history and poetry. . . .

"The interesting scene, presented to this day in every Icelandic family, in the long nights of winter, is a living proof of the existence of this ancient custom. No sooner does the day close, than the whole family . . . [being assembled,] one of the family takes his seat near the lamp, and begins to read some favorite Saga. . . . In some families the Sagas are recited by those who have committed them to memory, and there are still instances of itinerant orators of this sort, who gain a livelihood during the winter, by going about, from house to house, repeating the stories they have thus learnt by heart. About two centuries and a half after the first settlement of Iceland by the Norwegians [that is, about A. D. 1100] the learned men of that remote island began to collect and reduce to writing these traditional poems and histories. . .

"Some of the ancient Sagas which now exist in the Icelandic language, remained for a long period in oral tradition, before they were reduced to writing." And, again: "One general remark, made by a learned and ingenious writer who comes fresh from reading these works, is applicable to them all,—that the ancient poetry and romance of the North deals more in reality, and less in fiction, than that of the South. He explains this by the well-known fact, that the history of the Middle Ages of the south of Europe was written exclusively by the clergy; and the lay poets, having only the field of fiction left to them, could distinguish themselves in no other way, than by giving a higher coloring to the marvellous stories they found in the monkish chronicles. In the North, on the contrary, the Skalds, who were attached to the courts of kings, and to the most distinguished families of the country, were the sole depositories of its historical traditions, which it was their interest, as well as glory, faithfully to preserve."

Appendix B: Ballad of Finn the Fair

The ballad of Finn the Fair was written in ancient times by some one of the old bards of the Faroe Islands and the manuscript is preserved in the Royal Library at Copenhagen. It should be observed that in these islands it was commonly believed that Vineland was discovered from Ireland and that the Northmen gave the chiefs of the natives, with whom the Irish had many battles, the title of Kings. The ballad relates the tradition of Ulvur, a prince of Upland, who had two sons, Holdan the Strong and Finn the Fair. Finn, the younger of the two, sought the daughter of the Irish King in marriage, Ingeborg by name. He sailed to Ireland and demanded her hand of the King, and upon being denied made a furious attack upon the King's men-at-arms. Finally he was overpowered and thrown into the "donjon cell." Ingeborg was in despair and implored her father to allow her to marry Finn. The King, however, firmly refused, whereupon she sent a page to Holdan announcing his brother's plight. Holdan thereupon flew to Ireland and released Finn, and the two repaired to the palace and asked Ingeborg if she would accept the lover. The rest of the ballad is here given (as translated by Joshua Toulmin Smith from the original), as it makes frequent reference to Vineland:

Then Ingeborg doth answer make—

"This matter is most hard to do;

But if the Vinland King you'll take

An answer sure I'll give to you."

Then powerful Holdan thus replied—

"'Twill grief and sorrow bring to all;

For who shall reach the Vinland tide

Him perils dire shall sure befall."

Then Finn the Fair, with rapid stride

The palace quits, and seeks the shore;

"To Vinland straight my course I'll guide

Though Ingeborg I ne'er see more."

His silken sails he raises then,

On yards of gold extended wide;

His sails he never furls again,

Till Vinland from the helm he spied.

Then Finn, within the garden nigh

His costly robes he o'er him threw;

And so attired, with bearing high

Straight to the palace halls he drew.

Then entered Finn the palace hall,

And stood before them, face to face;

The Kings sat on their thrones, and all,

Unmoved and silent kept their place.

It was the morning of the day

Scarce yet Aurora's light appeared,

When there the Vinland Kings, they say,

Twelve hundred armed men prepared.

And there the Vinland Kings, they say,

Twelve hundred men prepared:

'Gainst these brave Finn the Fair, that day

To try his strength unaided, dared.

And in the midst Finn now is seen

Active in fight before them all;

Loud clang their arms that time, I ween,

Now two, now three, before him fall.

And in the midst Finn still is seen,

In strength he far surpasses all;

Loud clang their arms again, I ween

Now five, now six, before him fall.

For two whole days the fight did last;

From clashing swords the lightning played;

Nor on the earth his footstep passed,

His slaughtered foes his path he made.

And in the midst Finn still is seen,

Nor dares, for honor's sake, to flee;

And now, 't is said, that there remain

Of all that host but only three.

And in the midst Finn still is seen—

Full well his deeds are known to fame;

And Vinland King the first, I ween,

By his good sword is hewn in twain.

And in the midst Finn still is borne,

Nor dares, for honor's sake, to flee;

The second Vinland King that morn

His sword hath hewn in pieces three.

Just then a dragon, o'er his head

His fatal venom pouring flew,

And Finn himself at length lay dead,

Whom poison, and not arms, subdue.

When Finn, thus Holdan furious saw,

By poison and not arms subdued,

Then Vinland King the third straightway

With his good sword in twain he hewed.

Then fast and swiftly Holdan rides

All through the forest dark and green;

No hawk, nor hound, nor beast beside,

So swift and fast was ever seen.

His silken sails he raises then

On yards of gold extended wide;

His sails he never furls again

Till Ireland from the helm he spied.

Then Ingeborg, the royal maid,

Was sitting in her window bay:

"That is not Finn the Fair," she said,

"Who yonder guides his helm this way."

Then Ingeborg, the royal maid,

In wealth and beauty rich was she—

"That is not Finn the Fair," she said,

"Full well I know that is not he."

Above the beds of whitest sand

Her anchor cast, the vessel lay;

Holdan the Strong the first did stand,

Upon the Irish coast that day.

And then within the garden nigh

His gorgeous mantle o'er him threw,

And so attired with bearing high

Toward Princess Ingeborg he drew.

"Hail, Ingeborg! thou royal maid!

Both fair and beautiful art thou:

Wilt thou this prince elect," he said,

"And Ireland's King create him now?"

Then Ingeborg, the royal maid,

She clasped a wand of purest gold—

"None after Finn the Fair," she said,

"In love I ever more can hold."

Then Ingeborg, the royal maid,

Whom deepest grief did sore oppress—

"None now since Finn the Fair is dead

Can I as husband e'er address."

One night within the citadel

This royal maid she rested there;

But soon, o'ercome, a victim fell

To sorrow, grief, and black despair.

Then fast within the citadel

Full many a year lived Holdan Strong;

But heavy care, I ween, full well,

Through day and night oppressed him long.

Such was the sad fate of Finn the Fair, the doughty knight, who lost his Ingeborg, after slaying single-handed 1199 men, including two kings, a feat out doing even Samson's exploits with the jawbone. Was it not meet that heavy care should have oppressed Holdan who slew only one king, after witnessing the two days' combat of his brother, and then had the effrontery to claim the fair Ingeborg's hand?

Chart of the World

According to Icelandic Manuscripts of the Thirteenth Century

[Illustration] from Eric the Red by George Upton

The above chart was prepared from an Icelandic manuscript of the thirteenth century by Mr. Joshua Toulmin Smith, the northern antiquarian, and appears in his work, Discovery of America by the Northmen. The original manuscript divides the world into three parts, Asia, Africa, and Europe. The words "Synnri Bygd," at the bottom of the chart, signify a "habitable tract," in the Southern Hemisphere, from which it may be inferred that the Northmen had some idea of South America, Australia, and Polynesia. They defined Asia as extending from northeast to southwest; Africa from southwest to west and northwest, and joining the Western Continent; and Europe from west and northwest, that is from the Western Continent to northeast, where it joined Asia. Greenland was supposed to be connected with Europe by extensive uninhabitable tracts to the far north, and Vineland was supposed to be connected with Africa.

The names upon the chart in Icelandic are thus explained: The three regions to the east in Asia, "Indialand," are India; "Ninive," said to be a city three days' journey in length and one day's in width, is Nineveh; "Babilon," where "Nabugudunosor" (Nebuchadnezzar) reigned, is Babylon, "but now is that city so completely destroyed that it is altogether uninhabitable by man, on account of serpents and all manner of noxious animals."

"Antiochia" is Antioch, where "the Apostle Peter founded an Episcopal seat, and there, first of any man, chanted Mass," and "Jerusalem" explains itself. "Asia en Minni" is Asia Minor, and to the north of it is Paradise, out of which four rivers flow: (1) the "Phison" or "Ganges," which rises near Mount Orcades and empties into the ocean surrounding the world; (2) the "Tigris"; (3) the "Eufrates," which, like the Tigris empties into the "Midjardarhaf" (Mediterranean Sea); and (q) the "Nilus," otherwise called "Geon" (the Nile), which divides Asia from Africa and flows through the whole of "Egiptaland" (Egypt), in which are two cities, "Alexandria" and "Babilon in Nyga" (Cairo).

"Affrika" (Africa), the second part of the earth, contains "Serkland" or the land of the Saracens, Morocco, Tripoli, etc.; "Egiptaland" or Egypt; and three regions called "Blaland" (land of black men or negroes).

"Europa" (Europe) is the third part. In the extreme east is "Gardavelldi" (Russia). South of it is "Grikjakonungs velldi" (Empire of the Greek Kings) or the Eastern Roman Empire. To this empire belongs "Bolgaraland" (Bulgaria) and a number of islands, "Griklands Eyjar," the most celebrated of which are "Krit" (Crete) and "Kipr" (Cyprus). "Sikiley" (Sicily) is set down as a great kingdom. "Italia" (Italy) is another great kingdom south of the "Mundia" (Alps). In the middle of Italy is "Romaborg" (Rome), and to the north is "Langbardaland" (Lombard). North of the mountains, toward the east, is "Saxland" (Germany), and to the southwest "Fracland" (France). "Spanland" (Spain) extends to the Mediterranean between Langbardaland and Fracland. The "Rin" (Rhine) is a great river flowing to the north of the "Mundia" between Saxland and Fracland, and near its mouth lies "Frisland." North of Saxland is "Danmork" (Denmark), near which the ocean pours into "Austrveg" (Baltic Sea). "Svithjod" (Sweden) lies east of "Danmork," "Noreg" (Norway) to the north, and "Finnmork" (Finland) to the north of "Noreg." Then the shore bends northeast and then east till it reaches "Bjarmaland" (Permia), and from "Bjarmaland" extend long unpopulated tracts ("Lond obygd"), stretching to the north until they reach "Gronland" (Greenland). To the south of Gronland lies "Helluland," and beyond that "Markland"; "beyond that it is not far to Vinland er sumir menn aetla at gangi of Affrika (which some men think to be extended even from Africa). England and Scotland are one island, but each of them is a separate kingdom. Ireland is a great island. Iceland is also a great island to the north of Ireland. All these regions lie in that part of the world which is called Europe."

It is evident they thought Europe extended from the Western Continent to where it joins Asia, and that in the extreme south Vineland was connected with Africa.