The Northmen, Columbus and Cabot, 985-1503
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It so happened, that a bull,[37-2] which belonged to Karlsefni and his people, ran out from the woods, bellowing loudly. This so terrified the Skrellings, that they sped out to their canoes, and then rowed away to the southward along the coast. For three entire weeks nothing more was seen of them. At the end of this time, however, a great multitude of Skrelling boats was discovered approaching from the south, as if a stream were pouring down, and all of their staves were waved in a direction contrary to the course of the sun, and the Skrellings were all uttering loud cries. Thereupon Karlsefni and his men took red shields and displayed them. The Skrellings sprang from their boats, and they met then, and fought together. There was a fierce shower of missiles, for the Skrellings had war-slings. Karlsefni and Snorri observed, that the Skrellings raised up on a pole a great ball-shaped body, almost the size of a sheep's belly, and nearly black in color, and this they hurled from the pole up on the land above Karlsefni's followers, and it made a frightful noise, where it fell. Whereat a great fear seized upon Karlsefni, and all his men, so that they could think of nought but flight, and of making their escape up along the river bank, for it seemed to them, that the troop of the Skrellings was rushing towards them from every side, and they did not pause, until they came to certain jutting crags, where they offered a stout resistance. Freydis came out, and seeing that Karlsefni and his men were fleeing, she cried: "Why do ye flee from these wretches, such worthy men as ye, when, meseems, ye might slaughter them like cattle. Had I but a weapon, methinks, I would fight better than any one of you!" They gave no heed to her words. Freydis sought to join them, but lagged behind, for she was not hale;[38-1] she followed them, however, into the forest, while the Skrellings pursued her; she found a dead man in front of her; this was Thorbrand, Snorri's son, his skull cleft by a flat stone; his naked sword lay beside him; she took it up, and prepared to defend herself with it. The Skrellings then approached her, whereupon she stripped down her shift, and slapped her breast with the naked sword. At this the Skrellings were terrified and ran down to their boats, and rowed away. Karlsefni and his companions, however, joined her and praised her valor. Two of Karlsefni's men had fallen, and a great number of the Skrellings. Karlsefni's party had been overpowered by dint of superior numbers. They now returned to their dwellings, and bound up their wounds, and weighed carefully what throng of men that could have been, which had seemed to descend upon them from the land; it now seemed to them, that there could have been but the one party, that which came from the boats, and that the other troop must have been an ocular delusion. The Skrellings, moreover, found a dead man, and an axe lay beside him. One of their number picked up the axe, and struck at a tree with it, and one after another [they tested it], and it seemed to them to be a treasure, and to cut well; then one of their number seized it, and hewed at a stone with it, so that the axe broke, whereat they concluded that it could be of no use, since it would not withstand stone, and they cast it away.

It now seemed clear to Karlsefni and his people, that although the country thereabouts was attractive, their life would be one of constant dread and turmoil by reason of the [hostility of the] inhabitants of the country, so they forthwith prepared to leave, and determined to return to their own country. They sailed to the northward off the coast, and found five Skrellings, clad in skin-doublets, lying asleep near the sea. There were vessels beside them, containing animal marrow, mixed with blood. Karlsefni and his company concluded that they must have been banished from their own land. They put them to death. They afterwards found a cape, upon which there was a great number of animals, and this cape looked as if it were one cake of dung, by reason of the animals which lay there at night. They now arrived again at Streamfirth, where they found great abundance of all those things of which they stood in need. Some men say, that Biarni and Freydis remained behind here with a hundred men, and went no further; while Karlsefni and Snorri proceeded to the southward with forty men, tarrying at Hop barely two months, and returning again the same summer. Karlsefni then set out with one ship, in search of Thorhall the Huntsman, but the greater part of the company remained behind. They sailed to the northward around Keelness, and then bore to the westward, having land to the larboard.[40-1] The country there was a wooded wilderness, as far as they could see, with scarcely an open space; and when they had journeyed a considerable distance, a river flowed down from the east toward the west. They sailed into the mouth of the river, and lay to by the southern bank.

The Slaying of Thorvald, Eric's son.—It happened one morning, that Karlsefni and his companions discovered in an open space in the woods above them, a speck, which seemed to shine toward them, and they shouted at it: it stirred, and it was a Uniped,[40-2] who skipped down to the bank of the river by which they were lying. Thorvald, a son of Eric the Red, was sitting at the helm, and the Uniped shot an arrow into his inwards. Thorvald drew out the arrow, and exclaimed: "There is fat around my paunch; we have hit upon a fruitful country, and yet we are not like to get much profit of it." Thorvald died soon after from this wound. Then the Uniped ran away back toward the north. Karlsefni and his men pursued him, and saw him from time to time. The last they saw of him, he ran down into a creek. Then they turned back; whereupon one of the men recited this ditty:[40-3]

Eager, our men, up hill down dell, Hunted a Uniped; Hearken, Karlsefni, while they tell How swift the quarry fled!

Then they sailed away back toward the north, and believed they had got sight of the land of the Unipeds; nor were they disposed to risk the lives of their men any longer. They concluded that the mountains of Hop, and those which they had now found, formed one chain, and this appeared to be so because they were about an equal distance removed from Streamfirth, in either direction.[41-1] They sailed back, and passed the third winter at Streamfirth. Then the men began to divide into factions, of which the women were the cause; and those who were without wives, endeavored to seize upon the wives of those who were married, whence the greatest trouble arose. Snorri, Karlsefni's son, was born the first autumn, and he was three winters old when they took their departure. When they sailed away from Wineland, they had a southerly wind, and so came upon Markland, where they found five Skrellings,[41-2] of whom one was bearded, two were women, and two were children. Karlsefni and his people took the boys, but the others escaped, and these Skrellings sank down into the earth. They bore the lads away with them, and taught them to speak, and they were baptized. They said, that their mother's name was Vaetilldi, and their father's Uvaegi. They said, that kings governed the Skrellings, one of whom was called Avalldamon, and the other Valldidida.[41-3] They stated, that there were no houses there, and that the people lived in caves or holes. They said, that there was a land on the other side over against their country, which was inhabited by people who wore white garments, and yelled loudly, and carried poles before them, to which rags were attached;[42-1] and people believe that this must have been Hvitramanna-land [White-men's-land], or Ireland the Great.[42-2] Now they arrived in Greenland, and remained during the winter with Eric the Red.

Biarni, Grimolf's son, and his companions were driven out into the Atlantic,[42-3] and came into a sea, which was filled with worms, and their ship began to sink beneath them. They had a boat, which had been coated with seal-tar; this the sea-worm does not penetrate. They took their places in this boat, and then discovered that it would not hold them all. Then said Biarni: "Since the boat will not hold more than half of our men, it is my advice, that the men who are to go in the boat, be chosen by lot, for this selection must not be made according to rank." This seemed to them all such a manly offer, that no one opposed it. So they adopted this plan, the men casting lots; and it fell to Biarni to go in the boat, and half of the men with him, for it would not hold more. But when the men were come into the boat, an Icelander, who was in the ship, and who had accompanied Biarni from Iceland, said: "Dost thou intend, Biarni, to forsake me here?" "It must be even so," answers Biarni. "Not such was the promise thou gavest my father," he answers, "when I left Iceland with thee, that thou wouldst thus part with me, when thou saidst, that we should both share the same fate." "So be it, it shall not rest thus," answers Biarni; "do thou come hither, and I will go to the ship, for I see that thou art eager for life." Biarni thereupon boarded the ship, and this man entered the boat, and they went their way, until they came to Dublin in Ireland, and there they told this tale; now it is the belief of most people, that Biarni and his companions perished in the maggot-sea, for they were never heard of afterward.

Karlsefni and his Wife Thurid's Issue.—The following summer Karlsefni sailed to Iceland and Gudrid with him, and he went home to Reyniness. His mother believed that he had made a poor match, and she was not at home the first winter. However, when she became convinced that Gudrid was a very superior woman, she returned to her home, and they lived happily together. Hallfrid was a daughter of Snorri, Karlsefni's son, she was the mother of Bishop Thorlak,[43-1] Runolf's son. They had a son named Thorbiorn, whose daughter's name was Thorunn, [she was] Bishop Biorn's[43-2] mother. Thorgeir was the name of a son of Snorri, Karlsefni's son, [he was] the father of Ingveld, mother of Bishop Brand the Elder. Steinunn was a daughter of Snorri, Karlsefni's son, who married Einar, a son of Grundar-Ketil, a son of Thorvald Crook, a son of Thori of Espihol. Their son was Thorstein the Unjust, he was the father of Gudrun, who married Jorund of Keldur. Their daughter was Halla, the mother of Flosi, the father of Valgerd, the mother of Herra Erlend the Stout, the father of Herra Hauk the Lawman. Another daughter of Flosi was Thordis, the mother of Fru Ingigerd the Mighty. Her daughter was Fru Hallbera, Abbess of Reyniness at Stad. Many other great people in Iceland are descended from Karlsefni and Thurid, who are not mentioned here. God be with us, Amen!


[14-1] The translation that follows, by Arthur Middleton Reeves, is based on the text of Hauk's Book, No. 544 of the Arna-Magnaean Collection, collated with No. 557 of the same collection. In Origines Islandicae, II. 610, this saga is called "The Story of Thorfinn Carlsemne."

[14-2] The rubrics here given in italics are found in the original manuscript.

[14-3] In eastern Norway.

[14-4] From 853 to 871.

[15-1] A blank in the original manuscript.

[15-2] This introductory paragraph, giving at the end the ancestry of Gudrid, the daughter of Thorbiorn Vifilson and a prominent figure in the Vinland voyages, seems to come first on account of the earlier historical allusions that it contains. The account of Gudrid is continued in the third paragraph.

[15-3] In southwestern Norway.

[16-1] Movable planks used in constructing the lock-beds of the sleeping apartment. They were often beautifully carved, and hence valuable.

[16-2] An island midway between Iceland and Greenland, discovered in the latter part of the ninth century. Gunnbiorn was a Norwegian. This island is no longer above the surface. See Fiske, The Discovery of America, p. 242.

[17-1] This should read Eastern Settlement, evidently a clerical error in an original manuscript, as both Hauk's Book and AM. 557 reproduce it. There were two settlements in Greenland, the Eastern and Western, both, however, to the westward of Cape Farewell, and between that cape on the south and Disco Island on the north. Ericsey (i.e., Eric's Island) was at the mouth of Ericsfirth, near the present Julianshaab. For further details on the geography of these settlements, see Reeves, The Finding of Wineland the Good, p. 166, (25), and Fiske, The Discovery of America, I. 158, note.

[17-2] On the western coast of Greenland, about 70 deg. N. Lat.

[17-3] The saga up to this point is taken from Landnama-bok, the great Icelandic authority on early genealogy and history. It might well have included one more paragraph (the succeeding one), which gives an approximate date to the colonization of Greenland: "Ari, Thorgil's son, says that that summer twenty-five ships sailed to Greenland out of Borgfirth and Broadfirth; but fourteen only reached their destination; some were driven back, and some were lost. This was sixteen [S: fifteen] winters before Christianity was legally adopted in Iceland." That is, in about 985, as Christianity was accepted in 1000 (or 1001). There is a possible variation of a year in the usually accepted date. See Origines Islandicae, I. 369.

[20-1] "Winter-night-tide" was about the middle of October.

[23-1] The home of Eric the Red, in the Eastern Settlement.

[24-1] This was evidently the first time that the voyage from Greenland to Norway was accomplished without going by way of Iceland, and was a remarkable achievement. The aim was evidently to avoid the dangerous passage between Greenland and Iceland.

[24-2] A reference to some strange happenings in the winter of 1000-1001 at the Icelandic farmstead Froda, as related in the Eyrbyggja Saga.

[25-1] Of the year 999. See next note.

[25-2] King Olaf ruled from 995 to 1000. He fell at the battle of Svolder (in the Baltic) in September, 1000. It was in the same year that Leif started out as the King's missionary to Greenland. See p. 43, note 1.

[25-3] A wild cereal of some sort. Fiske is convinced that it was Indian corn, while Storm thinks it was wild rice, contending with much force that Indian corn was a product entirely unknown to the explorers, and that they could not by any possibility have confused it with wheat, even if they had found it. There is, moreover, no indication in this saga that they found cultivated fields. Storm cites Sir William Alexander, Encouragement to Colonies (1624), who, in speaking of the products of Nova Scotia, refers, among other things, to "some eares of wheate, barly and rie growing there wild." He also cites Jacques Cartier, who, in 1534, found in New Brunswick "wild grain like rye, which looked as though it had been sowed and cultivated." See Reeves, p. 174, (50).

[25-4] Supposed to be maple.

[26-1] Also called Thorhild.

[27-1] That is, were near Ireland.

[28-1] The display of an axe seems to have been thought efficacious in laying fetches. See Reeves, p. 171, (39), citing a passage from another saga.

[30-1] Thorfinn Karlsefni, the explorer of the Vinland expeditions, was of excellent family. His lineage is given at greater length in the Landnama-bok (Book of Settlements).

[31-1] Usually called Gudrid.

[32-1] There is doubt as to why the expedition sailed northwest to the Western Settlement. Possibly Thorfinn desired to make a different start than Thorstein, whose expedition was a failure. See Reeves, p. 172, (45).

[32-2] Doegr was a period of twelve hours. Reeves quotes the following from an old Icelandic work: "In the day there are two doegr; in the doegr twelve hours." A doegr's sailing is estimated to have been about one hundred miles. There is evidently a clerical error in this passage after the number of days' sailing. The words for "two" and "seven" are very similar in old Norse.

[33-1] The language of the vellum AM. 557 is somewhat different in this and the previous sentence. It does not say that "they sailed southward along the land for a long time, and came to a cape," but, "when two doegr had elapsed, they descried land, and they sailed off this land; there was a cape to which they came. They beat into the wind along this coast, having the land upon the starboard side. This was a bleak coast, with long and sandy shores. They went ashore in boats, and found the keel of a ship, so they called it Keelness there; they likewise gave a name to the strands and called them Wonderstrands, because they were long to sail by."

[33-2] AM. 557 says biafal. Neither word has been identified.

[33-3] Hauk's Book says "eider-ducks."

[34-1] The god Thor.

[35-1] The prose sense is: "Men promised me, when I came hither, that I should have the best of drink; it behooves me before all to blame the land. See, oh, man! how I must raise the pail; instead of drinking wine, I have to stoop to the spring" (Reeves).

[35-2] The prose sense is: "Let us return to our countrymen, leaving those who like the country here, to cook their whale on Wonder-strand." From an archaic form in these lines it is apparent that they are older than either of the vellums, and must have been composed at least a century before Hauk's Book was written; they may well be much older than the beginning of the thirteenth century (Reeves). The antiquity of the verses of the saga is also attested by a certain metrical irregularity, as in poetry of the tenth and beginning of the eleventh centuries (Storm).

[35-3] In the next sentence the authority for this doubtful statement seems to be placed upon "traders."

[36-1] Note the word "hollows" with reference to the contention that "wild wheat" is "wild rice." See p. 25, note 3.

[36-2] "Skin-canoes," or kayaks, lead one to think of Eskimos. Both Storm and Fiske think that the authorities of the saga-writer may have failed to distinguish between bark-canoes and skin-canoes.

[36-3] The vellum AM. 557 says "small men" instead of "swarthy men." The explorers called them Skraelingar, a disparaging epithet, meaning inferior people, i.e., savages. The name is applied, in saga literature, to the natives of Greenland as well as to the natives of Vinland. Storm thinks the latter were the Micmac Indians of Nova Scotia.

[36-4] "Lescarbot, in his minute and elaborate description of the Micmacs of Acadia, speaks with some emphasis of their large eyes. Dr. Storm quite reasonably suggests that the Norse expression may refer to the size not of the eyeball but of the eye-socket, which in the Indian face is apt to be large." Fiske, The Discovery of America, p. 190.

[37-1] This would seem to place Vinland farther south than Nova Scotia, but not necessarily. Storm cites the Frenchman Denys, who as colonist and governor of Nova Scotia passed a number of years there, and in a work published in 1672 says of the inner tracts of the land east of Port Royal that "there is very little snow in the country, and very little winter." He adds: "It is certain that the country produces the vine naturally,—that it bears a grape that ripens perfectly, the berry as large as the muscat."

[37-2] An animal unknown to the natives. As Fiske suggests, "It is the unknown that frightens."

[38-1] A euphemism for pregnant; the original is eigi heil.

[40-1] Thus reaching the western coast of Cape Breton Island and Nova Scotia, according to Storm.

[40-2] The Norse word is Ein-foetingr, one-footer. The mediaeval belief in a country in which there lived a race of unipeds was not unknown in Iceland. It has been suggested by Vigfusson that Thorvald being an important personage, his death must be adorned in some way. It is a singular fact that Jacques Cartier brought back from his Canadian explorations reports of a land peopled by a race of one-legged folk. See Reeves, The Finding of Wineland, p. 177, (56).

[40-3] The literal translation is: "The men drove, it is quite true, a one-footer down to the shore. The strange man ran hard over the banks. Hearken, Karlsefni!"

[41-1] As skilled mariners the explorers were undoubtedly competent to make such a deduction as this. If Storm and Dieserud are correct, the explorers saw from the north coast of Nova Scotia the same mountains that they had seen from the south coast.

[41-2] The Beothuk Indians of Newfoundland, according to Storm.

[41-3] Nothing can with certainty be extracted from these names. The chances that they were incorrectly recorded are of course great. Storm contends that they cannot be Eskimo. Captain Holm of the Danish navy, an authority on the Eskimos, says, "It is not impossible that the names may have been derived from Eskimo originals." Fiske says, p. 189, note: "There is not the slightest reason for supposing that there were any Eskimos south of Labrador so late as nine hundred years ago." In this connection Captain Holm says: "It appears to me not sufficiently proven that the now extinct race on America's east coast, the Beothuk, were Indians. I wish to direct attention to the possibility that in the Beothuk we may perhaps have one of the transition links between the Indians and the Eskimo." See Reeves, p. 177, (57).

[42-1] The description is clearly suggestive of processions of Christian priests, in white vestments, with banners, and singing (Storm).

[42-2] Vellum AM. 557 has not the words "Ireland the Great." As to "White-men's-land" (mentioned also once in the Landnama-bok), Storm traces its quasi-historical origin to the Irish visitation of Iceland prior to the Norse settlement. See Studies on the Vineland Voyages, p. 61. The explanation is, however, hardly convincing. See Origines Islandicae, Vol. II., p. 625.

[42-3] AM. 557 says "Iceland's sea" (i.e., between Iceland and Markland), and Hauk's Book, "Greenland's sea" (i.e., between Iceland and Greenland).

[43-1] Thorlak was born in 1085, consecrated bishop in 1118, and died Feb. 1, 1133. These dates are definitely known, and are important. "The bishop's birth-year being certainly known, one can reckon back, and according to the regular allowances, we shall have Hallfrid born about 1060, and her father about 1030, in Vinland, and Karlsefni as far back as 1000." Vigfusson in Origines Islandicae, Vol. II., p. 592. Vigfusson seeks to corroborate the above by other allied lineages. If his deductions are correct, they are revolutionary with reference to the generally accepted chronology of the Vinland voyages. He is convinced that Leif belongs to an older generation than Karlsefni and his wife, and that Leif's declining years coincide with Karlsefni's appearance on the scene. The expeditions would then stand in the year 1025-1035, or 1030-1040, while Leif may have headed the first expedition, say in 1025. And he thinks that various things outside of the genealogies point to this. See Introduction, p. 12, of this volume.

[43-2] Biorn was consecrated bishop in 1147, and died in 1162. His successor was Bishop Brand "the Elder," who died in 1201. Both Hauk's Book and AM. 557 refer to him as "the Elder"; hence the originals could not have been written before the accession of the second bishop Brand, which was in 1263. He died the following year. AM. 557 concludes with the words "Bishop Brand the Elder." But in Hauk's Book the genealogical information is carried down to Hauk's own time. He was a descendant of Karlsefni and Gudrid, through Snorri, born in Vinland.


A Brief History of Eric the Red.[45-2]—There was a man named Thorvald, a son of Osvald, Ulf's son, Eyxna-Thori's son. Thorvald and Eric the Red, his son, left Jaederen [in Norway], on account of manslaughter, and went to Iceland. At that time Iceland was extensively colonized. They first lived at Drangar on Horn-strands, and there Thorvald died. Eric then married Thorhild, the daughter of Jorund and Thorbiorg the Ship-chested, who was then married to Thorbiorn of the Haukadal family. Eric then removed from the north, and made his home at Ericsstadir by Vatnshorn. Eric and Thorhild's son was called Leif.

After the killing of Eyiulf the Foul, and Duelling-Hrafn, Eric was banished from Haukadal, and betook himself westward to Breidafirth, settling in Eyxney at Ericsstadir. He loaned his outer dais-boards to Thorgest, and could not get these again when he demanded them. This gave rise to broils and battles between himself and Thorgest, as Eric's Saga relates. Eric was backed in the dispute by Styr Thorgrimsson, Eyiulf of Sviney, the sons of Brand of Alptafirth and Thorbiorn Vifilsson, while the Thorgesters were upheld by the sons of Thord the Yeller and Thorgeir of Hitardal. Eric was declared an outlaw at Thorsnessthing. He thereupon equipped his ship for a voyage, in Ericsvag, and when he was ready to sail, Styr and the others accompanied him out beyond the islands. Eric told them, that it was his purpose to go in search of that country which Gunnbiorn, son of Ulf the Crow, had seen, when he was driven westward across the main, at the time when he discovered Gunnbiorns-skerries; he added, that he would return to his friends, if he should succeed in finding this country. Eric sailed out from Snaefellsiokul, and found the land. He gave the name of Midiokul to his landfall; this is now called Blacksark. From thence he proceeded southward along the coast, in search of habitable land. He passed the first winter at Ericsey, near the middle of the Eastern Settlement, and the following spring he went to Ericsfirth, where he selected a dwelling-place. In the summer he visited the western uninhabited country, and assigned names to many of the localities. The second winter he remained at Holmar by Hrafnsgnipa, and the third summer he sailed northward to Snaefell, and all the way into Hrafnsfirth; then he said he had reached the head of Ericsfirth. He then returned and passed the third winter in Ericsey at the mouth of Ericsfirth. The next summer he sailed to Iceland, landing in Breidafirth. He called the country, which he had discovered, Greenland, because, he said, people would be attracted thither, if the country had a good name. Eric spent the winter in Iceland, and the following summer set out to colonize the country. He settled at Brattahlid in Ericsfirth, and learned men say, that in this same summer, in which Eric set out to settle Greenland, thirty-five ships sailed out of Breidafirth and Borgarfirth; fourteen of these arrived there safely, some were driven back and some were lost. This was fifteen years before Christianity was legally adopted in Iceland.[46-1] During the same summer Bishop Frederick[46-2] and Thorvald Kodransson went abroad [from Iceland]. Of those men, who accompanied Eric to Greenland, the following took possession of land there: Heriulf, Heriulfsfirth, he dwelt at Heriulfsness; Ketil, Ketilsfirth; Hrafn, Hrafnsfirth; Solvi, Solvadal; Helgi Thorbrandsson, Alptafirth; Thorbiorn Gleamer, Siglufirth; Einar, Einarsfirth; Hafgrim, Hafgrimsfirth and Vatnahverfi; Arnlaug, Arnlaugsfirth; while some went to the Western Settlement.

Leif the Lucky Baptized.—After that sixteen winters had lapsed, from the time when Eric the Red went to colonize Greenland, Leif, Eric's son, sailed out from Greenland to Norway. He arrived in Drontheim in the autumn, when King Olaf Tryggvason was come down from the north, out of Halagoland. Leif put in to Nidaros with his ship, and set out at once to visit the king. King Olaf expounded the faith to him, as he did to other heathen men who came to visit him. It proved easy for the king to persuade Leif, and he was accordingly baptized, together with all of his shipmates. Leif remained throughout the winter with the king, by whom he was well entertained.

Biarni goes in Quest of Greenland.—Heriulf was a son of Bard Heriulfsson. He was a kinsman of Ingolf, the first colonist. Ingolf allotted land to Heriulf between Vag and Reykianess, and he dwelt at first at Drepstokk. Heriulf's wife's name was Thorgerd, and their son, whose name was Biarni, was a most promising man. He formed an inclination for voyaging while he was still young, and he prospered both in property and public esteem. It was his custom to pass his winters alternately abroad and with his father. Biarni soon became the owner of a trading-ship, and during the last winter that he spent in Norway, [his father] Heriulf determined to accompany Eric on his voyage to Greenland, and made his preparations to give up his farm. Upon the ship with Heriulf was a Christian man from the Hebrides, he it was who composed the Sea-Rollers' Song, which contains this stave:[47-1]

Mine adventure to the Meek One, Monk-heart-searcher, I commit now; He, who heaven's halls doth govern, Hold the hawk's-seat ever o'er me!

Heriulf settled at Heriulfsness, and was a most distinguished man. Eric the Red dwelt at Brattahlid, where he was held in the highest esteem, and all men paid him homage. These were Eric's children: Leif, Thorvald, and Thorstein, and a daughter whose name was Freydis; she was wedded to a man named Thorvard, and they dwelt at Gardar, where the episcopal seat now is. She was a very haughty woman, while Thorvard was a man of little force of character, and Freydis had been wedded to him chiefly because of his wealth. At that time the people of Greenland were heathen.

Biarni arrived with his ship at Eyrar [in Iceland] in the summer of the same year, in the spring of which his father had sailed away. Biarni was much surprised when he heard this news, and would not discharge his cargo. His shipmates inquired of him what he intended to do, and he replied that it was his purpose to keep to his custom, and make his home for the winter with his father; "and I will take the ship to Greenland, if you will bear me company." They all replied that they would abide by his decision. Then said Biarni, "Our voyage must be regarded as foolhardy, seeing that no one of us has ever been in the Greenland Sea." Nevertheless they put out to sea when they were equipped for the voyage, and sailed for three days, until the land was hidden by the water, and then the fair wind died out, and north winds arose, and fogs, and they knew not whither they were drifting, and thus it lasted for many "doegr." Then they saw the sun again, and were able to determine the quarters of the heavens; they hoisted sail, and sailed that "doegr" through before they saw land. They discussed among themselves what land it could be, and Biarni said that he did not believe that it could be Greenland. They asked whether he wished to sail to this land or not. "It is my counsel" [said he], "to sail close to the land." They did so, and soon saw that the land was level, and covered with woods, and that there were small hillocks upon it. They left the land on their larboard, and let the sheet turn toward the land. They sailed for two "doegr" before they saw another land. They asked whether Biarni thought this was Greenland yet. He replied that he did not think this any more like Greenland than the former, "because in Greenland there are said to be many great ice-mountains." They soon approached this land, and saw that it was a flat and wooded country. The fair wind failed them then, and the crew took counsel together, and concluded that it would be wise to land there, but Biarni would not consent to this. They alleged that they were in need of both wood and water. "Ye have no lack of either of these," says Biarni—a course, forsooth, which won him blame among his shipmates. He bade them hoist sail, which they did, and turning the prow from the land they sailed out upon the high seas, with southwesterly gales, for three "doegr," when they saw the third land; this land was high and mountainous, with ice-mountains upon it. They asked Biarni then whether he would land there, and he replied that he was not disposed to do so, "because this land does not appear to me to offer any attractions." Nor did they lower their sail, but held their course off the land, and saw that it was an island. They left this land astern, and held out to sea with the same fair wind. The wind waxed amain, and Biarni directed them to reef, and not to sail at a speed unbefitting their ship and rigging. They sailed now for four "doegr," when they saw the fourth land. Again they asked Biarni whether he thought this could be Greenland or not. Biarni answers, "This is likest Greenland, according to that which has been reported to me concerning it, and here we will steer to the land." They directed their course thither, and landed in the evening, below a cape upon which there was a boat, and there, upon this cape, dwelt Heriulf,[49-1] Biarni's father, whence the cape took its name, and was afterwards called Heriulfsness. Biarni now went to his father, gave up his voyaging, and remained with his father while Heriulf lived, and continued to live there after his father.

Here begins the Brief History of the Greenlanders.—Next to this is now to be told how Biarni Heriulfsson came out from Greenland on a visit to Earl Eric,[50-1] by whom he was well received. Biarni gave an account of his travels [upon the occasion] when he saw the lands, and the people thought that he had been lacking in enterprise, since he had no report to give concerning these countries, and the fact brought him reproach. Biarni was appointed one of the Earl's men, and went out to Greenland the following summer. There was now much talk about voyages of discovery. Leif, the son of Eric the Red, of Brattahlid, visited Biarni Heriulfsson and bought a ship of him, and collected a crew, until they formed altogether a company of thirty-five men. Leif invited his father, Eric, to become the leader of the expedition, but Eric declined, saying that he was then stricken in years, and adding that he was less able to endure the exposure of sea-life than he had been. Leif replied that he would nevertheless be the one who would be most apt to bring good luck, and Eric yielded to Leif's solicitation, and rode from home when they were ready to sail. When he was but a short distance from the ship, the horse which Eric was riding stumbled, and he was thrown from his back and wounded his foot, whereupon he exclaimed, "It is not designed for me to discover more lands than the one in which we are now living, nor can we now continue longer together." Eric returned home to Brattahlid, and Leif pursued his way to the ship with his companions, thirty-five men; one of the company was a German named Tyrker. They put the ship in order, and when they were ready, they sailed out to sea, and found first that land which Biarni and his ship-mates found last. They sailed up to the land and cast anchor, and launched a boat and went ashore, and saw no grass there; great ice mountains lay inland back from the sea, and it was as a [tableland of] flat rock all the way from the sea to the ice mountains, and the country seemed to them to be entirely devoid of good qualities. Then said Leif, "It has not come to pass with us in regard to this land as with Biarni, that we have not gone upon it. To this country I will now give a name, and call it Helluland." They returned to the ship, put out to sea, and found a second land. They sailed again to the land, and came to anchor, and launched the boat, and went ashore. This was a level wooded land, and there were broad stretches of white sand, where they went, and the land was level by the sea. Then said Leif, "This land shall have a name after its nature, and we will call it Markland." They returned to the ship forthwith, and sailed away upon the main with north-east winds, and were out two "doegr" before they sighted land. They sailed toward this land, and came to an island which lay to the northward off the land. There they went ashore and looked about them, the weather being fine, and they observed that there was dew upon the grass, and it so happened that they touched the dew with their hands, and touched their hands to their mouths, and it seemed to them that they had never before tasted anything so sweet as this. They went aboard their ship again and sailed into a certain sound, which lay between the island and a cape, which jutted out from the land on the north, and they stood in westering past the cape. At ebb-tide there were broad reaches of shallow water there, and they ran their ship aground there, and it was a long distance from the ship to the ocean; yet were they so anxious to go ashore that they could not wait until the tide should rise under their ship, but hastened to the land, where a certain river flows out from a lake. As soon as the tide rose beneath their ship, however, they took the boat and rowed to the ship, which they conveyed up the river, and so into the lake, where they cast anchor and carried their hammocks ashore from the ship, and built themselves booths there. They afterwards determined to establish themselves there for the winter, and they accordingly built a large house. There was no lack of salmon there either in the river or in the lake, and larger salmon than they had ever seen before. The country thereabouts seemed to be possessed of such good qualities that cattle would need no fodder there during the winters. There was no frost there in the winters, and the grass withered but little. The days and nights there were of more nearly equal length than in Greenland or Iceland. On the shortest day of winter the sun was up between "eyktarstad" and "dagmalastad."[52-1] When they had completed their house Leif said to his companions, "I propose now to divide our company into two groups, and to set about an exploration of the country; one half of our party shall remain at home at the house, while the other half shall investigate the land, and they must not go beyond a point from which they can return home the same evening, and are not to separate [from each other.]" Thus they did for a time; Leif himself, by turns, joined the exploring party or remained behind at the house. Leif was a large and powerful man, and of a most imposing bearing, a man of sagacity, and a very just man in all things.

Leif the Lucky finds Men upon a Skerry at Sea.—It was discovered one evening that one of their company was missing, and this proved to be Tyrker, the German. Leif was sorely troubled by this, for Tyrker had lived with Leif and his father for a long time, and had been very devoted to Leif, when he was a child. Leif severely reprimanded his companions, and prepared to go in search of him, taking twelve men with him. They had proceeded but a short distance from the house, when they were met by Tyrker, whom they received most cordially. Leif observed at once that his foster-father was in lively spirits. Tyrker had a prominent forehead, restless eyes, small features, was diminutive in stature, and rather a sorry-looking individual withal, but was, nevertheless, a most capable handicraftsman. Leif addressed him, and asked: "Wherefore art thou so belated foster-father mine, and astray from the others?" In the beginning Tyrker spoke for some time in German, rolling his eyes and grinning, and they could not understand him; but after a time he addressed them in the Northern tongue: "I did not go much further [than you], and yet I have something of novelty to relate. I have found vines and grapes." "Is this indeed true, foster-father?" said Leif. "Of a certainty it is true," quoth he, "for I was born where there is no lack of either grapes or vines." They slept the night through, and on the morrow Leif said to his shipmates: "We will now divide our labors, and each day will either gather grapes or cut vines and fell trees, so as to obtain a cargo of these for my ship." They acted upon this advice, and it is said, that their after-boat was filled with grapes. A cargo sufficient for the ship was cut, and when the spring came, they made their ship ready, and sailed away; and from its products Leif gave the land a name, and called it Wineland. They sailed out to sea, and had fair winds until they sighted Greenland, and the fells below the glaciers; then one of the men spoke up, and said, "Why do you steer the ship so much into the wind?" Leif answers: "I have my mind upon my steering, but on other matters as well. Do ye not see anything out of the common?" They replied, that they saw nothing strange. "I do not know," says Leif, "whether it is a ship or a skerry that I see." Now they saw it, and said, that it must be a skerry; but he was so much keener of sight than they, that he was able to discern men upon the skerry. "I think it best to tack," says Leif, "so that we may draw near to them, that we may be able to render them assistance, if they should stand in need of it; and if they should not be peaceably disposed, we shall still have better command of the situation than they." They approached the skerry, and lowering their sail, cast anchor, and launched a second small boat, which they had brought with them. Tyrker inquired who was the leader of the party. He replied that his name was Thori, and that he was a Norseman; "but what is thy name?" Leif gave his name. "Art thou a son of Eric the Red of Brattahlid?" says he. Leif responded that he was. "It is now my wish," says Leif, "to take you all into my ship, and likewise so much of your possessions as the ship will hold." This offer was accepted, and [with their ship] thus laden, they held away to Ericsfirth, and sailed until they arrived at Brattahlid. Having discharged the cargo, Leif invited Thori, with his wife, Gudrid, and three others, to make their home with him, and procured quarters for the other members of the crew, both for his own and Thori's men. Leif rescued fifteen persons from the skerry. He was afterward called Leif the Lucky. Leif had now goodly store both of property and honor. There was serious illness that winter in Thori's party, and Thori and a great number of his people died. Eric the Red also died that winter. There was now much talk about Leif's Wineland journey, and his brother, Thorvald, held that the country had not been sufficiently explored. Thereupon Leif said to Thorvald: "If it be thy will, brother, thou mayest go to Wineland with my ship, but I wish the ship first to fetch the wood, which Thori had upon the skerry." And so it was done.

Thorvald goes to Wineland.—Now Thorvald, with the advice of his brother, Leif, prepared to make this voyage with thirty men. They put their ship in order, and sailed out to sea; and there is no account of their voyage before their arrival at Leif's-booths in Wineland. They laid up their ship there, and remained there quietly during the winter, supplying themselves with food by fishing. In the spring, however, Thorvald said that they should put their ship in order, and that a few men should take the after-boat, and proceed along the western coast, and explore [the region] thereabouts during the summer. They found it a fair, well-wooded country; it was but a short distance from the woods to the sea, and [there were] white sands, as well as great numbers of islands and shallows. They found neither dwelling of man nor lair of beast; but in one of the westerly islands, they found a wooden building for the shelter of grain. They found no other trace of human handiwork, and they turned back, and arrived at Leif's-booths in the autumn. The following summer Thorvald set out toward the east with the ship, and along the northern coast. They were met by a high wind off a certain promontory, and were driven ashore there, and damaged the keel of their ship, and were compelled to remain there for a long time and repair the injury to their vessel. Then said Thorvald to his companions: "I propose that we raise the keel upon this cape, and call it Keelness," and so they did. Then they sailed away, to the eastward off the land, and into the mouth of the adjoining firth, and to a headland, which projected into the sea there, and which was entirely covered with woods. They found an anchorage for their ship, and put out the gangway to the land, and Thorvald and all of his companions went ashore. "It is a fair region here," said he, "and here I should like to make my home." They then returned to the ship, and discovered on the sands, in beyond the headland, three mounds; they went up to these, and saw that they were three skin-canoes, with three men under each. They thereupon divided their party, and succeeded in seizing all of the men but one, who escaped with his canoe. They killed the eight men, and then ascended the headland again, and looked about them, and discovered within the firth certain hillocks, which they concluded must be habitations. They were then so overpowered with sleep that they could not keep awake, and all fell into a [heavy] slumber, from which they were awakened by the sound of a cry uttered above them; and the words of the cry were these: "Awake, Thorvald, thou and all thy company, if thou wouldst save thy life; and board thy ship with all thy men, and sail with all speed from the land!" A countless number of skin-canoes then advanced toward them from the inner part of the firth, whereupon Thorvald exclaimed: "We must put out the war-boards, on both sides of the ship, and defend ourselves to the best of our ability, but offer little attack." This they did, and the Skrellings, after they had shot at them for a time, fled precipitately, each as best he could. Thorvald then inquired of his men, whether any of them had been wounded, and they informed him that no one of them had received a wound. "I have been wounded in my arm-pit," says he; "an arrow flew in between the gunwale and the shield, below my arm. Here is the shaft, and it will bring me to my end! I counsel you now to retrace your way with the utmost speed. But me ye shall convey to that headland which seemed to me to offer so pleasant a dwelling-place; thus it may be fulfilled, that the truth sprang to my lips, when I expressed the wish to abide there for a time. Ye shall bury me there, and place a cross at my head, and another at my feet, and call it Crossness for ever after." At that time Christianity had obtained in Greenland; Eric the Red died, however, before [the introduction of] Christianity.

Thorvald died, and when they had carried out his injunctions, they took their departure, and rejoined their companions, and they told each other of the experiences which had befallen them. They remained there during the winter, and gathered grapes and wood with which to freight the ship. In the following spring they returned to Greenland, and arrived with their ship in Ericsfirth, where they were able to recount great tidings to Leif.

Thorstein Ericsson dies in the Western Settlement.—In the meantime it had come to pass in Greenland, that Thorstein of Ericsfirth had married, and taken to wife Gudrid, Thorbiorn's daughter, [she] who had been the spouse of Thori Eastman,[56-1] as has been already related. Now Thorstein Ericsson, being minded to make the voyage to Wineland after the body of his brother, Thorvald, equipped the same ship, and selected a crew of twenty-five men of good size and strength, and taking with him his wife, Gudrid, when all was in readiness, they sailed out into the open ocean, and out of sight of land. They were driven hither and thither over the sea all that summer, and lost all reckoning, and at the end of the first week of winter they made the land at Lysufirth in Greenland, in the Western Settlement. Thorstein set out in search of quarters for his crew, and succeeded in procuring homes for all of his shipmates; but he and his wife were unprovided for, and remained together upon the ship for two or more days. At this time Christianity was still in its infancy in Greenland. It befell early one morning, that men came to their tent, and the leader inquired who the people were within the tent. Thorstein replies: "We are twain," says he; "but who is it who asks?" "My name is Thorstein, and I am known as Thorstein the Swarthy, and my errand hither is to offer you two, husband and wife, a home with me." Thorstein replied, that he would consult with his wife, and she bidding him decide, he accepted the invitation. "I will come after you on the morrow with a sumpter-horse, for I am not lacking in means wherewith to provide for you both, although it will be lonely living with me, since there are but two of us, my wife and myself, for I, forsooth, am a very hard man to get on with; moreover, my faith is not the same as yours, albeit methinks that is the better to which you hold." He returned for them on the morrow, with the beast, and they took up their home with Thorstein the Swarthy, and were well treated by him. Gudrid was a woman of fine presence, and a clever woman, and very happy in adapting herself to strangers.

Early in the winter Thorstein Ericsson's party was visited by sickness, and many of his companions died. He caused coffins to be made for the bodies of the dead, and had them conveyed to the ship, and bestowed there; "for it is my purpose to have all the bodies taken to Ericsfirth in the summer." It was not long before illness appeared in Thorstein's home, and his wife, whose name was Grimhild, was first taken sick. She was a very vigorous woman, and as strong as a man, but the sickness mastered her; and soon thereafter Thorstein Ericsson was seized with the illness, and they both lay ill at the same time, and Grimhild, Thorstein the Swarthy's wife, died, and when she was dead Thorstein went out of the room to procure a deal, upon which to lay the corpse. Thereupon Gudrid spoke. "Do not be absent long, Thorstein mine!" says she. He replied, that so it should be. Thorstein Ericsson then exclaimed: "Our house-wife is acting now in a marvellous fashion, for she is raising herself up on her elbow, and stretching out her feet from the side of the bed, and groping after her shoes." At that moment Thorstein, the master of the house, entered, and Grimhild laid herself down, wherewithal every timber in the room creaked. Thorstein now fashioned a coffin for Grimhild's body, and bore it away, and cared for it. He was a big man, and strong, but it called for all [his strength], to enable him to remove the corpse from the house. The illness grew upon Thorstein Ericsson, and he died, whereat his wife, Gudrid, was sorely grieved. They were all in the room at the time, and Gudrid was seated upon a chair before the bench, upon which her husband, Thorstein, was lying. Thorstein, the master of the house, then taking Gudrid in his arms [carried her] from the chair, and seated himself, with her, upon another bench, over against her husband's body, and exerted himself in divers ways to console her, and endeavored to reassure her, and promised her that he would accompany her to Ericsfirth with the body of her husband, Thorstein, and those of his companions: "I will likewise summon other persons hither," says he, "to attend upon thee, and entertain thee." She thanked him. Then Thorstein Ericsson sat up, and exclaimed: "Where is Gudrid?" Thrice he repeated the question, but Gudrid made no response. She then asked Thorstein, the master, "Shall I give answer to his question, or not?" Thorstein, the master, bade her make no reply, and he then crossed the floor, and seated himself upon the chair, with Gudrid in his lap, and spoke, saying: "What dost thou wish, namesake?" After a little while, Thorstein replies: "I desire to tell Gudrid of the fate which is in store for her, to the end that she may be better reconciled to my death, for I am indeed come to a goodly resting-place. This I have to tell thee, Gudrid, that thou art to marry an Icelander, and that ye are to have a long wedded life together, and a numerous and noble progeny, illustrious, and famous, of good odor and sweet virtues. Ye shall go from Greenland to Norway, and thence to Iceland, where ye shall build your home. There ye shall dwell together for a long time, but thou shalt outlive him, and shalt then go abroad and to the South, and shalt return to Iceland again, to thy home, and there a church shall then be raised, and thou shalt abide there and take the veil, and there thou shalt die." When he had thus spoken, Thorstein sank back again, and his body was laid out for burial, and borne to the ship. Thorstein, the master, faithfully performed all his promises to Gudrid. He sold his lands and live-stock in the spring, and accompanied Gudrid to the ship, with all his possessions. He put the ship in order, procured a crew, and then sailed to Ericsfirth. The bodies of the dead were now buried at the church, and Gudrid then went home to Leif at Brattahlid, while Thorstein the Swarthy made a home for himself on Ericsfirth, and remained there as long as he lived, and was looked upon as a very superior man.

Of the Wineland Voyages of Thorfinn and his Companions.—That same summer a ship came from Norway to Greenland. The skipper's name was Thorfinn Karlsefni; he was a son of Thord Horsehead, and a grandson of Snorri, the son of Thord of Hoefdi. Thorfinn Karlsefni, who was a very wealthy man, passed the winter at Brattahlid with Leif Ericsson. He very soon set his heart upon Gudrid, and sought her hand in marriage; she referred him to Leif for her answer, and was subsequently betrothed to him, and their marriage was celebrated that same winter. A renewed discussion arose concerning a Wineland voyage, and the folk urged Karlsefni to make the venture, Gudrid joining with the others. He determined to undertake the voyage, and assembled a company of sixty men and five women, and entered into an agreement with his shipmates that they should each share equally in all the spoils of the enterprise. They took with them all kinds of cattle, as it was their intention to settle the country, if they could. Karlsefni asked Leif for the house in Wineland, and he replied, that he would lend it but not give it. They sailed out to sea with the ship, and arrived safe and sound at Leif's-booths, and carried their hammocks ashore there. They were soon provided with an abundant and goodly supply of food, for a whale of good size and quality was driven ashore there, and they secured it, and flensed it, and had then no lack of provisions. The cattle were turned out upon the land, and the males soon became very restless and vicious; they had brought a bull with them. Karlsefni caused trees to be felled, and to be hewed into timbers, wherewith to load his ship, and the wood was placed upon a cliff to dry. They gathered somewhat of all of the valuable products of the land, grapes, and all kinds of game and fish, and other good things. In the summer succeeding the first winter, Skrellings were discovered. A great troop of men came forth from out the woods. The cattle were hard by, and the bull began to bellow and roar with a great noise, whereat the Skrellings were frightened, and ran away, with their packs wherein were gray furs, sables, and all kinds of peltries. They fled towards Karlsefni's dwelling, and sought to effect an entrance into the house, but Karlsefni caused the doors to be defended [against them]. Neither [people] could understand the other's language. The Skrellings put down their bundles then, and loosed them, and offered their wares [for barter], and were especially anxious to exchange these for weapons, but Karlsefni forbade his men to sell their weapons, and taking counsel with himself, he bade the women carry out milk to the Skrellings, which they no sooner saw, than they wanted to buy it, and nothing else. Now the outcome of the Skrellings' trading was, that they carried their wares away in their stomachs, while they left their packs and peltries behind with Karlsefni and his companions, and having accomplished this [exchange] they went away. Now it is to be told, that Karlsefni caused a strong wooden palisade to be constructed and set up around the house. It was at this time that Gudrid, Karlsefni's wife, gave birth to a male child, and the boy was called Snorri. In the early part of the second winter the Skrellings came to them again, and these were now much more numerous than before, and brought with them the same wares as at first. Then said Karlsefni to the women: "Do ye carry out now the same food, which proved so profitable before, and nought else." When they saw this they cast their packs in over the palisade. Gudrid was sitting within, in the doorway, beside the cradle of her infant son, Snorri, when a shadow fell upon the door, and a woman in a black namkirtle entered. She was short in stature, and wore a fillet about her head; her hair was of a light chestnut color, and she was pale of hue, and so big-eyed, that never before had eyes so large been seen in a human skull. She went up to where Gudrid was seated, and said: "What is thy name?" "My name is Gudrid; but what is thy name?" "My name is Gudrid," says she. The housewife, Gudrid, motioned her with her hand to a seat beside her; but it so happened, that at that very instant Gudrid heard a great crash, whereupon the woman vanished, and at that same moment one of the Skrellings, who had tried to seize their weapons, was killed by one of Karlsefni's followers. At this the Skrellings fled precipitately, leaving their garments and wares behind them; and not a soul, save Gudrid alone, beheld this woman. "Now we must needs take counsel together," says Karlsefni, "for that I believe they will visit us a third time, in great numbers, and attack us. Let us now adopt this plan: ten of our number shall go out upon the cape, and show themselves there, while the remainder of our company shall go into the woods and hew a clearing for our cattle, when the troop approaches from the forest. We will also take our bull, and let him go in advance of us." The lie of the land was such that the proposed meeting-place had the lake upon the one side, and the forest upon the other. Karlsefni's advice was now carried into execution. The Skrellings advanced to the spot which Karlsefni had selected for the encounter, and a battle was fought there, in which great numbers of the band of the Skrellings were slain. There was one man among the Skrellings, of large size and fine bearing, whom Karlsefni concluded must be their chief. One of the Skrellings picked up an axe, and having looked at it for a time, he brandished it about one of his companions, and hewed at him, and on the instant the man fell dead. Thereupon the big man seized the axe, and after examining it for a moment, he hurled it as far as he could, out into the sea; then they fled helter-skelter into the woods, and thus their intercourse came to an end. Karlsefni and his party remained there throughout the winter, but in the spring Karlsefni announces, that he is not minded to remain there longer, but will return to Greenland. They now made ready for the voyage, and carried away with them much booty in vines and grapes, and peltries. They sailed out upon the high seas, and brought their ship safely to Ericsfirth, where they remained during the winter.

Freydis causes the Brothers to be put to Death.—There was now much talk anew, about a Wineland-voyage, for this was reckoned both a profitable and an honorable enterprise. The same summer that Karlsefni arrived from Wineland, a ship from Norway arrived in Greenland. This ship was commanded by two brothers, Helgi and Finnbogi, who passed the winter in Greenland. They were descended from an Icelandic family of the East-firths. It is now to be added, that Freydis,[62-1] Eric's daughter, set out from her home at Gardar, and waited upon the brothers, Helgi and Finnbogi, and invited them to sail with their vessel to Wineland, and to share with her equally all of the good things which they might succeed in obtaining there. To this they agreed, and she departed thence to visit her brother, Leif, and ask him to give her the house which he had caused to be erected in Wineland, but he made her the same answer [as that which he had given Karlsefni], saying, that he would lend the house, but not give it. It was stipulated between Karlsefni and Freydis, that each should have on shipboard thirty able-bodied men, besides the women; but Freydis immediately violated this compact, by concealing five men more [than this number], and this the brothers did not discover before they arrived in Wineland. They now put out to sea, having agreed beforehand, that they would sail in company, if possible, and although they were not far apart from each other, the brothers arrived somewhat in advance, and carried their belongings up to Leif's house. Now when Freydis arrived, her ship was discharged, and the baggage carried up to the house, whereupon Freydis exclaimed: "Why did you carry your baggage in here?" "Since we believed," said they, "that all promises made to us would be kept." "It was to me that Leif loaned the house," says she, "and not to you." Whereupon Helgi exclaimed: "We brothers cannot hope to rival thee in wrong-dealing." They thereupon carried their baggage forth, and built a hut, above the sea, on the bank of the lake, and put all in order about it; while Freydis caused wood to be felled, with which to load her ship. The winter now set in, and the brothers suggested, that they should amuse themselves by playing games. This they did for a time, until the folk began to disagree, when dissensions arose between them, and the games came to an end, and the visits between the houses ceased; and thus it continued far into the winter. One morning early, Freydis arose from her bed, and dressed herself, but did not put on her shoes and stockings. A heavy dew had fallen, and she took her husband's cloak, and wrapped it about her, and then walked to the brothers' house, and up to the door, which had been only partly closed by one of the men, who had gone out a short time before. She pushed the door open, and stood, silently, in the doorway for a time. Finnbogi, who was lying on the innermost side of the room, was awake, and said: "What dost thou wish here, Freydis?" She answers: "I wish thee to rise, and go out with me, for I would speak with thee." He did so, and they walked to a tree, which lay close by the wall of the house, and seated themselves upon it. "How art thou pleased here?" says she. He answers: "I am well pleased with the fruitfulness of the land, but I am ill-content with the breach which has come between us, for, methinks, there has been no cause for it." "It is even as thou sayest," says she, "and so it seems to me; but my errand to thee is, that I wish to exchange ships with you brothers, for that ye have a larger ship than I, and I wish to depart from here." "To this I must accede," says he; "if it is thy pleasure." Therewith they parted, and she returned home, and Finnbogi to his bed. She climbed up into bed, and awakened Thorvard with her cold feet, and he asked her why she was so cold and wet. She answered, with great passion: "I have been to the brothers," says she, "to try to buy their ship, for I wished to have a larger vessel, but they received my overtures so ill, that they struck me, and handled me very roughly; what time thou, poor wretch, wilt neither avenge my shame nor thy own, and I find, perforce, that I am no longer in Greenland, moreover I shall part from thee unless thou wreakest vengeance for this." And now he could stand her taunts no longer, and ordered the men to rise at once, and take their weapons, and this they did, and they then proceeded directly to the house of the brothers, and entered it, while the folk were asleep, and seized and bound them, and led each one out, when he was bound; and as they came out, Freydis caused each one to be slain. In this wise all of the men were put to death, and only the women were left, and these no one would kill. At this Freydis exclaimed: "Hand me an axe!" This was done, and she fell upon the five women, and left them dead. They returned home, after this dreadful deed, and it was very evident that Freydis was well content with her work. She addressed her companions, saying: "If it be ordained for us, to come again to Greenland, I shall contrive the death of any man who shall speak of these events. We must give it out, that we left them living here, when we came away." Early in the spring, they equipped the ship, which had belonged to the brothers, and freighted it with all of the products of the land, which they could obtain, and which the ship would carry. Then they put out to sea, and, after a prosperous voyage, arrived with their ship in Ericsfirth early in the summer. Karlsefni was there, with his ship all ready to sail, and was awaiting a fair wind; and people say, that a ship richer laden, than that which he commanded, never left Greenland.

Concerning Freydis.—Freydis now went to her home, since it had remained unharmed during her absence. She bestowed liberal gifts upon all of her companions, for she was anxious to screen her guilt. She now established herself at her home; but her companions were not all so close-mouthed, concerning their misdeeds and wickedness, that rumors did not get abroad at last. These finally reached her brother, Leif, and he thought it a most shameful story. He thereupon took three of the men, who had been of Freydis's party, and forced them all at the same time to a confession of the affair, and their stories entirely agreed. "I have no heart," says Leif, "to punish my sister, Freydis, as she deserves, but this I predict of them, that there is little prosperity in store for their offspring." Hence it came to pass, that no one from that time forward thought them worthy of aught but evil. It now remains to take up the story from the time when Karlsefni made his ship ready, and sailed out to sea. He had a successful voyage, and arrived in Norway safe and sound. He remained there during the winter, and sold his wares, and both he and his wife were received with great favor by the most distinguished men of Norway. The following spring he put his ship in order for the voyage to Iceland; and when all his preparations had been made, and his ship lying at the wharf, awaiting favorable winds, there came to him a Southerner, a native of Bremen in the Saxonland, who wished to buy his "house-neat."[65-1] "I do not wish to sell it," said he. "I will give thee half a 'moerk' in gold for it," says the Southerner. This Karlsefni thought a good offer, and accordingly closed the bargain. The Southerner went his way, with the "house-neat," and Karlsefni knew not what wood it was, but it was "moesur," come from Wineland.

Karlsefni sailed away, and arrived with his ship in the north of Iceland, in Skagafirth. His vessel was beached there during the winter, and in the spring he bought Glaumboeiar-land, and made his home there, and dwelt there as long as he lived, and was a man of the greatest prominence. From him and his wife, Gudrid, a numerous and goodly lineage is descended. After Karlsefni's death, Gudrid, together with her son, Snorri, who was born in Wineland, took charge of the farmstead; and when Snorri was married, Gudrid went abroad, and made a pilgrimage to the South, after which she returned again to the home of her son, Snorri, who had caused a church to be built at Glaumboer. Gudrid then took the veil and became an anchorite, and lived there the rest of her days. Snorri had a son, named Thorgeir, who was the father of Ingveld, the mother of Bishop Brand. Hallfrid was the name of the daughter of Snorri, Karlsefni's son; she was the mother of Runolf, Bishop Thorlak's father. Biorn was the name of [another] son of Karlsefni and Gudrid; he was the father of Thorunn, the mother of Bishop Biorn. Many men are descended from Karlsefni, and he has been blessed with a numerous and famous posterity; and of all men Karlsefni has given the most exact accounts of all these voyages, of which something has now been



[45-1] Reeves's translation. In Origines Islandicae, Vol. II., p. 598, this saga is called "The Story of the Wineland Voyages, commonly called The Story of Eric the Red."

[45-2] The original word for "Brief History" also means "section," "episode," "little story," i.e., extract or abbreviated account.

[46-1] About 985 (983-986). One vellum of the Landnama-bok (Book of Settlements) says sixteen, the other fifteen years.

[46-2] Bishop Frederick was from "Saxland" (Saxony). According to the Kristni-Saga he came to Iceland "in the summer when the land had been settled one-hundred-and-seven winters," i.e., in 981. He made but little headway in preaching Christianity.

[47-1] Hafgerdingar (sea-rollers) are supposed to have been earthquake waves, and the lines evidently refer to such tidal-waves caused by an unusually severe earthquake in the year 986. See Reeves, p. 180, (63). The prose sense of the stave is: "I beg the blessed friend of the monks to further our voyage. May the Lord of the heavens hold his hand over me."

[49-1] "Certainly a marvellous coincidence, but it is quite in character with the no less surprising accuracy with which the explorers of this history [i.e., the Flat Island Book narrative] succeeded in finding 'Leif's-booths' in a country which was as strange to them as Greenland to Biarni." (Reeves.)

[50-1] Earl Eric ruled in Norway from 1000 to 1015.

[52-1] These two words designate positions of the sun at two points of time. Early commentators got much more definite results from this observation than later ones, with scientific assistance, have succeeded in getting. Largely on the basis of it, Rafn (in Antiquitates Americanae), concluded that Vinland was in Rhode Island. Both Storm and Reeves, after detailed investigation, declare that it cannot be shown from this passage how far to the south Vinland was located. Captain Phythian, U.S.N., who has given the question careful consideration, says: "The data furnished are not sufficiently definite to warrant a more positive assertion than that the explorers could not have been, when the record was made, farther north than Lat. [say] 49 deg.." See Reeves, p. 181, (66).

[56-1] Evidently an incorrect statement. Landnama-bok, the authority on genealogical matters, says: "His son was Thorbiorn, father of Gudrid who married Thorstein, son of Eric the Red, and afterwards Thorfinn Karlsefni." Thori Eastman (the Norwegian) is not mentioned in the Landnama-bok.

[62-1] This cruel virago plays a much less conspicuous part in the version of Hauk's Book and AM. 557.

[65-1] "A weather-vane, or other ornament at the point of the gable of a house or upon a ship." (Fritzner.)


Moreover he[67-2] spoke of an island in that ocean[67-3] discovered by many, which is called Vinland, for the reason that vines grow wild there, which yield the best of wine. Moreover that grain unsown[67-4] grows there abundantly, is not a fabulous fancy, but, from the accounts of the Danes, we know to be a fact. Beyond this island, it is said, that there is no habitable land in that ocean, but all those regions which are beyond are filled with insupportable ice and boundless gloom, to which Martian thus refers: "One day's sail beyond Thile the sea is frozen." This was essayed not long since by that very enterprising Northmen's prince, Harold,[68-1] who explored the extent of the northern ocean with his ship, but was scarcely able by retreating to escape in safety from the gulf's enormous abyss, where before his eyes the vanishing bounds of earth were hidden in gloom.


[67-1] Adam of Bremen was a prebendary and writer on ecclesiastical history. The Descriptio Insularum Aquilonis is an appendix to his Gesta Hammaburgensis Ecclesiae Pontificum. For the preparation of his work on the "Northern Islands," Adam spent some time at the Danish court, where he obtained much information from the king, Svend Estridson (1047-1076), an unusually well informed monarch. Adam's work was undoubtedly completed before the king's death, which occurred in 1076. The Descriptio was first printed in Lindenbrog's edition of Adam's work, published in 1595, which thus contains the first printed allusions to Vinland. Rafn gives a facsimile of one of the manuscripts, for part of the passage.

[67-2] Svend Estridson, king of Denmark.

[67-3] Immediately before this extract, the author describes the islands in the northern seas—among them Iceland—and then proceeds to speak of newer lands "deeper in the ocean," first of all Greenland, "far up towards the Swedish or Riphaean mountains," distant five or seven days' sailing from Norway, then Halagland, somewhat nearer, where the sun is above the horizon fourteen days in summer, and lastly Vinland. That is, according to Adam, Vinland was in a northern region.

[67-4] The reference to the "unsown grain," and vines in the preceding sentence, are sufficiently characteristic to have enabled any one familiar with the "Saga of Eric the Red" to identify the new land as Vinland, even though it had not been named. It is interesting to note that the reference to "unsown grain" does not appear in the Flat Island Book saga.

[68-1] Evidently a reference to Harold the Stern-ruler (Haardraade). He was a contemporary of Svend Estridson, and ruler in Norway from 1047 to 1066. The saga of Harold Haardraade in Snorri Sturlason's "Saga of the Kings of Norway" contains no reference to any such expedition. Yet it would be quite in keeping with the other adventures of this much-travelled king to have undertaken such an expedition. It is to be noted that he did not, according to Adam, go in search of Vinland.



A.D. 1121. Bishop Eric[69-2] of Greenland went in search of Vinland.


A.D. 1347. There came also a ship from Greenland, less in size than small Icelandic trading vessels. It came into the outer Stream-firth.[69-4] It was without an anchor. There were seventeen men on board, and they had sailed to Markland,[69-5] but had afterwards been driven hither by storms at sea.


[69-1] Besides the Annales Regii, which are the most important, there are several other Icelandic annals. All have, under the year 1121, the entry given here, (facsimile in Rafn). It is the only information that they give concerning Vinland, and is the last surviving mention of Vinland in the older Icelandic records. It must be remarked, however, that there were no contemporary annals as early as 1121; the earliest entries on Scandinavian events are gleaned from various sources, especially the early historians.

[69-2] According to the Landnama-bok he was an Icelander, his full name being Eric Gnupson. He is also known as Eric Uppsi. He was, according to some accounts, the first bishop of Greenland. The exact date of his consecration is not known; but the Lawman's Annals have, under date of 1112, these words: "Bishop Eric's expedition," referring no doubt to his departure from Iceland. There is no record of his consecration at Lund (Sweden), the seat of the primate at that time, as in the case of his successor, Bishop Arnold. In regard to Bishop Eric's seeking Vinland, there is no indication anywhere why he went, or whether he ever returned. At any rate, the Greenlanders applied for a new bishop, and, according to the annals, one was consecrated in 1124; this was Bishop Arnold, and he reached Greenland the following year. See "The Tale of the Greenlanders," in Origines Islandicae, II. 748.

[69-3] So called because the manuscript was found at Skalholt, in southern Iceland. This entry (facsimile in Rafn) is corroborated, in abbreviated form, by the Annals of Gottskalk, in these words: "A ship came then from Greenland, which had sailed to Markland, and there were eighteen men on board."

[69-4] Stream-firth is on the western coast of Iceland.

[69-5] One of the new lands mentioned in the sagas of the Vinland voyages.


LETTER OF NICHOLAS V., September 20, 1448

Called by a command from on high to preside over all the churches in the exercise of our apostolic duty, with the Lord's help we employ all our solicitude in laboring for the salvation of souls redeemed by the precious blood of Christ, and we strive earnestly to restore to a state of peace and tranquillity, not only those who are frequently tossed about by the storms of impiety and error, but also those who are involved in the hardships and whirlwinds of persecution. Profoundly impressed therefore with the responsibility of our position, it is not difficult to understand how our mind was filled with bitterness by the tearful lamentations[71-1] which have reached our ears from our beloved children, the native and other inhabitants of the island of Greenland, a region situated at the uttermost end of the earth. The island, belonging[71-2] to the kingdom of Norway, and under the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Archbishop of Drontheim,[71-3] received the faith of Christ almost six[71-4] centuries ago, through the piety of blessed King Olaf, and preserved it steadfastly and inviolably in accordance with the tradition of the Roman Church, and the Apostolic See. After their conversion, the people of this island, with untiring and characteristic devotion, erected many temples[71-5] to the worship of God and his saints, as well as a magnificent cathedral,[71-6] in which divine worship was diligently celebrated, until about thirty[71-7] years ago, when God permitting it, a barbarous and pagan fleet from neighboring shores[71-8] invaded the island, laying waste the land with fire and sword, and destroying the sacred temples. Just nine parish churches were left standing. To these are attached, it is said, parishes of very great extent. These churches are left intact, because being situated in the mountain fastnesses, they were inaccessible to the barbarian hordes, who, after completing their work of destruction, led captive to their shores the unfortunate inhabitants of both sexes, and more particularly those who seemed best able to bear the hardships of servitude and tyranny. But as the same complaint sets forth, many of these captives, after a time, returned to their native land. They set to work to rebuild their ruined homes, and were particularly desirous of restoring divine worship to its former splendor. Because, however, of their past calamities, as well as the added trials of famine and want, they had not wherewith to support priests or bishop. They have been consequently during these thirty years past without the comfort and ministry of bishop or priest, unless some one of a very zealous disposition, and at long intervals, and in spite of danger from the raging sea, ventured to visit the island and minister to them in those churches which the barbarians had left standing. Having acquainted us with this deplorable state of affairs, and knowing our paternal solicitude, they have supplicated us to come to their rescue in this their hour of spiritual need. Our hearts have been moved by the prayers of the people of Greenland, but not being sufficiently acquainted with the circumstances, we direct and command you, or either of you,[73-1] beloved brothers, who as we understand are the bishops living nearest to that island, to institute a diligent inquiry as to whether things are as they have been reported to us, and if you should find them so, and the number of people warrant it, and if they are in a condition to provide sufficiently, we command you or either of you, to send worthy priests who will minister to them, erect churches, govern parishes, and administer the sacraments.

Moreover, if you or either of you should deem it expedient, and in this you will consult, of course, the metropolitan,[73-2] if his residence be not too far away from you, we empower you to select and consecrate a bishop, having first required him to take the usual oath to us and the Roman See. Be mindful, however, that we burden your conscience with this work, and we grant you, or either of you, full authority to carry it out, even if there should exist any constitution of the Apostolic See, general councils, canonical or other statutes to the contrary.

Given at Rome as dated above in the second year of our pontificate.


It has been reported to us that in the diocese of Gardar in Greenland, situated at the confines of the known world, the inhabitants, because of the scarcity of bread, wine and oil, live for the most part on dried fish and milk products. Wherefore because of the difficulty of passing through such immense quantities of ice, and likewise because of the poverty of the land, and the scant means of living, ships rarely visit its shores. We have learned in fact that no vessel has touched there during the past eighty years, and if a voyage be made at all, it must be in the month of August, when the ice has broken up. On this account, during eighty years no bishop or priest has resided personally among those people, and by reason of this, we are informed that many who were formerly Catholics have forgotten the faith of their baptism, and that no memory of the Christian religion is found, except a corporal, which is shown to the people once a year, and on which it is said the last priest who officiated there consecrated the body of Christ a hundred years ago.[74-1] In consideration of these things, Innocent the VIII., our predecessor of happy memory, wishing to provide a proper pastor for those forlorn people, conferred with his brethren, of whom we were one, and elected Matthias, our venerable brother, a member of the Order of St. Benedict, as well as professed monk, at our suggestion, and while we were still in minor orders, to be Bishop of Gardar. This good man, fired with great zeal to recall those people from the way of error to the practice of their faith, is about to undertake this perilous voyage and laborious duty.[74-2] We, on our part, accordingly, recognizing the pious and praiseworthy purpose of the same elect, and wishing to succor in some manner his poverty, which is very great indeed, command the officials of our chancery, as well as those of our palace, under pain of excommunication ipso facto to be incurred, that all apostolic letters destined for the church of Gardar, be written gratis for the glory of God alone, without exacting or charging any stipend; and we command the clergy and notaries of our palace to forward all letters to the above mentioned bishop, without demanding any payment whatsoever for services rendered.

To him everything must be free, other things to the contrary notwithstanding.


[70-1] In 1893 an American in Rome, Mr. J.C. Heywood, one of the papal chamberlains, brought out, in a very small edition (twenty-five copies), a book of photographic facsimiles of documents in the Vatican relating to Greenland and the discovery of America, Documenta Selecta e Tabulario Secreto Vaticano. The Latin text of those here presented may be found in Fischer, Discoveries of the Northmen, pp. 49-51. A translation of all was made for the Tennessee Historical Society by Rev. John B. Morris and printed in Vol. IX. of the society's organ, the American Historical Magazine. Using this translation, we have printed Letters IX. and X. as the only ones that contain anything of particular interest concerning the Gardar bishopric in Greenland, excepting, possibly, the following sentence from Letter II. (December 4, 1276), to the Archbishop of Drontheim: "Your Fraternity having been explicitly directed by letters apostolic to visit personally all parts of the kingdom of Norway, for the purpose of collecting the tithes due the Holy Land, has informed us that this seems almost impossible, when it is taken into consideration that the diocese of Gardar in Greenland is so remote from your metropolitan see and kingdom, that five years or more would be consumed in going thither and returning." It has been inferred, on account of the length of this time, that the Vinland colony was included. There is no documentary evidence of this. The papal letters contain no reference to Vinland.

[71-1] No record of these reports from Greenland has been found.

[71-2] Both Iceland and Greenland came under Norwegian rule in 1261, during the reign of Haakon Haakonson (1217-1263).

[71-3] In Norway.

[71-4] Only four and a half centuries before this time. Olaf Tryggvason, who reigned from 995 to 1000, sent Leif Ericson as a missionary to Greenland in the year 1000.

[71-5] According to Northern chorography, the Eastern Settlement had one hundred and ninety farmsteads, twelve churches, and two monasteries; the Western Settlement had ninety farmsteads and three churches.

[71-6] The cathedral (hardly magnificent) was in the Eastern Settlement (i.e., in southern Greenland), no doubt the present Kakortok. The village of Gardar, which gave its name to the bishopric, was at the present Kaksiarsuk. The authority which makes this identification possible, is Ivar Bardsen's description of Greenland written in that country in the fourteenth century. He was for many years steward to the Gardar bishopric. An English version of Bardsen's description is printed in Major's The Voyages of the Venetian Brothers Zeno (London, 1873). See also Fiske, The Discovery of America, pp. 239 and 242.

[71-7] That is, about 1418. The last notice of Greenland based on Northern tradition is from the year 1409, telling of a marriage ceremony performed by Endride Andreson, the last bishop. See Laing's The Sagas of the Norse Kings (London, 1889), p. 177.

[71-8] From Ivar Bardsen's description of Greenland it is known that the Greenlanders first came in conflict with the Eskimos during the fourteenth century. He was appointed to lead an expedition from the Eastern Settlement against the Skrellings (Eskimos), who had taken possession of the Western Settlement. When he arrived there the Skrellings had departed, and they found nothing but ruins and some cattle running wild. See Antiquitates Americanae, p. 316.

The letter of Nicholas V. refers to an attack on the Western Settlement, of which there is no other recorded evidence. It is not likely that it will ever be possible to determine whether the settlement owed its final destruction to the irruptions of the Eskimos, "to the ravages of pestilence, to the enforced neglect of the mother country—itself during the fifteenth century too often in sore straits—to the iniquitous restrictions in commerce imposed by the home government, or to a combination of several of these evils." There was a regular succession of bishops from 1124 to the end of the fourteenth, or perhaps the beginning of the fifteenth century.

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