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Who Was Leif Erikson?
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Who Was Leif Erikson?
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Hold on to your Viking helmets as you learn about the first known European to set foot on North America in this exciting addition to the Who Was? list!Leif Erikson was born to be an explorer. His...
Hold on to your Viking helmets as you learn about the first known European to set foot on North America in this exciting addition to the Who Was? list!Leif Erikson was born to be an explorer. His...
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  • Hold on to your Viking helmets as you learn about the first known European to set foot on North America in this exciting addition to the Who Was? list!
    Leif Erikson was born to be an explorer. His father, Erik the Red, had established the first European settlement in present-day Greenland, and although he didn't yet know it, Leif was about to embark on an adventure of his own. The wise and striking Icelandic Viking landed in the area known as Vinland almost five centuries before Christopher Columbus even set sail! "Leif the Lucky" and the other fierce, sea-fearing pirates were accomplished navigators who raided foreign lands for resources, hunted for their food, and passed down Old Norse myths from one generation to the next. This book gives readers a detailed account of what life was like during the time of the Vikings.

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  • From the book Who Was Leif Erikson?


    Leif Erikson (say: LEEF AY-rick-sun) was only around twenty years old. But he had already accomplished quite a bit in his young life. And now, in the year 1000, he was sailing across the stormy North Atlantic Ocean from his home in Greenland to visit the king of Norway. It was a journey of several days. When Leif arrived in Norway, King Olaf was happy to meet him.

    During their visit, Olaf and Leif talked about a friend of Leif's, Bjarni Herjólfsson (say: bih-YAR-nee hair-YOLF-sun). Bjarni had visited with King Olaf a couple of years earlier and had told him a story Leif knew well, about a mysterious land that lay west of Greenland.

    Bjarni had spotted this heavily forested land on an earlier sea voyage. He had been sailing to Greenland but became lost when his ship was blown off course. An unfamiliar coast came into view. Bjarni's crew asked if they could go ashore to explore, but Bjarni was too cautious. He didn't want to put the crew in any danger. He refused.

    King Olaf and his friends told Bjarni that he should have listened to his crew! And they now told Leif that they thought Bjarni had missed a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

    Leif wondered: Could there really be an unknown and unexplored land west of Greenland?

    The folk stories of Norse mythology, the original religion of his youth, had taught Leif that the world he lived in was flat. He believed that the border of this flat area was encircled by a terrible snake-monster. And if you sailed too far from home, you might come face-to-face with it—and meet a terrifying end!

    But maybe there was more to the world than his mythology had taught him.

    Leif was determined to return to Greenland and attempt to do what Bjarni hadn't: explore this mysterious New World. Just as his father, Erik the Red, had done in Greenland, Leif wanted to build a Viking settlement where no one had dared to before.

    Leif Erikson would soon become the first European to set foot on North America—more than four hundred years before Christopher Columbus was even born!


    Chapter 1: Erik's Son


    Leif Erikson was born in Iceland around the year 980. His last name, Erikson (or "Erik's son"), came from his father, Erik Thorvaldsson, called Erik the Red. Like many Vikings before him, Leif was born into a life of exploration and adventure.

    Erik the Red had grown up in Norway, nine hundred miles away from Iceland. He got his name from his fiery red hair and beard—and his violent temper.

    When Erik the Red was about ten years old, his father, Leif's grandfather, committed a murder. The king of Norway banished Erik and his father—he forced them to leave the country.

    Viking kings, like the king of Norway, were very powerful men. Their history began with King Harald about one hundred years earlier.

    Erik the Red and his father left Norway and sailed to their new home: Iceland. Erik grew up and eventually purchased a sheep farm and married his wife, Thjodhild (say: JODE-hiled). They had three sons, Thorvald, Leif, and Thorstein. Leif also had a sister named Freydis. Erik and Thjodhild's children belonged to a typical Viking family.

    The Vikings were fierce warriors and sailors from Norway, Denmark, and Sweden—the lands together known as Scandinavia. Since the late 700s, whenever summer rolled around, the Vikings left their homes in Scandinavia seeking adventure, glory, and treasure in lands across Europe. They were pirates who took what they wanted from the people they conquered, including other people whom they used as...

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