At the beginning of the 9th century,
the Scandinavians expanded all over Britain, Ireland, Northern Europe
with an increase of Viking power and wealth.
In the 980s, Eric the Red
established two colonies in Greenland. According to the
Norse Saga, around 1000, his son Leif
visited the land to the west (Newfoundland and Labrador).
Later a few
settlements were established, but were quickly abandoned,
probably because of the hostile reaction of the native
inhabitants; there are some remains of a Norse settlement at L’Anse aux
The Vikings of Greenland established regular
trading relations with the Skraelings (Inuits) who supplied whale and seal products.
the 14th century, the Norse influence decreased in Europe due to bubonic plague
epidemics in the 1340s which put an end to the expansion.
Around the same period, environmental damage, the Little ice Age
and other unknown factors led to the abandonment of the Greenland colonies.
However, along with rumors of ancient voyagers northwestward
from Europe, legends of Celtic exploration west from Ireland,
and Medieval tales of Atlantic isles, the Norse
discoveries, propagated by the Norse Saga, reinforced European
expectations of a golden land in the West.
Further reading: John L. Allen, "From Cabot to Cartier: The
Early Exploration of Eastern North America, 1497-1543", Annals of the Association of American Geographers,
Vol. 82, No. 3, September 1992, pp. 500-521.
Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. on behalf of the
Association of American Geographers.
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