The Viking Contact

 

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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 Meadows, Newfoundland.

 

The Vikings of Greenland established regular trading relations with the Skraelings (Inuits) who supplied whale and seal products.

 

By 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.

Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2563358

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