Born – c.950
Died – c.1003
Father – Thorvald Asvaldsson (d c.980)
Mother – Not known
Spouse – Thjodhild Jorundsdottir
Children – Freydis Eriksdottir (b. c. 970); Leif Erikson (c. 970 – c. 1020); Thorvald Erikson; Thorstein Erikson
Erik the Red was born Erik Thorvaldsson to Thorvald Asvaldsson in Jaeren, Rogaland, Norway. The identity of his mother is not known. It is believed he earned his nickname because he had red hair.
Erik’s father, Thorvald, was banished from Norway by King Haakon the Good, possibly following a murder.
Erik left Norway with his family and they sailed to Iceland.
Erik the Red married Thjodhild Jorundsdottir, daughter of Jorundur Ulfsson and Thorbjorg Gilsdottir. They inherited a large farm which they named Eriksstadir.
A daughter Freydis was born to Erik the Red and Thjodhild Jorundsdottir.
A son, Leif was born to Erik the Red and Thjodhild Jorundsdottir.
Two sons, Thorvald and Thorstein were born to Erik the Red and Thjodhild Jorundsdottir.
Erik’s father, Torvald, died in Iceland.
Erik was exiled for killing his neighbour, Eyiolf the Foul. He left Iceland and sailed west with his family. He found the land previously discovered by Gunnbjorn Ulfsson. He sailed along the coast until he found an area free from ice and settled there for his period of exile.
Erik the Red returned to Iceland from exile and told people about the green land he had found. He wanted people to return with him and establish a settlement.
25 ships left Iceland bound for Greenland. However, many were lost on the journey and only 14 reached Greenland. Two settlements were established, one in the east named Brattahlid (Qassiarsuk) and one in the west near Nuuk.
Icelanders continued to travel to Greenland hoping for a better life.
The Norwegian merchant, Bjarni Herjolfsson, left Norway to sail to Greenland. However, his ship was blown off course and he discovered a land filled with trees to the west of Greenland. When he reached Greenland he spoke of his discovery.
Erik’s son Leif, decided to sail to Norway and find employment in the service of King Olaf Tryggvason.
999 (late Summer)
Leif Erikson’s ship was blown off course and he landed in the Hebrides, north of Scotland.
Leif Erikson reached the court of King Olaf Tryggvason. While in Norway, Leif and his party converted to Christianity.
Erik’s son, Leif returned to Greenland after spending time in Norway. He brought the first Christian missionaries to Greenland. There were now around 3,000 people of Viking stock living on Greenland.
Erik’s son, Leif planned a journey west. Erik agreed to accompany him but after a fall from his horse he decided to remain in Greenland.
Leif Erikson left Greenland to voyage further west to try to find the land described by Bjarni Herjolfsson. He found a land which he named Vinland (Newfoundland) because of the grapes that grew there. It is unlikely that the berries found were grapes as it is too far north for them to grow. They are more likely to have been gooseberries or some other berries.
After spending the winter in Vinland, Leif returned to Greenland with a cargo of wood and grapes.
A party of Icelanders arrived in Greenland. They had unwittingly brought disease and many people died.
Erik the Red died in Greenland from the disease settlers brought from Iceland.
‘Published Feb 08 2022 @ 12.21 p.m. – Updated –
Harvard Reference for this page:
Heather Y Wheeler. (2022). Erik the Red 950 – 1003.