THE SAGAS

Canada's History - - TRADING POST -

There are two ma­jor sources for the story of Vinland. One is known as the Green­lan­ders’ saga. There are two ver­sions of the other, Erik the Red’s saga: Hauk’s book and Skalholt book. They are nearly iden­ti­cal, but cer­tain sig­nif­i­cant de­tails dif­fer. Hauk’s book was largely writ­ten be­tween 1306 and 1308, mostly by the Ice­landic law speaker Hauk Er­lends­son. The Skalholt book is named af­ter the epis­co­pal seat Skalholt, where the book was pre­served. There are con­sid­er­able dif­fer­ences be­tween the two sagas. The Green­lan­ders’ saga de­scribes the ac­ci­den­tal sight­ing of Vinland by Bjarni Her­jolf­s­son and five sub­se­quent ex­pe­di­tions, the first led by Leif Eriks­son and the oth­ers by mem­bers of his fam­ily. Erik the Red’s saga tells the same story but with all the ex­pe­di­tions com­bined into one ma­jor ex­pe­di­tion led by Thorfinn Karlsefni and his wife, Gu­drid. In this ver­sion, Leif has been pushed into the role of ac­ci­den­tal dis­cov­erer, storm- driven to an un­known land. The Ice­landic his­to­rian Óla­fur Halldórs­son has shown that Thorfinn and Gu­drid were given greater promi­nence to en­hance the fame of one of their late twelfth- cen­tury de­scen­dants.

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