A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 01 eBook

Robert Kerr (writer)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 647 pages of information about A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels Volume 01.
the winter on a pleasant island in that neighbourhood.  In the following year he explored the continent; and returning to Iceland in the third year, he represented his new discovery in the fairest light, bestowing lavish praises on the rich meadows, fine woods, and plentiful fisheries of the country, which he called Greenland, that he might induce a considerable number of people to join with him in colonizing this new country.  Accordingly, there set out for this place twenty-five vessels, carrying people of both sexes, household furniture, implements of all kinds, and cattle for breeding, of which only fourteen vessels arrived in safety.  These first colonists were soon followed by many more, both from Iceland and Norway; and in a few years their number is said to have increased so much, as to occupy both the eastern and western coasts of Greenland.

This is the ordinary and best authenticated account of the discovery and settlement of Old Greenland, which rests on the credit of the great northern historian, Snorro Sturleson, judge of Iceland, who wrote in the year 1215.  Yet others assert that Greenland had been known long before, and ground their assertion on letters-patent from the Emperor Lewis the Pious in 834, and a bull of Gregory IV. in 835, in which permission is given to Archbishop Ansgar to convert the Sueones, Danes, Sclavonians; and it is added, the Norwaehers, Farriers, Greenlanders, Halsingalanders, Icelanders, and Scridevinds.  Even allowing both charter and bull to be genuine, it is probable that the copy which has come down to our time is interpolated, and that for Gronlandon and Islandon, we ought to read Quenlandon and Hitlandon, meaning the Finlanders and Hitlanders:  Quenland being the old name of Finland, and Hitland or Hialtaland the Norwegian name of the Shetland islands.  It is even not improbable that all the names in these ancient deeds after the Sueones, Danes, and Sclavonians, had been interpolated in a later period; as St Rembert, the immediate successor of Ansgar, and who wrote his life, only mentions the Sueones, Danes, and Sclavonians, together with other nations in the north; and even Adam of Bremen only mentions these three, and other neighbouring and surrounding nations[2].  Hence the authority of St Rembert and Snorro Sturleson remains firm and unshaken, in spite of these falsified copies of the papal bull and imperial patent; and we may rest assured that Iceland was not discovered before 861, nor inhabited before 874; and that Greenland could hardly have been discovered previous to 982, or 983, and was not inhabited before 985 or 986.—­Forst.

[1] Forster, Voy. and Disc. 79.

[2] Vit.  S. Anscharii, ap.  Langeb.  Script.  Dan.  I. 451.  Ad. 
    Brem.  Hist.  Eccles.  Lib.  I. cap. 17.

CHAP.  III.

Early Discovery of Winland by the Icelanders, about A.D. 1001.[1]

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