Friday, February 1, 2013

His curiosity did not get the better of him

Its funny how focus can make such a difference. I read a lot of exploration and maritime literature and have long been aware of the facts outlined in He Could Have Discovered America, but He Wanted to See His Parents by Matt Soniak.

But in all other accounts, the focus was on Leif Ericson and Bjarni Herjólfsson was merely a cameo character. By making him the focus of the article, no new knowledge was created for me by the author but a new perspective was provided.
Unbeknownst to him or to anyone else at the time, those strange lands that Bjarni had refused to stop at were Canadian shores. Historians think that the first hilly, wooded land was Newfoundland, the second flat, wooded land was Labrador, and the third rocky place was Baffin Island.

Not only had Bjarni come within spitting distance of the New World and then turned around without checking it out, he practically handed over his place in the history books to someone else. After his father died, Bjarni resumed voyaging, and made reports of his Greenland trip when he returned to Iceland and Norway. Leif Ericson (son of Eric the Red) got wind of the story and went to Bjarni to learn more. Leif then purchased the ship Bjarni had made the voyage in and set out with 35 men to see the lands that Bjarni had described.

Leif became the first European to land in the mainland Americas and the first to establish a settlement there. Bjarni, meanwhile, got lost in history after selling his ship. Not much is known about him other than the fact that his curiosity did not get the better of him.

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