About the year 1000, sixty-six years before William the Conqueror became ruler of England and forever vanquished the Norsemen regime, and two centuries after Charlemagne's death, the Vikings were still a terror to the surrounding countries. They were a daring, powerful race of adventurers and were famous for their conquests on the sea. This hardy, invigorating mode of living was ever welcome to the Norsemen and they were forever putting out on the unknown sea in search of new quests.

Eric the Red set out in a ship which today would seem very small for such a perilous undertaking, and finally came upon what is known as Greenland. Here he made settlements which lasted many years, and colonies were also founded in Iceland.

A little later, Leif Erikson, a bold and courageous young man, and a true son of his father Eric the Red, left Denmark with 35 men for the settlement in Greenland. A mighty storm arose during the voyage and Erikson's little vessel was driven off its course. The crew at last found themselves in an unknown country, beautiful and fertile. The place where they landed and selected for their settlement is supposed to have been somewhere along the coast of the present states of Massachusetts and Rhode Island, but all traces of the colony had disappeared long before the coming of the English to that same coast.

Erikson reached the Hebrides, and upon leaving these islands he sailed for Norway and arrived there in the autumn. Leif went immediately to the court of King Olaf Tryggvason, who thought the young mariner a man of great accomplishment. The king ordered Leif to sail for Greenland and bring Christianity there. He went on the king's errand, although he thought that it would be a difficult undertaking. The king, however, had great confidence in the young seafarer, and declared that he knew no one better fitted for the undertaking. Leif Erikson then was the first to carry "Christianity" to Greenland.

Afterwards, many other sturdy adventurers among the Norsemen made various voyages along the same coasts, from the tenth to the twelfth centuries. These brave explorers settled in several places, and records show that they made an attempt to found a new colony in the territory which they called Vinland.

However, none of these new settlements lasted, for although the Norsemen were great explorers and hardy adventurers upon the sea, they did not have the population or the ability to build up a permanent and lasting establishment. After a period of years, the settlers gave it up and left, possibly returning to the colony in Greenland.

There is an old Icelandic collection of legends or sagas, which relates the story of these early discoveries, and these legends tell us that the Norsemen explored even as far south as Florida, near the region where the city of St. Augustine is now located.

Although the Vikings were a heroic people and accomplished great feats, braving the fury of the sea in frail vessels, their discoveries and explorations had no particular influence upon the people who came after them, unless stories of their deeds reached Columbus and spurred him on in his attempt to find the gateway of the West.