Thorfinn Karlsefni (Old Norse: Þorfinnr karlsefni Þórðarson, Icelandic: Þorfinnur karlsefni Þórðarson) was an Icelandic explorer. Around the year 1010 AD, he followed Leif Eriksson's route to Vinland, in a short-lived attempt to establish a permanent settlement there with his wife Guðríður Víðförla Þorbjarnardóttir and their followers.
The byname Karlsefni means "makings of a man" according to the preface of Magnus Magnusson and Hermann Pálsson,although the Cleasby-Vigfusson dictionary glosses it as "a thorough man", elaborated elsewhere as a "real man", a "sterling man".
Thorfinn's expeditions are documented in the Grœnlendinga saga ("Saga of the Greenlanders" henceforth Grl.) and Eiríks saga rauða ("Saga of Eirik the Red" Henceforth Eir.),which together are referred to as "The Vinland Sagas", but the details are at considerable variance (See under #Saga sources).
Thorfinn Karlsefni met in Greenland Gudrid Thorbjarnardóttir (Guðríðr Þorbjarnardóttir), widow of Thorstein Eiriksson and wedded her.She had been staying under the care of her brother-in-law Leif Eriksson, at Brattahlíð the estate left to Leif by Eirik the Red, who was dead by this point, having succumbed to an epidemic ca. 1003, even though Eir. has him still alive and playing host to her.
Thorfinn reached the momentous decision to go to Vinland (ON and Icelandic Vínland), which according to Grl. happened at the insistence of Gudrid. And Leif agreed to lend the houses he built in Vinland, though unwilling to make a free gift of it.Among the other settlers into Vinland was Freydis, the sister or half-sister of Leif Eriksson, who may have accompanied Karlsefni's voyage (Eir.) or headed an expedition of her own that ended in carnage (Grl.).
According to Grl., Karlsefni left with 60 men and 5 women, trailing the path taken by Leif and Thorvald Eiriksson. Whereas in Eir. he took three ships with 140 men aboard, describing the voyage in greater detail.
Gudrid bore Thorfinn a boy in Vinland, who was named Snorri,the first child of European descent known to have been born in the New World and to whom many Icelanders can trace their roots. The exact location of Thorfinn's colony is unknown but is believed to potentially be the excavated Norse camp at L'Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland.
It has been pointed out that Eiríks saga rauða (Eir.) distorts the facts by giving undue credit to Thorfinn.
For instance, it denies that Thorvald Eiriksson ever led his own voyage to reach Vinland (as Grl. records), even before Thorfinn. Although Thorvald had met his death by Native American arrows in Vinland before Karlsefni embarked, Eir. postponed Thorvald's death so he can be made to accompany Karlsefni to Vinland,ultimately to suffer a more fantastical death from a shot fired by a Uniped. Eir. shifts over to Karlsefni the credit for naming numerous bits of geographic features, from Helluland and Markland to Kjalarnes "Keel Ness", though "this flatly contradicts the Grœnlendinga saga and is assuredly wrong". Helluland (Baffin Island) and Markland were named by Leif; Kjalarness was where Thorvald had wrecked his ship, and the keel was left to stand as a monument, and not an anonymous shipwreck as Eir. puts it.
According to the Grœnlendinga saga , Thorfinn Karlsefni's expedition commenced after his marriage to Gudrid Thorbjarnardóttir. This marriage to Gudrid was predicted earlier in the saga by Gudrid's first husband Thorstein Eriksson, upon his death.The expedition brought women and livestock, signifying that they planned on being settled in the area for a while. Along the voyage they ate a beached whale. They also cut timber, harvested grapes, and caught fish and game. A bull they brought frightened the native people (Skraelings). They tried to appease the natives by offering milk, but the natives took ill and battles commenced. Guðríðr Þorbjarnardóttir gave birth to Thorfinn Karlsefini’s son Snorri before they head back to Greenland.
Eirik the Red's Saga depicts Thorfinn Karlsefni as a successful merchant from Reynines, Skagafjord, in the north of Iceland. Karlsefni embarks on a trading expedition with forty men, and arrive at Brattahlid, Greenland where they are hosted by Eirik the Red. Karlsefni marries Gudrid that winter. Karlsefni departs with three ships and 140 men in search of Vinland. Karlsefni's expedition winter on a piece of land, where two scouting slaves found grapes and wild grain. Eating a beached whale causes illness, as well as a rift. Thorhall's group declared the whale to be a boon from Thor, offending the Christian members and they part ways.
Karlsefni's expedition discovers further south a bountiful area full of wheat, fish, and game. They attempt contact with the natives who travel in hide-covered boats. The natives leave and the Greenlanders winter there, where their livestock flourish. The following spring, the expedition reencounter the natives and engage in trade with them, until a bull breaks free and frightens away the natives. The native return after three weeks with hostile intent, a skirmish ensues, and the Greenlanders attempt as best they can to flee into the forest. Karlsefni and his men are saved by Freydis, who scares the natives off by slapping her bare breast with a sword taken from one of the fallen Greenlanders.
The expedition heads back north, and Karlsefni searches for Thorhall in vain. Karlsefni's men encounter the one-legged creature that is said to have shot Thorvald Eiriksson dead with an arrow. Karlsefni's son Snorri is born in the New World. But they eventually leave, and after spending time in Greenland to Eirik the Red, Karlsefni and Gudrid return to Karlsefni's farm at Reynines, in Iceland.
|Thorfinn Karlsefni's genealogy based on Landnámabók up to Karsefni's father. (For further descendants, see under Snorri Karlsefnisson).|
Thorfinn Karlsefni's father was Thord Horsehead (Þórðr hesthöfði Snorrason),and his mother was named Thorunn (Þórunn). Thord Horsehead was son of Snorri, son of Thord of Hofdi .
Thorfinn was presumably raised at his father's estate called Stad (Stað) in Reyniness (Reynistaður). This estate was located in the Skagafjord bay area, which is also where Thorfinn's great-grandfather established roots, at his farm of Hofdi in Hofdastrand . Thorfinn himself also retired in the area in his later years; while Eiríks saga says "he went (back) to his farm in Reyniness," Grænlendinga saga states he bought new lands at Glaumby .
A more detailed genealogy (under Eiríks saga rauða, ch. 7) is interpolated in the H or Hauksbók text of Haukr Erlendsson. Haukr had particular interest since he himself claimed descent from Thorfinn.However, Haukr's ancestral trace before Karlsefni's great-grandfather Thord of Hofdi deviates from other sources, and the Landnámabók version is deemed more reliably accurate.
Though not shown in the family tree (right), Thorfinn also claims descent from the matriarch Aud the Deep-Minded through Thord Gellir.
In the early twentieth century, Icelandic sculptor Einar Jónsson was commissioned by Joseph Bunford Samuel to create a statue of Thorfinn Karlsefni through a bequest that his wife, Ellen Phillips Samuel, made to the Fairmount Park Art Association (of Philadelphia, now the Association for Public Art).Her bequest specified that the funds were to be used to create a series of sculptures "emblematic of the history of America." Thorfinn Karlsefni (1915–1918) was installed along Philadelphia's Kelly Drive near the Samuel Memorial and unveiled on November 20, 1920. There is another casting of the statue in Reykjavík, Iceland.
As reported on October 1, 2018, vandals did severe damage to the statue. They toppled the statue and then dragged it into the near-by Schuylkill River."It appeared the statue was pulled off its massive stone base, which measures 12-by-12 feet wide. Bits of stone were scattered across drag marks on the ground and the bronze could be seen bubbling underwater in the river." - NBC Philadelphia
The 1967 comedic science fiction novel The Technicolor Time Machine by Harry Harrison reveals at its ending that the character named Ottar—an 11th-century Viking hired by a film studio as consultant and actor—is indeed Thorfinn Karlsefni.
A fictionalized version of Thorfinn Karlsefni is the protagonist of the Japanese Manga series Vinland Saga by author Makoto Yukimura. The popular manga also received a 24-episode anime television series adaptation by Wit Studio which aired on NHK General TV in Japan from July to December 2019 and released worldwide on Prime Video.
EFNI n. .. β. in a personal sense: manns-efni, a promising young man; karls-efni, a thorough man
Eventually, they settled in what is now Newfoundland, gave birth to Snorri Thorfinnson and stayed for about three years.
Vinland, Vineland or Winland is the area of coastal North America explored by Norse Vikings, where Leif Erikson first landed around AD 1000, approximately five centuries prior to the voyages of Christopher Columbus and John Cabot. Vinland was the name given to North America as far as it was explored by the Norse in the Vinland Sagas, presumably including both Newfoundland and the Gulf of Saint Lawrence as far as northeastern New Brunswick. As many of the features and details of the sagas match present day knowledge of transatlantic travel and North America they are considered to be a reliable historical account. According to the historian Gisli Sigurdsson, 'The sagas are still our best proof that such voyages to the North American continent took place. Coincidence or wishful thinking simply cannot have produced descriptions of topography, natural resources and native lifestyles unknown to people in Europe that can be corroborated in North America.'
Erik Thorvaldsson, known as Erik the Red, was a Norse explorer, described in medieval and Icelandic saga sources as having founded the first settlement in Greenland. He most likely earned the epithet "the Red" due to the color of his hair and beard. According to Icelandic sagas, he was born in the Jæren district of Rogaland, Norway, as the son of Thorvald Asvaldsson. Erik's own son was the well-known Icelandic explorer Leif Erikson.
Leif Erikson, Leiv Eiriksson or Leif Ericson was a Norse explorer from Iceland. He is thought to be the first known European to have set foot on continental North America, approximately half a millennium before Christopher Columbus. According to the sagas of Icelanders, he established a Norse settlement at Vinland, which is usually interpreted as being coastal North America. There is ongoing speculation that the settlement made by Leif and his crew corresponds to the remains of a Norse settlement found in Newfoundland, Canada, called L'Anse aux Meadows and which was occupied c. 1000. Later archaeological evidence suggests that Vinland may have been the areas around the Gulf of St. Lawrence and that the L'Anse aux Meadows site was a ship repair station.
Freydís Eiríksdóttir was a Norse woman said to be the daughter of Erik the Red, who is associated with the Norse exploration of North America and the discovery of Vinland with his son Leif Erikson. The only medieval and primary sources that mention Freydís are the two Vinland sagas: the Greenland saga and the Saga of Erik the Red. The two sagas offer differing accounts, though Freydís is portrayed in both as a masculine, strong-willed woman who would defy the odds of her society.
Gudrid Thorbjarnardóttir (Icelandic: Guðríður víðförla Þorbjarnardóttir; born in 980 - 1019 was an Icelandic explorer, born at Laugarbrekka in Snæfellsnes, Iceland.
Eiríks saga rauða or the Saga of Erik the Red is a saga on the Norse exploration of North-America. The original saga is thought to have been written in the 13th century. The saga is preserved in two manuscripts in somewhat different versions; Hauksbók and Skálholtsbók.
Skræling is the name the Norse Greenlanders used for the peoples they encountered in North America and Greenland. In surviving sources, it is first applied to the Thule people, the proto-Inuit group with whom the Norse coexisted in Greenland after about the 13th century. In the sagas, it is also used for the peoples of the region known as Vinland whom the Norse encountered during their expeditions there in the early 11th century.
Snorri Þorbrandsson was a 10th-century Icelandic warrior. The main sources of Snorri's life are the semi-historical Icelandic sagas.
Thorvald Eiriksson was the son of Erik the Red and brother of Leif Erikson. The only Medieval Period source material available regarding Thorvald Eiriksson are the two Vinland sagas; the Greenland Saga and the Saga of Erik the Red. Although differing in various detail, according to both sagas Thorvald was part of an expedition for the exploration of Vinland and became the first European to die in North America.
Snorri Thorfinnsson probably born between 1004 and 1013, and died c. 1090) was the son of explorers Þorfinnur Karlsefni and Guðríður Þorbjarnardóttir. He is considered to be the first white child to be born in the Americas, apart from Greenland. He became an important figure in the Christianisation of Iceland.
Hauksbók, Reykjavík, Stofnun Árna Magnússonar AM 371 4to, AM 544 4to and AM 675 4to, is an Icelandic manuscript, now in three parts but originally one, dating from the 14th century. It was created by the Icelander Haukr Erlendsson. It is now fragmentary, with significant portions being lost, but is the first surviving witness to many of the texts it contains. Among these are the section on mathematics called Algorismus and the text of Hervarar saga ok Heiðreks.
Haukr or Hauk Erlendsson was lawspeaker (lawman) of Iceland, later lawspeaker and knight of Norway, known for having compiled a number of Icelandic sagas and other materials mostly in his own hand, bound in a book called the Hauksbók after him.
Great Ireland, also known as White Men's Land (Hvítramannaland), and in Latin similarly as Hibernia Major and Albania, was a land said by various Norsemen to be located near Vinland. In one report, in the Saga of Eric the Red, some skrælingar captured in Markland described the people in what was supposedly White Men's Land, to have been "dressed in white garments, uttered loud cries, bore long poles, and wore fringes." Another report identifies it with the Albani people, with "hair and skin as white as snow."
The Vinland Sagas are two Icelandic texts written independently of each other in the early 13th century—The Saga of the Greenlanders and The Saga of Erik the Red,. The sagas were written down between 1220 and 1280, much later than the initial time of action 970–1030.
Grœnlendinga saga is one of the sagas of Icelanders. Along with Saga of Erik the Red, it is one of the two main literary sources of information for the Norse exploration of North America. It relates the colonization of Greenland by Erik the Red and his followers. It then describes several expeditions further west led by Erik's children and Þorfinnr "Karlsefni" Þórðarson.
Thorstein the Red or Thorstein Olafsson was a viking chieftain who flourished in late ninth-century Scotland.
The Ice-Shirt is a 1990 historical novel by American author William T. Vollmann. It is the first book in a seven-book series called Seven Dreams: A Book of North American Landscapes.
Vinland Saga is a Japanese historical manga series written and illustrated by manga author Makoto Yukimura. The series is published by Kodansha, and was first serialized in the youth-targeted Weekly Shōnen Magazine before moving to the monthly manga magazine Afternoon, aimed at young adult men. As of November 2019, the series has been compiled into twenty-three bound volumes. Vinland Saga has also been licensed for English-language publication by Kodansha USA.
Thorstein Eiriksson was the third and youngest son of Erik the Red.
Olaf Feilan Thorsteinsson was an Icelandic gothi of the Settlement period. He was the son of Thorstein the Red, jarl of Caithness, and his wife Thurid Eyvindsdottir. The byname "feilan" is derived from the Old Irish fáelán, meaning wolfling or little wolf.