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08.06.2019

Viking kings you should know about (Part 2)

Today article is dedicated to a few more personalities we should know about. Wise, brave, fearless, with strong willpower they left their mark on history. 

1. Leif Eriksson - the one who discovered America

We all used to believe that Christopher Columbus was the one who discovered America but the truth is that 500 years before him Leif Eriksson set foot on the North American continent. Leif was born nearly year 970 and later he moved to Greenland where his father, Erik the Red, founded the First Norse Settlement. Around year 1000, Leif sailed off to find he land that Icelander, Bjarni Herjolfsson, spotted many years ago on the way to Greenland when his ship blew off course. During the expedition Leif discovered land that named Helluland ("flat stone land"). Modern historicals say that it could be Baffin Island. Trevelling to the south they discovered Markland ("forestland"), thought to be Labrador. As the result of expedition Leif founded the camp Vinland ("wineland") that is supposed to be Newfoundland. The Viking presence in North America was short-lived, possibly due to conflicts with hostile natives. The only authenticated Norse settlement in North America was discovered in the early 1960s on the northern tip of Newfoundland at a site called L’Anse aux Meadows; artifacts found there date to around 1000. 

2. Cnut the Great: Viking King in England

Year 1013. The son of Denmark's king Svein Forkbeard, Cnut (Canute), helped his father to conquer England. However, after Svein death the exiled Anglo-Saxon king, Aethelred the Unready, returned to power. In 1016 his son, Edmund Ironside, changed him. After, Cnut defeated Edmund at the Battle of Ashingdon, Anglo-Saxon king had to sign a treaty that gave Cnut power over part of England. In a few weeks after this Edmund Ironside dead and Cnut became the king of all England. His reign brought stability after years of battles and raids. With time Norway, Denmark and part of Sweden went under his control. Cnut the Great ruled the vast empire till his death in 1035.

3. Harald Hardrada: The Last Viking

Harald Hardrada's life was full of battles, every period of life destiny checked his willpower. Harald Sigurdsson was born in Norway in 1015 and in the age of 15 he faught with his half-brother Olaf Haraldsson at the Battle of Stiklestad. In this battle Olaf was killed and Harald was exiled, eventually doing a stint as a mercenary for Jaroslav the Wise, grand prince of Kiev. From Kiev he travelled to Byzantine and joined there the prestigious Varangian Guard. In mid-1040s he returned to Scandinavia as a wealthy, accomplished military commander. In an effort to combat the king of Norwayand Denmark, Magnus the Good, he formed an alliance with Svein Estrithson. But in 1046 Magnus made Harald the co-ruler of Norway and after his death in 1047 Harald took full control around the contry. Svein became the king of Denmark. Many years Harald tried to fight Sven but despite of winning the majority of battles he decided to make peace in 1064 and shift the focus to England. Two years after this Harald invaded England and took a viktory at the Battle of Fulford Gate. But few days after the new king of England, Harold Godwinson, wiped out Harald’s army at the Battle of Stamford Bridge. During that battle Harald Hardrada, the last of the great Viking warrior kings, was killed.

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