The Pre-Columbian Discovery of America by the Northmen: Part 13

[230] Funeral cups.

[231] Biorn's mother.

[232] This is a fling at Thorodd the Tribute Taker.

[233] This shows, that while Biorn killed the men in self defense, it was the opinion of the court that he did not get what he deserved.

[234] Jomsberg was the head quarters of an order of vikings or pirates, where a castle was also built by King Harold Blaatand, of Denmark. It was situated on one of the outlets of the Oder, on the coast of Pomerania. It was probably identical with Julian, founded by the Wends, and was recognized as the island of Wallin, which Adam of Bremen, in the eleventh century, described as the largest and most flourishing commercial city in Europe. Burislaus, king of the Wends, surrendered the neighboring territory into the hands of Palnatoki, a great chief of Fionia, who was pledged to his support. Accordingly he built a stronghold here, and organized a band of pirates, _commonly_ called vikings, though it must be observed, that while every viking was a pirate, every pirate was not a viking. Only those pirates of princely blood, were properly called vikings, or sea-kings. The Jomsvikings were distinguished for their rare courage, and for the fearlessness with which they faced death. They were governed by strict laws, and hedged about by exact requirements, and were also, it is said, pledged to celibacy. Jomsberg was destroyed about the year 1175, by Waldemar the Great, of Denmark, aided by the princes of Germany and the king of Barbarrossa. Those of the pirates who survived, escaped to a place near the mouth of the Elbe, where a few years after, they were annihilated by the Danes, who in the reign of Canute VI, completely destroyed their stronghold. Accounts of their achievements may be found in the Saga of King Olaf Tryggvesson, in vol. I, of Laing's _Heimskringla_. The Icelanders sometimes joined the Norway pirates, as was the case with Biorn, but they did not fit out pirate ships. Palnatoki died in the year 993.



[235] Styrbiorn, son of King Olaf, ruled Sweden in connection with Eric, called the Victorious. Styrbiorn's ambition, to which was added the crime of murder, led to his disgrace. He joined the vikings, adding sixty ships to their force. He was killed, as stated, in 984, in a battle with his uncle near Upsula.

[236] Dasent says in describing the coast: "Now we near the stupendous crags of Hofdabrekka, Headbrink, where the mountains almost stride into the main."

[237] Referring to the dead man's blood.

[238] In Iceland the women are accustomed to bring travelers dry clothes.

[239] All of these verses are extremely obscure and elliptical, though far more intelligible to the modern mind than the compositions which belonged to a still older period. All the chief men of Iceland practiced the composition of verse. Chaucer makes his Parson apologize for his inability to imitate the practice.

[240] See the Saga of Burnt Nial.

[241] These sledges were used in drawing hay, as the roads were then, as now, too poor for carts.

[242] This is the only paragraph which applies directly to the subject in hand. The following narrative will bring Biorn to notice again.

[243] Few persons will infer much from this; nothing is easier than to find resemblances in language.

[244] The language indicates that they were riding horseback, though it is not conclusive. And at the period referred to, there were no horses in America, they having been introduced by the Spaniards, after the discovery by Columbus. At least, such is the common opinion.

[245] This is found in _Annales Islandorum Regii_, which gives the history of Iceland from the beginning down to 1307. Also in _Annales Flateyensis_, and in _Annales Reseniini_. Eric was appointed bishop of Greenland, but performed no duties after his consecration, and eventually resigned that see, in order to undertake the mission to Vinland. He is also spoken of in two works, as going to Vinland with the t.i.tle of Bishop of Greenland, a t.i.tle which he had several years before his actual consecration.

[246] The ma.n.u.script is deficient here.

[247] The Feather Islands are mentioned in the _Logmanns Annall_, or, Annals of the Governors of Iceland, and _Annales Skalholtini_, or Annals of the Bishopric of Skalholt, written in the middle of the fourteenth century, long before Columbus went to Iceland. Beamish suggests that these are the Penguin and Bacaloa Islands.

[248] "The notices of Nyja land and Duneyjar, would seem to refer to a re-discovery of some parts of the eastern coast of America, which had been previously visited by earlier voyagers. The original appellation of Nyja land, or _Nyjafundu-land_, would have naturally led to the modern English name of Newfoundland, given by Cabot, to whose knowledge the discovery would [might?] have come through the medium of the commercial intercourse between England and Iceland in the fifteenth century."--_Beamish._

[249] See the Decline of Greenland, in Introduction.

[250] Markland (Woodland) was Nova Scotia, as we know from the description of Leif and others. These vessels doubtless went to get timber. All these accounts show that the Western ocean was generally navigated in the middle of the fourteenth century.

[251] In the face of this and a mult.i.tude of similar statements, Mr.

Bancroft endeavors to make his readers believe that the locality of Vinland was uncertain. He might, with equal propriety, tell us that the location of Ma.s.sachusetts itself was uncertain, because, according to the original grant, it extended to the Pacific ocean.

[252] See note 1, p. 81.

[253] This is a blunder. The writer must have been more of a geographer than historian. See the Saga of Leif, p. 36.

[254] The part inclosed in brackets is an interpolation of a recent date, and without any authority.

[255] Not to be confounded with, the place of the same name at Cape Cod.

[256] This is another pa.s.sage upon which Bancroft depends, to prove that the locality of Vinland was unknown, when in the Sagas the position is minutely described, the situation being as well known as that of Greenland.

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