North Vikings predated Columbus exploring North America – part 2 chapter 3

Greenland and the Papal Church

For many years there was two forms of Church in Greenland. Up to 1121 there seem to have been no problems between the two Christian Churches. The one in Western Settlement had contact with Korsnes, Vinland at least up to 1120/21. In 1124 a Bishop was installed in Eastern Settlement.

We know a lot about the one linked to the Catholic Church with Catholic rituals and organization The other is in some sources refered to as started by English mission monks/traveller Bishops. The later is known to have had their centre in Western Settlement. The former as you can read below in Gardar, Eastern Settlement.

6th January 1053 omnibus gentibus Sueonum seu Danorum, Norunechorum, Islant, Scrideuinnum, Gronlant et universarum septentrionalum racionum…”
Source: Diplomatarium Norvegicum bind 17 nr 849
Orig. p. Parchment. in Hannovers Statsarkiv;
Edited in Diplomatarium Norvegicum from: Rydberg’s Sveriges Traktater I. S. 56-59; earlier editions Lappenbergs Hamburgisches Ur-kundenbuch I. S. 74 f. and
Dipl. Island. I. S. 57-60.

Bishop Erik leaves Greenland in search of Vinland
Source Icelandic Annals for 1121
and Lyschander in Greenlandic Chronicle edited 1609

What’s known today makes it plausible that Bishop Erik was a mission bishop. We know that he lived in the Western Settlement and that there was some kind of Bishops See there before he and a lot of people left.

Norwegian King Sigurd Jorsalfar wrote a letter to Archbishop Asser of Lund and asked for a Bishop See on Greenland
Source Regesta Norvegica bind 1 number 67

Same year Arnald is chosen and travels to Greenland to become Greenland’s bishop
Source: Icelandic Annals I, III, IV, VIII and X

Guess you remember
1127 Leidarvisir and borgaskipan from earlier chapter:

”… North of Germany is Denmark. Ocean extending into the Baltic Sea, near Denmark. Sweden is east of Denmark and Norway in the north. North of Norway’s Finnmark. … Beyond Greenland, southward, there Helluland and beyond it Markland, from there it is not far to Vinland. which some people think stretching all the way to Africa. England and Scotland is an island but is separate kingdoms. Iceland is a large island to the north of Ireland …. ”
From Biarmaland northward all the way until you reach Greenland. South of Greenland lies Helluland, then Markland , then it is not far to Vinland the Good. Which some believe extends to Africa. and if that’s true, the sea must extend between Vinland and Markland..…
Source Leidarvisir and Borgaskipan
works: Catholic Encyklopedia ” Pre-Columbian Discovery of America” in the Encyclopedia it’s told that Leidarvisir och borgaskipan was edited 1127.
Information in Catholic Encyklopedia is second by a Diss:
Tommaso Marani, Leiðarvísir. Its Genre and Sources, with Particular Reference to the Description of Rome, Diss Durham University 2012

For more information please read: Norse Vikings predated Columbus – Smoking Gun part 2 chapter 1

As long as the tithes was the only ”tax” the Greenlanders had to pay, there seem to have been good years in Western as well as Eastern Settlement. Monestries were built in several places and more than often larger farms had their own Farm Church. Not every farm, far from that.

The settlers in Western and Eastern Settlement lived a very good life for many years. Exporting from Hvitserk(note 1) on an island south of Greenland’s mainland, to Bergen (Norway), Orkney Islands and Hull. They exported furs, some from animals not existing in Greenland, Ivory and dried Cod. All this can be found in still existing harbor and ships documents. They paid tithes to the Papal Church. If we look at their farms we will find that the farms on Greenland were larger than those in Scandinavia as well as most on Iceland.

Sandnes (W51)
Hall 72 m²
Stable 84 m²
Storage Barn 155 m²

Anavik (W7)
Hall unknown size
Stable 50 m²
Storage Barn 54 m²
Store House/Garner 38 m²
McGovern Thomas H, Bones, Building and Boundaries: Palaeoeconomic Approaches to Norse Greenland, sidan 213 ‘Table 6 Floor-area of selected structures of farms of the Eastern and Western Settlements’

Anavik in Western Settlement and Sandnes in Eastern Settlement.

Christian Church and Norwegian Kings

In 1191 there seem to have been an opposition against Innocentius III Several sources refer to that as a fact. Reason isn’t easily found thus I leave that for now. The dispute seem to have run out. In 1206 Pope Innocentius III confirms that Greenland’s bishop as well as Iceland’s bishop are to have Archbishop in Nidaros, Norway, as their Archbishop. From now on Greenland and Iceland in other preserved sources are said to belong to Norway.
Source: Reg. Innoc. III. T. III. f. 66. an. VIII. ep. 214.(Jfr. Dipl. Norv. III. No. 3 og Norges gl. Love I. S. 439).

Something happens in 1200’s and the Norwegian Kings Knarr starts to be the main transport ship from Greenland to Norway. In earlier days the Greenlanders only had had to pay the tithes to the Papal Church. Now they had to pay tax to Norway as well as they lost their main income when Norwegian Kings took the trade over to Europe. Some ships still came to Hvitserk but due to situation in Europe they weren’t that many. At same time the European trade of Ivory got more supplies from Africa.

All in all this lead up to the situation when settlers in Western Settlement had to give up som of their land to the church/monestry close by in order to be able to pay their tithes.
There is always a reason why over 300 churches that existed when King Magnus Eriksson inherited his grandfather on Norway’s throne in 1319 became close to half in number within less than a hundred years. There is always a reason why Bishop Jon and others left Western Settlement in late 1340’s. We know from Ivar Bardarson’s lines that the Settlement was found to be abondoned in 1347.

Ivar Bardarson is one of the important persons in Norse Vikings predated Columbus exploring North America – Smoking gun part 3. So is King Magnus Eriksson, his mother’s layer in Norway Paul Knutson, a lawman of Gula Thing. The two later will be presented in part 3.
Note 1: Hvitserk
I anden bog, kapitel 11A af de Nordiske folks historie fortæller Olaus Magnus, at sørøverne Pining og Pothurst har ladet inhugge et stort kompas på Hvitserks højeste tinde, og at dets cirkler og linjer var fyldt med bly…. Jørgen Jensen: Kompasroser av sten sid 31

Please note: Pothorst & Pining are mentioned in Olaus Magnus’ ”Historia de Gentibus Septentrionallibus” and on a French map based on his ”Carta Marina”. While for example John/Jon Scolvus sailing to North America mentioned on the Gemma Frisius /Mercator globe of the 1530s. So is Corte Real mentioned to have participated in
Gaspar Fructuoso’s ”Saudades da Terra”. The Scolvus note specifically
mentions 1476 That’s the same voyage of Pothorst and Pining sailing to Greenland via Iceland from Hamburg on behalf of the Danish King made.

Now a days Hvitserk is the name of Greenland’s highest mountain. But back in Medieval Age it was the name of an island south Greenland where there up to 1409/12 is said to have been ships coming from England as well as from Norway.

Prime Sources:
AM 777 a 4
Danskt Diplomatarium
Orig. Regest., Reg. Innoc. III. T. III. f. 66. an. VIII. ep. 214
Diplomatarium Norwegicum,
Islandske annaler til 1578 Skalhóltann, edited Christiania 1888
Ordericus Vitalis, Historiske besetninger om Normanner og Angelsaxere fra Orderik Vitals kirkehistorie I-III. Edition 1889
Svenskt Diplomatarium
Gemma Frisius /Mercator globe of the 1530s
Leidarvisir och borgaskipan
Olaus Magnus’ ”Historia de Gentibus Septentrionallibus”

McGovern Thomas H, Bones, Building and Boundaries: Palaeoeconomic Approaches to Norse Greenland


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