The Frozen Echo: Greenland and the Exploration of North America, Ca. A.D. 1000-1500

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Stanford University Press, 1996 - History - 407 pages
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It is now generally accepted the Leif Eriksson sailed from Greenland across the Davis Strait and made landfalls on the North American continent almost a thousand years ago, but what happened in this vast area during the next five hundred years has long been a source of disagreement among scholars. Using new archeological, scientific, and documentary information (much of it in Scandinavian languages that are a bar to most Western historians), this book confronts many of the unanswered questions about early exploration and colonization along the shores of the Davis Strait.

The author brings together two distinct but tangential fields of inquiry: the history of medieval Greenland and its connections with the Norse discovery of North America, and fifteenth-century British maritime history and pre-colonial voyages to North America, including that of John Cabot. In order to evaluate the situation in Norse Greenland at the end of the fifteenth century (when documented English and Portuguese voyages of northern exploration began), the author follows the colony's development--its domestic economy and foreign trade and its cultural and ecclesiastical affinities--from its inception in the tenth century. In the process, she looks critically at commonly held views that have gone unchallenged until now.

Among the questions about which the author sets forth new evidence and conclusions are: the extent to which Greenlanders explored and exploited North America after Leif Eriksson, the reasons for the baffling disappearance of the Norse settlement in Greenland, the connection between their disappearance and the beginning of the voyages of exploration that began around A.D. 1500, the routes by which information concerning previous voyages traveled, the history before Cabot of the advance of English fishing fleets from Icelandic waters to the coasts of Labrador, and the influence of the roman Catholic Church on Norse Greenland.


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User Review  - groovykinda - LibraryThing

Pretty much everything we know about the European Greenlanders. What an incredible story. Whether or not you agree with her conclusions, you'll still learn a lot. Read this before you read Jared Diamond's "Collapse." Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - AlexTheHunn - LibraryThing

In The Frozen Echo, Kristen A. Seaver presents an impressive examina-tion of Greenland’s early colonies of Norsemen with the goal of explaining their eventual disappearance. In particular, Seaver ... Read full review


North Atlantic
Two Social and Economic Conditions in Norse
Three Church and Trade in Norse Greenland
Four Ivar Bardarsons Greenland
Five The Western Settlement Comes
Six Rumors of Trouble in the Eastern
Seven England and the Norwegian Colonies
Eight Sailing out of the Middle Ages
Nine Greenland 14501500
Ten The Age of Discovery
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About the author (1996)

Kirsten A. Seaver is the translator of the nineteenth-century Norwegian novel The district Governor's Daughter, by Camilla Collett, and the author of a novel, Gudrids saga, that grew out of her research for The Frozen Echo.

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