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The epic of the Vikings and their presence in America

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Three Viking ships and their crew.

Viking shipsPHOTO: Getty Images / Hulton Archive

Fearsome warriors and fierce navigators sailing the northern seas at the origin of deadly raids, the Vikings were the first Europeans to set foot on American soil, 500 years before Christopher Columbus and Jacques Cartier. This expansion was short-lived, however. The explanations of the historian Maxime Durand, who supervised the game Discovery Tour: Viking Age, from Ubisoft.

The Vikings did not represent a people; rather they were inhabitants of present-day Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland who existed from the 9e to 11e century. Westerners, victims of their attacks, have portrayed them in a bad light, describing them as bloodthirsty barbarians wearing horned helmets.

They have a culture that is deep. They have a runic script which will allow them to convey a lot of mythological and religious messages.

A quote from

Maxime Durand, historian

Accomplished sailors

Viking ships were decorated with square sails that allowed sailors to cross greater distances. They sailed in sight and thanks to their great naval knowledge. The Vikings of Sweden turned to the east, especially to Russia, those of Norway, to the west, that is to say to Iceland, Greenland and Newfoundland.

The rooster of a Viking longship in an exhibit at the Royal Ontario Museum.

The Vikings used longships to navigate small and large rivers.

TurnedNews.com / Sylvie-Anne Jeanson

Leif Erikson, the son of Erik the Red living in Greenland, was looking for Vinland, potentially Newfoundland. Around the year 1000, he arrived with his troop at L’Anse au Meadow, Newfoundland. The Vikings had relations with the native people of the area.

The Viking presence in North America is undeniable.

A quote from

Maxime Durand, historian

In closing, Maxime Durand explains why the Vikings’ stay in Newfoundland was short-lived, and why they returned to Europe.

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