Thesis

Das Normannische Grönland. Entstehung und Untergang der Wikingerkolonie auf Grönland

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Abstract

This paper will discuss the founding of the medieval Viking colony in Greenland around 1000 AC as well as its demise. First, the factors will be discussed which led to the Viking Age that is usually being dated from 793 to the middle of the 1000s. The second part deals with the discovery of Greenland by Eiríkr rauði (Erik the Red) and the founding of the two settlements – the Western Settlement and the Eastern Settlement –, furthermore the process of landnám (colonization) and the economy of subsistence. The discovery of Greenland, the colonization, and the economy of the Norse were being fostered in the first three centuries by the Medieval Warm Period (MWP). When that period ended, the Norse Greenlanders missed to adapt to their environment. This in turn led to endemic starvation and shortage of supply in Greenland. Owing to those factors, the colony fell victim to extinction during the end of the Middle Ages. The Norse Greenlanders collapsed whilst the Thule culture – the ancestors of nowadays Inuit – prospered, which leads to questions concerning why the Vikings died and the Inuit managed not only to survive but to enhance their quality of living. We may find the reason in the well to their environment adapted Thule culture, whereas the Norse maintained their way of living known from Scandinavia and Iceland based on animal husbandry. Altogether, the Norse proved highly inflexible owing to their hierarchal society, the Roman church, and European customs and practices which led to the downfall of European settlement in marginal Greenland and giving way to a more promising Thule culture.

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