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While most of the sources describing his life are mythical sagas, Erik the Red (or properly Erik Thorvaldsson) was indeed a real historical figure. He was born to a Norse exile in Iceland and was himself banished from that island at some point. Erik led a group of Icelandic settlers to Greenland near the end of the tenth century, and established a permanent settlement there. He returned to Iceland, where he encouraged more settlers, even choosing the name Greenland to make life in the new land sound desirable. His settlements flourished, with almost four thousand Norse colonists living in the new land by the beginning of the eleventh century. The colonies would persist until the fifteenth century, when they collapsed due to famine and climate change. His son Leif Ericsson would go on to explore what is now known as Newfoundland on the North American coast.
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