We know little about the character of Eric the Red except what can be judged from episodes in his life related in the sagas of Iceland.
He must have been hot-tempered. His father and he fled from Norway to Iceland after killing a man.
But in Iceland Eric was so continually in trouble with his neighbors and involved in other killings that he was finally obliged to flee from that country as well for a term of years. He had heard of a country lying further west and determined to sail for it.
After he found it he explored the coast until he discovered a place that was habitable, spending three years in the search. He must have been a humorist also, because when he returned to Iceland and sought to persuade others to help colonize the new country, in 983, he called it Greenland.
He gave it this name, he said, because “people would be more willing to go there if it had an attractive name.” He did, in fact, start a colony and helped in the foundation of others.
These grew until, according to estimates, there were four or five thousand people living in them at the height of the prosperity of the country in the twelfth or thirteenth century.