960-1261 1500-1721

Greenland, 1261-1500

In 1261 Greenland recognized the sovereignty of the King of Norway. The country had long been dependent on supplies channeled via the western Norwegian port city of Bergen; ecclesiastically, the bishopric of Greenland was placed under the archbishop of Nidaros (Drontheim) in Norway. From 1261 onward, Greenland was regarded a Norwegian SIDELAND.
During the 14th century, the climate took a turn for the worse. As Norway herself was severely hit by the plague, concern for the remote settlement colony decreased; communication between Greenland and Norway became first irregular and then a rare occasion; for the island community, which so heavily depended on the arrival of supplies from Norway, this had a devastating effect.
In order to maintain their fleet, the Greenlanders had to sail southward to Labrador (Markland) and cut timber. In the 14th century, seemingly the Greenlanders were no longer able to do so, as their ships were so deteriorated that they could not sail out. This marked the beginning of the end. The western (= northern) settlement fell in the middle of the 14th century to an Innuit attack; the eastern (= southern) settlement is believed to have held out until c. 1490, when it finally subdued, too. The Viking population of Greenland was extinguished.

Dale MacKenzie Brown, The Fate of the Greenland Vikings
DOCUMENTS Article Greenland, from Catholic Encyclopedia

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2000, last revised on November 8th 2004

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