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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 18.djvu/51

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the final extinction of the Icelandic colony in Greenland may in part be attributed. Nevertheless, from the year 985 down to the vicinity of 1335, the Skrællings, so far as the records go, do not appear to have given any trouble. But about that period they suddenly appeared in force. At that time the western coast of Greenland was divided into two districts, called the East and West Bygds, there never having been any Europeans permanently inhabiting the eastern coast, though the Saga of "Thorgill's Nursling" shows that a family or two of Skrællings may have dwelt there.

That the Skrællings appeared in considerable force is indicated by the fact that an expedition was organized to meet them. The "Chronicle" of Ivar Bardsen[1] shows that Bardsen himself was selected by the colonists as their commander. This "Chronicle" was composed during the second half of the fourteenth century, but it is impossible to say in what year. It is certain, however, that upon the 6th of August, 1340, Haquin, Bishop of Bergen, in Norway, commissioned Bardsen to act in Greenland, as the latter was born in that country, and was perfectly acquainted with all its affairs. His commission is still preserved at Copenhagen, and a copy may be seen in Rafn's "Amerikas Arctiske landes gamle Geographie," p. 47. Whether the Greenland colonists appointed him their leader before or after 1340, it is impossible now to say. Crantz, in his work on Greenland, intimates that the killing of some eighteen persons by the Skrællings led to the appointment of Bardsen. The natives gave Crantz a tradition respecting a fight between their Skrælling ancestors and the colonists, whom they called "Kablunæts." A quarrel sprang up about shooting arrows, and blood was shed, the natives declaring that the Kablunæts were exterminated. This may possibly explain what became of the remnant of Europeans left in Greenland in the fifteenth century, but it can not refer to the fourteenth, as the communication was kept up with Greenland during that period. It was in the year 1379 that the eighteen colonists were slain. "Islenzkir Annalar," page 331, says, under that year, that hostile Skrællings invaded Greenland, killing eighteen men, and carrying away two boys captive. It is probable that from this time the Skrællings proved formidable, though, when Bardsen went into the western district to meet them, they were nowhere to be found, having either hid themselves or fled into the inaccessible fastnesses of the north. He nevertheless secured some of the cattle belonging to the colonists, and returned southward to what was called the East Bygd. In Bardsen's time the West Bygd was evidently abandoned, owing to the weakness of the colonists; and he says, in his "Chronicle," that "now the Skrællings inhabit all the west land and Dorps." It must have been from the deserted West Bygd that they came to attack the colonists in 1379. The Icelandic annals of the fourteenth century mention no more fighting in

  1. Published by Munsell, Albany, as "Sailing Directions of Henry Hudson."