Friday 16 October 2020

Hans Egede (Denmark, 1971)

Hans Egede was the son of a preacher man, born to a Danish family in Norway in 1686 and educated in Copenhagen, Denmark. He too became a preacher and became fascinated by stories of old Danish settlements on Greenland. He wanted to launch a Christian mission to Greenland to (a) spread the Word and (b) find out if there were any descendants of former Danish settlers still there.

After a period of fundraising, he launched a commercial / religious voyage to Greenland in 1721. His ship The Hope and two smaller ships landed in July 1721 and the Danes established Hope Colony. Egede found ruins of old Danish settlements but no survivors. He did however find the local Inuit population and set about converting them to Christianity. Settlers came and went according to the conditions, weather, levels of scurvy and mortality rate of smallpox (this last was particularly damaging to the Inuit).

Egede was regarded as the granddaddy of Christianity on Greenland, is a Danish hero, has a crater named after him on the moon (appropriately at the edge of the Sea of Cold) and has had his statue vandalised by anti-colonialist and anti-racist protestors in recent years.

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