The Royal Navy, a History from the Earliest Times to the Present/Volume 1/Chapter 9
VOYAGES AND DISCOVERIES, 1154–1399.
H. W. Wilson.
ENTHUSIASTIC Welshmen have claimed for one Madoc or Madog, the son of Owain Gwynedd, who, so far as can be ascertained, flourished about 1160, the discovery of America. The story runs that there were constant feuds and contentions between the sons of Owain, and that at this Madoc's heart was greatly troubled, as he foresaw that Wales would be ruined by family discord. Accordingly, to avoid disputes and to escape from the impending fate of his country, he made up his mind to voyage in search of some place where he might settle down in safety. The celebrated passage of Seneca, foretelling the discovery of a new world, is said by one of his biographers to have suggested this course to him. With ships, men, and provisions, he at length set out from Abergwilley (Abergele?) in 1170. Favoured by wind and sea, after some weeks' sailing to the west, he descried land, which some have supposed to be Newfoundland. With this country he was greatly pleased, and after carefully examining the coast, discovered a convenient spot on which to plant a settlement. Here he went ashore with all his men, fortified a post, and leaving one hundred and twenty of his company to protect it, once more put out to sea. He returned without further adventure to Wales, where he told his countrymen of his voyage, the richness of soil in the new discovered land, the amiability of the natives, the wealth to be found there; in short, everything which could attract settlers. He complained to them that they fought for barren lands when there was all this to be had without fighting. Finally he succeeded in inducing many to join him, and once more put to sea with ten ships loaded with provisions. The second voyage occupied eight months and ten days, but in the course of time Madoc regained his settlement. There he found but few of his garrison left, and the storytellers ascribe this to their incautious indulgence in the fruits of a strange country, or to the hostility of the natives. Aided by his brothers Eineon and Idwal, Madoc restored order, and then awaited the arrival of more Welshmen. No one, however, had the grace to follow, whether because of wars with England or because courage was wanting. For one generation the colony kept together, with the Welsh law and language, and the Christian religion. Then, as time went on, they intermarried with the natives, and were by slow degrees absorbed.
This is a very pretty story, and may be said to have been universally accepted and believed in Wales at the beginning of this century, whilst the poet Southey was for a time convinced of the discoveries of the Welsh prince, and Baron Humboldt considered that they deserved respectful investigation, adding, "I by no means share the contempt with which some writers treat the story." It becomes, therefore, important to examine the sources from which the story has been derived and the story itself. It is perfectly obvious that even if it is substantially true, many of the details must have no surer foundation than the imagination of writers. How, for instance, was it possible to know the length of time occupied by the second voyage, if with it all intercourse between the new colony and Wales had ceased? But though one historian has gone so far as to give the exact strength, viz., eighteen vessels, and three thousand men, of the force which sailed on the second expedition, and the exact date, 1164, with the further details that Madoc took possession of the Mexican throne, and that the family traditions of the Aztecs, when Cortes arrived, clearly showed their connection with Wales; and though another has recorded the discovery of Madoc's epitaph in the West Indies, such things add discredit but do not wholly disprove. It is the nature of a tradition to acquire detail in transmission.
First, then, as to the sources of the tradition. There is no allusion to Madoc in the 'Brut y Tywysogion,' or 'The Chronicle of the Princes of Wales,' which appears to have been composed in the twelfth century, about Madoc's date, and which makes frequent mention of Owain Gwynedd, his father. Madoc is first mentioned by a twelfth-century poet as having been slain, apparently in battle. As the poem, in which this reference occurs, opens with an appeal to Owain, and laments the death of several of his children, it is only fair to conclude that here is the Madoc who was supposed to have sailed to America. Another poem, by its reference to "an assassin slaying Madoc," strengthens this belief. It is not till the middle or close of the fifteenth century that there is any trace of the tradition as we now have it, when Meredydd ap Rhys sings, "Madoc, true whelp of Owain Gwynedd, would not have land or great wealth, but the broad sea," and alludes to his passion for the sea. But even here from the context it appears that the Madoc referred to was a fisherman rather than a navigator, and there is not the slightest indication that he ever made a great voyage. These passages exhaust all that can be found in the Welsh bards, as they now survive, which has any relation to Madoc ap Owain.
The Welsh historians are not more satisfactory. A triad which has been often quoted speaks thus: "The three vanished losses of the Isle of Britain: First, Gavran, son of Aeddan, and his men, who went in search of the Green Isles of Floods and were never heard of more; second, Merlin ... who went to sea in the House of Glass; third, Madoc, son of Owain Gwynedd, who went to sea with three hundred men in ten ships, and it is not known where they went." It is to be noted that here Madoc is coupled with two wholly mythical persons, and that no knowledge is expressed of the place to which he went. The triad is by experts ascribed to the sixteenth century, and has no sort of historic value, even if its meaning were altogether clear, which it is not. The next writer cited is Ieuan Brechva, who is quoted as saying that "an illegitimate son of Owain Gwynedd accompanied Madoc across the broad sea to lands which they had found, and there dwelt." But as yet the passage has not been discovered, and the word translated "broad sea" might perfectly well mean the Irish Sea. Guttyn Owain's chronicle has been as recklessly adduced, as saying that Madoc sailed with ten ships, but here, too, the passage cited cannot be discovered. Some have surmised that the original manuscripts have perished, and that only mutilated copies have survived. This is doubtless possible, yet what is required is positive evidence, and the uncritical assumptions of perfervid patriots and annalists cannot be regarded with too great suspicion.
In its present form the story obtains currency late in the sixteenth century, and apparently originates with the discoveries of one David Ingram, who sailed with Hawkyns to the West Indies in 1568, and afterwards travelled on the American continent. Finding that the natives called a certain bird "penguin," he jumped to the conclusion that this was the Welsh word "pengwyn" or "white head," overlooking the important fact that the penguin has a black head. Sir George Peckham, who published in 1583 a work on the discoveries of Sir Humphrey Gilbert, quotes the evidence of Ingram, and gives the Madoc legend in much its present form. He was followed by Dr. Llwyd, who left manuscripts, which were used by Dr. Powel in his history of Wales. According to him, Madog sought adventures by sea, sailing west, and leaving the coast of Ireland to the north. He saw many strange things in an unknown land, at which in the course of time he arrived. This land "must needs be some part of Nova Hispania or Florida. Whereupon it is manifest that that country was long before by Brytaines discovered, afore either Columbus or Americus Vesputius led anie Spaniardes thither." Though the common folks have added much that is fabulous, "sure it is that there he [Madoc] was." He cites Lopez de Gomara to prove that in Mexico at the coming of the Spaniards the cross was revered, and explains the almost entire disappearance of the Welsh settlers by the paucity of their numbers. The most interesting fact in this string of assertions, is that there was a general tradition extant of the sailing of Madoc. Powel considers that the Welsh must have landed in Mexico, and cites "Pengwin," "Corroeso," "Bryton," "Gwyndor," as "Brytish or Welsh words, which doo manifestlie shew that it was that countrie which Madoc inhabited." Hakluyt simply adopted Powel's version.
Sir Thomas Herbert, a member of the Pembroke family, took Llwyd's story and added to it further embellishments, for which he fails to give us any authority. It is as usual supposed that he had access to manuscripts which have perished. He appeals to evident traces of the Welsh in America, to British words, amongst which he gives "craigwen," "nev," "llwynog," "wy," "calaf," "bara," "trwyn," "mam," "tad," and many more, apparently relying on Ingram's information. Further inquiry has failed to discover a single one of these words in use in Mexico. The consonants, b, d, f, g, r, s, do not exist in the Mexican language, and even if there were a few chance resemblances, these prove nothing when philology is decisive against the Celtic origin of the Mexican tongue. The indiscreet zeal of Welsh enthusiasts must indeed cover their cause with ridicule, when we find hem claiming Caucasus, Caspian, Crimea, Danube, Berlin, Alleghany, Potomac, America, as Welsh words! Herbert was followed by Howell, who actually quoted the lines of Meredydd, which we have given above, as the epitaph on Madoc, discovered in the West Indies. For this purpose he mistranslated them. He added that Madoc had embarked at Milford Haven, and emphasised the fact that his voyage gave England a claim to America. It thus leaks out there were political reasons for putting forward the story, as about the close of the sixteenth century Englishmen were anxious to find any pretext to excuse their trade with the new countries.
Other historians have told us the exact length of Madoc's voyage; that he was, before it, the commander of his father's fleet; that he defeated the English in 1142 off the Menai Straits, and that he left Wales because of disputes as to the succession to the throne. Not one of these statements rests upon any good foundation.
The stories of travellers did, it is true, give some countenance to the tradition — if indeed they did not lead to its origin — in the first instance. For if there were Welsh customs, Welsh language, or Welsh remains to be found on the American continent, the claim of Madoc would be substantiated triumphantly. And thus when one after another the testimonies of voyagers and settlers poured in, to the effect that amongst the Indians there were tribes speaking Welsh, the belief in the tradition grew stronger and stronger. After Ingram, who does not appear to have been a wilful liar, came others who cannot be acquitted of the wish to deceive. A clergyman, the Rev. Morgan James, professed to have actually been amongst the Welsh speakers. His story is to this effect. In 1669 he was sent with two ships by the Governor of Virginia to explore the country in the neighbourhood of what is now Port Royal. Arriving there, and being joined by other vessels, he ascended the river to Oyster Point, where he and others settled. Some eight months afterwards food ran short, and the colonists were obliged to abandon their settlement. They retreated into the then unexplored territory fringing the sea-coast, and came into the country of the Tuscarora Indians, then at war with the English. They were seized and condemned to death, whereupon Mr. Jones exclaimed in Welsh, "Have I escaped so many dangers, and must now be knocked on the head like a dog?" On this an Indian came to him and told him in Welsh that he should not be put to death. The Indian, who was of the "Doeg" tribe, arranged for the ransom and release of all the prisoners. Afterwards, says Jones, he was taken about with the Indians, was well-treated, and in revenge regularly preached to them three times a week. They always consulted him about matters of importance: the locality given is near the Pantigo river.
There is no evidence for this statement except the writer's assertion. The Doegs, so far as is known, never dwelt where Mr. Jones pretends to have found them; on early maps they are placed much more to the north. The tribes near the Pamlico — which is probably the original of Pantigo — were, besides the Tuscaroras, the Algonquins and Iroquois, whose language is well known, and had nothing Welsh about it. The only spark of confirmation is when George Fox records in his journal that the relations between the English and the Tuscaroras were unfriendly in 1672. An English colony in close proximity to the supposed Welsh Indians knew nothing of them.
About the same time or a little later, a Welshman called Stedman landed from a Dutch vessel on the coast of America, and found that he understood the Indians language. They told him that they came from Gwynedd, or Wales, in Great Britain. For some eighty years after this no one seems to have fallen in with the Welsh Indians. About 1730, however, a Welsh trader named Binon, having penetrated to the country west of the Mississippi, then remote and unknown, found Indians speaking Welsh of great purity. They received him kindly. A man, Griffiths, in 1764 professes to have made his way with the Shawnees to Welsh-speaking Indians. Beatty, in 1768, repeats a tale of Welsh Indians with a Welsh Bible in Pennsylvania; though this is perhaps truly another reminiscence of Morgan Jones. "General Bowles," a Cherokee chief, who visited London in 1792, asserted that there were Welsh Indians, who were the same as the Paducahs. The name meant "white face," and was given them because of their light complexions. They had sandy, red, or black hair, and were very warlike. Finally, a Lieutenant Roberts tells us that whilst in a Washington hotel in 1801, he made some remarks in Welsh, when there were some Indian chiefs within hearing. One of these came up to him and continued the conversation. The chief had heard of Lloegr [England] but not of Wales: he talked much of the "Saxons." His Welsh was very free and fluent. and he explained that by a tribal law, no other dialect could be taught the children till they were twelve years old. This kept the language pure.
The existence of Welsh Indians north of Mexico was so strongly believed that several Welshmen went out to visit them or preach to them. A John Evans in 1792 started from Wales, and after five years of wandering and exploration, reported that there were no Welsh Indians in existence. The Welsh-speaking Paducahs had proved a fraud. It was, however, alleged now that these Welsh Indians were falling back steadily towards the west, and that this was the reason why they had not been discovered. Between 1803 and 1805 the Mississippi basin and Pacific slope were searched with unsuccess; another expedition in 1821 was not more profitable. With the advance of settlement and exploration it has become certain that Welsh Indians no longer exist in this part of the New World, though Catlin imagined that he detected traces of Welsh in the Mandan tongue, amd found that this tribe was of lighter colour than the other Indians, and that it used skin coracles, similar to the old Celtic "curraghs." In certain of their customs he thought he could see traces of a Welsh influence. This, however, has not been confirmed by subsequent observation; and there is no one now who connects the Mandans with the descendants of Madoc.
The indirect evidence does not point decisively to the Welsh settlement. North of Mexico there are no remains which can be referred to them; the pottery found in the Ohio tombs indicates the presence of a civilised race, but the skulls found near them are Mongolian not Caucasian. There are earth mounds in the Ohio valley, which are like those of the Celts, but this resemblance gives no proof. A silver crucifix, with the letters I.S., dug up in 1844 near the Ohio, was almost certainly lost by some Frenchman or trader from Canada.
In Mexico, we are told, the Spaniards, when they landed, found that the cross was revered, and that baptism was in use. This, however, only proves that certain religious rites are common to all civilised men; it affords no real grounds for the conclusion that the Mexicans were Welsh. Their language makes this in the last degree improbable, unless the Celtic immigrants were wholly absorbed. The Mexicans, indeed, held some talk with the Spaniards to the effect that white men had visited then before; and the same tradition has been observed elsewhere amongst the Indians. It may be only a tradition, and does not necessarily point to the reality of the Welsh voyages.
What evidence there is, is, then, by no means strong in favour of the story. If clear traces of the legend could be discovered in Welsh literature before the Columbian discovery of America, the case would be very different, especially if the evidence were of the trustworthy quality of the Icelandic Sagas. The vague, indefinite, and unprecise nature of what testimony we possess, is apparent on examination. The story does not appear in its present shape till nearly a century after Columbus' voyage, and more than four centuries after Madoc's presumed disappearance. It obtained its great currency chiefly through fraud and misrepresentation. It was supported by what can only be characterised as impudent and manifest falsehoods; for the narratives of those who came upon Welsh-speaking Indians are, from internal evidence, nothing else.
How then did the story originate? There are traces of Madoc traditions—though not such tradition s we find in Powel—in Meredydd. Coupling these with the statement that Madoc went across the broad sea, or "Morwerydd," it becomes highly probable that Madoc's voyage was only to Ireland. In early Welsh, "Morwerydd" regularly means the Irish Sea, and not the Atlantic. In the Brut y Tywysogion, we are told that Owain Gwynedd married an Irish lady. Another early Welsh writer couples Riryd, Madoc's brother, with Irish estates, and Riryd is found in the stories sailing with Madoc to America. The truth, perhaps, is then that Madoc retired from his native land and settled down for good in Ireland. If he made a journey hack to Wales to persuade more Welshmen to follow him there is nothing very improbable; from his absence would easily arise the stories of his disappearance. The legend borrowed many details from Columbus. Both Madoc and Columbus sail west, discover a new country, leave a small force, return home, go back to find the garrison mostly dead, and make speeches to persuade settlers to follow them. It is to be feared that Powel derived more from Columbian sources than from his hypothetical manuscripts.
Nor are the facts of the narrative in themselves probable. It is, to say the least, extremely unlikely that the Welsh should have succeeded in crossing the Atlantic in the twelfth century, before the invention of the compass, and before the art of navigation had been perfected. The Norsemen, it is true, made very long voyages at an early date, but they usually coasted as much as possible, and in sailing from Norway to Winland would go by Iceland, Greenland, and Newfoundland, when the tract of open sea to be crossed was comparatively small. The Welsh had no reputation as navigators; and their bards do not mention other voyages; indeed, they hardly allude to ships. Norse literature is full of ships and nothing else. The ships of the Welsh are perfectly unknown to us, and therefore it is useless to speculate upon them. There is no evidence to show that they had advanced much beyond the coracle at this date: we do not often meet their navy in English history; we do not read much of Welsh pirates at a time when every seafaring nation took to piracy; and Welshmen were not prominent amongst our early sailors. There is some ground for thinking that the early Britons were fair sailors; there is none for supposing that the Welsh had a navy or ventured upon long voyages in the twelfth century. The tale of Madoc's ship is almost the only naval incident in Welsh arehæology. Of the great naval battle in the Menai Straits we can find no trace in contemporary authorities; it seems as much a figment as Madoc's voyages. It is, then, superfluous to discuss the question whether Madoc landed in Newfoundland, in Virginia, in Florida, in Mexico, or in the Azores, all of which have at various times been suggested for his landfall. The Welsh-speaking Indians are as historical as the Hebrew, Scotch, and Gaelic-speaking tribes which have at various dates been discovered in America by various enthusiasts.
Between the close of the twelfth century and the middle of the fourteenth, English shipping made great advances, in spite of the pirates who haunted the Narrow Seas. Lundy, at the close of the twelfth century, was one of their strongholds, and more than one expedition was sent against them by the English kings. Continual embargoes on shipping must, however, have interfered greatly with the development of trade. Vessels were wanted for the fleet, and as there was no great difference between a ship of war and a merchantman in these times, the vessels of traders were stopped and armed. The Crusades carried English seamen into the Mediterranean; the fisheries took them north to Scotland and the coast of Norway. The treaty of friendship and reciprocity between England and Norway in 1217 shows that there was intercourse between the two, in spite of the terrible pirates, amongst whom the men of the Cinque Ports were not the least formidable. The merchants and subjects of each power were to pass to and fro without let or hindrance. This treaty was renewed in 1269. Yarmouth at or about this time was a flourishing port with a large herring fishery, and Lynn was also a very prosperous place. Contemporary civic seals show the merchant vessel of that time to have been a ship of some size, carrying one mast and a square sail furled aloft, with a long boat on deck amidships. There are elevated stages at the bow and stern.
Scots voyages must have been stopped for a time by an absurd edict of Alexander III. in 1249, which forbade Scots merchants to export any goods in their vessels, because "some of them had been captured by pirates, and others lost by shipwreck and by seizure in foreign ports." Matthew, of Westminster, in his doleful laments on the decline of England in the fourteenth century, speaks of English ships as in the past, "carrying aromatics and all precious merchandize through the four climates of the world." This is probably a poetic exaggeration, as no record remains of such voyages.
Scotland, as far as can be judged from fragmentary allusions, had as much commerce as England in these times. Inverness ships were in high repute in France, and Matthew Paris notes a wonderful vessel which was built for the Earl of Blois in 1249. In 1281 there was an active fishery on both sides of Scotland; in 1286 Berwick was so flourishing that it is compared with a "second Alexandria," and we are told "that the sea is its wealth, the water its walls." In 1271 an Englishman, Adam de Bedford, who had formed one of a Scots gang of pirates, was executed at Berwick. But during the fourteenth century Scots trade appears to have declined.
At the close of the thirteenth century, Marco Polo's travels attracted some attention, and stimulated the interest in geography. They were followed, late in the fourteenth century, by the pretended voyages and travels of Sir John Mandeville, who professed in the year 1322 to have gone oversea to Asia Minor, and thence to Armenia, Turkey, Persia, Syria, Egypt, Chaldea, and India. His "voyages," however, were almost entirely accomplished on land; though, as the critics have long since abandoned all belief in their credibility, there is no need to discuss them.
In 1304, there is a complaint made by Edward to Erik of Denmark about his treatment of an English ship loaded with wine, which had apparently been seized by the Danish king. Erik replied that he would cause restitution to be made. Sanuto the Venetian, who, in 1321, published a work upon the trade of Europe, does not say anything about English commerce in the Mediterranean, though as he also omits to mention the Catalans, who were undoubtedly traders and travellers of great enterprise, this does not necessarily prove anything. He alludes to the Danish, Norwegian, and German sailors as good. In 1336, during the war with Scotland, we find the English ships, which were sailing for foreign countries, proceeded in strong companies, so as to be the better able to protect themselves against the Scots and pirates.
At some date early in the fourteenth century arose a flourishing trade between England and Iceland. There are small traces of this in English records, but fortunately the Icelandic chronicles leave no possible doubt. Thus the 'Islenzkir Annálen,' under the year 1348, record the fact of the news of the black death in England reaching Iceland, adding that two hundred thousand people had died of the disease. In 1349 the death of English sailors at Bergen in Norway, is mentioned. Such items of news must have arrived by the boats which came to fish and the ships which came to barter cloth and other English manufactures for dried fish. It is possible that early intercourse with Iceland may be reflected in Giraldus Cambrensis' comparatively accurate knowledge of the position of that island. He adds that the people were few but truthful. and that the priests were their kings
Following out the history of this trade, we find in 1354 an admiral appointed for the English fleet in the "Boreal," or northern parts, which may possibly have been intended to protect our fisheries. In 1392 we hear that there was a bad year in shipwrecks for the Germans, English, and Norwegians, and that many cogs were wrecked on the Norwegian coast. In 1396, Thord Arnisson was killed by "outlander chapmen." who had come ashore, and who were probably English.
It is somewhat remarkable that, after sailing so far as to Iceland, the English sailors and fishermen should not have pushed on across the comparatively narrow strait which separates Iceland from Greenland. The memory of Greenland and Winland cannot, at the date when the English appeared, have died out; and hence it is probable that English fishermen or adventurers followed the leading of the Icelanders. though record there is none of their doings. There are supposed to be traces of navigators—not more daring—the Basques, on the banks of Newfoundland, in early pre-Columbian maps. If, however, legend and vague reports are to be credited, two very noteworthy voyages were performed by dwellers in the British Isles about this date.
The first was that of Robert Macham, to Madeira, in 1344, or thereabouts. The story which has accumulated a suspicious amount of detail, goes as follows:— Macham was greatly in love with a young girl of rank and beauty, Anne Dorset. His love was returned, but the lady's family was against the marriage, and by its influence obtained the arrest of Macham, till Anne could be married to a husband of quality. When this, much against the lady's will. had been accomplished, Macham was set free. Furious at his wrongs, he determined to carry her off, and in his project obtained aid from several. Anne and her husband were tracked to Bristol, where one of Macham's friends, insinuating himself into the household of the newly married couple, found the bride inconsolable. Measures were concerted for her abduction. She was to ride out with the friend, as groom, to take the air: and by this pretext she escaped to the shore of the Bristol Channel, where a boat lay ready. This carried her on board a ship, and the re-united lovers forthwith put to sea, anxious to gain France, and fearful of vengeance or pursuit. They stood down the Cornish coast, when a violent wind set in, which swept them out to sea. Having no compass, being unused to navigate the ocean, the mariners knew not whither they sailed. For thirteen days they drove before the tempest on a stormy sea, imagining that heaven was wroth with them for their misdeeds.
At last, on the fourteenth day, the sea fell, and an island stood up before them from the waterry expanse. The sun shone upon primeval forests; the trees were strange and new to them; alien birds fluttered fearlessly about their rigging, yet there was no trace of man. They forthwith lowered a boat, and proceeded to land. The shore was high and craggy, but they found a convenient landing where a valley descended in rich verdure to the sea. Here there was a small stream of pure and delicious water, here, too, a soft glade, encompassed and sheltered by the interwoven branches of laurel-trees, in which they determined to abide. They built a hut and scoured the island for food, which they appear to have obtained in the forests; they explored its coasts, and meantime watered the ship.
But only a fortnight after their arrival, fresh calamities befell them. One night, when the greater number of the crew were on board the ship, a violent gale arose and carried her once more to sea. Macham and his bride were left on the island with but a handful of men; and the lady saw in this fresh evidence of heaven's anger. She abandoned her mind to despair, and in three days sickened and died. Macham shared her fate. One day only he survived her; on the second after her death he too died in the arms of his horror-stricken comrades, entreating them with his last breath to bury him beside his lady at the foot of a tall tree, which marked their bower. This they did, placing above the solitary grave a great cross, on which they carved the story of their wanderings and a prayer for Macham's sake, that whosoever might inhabit the place should build there a chapel and pray for the souls of him and his wife.The handful of survivors took counsel what to do. The place seemed to them ill-omened, and food was very scarce. They found upon the shore the ship's boat, and in this determined to put to sea. Accordingly they loaded her with food and water and set out, ignorant as to what direction or course to steer. The winds and currents settled the question for them, and carried them to the Marocco coast, where they were seized and imprisoned by the Moors. Here they learnt that the same fate had befallen the ship. In prison they met a Spaniard, Juan de Morales of Seville, to whom they told their adventures. He presently was released by purchase, Don Sancho of Aragon having left a considerable sum of money with which to redeem Christians; was then captured by Don Gonsalvo Zarco, a gentleman of the court of Prince Henry of Portugal. and himself a voyager of no mean intrepidity and experience, and was brought by Gonsalvo before Prince Henry, who listened to his tale and resolved to send out an expedition of discovery.
The story comes to us first from the so-called Alcaforado's 'Relation of the first Discovery of the Isle of Madeira.' This work purports to have been translated with some abridgments from the original Portuguese of Alcaforado, the voyager of that nationality, who in June, 1420, discovered Madeira. So far as is known the Portuguese original does not exist, and the work cannot be distinctly traced in any form till 1671, when a French "translation" appeared. In 1675 this was done into English, and has been frequently republished. A second source is Galvaõ's work on the historical geography of the Portuguese Indies. This was published in 1563, and translated by Hakluyt. In this version the story, whilst agreeing to some extent with the Alcaforado version, is far less circumstantial, simpler and shorter. Macham does not die, but himself builds a chapel for his bride, and makes a canoe out of a tree trunk, in which he puts to sea and comes without sail or oar to Marocco. The Moors regard this as a miracle, and receive him with high honour.
Galvaõ fails to give us any authority for his statements, nor does he explain how the story reached him. Washington Irving has pointed out that the dates in the Alcaforado version are difficult to reconcile. The voyage is said to have occurred in the reign of Edward III.., or between the dates 1327 and 1378. An interval of forty years separates this last date from 1418 or 1420, when the Portuguese discovered Madeira. Morales was not released till 1416. when he must have been, at the very least, nearly forty years in prison, and must also have been old and fit for little work at sea. Morales's expedition was delayed four years, till 1420, when he sailed under Gonsalvo Zarco and discovered the island. Here, landing in the same place as Macham, the footsteps of the English were discovered, trunks notched with hatchets, and, in the forest, a great tree beneath which was the cross. There are wild and obvious improbabilities in this narrative. It is absolutely impossible to suppose that the prints of the English feet would remain forty-two years in the sand or mud of the Madeira shore, especially as there are very heavy rains in the autumn. It is added that the Portuguese, respecting the last wishes of Macham, built a chapel above the grave. At Machico, if the story can be believed, the original wooden cross was still to be seen as late as 1820, and even to-day the remnants of it are shown to credulous tourists. Some accounts represent the Capella de N.S. da Visitaçaõ at Machico occupying at least the site of the original chapel. but this again disputed.
Galvaõ omits Morales altogether front his tale, and mentions a Spanish expedition of discovery in 1393 or 1395 on the news of Macham's doings reaching Henry III of Castille. This expedition, we are told, fell in with the Canaries. Barros, the early Portuguese historian, records the discovery of Madeira in 1420 by Zarco and Vaz Teixera, and informs us that the explorers found on the island "the chapel, and the stone and tomb whereupon the foresaid Macham had graven his name." Here be it noticed the monument is of stone.
It is probable, on the whole, that the story had some basis in fact, but the romancers have clearly embellished it with details. There is no large demand upon our credulity in supposing voyagers driven by storm to Madeira. Unless the tradition had been widely prevalent at the close of the fifteenth and beginning of the sixteenth centuries the national pride of the Portuguese historians would surely have prompted them to suppress it. We may take it that some trace of civilised inhabitants, who had come and gone, was found by the Portuguese, and that the rumour of English discovery was current. At the same time there is no first-hand or really authentic evidence, and it is practically certain that the name Machico has as little to do with Macham or Machin as the remnant of the cross now shown with the original of the fourteenth century—if the latter ever existed.
On the strength of a mention in Hakluyt and an allusion in Fuller, one Nicholas of Lynn has been credited with a voyage towards the Arctic regions about 1360. Nicholas of Lynn is known to have been a Carmelite and lecturer in theology at Oxford, where in 1386 he composed a calendar and elaborate astronomical tables. He is supposed, on not very satisfactory evidence, to have been the author of a work known as 'Inventio Fortunata,' or ' Inventio Fortunæe.' No copy of the book exists, whether in manuscript or print, and it is indeed not altogether certain that it ever existed. The mention in Hakluyt resolves itself into a quotation from two other authorities, Gerardus Mercator, and John Dee. Mercator refers to a description of the North Pole which he had taken out of a voyage by Cnoyen of s'Hertogenhosch, who had met a priest at the King of Norway's court in 1364, and from him derived much information. The priest, we are told, was descended from those whom Arthur, the mythical King of Britain, had sent to inhabit "these islands" (probably Iceland), and he, again, reported that "in 1360 a certain English friar, a Franciscan and a mathematician of Oxford, came into these islands; who, leaving them, and pressing farther by his magical art, described all those places that he saw, and took the height of them with his astrolabe."
This is very fourth or fifth-hand evidence. On what Cnoyen said the priest had said that the friar said to him, Mercator based the idea that there were "four indraughts into an inward gulf or whirlpool with so great force that the ships which once entered therein could by no means be driven back," round about the North Pole. And John Dee, who is also quoted by Hakluyt, tells us that in 1360 a friar of Oxford, being a good astronomer, went company with others to the most northern islands of the world." There he left his companions and proceeded yet farther to the north himself. He described the islands and "the indrawing seas" in a book which he called 'lnventio Fortunata' or 'Fortunæ.' Dee goes on to ask whether this friar was not Hugo, the Irish Minorite, who is mentioned as a traveller, but of whome nothing definite is known. He states, however, that from Lynn, whence the friar sailed, was only a fortnight's voyage, with a fair wind, to Iceland.
Hakluyt, without any apparent authority, identifies the unknown friar with Nicholas of Lynn, though the latter was of a different religious order. Fuller, in his 'Worthies,' says of Norfolk in his own punning way, "No county doth carry a top and a gallant more high," and warns "none to be offended if a friar be put before the rest," but does not tell us to what friar he is referring. Supposing the identification to he accepted, Chaucer appears to allude to him and his navigations. The Nicholas of the "Miller's Tale" owns an astrolabe, and his navigations may be jestingly alluded to in the incident of the tub. This is all the more probable as the Oxford Nicholas was a friend of John of Gaunt, a distinction which Chaucer also shared.
A priori there is nothing improbable in the voyage of Nicholas, especially since there was during the fourteenth century, as we have seen, a thoroughly established trade between England and Iceland. Ranulfus Higden, however, who wrote his 'Polychronicon' in 1363, does not allude to Nicholas's voyage. His book may, of course, have been composed before the return of the voyager. Nor is there any mention in the contemporary records of Lynn. Here again their silence is not absolutely decisive, as very scanty trace remains of the many voyages to Iceland which we know from excellent authorities did really take place. Lynn was a port with great trade throughout the middle ages, and the sailing of every ship could not be recorded.
The 'Inventio Fortunata' is mentioned on the margin of a map of the world by John Ruysch, and dated 1508. "It is written in the book of the 'Inventio Fortunata' that there is a very lofty rock of loadstone beneath the Arctic Pole, thirty-three German miles in circuit. Round this flows an indrawing sea, fluid like a vase, pouring water through openings below. About are islands, of which two are inhabited. Huge and broad mountain chains surround these islands, of which twenty-four will not allow of settlement by man."
RUYSCH’S CHART. 1508.
CHART FROM THE PTOLEMŒAN CODEX OF CIRCA 1467.
(Preserved in the Zamoiski Library at Warsaw. From Nordonskiöld’s 'Facsimile Atlas.')
[To face page 322.
The map of Ruysch, which is substantially the same as Mercator's, shows in a sector of about 240 degrees round the Pole four large islands, and then an outer fringe of nineteen islands or peninsulas, covered with mountains and parted by narrow channels. The "Mare Sugenum" lies north of a line from Norway to "Gruenlant." The map and the fantastical currents—which have, however, some small basis in nature—are evidently founded upon the topography of Giraldus Cambrensis. There is nothing in them either to prove or disprove the voyage of the supposed Nicholas, as the early voyagers were proverbially fond of drawing the long bow. The magnetic rock is a common feature in such stories, though it does not appear to warrant the conclusion, which has been drawn, that Nicholas had approached the magnetic pole.
Even this entry of Ruysch contains nothing to prove that he had seen the book; and if he had seen it there is nothing to show that he reproduced Nicholas's ideas correctly. It is improbable that Nicholas would have drawn Greenland as incorrectly as in this map, that is, supposing him to have made his voyage to the North. At the middle of the fourteenth century there was still intercourse between Iceland and Greenland, and that intercourse must have been reflected in the charts of English traders to Iceland. The four islands reappear in Orontius Fine's map.
Finally, Las Casas, the historian of America, mentions burning islands which are to be seen in the sea near the Cape Verde Islands and the Azores, adding that these are spoken of in the book of 'Inventio Fortunata'; and the author of Columbus's life tells us that "Juventius Fortunatus relates that there is an account of two islands to the west and a little to the south of the Cape Verde Isles which skim over the water." The book cannot, however, be found in the Columbus library or catalogue. If it ever existed, it has perished, leaving only these traces.
If the narrative of Nicolo Zeno—which professes to relate the voyages and travels of two of his ancestors about the end of the fourteenth century—be true or substantially founded on fact, it becomes probable that the half-Norse, half-Scotch inhabitants of the Orkneys and Shetlands had rediscovered Greenland, and that they had some vague knowledge of the American mainland. It is usually assumed that the "Zichmni" of the Zeno narrative was the same as Henry Sinclair, Earl of Orkney and Caithness, and the grounds for that identification will be discussed later on. The authorities who accept the substantial truth of the narrtive are sufficiently numerous and impartial to compel a careful investigation of the facts.
The travels of the Zeni were first published in 1558 at Venice by Nicolo Zeno. His story is that when a boy he tore up or mutilated some ancient decuments in the Zeni PMce at Venice, inorant of their value. Some, however, of the papers escaped; and in later years, on examination, he found they were an account, by an ancestor of his named Antonio Zeno, of certain voyages which had been made by this same Antonio and an older brother Nicolo, about the close of the fourteenth century. The account had been based by Antonio upon letters of his own to a third brother, Carlo, and letters of Nicolo to him. Nicolo the younger found this account damaged by the act of his childhood, and proceeded, as far as he could, to put it in order and copy it out. With it was an old chart in a dilapidated condition, which also he copied, and which is said to display a very accurate knowledge of Greenland and northern geography.
The story of the voyage is as follows: Nicolo Zeno was a Venetian of great courage, and after the war between his country and Genoa, which terminated with the victory of Chioggia, he determined to travel. He equipped a ship and sailed through the Straits of Gibraltar to the north. A terrible storm, however, arose, and carried him for many days out of his course, at last wrecking him upon an island, which he calls "Frislanda." He was saved with his crew and the greater part of the merchandise which be was carrying with him. The date he gives as 1380. The inhabitants of the island proved unfriendly and came out in numbers to attack him, but fortunately a great chief named "Zichmni" appeared on the scene with an armed retinue, conversed with him in Latin, and hearing that he came from Italy and was a "fellow-countryman," at once gave him his protection. "Zichmni" was the ruler of certain islands known as "Porlanda," to the south, and he was also "Duke of Sorano, lying near Scotland."
The year before Nicolo's coming "Zichmni" had defeated the King of Norway, who was lord of the island, and who had made an expedition against "Frislanda." "Zichmni" took Zeno on board his fleet and made him his general. The fleet consisted, we are told, of thirteen vessels, two only of which were rowed. The naval forces captured "Ledovo" and "Ilofe," which are small islands in the Gulf of "Sudero," and put into a harbour known as "Sanestol," after sailing through a reef-encompassed sea, where Nicolo's knowledge of navigation stood him in good stead. Meantime "Zichnmi," with the army, had subdued the island, and rejoined the fleet at "Bondendon." Thence the combined forces proceeded to "Frislanda," the chief city of the island, where there was great plenty of fish, and whither ships resorted from Flanders, Brittany, England, Scotland, Norway, and Denmark. From here Nicolo wrote to his brother Antonio, asking him to repair to "Frislanda," which Antoreo forthwith did. They were soon sent by "Zichmni" to attack "Estlanda," which lies "between Frislanda and Norway"; but part of the fleet was wrecked by a storm, and the ships which were not injured were driven to "Grislanda," a large uninhabited island. In the storm the King of Norway's fleet, which was coming to attack "Zichmni," suffered very severely. After this "Zichmni" repaired his fleet and attacked "Islanda," which was subject to Norway, but failing in his attempt here, mastered "the other islands in those channels, which are called Islande, Talas, Broas, Iscant, Trans, Mimant, Dambere and Bres," and built a fort on "Bres," where he left Nicolo. Next summer Nicolo set out from "Bres" on a voyage, and sailing north came to "Engroneland," where he found a monastery, a church dedicated to St. Thomas, a volcano, and a hot spring. The water of this spring was used to heat the church and monastery, and also to cook food. Moreover, the monks, watering their garden with it, in spite of the cold climate, grew the flowers and fruits of temperate countries. The monastery was built of lava from the volcano, and mortar made from pumice-stone was used. Close to the settlement was a harbour into which the hot spring flowed and raised the temperature of the water, with the result that fish and fowl resorted to it. The houses were hive-shaped with holes at the top, and there was much trade in the summer with Norway. Of the friars many came from Norway and Sweden, but most from "Islande." The fishing-boats of the people were shaped like a weaver's shuttle made of fish-skins sewn together. The friars for the most part spoke Latin. Finally, in "Engroneland," Nicolo discovered a river. The cold, however, had affected him, and on his return to "Frislanda," he died.
Meantime "Zichmni" had decided to make discoveries. He had found a fisherman who had, twenty-six years before, been carried by a storm a thousand miles or more west of "Frislanda," to an island called "Estotiland." Of the four boats in company one was wrecked and six men from it were captured by the inhabitants and led to a large city, where they were brought before the king, who conversed with them by means of an interpreter in Latin. They remained five years in the island and learnt its language. The people were intelligent, had Latin books which they did not understand, possessed abundance of gold, and traded with Greenland. They sowed corn, drank beer, and built ships, hut did not know of the compass, which the fishermen showed them. Towards the south was a great country rich in gold. Presently the fishermen were sent to the south with twelve hosts to a country called "Drogio"; and on the way they were wrecked and fell into the hands of cannibals. These devoured the "Estotilanders," sparing the "Frislanders," because of their skill in fishing with nets. For thirteen years the fisherman was a prisoner amongst tribes who went naked, suffered much from the cold, and fought savagely amongst themselves. They did not know the use of metals, having only wooden lances and bows and arrows. To the south-west dwelt a more civilised race with cities and temples. These people sacrificed human beings and afterwards ate them.
The fisherman was fortunate enough to make his escape, and after many wanderings reached "Drogio," where he remained three more years, until, finding a boat from "Estotiland," he returned in it to that island, and trading there grew very rich. Then at last he came home to "Frislanda," and told "Zichmni" all, who at once resolved to start with a large fleet. Three days, however, before sailing the fisherman fell ill and died, and his place had to be taken by sailors who had come with him from "Estotiland." Leaving "Frislanda," "Zichmni" and Antonio Zeno came first to "Ledovo," where they stayed seven days to obtain provisions for the fleet, and then to "Ilofe." Afterwards putting to sea, a great wind caught them and swept them eight days from their course, till they came to land on the west. Entering a harbour, a host of armed men rushed down to the shore and menaced them. "Zichmni," by means of a man amongst these savages who was from "Islanda," talked with them and discovered that the country was called "Icaria," and that they would allow no one to land. Upon this he departed and sailed along a mountainous coast, but the natives followed him, shouting and yelling on the hill-tops and attacking his men whenever they landed. "Zichnmi" was compelled to abandon his attempt to land, and sailed first six days to the west and then four to the north-west, when land came into sight. Entering an excellent harbour, Zeno saw a volcano, and "Zichnmi" dispatched a hundred of his men towards it; fish and fowl and birds' eggs were abundant, and there was firewood to be found. The climate was mild and pleasant, but there were no inhabitants to be seen near the harbour, which "Zichmni" named "Trin." After eight days the soldiers returned with news that they had visited the volcano and found wild men of small stature who dwelt in caves. There was a large river and a good harbour at this place, they reported. On this "Zichmni" conceived the idea of settling there, but his people were not willing, and wanted to go home; therefore he sent back Antonio Zeno with the ships, himself retaining the row-boats and a few of the people. On his homeward voyage Zeno sailed twenty days to the east, and then five days more to the south-east, when he came to the island of "Neome," which was beyond "Islanda," and subject to "Zichmni." Hence in three days more he reached "Frislanda."
If the substantial truth of the narrative be accepted there are many difficulties to be explained away. What, for instance, was "Zichmni," an Italian, doing in these northern islands, and how had he obtained his sovereignty? How is it that the annals of Norway contain no reference to him? Such awkward questions are avoided by those who hold that Nicolo Zeno, the younger, misunderstood much and interpolated a little. This does not necessarily involve bad faith on his part. Moreover, granted the truth of the Zeni's account, the voyages of the fishermen to "Estotiland" and "Drogio" — by far the most marvellous part of the story — are not necessarily true. Their authenticity has little to do with the Zeni voyages and must be considered separately.
First, as to "Zichmni." Northern names would naturally be somewhat distorted in the Italian attempt at a phonetic equivalent, and "Zichmni" is something like "Sinclair." Still, as the Zeni professed to have resided some years in "Frislanda," we should certainly have expected greater accuracy from men of considerable knowledge, who were, as it appears, well acquainted with Latin. Henry Sinclair, Earl of Orkney, is the only individual in Orcadian or Northern history who can possibly be connected with "Zichmni," and for this reason the two are usually identified as one and the same. The ancient Earls of Orkney had become extinct in the middle of the fourteenth century. About 1357 one Malise Sperre had claimed the earldom, but though from his name he appears to have been of Norse descent, his title was not recognised by the Norwegian king Hakon. Instead the islands were granted to Henry Sinclair, whose mother was the daughter of Malise, Earl of Orkney and Caithness, and grand-daughter of the last Scandinavian earl of Orkney, Magnus. In 1379 he made his declaration of loyalty to the King of Norway, promising amongst other things to build no forts upon the islands. The conditions of his tenure were indeed very exacting, but in exchange he required from the Norwegian king a guarantee against vexation by "our cousin Malise Sperre." As the sequel to this we learn that in 1391 "the Earl of Orkney killed Malise Sperre in Hialtland" (Shetland) with seven others, but a certain youth with six others found a boat at Scalloway and escaped to Norway." In this event has been discerned a historic corroboration of the attack which Zeno mentions as made by "Zichmni" upon "Estlanda" and "Islande." It is not in the least likely that Sinclair, after solemnly promising to support in every possible way the King of Norway, to furnish him with a hundred men when required, to defend the Orkneys and Shetlands, or to aid against foreign aggression, would turn round at once upon his liege lord. He did indeed break his oath by building a fort at Kirkwall, but this did not involve a war with his suzerain. The struggle between Sinclair and Sperre might possibly, to Zeno, wear the aspect of a struggle with Norway, as there is some slight ground for associating Sperre with the Norwegian party.
Sinclair's lordship included the Orkneys, Shetlands, and Faröes. "Sorano" is identified by Mr. Major with the islet of Swona in the Pentland Firth, and "Podanda" or "Porlanda" — for both are read — with Pentland, a barren skerry. "Islande" he regards as a misreading for "Estlanda," and identifies it with Shetland, which is probable and reasonable, as the names are very much alike and correspond geographically. "Islanda," according to the old custom of naming capitals after the country, was the chief town of "Estland" or Shetland. "Grislanda" is the same as Gross Ey or Gross Island, as the mainland of the Orkneys was called in the past. So "Talas" is Yelli; "Broas," Barras; "Iscant," Unst; "Trans," St. Ronans; "Mimant," the mainland of the Shetlands; "Dambere," Hamna; and "Bres," Bressay. These identifications, too, seem not unlikely. Gross Ey has a very wild coast and would naturally appear to be uninhabited.
The main difficulty is, however, with "Frislanda." Some have supposed that this island, or group of islands, has disappeared through some cataclysm of nature, for which supposition geology and surveys give no ground whatever. Others, and Mr. Major amongst them, consider that "Frislanda " is the Faröe Islands. The old name in Danish was "Faeröisland," which very easily becomes "Frislanda." The expedition of "Zichmni" against "Frislanda," with which the story opens, would then be explained by Sinclair's occupation of the islands, which, considering the turbulent character of their Norse inhabitants at that date, and the opposition of Sperre, might have been a matter of some little trouble. The identification of the names mentioned in and near "Frislanda" is not easy. "Monaco" may be Monk Isle, a skerry of most insignificant size to the extreme south; "Ilofe " may be a misreading for "Slofe," and this again the Italian for "Skuöe"; and "Bondendon" may be — though the resemblance is very faint — Norderdahl. But it is very difficult to see how "Ledovo" can be Little (or Lilla) Dimon; or "Sanestol," Sandöe. For at "Ledovo" the fleet of "Zichmni" lies to and refreshes. But Little Dimon is a small rocky island, steep-to, with no anchorage, no haven, but only breakers dashing against an iron coast, which rises precipitously 1300 feet. It is uninhabited and can only be approached with the utmost difficulty; on landing "almost perpendicular rocks" have to be scaled. Nor is it clear how "Zichmni," having been put ashore at "Sanestol" or Sandöe, managed to meet the fleet at "Bondendon" or Norderdahl, seeing that the latter place is situated on another island. Sandöe is described as a small, barren, and thinly populated island, and the bay of Sand, where the fleet apparently landed him, is exposed to the south wind, and is therefore a dangerous anchorage for sailing ships. Nor is the navigation from "Sanestol to "Bondendon" perilous in actual fact, as Zeno describes it. There are only three rocky islands on the way, and these are steep-to, with deep water round.
For these and other reasons the Danish Admiral Irminger has argued that Iceland is the "Frislanda" of the Zeni. He considers that the progress of "Zichmni," as described in the story, must have taken place in an island greater and more populous than any of the Faröes. The English and the Scotch, as we have seen already, from quite an early date resorted to Iceland, whilst we hear nothing of their traffic with the Faröes. In 1394, moreover, a fight between the Icelanders and the foreigners took place at Budarhófdi, in Iceland, which may he the war described by Nicolo Zeno. In that case "Zichmni" would be some unknown and obscure piratical chief. Of the names in the narrative and map many suit Iceland better than the Faröes. Thus "Sudero Gulf" is identified with Faxe Bught; "Sanestol" with Buden Stad or Hval Fiord; "Monaco" with Westmanö; "Porlanda" with Portland; "Bondendon" with Budardalr. "Frislanda" is also described in the narrative as larger than Ireland, a which Major supposes is a mistake of the younger Zeno for "Islande" or Shetland. Iceland, it need scarcely be said, is larger than Ireland, and the description fits it well. On the one hand, "Frislanda" is marked on the Zeno map quite separate from Iceland, and considerably to the south-west of that island: on the other, there is a somewhat close correspondence in size and outline with Iceland. This has been explained by the believers in the Zeni as due to the mistake of Nicolo Zeno, the younger, who found the original map much damaged, and perhaps ran together the outlines of the archipelago. This explanation, however, is not altogether satisfactory. It is also suggested that the size of "Frislanda" was exaggerated because it had to receive a great number of names, and because it was a comfortable habit of early cartographers to adjust areas on their maps to this requirement. The name of "Frislanda," in approximately the same position as it occupies on the Zeno chart, occurs as "Fixlanda" in a sea chart of the fifteenth century at Milan, and as "Frixlanda" in a Catalan chart of the same date. Columbus mentions an island south of Iceland known as "Frislanda." The Zeno chart affected the cartography of the northern seas till the beginning of the seventeenth century, when at last "Frislanda" began to vanish from the map. It is to be noted that this chart does not mark the Faröes, which slightly confirms the identification of "Frislanda" with them.
Of the other names, "Icaria" is identified with Kerry in Ireland and not with any part of America. If the records of the voyage are true the distance sailed would have brought "Zichmni" with his fleet to the west coast of Ireland; and the "pursuit along the hilltops, and the howling of the strangers off the coast, are Irish all over," says Mr. Major, who falls back upon his usual explanation of the statement in the text, that "Icaria" derived its name from Icarus, son of Dædalus, King of Scotland, as being "an interpolation of Nicolo Zeno the younger." There was probably a certain amount of intercourse between the Norsemen of the Scotch Isles and Norway, and the Norsemen of Ireland; and that "Zichmni" should have sailed or been driven to Kerry is not unlikely. though there are difficulties. "Zichmni" is described as sailing in search of "Estotiland," which lies a thousand miles to the west of "Frisland." Kerry lies not to the west of the Faröes but almost due south, and six hundred miles distant. There is no notice in the narrative of so extraordinary a divergence from the course which would naturally be steered. "We were driven we knew not where for eight days," are the words, which suggest. indeed, a divergence. but hardly voyage in totally different direction. And the Zeni knew of the compass, so that we should expect them to have at least recorded such a change of course.
The story of the fisherman hardly concerns us, as he was not an Orkneyman but a Faröe islander. His "Estotiland " has been identified with Newfoundland, his "Drogio" with Nova Scotia. The civilised people he found dwelling in the "fair and populous city" are assumed to have been the descendants of the Norse colony planted centuries before by Leif Eriksson and his followers. There are, however, no clear traces of a Norse settlement in Newfoundland or Nova Scotia; no ruins of a city and no indisputably Norse relics have been disinterred. The ocean of time has closed upon the Norseman and does not give up its dead. Yet the evidence of some settlement appears indisputable. Others again have seen in this people the remnants of the Irish colonisation with even less probability. The fact that the people drank beer points to a Norse origin. Yet at no time before the coming of the Anglo-Saxon were the gold mines in Newfoundland and Nova Scotia worked; and we are expressly told that the strange people had "abundance of gold." It is far from improbable that some vague report of a strange new world had reached even the Faröes, from Iceland, at the close of the fourteenth century, when the traditions of Winland and Markland had not been forgotten.
But it is more probable that Nicolo Zeno interpolated much of the fisherman's narrative, or at least wrote it up from the tales of Columbus and Cortes, than that the fisherman ever sailed where he says he did. Indeed, the interpolation of Nicolo the younger is a convenient deus ex machinâ to fall back upon in difficulty. Mr. Major holds that the "rich and populous city" is only a piece of bombast on a level with the mention of "the Duchy of Sorano," or Swona, and so also he explains the "king's library," where Latin manuscripts were seen by the fisherman, and the "temples." "Estotiland" some have supposed is Scotland, but the particulars do not fit. "Drogio" would appear to be some part of the American mainland: the wild tribes are in that case Red Indians, and the civilised people to the south the Mexicans.
The voyage of "Zeno" from "Bres" to "Engroneland" has fewer traces of the fabulous, though here also there are many difficulties. The monastery of St. Thomas is supposed to be a mistake of one or other of the Zeni for St. Olaus, which is mentioned by an early Norse geographer, Ivar Bardssen. That there were monasteries and Norse settlements on Greenland is a fact proved by numerous remains, ruins of churches and buildings, runes and traditions. The lonely church of Katortok bears silent testimony to a civilisation which has long since passed away. We should then expect, if the narrative is true, that the place described by Zeno could be identified. Mr. Major places the monastery at Tasermiutsiak on the Tessermiut in southern Greenland, and finds an extinct volcano in the remarkable mountain of Suikarssuak, which rises nearly four thousand feet above the fiord. Unfortunately subsequent exploration has made it certain that Suikarssuak is not an extinct volcano; it is a granite rock. Nor are there hot springs on the Tessermiut fiord, though it is true that such springs now exist at no great distance, on the island of Ounartok, where are also very plain traces of a Norse settlement. Here, however, the volcano is wanting, and Admiral Irminger asserts that volcanoes have never existed in south Greenland. If this be so, and Zeno is in this passage romancing, what value can be attached to the rest of his story? Or is this another interpolation of Nicolo the younger? The use of hot water for the purposes which Zeno describes was possibly common in Iceland during his time: there are traces of it still. If he visited Iceland, which is highly probable, he may have heard stories of Greenland, and of the strange boats used by the Greenlanders, which agree so closely with the Eskimo boats of to-day that they can scarcely be the product of his unguided imagination.The voyage of "Zichmni" to Greenland — if "Trin" was in Greenland — presents the same difficulty of the volcano. There is nothing intrinsically improbable in the voyage itself: to the daring
[To face page 334.
THE ZENO CHART.
Norseman it was a fairly common undertaking; and if ships sailed from England and Scotland to Iceland, there is no reason why they should not have pushed little farther and made Greenland. Some of the details which look as if they had come from hearsay alone cause suspicion. We should, too, have expected to meet with some mention of Sinclair's Greenland colony in either Scotch or Orcadian history. Some doubt apparently hangs over his death, as the writer has not been able o discover whether he died in any portion of his Scotch domains or where he is buried. All we re told of his end is that he "is supposed to have died about 1410." It is, then, just possible that he never returned from his Greenland expedition—presuming that he really made it.
The strongest evidence for the "foundation on fact" of the narrative was, till recently, the Zeno map, though here, as usual, it was necessary to suppose much carelessness and interpolation on the part of Zeno the younger. Nordenskjöld considered in 1883 that the topography of the chart was on the whole much in advance of the knowledge of the time when it appeared, and accepted the general truth of the narrative. The mistakes ascribed to Zeno the younger are the misplacing of numerous islands which should be in the Shetlands, and which in the chart appear on the east coast of Iceland; the dubious outline of "Frisland": the removal of "Grislanda" from the Orkneys to the south of Iceland; the placing of St. Thomas's monastery in a situation to the extreme north-east of Greenland, a position which does not suit the narrative and which can certainly have never been reached by the ships of 1410; and some other inaccuracies. The date 1380 on the map, as in the text, is also supposed to have been a mistake of his or of some copyist for 1390, and such an error is quite possible. The best points about the map are its comparative accuracy in depicting the coast of Greenland, though if the Zeno outline be compared with a map of 1467 a certain resemblance will be detected. The outline of Iceland is moderately accurate to the west on the Zeno map, but here again a comparison with the Olaus "Magnus" map of 1539, which was prepared, though not printed, at least ten years before the Zeno map was known, will show a slight correspondence. Nicolo Zeno the younger may have seen copies of this map before it was printed. The names given in the Shetland archipelago — supposing Estland to be Shetland — are ahead of Italian knowledge in 1558, when Zeno's map was published. "Podalida" was perhaps a perversion of Pomona in the Orkneys.Against the narrative, in its present form at any rate, much can be urged. At the very best we must suppose Nicolo Zeno the younger guilty of altering and interpolating. His story of the torn documents, musty with age, is a very common pretext of the fablemonger. The original documents, which would compel belief, have never been produced or discovered. His work was not published till 1558 by Francesco Marcolini, and this was more than a century and a half after the death of the voyagers. In a damp climate such as that of Venice, there would be no small probability of neglected and carelessly treated documents becoming quite illegible after such long neglect. It has been noted by every critic that the text and the map disagree almost hopelessly, which looks as though, in one or other, there had been much interference with the original. At the date when the work was published Venice was extremely eager to claim for herself some share in the credit of Columbus's discoveries as against her old rival Genoa, from whom Columbus had sprung.
[To face page 336.
CHART FROM WHICH THE ZENO CHART MAY HAVE BEEN TO SOME EXTENT COPIED.
The Olaus Magnus Map of 1539.
It was a time when fraudulent tales were in the air, synchronising closely with the date of the origin of the Madoc myth in England. There was, then, every inducement to foist upon the world a tale which would win glory for Venice and in particular for the family of the Zeni, who were amongst Venice's greatest men. It is, however, true that Nicolo Zeno, the compiler, bore a high character in Venice. There may have been a voyage to Iceland, and even to Greenland, but it will be well to suspend our judgment till some trace of the original documents is discovered. The "Drogio" and "Estotiland" of the map give no ground for concluding that in 1390 or 1410 the Zeni knew of America, as these names may easily have been interpolated from the discoveries of Columbus and the Cabots to suit the story of the fisherman, which only reaches us, it is to be remembered, at third hand.
- The substance of this account is drawn from Sir Thomas Herbert's 'Travels into Africa and Asia,' quoted in Stephens' (T.) 'Madoc,' 30, 31.
- Evans' 'Drych y Prif Oesoedd,' quoted in 'Madoc,' 39.
- 'Cosmos' (Bohn), ii. 610. R. H. Major — a good authority — shares his respect. Columbus, Letters, xx. Other authorities who appear to have accepted the story with some qualification are Torfæus, 'Historia Vinlandiæ'; Carte, 'History of England'; Campbell, 'Admirals'; Lyttleton, 'Henry the Second'; Pinkerton, 'Voyages' (xii. 157). Bowen (B. F.), 'America Discovered by the Welsh' (Phila. 1876), makes a very great deal out of a very little, and seems over-credulous. De Costa, 'Pre-Columbian Voyages of Welsh' (Albany, 1891), accepts Madoc's discovery. But all these writers appear to have been deceived by the garbled renderings and citations of Powel. T. Stephens' monograph on Madoc ('Madoc,' by Thos. Stephens, London, 1813) is at once exhaustive, distinguished by critical acumen, and, if sceptical, convincing. A full bibliography is given in R. B. Anderson's 'America not Discovered by Columbus' (Chicago, 1883), pp. 142-149. To this should be added the article "Madog" in the 'Dict. National Biography,' vol. 35, which is distinctly unfavourable. Other references are given in J. Winsor's 'History of America' (London, 1889), vol. i. 111, note 8.
- Morgan, 'British Kymry,' 166.
- Howell, quoted in Madoc, 37.
- Mon. Brit., 94, 95. Vide also text in the same volume. The date of the MS. of the Brut is fourteenth century. It is ascribed to one Caradoc. The absence of all mention of Madoc is not absolutely conclusive, as the book may have been composed before he became prominent.
- Cynddelw, Madoc, 8.
- Llywarch, Madoc, 12. The oft-quoted passage from Llywarch, "Ker aber Congwy," etc., seems to have nothing whatever to do with Madoc. Madoc, 203, notes.
- Quoted Madoc, 18, 19.
- Madoc, 205, 206.
- Madoc, 21, 209.
- Ieuan Brechva flourished, 1480. Madoc, 22, 23.
- As to the loss of the Welsh MSS. through decay, etc., see Madoc, 217, 218.
- Madoc, 158.
- 'A true reporte of the late discoueries and possession taken in the right of the Croune of England of the New Found Landes by that valiaunt and worthye gentleman, Sir Humfrey Gilbert, Knight,' by G. P. 1583. 4to.
- 'Historie of Cambria,' by Dr. David Powel. 1584.
- Madoc, 27.
- Curaçoa, island in the West Indies.
- Cape Breton, some hundreds of miles from Mexico.
- It is uncertain to what place this refers.
- 'Travels into Africa and Asia the Great.' 1634.
- A supposed collection in Raglan Castle, which was burned in the Civil War, mentioned.
- "White rock, heaven, fox, egg, quill, bread, nose, mother, father."
- For the first of these words, see that great magazine of assertions, 'America Discovered by the Welsh.' B. F. Bowen. Phila., 1876.
- Page 306.
- Doctor Williams, 'Further Obervations.' His references are given, but do not support his text. Madoc, 40.
- Morgan Jones was an Oxford graduate. He does not appear to have mentioned his adventures to anyone till 1686. The date of his journey is given differently, as 1660, in another version. No expedition, so far as can be discovered, was sent to Carolina in either 1660 or 1669, though there were expeditions in 1663, 1666, and 1670. It was at the latter date that Oyster Point, now Charleston, was settled. With this expedition Virginia had nothing whatever to do; moreover, there was no reason why the long journey of which Jones speaks should have been attempted, as there was a settlement close at hand, at Cape Fear. Madoc, 128, 129.
- Journal, i. 173, 174. Quoted in Madoc, 130.
- 'Prydain Fawr.' Unfortunately the name "Great Britain" came into use long after the migration of Madoc. Madoc, 53.
- Madoc, 60
- Winsor, 'History of America,' i. 140. Grifiiths, as usual, was taken prisoner, and condemned to death.
- Op. cit.
- Bowen, 88. The chief added that a Welshman who had been with him found that he could talk well with the Paducahs. Bowles is said to have been an Irishman. Paducahs, explains Mr. Bowen, would be very like Madoc if only the "P" were changed to "M." Others, bolder, have asserted that in Paducah, .Madogwy, descendant of Madoc, can be traced. Others, again, found the required name in Doeg
- Catlin, 'North American Indians,' i. 94, 207; ii. 262.
- It is well to remember that the Norsemen who indisputably reached America and settled there, have also left no trace.
- Amongst the Shawnees of Florida. Major, 'Zeni,' xciii.
- The compass, according to Torfæus, was used by the Norsemen about the middle of the fifteenth century ('Hist. Rev. Norvegicarum' [Hafn, 1711], iv. 4, p.345), in approximately the modern manner. Raymond Lully  was well acquainted with it; Gauthier d'Espinois (middle thirteenth century) refers to its polarity; Brunetto Latini  mentions it in his Enyclopædia. It appears to have heen known in Scotland at the beginning of the fourteenth century, as Barbour, writing in 1375, says that King David, when crossing in 1306 from Arran to Carrick, "na nedil had na stane." Chaucer, in 1301, alludes to the thirty-two points. Probably it was introduced by the Arabs and the Crusaders, as Jacques de Vitry, Bishop of Acon in Palestine , speaks of the magnetic needle as "most necessary for seafarers," and the Crusader De Beauvais also alludes to it. A still earlier allusion is found in Neckam, De Utensilibus [twelfth century]. Encyclopæd. Brit., ed. 9, "Compass."
- They occasionally voyaged to Ireland: vide Brut y Tywysogion: 'Chron. and Memorials of Great Britain,' p. 92, where the voyage of one Owain is noticed. It does not necessarily follow that he went in a Welsh ship, though this is probable. Stephens, Madoc, 209, is against any voyage. He thus sums up: — There is no notice of any naval expedition of the kind in any contemporary historian, though it is incredible that, if the voyage had taken place, it should not have been recorded. Giraldus Cambrensis, who visited Wales in 1188, is silent, though a lover of marvels. The Bardic poems assert that Madoc was slain by an assassin; that Llywarch was suspected of the murder, and that he was put upon his trial for it. Assuming a mysterious death for Madoc, he explains the tradition from analogies in folklore. Pp. 218, 219.
- Madoc, 207. Madoc was a great sailor, fond of travel, and built a ship without iron, with stag-horn nails, to enter the vortex that the sea might not swallow her up. He called her the Horn Lady, and voyaged with her to foreign lands. Returning, she was wrecked off Bardsey. The story in its present form dates from the close of the sixteenth century, though we are told that it "had come down from hand to hand under creditable warranty to this day ."
- There was a battle, of course; but all that the scanty allusions to it would seem to imply is, that the Welsh stood on the shore and strove to resist the attempted landing of the English soldiers. Cf. Stephens, T., 'Literature of the Kymry,' 17, 18. In Matthew Paris' 'Chronicles and Memorials of Great Britain,' vol. v. 633, under the year 1257, and consequently after the English conquest of Wales, there is notice of the Welsh troubling the English with "massacre, fire and rapine." On this Edward threatens them with the naval strength of the Irish: and the Welsh, to resist the Irish at sea, furnished themselves, we are told, with a fleet of galleys, "piraticis armis et victualibus communitas." From this it would appear that they had a fleet before the middle of the thirteenth century. There is in 1212 (Close Rolls, Hardy, T. D., i. 121, 122) an order of John to De Lucy, directing him to send eighteen galleys for the purpose of destroying Llewellyn's ships, galleys, and boats (naves, galeas, batellos). See p. 180, antea.
- Madoc, 141.
- Rot. de Præstit., 179.
- The following "voyages " to the Holy Land — some on land — are recorded by Hakluyt in this period: — John Lacy, 1172; William Mandeville, 1177; Richard's Crusade (see p. 165, etc.), 1190; Baldwin Devonius, 1190; Richard Canonicus, 1200; Robert Curson [went to Damietta], 1218; Ranulph of Chester and others, 1218; Peter, Bishop of Winchester, 1231; Richard of Cornwall and others, 1240; William Longespee, 1248; Edward, son of Edward III., 1270; Anthony Beck, 1305. In the early fourteenth century there were also expeditions to Tunis and Barbary.
- 'Fœdera, i. 219.
- Matt. Paris, 771.
- 'Fœdera,' ii. 949-950.
- Macpherson, 'Annals of Commerce,' i. 490-93.
- Nicolas, 'History of the Royal Navy,' ii. 21.
- 1187 A.D. Giraldus Cambrensis: 'Top. Hibernica,' Distinct. 11. xiii.; Rolls Series, v. 95
- Icelandic Sagas, Rolls Series, iv. 421ff.; De Costa 'Inventio Fortunata,' 11–13.
- Winsor, 'Hist. of America,' i. 74, credits the early presence of the Basques upon the banks: though Prowse, 'History of Newfoundland,' 47, does not believe in their voyages to Newfoundland, whilst he appears to think that they sailed to Greenland.
- Machim, according to the Madeira tradition. Taylor, E., 'Madeira' (London, 1886), p. 141. The lady is also called Anna d'Arfet. Machim or Machin is a good West-country name, and a Macham has been Mayor of Gloucester. It would be worthwhile to examine genealogies to see whether Robert Macham can be traced. So far I have been unable to find him.
- Washington Irving, 'Voyages of Columbus' (London, 1828), iv, 337.
- 'Historical Relation of the Discovery of the Isle of Madeira. Written originally in Portuguese by Don Francisco Alcaforado.' London, 1675.
- 'Discoveries of the World.' A. Galvaõ, Hakluyt Society. London, 1862.
- Irving, op. cit. iv. 345.
- By court jealousies and intrigues, says the Alcaforado story.
- Taylor, E. M., 'Madeira' (London, 1889), xv. There is also a very heavy surf.
- Taylor, 'Madeira,' 145.
- Ib. 51.
- Ib. 145. I have not been able to find any close and detailed description of the Machico anchorage and harbour, so as to compare it with the Alcaforado account. He mentions a rock, steep-to, and not marked on the charts. This, if it ever really existed, is not shown on the Admiralty chart, nor is allusion made to it in what sailing directions ! have been able to discover. At Fuchhal is, of course, the Loo Rock [Purdy, Memoir .... of the Atlantic Ocean (London, 1825), pp. 204–208]; but then Funchal is not Machico.
- Galvaõ, Hakl. Soc. Ed., p. 59. Admiral Bethune, the editor, queries the date 1395.
- Barros, 1496–1570, in his 'Asia' (Lisbaõ, 1552-53): "juge impartial et en mème temps patriote enthusiaste" ('Grande Encyclopédie').
- Was the island of O'Brazil, which appears first in the Medicean portolano of 1351, Madeira? If so, it may have reflected Macham's discovery.
- 'Dict. Nat. Biography,' Nicholas of Lynne.
- Hakluyt, B. L. i. 122.
- Cnoyen's book is lost, though extracts from it, sent by Mercator to John Dee, survive in Cotton MSS. Mercator adds that "it contained his voyage all through Asia, Africa, and the North; that it had been lent him by a friend in Antwerp, and restored by him; but that wanting it again, it could not be found.
- The mathematician and astrologer, 1527-1608.
- As De Costa has suggested. 'Inventio Fortunata,' 17, 18.
- "Legere est īlibro de ivētione fortvnati svb polo arctico rvpē esse excelsā ex lapide magnete. 33. miliarivm Germanorvin ambitv. Hvnc cōplectitvr mare svgenvm flvidvm instar vasis aqvā deorsv̄ per foramina emittētis. circv̄ isule sv̄t. & .e qvibo incolv̄tor dve ambivnt avtem has insulas continvi montes vasti latiq: dietis. 24. qbo negāt hominvin. habitatio." This is obviously corrupt: probably "dictis" or "e dictis" should be read for "dietis," and "qvi" or "qvae" for "qbo." "Svgenvm" is apparently the Latinized Dutch word "zuigend," or "indrawing." The general meaning is fairly clear, and is made clearer by the map. See De Costa, 'Arct. Expl.,' 22, 23.
- The dipping of the needle excited great alarm amongst early navigators. Vide the inscription on the Cabot map: "Here the compass loses its power, and no ship with iron on board can get away."
- 1531 a.d. Reproduced in De Costa, 'Arct. Expl.,' 28., and in Nordenskjöld's 'Facsimile Atlas,' plate xxxii.
- Nordenskjöld, 'Facsimile Atlas,' plate xli.
- Op. cit. 33.
- The most eminent authorities favourable are: Torfæus, T., 'Historia Vinlandiæ.' (1705), preface; Forster, J. R., 'History of Discovery and Voyages in the North' (1786), pp. 178–209; Zurla, Cardinal Placido, 'Dissertazione intorno ai Viaggi e Scoperte settentrionali di N. ed A. Zeni,' 1808; Malte-Brun, 'Annales des Voyages' (Paris, 1810), x. 72–87; Barrow, Sir J., 'Voyages into the Arctic Regions' (1818), pp. 13–26; Humboldt, A. von, 'Examen Critique de l'Histoire la Gographie du Nouveau Continent' (Paris, 1837), ii. 120–24: Major, R. H., 'Voyages of the Zeni.' with facsimile of the Zeno map, Hakluyt Society (1873), Introduction; Nordenskjöld, 'Studier och Forskningar' (Stockholm, 1883–4). Views are summed up, 'Compte Rendu, Congrès des Américanistes' (Copenhagen, l884), pp. 120–23.
- Major, R. H., op. cit. gives the Italian and a translation. From his text the narrative is abridged
- A.D. 1377-1381.
- Italian voyages to the British seas were far from uncommon. Cf. Major, 'Letters of Columbus,' xxix. Genoese ships we meet with often.
- This must be a mistake for 1390. Major, 'Zeni,' xlvii. Ortelius gives the date as 1380; Hakluyt, copying from Ortelius, 1390, showing that the mistake is easily made.
- "Islanda," apparently the capital of "Island" or "Islande," which is seemingly the same as "Estland" and Shetland. Vide page 330.
- Here must stand for Iceland, not Shetland.
- So at the present day Latin is spoken by the upper classes in Iceland.
- Others read "Escociland." The map has "Estetiland." Possibly this is some tale brought by the Basques.
- On the date of the discovery of the compass, see page 312, note.
- Others read "Drogeo."
- Du ponente, "on the westward side of it," or "on the westward side of them."
- On the Zeno map "Trin" is marked as the extreme southerly point of Greenland, equivalent, in fact, with Cape Hvarf, or "turning point." Bredsdorff connects "Trin Prom" with Kuingingek ('Proc. Geogr. Society,' London, 1879, xlix. 410).
- "Neome" is by Forster identified with the island of Naalsöe, one of the smaller islands of the Faröe group. On the map it appears considerably to the west of "Frisland," midway between the latter and "Estland."
- Major, "unquestionable blunder" [of Nicolo], 'Zeni,' xxii.; "misplacement of localities," ib. xxiii.; "misreading," ib.; Nicolo, junior, "cause of all perplexity," ib. xxv.; "hyperbole," ib. xxviii.; "deplorable confusion," xxxvii.; "this excrescence work of Nicolo, junior," ib. xcix., etc.
- Zahrtmann (Major, 'Zeni,' xxvi., xxvii.) denies that Sinclair and "Zichmni" are the same, as Sinclair witnessed certain Norwegian acts in 1388 and 1389, As a matter of fact the travels could not have taken place before 1390, and this date removes the difficulty. Vide Skene, 'Celtic Scotland,' iii. 452, 453; Sir W. Douglas, Peerage of Scotland, ii. 388; 'Chronicles and Memorials of Scotland,' Exchequer Rolls, vol. viii. pp. xxxv.-xxxvii. Orkney (apparently with Shetlandls and Faröes) was held by the Earl as a fief of Norway, whilst Caithness was a Scotch fief.
- Barry, 'History of the Orkneys,' 196. See also Torfæus, 'Orcades.'
- Exchequer Rolls, Scotland, viii. p. xxxvii.
- His name, and the fact that his adherents fled to Norway.
- This was Forster's first suggestion. So also Zurla.
- Zahrtmann; Major, 'Zeni,' ix.-xiii.; Steenstrup ('Compte Rendu, Congrès des Américanistes' (Copen., 1883), 150-180) holds that the "Frislanda" of the map is unquestionably Iceland, aud not the Faröes; that the "Frislanda" of the text is North Friesland; in part Admiral Irminger agrees with him ('Proceed. Geog. Soc.,' London, vol. xlix. pp. 398-412). Major, following (pp 412-120), controverts his views.
- "Like a haycock" (Adm. Irminger). For a woodcut of the island, vide op. cit., 402.
- On the other hand the Faröes lie on the voyage from England to Iceland, and would naturally be visited.
- Ireland, Iceland, and "Islande" or "Estland," or Shetland, appear to be constantly confused.
- Early maps often repeat a country, e.g., Greenland appears twice on the Ortelius map of 1570 (Nordenskjö1d, 'Facsimile Atlas,' Stockholm, pl. xlvi., Groeland and Groenlant), so pl. xlvii., etc.
- Vide maps collected in Nordenskjöld's 'Facsimile Atlas.'
- 'Zeni,' xcix.
- The position of "Icaria" on the chart is also against Kerry, unless this is one of the younger Zeni's "interpolations."
- For the Norse settlements, vide Winsor, History of America, i. 87-107, and the numerous authorities there quoted. Winsor is sceptical, but the evidence appears strong to the writer.
- According to the Sagas, Bishop Eric of Greenland went to Winland, 1121; Adalbrand and Helgason are said to have rediscovered Newfoundland, from Iceland, in 1285. The last recorded voyage to Winland was from Greenland in 1347. Major, 'Letters of Columbus,' xviii. 5.
- St. Tommaso and St. Olaus have in the Italian and Norse respectively a very faint phonetic resemblance.
- Vide map of Greenland. 'Zeni,' lxxxii.
- So Irminger.
- Hot springs, however, as Major justly says, are clear indications of volcanic activity, and glacier action may have obscured the traces of volcanic action.
- E.g., the volcanic stories, which would come naturally enough from a romancing Icelander, or from a Venetian who had visited Iceland.
- Nordenskjöld, 'Congrès des Américanistes' (1883), p. 121 ff, is thus summarised: The map in the 1558 edition of the Zeni is based upon an old chart of northern origin, anterior in date to 1482, and probably brought back from his voyages by Antonio Zeno. Of this map no faithful copy is known, but there are two examples with more or less alteration—the map of Zeno the younger, printed 1558, and of Nicolas Donis, printed 1482 (in 'Facsimile Atlas,' text p. 61, a reduced representation), which has not many of the arbitrary modifications of the younger Nicolo, but, on the other hand, places Greenland far too much to the north. The common origin of the two maps is proved by the identity of a great number of names. Zeno's chart has, then, "an immense importance," equal almost to Andrea Blanco's map of the Mediterranean. It is evidently the fruit of many years of experience, which has been acquired by active navigation on the coasts delineated. It must have taken place anterior to the Columbian age, as then for a time knowledge of Greenland was lost. He concludes that there was then less ice to the west of Greenland; that voyages were often made to Greenland; and that those voyages occasionally extended southward to Canada, etc. Nordenskjöld's opinion must carry weight; but Winsor ('America,' i. 127) is unfavorable to the map, and Irminger totally denies that Zeno had ever been in Greenland. The old Olaus Magnus map, which Zahrtmann conjectured to have existed, has, since Major's and Nordenskjöld's opinion was given, turned up. It is evident that Zeno the younger copied much from this map, and thus the only strong argument for his veracity has passed away. I have this fact from Mr. C. H. Coote, of the Map Department, British Museum, who disbelieves in the Zeno story: I must take this opportunity of thanking him for much kind assistance.
- Owing to confusion between "Islande" (Shetland) and "Island" (Iceland).
- 'Facsimile Atlas,' pl. xxx. See also Winsor, 'America,' i. 121.
- Winsor, 'America,' i. 123. The map is reproduced. See also 'Facsimile Atlas.' p. 59. The map dated 1572, Roma, is virtually the same as the old Olaus map of 1539, reproduced in Brenner, O., 'Karte des Olaus Magnus' (Christiania, 1886).
- Major, 'Letters of Columbus,' xxiv. quotes Patrizio. Nicolo Zeno the younger was born in 1515. There is a trace of the story in 1536, as Marco Barbaro says of Antonio Zeno: "He wrote with his brother Nicolo the voyages of the islands under the Arctic pole and of those discoveries of 1390," and "by order of Zicno, King of Frisland, he went to the continent of Estotiland in North America." Vide Major, 'Zeni,' xlv. Zahrtmann holds that Nicolo the younger might have interpolated this statement,
- The unfavourable authorities are, amongst others: De Laet, 'Notae ad dissertationem … de origine gentium Americanarum' (Paris, 1643), 20–22; Daru, 'Histoire de Venise' (Paris, 1821), vi. 295–98; Irving, Washington, 'Voyages of Columbus' (London, 1828), iv. 217–24; Biddle, R., 'Cabot' (London, 1831), 328–32; Zahrtmann, Proc. Roy. Geogr. Society, v. 102; Bryant and Gay, 'Popular History of United States' (New York, 1876), i. 76–85; Irminger, Proc. Roy. Geog. Soc. (London), xlix. 398, etc.; Steenstrup, 'Compte Rendu, Congrès des Américanistes' (1880), p. 180, etc.; Winsor, J., 'History of America,' i. 74 (somewhat doubtful). Many authorities accept a portion of the voyages as true. A fairly full bibliography will be found in Anderson, R. B., 'America not Discovered by Columbus' (Chicago, 1883).