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Title: The Discoveries of America to the Year 1525

Author: Arthur James Weise

Release date: April 3, 2022 [eBook #67766]

Language: English

Original publication: United States: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1883

Credits: Adrian Mastronardi and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at (This file was produced from images generously made available by The Internet Archive)



Discoveries of America




Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1883, by
in the office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington


Press of
G. P. Putnam’s Sons
New York






It is a fact that America in the early ages was one of the inhabited parts of the earth. The Egyptians, who were among the first of the peoples of the eastern hemisphere to use letters and to write history, furnish the earliest known account of the inhabitants of this continent. It is also a truth that some ancient geographers and philosophers, who had no personal knowledge of the existence of a primitive people in the western hemisphere, regarded the information recorded by the Egyptians as fictitious and incredible. When Columbus proposed to go to this inhabited realm beyond the western ocean almost all the learned men of Portugal and Spain opposed the undertaking as visionary, and not a few of them asserted that the navigator’s opinions were absurd, because, as they argued, no one of all the seamen who had lived since the creation of the world had discovered land beyond Hibernia.

The discovery of the continent and the subsequent explorations of the Spaniards not only confuted the fallacious arguments of the learned men of the middle ages but confirmed the statements of the Egyptian records descriptive of the civilization of the Atlantic country. The tradition of the peopling of the continent by the descendants of Euenor, the good man begotten in the beginning from the ground, and of the residence of celestial beings among the inhabitants peculiarly confirms the account in the Bible of the[vi] creation of the first man from the dust of the ground and of his descendants having communications with angels.

The asserted discovery of America by the Northmen rests more upon conjecture than evidence. It appears that Columbus was not the discoverer of the continent, for it was seen in 1497 not only by Giovanni Caboto but by the commander of the Spanish fleet with whom Amerigo Vespucci first sailed to the New World.

The land of Francesca, discovered by Verrazzano in 1524, it will be seen, was early possessed by the French, who built a fort near the Indian village where now is the city of New York, and called the surrounding country La Terre d’Anormée Berge; a geographical designation more significantly expressed in the phraseology, The Land of the Palisades.

The writing of this work required the personal examination of many old and rare books, manuscripts, and maps, besides the perusal of a large number of recent papers and publications relating to its subject. The task further demanded a careful review and comparison of the various statements of historical writers concerning the voyages of the persons whom they believed to have been the discoverers of certain parts of the coast of America, between Baffin’s Bay and Tierra del Fuego.

It seemed to me that some of the information contained in the different works which I had examined should be presented in the language of the writers or in faithful translations so that the intended significance of the information could be perceived by the reader. I therefore have placed these excerpta before the general reader and the critic in the belief that the[vii] citations will be appreciated. They will at least show my desire that the judgments of those who examine them should not be biased by any conclusions of my own.

My researches were for the most part made in the General Library of the State of New York, in Albany. The generous personal interest taken by the State’s distinguished librarian, Henry A. Homes, LL.D., in placing before me the large number of works which I desired to examine, was so constant and helpful that it is a great pleasure for me to mention and acknowledge his kind offices. I am also indebted to his assistant, George Rogers Howell, for many official courtesies. I also owe my thanks to George H. Moore, LL.D., the erudite superintendent of the Lenox Library, in the city of New York, to Frederick Saunders, librarian of the Astor Library, to Jacob B. Moore, librarian of the New York Historical Society, and to Leopold Lindau, librarian of the American Geographical Society. The offices of L’Abbé A. N. Ménard, vicar of the parish of St. Roch, Paris, France; of Pádre Antonio Ceriani, prefect of the Ambrosian Library, Milan, Italy; of Jules Godeby, professor of French literature in the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, New York; and of Dr. Titus Munson Coan, of New York City, place me under many obligations to these gentlemen. It is also a great pleasure for me to acknowledge the generous favors of E. Thompson Gale, of Troy, which permitted me to accomplish the purposes that I had in view when, eight years ago, I undertook my long-protracted task. The kind offices of my friend, William H. Young, of Troy, are also gratefully remembered.

Arthur James Weise.

Troy, N. Y., March 27, 1884.




Antiquity of the red race. An antediluvian people. Vestiges of an ancient civilization in America. Records of Egypt. Manuscripts of Solon, the great Greek legislator. Origin of the aborigines of the western hemisphere. Founders of an empire. The tradition preserved by the Egyptians. Early navigation of the Atlantic Ocean. Isolation of the people of the western continent. The Northmen. Iceland found. Greenland explored. Saga of Eric the Red. Voyage of Bjarni, Herjulf’s son. Explorations of Leif, the son of Eric the Red. Tradition concerning Thorfinn Karlsefne. Discovery of Vinland. Its geographical situation. The stone tower at Newport. Dighton rock. Voyages of the Welsh adventurer Madoc. Discoveries of the Zeni brothers. Story of a Frisland fisherman. Estotiland. Drogio 1-50
Arrival of three strangely clad travellers in Venice. Their surprising disclosures. The book of Marco Polo. Marvellous wealth of Cathay. Gold-covered palaces. Magnificent cities. Extensive traffic. The empire of the Grand Khan. The travels of Sir John Mandeville. Commerce of Europe restricted. Use of the mariner’s compass. An age of superstition. Points of the compass-card. Geographical enthusiasm of Prince Henry of Portugal. Explorations along the coast of Africa. The astrolabe made useful to navigators. The Cape of Good Hope reached 51-69
Christopher Columbus’s conception of finding a short and direct way to India. His reasonable conclusions. Statements of ancient geographers. The known parts of the world. Circumference of the earth. Inferences respecting pieces of wood and dead bodies cast upon the islands lying off the west coast of Africa. Island of the Seven Cities. Letter of Paolo Toscanelli. Distance to Cathay. Columbus’s overtures to the king of Portugal. Bartolomé Columbus visits England. Christopher Columbus seeks aid in Spain. The opinion of the learned men respecting his project. The friendly offices of Friar Juan Perez. Luis de Santángel’s proposals to Queen Isabella. Columbus commissioned to undertake a voyage to Cathay 70-93[x]
The object of Columbus’s voyage. His journal. His intention to make a map of the lands of the ocean. The vessels of the fleet. They sail from the port of Palos. The fears of the sailors. Variations of the needle. The Sea of Sargasso. Incidents of the voyage. Discovery of land. Island of San Salvador. Columbus’s description of the people and the islands. He believes that he had reached the continent of Asia, and that he was near the dominions of the Grand Khan of Cathay. He sends embassadors to the sovereign of the Orient. His letter to Rafael Sanchez. The high latitude to which he sailed. A fort erected at La Navidad, on the island of Española. The profits of the voyage. Columbus sets sail for Spain. Anchors in the Tagus. Visits the king of Portugal. Returns to Spain. Enthusiasm of the people. His reception at Barcelona 94-144
Territorial privileges of Portugal and Spain. A line of demarkation designated by Pope Alexander VI. The East and the West Indies. Columbus’s second voyage. The Caribbees. The Villa de la Navidad burned. The town of Isabela built. Further explorations of the coast of Cuba. Depositions taken that Columbus had reached the dominions of the Grand Khan. The cemies of the people of Española. The homeward voyage. Ignorance of pilots respecting latitude and longitude. Columbus’s compasses. Amerigo Vespucci’s first voyage to the New World. Lands on the coast of South America. Describes the natives. The country of Lariab. Columbus’s third voyage. He surveys the continent. Explores the coast of La Tierra de Gracia. Amerigo Vespucci’s second voyage. Sails along the north coast of South America. Traffics for pearls with the natives. Returns to Cadiz. Columbus’s last voyage. The edifices of Veragua. The evidences of civilization. Writes that he reached the province of Mango, contiguous to Cathay. Dies at Valladolid. His nautical chart. Juan de la Cosa’s great ox-hide map 145-185
England sends ships to search for a navigable way to the Indies. The first voyage of Giovanni Caboto. Pasqualigo’s account of it. Discovery of the territory of the Grand Khan. The flag of England and that of St. Mark planted on the coast of the new country. Prima Tierra Vista. The island of St. John. Caboto’s second voyage. The dispatches of Pedro de Ayala to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain. The voyages of Sebastiano Caboto. His explorations along the coast of Labrador. La Tierra de los Bacallaos. Sebastiano Caboto’s maps and manuscripts 186-204
The Portuguese reach the Indies. Land of the Holy Cross discovered by Pedro Alvarez Cabral. Gaspar Cortereal’s voyages. Letter of Pietro[xi] Pasqualigo. Terra Verde. Amerigo Vespucci’s third and fourth voyages along the east coast of South America. Johann Ruysch’s map. Martin Waldseemüller’s suggestion. The name of America. A fountain of vivific water. Juan Ponce de Leon explores the coast of Florida. Vasco Nuñez de Balboa beholds the Pacific Ocean. The coast of Yucatan explored by Francisco Hernando de Cordoba. The discoveries of Juan de Grijalva. The country of New Spain. The expedition of Hernando Cortes. The magnificent presents sent him by Montezuma. The populated provinces of Mexico. Great cities. Large temples. Decorated idols. Cortes enters the city of Mexico. Its palaces, markets, and arsenals. The horrible sacrifices of the Mexicans. The siege of the city 205-274
The discoveries of Alonso Alvarez de Pineda. The project of Francisco de Garay. An unfortunate undertaking. The discovery of the Mississippi River. The jurisdictions of Juan Ponce de Leon and Francisco de Garay. Another exploration of a part of the coast of North America. Chicora. Duharhe. Tall people. Habits of the natives. Tierra de Ayllon. The voyage of Fernam de Magalhaens. Discovery of the Strait of the Eleven Thousand Virgins. The Pacific Ocean. The Moluccas or Spice Islands reached. Voyage of Juan Sebastian del Cano. The earth circumnavigated. The congress of Badajos 275-296
France emulates Portugal, Spain, and England. Discoveries of the Bretons and the Normans. Exploration of the St. Lawrence River. Giovanni da Verrazzano put in command of a fleet to sail to Cathay by Francis I. The king of Portugal attempts to prevent the sailing of the vessels. Storm in the North Sea. Departure of the Dauphine. Verrazzano reaches the coast of North America. Designates his first landing-place Diepa. Fruitless search for a harbor. Friendly savages. Description of the country. Palmetto trees. Sails northward. Explorations of the peninsula of Virginia. The Dauphine’s anchorage at Sandy Hook. Verrazzano explores the bays of New York. The Grande River. Block Island. The Dauphine in Narragansett Bay. Description of the natives. Exploration of the coast of Maine. Five hundred and two leagues of land inspected. Francesca. Verrazzano’s geographical explanation of his voyage. Arrival of the Dauphine at Dieppe 297-334
Circulation of the news of Verrazzano’s remarkable discoveries. Fernando Carli’s letter to his father. The adverse opinion of the people concerning Verrazzano’s undertaking. The navigator regarded as another Amerigo Vespucci, another Magellan. Three ships equipped to sail to the Indies under the command of Verrazzano. His third voyage[xii] to the New Land. The indomitable Florentine falls a victim to savage cruelty. His body roasted and eaten. Ramusio’s worthy tribute. The navigator’s great parchment map. The Maiollo map. Hieronymus da Verrazzano’s chart 335-343
The French again search for a direct water-route to India. Voyages of Jacques Cartier. The names given to the natives of the New Land. The peasants of New France. The Hudson explored in the sixteenth century. The French name for the Palisades. The country of the Grand Scarp. Manants Island. A small fort built by the French on the site of New York City. The château on Castle Island, near the site of Albany. The structure damaged by a freshet. The Mohawk Indians show the ruins to the Dutch explorers of the river in the seventeenth century. The Hollanders call it Fort Nassau. The opinion of the Dutch inhabitants of Albany respecting the people who built it 344-363
Index 365-380


Transcriber’s Note: Maps are clickable for larger versions.

I.— Delineation of the hyperborean regions by Sigurd Stephanius in 1570 22
II.— A part of the map of the New World contained in the edition of Ptolemy’s geography printed in Strasburg in 1513 124
III.— A part of the Cabot-map of 1544, in the Bibliothèque nationale, Paris 190
IV.— Map of the New World contained in Peter Martyr’s “Legatio Babylonica,” printed in 1511 220
V.— A tracing representing the limits of the discoveries of Juan Ponce de Leon and Francisco de Garay. 1521 278
VI.— A part of the map of the fourth part of the world contained in the Cosmographie Universelle by André Thevet, printed in Paris in 1575 304
VII.— Map of Terre de la Franciscane in the cosmography of Jean Alphonse and Raulin Secalart, 1545 354
VIII.— Map of a part of North America made by Giacomo de Gastaldi in 1553 356
IX.— A part of the map of the world made by Gerard Mercator in Duisburg in 1569 360
X.— A part of the map of the world made by Juan de la Cosa in 1500 cover-pocket
XI.— A part of the map of the world made by Johann Ruysch, contained in the edition of Ptolemy’s geography printed in Rome in 1508 cover-pocket
XII.— A part of the map of the world made by Visconte de Maiollo in 1527 cover-pocket




The oldest scriptures, sacred and profane, attest the antiquity of the red race.[1] As early as the antediluvian period this division of the human family had taken possession of the islands and continent of the western hemisphere, where it founded an empire, the most famous and formidable of primeval times. Great in political power, its commercial, agricultural, and other economical interests were commensurably vast and unparalleled. The skill of its architects and engineers was exhibited in large and imposing edifices and in extraordinary and extensive public works. Aggressively belligerent, its armies overran parts of Europe and Africa, exacting tribute, deposing and substituting rulers.

When the Spaniards, in the sixteenth century, began to explore the interior of the continent of America for gold, silver, and precious stones, they found populated provinces, great cities, temples, palaces, aqueducts, canals, bridges, and causeways. The astonished adventurers also discovered the vestiges of an aboriginal people, among which were many massive tablets of stone covered with columns of strange hieroglyphics and antique images, picturing a past civilization for[2] the rise and growth of which modern archæologists have not yet satisfactorily determined dates.

In the early ages of the world the Egyptians recorded whatever they deemed important and worthy of preservation concerning the principal inhabitants of the globe. These inquisitive chroniclers of antediluvian traditions placed in their archives some remarkable information respecting the original people of the western hemisphere. The historical value of this information is enhanced by the fact that those parts of it which seem to be the most improbable are supported by similar statements in the Bible, while the less astounding are verified by the discovery, on the continent of the so-called New World, of such remains as those which are said to have existed in the country west of the entrance to the Mediterranean Sea.

About five hundred and seventy years before the Christian era, Solon, the celebrated legislator of Greece, visited Egypt, and while there became acquainted with some of the erudite priests of the country.[2] When the latter communicated to him what they had learned from the records concerning the ancient peoples of the earth, the sage of Greece was so deeply impressed with the unquestionable value of this strange information[3] that he committed it to writing, intending to use it in an historical poem which he had undertaken to compose.[3] On his return to Athens he was not permitted the leisure that was needed to complete his agreeable task.[4] After his death, the compilations he had made in Egypt were, for a long time, preserved by his descendants, and at last became the property of Plato, the Greek philosopher.[5] The latter, when a boy, had studiously perused his eminent ancestor’s manuscript, and when he had reached the last years of his scholarly life he could not disengage his thoughts from the conviction that it was his personal duty to publish its rare information.[6] In order, therefore, to give publicity to Solon’s valuable compilations, Plato, a short time before his own death, wrote that part of the unfinished dialogue entitled “Critias, or the Atlantic,” in which appears the earliest known account of the ancient people of the western hemisphere.[7]

“When Solon interrogated the priests, who were the most distinguished for their antiquarian knowledge, he became aware that neither he nor any of the Greeks knew much concerning the history of the first ages of the world. On one occasion, for the purpose[4] of inducing the priests to relate some of their ancient traditions he began to narrate the early history of his own country.... Thereupon one of the eldest priests exclaimed: ‘Solon, Solon, you Greeks are but children, and an aged Greek there is none!’ Solon, hearing this, asked, ‘What do you mean?’ The priest replied: ‘You are all youths in intelligence, for you have no old beliefs transmitted by tradition, nor any science hoary with age.... From the olden time we have chronicled whatever has happened in your country or in ours, or in any other region known to us,—any action, noble or great or in any other way remarkable,—and these records are preserved in our temples, whereas you and other nations have but lately been provided with letters and different things required by states....

“‘Many and great exploits of your state, therefore, are here recorded, and call forth our admiration; nevertheless, there is one in particular, which in magnitude and heroism surpasses them all. For these records relate that your state once checked the advance of a mighty force which threatened all Europe and Asia, moving upon them from the Atlantic Ocean. For at that time this ocean was navigable; and beyond the strait [that of Gibraltar], which you in your language call the Pillars of Hercules, was an island larger than Libya [Africa] and Asia put together.[8] At that time sea-faring men could pass from it to the other islands, and from them to the opposite continent, which extended[5] along the real ocean. For the sea [the Mediterranean] inside the strait, which we have already mentioned, is like a bay with a narrow entrance, but the other sea is rightly called an ocean, and the land, which entirely surrounds it, may truly and correctly be called a continent. In this large Atlantic island a mighty and wonderful confederacy of kings was formed, which subdued the whole island and many other islands and parts of the continent. Besides this it extended its rule, on our side, over Libya as far as Egypt, and over Europe as far as Tyrrhenia.[9] At that time the united forces of this power undertook to crush at one blow both your country and ours, and all the other countries lying within the strait.’”[10]

“‘In the beginning the gods divided the whole earth, here and there, into large and small portions, that they might obtain temples and sacrifices. In this way Poseidon received as his portion the Atlantic island, and begat children by a mortal woman (ἐκ θνητῆς γυναικὸς), and placed them on a part of the island which we are about to describe.’”[11]

Incredible as this information concerning the residence of a person possessing a divine nature on the earth and his matrimonial relationship with a woman seems to be, there are some remarkable statements in the traditions of the ancients respecting celestial beings dwelling among men, and, by marriage with their daughters, being the progenitors of an illustrious offspring. The Hebrew patriarchs, it is said, had personal communications with angels, at different times and places. It is related that three, in human form, partook of food given them by Abraham, under a[6] tree, in the plain of Mamre.[12] Herodotus was told, by certain Egyptians, that “gods had been the rulers of Egypt and had dwelt among men; and that one of them always had the supreme power.”[13] Moses, “who was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians,” describing the people of the antediluvian world, writes:

“It happened, as men began to multiply on the face of the earth and daughters were born to them, the sons of the Elohim (‎‏בני האלהים‏‎) [literally, the sons of the eminent or mighty ones] saw the daughters of man (‎‏בנות האדם‏‎) that they were fair; then they took for wives among them all whom they loved.... There were giants (‎‏נפלים‏‎) on the earth in those days, and also after that the sons of the Elohim went in unto the daughters of man and they bare children to them, the same became heroes (‎‏גברים‏‎) who were of old, men of name (‎‏אנשי שם‏‎).”[14]

“‘Toward the sea, in the middle of the island, was a plain,’ the priest continued, ‘which was very attractive and fertile. About fifty stadia from the centre of the plain was a mountain with sloping sides.[15] On this dwelt one of those men begotten from the ground in the beginning (κατὰ ἀρχὰς ἐκ γῆς ἀνδρῶν γεγονότων), Euenor by name.[16] He lived there, with his wife,[7] Leucippe. They had an only daughter named Cleito. When this girl reached womanhood, her father and mother being dead, Poseidon fell in love with her and made her his wife. He encircled the hill on which she lived with alternate girdles of land and water, greater and less, making two of land and three of water, each uniformly distant from the centre of the island, in order to render her habitation inaccessible to men, for at that time ships and sea-faring were unknown. Also by his divine power he beautifully adorned the centre of the island, causing two fountains to shoot upward from beneath the earth, one of cold and the other of hot water, and making all kinds of food to grow abundantly on the earth. He begat and raised ten male children, twins, and divided the Atlantic island into ten parts. He gave to the first-born of the eldest twins, his mother’s habitation and the land surrounding it, this being the largest and the best. He appointed him king over the other children, making the latter princes, and giving to each the control of many people and extensive domains. He likewise gave names to all of his offspring; to the eldest, the king, the name of Atlas, in honor of whom both the island and the ocean were called Atlantic.[17] To the twin born after him (who received for his portion the extreme part of the island toward the Pillars of Hercules as far as the region now called in that country Gadeirica), he gave the appellation, which we Greeks call Eumelus, but the people of that country Gadeira.[18] He called the first of[8] the second-born twins, Ampheres, the second Eudæmon; of the third pair, he called the first-born Mnesis, and the second, Autochthon; of the fourth pair, the first Elasippus, and the younger Mestor; and of the fifth pair, to the first was given the name of Azaës, and to the last, Diaprepes.

“‘For many generations these and their descendants were the rulers and the inhabitants of the islands in the ocean, and, as it has been said, they extended their authority over all the country as far as Egypt and Tyrrhenia. By far the most distinguished was the race of Atlas; and the eldest king belonging to it always handed down in succession the government to his eldest son. All these kings in turn possessed immense wealth, such as was never known to belong to royalty or will be likely hereafter. They were provided with all things which, in a city or elsewhere, are worth having. Large revenues were received by them from foreign countries under their rule, but the greatest resources came from the island. First were such ores as are dug in mines in a crude condition, or need to be smelted, particularly the metal orichalcum,[19] which is now known only by name, but formerly was of great value. This was dug from the earth in many parts of the island, being prized above all the metals then known, except gold. The island also produced an abundance of wood for building purposes, and furnished food for wild and tame animals. Vast numbers of elephants were on the island, for there was abundant subsistence for all animals which feed in marshes and along lakes, on mountains and plains, and likewise for this animal, which by nature is the largest and most[9] voracious of all.[20] And whatever fragrant plants the earth produces, whether roots, or grasses, or woods, or exuding gums, or flowers, or fruits, grew there and were developed to perfection. The island besides produced such cultivated fruits and dry edible fruits as we use for food and call vegetables; also the fruits which trees bear and are used for drinks, meats, and ointments; and those also which have a hard shell, used in sport and pleasure, that are collected with trouble, together with dainty fruits for dessert, which provoke the appetite or please the sick;—all these that once-existing and tropic island, sacred and delightful, produced in surprising and infinite quantities. Obtaining all these from the soil, the inhabitants employed themselves in building temples, royal palaces, harbors, and wharves in all parts of the country, constructing them as follows:

“‘First of all, the people residing in and about that ancient metropolis bridged over those girdles of water, making a causeway to and from the royal palace. In this place, which had been the residence of the gods and their ancestors, they, at the beginning, erected the palace; and each [king] in turn, receiving it from his predecessor, and further embellishing the ornamental parts, continually surpassed the one before him, until they made the building very attractive to the sight, on account of its size and the beauty of its elaborations. They dug a canal, beginning at the sea, three plethra[21] broad, a hundred feet deep, and fifty stadia in length, to the outermost girdle, and thus made a channel to it from the sea as into a harbor, by enlarging its mouth sufficiently to admit the largest vessels. Besides this,[10] they separated by aqueducts the girdles of land which separated those of water, so that a trireme[22] could be taken from one girdle of water to another, arching the girdles of land to allow a water-way beneath them; for the banks of the girdles of land rose to a height considerably above the water. And the greatest of these girdles into which the sea flowed was three stadia in width, and the girdle of land next to it was of the same width. The second girdle of water was two stadia in width and the second girdle of land the same. The last girdle of water, environing the centre of the island, was only one stadium wide, and the island, on which the king’s palace stood, had a diameter of five stadia. This island, as well as the girdles of land, and the bridge (which was a plethron in width), they inclosed on the sides with stone walls, erecting towers and gates at intervals on the aqueducts where the water passed through [the girdles of land]. The stone for the walls they quarried within the limits of the island, both in the centre, and inside and outside the girdles; one kind of it was white, a second black, a third red; and by thus quarrying they made at the same time openings which served for two docks, having likewise a covering of rock. Of the buildings, some were of plain structure, while others they built of a composite style of architecture, using the different kinds of stone as pleased them most, thus realizing a pleasure becoming their natures. And they covered the whole circuit of the wall round the extreme outer girdle with bronze, applying it as they would plaster. The next wall inside of it they covered with melted tin, and the wall round the citadel with orichalcum that has a fiery resplendence.


“‘Further, the royal palace within the citadel was constructed in the following manner: In the centre of it a temple was erected, difficult of access, sacred to Cleito and Poseidon, surrounded by an inclosure of gold; for on this spot they begat and raised the race of the ten kings, and where also their descendants, making annual collections from all the ten allotments, offered seasonable sacrifices to each one.

“‘The temple of Poseidon was a stadium in length, three plethra in breadth, and of a proportionate height, having a somewhat barbaric appearance. All the outside of the temple, except the pinnacles, they lined with silver, but the pinnacles they covered with gold. Respecting the interior, the ceiling was wholly of ivory, variegated with gold and orichalcum, and all the other parts, the walls, the pillars, and the pavements, they covered with orichalcum. They also placed in the temple golden statues. The one of the god stood in a chariot driving with reins six-winged horses. It was of such size that the head of the god touched the ceiling, and surrounding the statue were a hundred nereids on dolphins; for the people of that day thought that this was their number. The temple also contained many other statues dedicated to private persons. On the outside of the temple golden images were also placed of all the men and women that were descended from the ten kings, and many other large statues, both of kings and of private people, both from the metropolis and from the foreign countries over which the kings had dominion. There was also an altar, in size and elaboration corresponding to these ornaments; and there were palaces also whose grandeur was in keeping with the greatness of the empire and also with the splendor of the temple.


“‘They had fountains from cold and hot springs of which there were many, the water being suited in every way to their use on account of its sweetness and purity. Around these springs they made their residences and well-watered plantations, together with their reservoirs, some open to the heavens, but the others, for use in winter, roofed over for warm baths. The kings’ bathing-houses and those of private persons were separated, as well as those of the women. There were others for horses and other draught cattle, each provided with the requisite means of cleanliness. The stream flowing from these they conducted to the grove of Poseidon, where there were all kinds of trees reaching a wonderful height on account of the fertility of the soil, and then led it away by aqueducts to the outer girdles of water. There they also erected a large number of temples, dedicated to many different gods, and many gardens and gymnasia, one for men, and others separately for horses, on the two girdles of land. To test the speed of the horses there was a race-course in the middle of the largest girdle of land, a stadium in width, that extended around its entire circumference. Around it on all sides were barracks for the household troops, corresponding to their number. To the more faithful of these troops quarters were assigned on the smaller girdle of land closer to the citadel, while those who excelled all the others in loyalty had quarters given them within the citadel, near the residences of the kings. The docks were filled with triremes and the equipments for triremes; and the triremes were all adequately provided with them. These were the arrangements for the protection of the palace of the kings. On crossing the three outer harbors one found a wall which extended entirely around[13] the island, beginning at the sea, everywhere fifty stadia distant from the greatest girdle and harbor, and inclosed the entrance to the canal and the entrance to the sea. The whole of this part of the girdle of land was covered with many and densely-built dwellings. The canal and the largest harbor were filled with vessels and traders, coming from all parts, and these, on account of their number, made a babel of voices, a commotion, and a din all through the day and the night.

“‘We have now related from memory a description of the city and its ancient habitations; now we must attempt to describe the nature of the other parts of the country and the employment of the people. First, then, the whole region was said to be exceedingly high and precipitous toward the sea, and the plain, encircling the city, surrounded by mountains sloping down to the sea, being level and smooth, extended in one direction three thousand stadia, and the central part, from the sea, more than two thousand stadia. And this part of the island extended toward the south, in an opposite direction from the north. The mountains around it were, at that time, also celebrated, exceeding in number, size, and attractiveness all those of the present day; having on them many hamlets together with villages, as well as rivers, lakes, and marshes, furnishing ample supplies of food for all cattle, both tame and wild; with timber of different kinds and in great quantity for every special purpose. The plain, by nature, being as described, was improved in the following way by many kings through a long course of time: It was almost square in extent, generally straight and oblong, and where it terminated they bounded it by digging a canal around it. Concerning[14] the depth, breadth, and length of which for a public work, besides other concomitant undertakings, we can scarcely believe what was said, still we must tell what we learned. The canal was excavated to the depth of a plethrum, and the breadth was a stadium in every part, the entire excavation round the plain being ten thousand stadia in length. This canal, receiving the water of the streams coming from the mountains, conducted it all around the plain and near to the city, and finally to the sea. From above, likewise, straight canals were cut about a hundred feet broad along the plain, back into the canal near the sea; distant from one another about one hundred stadia; and it was by these canals that timber from the mountains was brought to the city, and on which the rest of the shipping trade was done; transverse canals of communication being cut into the others and toward the city. Their harvest they gathered twice in a year; in winter availing themselves of the rains, and in summer irrigating the land from the canals.

“‘It was ordered for the men on the plain fit for military service that each individual leader should have an allotment of land; each allotment amounting in extent to a hundred stadia; the whole number of allotments being sixty thousand. It is said that many men from the mountains and other parts of the country were assigned, according to their dwellings and villages, certain tracts by their respective leaders. Each leader was required to furnish for war the sixth part of a war-chariot (to make the number of ten thousand), two riding horses, and a two-horse chariot without a driver’s seat, having a mounted charioteer to guide the horses, with another rider to dismount and fight at the side of them; also two heavy-armed men, two[15] archers, two slingers, three light-armed soldiers, the same number of stone-shooters and javelin-men, besides four seamen to make up the crews of one thousand two hundred vessels. Thus were the military affairs of this city arranged. Respecting those of the nine other allotments, there were different regulations, which it would be too tedious to narrate.

“‘The following were the systems of official services and honors: Each of the ten kings ruled supreme over the people and the laws in his own allotment and over his own city, constraining and punishing whom he pleased.[23] As the law was handed down to them, the government and commonwealth in each allotment were regulated by the injunctions of Poseidon. Inscriptions [of this law] were made by the first [kings] on a column of orichalcum which was placed in the centre of the island, in the temple of Poseidon, where the kings consulted together every fifth year, (which they afterward changed to every sixth year,) each king representing at these meetings the entire kingdom and its subdivisions. The kings, when they were assembled, deliberated on matters respecting the common weal, and inquired what transgressions each had committed, and each respectively rendered his decision. Before they sat in judgment they gave one[16] another pledges, according to the following custom: The ten, when they were assembled in the temple, after invoking the god to receive their sacrifice propitiously, went swordless, with staves and nooses, among the bulls grazing within the temple inclosure, and the bull they took they brought to the column and slaughtered it, the head of the bull being under the inscriptions. Besides the laws on the column, there was a malediction written containing denunciations of evil on the disobedient. When, therefore, in compliance with their laws, they sacrificed and burned all the limbs of the bull, they filled a goblet with the blood of the animal, and threw the remainder into the fire, in order to purify the column. Afterward dipping from the goblet with golden cups, they poured libations of blood on the fire, and swore to do justice according to the laws on the column, to punish any one who had previously transgressed them, besides swearing that they themselves would never afterward willingly transgress the inscribed laws, or rule or obey any ruler governing otherwise than according to his father’s laws. Then after invoking these denunciations on themselves and their descendants, and after drinking from the cup and depositing it in the temple of the god, and sitting the necessary time at supper, they, as soon as it was dark and the fire of the sacrifice had ceased to burn, dressed themselves in beautiful dark-blue robes, and sat down on the ground, near the embers of the sacrifice, over which they had sworn. All the fire in the temple having been extinguished for the night, they then mutually judged one another respecting any accusation of transgressing the laws. After their acts of judgment were ended, and daylight had come, they inscribed their decisions on a golden tablet and deposited[17] it and their dresses in the temple as memorials. There were also many other special laws respecting the privileges of the kings. The principal ones were that they should never wage war upon one another, that all should lend their aid when any attempt was made in their cities to destroy the royal race, that they should consult together as their ancestors had done respecting the right course to be pursued in war and in other matters, and that they should allot the government of the empire to the Atlantic race. They did not allow the king, however, any authority to put to death any of his kinsmen, unless the execution was approved by more than five of the ten.’”[24]

The priest also related that it was “about nine thousand years ago that war was proclaimed between those dwelling outside the Pillars of Hercules and all those within them.”[25] Athens “was the leader of the latter people and directed the operations of the war, and the kings of the Atlantic island were the commanders of the forces of the former.”[26]

“‘But in a later age,’ said the priest, ‘by extraordinary earthquakes and deluges, bringing destruction in a single day and night, the whole of your formidable race was at once sunk under the earth, and the Atlantic island in like manner plunged beneath the sea and concealed from view; therefore that sea is, at present, neither passable nor to be traced out, being[18] blocked up with a great depth of mud made by the sunken island.’”[27]

The history of the Atlantic people as it was known to the ancient Egyptians ends with this catastrophe. The inference of the priest that the mud of the submerged island made the Atlantic impassable is seemingly an assertion without any basis of fact. Had he said that the submergence of some of the islands west of the Pillars of Hercules obliterated the marked sea-path between the continents of the two hemispheres, this statement would have strictly accorded with what he had said before, that “sea-faring men, at that time, could pass from it [the Atlantic island] to the other islands, and from them to the opposite continent.”[28] The disappearance of the islands, in sight of which seamen had steered their galleys, at once isolated the peoples of the two hemispheres. Thus it happened, in the course of centuries, that the aborigines of[19] America passed out of the recollection of the inhabitants of the so-called Old World as an early-known people.

The writer of the first book of the Bible relates that when “Yahveh saw the wickedness of man was great upon the earth and every imagination of the thoughts of his heart only evil continually, ... it repented him of having made man on the earth, and he was grieved in his heart. And Yahveh said, ‘I will exterminate man whom I have created from the surface of the ground.’”[29] The information contained in these words of the learned Hebrew so closely correspond to that imparted to Solon by the Egyptian priest concerning the subsequent degeneracy of the primitive people of the earth, that it would seem as if it had been derived from the same source. “‘For many generations,’ said the priest, ‘so long as the god-nature continued in them, they remained obedient to the laws and were happily influenced by it. But when the divine nature became extinct by the dominance and constant ascendency of the human, and the habits of men overpowered them, ... they deported themselves in an unbecoming way.... Therefore, Zeus, the god of gods, who rules justly and searches out such things, perceiving an illustrious people miserably depraved, and intending to inflict punishment on them that they might become better fitted to command their appetites and passions, collected all the gods into their own most holy habitation, which, being in the centre of the universe, commands a view of all things having a part in generation; and having assembled them, he said....’”[30]


An inscription on the interior walls of the tomb of Seti I. of Egypt contains a statement concerning a council of the gods held to consider what punishment should be visited upon the depraved descendants of the god Râ, which is similar to the declaration of the last clause of Plato’s unfinished dialogue.[31] Lenormant, commenting upon the information contained in the inscription, remarks:

“The Egyptians admitted a destruction of the primitive men by the gods on account of their rebellion and sins. This event was recorded in a chapter of the sacred books of Tahout,—certain hermetic books of the Egyptian priesthood,—that had been graven on the walls of one of the most isolated rooms of the burial crypts of King Seti I., at Thebes. The text of it has been published and translated by Edward Naville.[32]

“The scene is placed at the end of the reign of the god Râ.... Incensed by the wickedness and the crimes of the men whom he had begotten, the god summons the other gods to consult with them in the utmost secrecy, ‘in order that mankind might not know it, and that their hearts might not be dismayed.’

“Said Râ to Noun: ‘Thou, the eldest of the gods, of whom I am sprung, and you, ancient gods, behold the men who have been begotten by me. They speak words against me. Tell me what you would do in this crisis. Behold, I have waited, and I have not destroyed them before having heard your counsel.’”[33]

Singular as the fact may seem, the state, polity, and genius of the people of the western hemisphere[21] described in the records of Egypt reappear in the strange features of the civilization of Mexico, and in the vestiges of its aborigines, which amazed the Spaniards who accompanied Hernando Cortes into the interior of the country, in the early part of the sixteenth century. The remarkable accounts given by Bernal Diaz and other contemporary writers respecting the people, the kings, the cities, the palaces, the temples, and the public works seen by the Spanish invaders, verify, in many ways, the declarations of the Egyptian priests concerning the Atlantic race.[34]

For centuries after the disappearance of the islands lying in the ocean west of the Pillars of Hercules, the wide expanse of water, dashing its foaming surges on the shores of the continents of the two hemispheres, was not only unexplored but was deemed impassable. Superstition filled its misty distances with frightful chimeras and geographical absurdities. About the beginning of the Middle Ages the vikings of Northern Europe were venturing across the North Sea in their single-masted, many-oared galleys. Until this time the superstitious seamen of Scandinavia had not attempted to sail beyond the sight of land to any great distance. Their first lessons in navigating the narrow expanse of the North Sea were taken when their boats were unexpectedly carried away from the rugged[22] coast of Norway by tempestuous winds to the Hetland[35] and Fer öe[36] (Far islands). Whatever fears of permanent exile on these unexplored islands may at first have alarmed the deported Northmen, these were dispelled by the cheering suggestion that when the wind blew from the west they could return to their own country. As soon as the wind blew eastwardly they put to sea. Using their sails and oars they safely reached the western shore of Scandinavia. Frequent experiences of this kind in time emboldened the Norwegian seamen to undertake voyages to the westward islands in search of booty. Having no compass to guide their galleys thither, they carried with them hawks or ravens, and when uncertain respecting the course of their vessels, they let loose a cast of these birds, which instinctively flew to the nearest land. Thitherward they steered, and finding that it was their destination or not, they secured whatever plunder they could and departed. Not unfrequently the vessels of the Norse sea-kings were lost in storms on the wild waters of the Atlantic, or wrecked on the inhospitable shores of remote islands. It is said that Naddoddr, a Norwegian pirate, was drifted in his ship by an adverse wind, in 860, to Iceland, which he called Sneeland (Snowland).[37] It is[23] also related that when the famous viking, Floki, was lost in his vessel in stormy weather, between the islands of Faroe and Sneeland, in 865, he let fly three ravens, one of which flew back to the Faroe islands, the second returned to the ship, and the third winged its way toward the more northerly island which the perplexed Northman was seeking. This sturdy seaman described the new country as volcanic and sterile, glacial and cold, and appropriately called it Island (Iceland). His companions, however, reported that they had found it to have a delightful climate and a fertile soil. One, wishing to describe its general fruitfulness in a more attractive way, averred that “milk dropped from every plant and butter from every twig.”[38] In a short time a course to Iceland was marked out by the early rovers of the North Sea, who, before the close of the ninth century, planted a colony on the bleak coast of this icy island, the most westerly land hitherto discovered by the fearless seamen of Scandinavia.[39]


Delineation of the Hyperborean Regions, by Sigurd Stephanus in the year 1570. (Size of the original, 6¾ inches square.)

But Iceland did not long remain the most remote part of the western world known to the people of Europe. Gunnbjörn, a Norwegian, driven westward in his ship beyond Iceland, in a storm, in 876, descried land looming up along the western horizon. In the latter part of the tenth century, Eric the Red, whom the public assembly of Iceland had declared an outlaw, determined to go in search of the land seen by Gunnbjörn.[24] He sailed from Iceland about the year 981, and came in sight of the coast of Greenland, at a place called Midjökul.[40] He then steered southward to see whether the country were habitable. He passed the first winter near the middle of the site of the eastern settlement (eystri bygd).[41] In the following summer he reached the western uninhabited region (vestri ubygd),[42] and gave names to many places. As soon as the ice disappeared, at the close of the second winter, and the sea was again navigable, he returned to Iceland, and called the country which he had explored Graenland (Greenland), “because” he said, “people will be influenced to immigrate to it, if the land bears an attractive name.” Among those whom Eric induced to return with him as colonists to Greenland was a Norwegian, named Herjulf. Thirty-five ships (skipa) filled with emigrants set sail from Iceland for the newly explored country, but only fourteen of the vessels reached the places where the colonists were to dwell. Eric the Red settled at Brattahlid, and Herjulf erected his house on a cape called Herjulfsnes (Herjulf’s nose, or promontory).[43] “This was fifteen winters[25] before Christianity was established by law in Iceland.”[44]

Among the traditions preserved of the voyages of the Northmen in the tenth, eleventh, and twelfth centuries, there are several that have caused considerable controversy respecting the historical and geographical value of the information contained in them; for a number of eminent writers have made use of this information to show that the Northmen were the first discoverers of America and the explorers of a large part of the eastern coast of the continent.[45] Although these sagas or legends of Iceland were unrecorded for several centuries, the manuscripts which now contain them are assumed to have been written in a manner so precise that translations of their text are presented to prove that the Norse vikings not only made frequent voyages to America, but that they have left definite and reliable information respecting the parts of the coast visited by them.[26] Other distinguished writers consider these traditions as too mythical and vague to be deemed valuable, either historically or geographically, and argue that what is thought to describe the physical features and productions of parts of the present territory of the eastern coast of the United States describes the topography and fruits of Greenland. A brief narration of the most important particulars of the voyages of several of the Northmen who have been regarded, as the first discoverers of parts of the continent of America, will suffice to show the grounds upon which rest many of the arguments that have been advanced to support the opinion that these persons had landed upon its shores and explored a great extent of its Atlantic coast.

It is said in the saga of Eric the Red and of the Greenlanders,[46] that when Herjulf sailed, in the spring of 985, from Iceland to Greenland, his son Bjarni was in Norway. When the latter, in the following summer returned to Iceland, and learned that his father had emigrated to the country recently explored by Eric the Red, he determined to sail to it and pass the winter with his father, as had been his custom for many years. He evidently had some misgivings respecting the success of the contemplated voyage, for he said to his companions: “Our going there will be devoid of common-sense, since not one of us has traversed the Greenland Sea.” “Nevertheless,” as the tradition runs, “as soon as they had fitted for the voyage, they intrusted themselves to the ocean, and made sail three days, until the land passed out of their sight from the water. But then the bearing winds ceased to blow, and northern breezes and a fog succeeded. Then they were drifted about for many days and nights, not[27] knowing whither they tended. After this the light of the sun was seen, and they were able to survey the regions of the sky. Now they carried sail, and steered this day before they beheld land.” They sailed near to it, and “soon saw that the country was not mountainous, but covered with trees and diversified with little hills. They left the land on their larboard side, and let the stern turn from the shore. Then they sailed two days before they saw another land [or region].... They then approached it, and saw that it was level and covered with trees. Then, the favorable wind having ceased blowing, the sailors said that it seemed to them that it would be well to land there, but Bjarni was unwilling to do so.... He bade them make sail, which was done. They turned the prow from the land, and sailed out into the open sea, where for three days they had a favorable south-southwest wind. They saw a third land [or region], but it was high and mountainous and covered with glaciers.... They did not lower sail, but holding their course along the shore, they found it to be an island. Again they turned the stern against the land, and made sail for the high sea, having the same wind, which gradually increasing, Bjarni ordered the sails to be shortened, forbidding the use of more canvas than the ship and her outfit could conveniently bear. Thus they sailed for four days, when they saw a fourth land” [or region], which was Greenland, where Bjarni found his father.[47]

Bjarni’s discoveries, it is said, were often the subject of conversation among the Northmen. It is further related that Leif, the son of Eric the Red, purchased Bjarni’s ship and set sail in it with thirty-five[28] men from Brattahlid about the year 1000 to seek new lands. Nothing is told in the tradition concerning the direction in which these Northmen sailed, only that “they first came to the land [or region] last seen by Bjarni. They steered toward the shore, cast anchor, put out the boat, and went on land, where they saw no herbage. The whole country was filled with high icy mountains, and from the sea all the way to the icy mountains was a plain of flat stones.” Leif called the region Helluland.[48]

When Leif and his companions departed from Helluland, it is related that they “put out to sea and found another land [or region]. This was a level country and covered with trees.” Leif named it Markland.[49]



As related in the saga, when they departed from Markland, “they sailed on the high sea, having a northeast wind, and were two days at sea before they saw land. They steered toward it and touched the island lying before the north part of the land. When they went on land they surveyed it, for by good fortune the weather was serene. They found the grass sprinkled with dew, and it happened by chance that they touched the dew with their hands and carried them to their mouths and perceived that it had a sweet taste which they had not before noticed. Then they returned to the ship and sailed through a bay lying between the island and a tongue of land running toward the north. Steering a course to the west shore, they passed the tongue of land. Here when the tide ebbed[29] there were very narrow shoals. When the ship got aground there were shallows of great extent between the vessel and the receded sea. So great was the desire of the men to go on land that they were unwilling to stay on board until the returning tide floated the ship. They went ashore at a place where a river flowed out from a lake. When the tide floated the ship, they took the boat and rowed to the vessel and brought her into the river and then into the lake. Here they anchored, carried the luggage from the ship, and built dwellings. Afterward they held a consultation and resolved to remain at this place during the winter. Then they erected large buildings. There were not only many salmon in the river but also in the lake and of a larger size than they had before seen. So great was the fertility of the soil that they were led to believe that cattle would not be in want of food during winter, or that wintry coldness would prevail, or the grass wither much.”

While the Northmen were passing the winter on the shore of the unnamed lake, it happened one evening that a Southern man, named Tyrker, did not return with those who had been out exploring the country. Those who went to search for the absent man met him returning to the quarters. They were surprised when he told them that he had found wine-wood and wine-berries (vinvid ok vinber). “Is this true, my teacher?” asked Leif. “It is really true,” Tyrker replied, “for where I was brought up there was not wanting either wine-wood or wine-berries.” They passed this night in sleep, but on the following morning Leif said to the men: “Two things are now to be done on alternate days, gathering wine-berries or hewing wine-wood and felling trees, (lesa vinber, edr[30] höggva vinvid ok fella mörkina,) with which my ships should be loaded.” Having loaded the ship and the spring approaching they prepared to depart. To designate the productions of the region, Leif called it Vinland (Wine-land). They then put to sea and had a favorable wind until they came in sight of Greenland.[50]

As a number of writers have assumed that the region of Vinland, where Leif and his companions wintered, was the country adjacent Mount Hope Bay, in Rhode Island, the following description of a part of the east coast of Greenland, given by Captain W. A. Graah, who was sent there, in 1828, by the Danish government to obtain information respecting the site of the eastern settlement (eystri bygd), will likely afford grounds for a more plausible conjecture that Vinland was a region in Greenland: “August 30 [1829].—The place we now were at was the Ekallumiut [between the sixty-third and sixty-fourth parallel of north latitude], so often mentioned. The cove, the length of which is between one and two cable-lengths, has on both sides of it, but particularly on the eastern, fields of considerable extent, covered with dwarf-willows, juniper-berry, black crake-berry, and whortleberry heath, the first-named growing to the height of two feet, and the whole interspersed with a good many patches of a fine species of grass, which, however, was very much burnt by the heat of the sun, except in the immediate vicinity of the brooks and rivulets that, in great number, ran down the sides of the hills, and intersected the level land in every direction. At the the bottom of the cove stretches an extensive valley, through which runs a stream abounding in char, [a species of salmon,] and having its source in the glaciers,[31] of which several gigantic arms reach down into the valley from the height in the background. On the banks of this brook the grass grew luxuriantly; but it was far from being, at many places, of a height fit for mowing, so that even this spot, where grass was more abundant than anywhere else perhaps along the whole coast, does not seem calculated to furnish winter fodder for any considerable number of cattle. Various flowers, among which the sweet-smelling lychnis, everywhere adorned the fields.... At this really beautiful spot, the natives of the country round assemble for a few days during their brief summer, to feast upon the char that are to be got here in great plenty and of a great size, the black crake-berry and angelica, and to lay in a stock of them for winter use, and give themselves up to mirth and merry-making.”[51]

It is further related, in the saga, concerning Vinland, that “the days are more equal there than in Greenland or Iceland; there the sun sets at eykt time (eyktar-stad, 3:30 P.M.), and rises at day-meal time (dagmála-stad, breakfast-time), on the shortest day.”[52]


As there is no reliable information to indicate that the Northmen of the tenth century had any instruments by which they could accurately measure the changing spaces of day and night, or that their observations of the sun gave them the knowledge of astronomical time, an attempt to elucidate the exact duration of the shortest day in Vinland from the vague[33] signification of the words eyktar-stad and dágmála-stad would consequently be futile and unsatisfactory. Nevertheless a number of scholars have attempted to determine the length of the shortest day at the place where the Northmen built their winter-quarters. Some have given the day a measurement of six hours, others seven, eight, and nine hours.[53] These different lengths[34] of the day involve the inference that Vinland was somewhere between the forty-first and sixty-first parallels of north latitude.

It is related in another saga or legend that Vinland was visited in the eleventh century by other Northmen.[54] Among the number were Thorfinn Karlsefne, Snorro Thorbrandson, Bjarni Grimolfson, and Thorhall Gamlason. It is said that the three ships which departed from the western settlement, in the spring of 1007, had on board one hundred and forty men (40 manna ok hundrad). After sailing two days southward from Bjanneyjar they reached Helluland. “Thence they sailed two days, and turned from the south to the southeast,” and came to Markland.

When the Northmen departed from Markland, it is said in the saga that “they then sailed far to the[35] southward along the coast and came to a promontory. The land lay on the right and had a long sandy beach. They rowed to it and found on a tongue of land the keel of a ship. They called this point of land Kjalarnes (Keel cape), and the beach Furdustrandir (Long Strand), for it took a long time to sail by it. Then the coast became sinuous. They then steered the ship into an inlet. King Olaf Tryggvason had given Leif two Scotch people, a man named Haki and a woman named Hekja. They were swifter than animals. These persons were in the ship with Karlsefne. When they had sailed past Furdustrandir they put these Scots ashore and ordered them to run to the south of the country and explore it, and return within three days.... They were absent the designated time. When they returned, one brought a bunch of wine-berries (vinberja köngul), the other an ear of wheat (hveitiax nysaid).[55] When they were taken on board, the ship sailed farther. They came into a bay, where there was an island around which flowed rapid currents that suggested the name which they gave it, Straumey (Stream island). There were so many eider ducks on the island that one could hardly walk about without[36] stepping on their eggs. They called this place Straumfjörd (Stream inlet). They took the cargo from the ship and made preparations to remain there. They had with them different kinds of cattle. They undertook nothing but the exploration of the land. Without having provided food beforehand they sustained themselves there during the winter. In the summer the fishing was not good and they were in want of provisions. Thorhall the hunter disappeared. They had previously prayed to God to give them food, but they were not supplied as quickly as they thought their hunger demanded. They searched for Thorhall for three days. At last they found him lying on the top of a rock, looking up at the sky, gasping and muttering. They asked him why he was there. He said that his presence there should not trouble them. They prevailed on him to return home with them. A whale was stranded there, and they found it and cut it up. No one knew what kind of a whale it was, and when the cook prepared a part of it for them, they ate it and all were made sick. Then Thorhall said: ‘The red-bearded [Thor, the god of thunder,] was more helpful than your Christ; this [the whale meat] I have received for my hymns which I sing of Thor, my protector; seldom has he deserted me.’ When they heard this assertion, they cast the remainder of the whale into the sea and resigned themselves to the care of God. Then the weather favored them so that they were able to row out to fish, and thereafter they were not in want of food, for wild game was caught on land and fish in the sea, and eggs were collected on the island....

“It is said that Thorhall resolved to go northward along Furdustrandir to explore Vinland, but Karlsefne[37] determined to sail southward along the coast. Thorhall fitted out his vessel under the island, having not more than nine men to join him, for all the others went with Karlsefne. Now when Thorhall carried water to his ship, he sang these verses:

‘People told me when I came
Hither, all would be so fine;
The good Vinland, known to fame,
Rich in fruits and choicest wine;
Now the water-pail they send;
To the fountain I must bend,
Nor from out this land divine
Have I quaffed one drop of wine.’

“When they were about to depart and had hoisted sail, Thorhall again sang:

‘Let our trusty band
Haste to Fatherland;
Let our vessel brave
Plough the angry wave,
While those few who love
Vinland, here may rove,
Or, with idle toil,
Fetid whales may boil,
Here on Furdustrand,
Far from Fatherland.’ ...

“It is now to be told of Karlsefne that he with Snorro and Bjarni and their people sailed southward along the coast. They sailed a long time until they came to a river, which ran out from the land and through a lake into the sea. The river was quite shallow, and no ship could enter it without high water. Karlsefne sailed with his people into its mouth and called the place Hóp (ok kölludu i Hópi).[56] They found fields of wild wheat (sjálfsana hveitiakra) where the ground was low, and wine-wood where it was higher.... There was a great number of all kinds[38] of wild animals in the woods. They remained at this place a half-month and enjoyed themselves, but did not find any thing novel. They had their cattle with them. Early one morning, when they were viewing the country, they saw a great number of skin boats on the sea.... The people in them rowed nearer and with curiosity gazed at them.... These people were swart (svartir) and ugly, and had coarse hair, large eyes, and broad cheeks. They remained a short time and watched Karlsefne’s people. They then rowed away to the southward beyond the cape.

“Karlsefne and his people had erected their dwellings above the lake. Some of the houses were near the water and others were farther away. They remained here during the winter.[57] There was no snow, and their cattle subsisted on the grass.”

It is further related that when spring drew near the natives again visited the Northmen and trafficked with them. “The people preferred red cloth, and for this they gave skins and all kinds of furs. They also wanted to purchase swords and spears, but Karlsefne and Snorro would not sell them any weapons. For a whole skin the Skraelings (Skraelingar) took a piece of red cloth a span long, and bound it around their heads.”[58] In this way they bartered for a time. Then the cloth began to diminish, and Karlsefne and his men cut it into small strips not wider than one’s finger, and still the Skraelings gave as much for these as they had for the larger pieces, and often more. “It happened that a bull, which Karlsefne had with him, ran out from the wood and bellowed loudly. This frightened the Skraelings so much that they rushed to their boats and rowed away to the southward around the coast.”


Three weeks afterward a large number of Skraelings returned in their boats uttering loud cries. “Karlsefne’s men took a red shield and held it toward them. The Skraelings leaped from their boats and attacked them. Many missiles fell among them, for the Skraelings used slings (valslöngur). Karlsefne’s men saw that they had raised on a pole something resembling an air-filled bag of a blue color. They hurled this at Karlsefne’s party, and when it fell to the ground it exploded with a loud noise. This frightened Karlsefne and his men so much that they ran and fell back to the river, for it seemed to them that the Skraelings were inclosing them on all sides. They did not stop until they reached a rocky place where they stoutly resisted their assailants. Freydis [the wife of Thorvard] came out, and seeing Karlsefne’s people retreating, cried out: ‘Why do you run, stout men as you are, before these miserable wretches, whom I thought you could knock down as you do cattle! If I had weapons I know that I could fight better than you!’ They did not heed her words. Freydis then attempted to keep up with them but could not. She followed them to the woods. The Skraelings pursued her. She found a dead man in the way. It was Thorbrand Snorrason. A flat stone was sticking in his head. His sword was by his side. She grasped it and prepared to defend herself. The Skraelings came toward her. She exposed her bosom and struck her breast with the sword. The Skraelings were frightened and ran to their boats and rowed away. Karlsefne and his men then came and praised her courage. Karlsefne lost two men but the Skraelings many more....

“Karlsefne and his men now perceived that notwithstanding[40] the country was fruitful they would be exposed to many dangerous incursions of its inhabitants if they should remain in it. They therefore determined to depart and return to their own land. They sailed northward along the coast and found five Skraelings clothed in skins sleeping on the sea-shore. They had with them vessels containing marrow mixed with blood. Karlsefne’s men believed that they had been banished from the country and they killed them. After that they came to a cape and there were many wild animals on it.... Then they reached Straum fjörd, where there was an abundance of every thing which they desired. It is said by some that Bjarni and Gudrid remained behind with one hundred men, and did not go farther, but that Karlsefne and Snorro went southward and forty men with them, and that they were not longer in Hóp than two months, and that they returned from there the same summer.... They inspected the mountains at Hóp, which they thought belonged to a range which extended in two directions to the same distance from Straum fjörd. The third winter they were in Straum fjörd.... Snorro, the son of Karlsefne, was born here the first autumn, and he was three years old when they went away from Vinland. When they sailed from Vinland they had a south wind and came to Markland.”[59]

The Northmen it seems continued their visits to Vinland as late as the fourteenth century. In the geographical treatise of Adam of Bremen, written in 1073, the author says that it was told him by Sveyn Estrithson, King of Denmark, that Vinland was an island: “Moreover he said that an island had been discovered[41] by many in that ocean, which is called Vinland, because vines grow spontaneously there, producing excellent wine. For that fruits abound there not having been sown, we are assured not by any vague rumor but by the trustworthy report of the Danes.”[60]

The island of Vinland is described in an old geographical document as lying on the opposite side of a channel, between it and Greenland: “Now is to be told what lies opposite Greenland, out from the bay already mentioned. Furdustrandir is the name of a land. There are such hard frosts there that it is not habitable as far as is known. South of it is Helluland, which is called Skraeling’s land. From there it is not far to Vinland the good, which some think goes out from Africa. Between Vinland and Greenland is Ginnungagap which flows from the sea called Mare Oceanum that encompasses the whole earth.”[61] On a map made by Sigurd Stephanius, an Icelander, in 1570, Helluland, Markland, Skraeling’s land, and the promontory of Vinland are represented as parts of the country now called Greenland.[62]

No geographical information contained in the sagas of Iceland and Greenland verifies the statement that the Northmen discovered America and explored the coast of a part of the present territory of the United[42] States. What tradition relates respecting the Northmen finding wine-berries in Vinland does not make it indubitably evident that they were the fruit now called grapes.[63] The wine-wood that was cut and carried on board of Leif’s ship indicates that there was no large timber in Vinland, and that the trees that were felled were of a stunted growth as those that are now found on the coast of Greenland. The statements respecting the great number of eider ducks, the natives who were frightened by the bellowing of a bull, the skin-boats used by them, the want of food by the Northmen, their eating the flesh of a stranded whale to escape starvation, and the sarcastic language of the song sung by Thorhall concerning Vinland being a land of wine, clearly establish the fact that this country or region was very near the Arctic circle. Further, all the early maps of Greenland show Helluland, Markland, and Vinland to be regions of that country.

The questionable interpretation of the characters on the rock, lying in the water, on the east side of the Taunton River, opposite Dighton, Massachusetts, by a number of foreign antiquaries, is a notable exemplification of the fictitious nature of the so-called evidence that the Northmen discovered America and explored a part of the eastern coast of the present territory of the United States.[64] The remarkable statement that the[43] round, stone-tower, at Newport, Rhode Island, mentioned by Governor Benedict Arnold in his will, made in 1677, as “my stone-built windmill,” was erected by the Northmen, is also an instance of the infatuation of the learned men who believed it to be a Norse monument.[65]

The supposition that the Welsh adventurer, Madoc Guyneth, planted a colony on the Atlantic coast of North America, in the twelfth century, rests on some traditionary information in a history of Wales, published in 1584.[66] In this rare work it is related that the sons of Owen Guyneth, King of North Wales, on the death of their father, had many contentions respecting the heirship to his estates and who should rule after him. This strife mortified Madoc. In order to separate himself from his quarrelling brothers he fitted out a number of ships and sailed west, “leaving the coast of Ireland so far north, that he came to an unknown land, where he saw many strange things.” He then returned home and gave an account of the attractive and fertile countries “he had seen without inhabitants.” He induced a number of men and women, who desired to live peaceably, to emigrate to the western land. The second voyage was safely made to the colony in the “fair and large country.” He returned again to[44] Wales for more colonists. Ten ships filled with emigrants shortly afterward set sail for the new settlement. It is further related that many fictions were current thereafter respecting Madoc’s discoveries in the unnamed country.[67] Meredith ap Rhees, a Welsh bard, who died in 1477, has rehearsed in a number of verses a part of the unsatisfactory tradition concerning Madoc’s voyage.[68] As said by Baron von Humboldt: “The deepest obscurity still shrouds every thing connected with the voyage of the Gaelic chief, Madoc.”[69]

The story of a Frisland fisherman, in the history of the discoveries of the Zeni brothers, published in 1558, is thought by some writers to be a true narrative of this man’s adventures on a part of the continent of America, in the fourteenth century.[70] It is related that Nicolò Zeno, a wealthy man, had a ship built, equipped,[45] and manned at his own expense, and sailed in it from Venice, “with the intention of visiting England and Flanders.” But in a storm his vessel was cast upon an island called Frisland.[71] “The crew were saved together with most of the ship’s cargo. This occurred in the year 1380. The inhabitants of the island, having collected in considerable numbers, attacked the chevalier and his men, who, being exhausted by the hardships they had endured, and not knowing in what part of the world they had been thrown, were unable to resist them, much less to defend themselves with the spirit that the emergency demanded. They would have been treated, without doubt, in a most barbarous manner, had it not fortunately happened that a powerful chieftain, with an armed force, was in their neighborhood, who, learning that a large ship had been cast upon the island, and hearing the noise and shouts of the inhabitants as they rushed upon our poor mariners, hastened forward, and putting the islanders to flight, inquired of the Venetians, in Latin, of what nation they were, and whence they had come. When informed that they were from Italy, and natives of that country, he was filled with joy and amazement.... He was a great lord and possessed certain islands called Porland, about a half-day’s sail from Frisland, the richest and most populous of all the islands of those parts. This chieftain’s name was Zichmni.”

Nicolò Zeno then entered the service of this distinguished man. Some time afterward he wrote to his brother Antonio, and related these incidents. The latter visited Frisland, where he lived fourteen years. On the death of Nicolò, which occurred four years[46] after Antonio’s arrival, he was appointed to take command of Zichmni’s fleet. From letters written by Antonio to his brother Carlo, the remarkable particulars of the following narrative are said to have been compiled:

“Six and twenty years ago four fishing-boats put out to sea from Frisland, and being overtaken by a storm were drifted about for many days in a helpless condition. When, at last, the tempest abated, they descried an island called Estotiland,[72] lying more than a thousand miles westward from Frisland. One of the boats was cast upon its coast, and the six men in it were taken by the inhabitants and conducted to a fair and populous city, where the king sent for many interpreters, but none could be found who understood the language of the fishermen except one man who spoke Latin, and who likewise had been cast by accident upon the same island. Ordered by the king, he asked them who they were, and where they came from, and when he reported their answer, the king desired that they should remain in that country. Accordingly, as they could not do otherwise, they obeyed his order, and remained five years on the island, and learned the language. One of them in particular visited different parts of the island, and reports that it is a very rich country, abounding in all good things. It is a little smaller than Iceland but more fertile. In the middle of it is a very high mountain, in which rise four rivers which water the whole country.

“The inhabitants are a very intelligent people and possess all the arts as we do; and it is believed that in time past they have had intercourse with our people, for he said that he saw Latin books in the king’s[47] library, which they at the present time do not understand. They have their own language and letters. They have all kinds of metals, especially gold. Their foreign intercourse is with Greenland, where they import furs, brimstone, and pitch. He says that toward the south there is a great and populous country, very rich in gold. They sow corn and make beer, which is a kind of drink which northern people take as we do wine. They have woods of vast extent. They construct their buildings with walls, and there are many towns and villages. They make small boats and sail them, but they have not the loadstone, nor do they know the north by the compass. For this reason these fishermen were held in great esteem, insomuch that the king sent them with twelve boats to the southward to a country which they call Drogio; but in their voyage they had such stormy weather that they were in fear for themselves. Although they escaped a miserable death they afterward met a more painful one, for they were taken into the country and the greater number of them were eaten by the savages, who are cannibals and consider human flesh very savory meat. But as this fisherman and his remaining companions were able to show them the way to catch fish with nets, their lives were spared. Every day he would go fishing in the sea and in the fresh waters, and take a great number of fish, which he gave to the chiefs, and thereby ingratiated himself so much into their favor that he was greatly liked and held in high esteem by all.

“As this man’s fame spread among the different tribes, there was a neighboring chief who was very anxious to have him with him and to see how he practised his wonderful art of catching fish. With this[48] object in view he made war on the other chief with whom the fisherman was, and being more powerful and a better warrior, he, at last, overcame him, and so the fisherman was sent to him with the rest of his companions. During the space of thirteen years that he dwelt in those parts, he says, he was sent in this manner to more than five-and-twenty chiefs, for they were continually fighting among themselves, this chief with that one, and solely for the purpose of having the fisherman to dwell with them, so that wandering up and down the country without any fixed abode, he became acquainted with almost all those regions. He says that it is a very great country, and, as it were, a new world. The people are very rude and uncultivated, for they all go naked, and suffer bitterly from the cold, nor have they the sense to clothe themselves with skins of the animals which they take in hunting. They have no kind of metal. They live by hunting, and carry lances of wood, sharpened at the point. They have bows, the strings of which are made of beasts’ skins. They are very fierce, and have deadly wars with one another, and eat the flesh of their captives. They have chiefs and certain laws, but differing in different tribes. The farther you go southwestward, however, the more refinement you meet with, because the climate is more temperate, but there they have cities and temples dedicated to their idols, in which they sacrifice men and afterward eat them. In those parts they have some knowledge and use of gold and silver.

“This fisherman after dwelling so many years in those parts resolved to return home if possible to his own country, but his companions, despairing of ever seeing it again, gave him Godspeed, and remained where they were. Accordingly he bade them farewell[49] and made his escape through the woods in the direction of Drogio, where he was welcomed and kindly received by the chief of the place, who knew him and was a great enemy of the neighboring chief. Thus passing from one chief to another, being the same with whom he had been before, he, at last, reached, after a long time and many hardships, Drogio, where he remained three years. Here by good fortune he learned from the natives that some boats had appeared off the coast, and hopeful of being able to carry out his intention, he went to the beach, and found to his great delight that the men on board the boats had come from Estotiland. He immediately begged them to take him back with them, which they willingly consented to do. He understood the language of the country which none of them could speak, and they employed him as an interpreter. Afterward he traded in company with them to such good purpose that he became very rich, and having fitted out a vessel of his own he returned to Frisland.”[73]

When Zichmni heard the story of the returned fisherman, it is said that he prepared a fleet to go to the countries described by him. The fisherman dying about the time that the vessels were ready to sail, some of the seamen who had come from Estotiland in his ship were taken to pilot them. An island called Icaria was discovered, but no exploration of it could be made on account of the hostility of its inhabitants. The fleet afterward proceeded to the coast of Greenland, from which it sailed to Frisland.


The compiler of the history of the discoveries of the Zeni brothers says: “This discovery [made by the Frisland fisherman] Messere Antonio, in a letter to his brother Messere Carlo, related, ... saying that we have changed some old words and the antiquated style, but have left the substance entire.... Of these northern places, I [the compiler] have thought it good to draw a copy of the sailing chart, which I find I have among our family heirlooms, and, although it is rotten with age, I have succeeded with it tolerably well; and to those who take pleasure in such things, it will serve to throw light on the comprehension of that which without it could not be understood so easily.”

Inasmuch as it is difficult to disprove that the names Frislanda, Engronelanda, and Estotilanda were not early designations for Iceland, Greenland, and Scotland, the supposition that the unnamed Frisland fisherman passed thirteen years of his life on the continent of America solely rests upon the particulars of the story of his famous adventures as a maker of fishing-nets.



In the opulent and insular city of Venice, there arrived, a few years before the close of the thirteenth century, three strangely clad sun-embrowned men. If any notice had been taken of them when they disembarked from the Mediterranean galley in which they had come from Negropont, this attention had, it is likely, been bestowed upon their odd garb and imperfect pronunciation of the Italian words which they used while obtaining a boatman to convey them to that part of the city known as the confine of S. Giovanni Crisostomo.

The unique story respecting the return of these famous travellers to Venice will always be deemed the prologue that introduces the notable acts of the explorers of the Atlantic coast territory of America in the fifteenth century. It is therefore properly entitled to a conspicuous place on the first pages of the history of the discovery of America. Five centuries ago it charmed the Venetians with its vivid colorings, and gave to the Orient an entrancing vision that made the name of Cathay for a time a synonym for an earthly paradise. It pictured to them a far-off El Dorado, abounding with gold, gems, and spicery, a country naturally delightful and artificially magnificent. America lay in some of the navigable ways which were sought by acquisitive Europeans to go to it, and thus[52] the return of Nicolò, Maffeo, and Marco Polo, in 1295, to Venice, after an absence of twenty-four years, is inseparably linked to the great chain of events connecting it with the discovery of the new continent of the western hemisphere.[74] Ramusio, the distinguished Italian collector of information relating to voyages and travels, has preserved the account of the strange revelations made by the three travellers on their return from Cathay.[75]

“When they arrived here the same fate befell them which happened to Ulysses, who, when he returned after his twenty years’ wanderings to his native Ithaca, was recognized by none of his people. In like manner these three gentlemen, who had been absent so many years from their native city, were not identified by any of their kinsfolk, who believed that they had been dead for many years, as had been reported. They were quite changed in appearance by the prolongation and hardships of their journeys and by the trouble and anxieties they had experienced; and they had a certain indescribable smack of the Tartar both in demeanor and accent, having indeed almost forgotten their Venetian tongue. Their clothes, too, were coarse and shabby, and of a Tartar cut. They proceeded on their arrival to their house, in this city, in the confine of S.[53] Giovanni Crisostomo, where you may see it to this day. The house, which in those days was a lofty and handsome palace, is now known by the name of the Court of the Millions, for a reason which I will tell you presently.

“When they reached the palace, they found it occupied by some of their relatives, and they had the utmost difficulty in making the latter understand who they were. For these good people seeing them to be in appearance so unlike what they were formerly, and in dress so shabby, flatly refused to believe that they were those very gentlemen of the Polo family whom they thought had been dead many years. So these three gentlemen,—this is a story I have often heard when I was a boy from the illustrious Messere Gasparo Malpiero, a gentleman of very great age and a senator of eminent virtue and integrity, whose house was on the canal of Santa Marianna, at the corner, over the mouth of the brook of S. Giovanni Crisostomo, and just midway among the buildings of the aforesaid Court of the Millions, and he said he had heard the story from his own father and grandfather, and from other old men among the neighbors,—the three gentlemen, I say, devised a scheme by which they should obtain at once from their kinsfolk the recognition they desired, and secure the honorable notice of the whole city; and this was it:

“They invited a number of their kindred to an entertainment, which they purposely prepared with great state and splendor in their house. When the hour arrived for sitting down to table all three came from their chambers clothed in crimson satin, fashioned in long robes reaching to the ground, such as people in those days wore within doors. And when water for[54] the hands had been served, and the guests were seated, they took off these robes and put on others of crimson damask, while the first suits were by their orders cut and divided among the servants. Then after partaking of some of the dishes they went out again and came back in robes of crimson velvet, and when they had again taken their seats, the second suits were divided as the first. When dinner was over they did the like with the robes of velvet, after they had put on dresses of the ordinary fashion worn by their guests. These proceedings caused much wonder and amazement among their relatives. But when the cloth had been drawn, and all the servants had been ordered to retire from the dining-hall, Messere Marco, the youngest of the three, rose from the table, and going into another chamber brought forth the three shabby dresses of coarse stuff which they had worn when they first arrived. Straightway they took sharp knives and began to rip open some of the seams and welts, and to take out of them many gems of the greatest value, such as rubies, sapphires, carbuncles, diamonds, and emeralds, all of which had been stitched up in these dresses in a manner so artful that nobody could have suspected the fact. For when they took leave of the Grand Khan they changed all the wealth which he had bestowed upon them for these rubies, emeralds, and other gems, being well aware of the impossibility of carrying with them so great an amount of gold on a journey so long and so difficult.

“Now the exhibition of this large number of gems and precious stones, all scattered over the table, threw the guests into fresh amazement, insomuch that they seemed quite bewildered and speechless. They now saw that in spite of all their former doubts these were[55] really the honored and worthy gentlemen of the Polo family as they had claimed to be, and they therefore paid them the greatest honor and reverence. And when the story became current in Venice, straightway the whole city, gentle and simple, flocked to the house to embrace them, and to make much of them, with every conceivable demonstration of affection and respect.

“On Messere Maffeo, who was the eldest, the Venetians conferred the honors of an office which was of great dignity in those days; while the young men came daily to visit and converse with the ever-polite and gracious Messere Marco, and to ask him questions about Cathay[76] and the Grand Khan, all of which he answered with such kindly courtesy that every man felt himself in a manner his debtor. And as it happened that in the story, which he was constantly called on to repeat, of the magnificence of the Grand Khan, he would speak of his revenues as amounting to ten or fifteen millions of gold; and in like manner, when recounting other instances of great wealth in those parts, he would always make use of the term millions, so they gave him the nickname of Messere Marco Millioni, an appellation which I have seen in the public records of this republic where mention is made of him. The court of his house, in the confine of S. Giovanni Crisostomo, has always from that time been known as the Corte del Millioni.”[77]


These conversational descriptions respecting the remote dominions of the Grand Khan, with which Marco Polo often interested the imaginative Venetians, were to have a much wider field of influence in another form,—one which was a most potent element among the leading agencies which opened to the people of Western Europe great pathways of discovery and of commerce around the earth. In order to perceive how these descriptions of Cathay led to the exploration of the Atlantic Ocean and the discovery of the continent of America, the fortunes of Marco Polo must be followed farther. It appears that shortly after his return to Venice he was placed in command of a fleet, which subsequently was captured by the Genoese in a naval engagement. While confined in Genoa as a prisoner of war, his remarkable adventures as an explorer of remote eastern countries became known, and he was often visited and questioned by inquisitive people. Wearied by the frequent repetition of the story of his wanderings in Cathay, he at last applied himself to writing an account of his extensive journeys by the aid of such notes and memoranda as he had taken while in the East. Assisted by a Genoese gentleman, he completed his curious and instructive narrative, which was soon copied, translated into different languages, and distributed among the people of Europe.[78]


As justly claimed by Yule, Marco Polo was the first traveller “to trace a route across the longitude of Asia, naming and describing kingdom after kingdom which he had seen with his own eyes; the deserts of Persia, the flowering plateaux and wild gorges of Badakhshan, the jade-bearing rivers of Khotan, the Mongolian steppes, ... the new and brilliant court that had been established at Cambaluc; the first traveller to reveal China in all its wealth and vastness, its mighty rivers, its huge cities, its rich manufactures, its swarming population, the inconceivably vast fleets that quickened its seas and its inland waters; to tell us of the nations on its borders with all their eccentricities of manners and worship; of Tibet with its sordid devotees; of Burma, with its golden pagodas and their tinkling crowns; of Laos, of Siam, of Cochin China, of Japan, the Eastern Thule, with its rosy pearls and golden-roofed palaces; the first to speak of that museum of beauty and wonder, still so imperfectly ransacked, the Indian archipelago, source of aromatics then so highly prized and whose origin was so dark; of Java, the pearl of islands; of Sumatra with its many kings, its strange costly products, and its cannibal races; of the naked savages of Nicobar and Andaman; of Ceylon, the isle of gems, with its sacred mountain and its tomb of Adam; of India the great, not as a dreamland of Alexandrian fables but as a country seen and partially explored, with its virtuous Brahmans,[58] its obscene ascetics, its diamonds and the strange tales of their acquisition, its sea-beds of pearl, and its powerful sun; the first in medieval times to give any distinct account of the secluded Christian empire of Abyssinia and the semi-Christian island of Socotra; to speak, though indeed dimly, of Zanzibar with its negroes and its ivory, and of the vast and distant Madagascar, bordering on the dark ocean of the South, with its ruc and other monstrocities; and, in a remotely opposite region, of Siberia and the Arctic Ocean, of dog-sledges, white bears, and reindeer-riding Tunguses.”[79]

Never before had the people of Europe heard of such extraordinary wealth and unlimited resources as existed in the far-off countries visited by Marco Polo. His novel descriptions of stately, gold-covered palaces, of the royal magnificence of the entertainments of the Grand Khan, of the intoxicating fragrance of an endless profusion of rare flowers, of luscious fruits and sweet spicery, of heavily laden argosies of valuable merchandise floating on noble rivers, and of vast collections of gold, silver, and precious stones, were read with the most exaggerated conceptions of their reality. These enchanting details respecting Cathay and the adjacent countries were fully confirmed in the fourteenth century by Sir John Mandeville, who, in 1322, departed from England, and after an absence of thirty-four years in different countries returned to write, in Latin, in French, and in English, a narrative of his extended travels.[80]


Dazzled by the splendor of the Orient the people of Western Europe were eager to enter into commercial intercourse with the inhabitants of Cathay. But there were innumerable barriers, both natural and political, obstructing all the overland ways to the East. Chief among the obstacles classed as political was the selfish exclusiveness of the different governments possessing the intervening territory. Had there been no national opposition to the establishment of a protected system of overland commerce between Western Europe and Eastern Asia, the distance was too great to be travelled over by slowly moving caravans.

As early as the year 1343 the aggressive enterprise of the Venetians had obtained from the sultan of Egypt the exclusive privilege of sending ships to trade in the ports of that country and of Syria. The merchants of Venice thereupon established commercial agencies at Alexandria and Damascus. Their factors penetrated Central and Southern Asia, and became active participants in the remunerative traffic of those regions. The prized productions of the islands in the Indian Ocean, such as pepper, cinnamon, cloves, and other spices, were transported by them to Venice and distributed through Europe. Although the ocean along the western and southern coast of Africa to the East was believed to be navigable, no attempt was made in the fourteenth century to sail by it to the Moluccas or Spice Islands. Concerning the early navigation of the sea-path along the coast of Africa, from the Pillars of Hercules to the Arabian Sea, Herodotus says that when Necho, king of Egypt, “had ceased digging the[60] canal leading from the Nile to the Arabian Gulf, he sent certain Phœnicians in ships, with orders to sail between the Pillars of Hercules into the Northern Sea [the Mediterranean], and so to return to Egypt. These Phœnicians, taking their course from the Red Sea, entered the Southern Ocean. On the approach of autumn they landed in Libya [Africa], and planted some corn in the place where they happened to find themselves. When this was ripe, and they had cut it down, they again departed. Having thus consumed two years, they in the third doubled the Pillars of Hercules, and returned to Egypt. Their account may obtain attention from others, but to me it seems incredible, for they affirmed, that having sailed around Libya, they had the sun on their right hand. Thus was Libya for the first time known.”[81]

Pliny, the celebrated encyclopedist of ancient times, says that “while the power of Carthage was at its height, Hanno published an account of a voyage which he made from Gades [Cadiz, Spain], to the extremity of Arabia.[82] ... Besides, we learn from Cornelius Nepos, that one Eudoxus, a contemporary of his, when he was fleeing from King Lathyrus, set out from the Arabian Gulf, and was carried as far as Gades.[83] And long before him, Cælius Antipater informs us that he had seen a person who had sailed from Spain to Æthiopia for the purpose of trade. The same Cornelius Nepos, when speaking of the northern circumnavigation, tells us that Q. Metellus Celer, the colleague of L. Afranius in the consulship, but then a[61] proconsul in Gaul,[84] had a present made to him by the king of the Suevi,[85] of certain Indians, who, sailing from India for the purpose of commerce, had been driven by tempests to Germany.”[86]

These statements were quoted in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries to support the growing belief that India could be reached in a short time by sailing round the coast of Africa. But the want of nautical instruments restrained seamen from undertaking a voyage which carried them beyond the sight of familiar coasts and beneath new constellations. It was extremely perilous for European navigators to attempt to sail to India before they had acquired a knowledge of the use of the mariner’s compass and of the astrolabe. The polarity of the magnet was known among oriental nations several centuries before the Christian era. The use of the magnetic needle for the guidance of vessels, however, did not become popular in Europe until as late as the fourteenth century.[87] The slowness with which its use grew into favor with European seamen is ascribable to the prevailing superstition which hung[62] like a darkening cloud over the minds of the people. The strange conservatism of the age is well described in a letter written, as it seems, in the year 1258, by Brunetto Latini, a learned Italian, Dante’s tutor, to Guido Cavalcanti of Florence. Speaking of his visit to Roger Bacon, the English philosopher and monk, at Oxford, England, he says:

“The Parliament being summoned to assemble at Oxford, I did not fail to see Friar Bacon as soon as I arrived, and [among other things] he showed me a black ugly stone, called a magnet, which has the surprising property of drawing iron to it; and upon which, if a needle be rubbed, and afterwards fastened to a straw, so that it shall swim upon water, the needle will instantly turn toward the pole-star; therefore, be the night ever so dark, so that neither moon nor star be visible, yet shall the mariner be able, by the help of the needle, to steer his vessel aright.[88]

“This discovery, which appears useful in so great a degree to all who travel by sea, must remain concealed until other times, because no master-mariner dares to use it lest he should fall under a supposition of his being a magician; nor would even the sailors venture themselves out to sea under his command if he took with him an instrument which carries so great an appearance of being constructed under the influence of some infernal spirit. A time may come when these prejudices, which are of such great hindrance to researches into the secrets of nature, will probably be no more; and then it will be that mankind shall reap the benefit of the labors of such learned men as Friar[63] Bacon, and do justice to that industry and intelligence for which he and they now meet with no other return than obloquy and reproach.”[89]

About the beginning of the fourteenth century, Flavia Gioja of Amalfi, in Naples, devised what were then known as the eight points of the superficies—the four cardinal and the four intermediate points of the compass-card.[90] From this time forward the use of the magnet gradually found favor with European seamen.

The most enthusiastic projector of voyages of discovery undertaken to ascertain the character of the land and water divisions of the earth, in the early part of the fifteenth century, was Prince Henry, the son of King John I. of Portugal.[91] When twenty-one years of age, he witnessed, in 1415, the taking of Ceuta, on the northern coast of Africa, opposite the southern extremity of Portugal. While at this opulent city, he learned from its merchants and traders that the continent extended far southward and was inhabited by many strange people. Fixing his residence on the promontory of Sagres, at the southwestern extremity of Portugal, he began to send the most experienced seamen in the service of Portugal to explore the western coast of Africa. For a time Cape de Não, in north latitude, 28° 45´ was considered the limit of safe navigation. It was a common saying among Portuguese seamen,[64] that “He who should pass Cabo de Não, either will return or not.”[92] Beyond it was Cape Bojador, in 26° 12´ north latitude. This rocky headland, for a time, was also deemed perilous and impassable. “Beyond this cape” it was said, “there is no people whatever; the ground is as barren as that of Libya,—no water, no trees, no grass in it; the sea is so shallow that at a league from the land it is only a fathom deep; the currents are so strong that a ship passing the cape cannot return.”[93] The attempts made by Prince Henry’s mariners to double the two capes are thus commented upon by Antonio Galvano, the Portuguese historian,[94] in his treatise respecting the routes by which spices came from India to the year 1550: “In those days none of the Portuguese had yet passed Cabo de Não in 29 degrees of latitude.” But after it was doubled, “when they came to another cape named Bojador, there was not one of them that dared to risk his life beyond it. The prince was exceedingly displeased with their want of confidence and unmanly timidity.”[95] Of the number[65] of seamen that had made unsuccessful attempts to pass the cape was Gil Eannes. Disappointed as Prince Henry was by these failures to accomplish that which he had ordered them to do, he nevertheless gave his timorous navigators all the encouragement he could to induce them to make other and more persistent efforts to double the formidable headland. In 1434, he again sent Gil Eannes to explore the coast beyond Cape Bojador. Before the latter departed the prince endeavored to dispel the terrifying fancies that might deter him from attempting to prosecute the undertaking for which he was commissioned. “You cannot incur such peril” said the prince, “that the promised reward shall not be commensurate thereto. It is very strange to me that you should be governed by a fear of something of which you are ignorant, for if the things reported had any authentication, I should not find fault with you for believing them. The stories of the four seamen driven out of their course to Flanders or to the ports to which they were sailing are not to be credited, for they had not and could not have used the needle and the chart. But do you go notwithstanding, and make your voyage without being influenced by their opinions, and, by the grace of God, you will not fail to secure, by your enterprise, both honor and compensation.”[96] Gil Eannes followed the advice of his sanguine patron, and succeeded the same year in doubling Cape Bojador and in exploring a part of the coast beyond it.

South of Cape Bojador it was believed that a zone of scorching heat would be entered by vessels sailing toward the equator. Pliny adverts to it in these words: “The middle of the earth, over which is the[66] path of the sun, is parched and set on fire by the luminary, and is consumed by being so near the heat. There are only two of the zones which are temperate—those which lie between the torrid and the frigid zones—and these are separated from each other, in consequence of the scorching heat of the heavenly bodies.”[97] Conceiving this statement to be as fallacious as many other declarations of the early geographers had been, Prince Henry, in 1454, sent Luigi da Cadamosto, a Venetian navigator, to explore the coast beyond Cape Bojador so long invested with so many imaginary terrors. In 1462 Pedro de Cintra sailed three hundred miles beyond Sierre Leone.

As it was necessary for seamen to know the latitude and longitude of the places to which they desired to sail, another nautical instrument besides the mariner’s compass was needed by them.[98] The adaptation of an instrument called the astrolabe, by which the latitudes[67] of places could be determined, apparently originated with King John II. of Portugal.[99]

It is said that “when Prince Henry began the discovery of Guinea that all mariners were accustomed to sail along the coasts, and that they always steered their courses by observing the physical features of the land, which are still used as guides.”

“This method of navigating permitted them to make voyages from place to place; but when they wished to sail in the open sea, losing sight of the coast and standing out on the wide ocean, they perceived the numerous errors they had made in calculating and judging the day’s run, for they had been accustomed to allow so much way to the ship in the twenty-four hours on account of the currents and the other mysteries of the sea, the facts of which are clearly demonstrated by navigating by altitude. But as necessity is the teacher of all arts, in the time of King John II., the matter of navigation was assigned by him to Master Roderic, and Master Joseph, a Jew, (who were his physicians,) and to one Martin of Bohemia, a native of those parts, who boasted of being a pupil of John of Monteregius, a famous astronomer among the professors of that science,[100] and these devised the way of navigating by the sun’s altitude, and they made tables of[68] his declination such as are now used by navigators, now more complete than they were at the beginning when the great wooden astrolabes were first used.”[101]

This novel and serviceable nautical instrument, first made of wood and of a triangular shape, was soon in general use on Portuguese vessels. The astrolabe was improved from time to time. At the beginning of the seventeenth century, when the French seaman, Samuel de Champlain, was exploring the St. Lawrence River and its tributaries, it was a disk of brass, having one of its faces marked with degrees and minutes. A brass rule, called a label, with sight-holes, turning upon a pivot at the centre of the instrument, moved over the marked circumference of the disk. At the zenith part of the instrument there was a small ring by which it could be suspended from the thumb of the person taking an observation. When used the astrolabe was turned to the sun, so that his rays could freely pass through the two sight-holes of the label. In this position the altitude of the sun was indicated on the divided limb of the instrument. Opposite the zenith point was a small eyelet from which a weight could be suspended to keep the instrument from shaking when used.

A representation of the astrolabe found in 1867 in the county of North Renfrew, province of Ontario, Canada, supposed to have been lost by Champlain on his way to Ottawa in 1613. The diameter of the instrument is “five inches and five-eights.” Vide “Champlain’s astrolabe.” By A. J. Russell. Montreal, 1879.

In the fifteenth century the day’s run of a ship was commonly reckoned by the pilot. In an old nautical work it is said: “In order to know the speed of the ship over the length of the course the pilot must set down in his journal the progress the vessel has made according to hours; and to do this he must know that the greatest distance that a ship advances in an hour is four miles, and with feebler breezes, three or only[69] two.”[102] Time was measured by sand-glasses, or ampolletas, as they were called by the Spaniards. Forty-eight changes of these half-hour glasses equalled the space of a day.[103]

In 1487 the persistent enterprise of the Portuguese in exploring a commercial route to India along the west and south coasts of Africa was notably signalized by the success attending the expedition commanded by the adventurous seaman, Bartolomeu Dias. The indomitable zeal of this Portuguese mariner enabled him to reach the southern extremity of Africa, where he found a bold promontory to which he gave the name of Cabo Tormentoso, (the Stormy Cape,) commemorative of the adverse winds and bad weather encountered there. King John II., personally appreciating the good fortune attending the explorations of the navigators of Portugal in this direction during the previous seventy years, in which time more than six thousand miles of coast-line had been inspected by them, called the promontory discovered by Dias, Cabo de Boa Esperança (the Cape of Good Hope).[104]



The success attending the voyages of the Portuguese along the coast of Africa suggested to Cristoforo Colombo[105] (or Christopher Columbus, as he is more commonly called by those speaking English), the possibility of sailing by a shorter way to India in another direction. Ferdinand Columbus, in his history of the life and achievements of his father,[106] makes no attempt to[71] conceal this fact from publicity. With an apparent intention to give all the information which might be desired concerning the great discoverer’s first thoughts respecting the practicability of reaching Asia by sailing in a westerly direction, he frankly tells what originated them in the mind of the admiral. “As one thing leads to another, and one thought to another, in this way, while the admiral was in Portugal, he began to infer that as the Portuguese sailed so far southward, it was also feasible to steer westward, and that land might likely be found in this direction. In order to be more assured and satisfied in this matter, he began to review the cosmographies which he had read, and to note what astronomical reasons would support this theory.[107] That[72] he might be more enlightened concerning his assumption, he paid attention to what was said by people respecting it, especially by seamen. His diligent investigations soon led him to conclude that there were many lands west of the Canaries and the Cape Verd Islands, and that it was practicable to sail to and discover them.”[108]

The remarkable aptitude displayed by Columbus in forming his conclusions that the Atlantic Ocean was navigable, and that ships might pass across its unexplored expanse to Cathay, was the natural expression of his peculiar passion for geographical knowledge. In a letter written to their Spanish majesties, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, in 1501, he says: “I went to sea when quite young, and have continued my sea-faring until now; and this profession makes those who follow it eager to discover the secrets of this globe. It is now forty years that I have been sailing to all those places which are at present visited, and I have dealt and talked with learned people, ecclesiastics as well as laymen, Latins, Greeks, Indians, Moors, and many other people of different nations, and our Lord has favored this inclination, and I have received from him[73] the spirit of understanding. He has made me very skillful in navigation, and to know much in astronomy, in geometry, and mathematics. God has given me the knowledge and the ability to portray the globe, and also to delineate cities, rivers, islands, and ports in their proper situation. During my life I have examined and endeavored to see all books of cosmography, history, and philosophy, and of the other sciences, so that our Lord has sensibly opened my mind in order that I may sail from here to the Indies, and has made me extremely anxious to do it.”[109]

Columbus’s irrepressible desire to possess all the information he could acquire respecting the navigable water-ways of the Atlantic also led him to sail over the sea-path to Iceland and to the south coast of Africa, at the equator. In his geographical work, written “to show that all the five zones are habitable,” he says: “‘In February, 1467, I sailed myself a hundred leagues beyond Thule, the northern part of which is seventy degrees distant from the equator, and not sixty-three degrees as some will have it to be; nor does it lie upon the line where Ptolemy’s West begins, but much more to the westward, and to this island, which is as large as England, the English trade, especially those from Bristol.[110] At the time I was there the sea was not frozen, but the tides were so great that in some places it swelled twenty-six fathoms and fell as much.’ The truth is, that the Thule of which Ptolemy speaks lies where he says, and this is called by the moderns Frizeland.” Again he says: “I have followed sea-faring for twenty-three years without being on shore any space of time worth mentioning, and I have seen all the East and all the West, and have been to the North where[74] England is situated, and even to Guinea.” He also says that he went to sea when fourteen years old, and ever after that led a sea-faring life.[111]

Among the motives influencing him to think that he could sail to Cathay by the way of the Atlantic Ocean were the statements of geographical writers. By them it was said “that a great part of the globe had already been travelled over, and there only remained to be discovered and made known the space lying between the eastern limits of India, known to Ptolemy and Marinus, and the West, where are the islands Azores[112] and those of Cape Verd,[113] the most western lands yet discovered.[114] ... He considered[75] that this space, lying between the eastern limits [of India] known to Marinus and the islands of the Cape Verd group, could not be more than a third part of the great circumference of the globe, since Marinus had gone toward the East fifteen hours of the twenty-four into which the circumference of the earth is divided, and therefore to go [still farther eastwardly] to reach the Cape Verd Islands there were nine hours, [of the circumference to be passed over], as it is said that Marinus began his investigations in the West.... He conceived that since Marinus had given in his cosmography an account of fifteen hours or parts of the globe eastwardly, and had not reached the limits of the East, it followed that its bounds must be much beyond, and consequently the farther the land of the East extended eastwardly, the nearer this land was to the Cape Verd Islands in the West, and that if the space were chiefly water it might easily be sailed in a few days, and if it were mainly land it would sooner be discovered by sailing westward, because it would be nearer to the Cape Verd Islands.[115] ... The fifth reason, which induced him to believe that the distance this way was short, was the opinion of Alfragranus and his followers, who make the circumference of the globe much less than all other writers and cosmographers,[76] allowing fifty-six miles and two-thirds to a degree.[116] Whence he inferred that as the entire circumference of the globe was of such an extent, the third part was small, which Marinus left unknown.... And Seneca, in his first book of nature, who considers the knowledge of this world as nothing when compared with that which is acquired in the next life, says a ship may sail in a few days with a fair wind from the coast of Spain to that of India. And if it be true, as some believe, that Seneca wrote tragedies, we may infer that he speaks of the same thing in the chorus of his Medea:

‘Venient annis
Saecula seris, quibus Oceanus
Vincula rerum laxet, et ingens
Pateat tellus, Typhysque novos
Detegat orbes, nec sit terris
Ultima Thule.’

“‘In the last years there will come an age in which Ocean shall loosen the bonds of things; and a great land will be accessible; and another Tiphys shall discover new worlds, and Thule shall no longer be the extremity of the earth.’[117] This prediction may be considered really fulfilled in the person of the admiral.... Marco Polo, the Venetian, and John Mandeville, in their travels say that they went much farther eastward than Ptolemy and Marinus mention, who, although they do not speak of the Eastern Sea, yet by[77] the account they give of the East it may be assumed that India is not far distant from Africa and Spain.”[118]

Ferdinand Columbus further says that his father expected to find, “before he came to India, a very convenient island or continent, from which he might pursue with more advantage his main design. This hope was grounded upon the statements of many wise men and philosophers, who believed that the greatest part of this terraqueous globe was land, or that there was more land than water, which, if true, he assumed that between the coast of Spain and the limits of India then known, there were many islands and a considerable extent of main-land.... A pilot of the king of Portugal, named Martin Vicente, told him that, being at one time four hundred and fifty leagues westward of Cape St. Vincent, he found and picked up in the sea a piece of wood ingeniously carved, but not with iron, which led him to believe, as the wind had been blowing from the west for several days, that the piece of wood had drifted from some island lying toward the west. Then one Pedro Correa, who had married the sister of the admiral’s wife, told him that at the island of Porto Santo[119] he had seen another piece of wood, brought by the same winds, as nicely carved as the piece already mentioned, and that canes had been found there so thick that each joint would hold more than four quarts of wine, which reports he said he communicated to the king of Portugal while talking to him about these matters. The pieces of cane were shown to him. There being no place in our parts where such cane grew, he inferred it to be true that the wind had brought the cane from some neighboring islands or else from India. For Ptolemy, in the first book of his[78] geography, in the seventeenth chapter, says there is such cane in the eastern parts of India. And some of the people living on the islands, particularly on the Azores, told him that when the west wind blew for a long time the sea drifted some pieces of pine-wood upon those islands, particularly on the islands Gratiosa and Fayal, there being no pine-wood in all those parts, and that the sea cast upon the island of Flores, another of the Azores, the bodies of two dead men, who were very broad-faced and different in appearance from Christians. At Cape Verd and thereabouts they said that they once saw some covered canoes or boats which the people believed were driven there by stress of weather while the persons in them were going from one island to another. Nor were these the only grounds he then had which seemed reasonable, for there were those who told him that they had seen some islands in the western ocean.... These persons he did not believe, because he discovered from their own words and statements that they had not sailed one hundred leagues to the westward, and that they had been deceived by some rocks, thinking them to be islands; or else, perhaps, they were some of those floating islands which are drifted about by the waves, and which the sailors call aguados....

“He says, moreover, that in the year 1484, a man came to Portugal from the island of Madera[120] to beg a caraval of the king to discover a country which he affirmed he saw every year, and always after the same manner, he agreeing with others who said they had seen the island from the Azores. On this account the[79] Portuguese placed some islands thereabouts on the charts and maps made at that time; and also because Aristotle, in his book of wonderful things, affirms that it was reported that some Carthaginian merchants had sailed over the Atlantic Ocean to a most fruitful island.... This island the Portuguese inserted in their maps, calling it Antilla, and though they did not give it the same situation designated by Aristotle, yet none placed it more than two hundred leagues due west from the Canaries and the Azores. Some believe it to be the island of the Seven Cities peopled by the Portuguese at the time that Spain was conquered by the Moors, in 714, at which time, they say, seven bishops with their people embarked and sailed to this island, where each of them built a city; and in order that none of their people might think of returning to Spain, they burnt the ships, tackle, and all things necessary for sailing.[121] ... It was also said that in the time of Prince Henry of Portugal, a Portuguese ship was driven by stress of weather to this island of Antilla, where the men went on shore, and were conducted by the islanders to their church to learn whether or not they were Christians and acquainted with the Roman ceremonies. After perceiving that they were, the people of the island importuned them to remain till their king came, who was then absent, and who would be delighted to see them and would give them many presents.... But the master and the seamen were afraid of being detained, suspecting these people did not wish to be discovered and might for this reason burn their ship.


“On this account they returned to Portugal, hoping to be rewarded by the prince for what they had done. He reproved them severely and bid them return at once to the island, but the master through fear ran away from Portugal with the ship and men. It is reported that while the seamen were at church on the island the ship-boys gathered sand for the cook-room, the third part of which they found to be pure gold.... Seneca, in his fourth book, tells us that Thucydides[122] speaks of an island called Atlantica, which in the time of the Peloponnesian war was entirely, or the greater part of it, submerged; whereof Plato also makes mention in his Timæus.”[123]

While Columbus resided at Lisbon obtaining information from geographers and seamen respecting the feasibility of sailing westward to Cathay, he entered into correspondence with Paolo Toscanelli, a Florentine physician and astronomer.[124] The latter sent him a copy of a letter which he had written in Latin to Ferdinand Martinez, a prebendary of Lisbon. The communication addressed to Columbus, is dated Florence, June 25, 1474. As translated the letter is as follows:

“To Christopher Colon, Paul, the physician, wishes health.

“I apprehend your noble and earnest desire to sail to those parts where spices grow, and therefore, in answer to your letter, I send another, which some time[81] ago I wrote to a friend of mine, in the service of the king of Portugal, before the wars of Castile, in answer to one he wrote me by his highness’s command, upon the same subject. I also send you a sea-chart similar to the one I sent him, which may satisfy your inquiries. The copy of that letter is the following:

“To Ferdinand Martinez, canon of Lisbon, Paul, the physician, wishes health.

“I am gratified to hear of your intimacy with the most serene and magnificent king. Although I have often spoken of the short distance by water from here to the Indies where spices grow, which way, in my opinion, is shorter than that taken along the coast of Guinea, yet you inform me that his highness would have me explain and demonstrate it in order that it may be comprehended and tested. Although I could better elucidate the configuration of the earth with a globe in my hand, nevertheless, I will make the matter more easy and intelligible by exhibiting the route on such a chart as is used in navigation. I therefore send one to his majesty, made and drawn with my own hand, on which are delineated the extreme limits of the West, from Iceland, in the north, to the farthest part of Guinea, in the south, with all the intermediate islands. Opposite, in the West, the beginning of the Indies is delineated, with the islands and places to which you may go, representing how far you may steer from the north pole toward the equator, and for how long a time, that is, how many leagues you may sail before you come to those places where are to be found all kinds of spices and precious stones. Do not think it strange if I call the country where spices grow West, since they are generally known to be produced in the East, because those who shall sail westward will always find those places in the[82] west, and they who travel by land eastward, will always find those places in the east. The straight lines which are drawn lengthwise on the chart show the distance from west to east, and those which cross the former show the distance from north to south. I have also marked down on the chart several places in the Indies where ships might put in during a storm or contrary winds, or any other unlooked-for accident. Moreover, to give you ample information concerning all the places of which you desire to know something, you must understand that only traders live or reside on these islands, and that you will find there as large a number of ships and sea-faring people engaged in merchandizing as in any other part of the world, particularly in the famous port of the city called Zacton, where, every year, a hundred large ships carrying pepper, are loaded and unloaded, besides many other vessels freighted with different kinds of spices.[125] This country is an exceedingly populous one, and there are many provinces, kingdoms, and innumerable cities in it under the rule of a sovereign called the Grand Khan, signifying king of kings, who generally resides in the province of Cathay. His predecessors greatly desired to have the commerce and the friendship of Christians, and two hundred years ago they sent embassadors to the pope, to ask him to send them many learned men and doctors to teach them our religion, but on account of some obstacles the embassadors met with, they returned without coming to Rome. Besides, there came an[83] embassador to Pope Eugene IV., who informed him of the great affection which their princes and people bore toward the Christians. I talked with him a long time concerning the magnificence of the royal palaces, the greatness of the country, the length and breadth of the rivers. He told me many wonderful things respecting a great number of towns and cities built on the banks of the rivers, and that there were two hundred cities on a single river, with marble bridges over it of great length and breadth, and sustained by many pillars. This country deserves to be made known as well as any other, and there may not only be great profits realized and many things of value obtained, but also gold, silver, all kinds of precious stones, and spices in abundance, which are not brought into our parts. And it is certain that many wise men, philosophers, astronomers, and other persons skilled in the arts, and very ingenious men govern this vast country and command its armies. On the chart, from Lisbon directly westward to the great and famous city of Quisay, are twenty-six spaces, each measuring two hundred and fifty miles. The city is one hundred miles, or thirty-five leagues in circuit, and within its limits are ten marble bridges. The name Quisay signifies city of heaven.[126] Wonderful things are reported of the ingenuity of its inhabitants, its buildings and revenues. The space previously mentioned is almost a third part of the circumference of the globe.[127][84] The city is in the province of Mango, bordering on that of Cathay, where the king usually resides. From the island Antilla (which you call the Seven Cities, and of which you have some knowledge), to the great island of Cipango,[128] are ten spaces, which include two thousand five hundred miles, or two hundred and twenty-five leagues.[129] The island abounds with gold, pearls, and precious stones; and you should know that they cover their temples and palaces with plates of pure gold. All these things are hidden and concealed, because the way to them is unknown, and yet it may be sailed with safety.

“Much more might be said, but having told you that which is most important, and as you are learned and have good judgment, I am satisfied that you will understand what I have written without my adding any thing further to these statements. This may satisfy[85] your curiosity, it being as much as my time and business permit me now to write. However, I remain ever ready to satisfy and serve his highness to the utmost in all the commands that he shall lay upon me.”[130]

“The admiral, now believing that his opinion was excellently well grounded,” says Ferdinand Columbus, “resolved to be governed by it, and to sail across the western ocean in quest of those countries. But being aware that such an undertaking was only becoming a monarch to espouse and to accomplish, he determined to propose it to the king of Portugal, because he was the latter’s subject. And though King John, then reigning, gave ear to the admiral’s proposals, yet he hesitated to accept them on account of the great burden and expense attending the exploration and conquest of the western coast of Africa, called Guinea. Little success had thus far rewarded this undertaking, nor had he been able to double the Cape of Good Hope, which name, some say, was given it instead of Agesingue, its proper designation, because that was the farthest they hoped to extend their explorations and conquests, or, as others will have it, because this cape gave them the expectation of better countries and navigation. However, the king had but little inclination to invest any more money in discoveries; and if he gave any attention to the admiral, it was in consequence of the excellent reasons he advanced to support his opinion, which arguments so far convinced the king that he had nothing else to do but to accept or to reject the terms which the admiral proposed. For the admiral, being a noble and magnanimous man, wished to make an agreement that would be of some personal[86] benefit and honor to himself, so that he would leave behind him a notable reputation and a respected family, such as became his achievements and memory. For this reason the king, by the advice of one Doctor Cazadilla,[131] whom he greatly esteemed, determined to send a caravel secretly to attempt that which the admiral had proposed to him; for if those countries were in this way discovered, he thought that he would not be obliged to bestow any great reward which might be demanded. Having quickly equipped a caravel, he sent it the way the admiral had proposed to go, for the vessel was carrying supplies to the islands of the Cape Verd group. But those he sent had not the knowledge, perseverance, and energy of the admiral. After wandering many days on the sea, they turned back to the islands of Cape Verd, laughing at the undertaking, and saying that it was unreasonable to think there should be any land in those waters. This being told to the admiral, ... he determined to go to Castile [Spain].... But fearing that, if the king of Castile should not favor his undertaking, he would be forced to propose it to some other monarch, thereby consuming much time, he sent his brother Bartolomé Columbus, who was with him, to England.... On his way to England, Bartolomé happened to fall into the hands of pirates, who stripped him and his companions. For this reason, and being sick and poor in that country, it was a long time before he could deliver his message. It was not until he had obtained some money by making sea-charts that he began to make certain proposals to King Henry VII., then reigning, to whom he presented a map of the world.... The king of England, having seen the map[87] and heard what the admiral offered to do for him, readily accepted the overture and ordered him to be sent for....

“I will not now relate how Bartolomé Columbus conducted himself in England, but will return to the admiral, who, about the end of the year 1484, stole secretly out of Portugal with his son Diego for fear of being detained by the king; for the king having seen how unsuited they were whom he had sent with the caravel, was inclined to restore the admiral to his favor, and desired that he should renew his proposals; but the king was not as eager to undertake their consideration as the admiral was to get away; therefore the king lost that good opportunity and the admiral entered Castile to try his fortune which was there to favor him. Leaving his son in a monastery, called La Rabida, near Palos, he went at once to the court of the catholic king, which was then at Cordova, where, being affable and an entertaining talker, he made friends of such persons as were most favorably inclined to his undertaking and fitted to persuade the king to espouse it. Among these was Luis de Santángel, an Aragonian gentleman, clerk of the allowances in the king’s household, a man of great prudence and reputation. As the undertaking demanded an examination by enlightened men, and not meaningless words and favor, their highnesses intrusted the matter to the prior of Prado, afterward archbishop of Granada, and ordered him, together with some cosmographers, to make a thorough investigation of the project and to report their opinions respecting it.[132] But there was only a small number of cosmographers at that time, and those who were called together were not as enlightened as they should have[88] been, nor would the admiral wholly explain his plans, for fear he might be served as he had been in Portugal and be deprived of his reward. For this reason the answers they gave their highnesses were as different as their judgments and opinions. Some said that inasmuch as no information concerning those countries had been obtained by the great number of experienced sailors living since the creation, which was many thousand years ago, it was not likely that the admiral should know more than all the seamen that were living or that had lived before that time. Others, who were more influenced by cosmographical reasons, said the world was so prodigiously great that it was incredible that a voyage of three years would carry him to the end of the East, where he proposed to go, and to substantiate this opinion they brought forward the statement of Seneca, who, in one of his works, by way of argument, asserts that many wise men disagreed about this question, whether or not the ocean were boundless, and doubted if it could be traversed; and if it were navigable, whether habitable lands would be found on the other side of the globe, and whether they could be reached. They added that only a small part of this terraqueous globe was inhabited, and that this was in our hemisphere, and that all the remainder was sea, and only navigable near the coasts and rivers.

“Some admitted that learned men said it was possible to sail from the coast of Spain to the farthest part of the West. Others argued, as the Portuguese had done, about sailing to Guinea, saying that if any man should sail directly westward, as the admiral proposed, that he would not be able to return to Spain on account of the roundness of the globe, confidently believing that whosoever should go out of the hemisphere[89] known to Ptolemy would go downward, and that then it would be impossible to return, affirming that it would be like climbing a hill, which ships could not accomplish in the stiffest gale. Although the admiral properly answered all these objections, yet the more cogent his explanations were the less they comprehended him on account of their ignorance, for when a man grows familiar with false principles in mathematics for a long time he cannot perceive the true, because of the erroneous impressions which were first imprinted on his mind. In short, all of these men were governed by the Spanish saying, St. Augustine doubts it; for this holy man, in his twenty-first book, chapter ninth, on the city of God, asserts and considers that it is unreasonable to believe that there are antipodes, or any passage from one hemisphere to another.[133]


“They further opposed the arguments of the admiral by quoting those current fables respecting the five zones, and other fictions, which they believed were true. They therefore determined to condemn the enterprise as foolish and impracticable, and to declare that it did not become the state and dignity of such great sovereigns to be misled by such weak information. Therefore, after much time had been spent in considering the project, their highnesses answered the admiral that they were then engaged in too many wars and conquests, and especially in the conquest of Granada, which was then occupying their attention, and therefore it was not convenient for them to espouse this new enterprise at that time; nevertheless, another opportunity might be given them when they could more satisfactorily examine and accomplish that which he proposed.”[134]

Chagrined as he may have been by this second disappointment, Columbus, with that noble enthusiasm which the personal consciousness of being in the right begets, “determined to apply to the king of France, to whom he had already written concerning the project, intending, if he were not admitted to an audience there, to go to England afterward to search for his brother, from whom he had not yet received any intelligence. With this resolution he set out for the monastery of La Rabida, to send his son Diego, whom he had left there, to Cordova, and then proceed on his journey. But in order that the thing which God had decreed should come to pass, it was put in the heart of Friar Juan Perez, guardian of that house, to befriend the[91] admiral, and to be so captivated with his project that he became deeply concerned respecting his resolution and the loss Spain would sustain by his departure. Therefore he entreated the admiral not to proceed any farther, for he would himself go to the queen, hoping that, as he was her father-confessor, she would be governed by what he should say to her. Although the admiral was disappointed and disgusted with the discreditable action and judgment of the counsellors of their highnesses, yet, being on the other hand very desirous that Spain should reap the benefits of his undertaking, he complied with the friar’s desire and request, for he considered himself a Spaniard, as he had long resided in Spain prosecuting his undertaking and had begotten children there, which was the reason for his rejection of the offers made him by other sovereigns, as he declares in a letter written to their highnesses [of Spain] in these words: “That I might serve your highnesses, I have refused to undertake with France, England, and Portugal; the letters from the sovereigns of which your highnesses may see in the hands of Doctor Villalan.”

“The admiral departed with Friar Juan Perez from the monastery of La Rabida, near Palos, and went to the camp of Santa Fé, where their catholic majesties were carrying on the siege of Granada. The friar then had an interview with the queen and so entreated her, that she consented that the conferences respecting the discovery should be renewed. But the opinions of the prior of Prado and those of his followers were discouraging, besides Columbus desired to be made admiral and viceroy, and to have other compensations deemed too considerable to be granted, because if he succeeded in doing what he proposed, they thought his demands were too exorbitant, and in case he[92] did not accomplish any thing, they considered it foolish to bestow such titles; consequently the matter received no favorable decision.... These things being of such importance, and their highnesses refusing to grant them, the admiral took leave of his friends, and proceeded toward Cordova to make preparations for his journey to France, for he had determined not to return to Portugal, although the king had written to him....

“It was in the month of January, in the year 1492, when the admiral departed from the camp of Santa Fé. On that same day also Luis de Santángel, previously mentioned, who did not approve of his going away, but was very desirous to prevent it, went to the queen, and using such words as his thoughts suggested to persuade and enlighten her, said, he was surprised that her highness, who had always a great fondness for all matters of moment and consequence should now be timid in favoring this undertaking, where so little was hazarded that might contribute in many ways to the glory of God and the propagation of religion.... The queen, knowing the sincerity of Santángel’s words, answered, thanking him for his good advice and saying she was willing to accept the proposals upon the condition that the undertaking should be delayed until she had more leisure after the war, and yet, if he thought differently, she was satisfied that as much money as was required to fit out a fleet, should be borrowed on her jewels. But Santángel, perceiving that the queen had condescended upon his advice to do what she had refused all other persons, replied that there was no need of pawning her jewels, for he would do her highness that small service by lending his money. Thereupon the queen at once sent an officer post-haste to[93] bring the admiral back, who found him upon the bridge of Pinos, two leagues from Granada. Although the admiral was much disheartened by the disappointments and delays he had met with in this undertaking, nevertheless, being informed of the queen’s wish and intention, he returned to the camp of Santa Fé, where he was graciously entertained by their catholic majesties, and his commission and stipulations were intrusted to their secretary, Juan de Coloma, who, by the command of their highnesses, under their hand and seal, granted him all the conditions and provisions which, as already mentioned, he had demanded, without altering or subtracting any thing in them.”[135]



Sensibly impressed with the importance of his undertaking, Columbus determined to keep a journal of such observations and incidents as were most noteworthy during the voyage. Governed by this intention, he made the following entry in his log-book, when he set sail for the remote shores of Cathay:

“In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

“Whereas the most Christian, high, excellent, and powerful rulers, the king and the queen of Spain and of the islands of the sea, our sovereigns, this present year, 1492, after your highnesses had ended the war with the Moors ruling in Europe, the same having terminated in the great city of Granada, where, on the second day of January, this present year, I saw the royal banners of your highnesses planted by force of arms upon the towers of the Alhambra, the fortress of that city, and beheld the Moorish king come out at the gate of the city and kiss the hands of your highnesses and of the prince, my sovereign, and in the present month, on account of the information which I had given your highnesses respecting the countries of India and of a sovereign called the Grand Khan, signifying, in our language, king of kings; how, at different times, he and his predecessors had sent to Rome soliciting instructors to teach him our holy religion, and how the holy father had never granted his request, whereby[95] great numbers of people were lost, believing in idolatry and doctrines of perdition; therefore your highnesses, as catholic Christians and sovereigns, who love and promote the holy Christian religion, and are enemies of the sect of Mahomet, and of all idolatry and heresy, determined to send me, Christopher Columbus, (Cristóbal Colon,) to the previously mentioned countries of India, to see the said sovereigns, people, and territories, and to learn their disposition and the proper way of converting them to our holy religion; and furthermore, directed that I should not go by land to the East, as is customary, but by a westerly route, in which direction we have hitherto no certain evidence that any one has gone. Therefore, after having expelled the Jews from your dominions, your highnesses, in the same month of January, ordered me to proceed with a sufficient armament to the said regions of India, and for that purpose granted me great favors and ennobled me, that thereafter I might call myself Don and be high admiral (almirante mayor) of the sea, and perpetual viceroy and governor of all the islands and continent which I might discover and acquire, or which may hereafter be discovered and acquired in the ocean; and that this title should be inherited by my eldest son, and thus descend from generation to generation forever. Thereupon I left the city of Granada, on Saturday, the twelfth day of May, 1492, and proceeded to Palos, a seaport, where I armed three vessels very fit for such an expedition, and having provided myself with an abundance of stores and seamen, I set sail from this port on Friday, the third of August, half an hour before sunrise, and steered for the Canary Islands of your highnesses, which are in the said ocean, thence to take[96] my departure and proceed till I arrived at the Indies, and perform the embassy of your highnesses to the sovereigns there, and discharge the orders given. Consequently, I have determined to write out daily a minute account of the voyage respecting what I do and see, and the passage, as hereafter will appear. Moreover, sovereign princes, besides recording each night my progress during the day and the run made during the night, I intend to make a new nautical chart (carta nueva de navegar), in which I shall delineate all the sea and the lands of the Ocean in their proper places under their wind; and, moreover, I shall compose a book and represent the whole like a picture by latitude, from the equator, and by longitude, from the West, wherefore it will cause me to abstain from sleep and to make many experiments in navigation, for these things will require no little labor.”[136]



The vessels of the fleet were the ship (la nao), Santa Maria,[137] commanded by Columbus, and two caravels, (carabelas,) La Pinta, commanded by Martin Alonso Pinzon, and La Nina, by Vicente Yañes Pinzon, his brother, both being natives and seamen of Palos. “Being furnished with all necessaries and ninety men,”[138] says Ferdinand Columbus, “they set sail on the third of[97] August directly toward the Canaries, and from that time forward the admiral was very careful to keep an accurate journal of all that happened to him during the voyage, specifying the wind that blew, how far he sailed with it, the currents he found, and what he saw by the way, whether birds or fishes, or other things....

“The next day after the admiral’s departure for the Canary Islands, it being Saturday, the fourth of August, the rudder of one of the caravels, of the one called La Pinta, broke loose, and the caravel being compelled to lie to, the admiral soon reached her side, but the wind blowing hard he could render no assistance, as commanders at sea are obliged to do to encourage those that are in distress. This he did more promptly, as he conceived that the unshipping of the rudder had been brought about by the contrivance of the master to avoid going on the voyage, as he had attempted to do before they set sail.”[139]

At the Canary Islands, Columbus altered the sails of the caravel La Nina, and made a new rudder for the Pinta. On Thursday morning, the sixth of September, the three vessels set sail from the island Gomera, of the Canary group, “and stood away to the west.” On the following Sunday, at day-break, when the fleet was nine leagues west of the island of Ferro,[140] the sailors “lost sight of land, and many, fearing that it would be long before they should see it again, sighed and wept, but the admiral, after comforting them with large promises of land and of wealth, to raise their hopes and lessen their fears respecting the length of the voyage,[98] pretended that by his computation they had sailed only fifteen leagues that day when they had really run eighteen, he having determined to keep, during the voyage, his reckoning short, in order that the men might not think that they were so far from Spain as they were, should he openly set down the progress made which he privately recorded.[141]

“Continuing his voyage in this way, on Wednesday, the twelfth of September, about sun-setting, being about one hundred and fifty leagues west of the island of Ferro, he discovered a large piece of the trunk of a tree of one hundred and twenty tons, which seemed to have been a long time in the water. There and somewhat farther the current set strongly toward the northeast. When he had run fifty leagues farther westward, on the thirteenth of September he found at night-fall that the needle varied half a point toward the northeast, and, at day-break, half a point more, by which he understood that the needle did not point at the north star, but at some other fixed and visible point. This variation no man had observed before, and therefore he had occasion to be surprised at it; but he was more amazed on the third day after this, when he was almost one hundred leagues farther, for at night the needles varied about a point to the northeast, and in the morning they pointed upon the star.”[142]


As they sailed on this westward course, they found “more weeds than they had hitherto toward the north as far as they could see, which weeds were sometimes a solace to them, believing that they might come from some land that was near, and sometimes they caused dread, because they were so thick that in some measure they impeded the ships, and fear making things worse than they are, they apprehended that that might happen to them which is fictitiously reported of Saint Amaro in the Frozen Sea, which it is said does not suffer ships to stir backward or forward, and therefore they steered away from the shoals of weeds as far as possible.[143]


“The wind at this time blew at southwest, sometimes more and sometimes less west, which, though contrary to their voyage, the admiral said he considered a very good wind and a help to them, because the men, continually grumbling, said that among the things which increased their fears this was one, for the wind being always astern, they should never have a gale in those seas to carry them back; and though sometimes they found the contrary, they alleged that it was no settled wind, and that not being strong enough to swell the sea, it would never carry them back as far as they had to sail. Although the admiral did whatever he could to make them cheerful, telling them that the land being now so near did not permit the waves to rise, and using the best argument he could, nevertheless he affirms that he stood in need of God’s special help, as Moses did when he led the Israelites out of Egypt, who forbore laying violent hands upon him, because of the wonders God wrought through him. The admiral said that he was similarly protected in this voyage. On the following Sunday the wind began to blow from the west-northwest, with a rolling sea as the men wished, and three hours before noon they saw a turtle-dove fly over the ship, and in the evening they saw a pelican, a river fowl, and other wild birds, and some crabs among the weeds; and the next day they espied another pelican, and several small birds which came from the west, and small fishes, some of which the men of the other vessels stuck with harpoons, because they would not bite at the hook.”[144]

“As often as the men were deceived by these signs[101] of land, so often had they occasion to be suspicious and to grumble and conspire together. They said the admiral, for a foolish whim, intended to make himself a great lord at the hazard of their lives, and since they had done their duty in trying their fortune, and had gone farther from land and any succor than others had done, that they ought not to destroy themselves, nor proceed farther on the voyage, because if they did, they should have reason to repent, for their provisions would fall short and the sails of the ships would not last, which they knew were already so impaired that it would be difficult to retrace their course from where they were; and that none would condemn them for returning, but that they would be regarded as very brave men for going upon such an expedition and venturing so far, and that the admiral being a foreigner, and having nothing at stake, and as many wise and learned men had condemned his opinion, there would be nobody now to favor and defend him, and that they should get more credit than he if they accused him of ignorance and mismanagement, whatever he should say for himself. And there were some who said that to end all dispute, in case he would not consent to return, that they could make short work of it and throw him overboard, and report that while he was making his observations he fell into the sea, and that no man would trouble himself to inquire into the truth of the matter; which deed would hasten their return home and preserve their lives. Thus they conducted themselves from day to day, grumbling, complaining, and conspiring together. The admiral was not without apprehensions of their inconstancy and evil intentions toward him. Therefore, sometimes with fair words and sometimes with a strong determination to expose[102] his life, putting them in mind of the punishment due them if they hindered the voyage, he, in some measure, quelled their fears and suppressed their evil designs. To confirm the hope with which he had inspired them, he reminded them of the previous signs and indications, assuring them that they would soon find land, which they were so eager to see that they thought every hour a year until they beheld it....

“On Sunday morning [the thirtieth of September], four rush-tails came to the ship, and as they flew there together, it was thought that land was near, especially when, not long afterward, four pelicans flew by, and an abundance of weeds was seen, lying in a line west-northwest and east-southeast, and also a great number of those fishes they call emperadores, which have a very hard skin and are not fit to eat. However much the admiral regarded these signs, still he never forgot those in the heavens and the course of the stars. He therefore observed in this place, to his great astonishment, that the stars of Charles’s wain, at night, appeared in the west, and in the morning they were directly northeast, from which he inferred that their whole night’s course was but three lines or nine hours—that is, so many parts of twenty-four,—and this he did every night. He also perceived that at night-fall the compass-needle varied a whole point to the northwest, and at day-break it came right with the star. These things confounded the pilots until he told them that the cause of it was the circuit the star took about the pole, which was some satisfaction to them, for this variation made them apprehend some danger at such an unknown distance from home, and in such strange regions....

“On Monday, the first of October, at sunrise, a[103] pelican came to the ship, and two more about ten in the morning, and long beds of weeds extended from east to west. That day, in the morning, the pilot of the admiral’s ship said that they were five hundred and seventy-eight leagues west of the island of Ferro. The admiral said, by his reckoning, they were five hundred and eighty-four leagues; but in secret he concluded it was seven hundred and seven, which is one hundred and twenty-nine leagues more than the pilot reckoned. The other two vessels differed much in their computations, for the pilot of the caravel Nina, on the following Wednesday afternoon, said they had sailed five hundred and forty leagues, and the other of the caravel Pinta said six hundred and thirty-four....

“On Thursday afternoon, the fourth of October, a flock of more than forty sparrows and two pelicans flew so near the ship that a seaman killed one of them with a stone; and before this they had seen another bird like a rush-tail, and another like a swallow, and a great many flying-fish fell into the vessels. The next day there came a rush-tail and a pelican from the west, and great numbers of sparrows were seen.

“On Sunday, the seventh of October, about sunrise, some signs of land appeared westward, but being undefined, no one said any thing, for fear of the consequence of asserting what did not exist, and also for fear of losing the thirty crowns which their catholic majesties had promised as an annuity during the life of him who should first discover land. In order to prevent the men from crying land, land, at every turn, as they would likely have done without cause to secure the gift, it was ordered that whoever said he saw land, if it were not ascertained to exist in three days from that time, should lose the reward, even if afterward he[104] should be declared to be the first discoverer of land. All on board of the admiral’s ship being thus forewarned, none dared to cry out land, but those in the caravel Nina, which was a better sailer, and kept ahead, once believing that they actually saw land, fired a gun, and displayed their colors to indicate land. But the farther they sailed the more their joyous expectations diminished and the indication of land disappeared. However, it pleased God to give them soon after some comforting assurances, for they saw great flocks of large fowl and others of small birds flying from the west toward the southwest. Therefore, the admiral, being now so far from Spain, and sure that such small birds would not go far from land, altered his course, which until that time had been westward, and stood to the southwest, saying, that his reason for changing his course was that he would deviate but a little from his first intention and that he would be following the example of the Portuguese, who had discovered the greater number of their islands by means of such birds, and more especially as the birds he saw flew generally in the same direction. He also had always proposed to himself to find land according to the place they were in; since, as they well knew, he had often told them that he never expected to find land until he was seven hundred and fifty leagues westward of the Canary Islands, within which distance, he had further said, he should discover Española, which, at this time, he called Cipango....

“On Monday, the eighth of October, there came to the ship twelve singing-birds of several colors, and after flying about the vessel, they held on their way. They also saw from the vessels many other birds flying toward the southwest, and that same night great[105] numbers of large fowls were seen, and flocks of small birds coming from the north, and flying after the others. Besides they saw a good number of tunny-fish. In the morning they saw a jay, a pelican, some ducks, and small birds, flying the same way as the others had done, and they perceived that the air was fresh and odoriferous, as it is at Seville in April. But they were now so eager to see land, that they had no faith in any signs; so that, on Wednesday, the tenth of October, although they saw a great many birds pass by during the day and at night, the men did not cease to complain, or the admiral to censure them for their want of confidence, declaring to them, that right or wrong they must go farther to discover the Indies for which purpose their catholic majesties had sent them.

“The admiral being no longer able to withstand the number that opposed him, it pleased God that on Thursday afternoon, the eleventh of October, the men took heart and rejoiced, because they had unquestionable signs that they were near land. Those on board the admiral’s ship saw a green rush float by the ship, and then a large green fish of that class which go not far from the rocks. Those on board the caravel Pinta saw a cane and a staff, and picked up another staff curiously wrought, and a small board, and an abundance of fresh weeds washed from the shore. Those in the caravel Nina saw similar things, and a branch of a thorn full of red berries, which seemed to be recently broken off. By these signs and by his own consciousness, the admiral, being assured that he was near land, made a speech to all the men in the evening, after prayers, reminding them how merciful God had been in bringing them on so long a voyage with such fair[106] weather, and comforting them with indications which every day were plainer and plainer. He begged them to be very watchful that night, for they were aware that in the first article of the instructions he had given each ship at the Canary Islands, that he had ordered that when they had sailed seven hundred leagues to the west, without discovering land, that they should lie to from midnight until daylight. Therefore, since they had not yet obtained their desires in discovering land, they should at least manifest their zeal by being watchful. And inasmuch as he had the strongest assurances of finding land that night, each should watch in his place; for besides the annuity of thirty crowns which their highnesses had promised for a life-time to the one that first saw land, to the same person he would give a velvet doublet.

“After this, about ten at night, as the admiral was in the great cabin, he saw a light on shore, but said it was so obscure that he could not affirm it to be land, though he called Pedro Gutierrez, and bid him observe whether he saw the light, who said he did. Shortly afterward they called Rodrigo Sanchez, of Segovia, to look that way, but he could not see it, because he did not come in time to the place where it might have been seen. They did not see it more than once or twice, which induced them to think that it might have been a candle or a torch belonging to some fisherman or traveller, who lifted it up and down; or, perhaps, that it was in the hands of people going from one house to another, as the light vanished and suddenly appeared again.... Being now very watchful, they still held on their course, until about two in the morning, when the caravel Pinta, which, being an excellent sailer, was far ahead, gave the signal of land,[107] which was first discovered by a sailor named Rodrigo de Triana, when two leagues from the shore. But the annuity of thirty crowns was not given to him by their catholic majesties, but to the admiral, who had seen the light in the darkness, signifying the spiritual light that he was then spreading in those dark regions. Being now near land, all the ships lay to, those on board thinking it was a long time until morning, when they might see what they had so long desired.”[145]

This island, says Bartolomé de las Casas, the Spanish historian,[146] was “one of the Lucayos, called by the Indians Guanahani.[147] Presently they descried[108] people, naked, and the admiral landed in the boat, which was armed, along with Martin Alonso Pinzon and Vicente Yañez, his brother, captain of the Nina. The admiral bore the royal standard, and the two captains each a banner of the green cross, which all the vessels had carried. The banner was emblazoned with the initials of the names of the king and queen[148] on each side of the cross, with a crown over each letter. When they came on the beach, they saw trees very green, an abundance of water, and fruit of different kinds. The admiral called the two captains and the other men who had come on land, and Rodrigo de Escovedo, notary of the fleet, and Rodrigo Sanchez de Segovia, and said that he had summoned them to bear witness that he, before all other men, took possession (as in act he did) of that island for the king and the queen, his sovereigns, making the requisite declarations which are more at large set down in the instrument which they made there in writing.”

The natives who collected around the Spaniards at their landing are thus described by Columbus: “I perceived that if they should have much friendship for us that it was a people that could be emancipated and converted to our holy religion better by love than by force. I gave a number of them some red caps and some beads of glass, which they placed around their necks, and many other things of little value, with which they were[109] much pleased, and they became so friendly that their attachment seemed strange to us. Afterward they came swimming to the boats of the ships, where we were, bringing parrots and thread of cotton in hanks, javelins, and many other things, which they exchanged for other articles we gave them, such as glass beads and little bells. Finally they took every thing and gave whatever they had with good-will. But to me they seemed to be a very poor people. They were all naked, just as they were born, and even the women, although I did not see but one young girl. All the rest I saw were youths, but none more than thirty years of age; very well made, of good shape, and very attractive faces; their hair coarse as that of the tail of a horse, and short, brought over the forehead to the eyebrows, except a little on the back of the head, which is longer and never cut. Some paint themselves black, for they are of the color of those of the Canary Islands—neither black nor white; others paint themselves white or red, or with any color they find. Some paint their faces, and some their bodies; others only their eyes or their noses. They carry no weapons and they have no knowledge of them; for when I showed them swords they took them by the edge and they cut themselves through ignorance. They have no iron. Their javelins are rods without iron, and some of these have at the end a fish-tooth, and others have other things. All of them, as a class, are of a commanding stature, and are good-looking, well formed. I saw some marks of wounds on their bodies, and I asked by signs what had caused them. They answered me in the same way, that people came from the other islands thereabout to capture them, and they defended themselves. I thought then, and still believe, that those[110] people came from the continent, (tierra firme,) to take them prisoners. They ought to be good servants and very capable, because I perceived that they repeated very readily all that I told them, and I believe that they would easily become Christians, for they seemed to me as if they had no religion. If pleasing to our Lord, I shall carry from this place, at the time of my departure, six of them to your highnesses, in order that they may learn to talk in our language. I did not see any animals of any kind on the island, except parrots....

“Soon after day-break [on Saturday, the thirteenth of October,] many of these people came to the beach, as I have said, all youths and of good stature, a very handsome people; their hair not curled, but straight and coarse, like horse-hair, and all with faces and heads much broader than any other race that I have seen; their eyes very beautiful and not small; they were not black, but the color of those of the Canaries, nor ought it to be expected otherwise, for it is east-west (Lesteoueste) with the island Ferro of the Canary group, on the same parallel.[149] ... They came to the ship in canoes, log-boats, made of the trunks of trees, all of one piece, and fashioned in a wonderful manner, considering the country. In some of the large ones were as many as forty or forty-five men, and in others that were smaller there was only one person. They rowed with an oar resembling the wooden shovel used by bakers, and went wonderfully fast, and if the canoe upset, all swam and set it right again, bailing it out with calabashes which they carried with them. They brought balls of spun cotton, and parrots, and javelins, and other things which it would be tedious to describe, and which they parted with for[111] any thing that was given them. And I was inquisitive and endeavored to ascertain if they had gold, and I saw some who wore small pieces hanging from holes in their noses, and I learned by signs that, by going to the south, or by going around the island to the south, I would find a king who had large vessels made of gold, and great quantities of the precious metal.”[150]

Columbus describing this island, which he named San Salvador (the Holy Saviour), under whose protection he had made the discovery, continues: “This is a large and level island, with extremely flourishing trees, and streams of water. There is a large lake in the middle of the island, but no mountains. It is entirely covered with verdure and it is delightful to behold. The natives are an inoffensive people, and so desirous to possess any thing they saw with us that they kept swimming off to the ships with whatever they could find, and readily bartered for any article we saw fit to give them in return, even such things as broken platters and pieces of glass. I saw in this manner sixteen balls of cotton thread, which weighed about twenty-five pounds, exchanged for three Portuguese ceutis.[151] This traffic I forbade, and permitted no one to take their cotton from them, unless I should order it to be procured for your highnesses, if sufficient quantities could be obtained. It grows on this island, but from my short stay here I could not inform myself fully respecting it. The gold they wear in their noses is also found here. But not to lose time, I am determined to proceed and ascertain whether I can reach Cipango (Japan)....


“In the morning, [Sunday, the fourteenth of October,] I ordered the boats to be manned and furnished, and coasted along the island toward the north-northeast, to examine that part of it, for we had landed first on the eastern part. We soon discovered two or three villages, and the people all came down to the shore, calling to us, and giving thanks to God. Some brought us water, and others food. Others seeing that I was not disposed to land plunged into the sea and swam to us, and we observed that they interrogated us to know if we had come from heaven. An old man came on board my boat. The others, both men and women, cried with loud voices: ‘Come and see the men who have come from heaven! Bring them food and drink!’ Thereupon many of both sexes came to the beach, every one bringing something, giving thanks to God, prostrating themselves on the ground, and lifting their hands to heaven. They called to us loudly to come on land, but I was apprehensive on account of a reef of rocks, which, except where there is a narrow entrance, surrounds the whole island, although within there is depth of water and space sufficient for all the ships of Christendom....

“After I had taken a survey of these parts, I returned to the ship. Setting sail, I discovered so many islands that I knew not which to visit first. The natives whom I had taken on board informed me by signs that there were so many of them that they could not be numbered. They repeated the names of more than a hundred. I determined to steer for the largest, which is about five leagues from San Salvador; the others were at a greater or less distance from this island....


“We stood off and on during the night [of Monday, the fifteenth of October], determining not to come to anchor till morning, fearing to meet with shoals. We continued our course in the morning, and as the island was found to be six or seven leagues distant, and the tide was against us, it was noon before we arrived there. I found that part of it, toward San Salvador, extending from north to south to be five leagues, and the other side, along which we coasted, running from east to west, to be more than ten leagues. From this island, espying a still larger one to the west, I set sail in that direction and kept on till night without reaching the western extremity of the island, where I gave it the name of Santa Maria de la Concepcion.... I now set sail for another large island to the west.... This island is nine leagues distant from Santa Maria, in a westerly direction. This part of it extends from northwest to southeast, and it appears to be twenty-eight leagues long, very level, without any mountains, as were San Salvador and Santa Maria, having a good shore which was not rocky, except a few ledges under the water, where it is necessary to anchor at some distance out, although the water is clear and the bottom can be seen....” This island he called Fernandina, in honor of the king of Spain.

On Friday, the nineteenth of October, he descried an island, “toward which,” he remarks, “we directed our course, and before noon all three of the vessels arrived at the northern extremity, where a rocky islet and reef extend toward the north, with another between them and the main island. The Indians on board the ships called this island Saomete. I named it Isabela [in honor of the queen]. It lies westerly[114] from the island of Fernandina, and the coast extends from the islet twelve leagues west to a cape I called Cabo Hermoso, for it was a beautiful, round headland, with a bold shore free from shoals. Part of the shore is rocky, but the remainder of it, like most of the coast here, a sandy beach.... This island is the most beautiful that I have yet seen, the trees in great numbers, flourishing and tall; the land is higher than the other islands, and exhibits an eminence, which, though it cannot be called a mountain, yet it adds a charm to the appearance of the island, and indicates the existence of streams of water in the interior. From this part toward the northeast is an extensive bay, with many large and dense groves.... I am not solicitous to examine particularly every thing here, which, indeed, could not be done in fifty years, for it is my desire to make all possible discoveries, and return to your highnesses, if it please our Lord, in April. However, should I meet with gold or spices in great quantity, I shall remain till I collect as much as possible, and for this purpose I am only proceeding in search of them.” ...

Under the date of Sunday, the twenty-first of October, while at anchor off the island of Isabela, Columbus writes: “I shall depart immediately, if the weather serve, and sail round the island till I succeed in meeting with the king, in order to see if I can acquire any of the gold which, I hear, he possesses. Afterward I shall set sail for another very large island, which I believe to be Cipango, according to the signs I receive from the Indians on board. They call the island Colba [Cuba], and say there are many large ships and sailors there. Another island they call Bosio, and inform me that it is very large. The others[115] that are on the course I shall examine on the way, and accordingly as I find gold or spices in abundance, I shall determine what to do. Nevertheless, I am determined to proceed to the continent, and visit the city of Guisay [the city of heaven, the residence of the Grand Khan], where I shall deliver the letters of your highnesses to the Grand Khan, and demand an answer, with which I shall return....

“Tuesday, the twenty-third of October.... It is now my determination to depart for the island of Cuba, which I believe to be Cipango from the accounts I have received here of the great number and riches of the people. I have abandoned the intention of staying here and sailing round the island in search of the king, as it would be a waste of time, and I perceive there are no gold mines to be found.... And as we are going to places where there is great commerce, I judge it inexpedient to linger on the way, but to proceed and survey the countries we meet with, till we arrive at that one most favorable for our business. It is my opinion that we shall find much profit there in spices, but my want of knowledge in these articles occasions me extreme regret, inasmuch as I see a thousand kinds of trees, each kind with its particular fruit, and as flourishing at this time as the fields in Spain during the months of May and June. Likewise a thousand kinds of herbs and flowers, of the properties of which I remain in ignorance, with the exception of the aloe, which I have directed to-day to be taken on board in large quantities for the use of your highnesses....

“Wednesday, the twenty-fourth of October.... At midnight weighed anchor and set sail from Cabo del Isles of the island of Isabela, being in the[116] north part, where I had remained preparing to depart for the island of Cuba, in which place the Indians tell me I shall find great commerce, with abundance of gold and spices, and large ships, and merchants. They direct me to steer toward the west-southwest, which is the course I am holding. If the accounts which the natives of the islands and those on board the ships have communicated to me by signs (for their language I do not understand) are credible, this must be the island of Cipango, of which we have heard so many wonderful things. According to my geographical knowledge it must be somewhere in this neighborhood.”

On Sunday, the twenty-eighth of October, Columbus’s ships arrived off the coast of Cuba and “entered an attractive river, free from shallows and all other obstructions.... The mouth of the river had a depth of twelve fathoms of water, and a breadth sufficient for ships to beat in. They anchored within the river, and the admiral remarks that the scenery here exceeded in beauty any thing he had ever seen, the river being bordered with trees of the most beautiful and luxuriant foliage of a peculiar appearance, and its banks covered with flowers and fruits of different kinds. Birds were here in great number singing most charmingly. Numerous palm trees were seen, different from those of Guinea and Spain, not having the same kind of bark. They were of a moderate height and bore very large leaves, which the natives used to cover their houses. The land appeared quite level. The admiral went ashore in a boat, and found two dwellings, which he supposed to be those of fishermen, and that the owners had fled. He found in one of them a dog unable to bark. Both houses contained nets of palm, lines, horn fish-hooks, harpoons of bone, and other[117] implements for fishing, as also many fire-places, and each house seemed sufficiently large to shelter a great number of people. The admiral gave orders that nothing should be touched.... They returned on board the boat and ascended the river some distance.... The admiral declares this to be the most beautiful island ever seen, abounding in good harbors and deep rivers, with a shore upon which it appears the sea never breaks high, as the grass grows down to the water’s edge, a thing that never happens where the sea is rough. Indeed, a high sea they had not yet had among these islands. This island, he says, is full of attractive mountains, which are lofty, although not of great range. The rest of the country is high, similar to Sicily, abounding in streams, as they understood from the Indians of Guanahani that were on board the ships, who informed them by signs that it contained ten large rivers, and that the island was so large that with their canoes they could not sail round it in twenty days.... The Indians told them there were mines of gold here and pearls.... They further informed him that large vessels came there from the Grand Khan, and that the main-land was distant a voyage of ten days. The admiral named the river and port San Salvador.” Farther westward, along the northern side of the island, Columbus discovered the rivers which he called Rio de la Luna (River of the Moon), and the Rio de Mares (River of Seas). The houses which were built on the shores of the latter river, he says, were “the finest he had yet seen, and thinks, the nearer he approaches the continent, they will continue to improve. They were of a large size, built in the shape of a tent, and each collection of them appeared like a camp, without any order of streets, the[118] houses scattered here and there. Their interiors were found very clean and neat, well furnished and set in order. The houses were all built of fine palm branches. They found here many statues shaped like women, and numerous heads somewhat like masks, well made; whether these were used as ornaments, or objects of worship, did not appear. Here, about the houses, were small fowl originally wild, but now tame.”

On Tuesday, the thirtieth of October, “they sailed from the river which they had named Rio de Mares, and standing to the northwest, discovered a cape covered with palm trees, which the admiral called Cabo de Palmas; it is fifteen leagues distant from the place of their departure. The Indians on board the Pinta signified to the Spaniards, that beyond this cape was a river, and from this river to Cuba was a distance of a voyage or a journey of four days. The captain of the Pinta declared that he understood Cuba to be a city, and that the land here was a continent of great extent which stretched far to the north; also that the king of this country was at war with the Grand Khan, whom the Indians called Cami, and his country or city, Fava and other names. The admiral determined to steer for this river, and to send a present and the letter of the Spanish sovereigns to the king.... Seemingly the admiral was forty-two degrees distant from the equator toward the north, if the manuscript is not corrupted from which I [Las Casas] have taken this [information], and he says that he had undertaken to go to the Grand Khan, who, he thinks, was near there or in the city of Cathay of the Grand Khan, which city is very large according to what was told before he departed from Spain.”

The vessels having returned on Wednesday to the Rio de Mares from a short exploration of the coast, the[119] admiral at sunrise, on Thursday, sent some of his men ashore “to visit the houses they saw there. They found the inhabitants had all fled, but after some time they espied a man. The admiral then sent one of his Indians ashore, who called to him from a distance and bade him not to fear any harm as the Spaniards were a friendly people, not injuring any one nor belonging to the Grand Khan, but on the contrary had made many presents of their goods to the inhabitants of the islands. The natives, having ascertained that no ill treatment was intended them, regained confidence, and came in more than sixteen canoes to the vessels, bringing cotton yarn and other things, which the admiral ordered should not be taken from them, as he wished them to understand that he was in search of nothing but gold, which they called nucay. All day the canoes passed between the ships and the shore. The admiral saw no gold among them, but remarks that, having observed an Indian with a piece of wrought silver in his nose, he conceived it to be an indication of the existence of that metal in the country. The Indians informed them by signs that within three days many traders would come there from the interior to purchase the goods of the Spaniards to whom the traders would communicate news of the king, who, as far as could be learned from the signs of the natives, resided at a place that was a journey of four days from there. They informed the Spaniards also that many persons had been sent to tell the king respecting the admiral. These people were found to be of the same race and manners as those already seen, without any religion that could be discovered. The Spaniards never saw the Indians who were kept on board the vessels engaged in any act of worship, but they would, when directed,[120] make the sign of the cross, and repeat the Salve and Ave Maria, with their hands extended toward heaven. The language is the same throughout these islands and the people friendly toward one another, which the admiral says he believes to be the case in all the neighboring parts, and that they are at war with the Grand Khan, whom they call Cavila, and his country Bafan. These people go naked as the others.... It is certain, says the admiral, that this is the continent, and that we are in the neighborhood of Zayto and Guinsay, a hundred leagues more or less distant from the one or the other.”[152]

With his thoughts all aglow with his seeming power to prove the correctness of his geographical conjecture that he had reached the eastern coast of Asia, Columbus sent from this place, on the second of November, Rodrigo de Jerez of Ayamonte, and Luis de Torres, a Jew, (the latter having lived with the adelantado of Murcia, and who knew Hebrew, Chaldaic, and some Arabic,) and two Indians, into the interior of the island, with letters to the Grand Khan of Cathay. “He gave them strings of beads to purchase provisions, and directed them to return within six days. Specimens of spicery were intrusted to them that they might know if any thing similar existed in the country. He took care to instruct them how they should inquire for the king, and what they were to say to inform him that the king and queen of Castile had[121] dispatched him with letters and a present for his majesty. Furthermore, the envoys were instructed to obtain some knowledge of the country, and observe the ports and rivers, with their distances from the place where the ships lay. Here the admiral took this night the altitude with a quadrant, and found that he was forty-two degrees from the equator, and by his calculation eleven hundred and forty-two leagues from Ferro, and he was confident that it was the continent.”[153]

Among the noticeable things which the embassadors observed while journeying into the interior of Cuba was the common use of tobacco by the natives. “The two Spaniards,” says Las Casas, “met upon their journey great numbers of people of both sexes: the men always with a firebrand in their hands and certain herbs for smoking. These were dry and were placed in a dry leaf, after the manner of those paper tubes which the boys in Spain use at Whitsuntide. Lighting one end, they drew the smoke by sucking at the other. This causes drowsiness and a kind of intoxication, and according to the statement of the natives relieves them from the feeling of fatigue. These tubes they call by the name of tabacos.”[154]

While waiting the return of the embassadors to the Grand Khan, Columbus acquired some knowledge of the productions of Cuba. “The soil is very fertile, producing mames, a root like a carrot, tasting like chestnuts. Beans are also found here but very dissimilar to ours; also cotton, growing spontaneously among the mountains. I am of the opinion that it is gathered at all seasons of the year, for I observed upon a single[122] plant blossoms, buds, and open pods. A thousand other productions I have also observed, which doubtless are of great value, but it is impossible for me to describe them.”

On the fifth of November, the party sent to the Grand Khan returned, and gave these particulars of their journey: “After having travelled a dozen leagues they came to a town containing about fifty houses, where there were probably a thousand inhabitants; each house containing a large number of people. The houses were built after the manner of large tents. The inhabitants received them, after their fashion, with great ceremony. The men and women flocked to behold them, and they were lodged in their best houses. They showed their admiration and reverence by touching the strangers, kissing their hands and feet, and manifesting astonishment. They imagined them to be from heaven, and signified as much to them. They were feasted with such food as the natives had to offer. Upon their arrival at the town the chief men of the place led them by the arms to the principal building; here they gave them seats, and the Indians sat upon the ground in a circle round them. The Indians who had accompanied the Spaniards explained to the natives the manner in which their strange guests lived, and gave a favorable account of their character. The men then left the building, and the women entered, and sat around the Spaniards as the men had done. They kissed their hands and feet and examined them to see whether they were flesh and bone like their own.... No village was seen upon the road of a larger size than five houses.... Great numbers of birds were observed, all different from those of Spain except the nightingales, which delighted[123] them with their songs. Partridges and geese were also found in great number. Of quadrupeds they saw none except dogs that could not bark. The soil appeared fertile and under good cultivation, producing the mames already mentioned and beans very dissimilar to ours, as well as the grain called panic. They saw large quantities of cotton, spun and manufactured. A single house contained more than five hundred arrobas[155] of it. Four thousand quintals might be collected here yearly.... These people are inoffensive and peaceable. They are unclothed, but the women wear a slight covering about their loins. Their manners are very decent, and their complexion not very dark, but lighter than the inhabitants of the Canary Islands. ‘I have no doubt, most serene sovereigns,’ says the admiral, ‘that were some proper, devout, and religious persons to come among them and learn their language, it would be an easy matter to convert them all to Christianity, and I hope in our Lord that your highnesses will devote yourselves with much diligence to this object, and bring as great a multitude into the church, inasmuch as you have exterminated those who refused to confess the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.’

“I have observed that these people have no religion, neither are they idolaters, but are a very gentle race, without the knowledge of any iniquity. They neither kill, steal, nor carry weapons, and are so timid that one of our men can put a hundred of them to flight, although they readily sport and play tricks with them. They have the knowledge that there is a God above, and are firmly persuaded that we have come from heaven. They quickly learn such prayers as we repeat to them, and also to make the sign of the cross.’ ...


“Along the Rio de Mares, which I left last evening, [Sunday, the eleventh of November,] there is undoubtedly considerable mastic, and the quantity might be increased, for the trees when transplanted easily take root. They are of a lofty size, bearing leaves and fruit like the lentisk. The tree, however, is taller and has a larger leaf than the lentisk, as is mentioned by Pliny, and as I have myself observed in the island of Scio, in the Archipelago. I ordered many of these trees to be tapped in order to extract the resin, but as the weather was rainy all the time I was on the river, I was unable to procure more than a very small quantity, which I have preserved for your highnesses.... Great quantities of cotton might be raised here, and sold profitably, as I think, without being carried to Spain, but to the cities of the Grand Khan, which we shall doubtless discover, as well as many others belonging to other sovereigns. These may become a source of profit to your highnesses by trading there with the productions of Spain and of the other countries of Europe. Here also is to be found plenty of aloe, which, however, is not of very great value, but the mastic assuredly is, as it is found nowhere else than in the previously mentioned island of Scio, where, if I rightly remember, it is produced to the amount of fifty thousand ducats annually.”

Columbus further remarks, that at this point, near the river which he had called Rio del Sol, “he found the weather somewhat cold, and, as it was in the winter, he thought it not prudent to prosecute his discoveries any farther toward the north.”[156]

A copy of a part of the map of the New World (tabvla terre nove) contained in the edition of Ptolemy’s Geography printed at Strasburg in 1513. (This part of the original is 9½ inches long.)


Speaking of his explorations along the coast of Cuba, in his letter to Rafael Sanchez, the admiral says: “I sailed along its coast toward the west, discovering so great an extent of territory that I could not imagine it to be an island, but the continent of Cathay.... I continued on my course, still expecting to meet with some town or city, but after having gone a great distance, and not arriving at any, and finding myself proceeding toward the north, which I was desirous to avoid on account of the cold, and, moreover, meeting with a contrary wind, I determined to return to the south, and therefore put about and sailed back to a harbor that I had observed.”[157]

On Monday, the twelfth of November, they had sailed by sunset eighteen leagues, east by south, to a cape which Columbus called Cabo de Cuba. “On the following Wednesday he entered a spacious and deep harbor,” containing so many islands that they could not be counted.... He declares that it is his opinion these islands are the innumerable ones which, on the maps, are placed at the extreme part of the East, and says that he believes they contain great riches, precious stones, and spicery, and extend far to the south, spreading out on each side. He named this place La Mar de Nuestra Senora, and the port, near the strait that extends to these islands, Puerto del Principe.

On Wednesday, the twenty-first of November, when the vessels were about eighty miles southeast of Puerto del Principe, “the admiral” says Las Casas, “found they were forty-two degrees north of the equator as at Puerto de Mares,[158] but he says here that he has stopped using the quadrant until he should go[126] on land that he might mend it. From this statement it would seem that he doubted that he was so far from the equator, and he had reason, for it was not likely since these islands are in ⸺ degrees.[159] To know whether the quadrant was in good working order, it is said that he took an observation to see if he was north as high as Castile; and if this be true, and he was as high as Florida, what is the situation of the islands already mentioned?[160] Moreover, it is said that the heat was great. It is evident that if he were along the coast of Florida, it should not have been hot, but cold.[161] And it is also manifest that in no part of the world in the latitude of forty-two degrees is great heat experienced except by some accidental cause, and even this exception I [Las Casas] believe has never been known.”

A number of other places were sailed to by the inquisitive navigator, which, in the chronological order of their discovery, he named Puerto de Santa Catalina, Cabo del Pico, Cabo de Campana, and Puerto[127] Santo. At this last-named harbor, on Saturday, the first of December, “they planted a cross in the solid rock.” Thence he sailed to Cabo Lindo, and thence to Cabo del Monte. On Wednesday, the fifth of December, “he determined to leave Cuba or Juana,[162] which hitherto he had taken for a continent on account of its size, having sailed along the coast a hundred and twenty leagues. He therefore left the shore and steered southeast by east, as the land last discovered appeared in that direction. He took this course because the wind always came round from the north to northeast, and from there to east and southeast. It blew hard and they carried all sail, having a smooth sea and a current favoring them, so that from morning to one in the afternoon they had sailed eight miles an hour for nearly six hours. The nights here are said to be nearly fifteen hours long. After this they went ten miles an hour, and by sunset had sailed toward the southeast eighty-eight miles, which are twenty-two leagues.”

On Thursday, the sixth of December, Columbus “found himself four leagues from the harbor named Puerto Maria.” From this place he descried several headlands to which he respectively gave the names of Cabo del Estrella, Cabo del Elefante, and Cabo de Cinquin. “There appeared to be between the two last-mentioned capes a very wide channel, which the sailors said separated an island from the mainland. This island he named Tortuga. The land here appeared high, and not mountainous, but even and level, like the finest arable tracts. The whole or the great part of it seemed to be cultivated, and the plantations[128] resembled the wheat fields in the plain of Cordova in the month of May.”

In the evening the ships entered the harbor “which he named Puerto de San Nicolas, for it was the day of that saint.” On Friday he found the harbor which he named Puerto de la Concepcion. This harbor “is about a thousand paces or a quarter of a league wide at the mouth, without a bank or a shoal, but exceedingly deep to the edge of the beach. It extends almost three thousand paces, with a fine clear bottom. Any ship may enter it and anchor without the least hazard. Here are two small streams, and opposite the mouth of the harbor several plains, the most beautiful in the world, resembling those of Castile, except that they surpass them. On this account the admiral named the island Española.”[163]

On Wednesday, the twelfth of December, “a large cross was set up at the entrance of the harbor upon a beautiful spot upon the western side, ‘as an indication,’ in the words of the admiral, ‘that your highnesses possess the country, and particularly for a memorial of Jesus Christ, our Lord, and the mark of Christianity.’ ... The admiral here ascertained the length of the day and night, and found that from sunrise to sunset there passed twenty glasses of half an hour each, although he says there may be some error in the calculation, as the glass may not have been turned quickly enough, or the contrary. He states further, that he took an observation with the astrolabe and found the latitude to be seventeen degrees....

“The people here were all naked, king as well[129] as subjects, the females showing no evidences of bashfulness. Both sexes were more handsome than those they had hitherto seen. Their color was light, and if they were clothed and protected from the sun and air they would almost be as fair as the inhabitants of Spain. The temperature of the air was cool and exceedingly pleasant. The land is high, covered with plains and valleys, and the highest mountains are arable. No part of Castile could produce a territory comparable to this in beauty and fertility. The whole island and that of Tortuga are covered with cultivated fields, like the plain of Cordova. In these they raise ajes, which are slips set in the ground, at the end of which roots grow like carrots. They grate these to powder, knead it, and make it into bread of a very pleasant taste, like that of chestnuts. The stalk is set out anew and produces another root, and this is repeated four or five times. The largest and most excellent that had been met with anywhere (the admiral says they are also found in Guinea) were those of this island, being of the size of a man’s leg. The natives here, according to the statement of the admiral, were stoutly built and courageous, very different from the timid islanders of the other parts; agreeable in their intercourse and without any religion.... They saw a native whom the admiral took to be the governor of the district, and whom the Indians called the cacique. He had a plate of gold as large as one’s hand, with which he seemed desirous of bartering. He carried it to his house and had it cut into pieces, which he traded away one by one.”

One of the caciques of the island sent a messenger to Columbus bearing as a present to him “a girdle, to which was attached, instead of a pouch, a mask having the nose, tongue, and ears of beaten gold.”


“I think,” Columbus writes, “no one who has seen these parts can say less in their praise than I have said. I repeat that it is a matter of wonder to see the things we have beheld, and the multitudes of people in this island, which I call Española, and the Indians Bohio. The natives are singularly agreeable in their intercourse and conversation with us, and are not like the others, who, when they speak, appear to be uttering menaces. The figures of the men and women are fine, and their color is not black, although they paint themselves. The most of them paint themselves red, others a dark hue, and others different colors, which, I understand, is done to keep the sun from injuring them. The houses and towns are very attractive, and the inhabitants live in each settlement under the rule of a sovereign or judge, to whom they pay implicit obedience. These magistrates are persons of excellent manners and great reserve, and give their orders by a sign with the hand, which is understood by all the people with surprising quickness.”

On Monday, the twenty-fourth of December, as Columbus’s ship, the Santa Maria, was running along the north side of Española, off the headland named Punta Santa, “at the end of the first watch, about eleven at night, when the vessel was about a league distant from the point of land, the admiral lay down to sleep, having taken no rest for two days and a night. As the sea was calm, the man at the helm left his post to a boy, and also went off to sleep, contrary to the explicit orders of the admiral, who had throughout the voyage forbidden, in calm or storm, the helm to be intrusted to a boy. The admiral was free from any dread of rocks or shoals, for the Sunday before, when he sent the sailors in boats to the king who had invited[131] him to visit him, they had passed three and a half leagues to the east of Punta Santa, and had surveyed the whole coast for three leagues beyond that point, and ascertained where the vessels might pass, a thing never done before in the whole voyage. But as it pleased our Lord, at midnight there being a dead calm and the sea perfectly motionless, as in a cup, the whole crew, seeing the admiral had retired, went off to sleep, leaving the ship in the care of the boy already mentioned. The current carried her imperceptibly toward the shoals in the neighborhood, upon which she struck with a noise that could have been heard a league off.”

Although every thing was done to keep the damaged vessel afloat by Columbus and the few men who remained on board, “she opened between her ribs and slowly settled down on the shoal.” On the morning of Christmas the ship was unloaded with the assistance of the natives, who with their canoes conveyed the goods in her to the beach. These were afterward stowed in some houses which the cacique of the region had offered to Columbus for that purpose. The same ruler afterward gave the admiral a large mask, with pieces of gold at the ears, eyes, and other parts of it, and also some jewels of the same metal. “All these things had a great effect upon the admiral in assuaging his grief for the loss of his ship, and he became convinced that our Lord had permitted the shipwreck in order that he might select this place for a settlement.

“‘And to this end,’ he says, ‘so many favorable things conspired, that it cannot be called a disaster, but a great turn of good fortune, for if we had not run aground, we should have kept off without anchoring here, the place being in a large bay inside of two or[132] three shoals. Neither should I otherwise have been induced to leave any men in these parts during the voyage; even if I had, I could not have spared them the needful provisions and materials for their fortification. Many of my crew have solicited me for permission to remain, and I have to-day [Wednesday, the twenty-sixth of December] ordered the construction of a fort, with a tower and a ditch, all to be well built, not that I think such a fortification necessary as a defence against the inhabitants, for I have already stated that with my present crew I could subjugate the whole island, which I believe to be larger than the kingdom of Portugal, and twice as populous, but that I think it prudent, since the territory is at such a distance from our country, and that the natives may understand the genius of the people of your highnesses and what they are able to perform, so that they may be held in obedience by fear as well as by love. For this purpose I have directed that a quantity of timber for the construction of the fort shall be provided, also bread and wine be left to suffice for more than a year, seed for planting, the long-boat of the ship, a calker, a carpenter, a gunner, a cooper, and many other persons of the number of those who have earnestly desired to serve your highnesses, and oblige me by remaining here and searching for the gold mine.’”

The admiral further remarks “that every piece of the ship was saved, for not even so much as a thong, board, or nail was lost, for she was as complete as when she first sailed, except that which was lost by cutting her to get out the casks and merchandise. These were carried on shore and well secured, as has already been mentioned. He adds that he hopes to find, on his return from Castile, a ton of gold collected[133] by those who remained, by trading with the natives, and that they will have succeeded in discovering the mine and the spices, and all these in such quantities that before three years the king and queen may undertake the recovery of the holy sepulchre. ‘For I have before proposed to your highnesses,’ he writes, ‘that the profits of this undertaking should be employed in the conquest of Jerusalem, at which your highnesses smiled and said you were pleased, and had the same inclination.’”

“He left on the island of Española, which the Indians called Bohio, a fort and thirty-nine men, whom he states to have been great friends of King Guacanagari. Over these he placed Diego de Arana, a native of Cordova, Pedro Gutierrez, groom of the king’s wardrobe, and Rodrigo de Escovedo, a native of Seville and nephew of Fray Rodrigo Perez, with all the powers the king and queen had delegated to him. He left them all the goods which had been sent for trafficking, a great quantity, and every thing belonging to the ship which had been wrecked. The goods he directed should be traded away for gold.”

In commemoration of the day of Christ’s nativity, on which his ship was wrecked at this place, he called the settlement Villa de la Navidad (city of the Nativity). He further writes in his journal that “he had heard of another island behind that of Juana, toward the south, in which there was a still greater quantity of gold, and where it was found in grains of the size of a bean.... This island was called by the Indians Yamaye.”[164]

“It was the admiral’s intention to coast farther along the island of Española, which he might have[134] done upon his homeward course, but as he considered that the captains of the two caravels were brothers, namely, Martin Alonso Pinzon and Vicente Yañez, and that they had a party attached to them, and that they and their partisans had manifested considerable haughtiness and avarice, disobeying his commands regardless of the honors he had conferred upon them, which misdemeanors, as well as the treachery of Martin Alonso, in deserting him,[165] he had winked at, without complaining, in order not to throw impediments in the way of the voyage—he thought it best to return home as quickly as possible. He adds that he had many faithful men among his crews, but resolved to overlook for the time the behavior of the refractory ones, and not at such an unfavorable season undertake to punish them.”

On Tuesday, the fifteenth of January, while the caravels were anchored in the bay which he called the Golfo de las Flechas (the Gulf of Arrows), he describes the weapons of the natives. “The bows,” he says, “are equal in size to those of France and England, and the arrows like the javelins used by the inhabitants of the other islands, which are made of the stalks of the cane while it is in seed. They are very straight, about a yard and a half in length, and doubled, with a sharp piece of wood, a span and a half long, at the end. At the point of this some attach a fish’s tooth, but the most of them grass.... The bows of the Indians appear to be made of yew.” The quantity of sea-weed which he found growing in this bay led Columbus to infer that the Indies were near the Canary Islands, not more than four hundred leagues distant.

On Wednesday morning, the sixteenth of January,[135] they set sail from the Golfo de las Flechas, to go to the island of Carib. “After sailing sixty-four miles, as they estimated, the Indians on board signified that the island was to the southeast, when they altered their course, and proceeded in that direction, and after sailing several leagues the wind freshened and blew very favorably for their return to Spain. The crews began to grow despondent at leaving their homeward course, on account of the leaky condition of the vessels, (for there was no remedy for it but the help of God,) and the admiral found himself constrained to change his course again, and steer directly for Spain.”[166]

Columbus, afterward writing to Rafael Sanchez respecting his explorations along the coast of Española, remarks that the island of Española is “greater in circuit than all of Spain, from Colibre in Catalonia, near Perpignan, round the coast of the sea of Spain, along Granada, Portugal, Galicia, and Biscay, to Fuenterabia, at the cape of Biscay.... Each native, as far as I can understand, has one wife, with the exception of the king and princes, who are permitted to have as many as twenty. The women appear to do more work than the men. Whether there exist any such thing here as private property, I have not been able to ascertain. I have seen an individual appointed to distribute to the others, especially food and such things.

“People of an extraordinary description I did not see, neither did I hear of any, except those of the island Caris, which is the second island on the way from Española to India. This island is inhabited by a people who are regarded by their neighbors as exceedingly ferocious. They feed upon human flesh. These people have many kinds of canoes with which they make[136] incursions upon all the islands of India, robbing and plundering wherever they go. Their difference from the others consists in their wearing long hair like that of women, and in using bows and arrows of cane; these last constructed, as I have already related, by fixing a piece of sharpened wood at the larger end. On this account they are considered very ferocious by the other Indians, and are much feared by them.”[167]

Speaking of the pecuniary profits of the voyage Columbus wrote: “I am enabled to promise the acquisition, by a trifling assistance from their majesties, of any quantity of gold, drugs, cotton, and mastic, which last article is found in the island of Scio; also, any quantity of aloe, and as many slaves for the service of the marine as their majesties may need. The same may be said of rhubarb and a great variety of other things which, I have no doubt, will be discovered by those I have left at the fort, as I did not stop at any single place, unless obliged to do so by the weather with the exception of Villa de la Navidad, where we remained some time to build the fort and provide the necessary means for the defence of the place.

“Although the discoveries actually accomplished appear great and surprising, yet I should have achieved much more had I been furnished with a suitable fleet. Nevertheless the great success of this undertaking is not to be ascribed to my own merits, but to the holy catholic faith and to the piety of our sovereigns, the Lord often granting to men what they never imagine themselves capable of accomplishing, even that which appears impracticable, for he is accustomed to hear the prayers of his servants and those who love his commandments. In this way has it happened to me[137] that I have succeeded in an undertaking never before accomplished by man.”[168]

On Thursday night, the fourteenth of February, a violent tempest arose, “the waves crossing and dashing against one another so that the vessel [the Nina] was overwhelmed, and not able to get out from between them. The foresail was set very low, in order to carry her somewhat out of her dangerous situation. They stood under it for three hours, going twenty miles, when the wind and sea increasing, they began to drive before it, not having any other deliverance. At the same time the Pinta, in which was Martin Alonso Pinzon, began to scud likewise, and they soon lost sight of her, although the two caravels made signals to each other with lights, until from the fury of the storm they were no longer visible.” The fear of being lost now overcame Columbus and his men. They prayed and made many vows. “The admiral ordered that lots should be cast for one of them [if they safely reached land] to go on a pilgrimage to Santa Maria of Guadalupe and carry a wax taper of five pounds’ weight. He made them all to take an oath that the one on whom the lot fell should perform the pilgrimage. For this purpose as many peas were selected as there were persons on board. One of the peas was marked with a cross, and all were shaken together in a cap. The first who put his hand into the cap was the admiral, and he drew out the crossed pea. So the lot fell on him, and he considered himself as bound to accomplish the pilgrimage. Another lot was taken for a pilgrimage to Santa Maria of Loretto, in the province of Ancona, the territory of the pope, where is the house in which Our Lady has performed so many miracles. This lot[138] fell on a sailor of Puerto de Santa Maria, called Pedro de Villa. The admiral promised to furnish him with the money for his expenses. A third lot was determined upon for the selection of a person who should watch a whole night in Santa Clara de Moguer, and have a mass said there. This lot fell on the admiral. After this he and all the crew made a vow to go in procession, clothed in penitential garments, to the first church dedicated to Our Lady which they should meet with on arriving on land, and there pay their devotions. Besides these general vows, every individual made a private one, all expecting to be lost, so terrible was the violence of the hurricane. Their danger was increased by the want of ballast in the vessel, ... which the admiral had neglected to supply among the islands, because he wished to husband his time in making discoveries, and expected to take in ballast at the island of Matinino, which he intended to visit. The only thing that they could do in this emergency was to fill with sea-water such empty casks as they could find, and by doing this they obtained some relief.

“Here the admiral speaks of the circumstances which caused him to fear that our Lord would suffer them to perish, and of some which made him hope that he would bring them safe to land, and not allow the important information they were carrying to the king and queen to be lost. He seems to have felt the greatest anxiety to have his wonderful discovery known, so that the world might be convinced that his assertions had been correct and that he had accomplished what he had professed himself able to do. The thought of this not being done gave him the greatest disquietude, and he was constantly apprehending that the most trifling thing might defeat his whole intention.[139] He ascribes this to his want of faith and confidence in a divine providence, but comforts himself by reflecting upon the many mercies God had shown him in having enabled him to succeed in his project, when so many adversities and hindrances opposed him in Castile, and afterward to accomplish his great discovery. And as he had made the service of God the aim and business of his undertaking, and as he had hitherto favored him by granting all his desires, he indulges in the hope that he will continue to favor him, and will give him a safe return. He also remembered that God had delivered him on the outward voyage, when he had much greater reason to fear; that the eternal God gave him resolution and courage to withstand his men when they conspired against him and with a unanimous and menacing determination resolved to turn back. With these thoughts, and the consideration of other wonderful favors he had enjoyed, he says he ought not to be in fear of the tempest; but he adds that his apprehensions and the anguish of his mind would not allow him to rest. Besides, he continues, his anxiety was increased by reflecting upon the condition of his two sons whom he had left at their studies in Cordova,—these would be left orphans in a foreign land, and the king and queen being ignorant of the services he had rendered them by the voyage, would not feel any inclination to provide for them. On this account, and that their highnesses might be informed that our Lord had granted success to the undertaking in the discovery of the Indies, and might know that storms did not prevail in those regions (which was apparent from the plants and trees growing down to the brink of the sea), he devised the means of acquainting them with the circumstances of the voyage in case they should perish[140] in the storm. This he did by writing an account of it on parchment, as full as possible, and earnestly entreated the finder to carry it to the king and queen of Spain. The parchment was rolled up in a waxed cloth and well tied. A large wooden cask being brought, he placed the roll inside of it, and threw the cask into the sea, none of the crew knowing what it was, but all thinking that it was some act of devotion.”[169]

On the sixteenth of February the Nina reached the Azores, and two days afterward was riding at anchor at the island of Santa Maria. Departing from the Azores on the twenty-fourth of February, the Nina again encountered another storm, which caused Columbus to take refuge in the mouth of the river Tagus, on the fourth of March. From this roadstead he sent a courier overland to Spain bearing the intelligence of his arrival at this haven on the coast of Portugal, and another to the king of Portugal to ask permission to anchor in the harbor of Lisbon.

When, on the sixth of March, it became known in Lisbon, says Ferdinand Columbus, “that the ship came from the Indies, such throngs of people went aboard to see the Indians and to hear the news, that the vessel could not contain them, and the water was covered with boats, some of the people praising God for the success of so great an undertaking, and others storming because the Portuguese had lost the discovery through the king’s incredulity.... The next day the king wrote to the admiral congratulating him on his safe return, and expressing the desire, since the admiral was in his dominions, that he would visit him [at Valparaiso, nine leagues from Lisbon].... The king ordered all the nobility of his court to go out to[141] meet him, and when the admiral came into the presence of the king, he honored him by commanding him to put on his cap and to sit down. The king, having heard the particulars of his fortunate voyage, offered him all he stood in need of for the service of their catholic majesties, although he thought that as the admiral had been a captain in the service of Portugal, that the discovery belonged to him. To which the admiral answered that he knew of no agreement by which he could obtain it, and that he had strictly obeyed his orders, which were that he should not go to the mines of Portugal or to Guinea. The king said that it was all well, and he did not doubt but justice would be done. Having spent considerable time in this conversation, the king commanded the prior of Crato, the greatest man then about him, to entertain the admiral, and show him all civility and respect, which was done accordingly. Having remained there all Sunday, and all Monday until after mass, the admiral took leave of the king.... As he was on his way to Lisbon, he passed a monastery, where the queen was, who sent him an earnest entreaty that he would not pass by without seeing her. She was much pleased to see him, and bestowed upon him all the favor and honor that were due to the greatest lord. That night a messenger came from the king to the admiral, to inform him that if he wished to go by land to Spain he would attend him, provide lodgings on the way, and furnish him all that he might require, as far as the borders of Portugal.

“On Wednesday, the thirteenth of March, two hours after daylight, the admiral set sail for Seville, and, on Friday following, at noon, arrived at Saltes, and came to anchor in the port of Palos,[170] from which[142] he had departed on the third of August, the previous year, 1492, seven months and eleven days preceding his return.”[171]

Desiring as early as possible to make known his return and his remarkable discoveries, Columbus, as soon as his vessel came to anchor, sent letters to several of his friends, in which he gave brief descriptions of the people and of the islands which he had found, as he believed, in the eastern part of Asia. One of these letters, that addressed on the fourteenth of March to Rafael or Gabriel Sanchez, treasurer of Spain, was shortly afterward translated into Latin and printed at Rome. The title given to the letter expresses the popular belief respecting the situation of the discovered islands: “A letter of Christopher Columbus, to whom our age is greatly indebted, respecting the islands of India lately found beyond the Ganges.”[172]

Conscious of the greatness of his discovery, Columbus enthusiastically closes his letter with these words: “And now the king, the queen, the princes, and all their dominions, as well as the whole of Christendom, ought to give thanks to our Saviour, Jesus Christ, who has granted us such an achievement and success. Let[143] processions be ordered, let solemn festivals be celebrated, let the churches be filled with boughs and flowers.”

When his father landed at Palos, “he was received there,” says Ferdinand Columbus, “by all the people in procession, giving thanks to God for his fortunate success, which, it was hoped, would contribute greatly to propagate the Christian religion and enlarge their majesties’ dominions. All the inhabitants of the place considered it a matter of no little fame that the admiral had sailed from that port, and that most of the men he had with him belonged to it, though many of them, through [Martin Alonso] Pinzon’s fault, had been mutinous and disobedient.... The admiral then proceeded toward Seville, intending to go from there to Barcelona where their catholic majesties were. He was compelled to tarry a little along the way thither, though it were ever so little, to satisfy the curiosity of the people where he went, who came from the neighboring towns to the road along which he journeyed to see him, the Indians, and the other things he brought. Proceeding in this manner, he reached Barcelona about the middle of April, having previously sent their highnesses an account of the good fortune attending his voyage, which exceedingly pleased them, and they appointed him a most impressive reception as a man that had performed for them an extraordinary commission. All the court and city went out to meet him. Their catholic majesties sat in public in great state, on costly chairs, under a canopy of gold-cloth; and when he approached to kiss their hands they arose as to a great lord, and were unwilling to give him their hands, and caused him to sit down by them. When he had given them a brief account of his voyage, they permitted[144] him to retire to his apartment, to which he was attended by all the court. And he was so highly honored and favored by their highnesses, that when the king rode about Barcelona, the admiral was on one side of him, and the Infante Fortuna on the other, for before this, no one rode by the side of his majesty but the Infante, who was his near kinsman.”[173]

Galvano, speaking of the enthusiasm created by Columbus’s return, says: “Hereupon there arose so extraordinary a desire to travel among the Spaniards that they were ready to leap into the sea to swim, if it had been possible, unto these new lands.”[174]



The Spanish sovereigns, in order to obtain the privilege of extending their sway over the islands discovered by Columbus, immediately sent embassadors to Rome to request Pope Alexander VI. to confirm the title of Spain to the recently found lands, for it was then believed that the pope had sole and absolute authority to dispose of all countries inhabited by heathen peoples. Pope Martin V. and his successors had already granted to the crown of Portugal the possession of all the lands it might acquire by right of discovery beyond Cape Bojador toward the East. Pope Alexander VI., to reward the Spaniards for wresting Spain from the Moors, issued a bull, on the fourth of May, 1493, establishing a line of limitation, running from the north to the south pole, distant one hundred leagues west of the Azores and the Cape Verd Islands, giving to Spain all the lands she had discovered or might discover west of it, which had not been acquired by any Christian power before the preceding Christmas, and to Portugal all the territory, on the same conditions, which lay east of it. These territorial concessions of the pope caused the possessions of Spain, in the western hemisphere, to be called the West Indies, and those of Portugal, in the eastern hemisphere, the East Indies. The position of the line of demarkation displeased the Portuguese. To settle the dispute[146] which it caused, the two countries sent commissioners to Tordesillas, Spain, who agreed, on the seventh of June, 1494, that the position of the line should be changed so that it should pass, north and south, three hundred and seventy leagues west of the Cape Verd Islands.

Meanwhile in Spain a fleet of seventeen ships had been fitted out to sail to the Indies in the West. About fifteen hundred Spanish adventurers took passage on the different vessels, which were freighted with agricultural and mining implements, horses, cattle, and stores of various kinds, necessary for planting colonies on the newly-discovered islands. Commanded by Columbus, the fleet weighed anchor in the roadstead of Cadiz, on Wednesday, the twenty-fifth of September, 1493, and thence sailed toward the West India archipelago.

After a voyage of thirty-eight days the fleet reached the island of Dominica. The approach of Columbus to the field of his former explorations is thus described: “On Saturday night, the second of November, the admiral perceiving a great change in the sky and winds, and having observed the heavy rains, and believing that he was near land, ordered most of the sails to be furled, and commanded all to be upon the watch, and not without cause for that same night, at daybreak, land was descried seven leagues to the westward, a high mountainous island, which he called Dominica (Sunday), because it was discovered on Sunday morning. Shortly afterward he saw another island, northeast of Dominica, and then another, and another after that, more northward. For this blessing which God had been pleased to bestow on them, all the men assembled on deck and sang the Salve Regina[147] and other prayers and hymns very devoutly, giving thanks to God, because in twenty days after departing from Gomera, [one of the Canary Islands,] they had made that land, estimating the distance between them to be between seven hundred and fifty and eight hundred leagues. Finding no convenient harbor in which to anchor on the east side of Dominica, they stood for another island, which the admiral called Marigalante, which was the name of his ship.”[175] Thence he proceeded northward “to a large island which he called Santa Maria de Guadalupe, to honor her and the request of the friars of the house of that name, to whom he had made promise to call some island by the name of their monastery.... Going ashore in the boat to view a village which they had observed, they found none of the inhabitants in it, the people having fled to the woods, except some children to whose arms they tied some baubles to allure their fathers when they returned. In the houses they found geese like ours, a great number of parrots, with red, green, blue, and white feathers, as large as common cocks. They also found pumpkins, and a kind of fruit which looked like our green pine-apples, but much larger, and inside full of solid substance like a melon, and much sweeter both in taste and smell, that grew on long stalks like lilies or aloes, wild about the fields.... They also saw other kinds of fruit and herbs different from ours; beds of cotton nets (hamacas), bows and arrows, and other things....

“The next day, which was Tuesday, the fifth of November, the admiral sent two boats ashore to capture some natives who might give him a description of the country, and tell him how far off and in what[148] direction Española lay. Each boat brought back a youth. The youths agreed in saying that they were not of that island, but of another called Borriquen, and that the inhabitants of that island of Guadalupe were Caribbees or cannibals, and had taken them prisoners from their own island. Soon after the boats returning to shore, to take up some Christians they had left there, six women were found with them, who had fled from the Caribbees, and came of their own accord aboard the ships.... One of the women told them that toward the south there were many islands, some inhabited, others not, which both she and the other women, severally called Giamachi, Cairvaco, Huino, Buriari, Arubeira, Sixibei. But the continent, which they said was very great, both they and the people of Española called Zuanta [Yucatan?], because in former times canoes had come from that land to barter.... The same women gave them information where the island of Española lay; for though the admiral had inserted it in his sea-chart, yet for his further information he desired to hear what the people of that country said of it.... Then the admiral landed and went to some houses, where he saw ... a great deal of cotton, spun and unspun, looms to weave, a great number of men’s skulls hung up, and baskets filled with men’s bones.”[176]

On his way to the island of Española, Columbus discovered an island which he called San Juan Baptista, but the Indians, Borriquen. On the twelfth of November he arrived off the north coast of Española. On Thursday, the twenty-eighth of the same month, the discoverer with his fleet entered the harbor of the Villa de la Navidad, and found the place burnt and[149] deserted. The next morning “the admiral landed, much concerned to see the houses and fort in ashes and nothing left belonging to the Christians except some ragged clothing and similar things as are found in a place plundered and destroyed. Seeing no one to question, the admiral went up a river that was near with some boats.... Having found nothing but some of the clothing of the Christians, he returned to Navidad, where he saw the bodies of eight Christians, and of three other persons in the fields, whom they recognized by their clothing, and they seemed to have been dead about a month. While the Christians were searching for some other tokens or writings of the dead, a brother of the cacique, Guacanagari, came with some Indians to talk with the admiral. These could speak some words of Spanish, and knew the names of all the Christians that had been left there. They related that the latter soon began to quarrel among themselves, and each to take as much gold and as many women as they could obtain. Pedro Gutierrez and Escovedo thereupon killed a person named Diego, and then they and nine others went away with their women to a cacique, whose name was Caunaboa, who was lord of the mines, and he killed them all. Then many days afterward he came with a great number of men to Navidad, where there was only Diego de Arana with ten men, who had remained with him to guard the fort, all the others being dispersed about the island. The cacique, Caunaboa, coming there at night, set fire to the houses where the Christians lived with their women, and the Christians, being frightened, fled to the sea, where eight were drowned, and three died ashore, whose bodies they showed to them. Guacanagari undertook to defend the Christians, but he and[150] his men were wounded and were compelled to flee for their lives.”[177]

About the ninth of December Columbus sailed eastwardly from the site of the Villa de la Navidad, and anchored before an Indian town, where he determined to plant a colony. “He landed with all his men, provisions and implements, which he had brought in the ships of the fleet, at a plain, near a rock, on which a fort could easily be built. Here he erected a town, and called it Isabela, in honor of Queen Isabella. This place was deemed very suitable, inasmuch as the harbor was very large, though exposed to the northwest, and had an attractive river a bow-shot from it, from which canals of water might be cut to run through the middle of the town, and beyond was an extensive plain, from which the Indians said the mines of Cibao were not very distant. For these reasons the admiral was eager to settle the colony. On account of the fatigue of the voyage and that caused by his labor here, he did not have time to write in his journal, from day to day, what happened, as had been his habit. He also fell sick, which interrupted his writing from the eleventh of December to the twelfth of March, 1494. Meanwhile he administered the affairs of the town according to his ability. He intrusted Alonso de Hojeda with fifteen men to discover the mines of Cibao. Afterward, on the second of February, twelve ships of the fleet set sail for Castile, under the command of Antonio de Torres.”[178]

In March Columbus with a body of armed men explored the country of Cibao. “It is rough and stony,” writes Ferdinand Columbus, “full of gravel, grassy, and watered by several rivers in which gold is found.[151] The farther they went into the country the more rugged and mountainous they found it. On the tops of the mountains were grains of gold-sand, for, as the admiral said, the great rains carry it down from the summits of the mountains to the rivers in small sand.... The admiral, perceiving that he was now eighteen leagues from Isabela, and the country he had left behind him very craggy, ordered a fort to be built in a very pleasant and defensible place, which he called the castle of San Tomas, to command the country about the mines, and to be a place of safety for the Christians who went there. The command of this new fort he gave to Don Pedro Margarita, a person of some importance, with fifty-six men, among whom were men of all trades to erect the fort, which was built with clay and timber, which made it strong enough to resist the attack of any number of Indians that might come against it.... On Sunday, the twenty-ninth of March, Columbus arrived at Isabela, where melons were already grown fit to eat, although it was not more than two months after the seed had been put into the ground. Cucumbers came up in twenty days, and a wild vine of that country, having been pruned, had produced grapes which were good and large. The next day, being the thirtieth of March, a farmer gathered ears of wheat, the seed of which he had sown at the latter end of January. There were also pease, but much larger than those they sowed. All they sowed came up above the ground in three days, and on the twenty-fifth day they were eating them. The stones of fruit set in the ground sprouted in seven days, and vine branches shot out in the same time, and in twenty-five days thereafter they gathered green grapes....


“The admiral, having determined to go to discover the continent, appointed a council to govern the island in his absence. The persons composing it were Don Diego Colon, the admiral’s brother, with the title of president; F. Boyl [Friar Buil] and Pedro Fernandez Coronel, regents; Alonzo Sanchez de Carvajal, rector of Bacca, and Juan de Luxan, gentlemen of their catholic majesties.... On Tuesday, the twenty-ninth of April, the wind being favorable, Columbus arrived at Cabo de San Nicolas, and thence crossed over to the island of Cuba, running along the south coast of it, and having sailed a league beyond Cabo Fuerte, he put into a large bay which he called Puerto Grande....

“On Saturday, the third of May, the admiral resolved to sail from Cuba over to Jamaica, that he might not leave it behind without knowing whether the report of the abundance of gold there were true. The wind being favorable, he discovered it on Sunday, when he was less than half the distance to it. On Monday he came to anchor, and thought it was the most attractive of all the islands which he had seen in the Indies. So many people, in large and small canoes, came aboard his vessels that it was quite astonishing. The next day he ran along the coast to search for harbors. When the boats went to examine the havens, there came out so many canoes and armed men to defend the country, that the men in the boats were forced to return to the ships, not through fear, but to avoid making enemies of them.... On Tuesday, the thirteenth of May, Columbus determined to stand over again for Cuba to coast along it, intending not to return until he had sailed five or six hundred leagues, and was satisfied whether[153] it were a continent or an island.... On Friday, the thirteenth of June, the admiral perceiving that the coast of Cuba ran far to the west, and that it was a matter of the greatest difficulty to sail that way on account of the infinite number of islands and sand-bars that were on all sides of them, and he also beginning to be in want of provisions, for which reason he could not continue his voyage as he had intended, he determined to return to the town he had begun to build in Española. To supply himself with wood and water, he anchored at the island Evangelista, which is thirty leagues in circuit, and seven hundred from Dominica.”[179]

While Columbus was exploring the coast of Cuba, near the island of Evangelista, on the twelfth of June, it is said that he, for the purpose of furnishing indisputable evidence that he had reached the dominions of the Grand Khan, sent Fernando Perez de Luna, his notary, with four attesting witnesses, to the vessels, and had each person on board to make a declaration under oath that he was convinced that the land he saw was a part of the continent of Asia, and that he believed any one could go from it by land to Spain.[180] The notary, when taking the depositions, it is said, informed each person giving this testimony, that should he for any malicious purpose afterward assert a different opinion, he would, if an officer, be made to pay a penalty of ten thousand maravedis for such an offence, and if a person of lower rank, he would receive a hundred lashes and have his tongue cut out.[181] Strange[154] as it seems, it was Columbus’s belief that this watery expanse was really the gulf of the Ganges.[182]

Departing from the island of Evangelista, Columbus returned along the coast of Cuba to Cabo de Santa Cruz, from which he steered to the island of Jamaica. After leaving it, he discovered the two islands lying off the east coast of Española, called respectively by the Indians Adamanai and Mona. On the twenty-ninth of September, 1494, he returned to Isabela.

The people of the island of Española having acquired some knowledge of the Spanish language, were able at this time to give Columbus considerable information respecting their religion. From his conversations with them he was enabled to write the following account of their peculiar image-worship: “I could discover neither idolatry nor any sect among them, though each one of their kings, who are very many, as well in Española as on all the other islands and continent, has a house apart from the town, in which there is nothing but some carved, wooden images that are called cemies. There is nothing done in these houses but what is for the service of the cemies, to which they repair to perform certain ceremonies, and pray there, as we do in our churches. In these houses they have a handsome, round table, made like a dish, on which is some powder, which they lay on the heads of the cemies with a certain ceremony. Then through a cane, that has two branches, held to their own nostrils they snuff up[155] this powder. The words they use none of our people understand. The powder intoxicates them, and they act as if they were drunk. They also give the image a name, and I believe it is that of their father or grandfather, or both; for they have more than one, and some more than ten, all in memory of their forefathers, as I have already said. I have heard them praise one more than another, and have observed them to have more devotion, and show more respect to one than another, as we do in processions in time of want; and the people and the caciques boast among themselves of having the best cemies. When they go to these cemies they shun the Christians, and will not permit them to enter these houses. If they suspect that they will come, they take their cemies and hide them in the woods for fear that they should be deprived of them. What is most ridiculous, they have the habit of stealing one another’s cemies. It happened once that the Christians suddenly rushed into a house with them, and the cemi cried out, speaking in their language, which showed that it was artificially made. The cemi being hollow, they had attached a tube to it, which tube extended to a dark corner of the house, where a man was concealed with boughs and leaves who had spoken through the tube the words which the cacique had commanded him. The Spaniards, suspecting something of the kind, kicked down the cemi, and discovered that which has been related. The cacique seeing that his deception was known to the Spaniards, earnestly begged them not to speak of it to his subjects or to the other Indians, because he made them obedient by this artifice.... Three large stones are also in the possession of almost all the caciques, which are highly[156] venerated by them and their people. The one they say makes the corn and the grain to grow, the second helps women in travail, and the third procures rain or fair weather, whenever they desire to be benefited in any one of these ways. I sent your highnesses three of these stones by Antonio de Torres, and have three more to bring with me.

“When these Indians die, they have several ways of performing their obsequies. The manner in which they bury their caciques is as follows: They open his body and dry it at a fire in order to preserve it. Of other persons they only take the head. They bury some in caves or caverns, and place gourds of water and bread at their heads. Others they burn in the house where they die, and they do not permit them to die naturally, but strangle them at their last gasp. This is done to the caciques. Others are turned out of the house, and are put in a hamac, which is their bed, with bread and water at their heads, and they are never visited again. Some who become dangerously ill are carried to the cacique, who tells whether they are to be strangled or not, and what he commands is done. I have taken pains to learn what they believe, and whether they know what becomes of them after they are dead. This I inquired of Caunaboa, who was the principal king of Española, an aged man, intelligent and of much discernment. He and the rest answered that they go to a certain valley, which every great cacique supposes to be his country, where, they affirm, they find their parents and all their ancestors; that they eat, have women, and enjoy themselves in pleasures and pastimes.

“The admiral, having brought the island into a peaceable condition, and built the town of Isabela, besides[157] three forts in different parts of the country, determined to return to Spain.... He went on board, on Thursday, the tenth of March, 1496, with two hundred and twenty-five Spaniards and thirty Indians, and sailed from Isabela, at daybreak, and steered along the coast with two caravels, one called Santa Cruz, the other La Nina, the same in which he went to discover the island of Cuba.... Having supplied himself with bread, wood, and water, he set sail on Wednesday, the twentieth of April, from the island of Guadalupe, with the wind very scant, keeping near the latitude of twenty-two degrees, for at that time they had not found out the way of running away north to catch the southwest winds.”[183]

After sailing a month in the direction of Spain, “although there were eight or nine pilots on board the two vessels, yet none of them knew where they were; but the admiral was confident that they were only a little west of the Azores.”

Columbus, speaking of the movements of his compasses at this time, observes: “This morning the Dutch compasses varied, as they formerly did, a point; and those of Geneva, which previously agreed with them, varied only a little, but after sailing east varied more, which is a sign that we are one hundred leagues or more west of the Azores, for when we were just one hundred there were only a few weeds scattered in the sea, and the Dutch needles varied a point, those of Geneva cutting the north point, and when we are a little farther east-northeast they will alter again.”[184][158] These noticeable differences in the variations of the needles, Ferdinand Columbus says, the admiral assigned to “the different kinds of loadstones used in making them.” ... “In this way,” he remarks, “they continued their voyage, though all the pilots went like blind men.” Columbus, when near Spain, confidently asserted that they would be in sight of the coast on the following morning, which proved to be true, “for which reason he was looked upon by the seamen as very expert and almost prophetic in sea affairs.”[185] On Saturday,[159] the eleventh of June, 1496, the caravels arrived in the port of Cadiz.

“The admiral,” as soon as he had landed, “began to prepare for his journey to Burgos, where he was favorably received by their catholic majesties, who were there celebrating the nuptials of Prince Juan, their son, who married Margarita of Austria.”



While Columbus was in Española, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella abrogated in part the concessions granted him, and issued letters-patent on the tenth of April, 1495, permitting any of their subjects to make voyages of discovery to the Indies.[186] Commissioned by their highnesses, Amerigo Vespucci[187] went with a fleet of four vessels, in 1497, to make discoveries. The account[160] of the voyage is contained in a letter written by him, in Lisbon, on the fourth of September, 1504. The publication of it made him famous as the discoverer of the continent of America. Singular as it is true, the palpable discrepancies found in the subsequent versions of Vespucci’s letter have led many scholars to discredit the statements of the intelligent and enterprising Italian.[188] Vespucci thus writes respecting his first voyage:

“The king, Don Ferdinand of Castile, having ordered four ships to discover new lands toward the west, I was selected by his highness to go in the fleet to aid in the discoveries.[189] We departed from the port of Cadiz on the tenth day of May, 1497, and took our course across the great gulf of the ocean-sea.[190] We spent eighteen months on the voyage, and discovered much main-land and an endless number of islands, which were in great part inhabited. As these are not spoken of by ancient writers, I think that they had no knowledge of them....

“We reached a land which we judged to be firm land, distant from the Canary Islands about a thousand leagues more to the west, within the torrid zone, because we found the north pole at an elevation of sixteen degrees above the horizon,[191] and that we were more than seventy-five degrees west of the Canary Islands as our instruments showed.[192] We anchored[161] our ships a league and a half from the coast. We got out our boats, and, having manned and armed them, we went on land.

“Before we went ashore we were greatly delighted in seeing many people wandering along the beach. We saw that they were naked and that they seemed to be frightened when they beheld us, likely, as I supposed, by seeing us clothed, and of a different stature from their own. They retired to a mountain, and we could not entice them to hold any intercourse with us, notwithstanding we endeavored to induce them by signs of peace and friendship....

“We sailed to the northwest[193] in which direction the coast extended, always in sight of land, seeing continually, during the voyage, people on the shore. After sailing two days, we found a secure place for the ships, and anchored half a league from the land.... The natives were somewhat timid, and it was a long time before we were able to dispel their fear and induce them to come and talk to us.... Giving them such things as looking-glasses, bells, beads, and other trifles, we enticed a number of them to approach and enter into friendly relations with us....

“These people go entirely naked and wear not a particle of clothing. They are of a medium size and very well proportioned. Their skin is reddish like the color of a lion’s skin.... They do not allow any hair to grow on their eyelids and eyebrows, nor on any part of their bodies; only on their heads, for they think it very unbecoming. The men and women are exceedingly quick in their movements, and are unconstrained[162] in their deportment. They walk and run rapidly. The women do not think it a difficult thing to run a league or two.... These people are excellent swimmers. The women surpass the men, for we have observed them many times swimming unaided, fully two leagues out from land.

“The weapons of these people are bows and arrows. These are curiously made. They have no iron or any other hard metal on them. They use instead the teeth of animals or fish.... They are expert bowmen, and hit with their arrows whatever they shoot at. The women in some parts of the country handle the bow with considerable skill. Their other weapons are lances and clubs with elaborately carved heads. When they go to make war their wives accompany them, not to fight, but to carry provision on their backs. Sometimes a woman will convey a burden in this manner thirty or forty leagues, which the strongest men there cannot do as we have frequently observed....

“These people, although they appear ignorant as talkers, are very sagacious and crafty in any matter in which they are interested. They do not talk much, and when they do, it is in a low tone.... Their languages differ so much that we found people living within the space of a hundred leagues who could not understand one another’s speech.... They do not partake of food at appointed times nor in such quantities to satisfy them during equal intervals. Whenever their appetites demand food, whether in the middle of the night or day, it does not matter to them, they appease their hunger.... They take their food from earthen basins made by them, or from gourds cut in half.


“They sleep in certain nets made of cotton, very large, suspended in the air.... These people are clean and neat in their persons, for they are continually bathing.... They live together in common, and make their houses like cottages, which are very strongly built with the largest trees and covered with palm leaves.... We found one which contained six hundred persons, and we saw the occupants of thirteen houses, who must have numbered four thousand souls. New sites for these houses are selected every seven or eight years. When we asked why they changed the location of their dwellings, they said it was because the intense heat of the sun caused painful diseases to spread among them when the ground about their houses became permeated and foul with filth; which explanation seemed quite reasonable to us.

“The riches of these people are the feathers of birds of different colors, ornaments made of fish bones, and white and green stones, with which they adorn their cheeks, lips, and ears.... Some of these people, when they inter their dead, place water and food at the head of the corpse.... In some parts of the country there is a very inhuman custom of disposing of a person about to die. His relatives carry him into a great wood, and, fastening one of their sleeping nets to two trees, put him in it. Having swung him in it during the day, they, at the approach of night, depart to their homes, leaving with him water and food sufficient for his wants during the succeeding five or six days. Should the ill man partake of the provisions and recover sufficient strength to enable him to make his way back to the village, his relatives honor his return with ceremony....


“For their infirmities they have various kinds of medicine very different from those we use.... I often observed that when a person was stricken with fever and grew worse, that they bathed him with much cold water from head to foot, and then built a great fire around him, and made him walk about the inclosed space for an hour or two until he became quite fatigued, when they allowed him to sleep. Many were cured by this treatment.... Blood-letting is an art known to them. They do not take blood from the arm except in the arm pit. They generally take it from the loins or the calf of the leg.... They have no grain seed nor corn, but use instead the root of a tree, from which they make flour, which is very good, and which they call Iuca, and another which they call Cāzabi, and another which they call Ignami. Very little meat is eaten by them except human flesh.... They devour with fierce avidity their enemies, whom they kill or capture, whether men or women. They thought it very strange when they learned that we did not eat the flesh of our enemies....

“We landed in a port[194] where we found a village built above the water like Venice. About forty-five bell-shaped houses were erected here upon very large piles, and connected one with the other by draw-bridges.... When we were descried by the people they were seemingly terrified, and to protect themselves they immediately drew their bridges and shut themselves up in their houses. While we were observing them and wondering at their actions, we beheld about twenty-two canoes (canoe) approaching us from the[165] direction of the sea. These canoes are boats which they use, and are made from a single tree. The people in them rowed toward our boats, no little astonished at our forms and clothing. As they kept at some distance from us, we made signs to induce them to come nearer. Failing to assure them of our peaceful intentions, and seeing that they would not approach any nearer, we rowed toward them. But they did not remain where they were, but rowed to the land, where, by signs, they intimated that we should wait for a short time until they returned.

“They hastened away to a mountain, but did not stay there any length of time. Returning they brought with them sixteen young girls, and, entering their canoes, rowed to us, and placed four girls in each of our boats. We were much surprised at this.... They then kept their canoes alongside of our boats, and we were led to believe that these people were thus manifesting their friendship. Not suspecting any thing different, we observed a great number of people swimming toward us from the houses. Then some old women appeared at the doors of the houses shrieking and pulling their hair as if in great distress. Suspecting some treachery, we took up our arms. All at once the girls in our boats plunged into the sea, and the people in the canoes rowed away, shooting their arrows at us. Those who swam to us carried lances with them concealed under the water. Discovering their treachery, we not only defended ourselves, but vigorously attacked them. We upset in our boats many of their canoes and killed many people. In a short time those who were not hurt left their canoes and swam to the shore. They had about fifteen or twenty killed and wounded, and we five slightly wounded....[166] We took two girls and two men prisoners. When we entered their houses we found only two old women and a sick man. We took from the houses many things of little value, but did not burn the houses from humane motives....

“This country is thickly inhabited and contains a great many rivers. The animals in it are quite different from those in our country, except the lions, panthers, stags, hogs, goats, and deer, and some of these are somewhat different from ours in form.... But how can I describe the birds here, which are so many and of so many kinds, and the color of their feathers so different, that the sight of them amazes one.

“The country is very attractive and fruitful, and covered with very great woods and forests, in which the trees are always green, for they never lose their foliage. There are unnumbered fruits very different from those in our country. This land lies within the limits of the torrid zone, below the line describing the tropic of Cancer, where the pole is elevated twenty-three degrees above the horizon, at the end of the second climate.[195] ... In this country we made a baptismal font, and baptized many of the people, who called us caribi, meaning men of great wisdom.

“The country is called Lariab by the natives. We sailed along its coast always in sight of land and ran on the whole course toward the northwest eight hundred and seventy leagues.[196] ... We found[167] gold in some places but not much. The discovery of the country and the knowledge that gold was in it satisfied us....

“On our return we sailed toward the sea going between the north and east, and after seven days we reached some islands.... We landed on one of them, where we found many people, who called the island Iti [Hayti?].... We set sail for Spain with two hundred and twenty-two slave-prisoners, and arrived at the port of Cadiz on the fifteenth of October, 1498,[197] where we were well received, and sold our slaves. This is what happened to me in this my first voyage that may be considered noteworthy.”[198]

“Shortly after the departure of the fleet with which Vespucci went to the New World, Columbus complained to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella that the permission given by them in 1495 to those who desired to go on voyages of discovery toward the west was prejudicial to the privileges previously granted him by their Spanish majesties. The latter therefore revoked their letters-patent of the tenth of April, 1495, on the second of June, 1497, declaring that it should “have no force nor effect at any time, or in any manner whatever, so as to be prejudicial to the said admiral, and to whatever we have thus granted and confirmed to him.”[199]


“The fitting out of the fleet [for Columbus’s third voyage to the Indies] was delayed much longer than was necessary through the negligence and bad management of the king’s officers, and particularly that of Don Juan Rodriguez de Fonseca, archdeacon of Seville. Hence it happened that Don Juan, who was afterward bishop of Burgos, was, from that time onward, a bitter enemy to the admiral and his affairs, and was the chief person among those who brought him into disgrace with their catholic majesties.[200] ... The admiral made his preparations for the voyage with all possible diligence, and on the thirtieth of May, 1498, set sail from the bay of San Lucar de Berrameda, with six ships, freighted with provisions and other necessaries for the relief of the planters in Española and the peopling of that island.”[201]

On Thursday, the fifth of July, Columbus steered westward from the islands of Cape Verd, and on the last day of the month altered his course and stood to the north. “One day about noon as he was thus sailing [off the coast of Venezuela, South America, north of the mouths of the Orinoco river], Alonso Perez Nirando, a sailor of the town of Huelva, while going up to the round-top, saw the peaks of three mountains to the westward, distant about fifteen leagues. Not long afterward they beheld land extending northeastwardly as far as they could see. When they had given thanks to God and said the Salve Regina and other prayers used by seamen in times of distress or joy, the admiral called the discovered island, la Isla de[169] Trinidad (the island of the Trinity), for he had thought of giving this name to the first land they should find on the voyage, and now God had graciously granted him the sight of three mountains near together as has been mentioned. The fleet stood directly west to reach a point of land on the south side of the island, and then coasted along that side of it until the anchors were cast, five leagues beyond the cape, which Columbus called Punta de la Galera (Point of the Galley), which name was suggested by a rock on the headland, resembling, at a distance, a galley under sail. On the following morning, Wednesday, Columbus continued his course westward, for there was only one cask of water on board his ship, and one on each of the other vessels, and at the last anchorage no convenient place had been found to obtain more. At the next headland, which he called Punta de la Playa (Point of the Strand), the ships anchored and the crews went to a small brook and obtained a supply of fresh water. No town or people were seen here, although they had observed many houses and towns along the coast.... This day, which was the first of August, when the vessels were sailing between Punta de la Galera and Punta de la Playa, they discovered the continent, distant about twenty-five leagues as they guessed. Inasmuch as they thought it was another island, they called it Isla Santa (Holy Island).”

When the ships anchored at the southwestern extremity of the island of Trinidad, which point of land Columbus called Punta del Arenal, “a large canoe,” the admiral writes, “came from the eastward, containing twenty-four men, all in the prime of life, fully armed with bows, arrows, and shields. As I have said, they were all young, well proportioned, and not dark black, but[170] whiter than any other Indians that I had seen.... They wore their hair long and straight, cut in the Spanish fashion. Their heads were encircled with cotton scarfs elaborately colored, like the head-dresses of the Moors. Some wore these scarfs round their bodies as a covering in the place of breeches. When I reached Punta del Arenal I found that the island of Trinidad was separated from the land of Gracia (la tierra de Gracia)[202] by a strait two leagues wide....

“I discovered beyond the point which I called Punta de la Aguda, one of the most attractive countries in the world, and very densely populated.... Some of the natives immediately came in canoes to the ship to request me in the name of their king to come on land. When they saw that I paid no attention to them, they came in great numbers in their canoes to the ship, many of them wearing pieces of gold on their breasts, and some of them bracelets of pearls on their arms. When I saw these I was exceedingly pleased, and I made many inquiries to learn where the people found them. They informed me that they were obtained in the neighborhood and also at a place north of the country.... Desiring to get some pearls like those I had seen, I sent some men ashore for that purpose.... They related that when the boats reached the shore, two chiefs, whom they took for father and son, came to them from the throng of the people and conducted them to a very large house, at two springs, not round and tent-shaped as the other houses. In this house were many seats, on which they seated our men and themselves. They[171] then caused bread to be brought with many kinds of fruit and various wines, both white and red, not made from grapes but apparently from different fruits.... The men were congregated at one end of the building and the women at the other. Great vexation was felt by both parties because they could not understand each other’s language, for they each desired to ask questions concerning their respective countries.”

Columbus, describing that part of South America which he called Gracia, now known as Venezuela, and also referring to the Orinoco River pouring its flood of fresh water into the Gulf of Paria, which he called Golfo de las Perlas (Gulf of Pearls), remarks: “I think that if the mentioned river does not flow from the earthly paradise that it comes from a vast extent of land in the south, of which nothing hitherto has been known.”

In the letter containing this information respecting South America the admiral speaks of sending to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, to whom the letter was addressed, a map of the country (la pintura de la tierra).[203]

The channel between the island of Trinidad and the land of Gracia (which the natives called Paria), Columbus called la Boca de la Sierpe (the mouth of the Serpent). The fleet then sailed from the Gulf of Paria through its northern outlet, which Columbus called la Boca del Drago (the mouth of the Dragon), and passed by the cape which he called Cabo de las Conchas and the island which he named Margarita. “Although,” as Ferdinand Columbus remarks, “the admiral saw that[172] the country of Paria extended much farther westward, nevertheless he says that from that time forward he could not give as good a description of it as he wished on account of his eyes being too much inflamed by constant watching. Therefore he was compelled to obtain the most of his information concerning it from the sailors and pilots.”[204]

When Columbus arrived, at the end of August, at the island of Española, where he intended to recruit his failing health, he found the colonists rebelling against the authority of his brother Bartolomé, whom he had left there as adelantado, or lieutenant-governor, when he sailed for Spain in 1496. Columbus at once took steps to put an end to the sedition. Meanwhile complaints were sent to their Spanish majesties, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, who, to adjust the differences existing between the two contending factions, sent Francisco de Bobadilla to Española to discover the cause of the insurrection and to punish by fine and imprisonment those whom he should find culpable. Summoning the admiral to appear before him at San Domingo, he, as soon as Columbus arrived, ordered him to be put in irons and to be confined in the fortress. Having drawn up certain charges against Columbus, he sent him in chains to Spain. About the middle of November, 1500, the vessel arrived at Cadiz. When the news of Columbus’s humiliation at the hands of Bobadilla became known, the people everywhere censured the latter for the unwarranted abasement of the distinguished discoverer. The king and queen immediately sent orders for Columbus to be set at liberty, and afterward received him with many gracious acknowledgments of his important[173] services, and publicly declared that Bobadilla should account to them for his ill treatment.[205]

When the information contained in Columbus’s letter respecting the large and valuable pearls possessed by the people of Paria became known in Spain a number of capitalists immediately fitted out a fleet to go to the Land of Pearls. The command of the vessels was given to Alonso de Hojeda, who had accompanied Columbus on his second voyage. The cosmographer, Juan de la Cosa, and Amerigo Vespucci went with Hojeda. Vespucci, in his account of the voyage, says: “We departed from the port of Cadiz, three ships in company, on the sixteenth day of May, 1499.... In forty-four days we arrived at a new land, which we judged to be main-land, and the continuation of that previously mentioned. It lay in the torrid zone south of the equator, where the south pole is elevated five degrees.” They sailed from their first place of anchorage and ran southeastwardly along the coast forty leagues. The strong currents running from the southeast to the northwest hindered the progress of the vessels so much that the explorers determined to change their course and to sail to the northwest. Following the trend of the coast in this direction, they, after sailing some time, reached a beautiful bay, at the entrance of which was a large island. About eighty leagues beyond this harbor they entered another, where they went on land and obtained one hundred and fifty pearls and some gold from the friendly natives. At another place the inhabitants of the country “had their cheeks stuffed with a green herb which they were continually chewing as animals chew their cud, so that they were scarcely able to speak. Hanging from the[174] neck of each native were two dried gourd-shells, one filled with the herb which the people had in their mouths, the other containing a white meal like chalk dust. The natives carried small sticks which they wetted at intervals in their mouths and then put them into the meal and then into the gourds containing the herb.” Then they again filled their cheeks with the herb.

At another place the explorers remained forty-seven days, where they obtained “one hundred and nineteen marks of pearls” in exchange for some small trifles. From a native, Vespucci obtained an oyster containing one hundred and thirty pearls. The fleet sailed along the coast to where it was “fifteen degrees north of the equator.” Thence the explorers steered for Española to obtain provisions. Departing from the island on the twenty-second of July, 1500, they sailed for Spain, and arrived at the port of Cadiz on the eighth of September.[206]

When King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella heard that the Portuguese had reached India by sailing around Africa, they commissioned Columbus to explore the western coast of Paria, where he conceived a navigable strait could be found through which the vessels of Spain might sail to Cathay. Four caravels composed the fleet with which he sailed from Cadiz on the ninth of May, 1502. On the fifteenth of June, the vessels came in sight of one of the Caribbean[175] islands called by the natives Mantinino. Thence they sailed to the island of Dominica, and thence to Española. Departing, on the fourteenth of July, from the port of Brazil, on the south side of the island of Española, Columbus sailed toward the Bay of Honduras, eastward of which he imagined was a strait through which he might sail to the Indian Ocean and reach Cathay. “We came to certain islands,” says Ferdinand Columbus, who had accompanied his father to the New World, “where we went ashore on the largest, called Guanaia, whence those that make sea-charts took occasion to call all those islands Guanaia, which are almost twelve leagues from the continent, near the province now called Honduras, though the admiral then called it Cabo Casinas.” While the fleet was anchored in one of the roadsteads of the group of islands called Guanaia, a large log-boat crowded with Indians and filled with certain commodities arrived there. Describing the capture of this highly valued prize, Ferdinand Columbus remarks: “Fortune so ordered it that a canoe, as long as a galley and eight feet wide, all of one tree, and like the other boats in shape, put in there, loaded with commodities brought from the country toward the west and bound for Nueva España.[207] In the middle of it was a covering like an awning, made of palm leaves, resembling those of the Venetian gondolas, which protected all beneath it, that neither rain nor sea-water could wet the goods. Under the awning were the women and children. Although there were twenty-five men in the canoe, they had not the courage to defend themselves against those in our boats who pursued them. The canoe being taken without any opposition it was brought to[176] the admiral’s caravel.... He commanded that such articles should be taken as were thought to be the most desirable and valuable, as quilts, shirts of cotton without sleeves, curiously made and dyed with different colors, apron-cloths, and large sheets in which the Indian women in the canoe wrapped themselves as the Moorish women, formerly in Granada, were in the habit of doing. There were also long wooden swords, with grooved edges on each side, in which sharp pieces of flint were compactly fastened with thread and a bituminous substance, and these cut naked men as if they were made of steel; also copper hatchets to cut wood, like those of stone which the other Indians use; also bells of the same metal, and dishes and crucibles to melt it in. For food they had such roots and grain as the people of Española eat, and a kind of liquor made of maize, like the English beer, and an abundance of cacao-nuts, which in New Spain pass for money, which they seemed to value very much, for when they were brought aboard among the other goods, I observed that when any of these nuts fell, the Indians all stooped to pick them up, as if they were things of value.... Notwithstanding the admiral had heard so much from those in the canoe concerning the great wealth, politeness, and ingenuity of the people westward toward New Spain, yet thinking that he could sail to those countries lying to the leeward, when he thought fit from Cuba, he would not go that way at this time, but adhered to his intention of discovering a strait in the continent to pass into the South Sea,[208] by which he could sail to the countries that produce spice. Therefore he resolved to sail eastward toward Veragua and Nombre de Dios, where he imagined the[177] strait to be.... He was deceived in the undertaking, for he did not conceive it to be an isthmus, or a narrow neck of land, as it really was, but a small bay extending from sea to sea.”[209]

On the coast of Veragua, now the isthmus of Panama or Darien, Columbus found the ruins of an immense building covered with tables of strange hieroglyphics and unique reliefs. These vestiges of an ancient civilization made so profound an impression on the mind of the admiral that he selected a curiously elaborated piece of the wall, and brought it away in one of his caravels. “This was the first place, in the Indies,” says Ferdinand Columbus, “where they saw any sign of an edifice. It was a great mass of wall of imagery seemingly composed of lime and stone. The admiral ordered a piece of it to be brought away to show the evidence of its antiquity.”[210]

On the fifth of January, 1503, they cast anchor near a river which the Indians called Yebra, and the admiral Belem or Bethlem. Westward of it was a river which the natives called Veragua. Columbus, having determined to build a town at this point, began, about the end of February, to erect “houses upon the river of Belem, about a cannon-shot from its mouth, within a trench, on the right bank of the river, at the mouth of which there is a little hill. Besides these houses, which were all of timber and covered with the leaves of palm trees growing along the shore, another large house was built to serve as a store-house and magazine, in which were stored several cannon, some powder, provisions, and other necessaries for the use of the planters....

“The customs of the Indians here are somewhat[178] similar to those of the natives of Española and the neighboring islands; but the people of Veragua and its neighborhood, when they talk to one another and eat turn their backs, and are always chewing an herb, which, as we think,” says Ferdinand Columbus, “makes their teeth to decay and rot. Their food is fish; these they take with nets and hooks.... They have an abundance of maize, which is a kind of grain growing in an ear, or hard head like millet, of which they make white and red wine, as beer is made in England, and mix their spice with it as pleases their palates. It has a pleasant taste like a sharp, lively wine.”[211]

“In Cariay and the adjacent country,” says Columbus, “there are great enchanters of a very dreadful kind.... I saw there, built on a mountain, a sepulcher as large as a house and elaborately sculptured. The body lay uncovered with the face downward. The people told me of other very excellent works of art.... They said that there were great mines of copper in the country, of which metal they make hatchets and other manufactured articles, both cast and soldered. They also make forges from it, and all the apparatus of goldsmiths, and also crucibles. The inhabitants wear clothes. I saw in that province large sheets of cotton elaborately and skillfully made, and others very delicately colored with pencils. They informed me that in the interior, towards Cathay, that the people there have them interwoven with gold.... One thing I dare declare, for there are many to attest it, that in the land of Veragua I saw more indications of gold in the two first days [of my stay there] than I had found during four years in Española.”[212]


The Spaniards, however, were soon attacked by the natives, and were in such distressing circumstances that Columbus was compelled to abandon his purpose of leaving a colony on this part of the continent and to take his men on board the ships and to return to Española. Speaking of the return-voyage, Ferdinand Columbus writes: “Thus rejoicing that we were all together again, we sailed along the coast eastward. Although all the pilots were of the opinion that we might return to San Domingo by standing away to the north, nevertheless the admiral and his brother knew that it was requisite to run a considerable distance along this coast before they steered across the gulf that is between the continent and Española, at which our men were displeased, thinking that the admiral designed to sail directly for Spain, whereas he neither had provisions nor were his ships fit for the voyage.[213] But as he knew best what was to be done,[180] we held on our course until we came to Porto Bello, where we were obliged to leave the ship Biscaina, on account of its leaky condition, being all worm-eaten through and through. Steering along the coast, we passed by the port we called Retrete, and a country near which there were many small islands, which the admiral called Las Barbas, but the Indians and pilots call that the territory of the cacique Pocorosa. We held on this course ten more leagues to the last land we saw of the continent, called Marmora, and on Monday, the first of May, 1503, we stood to the north.... Although all the pilots said we should be east of the Caribbee islands, yet the admiral feared we should not make Española, which proved to be true.... We reached an Indian town on the coast of Cuba, called Mataia, where, having obtained some refreshment, we sailed for Jamaica.”[214]

On his return to the island of Jamaica, in June, 1503, Columbus, describing his voyage along the isthmus of Darien, wrote to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, saying: “On the thirteenth of May I reached the province of Mango, which is contiguous to that of Cathay, and thence I steered for the island of[181] Española.”[215] Peter Martyr[216] also seems to have held the opinion that Columbus’s explorations were along the continent of Asia. Writing in 1510, the first decade of the New World, he remarks: “The opinion of Christopher Columbus respecting the magnitude of the sphere and the opinions of the ancients concerning the under-navigation of the world seem to be adverse. Nevertheless the parrots and many other things brought from there indicate that the islands savor only of India, either being near it or else of the same nature.”[217]

With this fourth voyage, the zealous and enthusiastic navigator ended his life-work. On the twelfth of September, 1504, Columbus for the last time[182] set sail from the attractive field of his numerous explorations and arrived at San Lucar, on the seventh of November, broken down in health, aged, and the victim of many unjust accusations and bitter disappointments. Two years afterward, on the twentieth of May, 1506, he died at Valladolid, being about seventy years old, leaving to another the discovery, by the way of the west, of a navigable route to the remote coast of Cathay.

As intended by him, when he set sail on his first voyage, Columbus afterward made a map on which he delineated “all the sea and the lands of the ocean-sea” (del mar Océanus) discovered by him.[218] Although the admiral’s chart is lost, there are several maps extant, which, in part, represent the islands of Juana, Jamaica, Española, and the smaller ones, as he evidently had outlined them on his new sailing chart (carta nueva de navegar). A map of the world, in the Estense library, at Modena, made between the years 1501 and 1504,[219] and the map of the New World (tabula terre nove), in the edition of Ptolemy’s geography, printed in 1513, at Strasburg,[220] exhibit the islands, discovered by Columbus on his first voyage, and of which he speaks in his journal of 1492 and 1493. The high latitudes in which he placed the Rio de Mares and other rivers of Juana, when he made his discoveries[183] “toward the north,” are designated on these maps. On the Ptolemy map the name c doffun de abril at the southeast point of Cuba appears to designate the same cape as that of c de fvndabril on the map of the world made by Johann Ruysch, the German cartographer, contained in the edition of Ptolemy’s geography, printed at Rome in 1508.[221] Both of these misspelled names are evidently anomalous forms of the Spanish designation, C. de Fuenterabia. The names on Ruysch’s representation of the island of Cuba correspond more closely to the Spanish orthography of the designations given by Columbus to the places he visited than those which are inscribed on the two maps previously mentioned.[222]

The earliest map extant representing the territory discovered in the western hemisphere is a map of the world drafted by the Spanish cartographer, Juan de la Cosa.[223] It was found by Baron de Walckenaër in the possession of a dealer in old books and wares, from whom he bought it for a small sum of money. Baron von Humboldt shortly afterward made its discovery known in his notable work on the geography of the[184] new continent.[224] When the library of Baron de Walckenaër was sold, in Paris, in 1853, La Cosa’s map was purchased for the queen of Spain for four thousand and twenty francs. It is now in the Naval museum, in Madrid.[225] The famous map-maker drafted the whole world, as then known, on an ox-hide, five feet nine inches long by three feet wide, on a scale of fifteen Spanish leagues to a degree. The map is attractively colored and brightened with gold. It may rightly be called the geographical frontispiece of the history of the discovery of America.[226]

The map bears the inscription “Juan de la cosa la fizo enel puerto de S: mjᵃ en año de. 1500.”—Juan de la Cosa made it in the port of Santa Maria in the year 1500. A picture of St. Christopher bearing the Christ-child across the water ornaments the space above the inscription.[227] Most prominent of the islands of the “Mar Oceanus” delineated on the map are Cuba, Habacoa,[228] and La Española. The coast of South America, as far[185] as it had been explored, is well represented by the painstaking map-maker.[229]

La Cosa, having seen a copy of the map made by Giovanni Caboto (John Cabot), to display the fields of the English discoveries of 1497 and 1498, attempted to show in what part of the New World they were. As outlined by him, the land explored by Cabot trends eastwardly from the sea discovered for the English (mar descubierta por inglese), to the Cape of England (Cavo de Inglaterra). As La Cosa had nothing else than his imagination to guide him in delineating the coast of North America between the field of the English discoveries and South America, his extension of the main-land from the one to the other has no geographical significance. Unable to determine definitely the position and extent of the territory of the New World, La Cosa projected it as accurately as his information respecting the explored parts of its sinuous coast gave him knowledge. Ignorant of the limits of the New Land he honorably darkens that part which might be deemed its cartographic development with several shades of meaningless colors.[230]



The notable part which England took in searching for a navigable passage to Cathay, by exploring the sea toward the west, was incited by the success attending the explorations of Columbus in the New World. For it is said that when the news reached England that the Genoese seaman had discovered the coasts of India there was great talk in the court of King Henry VII., and that men declared with much admiration that it was more divine than human to sail toward the west to go to the East where spices grow[231]. The bold projector, who obtained for England the distinguished honor of being the second European power to enter the western hemisphere with her ships, was Giovanni Caboto (John Caboto), a Venetian[232], who had lived a number of years in London. With confessed confidence he explained to King Henry and his learned counsellors the grounds of his belief that the eastern coast of Asia could be reached by sailing in a direct westward course from England, and how this course would be a shorter way than the one taken by Columbus. He proposed to undertake the voyage at his[187] own expense should the king grant him the necessary license.

These overtures of Caboto appear to have been made about the beginning of the year 1496. Ruy Gonzales de Puebla, the Spanish ambassador, residing in England, having learned what Caboto had proposed to King Henry, at once communicated the information to their majesties, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain. Their royal highnesses, in a letter to their representative at the English court, dated at Tortosa, the twenty-eighth of March, 1496, thus refer to what he had written them:

“You say that a person like Colon has come there to place before the king of England another undertaking similar to that of the Indies, without prejudice to Spain or Portugal. If in this way he helps him, he will be as free to go to the Indies as we were. We believe that this undertaking is thrown in the way of the king of England by the king of France in order to withdraw him from his other affairs. See that the king of England be not deceived in this or in a similar matter. The French will endeavor as best they can to lead him into such enterprises, inasmuch as they are very uncertain, and are not easily prosecuted. Likewise see that those ...[233] he is not able to undertake this thing without prejudice to us and the king of Portugal.”[234]

On the fifth of March, 1496, King Henry VII. complied with Caboto’s request as set forth in the following petition:


“To the kyng our souvereigne lord

“Please it your highnes of your moste noble and haboundant grace to graunt unto John Cabotto, citezen of Venes, Lewes, Sebestyan and Sancto his sonneys your gracious lettres patentes under your grete seale in due forme to be made according to the tenour hereafter ensuyng. And they shall during their lyves pray to god for the prosperous continuance of your moste noble and royale astate long to enduer.”[235]

The letters-patent granted to Giovanni Caboto and his sons, Lodovico, Sebastiano, and Sanctus, to his and their heirs and deputies, commissioned them to sail, with five ships of any burden, under the banners, flags, and ensigns of England, to all parts, regions and gulfs of the eastern, the western, and the northern seas, in order to seek, discover, and explore whatever islands, countries, regions, or provinces of the heathen and of the infidels, in whatever part of the world they were situate, which were then unknown to all Christians. As set forth in the document, the cost and expense of the expedition were to be defrayed by Caboto and his sons.[236]

With this commission Giovanni Caboto set sail from the port of Bristol, in the spring of 1497, with two ships, one of which was named the Matthew.[237] Sailing westward from England he reached a land which he believed to be that of Cathay, where he planted the flag of England and that of Venice. Having explored the coast of the country for three hundred leagues, he returned to England, where the news of his discoveries was enthusiastically received by the interested people.


A brief description of this voyage is contained in a a letter written by Lorenzo Pasqualigo, in London, on the twenty-third of August, 1497, to his brothers, Alvise and Francesco, residing in Venice:

“The Venetian, our countryman, who went with a ship from Bristol to search for a new island, is returned, and says that seven hundred leagues from here he discovered firm land (Terra ferma), the territory of the Grand Khan. He coasted for three hundred leagues and landed; saw no human beings, but he has brought here to the king certain snares which had been set to catch game, and a needle for making nets; he also found some felled trees, by which he judged there were inhabitants. He returned to his ship in doubt, and he was three months on the voyage, and on his return saw two islands to starboard, but would not land, time being precious, as he was short of provisions. This has greatly pleased the king. He [Caboto] says that the tides are slack there and do not flow as they do here.

“The king has promised him, in the spring, ten ships, armed to his order, and at his request has conceded him all the prisoners, except those confined for high treason, to man his fleet. The king has also given him money with which he may amuse himself until that time, and he is now in Bristol with his sons and his wife, who is also a Venetian.[238] His name is Juam Talbot and he is called the great admiral. Great honor is paid him; he dresses in silk, and these English run after him like insane people, so that he can enlist as many of them as he pleases, and a number of our own rogues besides.

“The discoverer of these places planted on this[190] newly found land a large cross, with one flag of England and another of Saint Mark, on account of his being a Venetian, so that our banner has floated very far afield.”[239]

Raimondo di Soncino, the minister of the duke of Milan, at the court of England, in a letter, written on the twenty-fourth of August, 1497, also speaks of the return of Caboto, saying that he “found two very large and fertile islands, having likewise discovered the Seven Cities, four hundred leagues from England, on the western passage. This next spring his majesty intends to send him with fifteen or twenty ships.”[240]

The discovery of the two islands mentioned by Soncino is spoken of in two inscriptions placed on a large map of the world, preserved in the National library in Paris. The Spanish inscription reads: “This land was discovered by Ioan Caboto, a Venetian, and by Sebastian Caboto, his son, in the year of the birth of our Saviour, Jesus Christ, M.CCCC. xciiii [M.CCCC. xcvii?], on the twenty-fourth of June, in the morning, to which they gave the name, Prima tierra vista (First land seen), and to a large island, which is by the said land, they gave the name of Sant Joan (Saint John), because it was discovered the same day.”[241]


A copy of a part of a map of the world in the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, known as the Cabot map of 1544. (The original is about one-third larger than this copy.)

The map, on the margin of which this inscription appears, seems to be a copy of one made by Sebastiano Caboto, in 1544, if the following statement of another Spanish inscription placed on the chart be true: “Sebastian Caboto, captain and chief pilot of his sacred christian catholic majesty, the emperor, Charles V. of that name, and king, our sovereign, made this large planisphere, in the year of the birth of our Saviour, Jesus Christ, 1544, drawn with degrees of latitude and longitude, and with winds like a marine chart, copying in part the maps of Ptolemy, and in part those of the modern discoverers, Spaniards as well as Portuguese, and in part those made by his father and by him.”[242]

As will be seen on the map, the inscription Prima tierra uista is placed opposite the tract of land on the forty-eighth parallel of north latitude, now known as Cape Breton Island. Evidently to obviate a misconception respecting the situation of the land first described, the words prima uista (first seen) are inscribed on the peninsula to which the former inscription directs the eye. On this map also is seen a large island,[192] lying northwest of the land of Prima Vista, bearing the name, Yᵃ de S. Juan (Island of St. John).

In a letter written in London, on the eighteenth of December, 1497, by Raimondo di Soncino to the duke of Milan, a very interesting account is given of Caboto’s explorations in the western hemisphere: “Perhaps, your excellency in the press of so much business will not be disturbed to learn that his majesty [King Henry VII.] has gained a part of Asia without a stroke of the sword. In this kingdom is a popular Venetian called Messer Joanne Caboto, a man of considerable ability, most skillful in navigation, who having seen the most serene kings, first him of Portugal, then him of Spain, that they had occupied unknown islands, thought to make a similar acquisition for his majesty [the king of England]. And having obtained the royal privileges which gave him the use of the land found by him, provided the right of possession was reserved to the crown, he departed in a little ship, from the port of Bristol, in the western part of this kingdom, with eighteen persons who placed their fortunes with him. Passing Ibernia [Ireland] more to the west and then ascending toward the north, he began to navigate the eastern part of the ocean. Leaving (for some days) the north to the right hand, and having wandered enough he came at last to firm land (terra ferma) where he planted the royal banner, took possession for his highness, made certain marks and returned.

“The said Messer Joanne, as he is a foreigner and poor, would not be believed, if his partners, who are all Englishmen and from Bristol, did not testify to the truth of what he tells. This Messer Joanne has the representation of the world on a map (in una carta),[193] and also on a globe (in una sphera solida), which he has made, and he shows by them where he arrived, and going toward the East, has passed much of the country of Tanais.

“And they say that the land is fertile and temperate, and think that red-wood (el brasilio) grows there, and the silks, and they affirm that there the sea is full of fish that can be taken not only with nets, but with fishing-baskets, a stone being placed in the basket to sink it in the water, and this, I have said, is told by the said Messer Joanne.

“And the said Englishmen, his partners, say that that they can bring so many fish that this kingdom will have no more business with Islanda (Iceland), and that from that country there will be a very great trade in the fish which they call stock-fish (stochfissi). But Messer Joanne has his thoughts directed to a greater undertaking, for he thinks of going, after this place is occupied, along the coast farther toward the East until he is opposite the island called Cipango, situate in the equinoctial region, where he believes all the spices of the world grow, and where there are also gems. And he says that he was once at Mecca, where from remote countries spices are carried by caravans, and that those carrying them being asked where those spices grew, said they did not know, but that they came with other merchandise from remote countries to their home by other caravans, and that the same information was repeated by those who brought the spices in turn to them. And he argues that if the oriental people tell to those of the south that these things are brought from places remote from them, and thus from hand to hand, presupposing the rotundity of the earth, it follows that the last carry to the northern, toward[194] the west. And he tells this in a way that makes it quite plain to me and I believe it. And what is a greater thing, his majesty, who is learned and not prodigal, places confidence in what he says, and since his return, provides well for him, as this Messer Joanne tells me.

“And in the spring he says that his majesty will arm some ships and will give him all the criminals so that he may go to this country and plant a colony there. And in this way he hopes to make London a greater place for spices than Alexandria. And the principals of the business are citizens of Bristol, great mariners that now know where to go. They say that the voyage will not take more than fifteen days, if fortune favors them after leaving Ibernia. I have talked with a Burgundian, a companion of Messer Joanne, who affirms the same, and who is willing to go, since the admiral (almirante), as Messer Joanne is already styled, has given him an island, and has also given another to his barber, a Genoese, and they regard the two as counts, and my lord, the admiral, the chief. And I believe that some poor Italian friars will go on the voyage, who have the promise of being bishops. And I, being a friend of the admiral, if I wished to go, could have an archbishopric.”[243]

In order to secure the king’s permission to go on the proposed voyage, Giovanni Caboto again addressed a petition to King Henry VII., requesting his majesty to grant him letters-patent to fit out six ships, in any of the ports of England, and “theym convey and lede to the Londe [land] and Isles of late founde” by him. The request was granted, and the king, on the third day of February, 1498, in the thirteenth year of his[195] reign,[244] licensed him to take six ships as he desired, and “all suche maisters,[245] maryners, pages, and subjects” as would willingly “goo and pass with hym in the same shippes to the seid Londe or Iles.”[246]

Having obtained his letters-patent, Giovanni Caboto, in a short time, had five ships manned and provisioned for one year. Early in the summer of 1498 he set sail to return to the field of his first explorations. Pedro de Ayala,[247] in a letter dated London, July 25, 1498, addressed to their Spanish majesties, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, writes as follows concerning Caboto’s second voyage: “I think your highnesses have already heard that the king of England has equipped a fleet in order to discover certain islands and firm land (tierra firme), which they have told were discovered by certain persons of Bristol, who fitted out some ships during the past year for the same purpose. I have seen the map which the discoverer has made, who is another Genoese like Colon, and who has been in Seville and in Lisbon soliciting aid for this undertaking. The people of Bristol have, for the last seven years, sent every year two, three, or four caravels to search for the island of Brazil [Red-wood], and the Seven Cities, according to the fancy of this Genoese. The king determined to send the fleet, because in the past year they brought certain news of having found[196] land. The fleet consists of five ships that carried provision for one year. The news has come that the vessel in which Friar Buil[248] went has returned to Ireland in great distress, the ship being leaky. The Genoese has continued his voyage. I have seen the course he steered and the extent of it, and I think that what they have found or what they are in search of, is what your highnesses already possess, for it is the cape which was given to your highnesses by the convention with Portugal. It is expected that they will return toward September. I write this because the king of England has spoken to me on the subject, and he thinks that your highnesses will be greatly interested in it. I think the land is not farther distant than four hundred leagues. I told him that in my opinion the land was already in the possession of your highnesses, and though I gave my reasons he did not like them. I believe that your highnesses are already informed of this matter, and I do not now send the chart or map of the world which that man has made, for in my opinion it is false, since it makes it appear as if the land in question were not the said islands.”[249]

The history of Giovanni Caboto terminates with the information contained in Pedro de Ayala’s letter. Nothing definite is known respecting his death.

From the ambiguous and contradictory information furnished by contemporaneous writers concerning the voyages of Sebastiano Caboto, it appears that he sailed to the New Land, either in the years 1497 and 1498, with his father—or in 1499, in command of a fleet of vessels fitted out in the port of Bristol, England. For[197] it is said that, in the fourteenth year of King Henry’s reign,[250] Sebastiano Caboto set sail on a voyage to an island where he knew he could obtain many things of value: “This year one Sebastian Gabato a genoas sonne borne in Bristow professing himselfe to be experte in knowledge of the circute of the worlde and Ilandes of the same as by his Charts and other reasonable demonstrations he shewed, caused the king to man and victual a shippe at Bristow to search for an Ilande whiche he knewe to be replenished with rich commodities: in the ship diverse merchauntes of London adventured smal stockes, and in the company of this shippe, sayled out of Bristow three or foure smal shippes fraught with slight and grosse wares as course cloth, caps, laces, points.”[251]

Peter Martyr, speaking of the voyage, says: “He fitted out two ships in England at his own expense, and with three hundred men steered toward the north, until, in July, he found vast icebergs floating in the sea and almost perpetual daylight, though on the land the snow and ice had melted. Therefore he was compelled to turn the sails, as he says, and to go toward the west, and yet he held to the south, the shore bending, that he almost reached the degree of the latitude of the strait of Hercules, and proceeded so far to the west that he may have had the island of Cuba on his[198] left hand, being almost to its degree of longitude.[252] Steering along this coast, which he called Bacallaos, he found, as he says, the currents of the sea running toward the west, but gently, as those found by the Spaniards navigating in the southern waters. It is not only likely to be true, but it may be accepted as a fact, that between these regions [Bacallaos and the West Indies] there is a great space still unexplored that offers a way [to the East], where the water flows from east to west. These currents, I think, are made to flow round the earth by the impulsion of the heavens, and are not thrown up and swallowed again by Demorgorgon breathing.[253] Perhaps, they may be caused, as it is said, by influx and reflux.

“Cabotto himself called these regions Baccallaos (Baccallaos Cabottus ipse terras illas appellavit), because in the sea there he found great shoals of certain large fish resembling tunnies, which name was given them by the natives.[254] These fish were so numerous that sometimes[199] they retarded the progress of his ships. He found the people of these regions covered only with skins, but the natives were not wholly destitute of reason. He also relates that in these regions there is a great number of bears which eat fish. They plunge into the water where they see a shoal of fish and fasten their claws between the scales of the fish, and in this way convey them to the shore, where they devour them. The hunger of the bears being appeased, they do not annoy men. He declares further that in many places he saw copper (orichalcum) among the natives.”[255]

Gomara, the Spanish historian, says: “But he who made this land more widely known was Sebastian Gaboto, a Venetian.[256] He equipped two ships in England (he having been taken there when he was little), (do tratava desde pequeño,) at the cost of King Henry VII., who desired the trade in spices the same as the king of Portugal. Others say at his own expense, and that he promised King Henry to go by the north to Cathay, and to bring spices there in less time than the Portuguese from the south. He also went to see if there was any land in the Indies on which a colony[200] might be settled. He took three hundred men and steered a course by the way of Iceland, above the cape of Labrador, going as far as fifty-eight degrees, though he says much farther, stating that in the month of July it was so extremely cold and that there were so many icebergs floating in the sea, that he did not dare to go farther.... So Caboto, having inspected the cold and strange country, changed his course to the west, and returning again to the Baccalaos (los Baccalaos), he followed the coast as far as thirty-eight degrees, and then returned to England.”[257]

Galvano, the Portuguese historian, says that when Sebastiano Caboto returned from the north, he diminished “the altitude till he came to thirty-eight degrees, and from there returned to England. Others will have it that he went as far as the point of Florida, which is in twenty-five degrees.”[258]

In the discourse of Sir Humphrey Gilbert respecting “a new passage to Cataia,” it is said: “Furthermore, Sebastian Cabota by his personall experience, and trauell, hath set foorth, and described this passage, in his Charts, whiche are yet to be seene in the Queenes Maiesties priuie Gallerie, at Whitehall, who was sent to make this discoverie by King Henrie the seauenth, and entered the same fret: affirming, that he sailed very far westward, with a quater of the North,[201] on the north side of Terra de Labrador[259] the eleuenth of June, vntil he came to the septentrional latitude of 67½ degrees and finding the seas still open said that he might, and would have gone to Cataia, if the mutinie of the Maister and Mariners had not ben.”[260]

It is further related that in the eighteenth year of the reign of King Henry VII.,[261] three Indians were brought to England from the islands discovered by Sebastiano Caboto: “Thys yeare, were brought vnto the Kyng three men taken in the new founde Ilands, by Sebastian Gabato, before named in Anno 1468, these men were clothed in Beastes skinnes, and eate raw Flesh, but spake such a language as no man could vnderstand them, of the which three men, two of them were seene in the Kings Court at Westminster two yeares after, clothed, like Englishmen, and could not bee discerned from Englishmen.”[262]

The field of the discoveries of Giovanni Caboto, represented on the map made by Juan de la Cosa, in 1500, and on the one of 1544, in the National library, in Paris, was apparently the Atlantic coast of Cape Breton Island[263] and of Nova Scotia. The part of the peninsula designated Prima Vista, (First Seen,) on the map of 1544, appears to be the same as that which on La Cosa’s chart is denominated Cavo de Inglaterra (Cape of England). The coast, from Cape Breton southwestward[202] to the Bay of Fundy, the sea discovered for the English (mar descubierta por inglese),[264] is delineated by La Cosa with approximate accuracy.

The information given by Peter Martyr, Gomara, and Galvano respecting the voyage of Sebastiano Caboto, makes the fact evident that the latter sailed northwestwardly along the coast of Labrador almost to the sixtieth parallel, where he was so far to the west “that he had the island of Cuba on his left hand” and had nearly reached the longitude of the island. On his return, after running along the coast of Baccallaos, he sailed southward, but too far east of the mainland to see its coast, and reached the latitude of the thirty-eighth parallel; whence he steered for England. If Sebastiano Caboto had explored any part of the present coast of the United States he certainly would have imparted some information respecting its physical features, its inhabitants, its flora and fauna, to the inquisitive chroniclers of his age. The descriptions of the regions explored by him only apply to the more northern parts of the continent, represented on the map of 1544, to which territory was given the name La Tierra de los Bacallaos (Land of Codfish).[265] On the planisphere of 1544, the following statement is inscribed[203] concerning the country discovered by Sebastiano Caboto. “The people wear clothes made of the skins of animals, use bows and arrows, lances, darts, knob-headed clubs, and slings in their wars. The country is very sterile. In it are many white bears, and deer as large as horses, and many other animals of the same class; also immense numbers of fish such as soles, salmon, very large lings, a yard in length, and many other kinds of fish, but the most numerous are those called bacallaos. In this country there are falcons as black as ravens, eagles, partridges, linnets, and many other birds of different kinds.”[266]

“This much concerning Sebastiano Gabotes discouerie may suffice for a present cast,” says Hakluyt, “but shortly, God willing, shall come out in print all his owne mappes and discourses, drawne and written by himselfe, which are in the custodie of the worshipfull master Williā Worthington, one of her Maiesties Pensioners who (because so worthie monumentes shoulde not be buried in perpetuall obliuion) is very willing to suffer them to be ouerseene and published in as good order as may bee, to the encouragement and benefite of our Countriemen.”[267] The English collector also remarks that “the map of Sebastiano Caboto cut by Clement Adams, concerning the discovery of the the West Indies, ... [is] to be seene in her[204] Maiesties priuie gallerie at Westminster, and in many other anchient merchants houses.”[268]

Although three hundred years have passed since Hakluyt promised the early publication of Sebastiano Caboto’s maps and discourses, they are still covered with the pall of oblivion.[269]



While the Spanish and the English expeditions had failed to find the attractive shores of Cathay by sailing westwardly across the Atlantic, the Portuguese were more fortunate in their long-continued attempts to reach the dominions of the Grand Khan by sailing eastwardly. Restricted by the papal decree to the prosecution of her voyages of discovery on the east side of the line of demarkation, Portugal zealously persisted in seeking along the coast of Africa a way to the Orient. Vasco da Gama, an intrepid navigator, was placed in command of an expedition, and sailed from Lisbon, in March, 1497, in the path marked out by Bartolomeu Dias, in 1487. When Da Gama came to the Cape of Good Hope, or the Stormy Cape (Cabo Tormentoso), he realized that the windy headland was rightly named. The hazardous attempts which he repeatedly made to pass the stormy promontory so impressed his sailors with his extreme venturesomeness that they endeavored to persuade him to turn back. It is said that this made Da Gama comport “himself very angrily, swearing that if they did not double the cape, he would stand out to sea again as many times until the cape was doubled, or there should happen whatever should please God.” Having achieved his bold purpose, on the twenty-second of November, 1497, Da Gama made himself famous in reaching the[206] remote coast of India, on the seventeenth of May, 1498, and entered the harbor of Calicut,[270] three days afterward. Returning on the homeward voyage, he arrived at Lisbon, about the beginning of September, 1499.

To perfect and enjoy the privileges of her inaugurated commerce with India, Portugal immediately fitted out a fleet of merchantmen to carry her commodities to the distant country over the sea-path explored by her daring navigators. Pedro Alvarez Cabral was given command of thirteen ships, with which he sailed on the ninth of March, 1500, with instructions to hold his course out at sea at some distance from the coast of Africa, in order to avoid the troublesome currents and delaying winds which had previously deterred mariners from encountering the perils of the unexplored route near the main-land. Cabral proceeded southward, but near the Cape Verd Islands lost sight of one of his ships, and while seeking her he lost his course. Fortunately, on Wednesday afternoon, on the twenty-second of April, he descried the summit of a round and high mountain on the eastern coast of Brazil, which he called Monte Pascoal.[271] Perceiving the next morning that he had anchored opposite the mouth of a river, he sent Nicolao Coelho to examine it. From this anchorage he sailed in search of a safe harbor, and on Saturday, the twenty-fifth of April, found the roadstead which he called Porto Seguro, which was in seventeen[207] degrees of south latitude, according to the observation made there. On the first of May a large wooden cross was erected to which was affixed the declaration of Cabral’s discovery of the country for the king of Portugal. Cabral, having dispatched Gaspar de Lemos with a small vessel to Lisbon with the report of his discovery, set sail, on the third of May, for India. Cabral called the discovered country Terra de Vera Cruz (Land of the True Cross), which name was shortly afterward changed to Terra de Santa Cruz (Land of the Holy Cross), and subsequently Brazil was substituted for it.[272]

In the year 1500 the Portuguese sailed in a different direction to seek a short route to Cathay. The Portuguese historian, Galvano refers to the expedition, saying: “In this same year 1500 it is said that Gaspar Cortereal[273] begged permission of King Emmanuel to discover the New Land (Terra Nova). He departed from the island Terceira with two ships equipped at his own expense, and he sailed to that region which is in the north in fifty degrees of latitude, which is a land now called after his name. He returned home in safety to the city of Lisbon. Sailing a second time on this voyage the ship was lost in which he went, and the other vessel came back to Portugal. His brother Miguel went to seek him with three ships at his own cost, and when they came to that coast, and found so many entrances of rivers and havens, each ship entered a different river, with this regulation and command, that they all three should meet again on the twentieth of August. The other[208] two ships did as commanded, and they, seeing that Miguel Cortereal came not on the appointed day nor afterward in a certain time, returned to this realm and never heard any thing more concerning him.... But that country is called Terra dos Cortereals unto this day.”[274]

Damião de Góes, the Portuguese historian, says Cortereal called this region Terra Verde (Greenland), on account of its remarkable verdure, and the vast forests stretching all along the coast.[275]

Ramusio, speaking of the exploration of the coast of North America says: “In the part of the New World, which runs toward the north and northwest, opposite our habitable part of Europe, many captains have navigated, and the first (by that which one knows), was Gaspar Cortereale, a Portuguese, who, in 1500, went with two caravels intending to find some strait of the sea whence by a shorter voyage than that taken around Africa he would be able to go to the Spice Islands. He sailed so far forward that he came to a place where it was extremely cold, and he found, in the latitude of sixty degrees, a river closed with snow, to which he gave the name, calling it Rio Nevado. But he had not sufficient courage to pass much beyond it. The whole of this coast, which runs two hundred leagues from Rio Nevado as far as to the port of Malvas, in fifty-six degrees, he saw full of people and along it many dwellings.”[276]

The earliest account of Gaspar Cortereal’s voyage of 1501, from which he never returned, is contained in[209] a letter written by Pietro Pasqualigo, the Venetian ambassador at the court of Portugal, to his brothers in Italy, dated October 19, 1501. The writer says: “On the eighth of the present month, one of the two caravels which his most serene majesty sent the past year under the command of Gaspar Corterat, arrived here, and reports the finding of a country distant west and northwest, two thousand miles, heretofore quite unknown.

“They ran along the coast between six hundred and seven hundred miles without arriving at its termination, on which account they concluded it to be the same continent that is connected with another land which was discovered last year in the north, but which the caravel could not reach on account of the ice and the vast quantity of snow, and they are confirmed in this belief by the multitude of great rivers they found, which certainly could not proceed from an island. They report that this land is thickly peopled, and that the houses are built of very long beams of timber, and covered with the skins of fishes. They have brought hither along with them seven of the inhabitants, including men, women, and children; and in the other caravel, which is looked for every hour, they are bringing fifty more. These people, in color, figure, stature, and expression, greatly resemble gypsies. They are clothed with the skins of different beasts, but chiefly of the otter, wearing the hair outside in summer, and next to the skin in winter. These skins, too, are not sewed together, nor shaped to the body in any fashion, but wrapped around the arms and shoulders as they were taken from the animals.... On this account their appearance is wholly barbarous; yet they are very sensible to shame, gentle in their manners, and[210] better made in their arms, legs, and shoulders than can be expressed. Their faces are punctured in the same manner as the Indians; some have six marks, some eight, some fewer. They use a language of their own, but it is understood by no one. Moreover, I believe that every possible language has been addressed to them. They have no iron in their country, but manufacture knives out of certain kinds of stones, with which they point their arrows.

“They have also brought from this island a piece of a broken sword inlaid with gold, which we can pronounce undoubtedly to have been made in Italy; and one of the children had in his ears two pieces (todini) of silver, which likewise appear to have been made in Venice, a circumstance inducing me to believe that their country belongs to the continent, since it is evident that if it were an island where any vessel had touched before this time we should have heard of it.[277]

“They have plenty of salmon, herring, cod, and other fish of the same kind. They have an abundance of timber, principally pine, fitted for masts and yards of ships, on which account his serene majesty anticipates the greatest profit from this country, both in providing timber for ships, of which he, at present, stands in great need, and from the men that inhabit it, who appear admirably fitted to endure labor, and will probably be the best slaves which have been found up to this time.

“This arrival appeared to me to be an event of which it was right to inform you; and if on the arrival of the other caravel I receive any additional[211] information, it shall be transmitted to you in like manner.”[278]

Gaspar Cortereal, who was expected to return to Lisbon in the second caravel, never reached Portugal. Miguel, his brother, sailed from Lisbon in May 1502, with three ships, to search for Gaspar and the missing vessel, but he was never heard of again, and it was conjectured that both of the brothers had been slain by the savages from whom they had taken so many of their relatives to serve as slaves in Portugal.

No little enthusiasm was created at the court of Portugal by Cabral’s report of the discovery of the Land of the True Cross. King Emmanuel at once ordered three vessels to be equipped to sail to the new country. Having heard of the voyages made by Amerigo Vespucci to the Land of Pearls (Terra delle Perle), he wrote to Vespucci in Seville, and solicited him to enter his service. The illness of the explorer did not then permit him to accept the tempting offer of the king of Portugal. However, when he was afterward visited by the king’s ambassador, Giuliano di Bartolomeo del Giocondo, Vespucci consented to go to Lisbon and to be commissioned by King Emmanuel to accompany the fleet that was prepared to sail to Terra de Vera Cruz. His departure from Spain, he says, was a matter of regret to all who knew him, because there he was honored, and there the king had a right to claim his services.[279] Narrating the incidents of his third voyage to the New World, Vespucci writes:


“We departed from the port of Lisbon, three ships in company, on the tenth of May, 1501, and took our course directly for the Grand Canary Islands.... From there we sailed to the coast of Ethiopia, and arrived at the port called Beseneghe, in the torrid zone.... We left this port of Ethiopia and steered to the southwest.... In sixty-seven days we reached land lying seven hundred leagues southwest of that port.... The season was very unfavorable for the voyage, particularly when we approached the equator, where, in the month of June, it is winter.... It pleased God, however, to show us a new country on the seventeenth of August. Then we anchored at the distance of a half league from the coast. We got out our boats and went on land to see if the country were inhabited, and if it were, by what class of people. We found that it was inhabited by a people of a lower condition than that of beasts.... We took possession of it in the name of his majesty. It lies five degrees south of the equator.... We sailed in a southeasterly direction, on a line parallel with the coast, making many landings, but never discovering any natives who could converse with us. Running on this course, we found the land made a turn to the southwest. As soon as we doubled the cape, which we named the Cape of St. Augustine, we began to sail to the southwest.... This cape is eight degrees south of the equator.”[280]

While the explorers were sailing along the east coast of Brazil, they arrived at a place where they anchored five days. “Here,” says Vespucci, “we found carmine stems very large and green, and some already dry on the tops of the trees. We left[213] this port, always sailing to the southwest in sight of the land, making many anchorages and treating with innumerable people. We went so far toward the south that we were beyond the tropic of Capricorn where the south pole is elevated thirty-two degrees above the horizon. We had entirely lost sight of the Little Bear, and the Great Bear was very low, almost on the verge of the horizon.[281] We steered by the stars of the south pole, which are many, and much larger and brighter than those of our pole. I traced the figures of the greater part of them, particularly those of the first and greater magnitude, giving an explanation of the circuits which they made around the pole, together with a description of their diameters and semi-diameters, as may be seen in my four journeys. We ran about seven hundred and fifty leagues along this coast.... We saw a great number of redwood (verzino) and cassia trees, and of those which produce myrrh.... We found ourselves in such a high southern latitude, that the south pole was elevated above the horizon fifty-two degrees.... The cold [on the seventh of April, 1502] was so severe that no one in the fleet could endure it.... We agreed that the superior captain[282] should make signals for the fleet to turn about, and that we should depart from this land and steer our course in the direction of Portugal.”

After touching at the port of Sierra Leone, and at the Azores, the explorers reached the[214] port of Lisbon on the seventh day of September, 1502.[283]

Vespucci was again sent by the king of Portugal, in 1503, with a fleet of six ships commanded by Gonçalo Coelho, to discover an island “toward the east called Melaccha, which we know lies in the sea,” says Vespucci, “thirty-three degrees from the south pole.” Departing from the port of Lisbon on the tenth of May, the vessels stood for the Cape Verd Islands. After going to Sierra Leone on the coast of Africa, the fleet sailed toward the southwest. On this course one of the vessels struck on a rock, and was abandoned by the crew. On the east coast of Brazil, the fleet entered the harbor which the Portuguese called the Bay of All Saints (Bahia de todos os Santos). At a harbor two hundred and sixty leagues farther south, or in eighteen degrees south latitude, a fortress was erected, and garrisoned with twenty-four men. The fleet then sailed for Portugal, and entered the port of Lisbon on the eighteenth of June, 1504.[284]

The opinion of Columbus that a strait could be found to the south or southwest of Cuba through which ships might sail to Cathay, induced Vicente Yañez Pinzon and Juan Diaz de Solis in 1506 to search along the coast bordering the Bay of Honduras for a navigable passage to the Indian Ocean.[285] They held the same course as the admiral, says Herrera, “and sailing as far as the islands Guanajos steered westward as far as Golfo Dulce, but did not see it, for it lies hid. However, they observed the inlet the sea makes between the land that forms the bay and the coast of Iucatan....[215] From where they descried the Sierras of Caria, they steered northward and discovered a great part of the main-land of Iucatan.”[286]

The unique and peculiarly shaped map made by the German cartographer, Johann Ruysch, contained in the edition of Claudius Ptolemy’s geography, printed at Rome, in 1508,[287] is the earliest engraved chart on which appear the fields of discovery, in the western hemisphere, entered by Columbus, Cabot, Cortereal, Cabral, Vespucci, and other early explorers of the coast of the new continent.

Geographically ignorant of the longitude of the discovered part of North America, then called the New Land (Terra Nova), Ruysch represents it as if it were a part of the eastern coast of Asia, between the two hundred and eightieth and the three hundredth meridians. Better informed respecting its latitude, he delineates it as extending from the forty-fifth to the fifty-fifth parallel of north latitude.[288] Immediately north of[216] the New Land is the Greenland Sea (Sinus Grvenlantevs), and beyond it, Greenland (Grvenlant), discovered by the Northmen. South of the New Land, between the fortieth and twenty-fifth parallels is the unnamed and falsely represented island of Cuba, on the west side of which is a scroll bearing the information: “As far as this the ships of Ferdinand, king of Spain, have come.” South of this island and that of Española (Spagnola) is the discovered part of South America, then denominated the Land of the Holy Cross or the New World (Terra Sancti Crucis sive Mundus Novus). The inscription on the represented territory embraces the following information: “At different places this region is inhabited, and it is supposed by many to be another world. Women and men appear either entirely naked or clad with interwoven leaves and the feathers of birds of various colors. They live together in common without any religion or king. They are continually at war among themselves. They eat the human flesh of captives. They exercise so much in the salubrious air that they live more than one hundred and fifty years. They are rarely sick, and then they cure themselves solely with the roots of plants. Here lions are born, and serpents and other terrible monsters found in the forests. Very large quantities of pearls and gold are in the mountains and rivers. From here Brasil-wood, or verzini, and cassia are carried away by the Portuguese.” Below this inscription is another which contains the following statement: “Portuguese navigators have inspected this part of this land, and have sailed as far as the fiftieth degree of south latitude without seeing the southern limit of it.”

On the scroll on the western part of the delineated territory of South America this information is inscribed:[217] “As far as this Spanish navigators have come, and they have called this land, on account of its greatness, the New World. Inasmuch as they have not wholly explored it nor surveyed it farther than the present termination, it must remain thus imperfectly delineated until it is known in what direction it extends.”

On the upper part of the right margin of the map the following fiction respecting the configuration of the earth at the north pole is inscribed. “It is said in the book concerning the fortunate discovery[289] that at the arctic pole there is a high magnetic rock, thirty-three German miles in circumference. A surging sea surrounds this rock, as if the water were discharged downward from a vase through an opening. Around it are islands, two of which are inhabited.”

North of Greenland is another inscription containing a popular fiction of the dangers besetting ships in the Arctic Ocean: “Here a surging sea begins; here the compasses of a ship do not hold, nor are ships which have iron about them able to turn about.” Among the perils of the Greenland Sea were the deceptions practised by the savages inhabiting the islands in it: “It is said that those who came formerly in ships among these islands for fish and other food were so deceived by the demons that they could not go on land without danger.”

The four voyages of Amerigo Vespucci had acquainted him with so many unknown peoples and places in the New World that he was induced by his own inclinations and the suggestions of his friends to write an account of the explorations of the different[218] expeditions with which he had been sent by the sovereigns of Spain and Portugal. In his letter, dated in Lisbon, the fourth of September, 1504,[290] he speaks of the intended publication of his voyages in a volume in the style of a geography (un uolume in stilo geografia), and calls the composition (zibaldone), “Le Quattro Giornate” (The Four Journeys).

The earliest known work containing an account of Vespucci’s four voyages is entitled “Cosmographiae introductio” (Introduction to geography), printed in St. Dié, in Lorraine, on the twenty-sixth of April, 1507.[291] This rare Latin book was the work of a German scholar named Martin Waldseemüller, a professor of geography in the gymnasium in St. Dié,[292] who having translated his surname into Hylacomylus[293] affixed this Greek pseudonym to his writings. On the reverse page of the fifteenth leaf of Hylacomylus’s Introduction to geography is the notable suggestion that the land in the western hemisphere visited by Amerigo Vespucci should be called Amerige or America. The enthusiastic geographer, having described Europe, Asia, and Africa, remarks:

“And as now these parts have been more widely surveyed, and another fourth part has been found by[219] Americus Vesputius (as will be perceived by what follows), I can not see why any one can justly forbid the calling of this part Amerige or America, that is, the land of Americus, from Americus, the discoverer, an intelligent man, as Europe and Asia have taken their names from women.”[294]

The name America in a short time became a popular designation for the continent in the western hemisphere.[295]


Although Vespucci repeatedly mentions in his letter that he held subordinate positions under the superior captains commanding the different fleets with which he had sailed to the New World, twenty-one years after his death he was unjustly accused by Johannes Schoner, in a little geographical work, as having contrived to have the continent called by his name.[296] Schoner’s imputation was evidently caused by a spirit of ill-will, for he attempted, it would seem, to lessen the importance of the discoveries made by Spain and Portugal, by placing on a globe, made by him in 1520, this inscription designating South America: “America vel Brasilia sive papagalli terra” (America or Brasil or the land of parrots).[297] Later still a number of writers in turn undertook to defame Vespucci by asserting that he did not make the voyage of 1497, and to support their arguments quoted the erroneous statements of the different versions of his letter. The assumptions of these writers, however, are not corroborated by the Italian text of Vespucci’s letter, in part presented on the preceding pages, nor are they verified by later researches in the archives of Spain and Portugal.[298]

Map of the New World in the Latin work, “Legatio Babylonica, Oceani Decas,” by Pietro Martire d’Anghiera, printed in Seville in 1511. (Size of the original, 7½ × 11 inches.)

When the Spaniards were exploring the West India[221] archipelago a report became current that on one of the more northward islands there was a fountain, the water of which possessed extraordinary virtues. Peter Martyr heard the rumor, and wrote, in 1511, to the bishop of Rome, saying: “There is an island about three hundred and twenty-five leagues from Española, as they say who have searched for it, named Boiuca or Agnaneo, on which is a never-failing spring of running water of such marvelous efficacy that when the water is drunk, perhaps, with some attention to diet, it makes old people young again. And here I must beg your holiness not to think that this is said jestingly or thoughtlessly, for they have reported it everywhere as a fact, so that not only all the common people but also the educated and the wealthy believe it to be true.”[299]

The island of Boiuca appears to be partly outlined on the small map in Peter Martyr’s “Legatio Babylonica,” printed at Seville in 1511. It is designated on the latter as a part of the island of Beimeni,—“Isla de beimeni parte.”[300]

Among those who gave credence to the fiction of the marvellous virtues of the spring of Boiuca was Juan Ponce de Leon, a Spanish cavalier, who had attained considerable military fame in the West Indies.[301] He had sailed from Spain in 1493 to Española in one of the ships of Columbus’s second expedition. In 1509 he took part in the subjugation of the Island of Borriquen, afterward called Porto Rico, of which he was made[222] governor. Beguiling himself with the hope that he could renew the vigor of his youth by bathing in the stream of life-giving water, and at the same time add honor to his name by becoming the discoverer of the island on which the fountain was said to be, Juan Ponce fitted out three vessels and sailed from the port of St. German, Porto Rico, on Thursday, the third of March, 1512, to search for the island Boiuca, which some called Bimini. “It is certain,” says Herrera, the Spanish historian, “that Juan Ponce de Leon besides intending to make new discoveries, as all the Spaniards at that time aspired to do, was also intent on finding the fountain of Bimini and a river in Florida; the Indians of Cuba and Española affirming that old people bathing themselves in them became young again, and it was a fact that many Indians of Cuba, firmly believing that there was such a stream, had found that island not long before the Spaniards, and had passed over to Florida in search of the river, and there built a town, where their descendants reside to this day. This report so affected all the princes and caciques in those parts that it was a hobby to find a river which wrought such a wonderful change as made old people young, so that there was not a river or a brook, scarcely a lake or a puddle, in all Florida, in which they did not bathe themselves.”[302]

The explorations and discoveries of Juan Ponce are thus described by Herrera: “On Sunday, the twenty-seventh of March, the day of the Feast of the Resurrection, commonly called the Feast of Flowers, (que era Dia de Pascua de Resurreccion, que comunmente dicen de Flores,) they saw an island and passed by it. On Monday, the twenty-eighth, they steered in the[223] same direction, fifteen leagues, until Wednesday, when the weather became foul. They then stood west-northwest until the second of April. The water grew shallower until they came into nine fathoms, a league from the land, which was in thirty degrees and eight minutes. Thinking this land was an island they called it La Florida, because it had a very pretty landscape of many green groves, and it was level and regular, and because they discovered it at the time of the Floral Feast (Pascua Florida).[303] Juan Ponce wished the name to conform to these two facts. He went on land to learn the language and to take possession.

“On Friday, the eighth, they sailed again the same way, and on Saturday, south by east, until the twentieth, when they saw some Indian huts from the place where they had cast anchor. The next day the three ships sailed along the coast and entered a current which was so swift that it drove them back, although they had the wind strong.[304] The two ships, near the land, dropped their anchors, but the force of the stream was so great that it strained the cables. The third vessel, a brigantine, being farther out, either found no bottom or was not sensible of the current, which carried her so far from the shore that they lost sight of her, although the day was bright and the weather fine.

“Juan Ponce being called by the Indians went ashore and the latter at once undertook to possess themselves of the boat, the oars, and the arms. This was tolerated till one of the Indians stunning a sailor with a stroke of a cudgel on the head, when the Spaniards were compelled to fight. They had two of their[224] men wounded with darts and arrows pointed with sharp bones, and the Indians received little injury. Night parting them, Juan Ponce, with considerable difficulty, got his men together and sailed thence to a river, where they wooded and watered, and waited for the brigantine. Sixty Indians came to attack them, one of whom was taken to give information and to learn the Spanish language. The river they called Rio de la Cruz, (River of the Cross), planting there a stone cross, bearing an inscription.”[305]

On the twenty-third of September, after having coasted in different directions along the Flowery Land, Juan Ponce determined to return to Porto Rico. Before he set sail, he sent Juan Perez de Ortubia to make a further search for the rejuvenating fountains on the island of Bimini. Not long after Juan Ponce’s return to Porto Rico, Ortubia arrived there and reported that he had found the island, but not the wonderful spring.[306]


Juan Ponce de Leon went to Spain and obtained from the crown the appointment of adelantado of Bimini and Florida. When he heard, while living at Porto Rico, the reports of the success of Hernando Cortes in Mexico, he fitted out, in 1521, two ships, and sailed to Florida to take possession of it and to settle a colony on its attractive shores. But the natives valiantly opposed the occupation of their country and drove the ambitious invader, with the loss of many men, to his ships. Juan Ponce was wounded in the thigh by an arrow. The vessels sailed to Cuba, where the impoverished and disabled Spaniard not long after died.[307]

The exploration of Central America was continued in 1511 by Vasco Nuñez de Balboa, a native of Xeres de los Caballeros, Spain, who had accompanied Rodrigo de Bastidas when he sailed on his voyage of discovery to the New World, in October, 1500. In 1510 the Indian village on the isthmus of Darien, west of the Gulf of Uraba, was made the seat of the government of this part of the continent by the Spaniards, and called Santa Maria de la Antigua del Darien. Vasco Nuñez de Balboa was appointed alcade of the new colony. This ambitious and avaricious adventurer penetrated the dense forest belting the northern coast of the isthmus, and invaded the interior, where he found a wealthy cacique, named Comogre. The Indian chief entertained Vasco Nuñez and his fourscore followers with generous hospitality in his large and attractive palace, a wooden building one hundred and fifty paces long and eighty wide. He presented his indigent guest with four thousand ounces of golden ornaments and sixty slaves. “This[226] gold, with as much more obtained at another place,” says Peter Martyr, “our men weighed on the porch of Comogre’s palace, to separate the fifth part due to the king’s exchequer, for it was a law that the fifth part of the gold, pearls, and precious stones should be given to the royal treasurer, and the remainder be divided among the discoverers. While our men were wrangling and contending about the division of the gold, the eldest son of Comogre, the cacique, who was present and whom we commended for wisdom, approached with some appearance of anger him who was weighing the treasure, and struck the balances with his fist, scattering the gold all over the porch.” Pointing southward toward the mountains, he told them that beyond those sierras was a great sea, on which people sailed with ships as large as theirs, and that the adjacent country contained great quantities of gold.

Balboa heard this surprising announcement with delight, and, ambitious to be honored as the discoverer of the unnamed sea and the country abounding with rich mines, began to plan to go there and achieve the notoriety that would make his name forever famous. On the first of September, 1513, Vasco Nuñez, with one hundred and ninety men and a number of Indian guides, embarked at Santa Maria de la Antigua and set sail in a brigantine for the Indian village of Coyba. Here he began his toilsome and dangerous march across the isthmus. After enduring untold hardships the pertinacious Spaniard and his small body of wayworn followers arrived at the foot of the Sierra de Quarequa, intercepting the view of the unseen ocean.[308][227] While climbing the rugged slope of the intervening mountain, on the twenty-fifth of September, Balboa commanded his men to halt and to remain where they were until he had reached the summit and surveyed the wide expanse of the great ocean billowing between the isthmus and the remote shores of India. When the enthusiastic Spaniard ascended to the top of the mountain and beheld the Mar del Sur (Sea of the South), he fell upon his knees and thanked God for honoring him as its discoverer, “as he was a man of moderate ability, little knowledge, and humble birth.” Calling to his men to come to him, he ordered them, after surveying the discovered sea, to construct a wooden cross, and to plant it where he had kneeled and rendered thanks for the honor conferred on him. A mound of stones was built near the cross as a monument to commemorate the discovery of the ocean and the adjacent country for his majesty, the king of Spain. Descending the southern slope of the mountain, Balboa and his followers made their way to the shore of the bay, which he called San Miguel, where the proud discoverer, with a banner embellished with the picture of the Holy Virgin and Child and the insignia of Spain, marched into the sea, and took possession of it in the name of his sovereign, King Ferdinand. Having explored a part of the southern coast of the isthmus, Vasco Nuñez and his men reëntered the wilderness and arrived at Santa Maria de la Antigua on the nineteenth of January, 1514.


In the following year Gaspar Morales and Francisco Pizarro crossed the isthmus with sixty men, and visited the island which Balboa had called Isla Rica. In 1516, Vasco Nuñez de Balboa, ambitious of obtaining greater fame, and having two hundred men and considerable money at his command, transported the timber, rigging, and other appendages of two brigantines across the isthmus, and after putting the vessels in sailing condition, launched them upon the recently discovered ocean. After a short cruise among the islands near Isla Rica, Balboa returned to the Spanish settlement at Acla, on the north coast, where he was arrested on some false charges and put in irons by Pedrarias Davila, “as a traitor and an usurper of the territories of the crown of Spain.” The enmity of Pedrarias was so bitter toward the innocent officer that the Spanish governor of Darien ordered Balboa to be executed. In 1517, at the age of forty-one years, in the plaza of Acla, the discoverer of the South Sea was publicly beheaded.[309]

To further explore the coast of Brazil, it is said that Juan Diaz de Solis sailed from Lepe, Spain, on the eighth of October, 1515. Descrying the continent at Cape San Roque, in five degrees south latitude, he steered southward along the coast to Rio de Janeiro, (River of January,) in twenty-three degrees south latitude. Thence he coasted farther southward and entered a large bay of fresh water, which he called Mar Dulce, that was afterward called Rio de la Plata. While exploring this stream, De Solis, with some of his crew, went on land, and while ashore was attacked by the natives, and falling into their hands he and his men were roasted and devoured. The vessel returned to[229] Cape St. Augustine, and having loaded with Brazil-wood, sailed to Spain.[310]

The greed of gold, silver, and pearls,—the master passion governing Spanish capitalists and the horde of moneyless adventurers at this time in the New World,—was the cause of the fitting out of three vessels, in 1517, to go in search of new countries west of the island of Cuba. This fleet, under the command of Francisco Hernando de Cordoba, set sail, with one hundred and ten soldiers, about the beginning of February, from San Cristobal, on the north side of the island, and after a voyage of twenty-one days came in sight of the northeastern part of the peninsula of Yucatan, where an Indian town was seen, to which the Spaniards gave the name El Gran Cairo. Near this place three temples, built of stone and lime, were found, in which were many clay idols “some of them having terrible shapes, seemingly representing Indians committing horrible offences. In these temples,” says Bernal Diaz del Castillo,[311] who was connected with the expedition, “we also found wooden boxes containing other gods with hellish faces, several small shells, some ornaments, three crowns, and a number of trinkets, some in the shape of fish, others in the shape of ducks, all made of an inferior kind of gold. Seeing all these things, the gold and the good architecture of the temples, we felt overjoyed at the discovery of the country.” At a town, which the Spaniards called San Lazaro, although they[230] were aware that the Indians called it Campeachy, they were invited to land by the inhabitants, “who wore fine mantles made of cotton.” “They took us” Diaz remarks “to some large edifices, which were strongly built of stone and lime and were in many ways attractive. These were temples, the walls of which were covered with figures representing snakes and all kinds of gods. About an altar we saw several fresh spots of blood. On some of the idols there were figures like crosses. There were some paintings representing groups of Indians. All these greatly astonished us, for we had neither seen nor heard of such things before.”

While the explorers were taking in water, near a village called Potonchan, now Champoton, on the western side of the peninsula, where there were some wells, maize-plantations, and stone buildings, the inhabitants visited them. “They all wore cotton cuirasses which reached to their knees. They were armed with bows, lances, shields, and swords. The latter,” Diaz further remarks, “were shaped like our broad swords, and are wielded with both hands.” They also had slings for throwing stones. They had bunches of feathers on their heads, and had their bodies decorated with white, brown, and black colors. Speaking of an engagement which the Spaniards had with the natives, Diaz says: “As soon as it was daylight we saw more companies of armed natives moving toward the coast with flags. They wore feather head-dresses, and were provided with drums, bows, lances, and shields. They joined themselves to the others who had arrived in the night. They divided themselves into corps, surrounded us on all sides, and began to assail us with so many arrows, lances, and stones, that more than eight of our[231] men were wounded in the first onset. They then rushed furiously forward and attacked us man to man; some with their lances, others with their swords and arrows, and with such terrible impetuosity that we were compelled to show them opposition. We dealt them many a good thrust and blow, continuing at the same time an incessant fire with our matchlocks and crossbows; for while some loaded others fired. At last, by heavy blows and thrusts we forced them back, but they did not retreat farther than was necessary to keep us strongly surrounded.... Perceiving how closely we were hemmed in on all sides by the enemy, who not only kept getting fresh troops but were plentifully supplied in the field with meat, drink, and numbers of arrows, we soon concluded that all our valiant fighting would not benefit us. All of us were wounded. Many were shot through the neck, and more than fifty of our men were killed. In this critical position we determined to cut our way manfully through the enemy’s ranks and get to the boats, which fortunately lay on the coast near us. We therefore resolutely closed our ranks and broke through those of the enemy. You should then have heard the whizzing of their arrows, the terrible yells of the Indians, and how they incited one another to fight.... Many of our men were wounded while climbing into the vessel, especially those who clung to its side, for the Indians pursued us in their canoes, and persistently assailed us. With the utmost exertion and the help of God we escaped from the hands of this people.”

“Our vessels,” Diaz further relates, “were taken to Santiago of Cuba, where the governor [Diego Velasquez] resided. Here the two Indians were brought on shore whom we had taken with us from Punta de[232] Cotoche, as already related, called Melchorejo and Juanillo. When, however, we brought forth the box with the crowns, the golden ducks, the fish, the idols, more noise was made about them than they really merited, so that they became the common topics of conversation throughout the islands of St. Domingo and Cuba; indeed, the report concerning them reached Spain. There it was said that none of the discovered countries were as rich as this one, and in none had there been found houses built of stone. The earthen gods, it was said, were the heathen relics of ancient times; others ventured to affirm that they [the people of Yucatan] were the descendants of the Jews who had been shipwrecked off this coast, whom Titus and Vespasian had driven from Jerusalem.... Diego Velasquez closely questioned the two Indians whether there were any gold-mines in their country. They answered in the affirmative; and when they were shown some of the gold-dust found in the island of Cuba, they said there was an abundance of it in their country. This was not true, for it is well known that there are no gold-mines on the Punta de Cotoche, or anywhere in the whole of Yucatan. They were likewise shown the beds in which the seeds of that plant are sown from whose root the cassava-bread is made, which in Cuba is called yuca. They assured us that the same plant grew in their country, and was called by them tale. As the cassava-root in Cuba is called yuca, and the ground in which it is planted by the Indians tale, so from these two words originated the name of the country, Yucatan; for the Spaniards, who were standing around the governor at the time that he was speaking to the two Indians, said: ‘You see, sir, they call their country Yucatan.’ And from this circumstance[233] the country retained the name of Yucatan, although the natives call it by a different name.”[312]

“It was in the year of our Lord 1518,” says Diaz, “after Diego Velasquez had heard the good account we gave of the newly-discovered country called Yucatan, that he determined to send another expedition to it. For this purpose he selected four vessels, among which were the two in which we soldiers had accompanied Cordoba on our late voyage to Yucatan, purchased at our expense.... Our account that the houses in the newly-discovered country were built of stone and lime had originated an extraordinary conception of its riches, besides the Indian Melchorejo had indicated by signs that it contained gold-mines. All these things created a great desire among the inhabitants and soldiers on the island [Cuba] who possessed no official authority over the Indians to go in search of a rich country like this one; consequently, in a very short time, we mustered two hundred and twenty men.”

Commanded by Juan de Grijalva, the vessels sailed on the first of May, 1518, from the port of Santiago, Cuba. After touching at different points, the fleet at last arrived off the coast of Champoton, on the west side of Yucatan, where the Indians had attacked the Spaniards on the last voyage and had driven them to their vessels. Here they had another engagement with the natives, but the Spaniards were victorious and put the enemy to flight. They then proceeded southward to[234] the bay called La Boca de Terminos, where Diaz relates “we found temples built of stone and lime, full of idols made of wood or clay, with other figures, some representing women, some serpents; also the horns of various kinds of wild animals. We concluded that an Indian village was near it.... We have, however, deceived ourselves, for the district was entirely uninhabited.”

At a promontory, beyond the bay, toward the west, about thirty Indians visited the explorers, bringing with them broiled fish, fowl, fruit, and maize-bread. “They also,” Diaz relates, “brought pans filled with red-hot embers, on which they strewed incense, and perfumed us all. After this ceremony was ended they spread some mats on the ground, over which they laid a piece of cotton cloth. On this they put some trifling ornaments of gold in the shape of ducks and lizards, with three necklaces made of gold.... They next presented us with some mantles and waistcoats, such as they wore, and begged of us to accept them, saying that they had no more gold to give us, but that farther toward the setting of the sun there was a country where it was found in great abundance, at the same time often repeating the word Culba, and Mexico. We however did not understand what they meant.”

At a town called Aguajaluco they saw Indians hurrying to and fro with large shields made of large tortoise-shells, which glittered so brilliantly in the sun that some of the Spaniards thought that they were of inferior gold. At an island, beyond one which they called Isla Blanca, Diaz relates: “We found two houses which were strongly built of stone and lime. Both were ascended by flights of steps, and[235] had altars, on which stood several abominable idols, to which, on the previous evening, five Indians had been sacrificed. Their dead bodies still lay there, cut open, with the arms and legs chopped off, while every thing near was besmeared with blood. We contemplated this sight in utter astonishment, and gave the island the name of Isla de los Sacrificios.”

At another island farther to the west, Diaz says: “We found a temple on which stood the great and abominable-looking god Tetzcatlipuca, surrounded by four Indians, dressed in wide, black cloaks, their hair hanging as our canons or Dominicans wear it. These were the priests, who had that very day sacrificed two boys, whose bodies they had cut open and then offered their bleeding hearts to this horrible idol. They were about to perfume us in the same way they had done their gods; but though the perfume smelled like our incense, we would not permit them so shocked we were at the sight of the two boys whom they had recently killed, and we were disgusted with their abominations. Our captain questioned Francisco, the Indian whom we had brought with us from the Rio de Banderas, concerning the purport of all these things, for he seemed to be an intelligent person, we having, at that time, as I have already stated, no interpreter. Our captain interrogated him by signs. Francisco answered that this sacrifice had been ordered by the people of Culua; but, as it was difficult for him to pronounce this word, he repeatedly said, Olua, Olua. In honor of our commander, whose Christian name was Juan, and as the day was the feast of St. John, we gave this small island the name of San Juan de Ulua.”

Sailing northward along the coast of Mexico, “we[236] first came,” says Diaz, “in sight of Tusta, and two days after, of the more elevated mountains of Tuspa, both of which take their names from two towns close to these mountains. Along this part of the coast we saw a number of towns lying from six to nine miles inland. It is now the province of Panuco.” On account of the approach of winter, the scarcity of provisions, and the leaky condition of one of the vessels, the explorers determined to return to Cuba; Pedro de Alvarador having previously set sail for the island.

Speaking of their subsequent explorations in the vicinity of the mouth of the Guacasualco River (now called Rio Coatzacoalcos, in Tehuantepec), the Spanish writer says: “As soon as the inhabitants of Guacasualco and the neighboring districts learned that we offered our goods for barter, they brought us all their golden ornaments, and took in exchange green glass beads, on which they set a high value. Besides ornaments of gold, each Indian had with him a copper axe, which was very highly polished, with the handle curiously carved, that served equally as an ornament and, on the field of battle, as a weapon. At first we thought that these axes were made of an inferior kind of gold. Therefore we began to take them in exchange, and in the space of two days collected more than six hundred, with which we were no less pleased, as long as we were ignorant of their real value, than the Indians were with our glass beads.... We set sail for Cuba, and arrived there in the space of forty days.... We were most graciously welcomed by the governor, Diego Velasquez, who was highly delighted with the additional gold we brought him. Altogether, it was well worth 4,000 pesos; so that, with the 16,000 brought over by Alvarado, the whole amounted to 20,000 pesos.[313] Some[237] made this sum greater, some less; but one thing is certain, the crown officials took only the fifth of the last-mentioned sum. When they were about to take the fifth also of the Indian axes, which we had mistaken for gold, they grew exceedingly angry on finding them only to be of a fine quality of copper. This caused the people to laugh at our trading transactions.”[314]

Immediately after the return of Juan de Grijalva, in 1518, from this voyage, Diego Velasquez, the governor of Cuba, issued orders for the fitting out of a larger fleet than the one commanded by the former officer. Respecting the person who was to have command of this expedition, Diaz says that “the matter was secretly settled with Hernando Cortes, by two confidants of Diego Velasquez, Andres de Duero, secretary to the governor, and Almador de Lares, the royal treasurer.... Duero and the royal treasurer, therefore, employed all their cunning to influence the governor. They took every opportunity of placing Cortes in the most favorable light, extolling his great courage, in a word, declared him to be the most capable person whom he could intrust with the command.... Their efforts were crowned with success, for Diego Velasquez conferred the appointment of captain-general of the expedition on that gentleman.... After Hernando Cortes had been appointed captain, he immediately began to collect all kinds of arms and ammunition, as matchlocks, crossbows, powder, and the like. With the same[238] diligence he took care to provide a large stock of goods to barter, and other necessaries for our expedition.” On the eighteenth of February, 1519, the fleet was on its way toward the west. On the island of Cozumel, near the eastern coast of Yucatan, Cortes reviewed his troops. “Without counting the pilots and marines,” says Diaz, “our number amounted to five hundred and eight men. There were one hundred and nine sailors, and sixteen horses.... Our squadron consisted of eleven vessels of different tonnage.... The number of crossbow men was thirty-three, and of those bearing matchlocks thirteen. To these add our heavy guns and four falconets, and a great quantity of powder and balls. Respecting the precise number of crossbow men I cannot aver, though it matters not whether there were a few more or less.... I have now said all that need be respecting our armament; indeed, Cortes was very particular about the merest trifles in these preparations.

“As Cortes paid attention to every circumstance, he ordered me and Martin Camos of Biscay into his presence, and asked us what our opinion was of the word Castilan, Castilan, which the Indians of Campeachy had so often repeated when we landed there, under the command of Francisco Hernandez de Cordoba. We again informed him of every transaction that had taken place there. He said that he had often turned this matter over in his mind, and could not help thinking but that the inhabitants must have some Spaniards among them, and he thought it would not be amiss to question the caciques of Cozumel upon this subject. This Cortes accordingly did, and desired Melchorejo, who by this time had gained some little knowledge of the Spanish, and perfectly understood[239] the language of Cozumel, to question the chiefs about it. The statements made by them were alike, and plainly indicated that there were several Spaniards in the country, whom they had seen; that they as slaves served the caciques, who lived a march of two days inland; and that it was within a few days that some Indian merchants had talked to them.” Some days afterward Cortes learned that the two Spaniards were Geronimo de Aguilar and Gonzalo Guerrero. Aguilar being informed of the presence of the Spaniards joined them and served Cortes in the important position of an interpreter.[315]

When the Spaniards were in camp at the island of San Juan de Ulua, Cortes was visited, on Easter-day, by one of the farmer-generals of the Mexican empire, named Teuthlille. “He was accompanied” says Diaz, “by another person of distinction called Quitlalpitoc. We subsequently learned that they were governors of the provinces of Cotastlan, Tustepec, Guazpaltepec, Tlatateteclo, and other districts lately subdued. They were followed by a great number of Indians carrying presents of fowls and plants. Teuthlille, having ordered the others to stand aside, advanced to Cortes and bowed three times very reverentially in the Indian fashion,[240] which he did when he turned toward us standing nearest him. Cortes cordially welcomed them, after which he embraced them. He desired them to tarry a while and told them that he would give them a definite answer [in reply to the question which their sovereign, the great Montezuma,[316] had sent them to ask: who the Spaniards were and what they came to seek in his country]. Meanwhile Cortes ordered the altar to be arranged as prettily as possible. Francisco Bartolomé and Father Juan Diaz performed mass. The two governors and the principal personages of their suite were present during the services, after which Cortes partook of dinner with them.

“After the table had been cleared, Cortes assisted by Aguilar and Doña Marina[317] entered into conversation with the Mexican officials and the caciques, telling them, that we were Christians, the subjects of the greatest monarch of the world, named Emperor Charles,[318] that he had many great personages among his subjects and servants, that we had come by his command to their country, of which and its powerful sovereign, who then reigned, his majesty had long before heard. Cortes speaking of himself said that he was desirous to become the friend of their sovereign, and had to disclose many things to him, in the name of his majesty, the emperor, which their monarch would listen to with delight. In order that a good understanding might be established between him [Cortes] and his [Montezuma’s] subjects, they should acquaint him with the place where this monarch resided, that[241] he [Cortes] might pay his respects to him and make the necessary disclosures. Teuthlille answered in a rather imperious tone, saying: ‘Inasmuch as you have lately arrived in this country, it would be more becoming that before desiring an interview with my monarch, you should accept this present, which we have brought you in his name, and then disclose your wishes to me.’ He then took from a box, a quantity of gold-trinkets, of beautiful and artistic workmanship, and more than twenty packages of stuffs very prettily made of white cotton and feathers. These they presented to Cortes, besides various other costly gifts which, on account of the number of years that has intervened, I cannot now remember, together with provisions, as fowl, fruit, and dried fish. Cortes accepted all these with a pleased expression, and presented these gentlemen in return with glass beads resembling brilliants, and other things that we had brought from Spain. He begged them to request the inhabitants of the different districts to begin trading with us, for we possessed various articles which we desired to exchange for gold. This they promised to do.

“Cortes then ordered an arm-chair, beautifully painted and adorned with inlaid work, to be brought, also some pieces of precious stones, wrapped in cotton cloth, perfumed with musk, a necklace of imitation pearls, a scarlet cap, with a medal, on which was represented the holy St. George on horseback, with lance in hand, killing the dragon. Cortes then addressed Teuthlille, and said that he presented the chair to his monarch, Montezuma, that he might sit in it when he should pay him a visit, and the string of pearls to wind around his head on the same occasion, all of which presents were from our sovereign, the emperor, who[242] had sent them to Montezuma in token of friendship and as a proof of the esteem in which he held him. Cortes further remarked that Teuthlille should inform us where and when he, Cortes, could personally have an audience with the monarch. Teuthlille accepted the presents, and said in reply that his master, Montezuma, as he also was a great monarch, would in turn be equally delighted to learn something about our great emperor; that he would hasten to lay the presents before him, and to return with his answer.

“Teuthlille had with him very skillful painters, for there were such in Mexico, and he ordered them to paint the portrait and entire person of Cortes, with the dress he wore; also the pictures of all the other chief officers, the soldiers, our ships, horses, Doña Marina, and Aguilar, even our two dogs, the cannon, the balls, in short, every thing that they could see that belonged to us. The paintings they took along with them to show to their monarch.”

After an absence of about six or seven days, Teuthlille returned, as Diaz further observes, “with more than a hundred Indian porters, all heavily laden, accompanied by a great Mexican cacique, who, in countenance, stature, and deportment, greatly resembled Cortes, and on that account had been selected by his monarch to accompany the deputation. For, as it was related, when Teuthlille presented the picture representing Cortes, all the grandees who were present with their monarch, Montezuma, immediately observed that he resembled a person of distinction named Quintalbor. This was the same person who now accompanied Teuthlille. We therefore called one the Cortes of this place, and the other the Cortes of that place. We must now, however, tell what the embassadors[243] did when they came into the presence of Cortes. First of all they touched the ground at his feet with their hands. They then perfumed him and all the Spaniards who were present, with pans made of clay. Cortes gave them a very cordial reception, and desired them to sit down at his side. Quintalbor, the cacique, was commissioned to discuss matters jointly with Teuthlille. The two, therefore, told Cortes that he was most welcome to visit their country, and after considerable talking on both sides, they produced the presents”[319] sent him by Montezuma. As is further related by the Spanish historian, Juan de Torquemada, a contemporary of Diaz, “the embassador of Montezuma ordered mats to be spread on the ground before Cortes, and over them some cotton cloth, on which he arranged the presents, comprising many cotton shirts, and great quantities of other cotton stuffs, beautifully manufactured, and interwoven with feathers of the most splendid colors. There were shields made of the purest white stuffs, decorated with feathers, gold, silver, and pearls, surpassing everything in beauty and skilled workmanship that ever was seen. There was also a helmet, tastefully carved out of wood, filled with grains of gold; also a casque, made of thin plates of gold, decorated with tassels, and with stones resembling the emerald. There were numerous large bunches of feathers of different colors, set in silver and gold; fans for keeping off flies, made of the rarest feathers; a thousand lockets of gold and silver of the most curious and beautiful workmanship; bracelets and military decorations of gold and silver, splendidly embossed with green and bright yellow feathers; leather made of deer skin, curried and colored in the best possible[244] manner; shoes and sandals of the same leather, sewed with thin gold-wire, and the soles of beautiful white and blue stone. There were other kinds of shoes, very tastefully made of cotton; mirrors of marcasite, globular-shaped, of the size of one’s fist, and most ingeniously set in gold, the small frame itself being very valuable, and worthy of the acceptance of any crowned head; coverings and curtains to beds, manufactured of variously colored cotton, more glossy and of a finer texture than silk; a number of other gold and silver trinkets; a necklace of gold, decorated with more than a hundred emeralds, rubies, and various ornaments of gold; a second necklace of many large pearls and emeralds, all of the most exquisite workmanship; numerous gold trinkets in the shape of frogs and animals; jewels in the form of medals. The cases were even more valuable than the precious stones they contained. There was also a quantity of large and small grains of gold. The most valuable of these presents, however, were two round plates, one of gold, on which was a sun with rays and the zodiac. This weighed more than one hundred marks.[320] The other plate was of silver, which in a similar manner represented the moon. It weighed about fifty marks. The two disks were massive and of the thickness of the Spanish coin of four silver reals, and as large as carriage-wheels. Those who saw these splendid presents said that, without considering the beautiful workmanship, the value of the gold and silver alone amounted to twenty-five thousand castellanos de oro; so that the full value of all these presents may rightly be estimated at fifty thousand ducats.”[321]


“When Quintalbor, the great cacique, and Teuthlille, presented these gifts to Cortes,” as Diaz further relates, “they begged him to accept of them in the same spirit of friendship with which their monarch sent them, and to distribute them among his teules.[322] Thereupon they began to tell what their monarch had particularly commissioned them to say, which was as follows: ‘He, Montezuma, was delighted with the arrival of such courageous men in his provinces, for, according to the accounts he had received, and judging from the occurrence at Tabasco [where Cortes had had an engagement with the natives], we certainly must be[246] brave men. He wished very much to see our great emperor who was so powerful, of whom, although residing at so great a distance, he had already gained some knowledge, and he would send him a present of some valuable stones. He was likewise ready to furnish us with every thing we might require during our stay. Respecting Cortes visiting him, the undertaking should not engage our thoughts, for it was not necessary, and would be attended with great difficulties.’

“Cortes thanked them most sincerely for their kindness, gave each several shirts made of Holland linen, some blue beads, and other trifles, and requested them when they returned to their great monarch to tell him that our emperor and master would deem it very unkind, after we had come from such distant countries and crossed such vast seas, solely with the intention of paying our respects to Montezuma, if we returned without accomplishing this object. He wished, therefore, to proceed to his residence, and to receive personally his commands. The embassadors answered that they would convey these messages to their monarch, and that a visit to him was unnecessary. Cortes thereupon gave them out of our poverty a cup of Florentine workmanship, gilded and ornamented with wreaths of leaves in relief, and the shirts made of Holland linen, and other things, all of which were to be presented to Montezuma, together with Cortes’s message. The two emissaries then departed, while Quitlalpitoc alone remained behind in our camp, commissioned, as it appeared, by the two other officials of Montezuma, to provide provisions for us from the neighboring districts.

“After the Mexican embassadors had taken their[247] departure, Cortes ordered two vessels to sail farther northward and explore the coast. The command of these was given to Francisco de Montejo, with orders to follow the same course taken by Grijalva.... Montejo departed, and sailed to the Rio Grande, near Panuco, as far as we had gone with Grijalva. On account of the strong currents he could not proceed any farther. He therefore returned to San Juan de Ulua....

“One morning the Indians, who had dwelt near us in huts, and had furnished us with provisions and brought gold to barter, secretly departed with Quitlalpitoc. This, we subsequently learned, was done by the orders of Montezuma. He had forbidden all intercourse with Cortes, believing that he was obeying the commands of his idol-gods. These were named Tetzcatlipuca and Huitzilopochtli; the former being the god of hell, and the latter the god of war, to whom Montezuma daily sacrificed a number of children in order that the gods might disclose to him what he should do with us. He intended to take us prisoners should we not re-embark—employing some to educate children, and sacrificing the others. His idol-gods, as we afterward learned, advised him not to listen to Cortes, and to pay no attention to the message that we had sent him respecting the cross and the image of the Blessed Virgin. This was what caused his men to go away so secretly.

“This being the condition of affairs, we daily expected that hostilities would begin, and we were therefore the more vigilant. It happened one day, while I was standing sentinel on the sand-hills with another soldier, that we espied five Indians coming along the shore. Not to alarm the camp with so[248] trifling a matter, we allowed them to advance. They all appeared very good-humored, made their obeisance to us after their fashion, and requested us, by signs, to conduct them to the camp. Thereupon I said to my companion: ‘I will take them there, while you remain where you are,’ for at that time my legs were not so infirm as they are now, in my old age. When I presented them to Cortes, they manifested the utmost reverence, and continually repeated the word Lopelucio, Lopelucio, which in the Totonac language means lord, great god. In dress and language these people differed entirely from the Mexicans whom Montezuma had sent to our camp. They had large holes bored in their under-lips, in which they wore pieces of a speckled, blue stone, or thin plates of gold. The holes in their ears were quite large, from which depended similar ornaments. Neither Aguilar nor Doña Marina understood their language. The latter asked them whether there were any naëyavatos or interpreters with them. Thereupon two of them answered that they understood the Mexican language. Then the talking began. They bid us welcome, and said that their ruler had sent them to inquire who we were, and that he would be delighted to be of any use to such powerful men as we were. They said that they would have waited on us earlier, if they had not shunned the people of Culhua, namely, the Mexicans (meaning as much as villains), who had been with us. It is likely that these people had heard of our battles at Tabasco and Potonchan. They at least knew that the Mexicans had secretly departed from us three days before this time. Cortes learned many things from them which were of the greatest importance to him, particularly the information respecting the enemies and opponents[249] of Montezuma. Cortes, therefore, was very friendly to these people. He gave them a number of presents, and desired them to return to their ruler and to tell him that he would in person shortly visit him.”

The indomitable commander now advanced northward along the coast as far as Chiahuitzla, near the roadstead where his ships were anchored. A short distance from this place Cortes began to build the city to which he gave the name Villa Rica de Vera Cruz (the Rich Town of the True Cross). From the port of the new city, Cortes, on the twenty-sixth of July, 1519, dispatched a ship to Spain, under the command of Alonso Puertocarrero and Francisco de Montejo, carrying letters to the emperor, Charles V., with accounts of the invasion of New Spain. With these communications were sent some of the presents that Cortes had received, besides several cotton and agave-scrolls of Mexican hieroglyphics. “Our agents took charge of the letters,” Diaz remarks, “and were bound by a promise not to touch at the Havannah under any pretext whatever, or to enter the harbor of El Marien, where Francisco de Montejo had possessions. This was done in order that Diego Velasquez might not receive any intelligence of our movements.”

The resolute officer, having ordered his ships to be destroyed, began about the middle of August his march toward the city of Mexico,[323] with his small band of about five hundred followers, fifteen horsemen, and seven pieces of artillery. He took with him thirteen hundred native warriors from Cempoalla, besides a thousand porters to transport the camp-baggage, provisions, and munition.


In the province of Xocotlan the invaders came to an Indian town called by the Spaniards Castilblanco, governed by a cacique who was subject to Montezuma. The hospitable ruler described to Cortes the situation of the city of Mexico, which was built on an island surrounded by water, and approachable on foot by three bridged causeways.

“A certain place in this province,” says Diaz, “I shall never forget. Here a vast number of human skulls were piled in the best manner imaginable. There must have been more than one hundred thousand; I repeat, more than one hundred thousand. In the same orderly way the remaining human bones were piled in another corner of the square. The latter it would have been impossible to count. Besides these bones there were human heads hanging from beams on both sides of the square.” On the first, second, and fifth days of September, near the village of Tehuacacinco, Cortes had victorious engagements with the Tlascallans.

“It also happened,” Diaz further remarks, “that the powerful king of Mexico, Montezuma, either in the great goodness of his heart, or because he began to fear our approach to his metropolis, dispatched five men of distinction to our camp in the province of Tlascalla to congratulate us on our advance, and to assure us of the great delight he felt when he heard of the splendid victories we had gained over such large armies. This message was sent with a valuable present of gold trinkets, differently elaborated, worth about one thousand pesos, and also packages of cotton stuffs, as much as twenty men could carry. He also wished us to know, that it was his desire to become a subject of our emperor, that he was greatly pleased to learn[251] that we were so near his metropolis, and that he was every way well-disposed toward Cortes and all the teules, his brothers. He likewise wished to be told by us what annual tribute in gold, silver, jewels, and cotton stuffs he was to forward to our great emperor, which tribute would save us the trouble of coming to Mexico, adding that he should indeed be pleased to see us, but that our march would be a hazardous undertaking through a sterile and rocky country, and that the fatigues which we should have to undergo grieved him the more when he considered how impossible it was for him to remove the hindrances from the way.”

Cortes shortly afterward marched into the city of Tlascalla, where, when they entered it, “the streets and balconies could scarcely contain the number of men and women” who welcomed them. “Delight was depicted on every countenance,” and “twenty baskets full of roses” were “presented to Cortes and the soldiers, whom the citizens thought were officers, and particularly to those who were on horseback.” Here Cortes was told by one of the principal men of the place “that Montezuma had strong garrisons in every town, besides the warriors who marched out from the metropolis to the field of battle. Every province was compelled to pay him tribute in gold, silver, feathers, precious stones, cotton stuffs, as well as Indians of both sexes, some of whom he took into his service, and some he sacrificed. He was a monarch so powerful and wealthy that he accomplished and obtained all he desired. His palaces were filled with riches and chalchihuis stones,[324] which he seized wherever he went. In short, all the wealth of the country was in his possession.”


Cortes was further told that the city of Mexico “was abundantly supplied with fresh water from the spring of Chapultepec, which was about two miles from the city, whence the water was partly conveyed to the houses by means of pipes, and partly in boats through the canals, when it was sold in small quantities to the inhabitants. Respecting the weapons of this nation, they included two-edged lances that were projected by means of a thong and penetrated any cuirass. The warriors were excellent marksmen with the bow and arrow, and carried pikes with blades of flint, which were very ingeniously made, and were as sharp as razors. Besides these weapons, they carried shields, and wore cotton cuirasses. There was also a great number of slingers, who were provided with round stones, long pikes, and sharp swords which were wielded with both hands.

“To explain all these things, the caciques exhibited large pieces of nequen,[325] on which were pictured their battles and their art of warfare. When Cortes and we considered that we had gained sufficient information concerning these things, the conversation turned to subjects of greater importance. Our friends told us how and whence they came into this country, and how they settled there; how it had happened, notwithstanding their nearness to the Mexicans, that they resembled them so little, and lived in perpetual warfare with each other. A tradition was also handed down from their forefathers that in ancient times a race of men and women lived here who were immense in stature with large bones, and who were a very bad and evil-disposed people, whom they had mostly exterminated by continual war,[253] and the few that had been spared, had in the course of time died.

“In order to give us a conception of the huge frames of these people, they dragged forth a bone, or rather a thigh-bone, of one of the giants, which was very strong, and measured the length of a man of good stature. This bone was still entire from the knee to the hip-joint. I measured it with my own person, and found it to be of my own length, although I am a man of considerable height. They showed us many similar pieces of bones, but they were all worm-eaten and decayed. We, however, did not doubt for a moment, that the country was once inhabited by giants. Cortes remarked that we ought to forward these bones to his majesty in Spain at the very earliest opportunity.”

Montezuma again sent embassadors to Cortes bearing presents. They said “that their monarch could not but feel astonished that we” as Diaz relates, “had made so long a stay among a poor and uncivilized people, who were not fit for slaves, but so viciously disposed, so treacherous and thievish, that some day or night when we least apprehended it they would kill us merely for the sake of plunder. Montezuma begged us to visit his city, where, at least, we might enjoy the good things it offered, even though these should be below our deserts, and not equal to what he could wish.... Cortes thanked the embassadors in a very flattering manner for their civilities and the expressions of friendship they had conveyed to him from their monarch, and he desired them to tell their sovereign that in a short time he would pay his respects to him.”

At Cholula, to which Cortes next marched, a plot[254] was concocted to kill the Spaniards, but being warned, they were on their guard and severely punished the inhabitants for their treacherous conduct. Describing the city, Diaz says: “Cholula had more than a hundred very high towers, they were all cues or temples, in which human sacrifices were offered and idols stood. The principal temple was even higher than the one in the city of Mexico, though the latter was really magnificent and very high. The temple [at Cholula] is said to have contained one hundred courts, and an idol of enormous dimensions, (the name of which I have forgotten), which was in great repute, and people came from various places to sacrifice human beings to it and bring offerings for the dead. I well remember when we first entered the city and beheld the elevated white temples, how the whole place reminded us all of Valladolid.[326] ... I must add a word or two respecting the wooden cages we saw in this city. They were constructed of heavy timber, and filled with grown men and little boys, who were fattening for the sacrifices and feasts. Cortes ordered these diabolical cages to be pulled down, and sent the prisoners to their homes.”

While Cortes was on his way to the city of Mexico from Cholula, another embassy from Montezuma met him, bringing him again presents of gold and cotton fabrics. Montezuma desired the embassadors to express his regrets for the many hardships which Cortes was compelled to endure on his wearisome journey to see his person, that he would send to the port on the coast a great quantity of gold, silver, and jewels for the emperor, that he would present Cortes[255] himself with four loads of gold, and one load for each of his companions, but that he forbade him to enter the city of Mexico, as all his troops were under arms to oppose him. “On this occasion” says Diaz, “Cortes again told the embassadors that he was surprised that their sovereign, who had called himself our friend so often and was so powerful a monarch, should so frequently change his mind, to desire a thing one day and not want it the next. Respecting the presents of gold for our emperor and ourselves, Cortes told them that we were thankful for Montezuma’s kind intentions, and also for the gifts they brought with them, and that he would certainly some day render their monarch valuable services in return. He asked them if it were right after we had advanced within so short a distance of the metropolis to return home without fulfilling our monarch’s commission. He said that Montezuma should place himself in our position and consider, had he sent embassadors to a monarch of his own rank, whether he would be pleased, if they returned home after going almost to his palace without seeing that monarch or fulfilling their commission to him.... Therefore he begged that their monarch would not thereafter send any more embassadors with such messages. Cortes further said that he was determined to see and speak to Montezuma personally, and to inform him of the object of our mission. All that we asked was only an audience, for the moment our stay in his metropolis became irksome to him we would depart and return to the place whence we had come.... With this answer Cortes sent the embassadors back to their monarch, and we continued our march....

“After Montezuma learned our answer to his message[256] he dispatched his nephew, Cacamatzin, prince of Tezcuco, to us, in great pomp to bid us welcome.... The conference being ended, we continued our march. We were accompanied by the caciques and their numerous attendants, besides all the inhabitants of the neighborhood, who had come to meet us, so that we could hardly move for the vast crowds of people.

“The next morning we reached the broad high road of Iztapalapan, from which we for the first time beheld the number of cities and villages built in the lake [of Tezcuco], and the still greater number of large towns on the main-land and along the level causeway, which ran in a straight line to the city of Mexico. Our astonishment was exceedingly great, and we could not but remark to one another, that all the buildings resembled the fairy castles of which we read in Amadis of Gaul; so high, majestically, and splendidly did the temples, towers, and houses of the city, all built of massive stone and lime, rise above the water of the lake. Indeed, many of our men believed what they saw was the creation of a dream. And the reader must not be surprised at the manner in which I have expressed myself, for it is impossible to speak composedly of things which we have never before seen or heard of, or could have dreamed of.... We now entered the city of Iztapalapan, where we were quartered in palaces of large dimensions surrounded by spacious courts, and built of hewn stone, cedar, and other sweet-scented wood. All the apartments were curtained with cotton drapery.

“After we had seen all these things we visited the gardens adjoining the palaces, which were so exceedingly attractive that I could not gratify myself enough[257] by walking about in them and contemplating the number of trees which exhaled the most delightful odors, and the rose-bushes, the different flower-beds, and the fruit-trees which stood along the paths. Here was a pond of fresh water connected with the lake by a small canal. The canal was constructed of stone of different colors, and decorated with numerous figures, and was wide enough to hold the largest canoes. In the basin various kinds of water-fowl were swimming to and fro, and every thing was so charming and so beautiful that we could find no words to express our astonishment.... But now there is not a vestige of all these things remaining, and not a stone of the beautiful city left in its place.... Iztapalapan was a city of considerable magnitude, built partly in the water and partly on the land. Its site is now all dry land, and where vessels once sailed to and fro seeds are sown and harvests gathered. Indeed, the whole face of the country is so completely changed that he who had not seen these places previously, would hardly believe that waves had once rolled over the spot where fertile maize-plantations are now, so wonderfully has every thing been changed here in a short space of time.

“On the following morning we left Iztapalapan, accompanied by all the principal caciques already mentioned. The road on which we marched was eight paces wide, and, if I rightly remember, ran straight to the city of Mexico. Notwithstanding the breadth of the causeway it was much too narrow for the great throngs of people that were constantly arriving from different places to gaze at us, and we could hardly move forward. Besides the tops of all the temples and towers were crowded with spectators, and below them[258] the lake was covered with canoes filled with Indians, for all the people were eager to catch a glimpse of us. And who can wonder at this curiosity, for neither men like us nor horses had ever been seen here before.

“When we surveyed all this splendor we scarcely knew what to think, and we doubted whether all that we beheld were real. A succession of large cities stretched along the banks of the lake [of Tezcuco], from which much larger ones rose magnificently above the water. Innumerable canoes were plying near us. At regular intervals we crossed new bridges, and before us lay the great city of Tenustitlan Mexico in all its grandeur.[327] And we, who were beholding this spectacle, who were passing through this dense concourse of human beings, were a mere handful of men, in all four hundred and fifty, our minds filled with the warnings of the inhabitants of Huexotzinco, Tlascalla, and Tlalmanalco, and the caution they had given us not to expose our lives to the treachery of the Mexicans. I ask the kind reader to reflect a moment, and then to say whether he believes any men in this world ever attempted so bold an undertaking.

“When we had arrived at a place where another narrow causeway led toward Cojohuacan we were met by a number of caciques and distinguished personages, all attired in rich raiment. They had been dispatched by Montezuma to meet us and bid us welcome in his name. As a manifestation of their good-will they touched the ground with their hands and kissed it. We now halted for a few minutes to permit the princes[259] of Tezcuco, Iztapalapan, Tlacupa, and Cojohuacan, to get in advance to meet Montezuma, who was slowly approaching, surrounded by other grandees of the kingdom, seated in a splendid portable chair. When we arrived at a place near the city, where there were several towers, the monarch raised himself in his chair, supported by a number of distinguished caciques, who held over his head a canopy of very great value, decorated with green feathers, gold, silver, chalchihuis stones and pearls. The bordering of the canopy ornamented with these things was exceedingly attractive.

“Montezuma, according to his habit, was richly attired. His half boots were profusely decorated with jewels, the soles were of solid gold. The four grandees who supported him were also richly clad. They must have put on this clothing somewhere on the road, before they went to attend Montezuma, for they were not so magnificently dressed when they first came to meet us. Besides these distinguished caciques, there were many other grandees around the monarch, some of whom held the canopy over his head while others again occupied the road before him, and spread cotton cloths that his feet might not touch the bare ground. No one of his attendants ever looked at him full in the face. Every one in his presence stood with eyes downcast, and it was only his four nephews and cousins, who supported him, that dared to look up.

“When it was announced to Cortes that Montezuma was approaching, he alighted from his horse and advanced to meet him. Many compliments passed between them. Montezuma welcomed Cortes, who, through Doña Marina, said, in turn, that he hoped his majesty was in good health. If I still remember rightly,[260] Cortes, who had Doña Marina next to him, wished to concede the place of honor to the monarch, who, however, would not accept of it, but yielded it to Cortes, who then took a necklace of precious stones of very beautiful colors and shapes, strung upon gold wire and perfumed with musk, and placed it on the neck of Montezuma. Our commander was then about to embrace him, but the grandees, who surrounded Montezuma, held back Cortes’s arms, for they considered the act improper. Our general then desired Doña Marina to tell the monarch that he [Cortes] congratulated himself exceedingly on his good fortune of having seen so powerful a monarch face to face, and to thank him for the honor of coming to meet us. Montezuma replied in very appropriate words, and ordered his two nephews, the princes of Tezcuco and Cojohuacan, to conduct us to our quarters. He then returned to the city, accompanied by his two other relatives, the princes of Cuitlahuac and Tlacupa, and the other grandees of his large retinue. As they passed, we observed how all those who composed his majesty’s escort held their heads bent forward, no one daring to lift up his eyes in his presence, and also the deep veneration with which he was regarded....

“We were quartered in a large building where there was room enough for us all.... Near it were temples and Mexican idols. This building had been purposely selected for us because we were termed teules, or were thought to be, and that we might dwell among the gods as among our equals. The apartments and halls were very spacious, and those set apart for our general were furnished with carpets. Each one of us had a separate bed, which could not have been better furnished for a gentleman of the first[261] rank. Each apartment was swept clean, and the walls were newly plastered and decorated.

“When we had entered into the great court-yard of this palace, Montezuma came to Cortes, and, taking him by the hand, conducted him to the apartments where he was to lodge, which had been prettily decorated after the fashion of the country. He then hung about his neck a chased necklace of gold, most curiously wrought with figures of crabs. The Mexican grandees were greatly amazed at all these uncommon favors which their monarch bestowed upon our general.

“Cortes returned the monarch many thanks for so much kindness, and the latter took leave of him with these words: ‘Malinche,[328] you and your brothers must now do as if you were at home, and take some rest after the fatigues of the journey.’ He then returned to his palace, which was near.” This was on the eighth of November, 1519. Later in the day Montezuma again visited Cortes, and held a long conversation with him. On the following day Cortes had an audience with Montezuma in his palace.

“The mighty Montezuma,” Diaz further observes, “may have been about this time in the fortieth year of his age. He was tall, slender, and thin; but his body was well-proportioned. His complexion was not very brown, almost the same as that of the inhabitants. His hair was not long, excepting where it hung thickly over his ears, which were hid by it. His black beard, though thin, was handsome. His face was somewhat long, but he had a cheerful countenance, and his fine[262] eyes had an expression of amiability or of ill-will according to his humor. He was particularly clean in appearance, and took a bath every evening. Besides a number of concubines, who were all daughters of note and rank, he had two lawful wives of royal extraction, whom, however, he visited secretly without any one daring to observe him, except his most confidential servants.... In the halls adjoining his private apartments there was always a guard of two thousand men of high station in waiting, with whom, however, he never held any conversation unless to give them orders or to receive some intelligence from them.... In cold weather when he dined a large fire was made of the charcoal of the bark of trees, which emitted no smoke but a delightful perfume. That his majesty might not feel any discomfort from the heat of the fire, a screen was placed between him and it, made of gold, and adorned with the different figures of their gods. The chair on which he sat was somewhat low. It was filled with soft cushions and beautifully carved. The table was higher, and suited to the seat. The former was covered with white cloths, one of which was large. Four very neat and pretty women held before the monarch a round pitcher, called by them xicales, filled with water to wash his hands. The water was caught in other vessels, and then the young women presented him with towels to dry his hands. Two other women brought him maize-bread baked with eggs. Before Montezuma began to dine, a wooden screen, elaborately gilded, was placed before him, that no one might see him while eating. Then the young women stood at a distance. Four elderly men of high rank came to his table, whom he addressed from time to time or asked them some question. Sometimes he[263] would offer them a plate of his food, which was considered a mark of great favor. The gray-haired, aged men, that were so highly honored, were, as we subsequently learned, his nearest relatives, his most trustworthy counsellors, and chief justices. Whenever he ordered any viands to be given them, they ate standing with the greatest reverence, not daring to look at him full in the face. The dishes in which the food was served were of variegated and black porcelain, made at Cholula. While the monarch was at table his courtiers and those who were waiting in the adjoining halls maintained strict silence....

“Sometimes during dinner he had ugly humpbacked dwarfs to act as buffoons and perform antics for his amusement. At other times he had jesters to enliven him with their witticisms. Others again danced and sung before him. Montezuma took great delight in these entertainments, and ordered the broken victuals and pitchers of cacao-liquor (chocolate) to be distributed among the performers. When he had dined the four women took away the cloths and brought him water to wash his hands. During this interval he conversed a little with the four old men, and then left the table to enjoy his afternoon-sleep.

“After the monarch had dined, dinner was served for the men on duty and the other officers of his household. I often counted more than one thousand dishes on the table of the kinds already mentioned. Then followed, according to the Mexican custom, the frothing jugs of cacao-liquor, as many as two thousand, after which came different kinds of fruit in great abundance. Then the women dined who superintended the baking department, and those who made the cacao-liquor,[264] with the young women who waited upon the monarch....

“Besides these servants were many butlers, house-stewards, treasurers, cooks, and superintendents of maize-magazines.... I had almost forgotten to mention, that while the monarch dined two other young women of great beauty brought him small cakes, as white as snow, made of eggs and other nourishing ingredients, on plates covered with clean napkins; also a long-shaped loaf made of very substantial things, and pachol (a wafer-cake). They then brought him three beautifully painted and gilded tubes filled with liquid-amber and an herb called by the Indians tabaco. After the dinner had been removed and the singing and dancing ended, one of these tubes was lighted. The monarch drew the smoke into his mouth, and after he had done this a short time he would fall asleep.

“At this time a celebrated cacique, whom we called Topia, was Montezuma’s chief steward. He kept an account of the whole of Montezuma’s revenue, in large books of paper which the Mexicans called amatl. A house was filled with these large account-books.

“Montezuma had also two arsenals filled with arms of all kinds, many of which were ornamented with gold and precious stones. The arms comprised shields of different sizes, swords, and a broad-sword wielded with both hands, the edge of flint so extremely sharp that the swords cut much better than our Spanish ones. There were also lances, longer than ours, pointed at the end, a fathom long, set with several sharp flints. The pikes are so very sharp and hard that they will pierce the strongest shield, and cut like a razor; so that the Mexicans even shave themselves with these[265] flints. There were also excellent bows and arrows, pikes with single and double points, and suitable thongs to project them; slings, with round stones purposely made for them; also large shields, so ingeniously made that they could be rolled up when not wanted. These shields are unrolled on the field of battle, and completely cover the whole body from the head to the feet. We also saw a great many kinds of cuirasses made of quilted cotton, which were adorned on the outside with soft feathers of different colors, and looked like uniforms. We also saw morions and helmets constructed of wood and bones, adorned with feathers. There were artificers always at work, who continually augmented this store of arms; and the arsenals were under the care of certain persons, who also superintended the manufacturing departments....

“I will now advert to another subject, and acquaint my readers with the fine arts of the Mexicans. I will first speak of the sculptors, and the gold and silversmiths who were skillful in working and smelting gold. The latter would have astonished the most celebrated of our Spanish goldsmiths. They were many, and the most expert lived at a place called Ezcapuzalco, about four miles from Mexico. The next in proficiency were very skillful masters in cutting and polishing precious stones and the calchihuis stone, which resembles the emerald. These were followed by the great masters in painting, and the decorators in feathers, and the wonderful sculptors. Even now there are still living in Mexico three Indian artists, named Marcos de Aguino, Juan de la Cruz, and El Crespello, who severally have attained so high a place in the art of painting and sculpture, that each may be compared to an Apelles, or to our contemporaries, Michael Angelo and [Alonso] Berruguette.


“The women were remarkably skillful in weaving and embroidery, and they made quantities of the finest stuffs, interwoven with feathers. The common stuffs for daily use came from certain districts in the province of Costatlan, which lay on the north coast, not far from Vera Cruz, where we first landed with Cortes.

“The concubines in the palace of Montezuma, who were all daughters of distinguished men, were employed in manufacturing the most beautiful stuffs, interwoven with feathers. Similar fabrics were made by certain women who dwelt secluded in cloisters as our nuns.... Montezuma had in his service a great number of stone-cutters, masons, and carpenters, who were only employed about the royal palaces. Here I must not forget to speak of his gardens for the cultivation of flowers, trees and vegetables, of which there were various kinds. In these gardens were many baths, wells, basins, and ponds full of limpid water, which regularly ebbed and flowed. These gardens were made more attractive by innumerable species of small birds, which sang among the trees. The gardens of medicinal plants and vegetables may also be mentioned. They were cultivated by a large body of gardeners. All the baths, wells, ponds and buildings were substantially constructed of stone, as were also the theatres where the singers and dancers performed.

“We had been four days in the city of Mexico,” Diaz further remarks, “and neither our commander nor any of us had, during this time, left our quarters, except to visit the gardens and buildings adjoining the palace. Cortes therefore determined to view the city, and to visit the great market and the chief temple of Huitzilopochtli. He accordingly sent Geronimo de[267] Aguilar, Doña Marina, and one of his pages, named Orteguilla, who, by this time, understood a little of the Mexican language, to Montezuma, to request his permission to inspect the different buildings of the city. Montezuma readily granted us permission to go where we pleased, although he was apprehensive that we might intentionally injure the one or the other of his idols. He therefore determined to accompany us with some of his principal officers, and, for this purpose, left his palace with a showy retinue....

“Our commander, attended by the greater part of our horsemen and foot-soldiers, all well armed, as we were at all times, proceeded to the Tlatelulco. By command of Montezuma, a number of caciques met us on our way thither. When we arrived in this immense market, we were greatly astonished to see the vast number of people, the profusion of merchandise exposed for sale, and the admirable police-system, and the order that everywhere existed. The grandees who accompanied us drew our attention to the smallest circumstance, and gave us an explanation of all we saw. Each class of merchandise had a separate place for its sale. We first visited those divisions of the market set apart for the sale of gold and silver wares, jewels, cloths interwoven with feathers, and other manufactured goods, where also slaves of both sexes were sold. The slave-market was upon as great a scale as the Portuguese market for negro slaves at Guinea. To prevent the slaves from running away, they were fastened by halters around their necks, though some were allowed to walk at large. Next to these divisions were the dealers in coarser wares, cotton, twisted thread, and cacao. In short, all kinds of commodities produced in New Spain [Yucatan and Mexico] were[268] here to be found. The market reminded me of my native town of Medino del Campo at fair-time, where each kind of merchandise has a separate street assigned for its sale. In one place were sold the stuffs manufactured of nequen, as ropes and sandals. In another place, the sweet maguey root, ready-cooked, was offered for sale, and various other things made from this plant. In another part of the market were exposed the skins of tigers, lions, jackals, otters, red deer, wild cats, and of other animals of prey. Some of the skins were tanned. A particular space was assigned to the venders of fowls, turkeys, ducks, rabbits, hares, deer, and dogs; also a space to the fruit-sellers, pastry-cooks, and tripe-mongers. Not far from these were exposed all kinds of earthenware, from the largest jars to the smallest pitchers. Next were the dealers in honey and honey-cakes, and other sweet-meats. Next to these were the timber-merchants, furniture-dealers, with assortments of tables, benches, cradles, and all kinds of wooden implements, all separately arranged.... But why should I so minutely detail every article exposed for sale in this great market? If I enumerated every thing singly, I should never get to the end of the list. And yet I have not mentioned the paper, which in this country is called amatl, the tubes filled with liquid-amber and tobacco, the various sweet-scented salves, and similar things, or the various seeds which were exposed for sale in the porticoes of this market, or the medicinal herbs.

“In the market-place there were courts of justice, to which three judges and several constables were appointed, who inspected the goods exposed for sale. I had almost forgotten to mention the salt, and those who made the flint-knives; also the fish, and a kind of[269] bread made of the mud or scum collected from the surface of the lake, and eaten in that form, and which has a taste similar to that of cheese.[329] Besides, there were instruments of brass, copper, and tin; cups and painted pitchers of wood....

“On our way to the great temple, while passing through the court-yards adjoining the market, we saw a number of merchants, who dealt in gold-dust as it came from the mines, which was exposed for sale in tubes made of large goose-bones, so thin and white that the gold shone through them. The value of these tubes of gold was estimated according to their length and thickness, and were taken in exchange for so many mantles, xiquipiles[330] of cacao-nuts,[331] slaves, or for other merchandise.

“On quitting the market, we entered the spacious court-yards surrounding the chief temple. These appeared to include more ground than the market-place at Salamanca, and were inclosed by a double wall constructed of stone and lime. The yards were paved with large white flag-stones, extremely smooth, and where there were none, a brown plaster had been used. The court-yards were kept so very clean that there was not the smallest particle of dust or straw to be seen anywhere.

“Before we ascended the steps of the great temple, Montezuma, who was sacrificing on the top to his idols, sent six priests and two of his principal officers to conduct Cortes up the steps. There were one hundred and fourteen steps to the summit, and as they feared that Cortes would experience the same fatigue[270] in mounting as Montezuma had, they desired to assist him by taking hold of his arms. Cortes, however, would not accept the proffered aid. When we had reached the summit of the temple, we walked across a platform where many large stones were lying, on which those who were doomed for sacrifice were stretched out. Near these stood a large idol, in the shape of a dragon, surrounded by various other abominable figures, with a quantity of fresh blood in front of it....

“This infernal temple, from its great height, commanded an extensive view of the surrounding country. From it we could see the three causeways leading to the city,—that one from Iztapalapan, by which we had entered the city four days before; that one from Tlacupa, along which we took our flight eight months after, when we were driven out of the city by the new monarch, Cuitlahuatzin; the third, the one from Tepeaquilla. We also saw the aqueduct, which extended from Chapultepec, and supplied the city with fresh water. We could also distinctly see the bridges across the openings in the causeways, through which the waters of the lake ebbed and flowed. The lake was crowded with canoes conveying provisions, manufactured articles, and other merchandise to the city. We also observed that the only means of intercourse between the houses in this city, and between those of all the other towns built in the lake, was by draw-bridges or canoes. In all these cities the beautiful white-plastered temples rose above the smaller ones, like many of the towers and castles in our Spanish cities. The view from the top of the temple, it may be imagined, was a splendid sight.

“After we had sufficiently gazed upon this magnificent[271] picture, we again turned our eyes toward the great market, and beheld the vast number of buyers and sellers who thronged it. The bustle and noise caused by this multitude of human beings was so great that it could be heard at a distance of more than four miles. Some of our men, who had been at Constantinople and at Rome and had travelled through the whole of Italy, said that they never had seen a market-place of such large dimensions, or which was so well regulated, or so crowded with people as this one in Mexico....

“We were conducted to a small temple with one room, in which we saw two bases resembling altars, decked with coverings of extreme beauty. On each of them stood a gigantic, bulky-looking figure. The one on the right hand represented the god of war, Huitzilopochtli. This idol had a very broad face with distorted and terrible eyes, and was covered with jewels, gold, and pearls, fastened with a paste made from a certain root. Large serpents, also, covered with gold and precious stones, wound round the body of this monster, which held in one hand a bow, and in the other a bunch of arrows. Another but smaller idol, its page, standing by its side carried the monster’s short spear and golden shield, studded with precious stones. Around Huitzilopochtli’s neck were figures representing human faces, and hearts made of gold and silver and decorated with blue stones. In front of him stood several perfuming pans containing copal, the incense of the country; also the hearts of three Indians, who had been killed that day. The hearts were consuming before him as a burnt-offering. The walls of the temple and the whole floor were almost black with human blood, and the stench was highly offensive.


“On the left hand stood another figure of the same size as Huitzilopochtli. Its face resembled very much that of a bear. Its shining eyes were made of tetzcat, the reflecting-glass of the country. This idol, like its brother Huitzilopochtli, was covered with precious stones, and was called Tetzcatlipuca. This was the god of hell.... A circle of figures wound round its body, resembling diminutive devils with serpents’ tails. The walls and floor around this idol were also besmeared with blood, and the stench was greater than that of a Spanish slaughter-house. Five human hearts had that day been offered to him. On the very top of this temple stood another; the wood-work of which was exceedingly elaborate and richly carved. In this temple there was another idol, half man and half lizard, completely covered with precious stones; half of this figure was hidden from view. We were told that the concealed half was covered with the seeds of every plant on the earth, for this idol was the god of seeds and fruits.... In the temple was a drum of enormous dimensions, the sound of which was so deep and solemn that it was appropriately called the drum of hell. The drum-head was made from the skin of an enormous serpent. The sound of the drum could be heard eight miles. The platform of the temple was covered with a variety of hellish objects,—large and small trumpets, great slaughtering knives, the burnt hearts of Indians who had been sacrificed,—every thing being clotted with coagulated blood, terrible to view and filling the mind with horror....

“If I remember rightly, this temple occupied a space of ground on which we could have placed six of the largest buildings commonly found in our country. The building had the form of a pyramid, on the summit[273] of which was the small temple with the idols....

“Cortes and the rest of us at last grew weary with the inspection of so many idols and the implements used for sacrifices, and we returned to our quarters accompanied by a great number of the chief men and caciques, whom Montezuma had ordered to attend us.”

It is unnecessary here to follow farther the movements of the conquerors (conquistadores) of New Spain. The beautiful and famous metropolis of Mexico, twenty-two months after Cortes and his followers had entered it, was in ruins, filled with the innumerable dead bodies of its heroic defenders. The siege of the city lasted ninety-three days, ending the 13th of August, 1521. When the terrible drama ended, Cortes permitted those of its inhabitants who had not been killed, starved, or stricken with disease, to leave the charnel city. “The causeways,” says Diaz, “were crowded for three days and nights with men, women, and children, on their way to the main-land. These poor beings were much emaciated, and had a deathlike appearance.... The houses were found filled with dead bodies.... The soil in the city looked as if it had been ploughed, for the famished inhabitants had dug every root out of the ground, and had even peeled the bark from the trees to appease their hunger. We did not find any fresh water in the city, for that in all the wells was salty. During the horrible famine the Mexicans had not eaten the flesh of their countrymen, although they greedily devoured that of the Tlascallans and Spaniards. Certainly no people in this world ever suffered so much from hunger, thirst, and the horrors of war, as the inhabitants of this great city.” As the emperor’s share of the[274] booty, Cortes sent to Spain two vessels carrying eighty-eight thousand pesos of gold in bars, and the wardrobe of Montezuma. “The latter,” Diaz observes, “was a valuable present, and well worthy of our great emperor’s acceptance, for it embraced jewels of the greatest value, pearls of the size of hazel-nuts, and various precious stones, the number of which my memory will not permit me to designate. At the same time were sent the bones of the giants which we found in the temple of Cojohuacan, which were similar to those given to us by the Tlascallans that we had previously sent to Spain.”[332]



That part of the coast of the continent, now included in the territory of the states of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and the westerly portion of Florida, was first discovered and explored by Alonso Alvarez de Pineda. The fleet which this Spaniard commanded was fitted out by Francisco de Garay, the wealthy governor of the island of Jamaica, who had accompanied Columbus to the New World in 1493. Bernal Diaz, in his history of the conquest of New Spain, thus speaks of this expedition: “In the year 1518, when the report of our having discovered this country, under Cordoba and Grijalva, and of the twenty thousand pesos which came into the hands of Diego Velasquez, had spread through the whole of the West Indies,” and when Garay “received information of a new expedition that was destined for New Spain, under Hernando Cortes, he [Francisco de Garay] was seized with a great desire likewise to discover some new countries, and certainly he had more wealth at his command than we to fit out a fleet for such a purpose. He had learned considerable about the riches of the new countries from our old chief pilot Alaminos, and how thickly populated the provinces were on the river Panuco; and as several other sailors, who had accompanied us on those expeditions, confirmed what Alaminos had told him, he thought that it was to his advantage[276] to request his majesty to grant him the permission to make further discoveries on the river Panuco, and to appoint him governor of all the lands he should discover. For this purpose he dispatched his major-domo, Juan de Torralva, to Spain, with letters and presents for those who at that time administered the affairs of the Indies, soliciting them to procure him the appointment mentioned.

“His majesty was at the time in Flanders, and the president of the council of the Indies, Don Juan Rodriguez de Fonseca, bishop of Burgos and titular archbishop of Rosano, with the two licentiates Zapata and Vargas, and the secretary Lopez de Conchillos, managed the affairs of the Indies as they pleased. Garay therefore easily obtained the appointment of adelantado and governor of the provinces bordering on the river San Pedro and San Pablo, and of all the countries he should discover. By virtue of this appointment he fitted out three vessels, having on board two hundred and forty men, including a strong body of cavalry, cross-bowmen, and musketeers. The chief command of this fleet he gave to Alonso Alvarez de Pineda.[333]

It is further related that the explorers set sail in 1519, toward “the peninsula of Florida, in twenty-five degrees of north latitude, for Florida appeared to them to be a very attractive island, and they thought that it was better to settle on islands than on the main-land, because they could more easily conquer the natives and keep them in subjection. They landed, but the people of Florida killed so many of them that they did not dare to settle there. They then sailed along the coast and came to the river of Panuco, five hundred[277] leagues from the peninsula of Florida, measured on a course along the coast. The natives attacked them at every place. Many of them were killed at Chila [near the mouth of the river Panuco], where the natives flayed and eat those who fell into their hands, and hung up the skins in their temples to commemorate their valor.”[334]

Diaz further observes: “While we were lying at Villa Segura, Cortes was informed by letters that one of the vessels which Garay had fitted out for the purpose of forming settlements on the river Panuco had arrived at Vera Cruz. This vessel was commanded by a certain Comargo, and had on board more than sixty soldiers, who were all in bad health, with their bodies greatly swelled. This Comargo gave the particulars of the unfortunate termination of Garay’s expedition to the river Panuco.

“The Indians had massacred the commander-in-chief, Alonso Alvarez de Pineda, and all his soldiers and horses, and then had set fire to his vessels. Comargo alone had been fortunate enough to escape with his men on board of one of the vessels, and had steered for Vera Cruz, where the explorers arrived half famished, for they had not been able to procure any provisions from the enemy. This Comargo, it was said, had taken the vows of the order of the Dominicans.

“Comargo and his men, by moderate advances, at last arrived at Villa Segura, for they were so weakened that they could scarcely move along. When Cortes saw in what a terrible condition they were, he commended them to our care, and showed Comargo and all his men every possible kindness. If I[278] remember rightly, Comargo died soon after, and also several of his men.”[335]

The fields of the explorations of Alonso Alvarez de Pineda, Juan de Grijalva, Francisco Hernandez de Cordoba, and Juan Ponce de Leon are represented on a traced map of the coast of the continent and of the new lands (traza de las costas de tierra-firme y de las tierras nuevas), made in 1521, to define the limits of the jurisdictions of Juan Ponce Leon, Francisco de Garay, and Diego Velasquez.[336]

On the peninsula of Florida, delineated on the map, is inscribed in Spanish: “Florida called Bimini, which Juan Ponce discovered.” West of it is a broken line and this inscription: “As far as this Juan Ponce discovered.” At some distance farther west is another line of limitation and this explanation: “From here Francisco Garay began to discover.” West of this is the early designation of the Mississippi River, “Rio del Espiritu Santo” (River of the Holy Spirit). Southward beyond the mouth of the Panuco River is a third broken line and the inscription: “As far as this place Francisco de Garay discovered toward the west, and Diego Velazquez toward the east as far as Cabo de las Higueras, which the Pinzons discovered, and the population has given it to them.”


A tracing of the coasts of the Continent and of the New Lands, 1521, in the third volume of Navarrete’s “Coleccion de los Viages.”

According to these memoranda and the statements of Herrera, the Spanish historian, Juan Ponce de Leon[279] explored the eastern coast of Florida from La Cruz, south of the thirty-first parallel, to a point on the southwestern coast, perhaps as far as Appalachee Bay. Alonso Alvarez de Pineda’s explorations, it would seem, began at Appalachicola Bay and ended at the Panuco River.[337]

The more northerly part of the eastern coast of Florida and coast of the present state of Georgia were inspected by the officers and crews of two vessels, equipped in 1520 in the port of La Plata, San Domingo, by seven citizens of that island. The ships were fitted out to sail among the Bahama Islands to kidnap Indians to work in the mines and on the plantations. Among the projectors of the expedition was Lucas Vasquez de Ayllon.[338] When the kidnapers arrived among the Bahama Islands they found them depopulated. “They determined,” it is said, “to go farther toward the north to search for a new country[280] rather than return without any slaves. They reached a country called Chicora and Gualdape, in thirty-two degrees of north latitude”; where there was a cape, afterward called Cabo de Santa Elena (Cape of Saint Helen), and the Rio Jordan (River Jordan).[339]

“When our men steered toward the shore,” Peter Martyr relates, “the inhabitants, astonished at the sight of the ships, imagined that some monster was approaching. In order to satisfy their curiosity they flocked in great numbers to the shore. When our people were about to land with their boats the Indians ran rapidly away. As they fled our men pursued. Some of the youngest and the fastest runners overtook two of the natives, a man and a woman. They brought these to the ships, dressed them, and gave them their liberty. Impressed by this evidence of good-will the Indians returned in crowds to the beach. The king of the country, learning how our men had dealt with the man and the woman, and seeing the new and costly garments upon them (for the Indians only clothe themselves with the skins of lions or of other animals), sent fifty of his people to ours bearing the productions of the country. When visited by our people he was friendly and hospitable. When they expressed a desire to see the surrounding country he gave them guides and guards. Wherever they went the inhabitants came reverently to them with presents as unto gods to be adored, especially when they saw them having beards, and clothed with linen and silken garments. But what! The Spaniards violated the laws of hospitality. For by craft and various cunning[281] devices, after they had seen all that they wished, they so managed that on an appointed day the Indians visited the ships to inspect them. When the vessels were crowded with these innocent people, the anchors were weighed and the sails hoisted, and the Indians were carried away mourning into servitude. Instead of friends, they made the people of those regions enemies, and having found them contented they left them miserable, having taken children from parents, and husbands from wives. Of the two ships one only returned, the other was never seen again. It was conjectured that all on board were drowned, the guilty and the guiltless, for it was an old ship....

“While they were there they explored the two principal regions, Chicora and Duharhe.... They say that the people of Chicora are half black or tawny as our farmers are, burned and tanned by the sun. The men allow their hair to grow long, which often extends down to their girdles. The hair of the women is much longer. Both sexes bind up their hair. The men have no beards. Whether or not they are so naturally or so by art is unknown; however, they take great pride in having smooth faces.... Leaving Chicora they went to the other side of the bay, and took possession of the region called Duharhe.”

Peter Martyr further observes that Ayllon had been a persistent solicitor at the court of Spain, and that he wanted to obtain letters-patent to go again to these countries “to plant a colony there.[340] ... He[282] brought one of the natives of Chicora with him.... While he remained [in Spain] prosecuting his business, I sometimes had Ayllon, the master, and the Chicoran, his servant, as my guests. The Chicoran is not a dull person nor superficially intelligent. He has learned the Spanish language passably well. The things which Ayllon showed me, written by his men and reported by the Chicoran, that are strange and remarkable, I will relate.... Ayllon says the natives there [in Duharhe] are white, which also Franciscus, the tawny Chicoran, asserts, and that they have long yellow hair hanging down to their ankles.

“These people have a king of giant-like proportions, called Datha, and they say that the queen, his wife, is not much smaller.... This king being asked why he and his wife were so remarkably tall and the other people not, replied that their height was not hereditary, but that it had been caused by violent treatment. While they were infants in the charge of nurses their parents sent for those practicing the art, who anointed their limbs for a number of days with certain decoctions of herbs to soften their tender bones, which in time became as pliable as lukewarm wax. They then stretched their limbs, often leaving them almost dead. Thereupon the nurses, who had been fed with certain strength-producing meats, suckled[283] them, the infants being covered with warm cloths. When they had again regained their vigor the practitioners again twisted and pulled their bones as they had previously done. This treatment was repeated from time to time until their limbs were lengthened so much that when they reached maturity they had the desired tallness....

“There is another region near Duharhe called Xapida. In it they say pearls and a precious stone resembling a pearl are to be found, which the natives highly prize. In all the country explored by them there were herds of deer kept like cattle with us. The deer fawn at home, and there they also rear their young. These deer, when free, wander and pasture in the woods during the day and at night return to their young. They are confined in pens and allow themselves to be milked.... The people fatten many kinds of fowl, as chickens, ducks, geese, and the like. Their bread is maize, the same as that of the people of the islands.... The grain of the maize is like our panic of Insubria, [in Italy,] but in size like pease. They sow another kind of corn called Xathi. They believe it is millet.... The natives have several varieties of potatoes, but they are small.... The Spaniards speak of many regions which they think are under the government of one and the same king,—Hitha, Xamunabe, Tihe.

“In this country they say there is a caste of priests differing from the people. These priests are held in great reverence by the inhabitants of the surrounding country. The natives of this region cut their hair, leaving only two curled locks hanging down in front of their ears, which locks they tie under their chins. The Spaniards explored many regions of this great country,[284] which tracts they called Arambe, Guacaia, Quohathe, Tanzacca, Pahor. The inhabitants are all somewhat tawny and swart. None of them have any knowledge of letters, but they possess many traditions which they preserve and relate in rhymes and songs. They exercise themselves in dancing and skipping, and find much amusement in playing ball, for they are very nimble and skillful. The women sew and spin, and although for the most part they are dressed in the skins of wild animals, they have cotton and make thread from the fibres of certain tough plants, as our hemp or flax. There is another region called Inzignanin.”[341]

According to Gomara’s geographical description of the coast of North America, the explorations of the Spaniards who discovered Tierra de Ayllon (the Land of Ayllon) extended from the Cape of St. Helen, in 32°, northwardly forty leagues to the River Jordan. If Cape St. Helen were a point of land near the mouth of the Combahee River, the river Jordan was likely the Santee River, in South Carolina.[342]

Among the most renowned of the various maritime achievements which gave great fame to Spanish enterprise in seeking for a sea-path to Cathay by sailing toward the west, was that of the circumnavigation of the globe in the years 1519-1522. The remarkable voyage was begun by Fernam de Magalhaens, a Portuguese navigator. The first account of the expedition was written by Antonio Pigafetta, an Italian chevalier, who accompanied Magalhaens. Pigafetta’s connection with the exploration is explained by him in the opening chapter of his history of the voyage: “I[285] learned that a squadron of five vessels were under equipment at Seville, destined for the discovery of the Molucca Islands from which we get our spices, and that Fernam de Magalhaens,[343] a Portuguese gentleman, and a commander of the order of St. Iago de la Spata, who had already more than once traversed the ocean with great reputation, was made captain-general of the expedition.[344] Therefore I immediately repaired to Barcelona to request permission of his majesty to be one of the number of persons to go on this voyage. My request was granted.”

The interested historian then relates: “The captain-general, Fernam de Magalhaens, had determined to undertake a long voyage across the ocean where the winds are violent and storms quite frequent. He also resolved to take a course not yet explored by any navigator, but this bold purpose he was cautious in disclosing lest some one should try to dissuade him from it by magnifying the risk he would run and thus dishearten his men. Besides the dangers common to a voyage like this one was the disadvantageous circumstance that the four other vessels under his command were in charge of captains inimical to him solely because he was a Portuguese and they were Spaniards.”

The fleet sailed from the port of Seville, on Monday morning, the tenth of August, 1519. The five ships proceeded southwardly along the coast of Africa, passed between Cape Verd and the islands of the[286] Cape Verd group, and after reaching Sierra Leone, stood for the coast of Brazil.

“After we crossed the equator,” says Pigafetta, “we lost sight of the north star. We then steered south-southwest, making for Terra del Verzino (Land of Red wood), in latitude twenty-three degrees thirty minutes south latitude.[345] This country is a continuation of that in which Cape St. Augustine is situated, in eight degrees thirty minutes south latitude.”

The squadron entered the port now known as that of Rio Janeiro on St. Lucy’s day, the thirteenth of December.

“The land of Brazil, which produces every thing in abundance, is as large as Spain, France, and Italy united. It is one of the countries acquired by the king of Portugal. The people of Brazil are not Christians, nor are they idolaters, for they worship nothing.... They go entirely naked, the women as well as the men. Their houses are long cabins, which they call boi. They lie on cotton-nets called hammocks fastened at the ends to two strong posts. Their fire-places are on the ground. Their bois frequently contain a hundred men, with their wives and children, consequently there is always considerable noise in these houses....

“The people of Brazil, both men and women, paint their bodies and particularly their faces in a singular manner with different figures. They have short, woolly hair on their heads, but none on other parts of their bodies, for they pluck it out. They have a dress made of the interwoven feathers of the parrot, and so arranged that the large quills of the wings and tail form a girdle about their loins, giving the wearer a[287] unique and grotesque appearance. Almost all the men have their lower lips pierced with three holes, through which they thrust a slender cylindrical stone about two inches long. The women and children do not wear this cumbersome ornament.... Their color is more of an olive than a black.”



After anchoring thirteen days in the port of Rio Janeiro, the fleet coasted southward to the mouth of the Rio de la Plata, where, as Pigafetta relates: “Juan de Solis, while on a similar voyage of discovery, was with sixty of his crew devoured by cannibals, in whom they placed too much confidence.”

At the beginning of winter, in the month of May, 1520, the fleet reached the port of St. Julian, “in forty-nine degrees thirty minutes,” where they anchored for five months.[346] Here the explorers were visited by a number of giants. Pigafetta, describing one of the visitors, remarks: “This man was so prodigiously large that our heads scarcely reached to his waist. He had an attractive appearance. His face was broad and painted red, with the exception of a circle of yellow round his eyes and two spots, figured like hearts, on his cheeks. His hair, which was thin, was whitened with some kind of a powder. His coat, or rather his mantle, was made of furs, well sewed together, taken from an indigenous animal, which afterward we had an opportunity to see. This animal [the guanaco] has the head and ears of a mule, the body of a camel, the legs of a stag, and the tail of a horse, and,[288] like the latter, neighs. This man also wore shoes made of the skin of the same animal. In his left hand he carried a short and heavy bow; the string, somewhat thicker than a lute’s, was made of an intestine of the animal already mentioned. In his other hand he held arrows made of short reeds, with feathers at one end, similar to our arrows, and at the other, instead of iron, a white and black flint....

“The women are not as tall as the men, but they are much stouter.... They paint and dress in the same manner as their husbands, and use the thin skin of an animal to cover their nakedness. They were, in our judgment, far from handsome, nevertheless their husbands seemed jealous....

“Savage as these Indians are, they are not without their medicaments. When they have a pain in the stomach, in place of an active medicine they thrust an arrow far down the throat to cause them to vomit.... If they have the headache, they make a gash in their forehead, and do the same with other parts of their body where they suffer pain, to draw from the affected part a considerable quantity of blood....

“Their hair is cut circularly, like that of monks, but it is longer, and they confine it round the head with a cotton-string, in which bandage they place their arrows when they go hunting.... It appears that their religion is limited to adoring the devil. They pretend that when one of them is on the point of death, ten or twelve demons appear dancing and singing around the dying person.... These people, as I have already said, clothe themselves with the skin of an animal, and also cover their huts with the same kind of skin. They transport their huts, for they[289] have no fixed place of abode, and wander about from place to place like gypsies. They live on raw meat and a sweet root called capac.... Our captain gave these people the name of Patagonians....

“Scarcely had we anchored in this roadstead before the four captains of the other vessels plotted to murder the captain-general. These traitors were Juan of Carthagena, inspector of the fleet, Luis de Mendoza, the treasurer, Antonio Cocca, the paymaster, and Gaspar de Casada. The plot was discovered. The first named was flayed alive, and the second stabbed to the heart. Gaspar de Casada was forgiven, but in a few days he was again treacherous. Then the captain-general (who did not dare to take Casada’s life, as he was made a captain by the emperor,) drove him from the fleet and left him in the country of the Patagonians, with a priest, his accomplice....

“We planted a cross on the summit of a neighboring mountain, which we named Monte Cristo, and took possession of the country in the name of the king of Spain....

“Continuing our course toward the south, on the twenty-first of October, in fifty-two degrees, we discovered a strait, which we called the Strait of the Eleven Thousand Virgins (xi. mila Vergini), in honor of the day. This strait, as it will hereafter appear, is four hundred and forty miles, or one hundred and ten leagues long, and about a half league wide, more or less.[347] It extends to another sea, which we named the Pacific Ocean (Mar pacifico). The strait lies between lofty mountains covered with snow, and the channel[290] was so deep that we were compelled to anchor close to the shore.[348] ...

“The whole of the crew were so fully persuaded that this strait had no western outlet, that we should have left it unexplored had it not been for the profound scientific knowledge of the captain-general. Skillful as he was intrepid, he knew that he had to sail through a very secluded strait which he had seen marked on a chart, in the archives of the king of Portugal, drawn by that most excellent man, Martin of Boemia.[349]

“As soon as we entered the strait, imagined to be only a bay, the captain sent the two ships, the San Antonio and La Concepcion, in advance to explore it to its termination or to where it extended, while we, in the ships La Trinidad and La Victoria, remained at its mouth.[350]

“Two days passed before the vessels returned that had been sent to examine the bottom of the bay. We began to conjecture that they had been engulfed during the tempest which had occurred, for seeing smoke on shore we imagined that those who had the good fortune to escape had kindled fires to inform us of their existence and distress. But while in this painful suspense we saw the ships coming toward us under full sail and with their flags flying.... When we learned from those on board that they had seen the[291] prolongation of the bay, or, more correctly, of the strait, we sailed to them to continue our voyage on this course, if possible.

“When we had entered into the third bay, which I have already mentioned, we saw two openings, or channels, the one running to the southeast, the other to the southwest.... The captain-general sent the two vessels, the San Antonio and La Concepcion, to the southeast to examine whether or not this channel terminated in an open sea. The first set sail immediately under press of canvas, not choosing to wait for the second, which the pilot wished to leave behind, for he had intended to avail himself of the darkness of the night to retrace his course and return to Spain by the same way he had come.

“This pilot was Estevan Gomez, who hated Magalhaens, for the sole reason that when Magalhaens came to Spain to lay his project before the emperor of going to the Moluccas by a western route, Gomez himself had already requested, and was on the point of obtaining, some caravels for an expedition of which he would have had the command. This expedition had for its object new discoveries, but the arrival of Magalhaens prevented his request from being granted, and he only obtained the subaltern position of pilot. His disaffection was further increased by the thought of his serving under a Portugese. In the course of the night he conspired with the other Spaniards on board the ship. They put in irons and even wounded the captain, Alvaro de Meschita, the cousin-german of the captain-general, and carried him to Spain.”[351]


When the strait was explored to its termination, the cape where the strait ended was called, says Pigafetta, “Il Cabo Deseado” (The Desired Cape).

On Wednesday, the twenty-eighth of November, 1520, the three ships left the strait and entered the unexplored expanse of the Pacific. “In the course of three months and twenty days,” Pigafetta observes, “we traversed nearly four thousand leagues on the ocean called by us the Pacific, on account of our not having experienced during this period any tempestuous weather. In this long space of time we did not descry any land, except two desert islands. On these we saw nothing but birds and trees, therefore we named them, Isole Sfortunato[352] (The Unfortunate Islands).... The two islands are two hundred leagues apart. The first lies in fifteen degrees south latitude, the second in nine degrees. According to the measure which we made of the voyage with the chain at the poop, we ran daily about sixty to seventy leagues.[353] If God and the Holy Mother had not granted us a fortunate voyage we should all have perished from hunger on so vast a sea. I do not think that any one will hereafter venture on a similar voyage.[354]

“If we had continued on a western course on the same parallel after leaving the strait we should have circumnavigated the globe without seeing any land except that extending from the Cape of the Eleven[293] Thousand Virgins, at the eastern head of the strait, in the Ocean Sea (Mar oceano), to Cabo Deseado, at the western end, in the Pacific Sea (Mar pacifico). The two capes are in fifty-two degrees south latitude.

“The antarctic pole has not as many stars as the arctic. At the former a large number of small stars cluster together which form two nebulæ. They are separated from each other and are somewhat dim. In these nebulæ are two large and brilliant stars which move very little. These indicate the antarctic pole. Although the needle declined somewhat from the arctic pole it still oscillated toward it, but not with the same force as when in the northern hemisphere. When the captain-general out at sea directed the course in which the pilots should steer, he asked them in what direction they steered. All of them replied that they bore in the direction in which he had ordered them. He then informed them that their course was wrong and directed them to correct the needle, because, as they were in the southern hemisphere, it had not the same power to designate the true north as in the northern hemisphere. When we got out in the open sea, we saw, in the west, a cross of five very bright stars.

“We steered northwest by west till we reached the equator in one hundred and twenty-two degrees of longitude, west of the line of demarkation.... After we crossed the equator we steered west by north. We then ran two hundred leagues toward the west, when, changing our course again, we ran west by south until we reached thirteen degrees of north latitude. We proposed by this course to reach Cape Catticara which geographers have placed in this latitude, but they are mistaken, for this cape lies twelve degrees more toward the north.”[355]


From the islands, which Magalhaens called “Isole de Ladroni,”[356] the three ships stood toward the Philippine Islands, where, on one called Matan, the captain-general was killed in an engagement with the natives, on the twenty-seventh of April, 1521. It was at the island of Zubu, near the former, “in ten degrees north latitude,” that Magalhaens, before his death, received the first intelligence respecting the Molucca Islands. On Wednesday, the sixth of November, 1521, the ships came in sight of the long-sought Spice Islands, and on Friday, the eighth of November, 1521, the Victoria and the Trinidad arrived at the island of Tadore. “We now,” Pigafetta remarks, “returned thanks to God and manifested our joy by firing a round from all of our large guns. It will not excite astonishment that we should be elated, when it is considered that we had been at sea twenty-seven months, wanting two days, and had visited numerous islands in search of those we had reached.

“The Portuguese had reported that the Molucca Islands lay in the middle of an impassable sea, full of shallows, and were surrounded by a cloudy, foggy atmosphere. We, however, found the contrary, and never had less than a hundred fathoms water all the way to the Molucca Islands.” The latter were five in number: Tarenate, Tadore, Mutir, Machian and Bachian.[357] When afterward cloves were found on the adjacent islands, the name Moluccas, was applied to all the islands lying between the Philippines and Java.


After a short sojourn at the Spice Islands, the return voyage was made by the ship La Victoria alone, commanded by Juan Sebastian del Cano,[358] who set sail from Tadore on the twenty-first of December, 1521, the ship La Concepcion having been burned at the island Bohol, and La Trinidad having been left at the Moluccas in a leaking condition. Following the route along the coast of Africa, the ship La Victoria arrived at Seville, on Monday, the eighth of September, 1522, she having sailed in the entire voyage, according to Pigafetta’s computation, fourteen thousand six hundred leagues. Thus passed into history the wonderful achievement of the first circumnavigation of the earth in three years and twenty-nine days.[359]

The signal success of the maritime enterprise of the Spaniards engendered a spirit of jealousy among the Portuguese. The feeling of being overshadowed by their persistent rival in reaching the Indies by the way of the West led them to accuse the Spaniards of encroaching on their commercial route to the Spice Islands, and of breaking the treaty of Tordesillas. The Spaniards in defence claimed that the Moluccas or the Spice Islands, found by Magellan’s companions, were not within the limits of the territory of the Portuguese as defined by the papal bull.

To settle these national differences the notable congress[296] of Badajos was convened in the spring of 1524. The king of each country sent to it special commissioners, among which number were Fernando Columbus, Sebastian Cabot, Diego Ribero, and Estevan Gomez. For a number of days the two parties angrily disputed concerning the indefinite position of the line of demarkation as established by the treaty of Tordesillas in 1494. It was a question not easily decided where among the Cape Verd Islands the point was, through which, at the distance of three hundred and seventy leagues from it, the line of limitation passed to the poles, for the group of the Cape Verd Islands occupies a space in extent from east to west of about one hundred and fifty miles.

Wherever, east or west, they decided this point should be established each party was aware that so much space would be gained or lost on the opposite side of the earth by the one or the other of the two countries. The congress, after many exciting disputations, finally ended its session on the last day of May, without reaching any decision respecting the position of the papal line of limitation. The admission that Spain had full title to the Spice or Molucca Islands and that Portugal had acquired the right of possession of a part of Brazil, were the chief concessions made by this contentious body of learned men.[360]



The competitive zeal which Portugal, Spain, and England had displayed, in searching for a short water-way to the eastern coast of Asia, in time quickened the ambition of France to emulate these maritime powers in discovering a desirable route across the Atlantic to the vast domains of the Grand Khan of Cathay. The Gulf of St. Lawrence, as early as the year 1504, was frequented by the fishing vessels of France. The exploration of the coast of the New Land, north of the present Atlantic territory of the United States of America, is described by a famous French sea-captain of Dieppe, in 1539.

“The said land, that part running east and west [Cape Breton Island and Nova Scotia?], was discovered about thirty-five years ago by the Bretons [Britons?] and Normans; hence this land has been called the Cape of the Bretons [Britons?].

“The other part [Newfoundland?] running north and south from Cape Ras to Cape Buona Vista, including nearly seventy leagues, was discovered by the Portuguese, and the remainder, as far as the Gulf of Castiles [north of the Strait of Belle Isle], and still farther, was discovered by the said Bretons [Britons?] and Normans.[361]


“About thirty-three years ago, a ship of Honfleur first went there, of which vessel Jean Denis was captain, and Gamart, of Rouen, pilot. In the year 1508, a ship of Dieppe, called La Pensée, owned by Jean Ango, father of the captain and viscount of Dieppe, sailed there, the master or patron of the said ship being Thomas Aubert, and he was the first person who brought here people from that country.”[362]

In company with the Pensée, another ship, commanded by Giovanni da Verrazzano, also sailed from the port of Dieppe. The two entering the river of St. Lawrence, ascended it to the distance of eighty leagues. The exploration of the river is thus described: “The people of Dieppe continued their commercial intercourse with the East Indies. When they heard of the discoveries which the Spaniards had made in America, they found their emulation incited, and they equipped two vessels to discover whether that part of the world did not extend its coast to the north. They intrusted the command of the ships to two of their most skillful captains, named Thomas Aubert and Jean Vérassen. These two ships sailed from Dieppe at the beginning of the year 1508, and discovered the same year the St. Lawrence River, to which they gave the name of Saint Lawrence because they began to ascend it on this saint’s day [the tenth of August]. They explored the river for more than eighty leagues, finding the inhabitants friendly, with whom they made very profitable exchanges for peltries.”[363]


As related in the chronicle of Eusebius, printed at Paris in 1512, it appears that Aubert and Verrazzano, on their departure from the New Land, carried to France a number of natives. Under the date of 1509, it is said: “Seven wild men were brought from that island (which is called the New Land) to Rouen with their canoe, clothing, and weapons. They are of a sooty color, with thick lips, and bearing marks on the face drawn like blue veins along the cheek-bones from the ear to the middle of the chin; with black hair and coarse like a horse’s mane; having no beard throughout the whole life; no hair on any part of the body, except on the head and eyebrows. They wear a girdle to cover their nakedness, in which girdle is a sort of pouch; they form a dialect with their lips; religion they have none. Their canoe is bark, which a man can lift on his shoulders with one hand. Their weapons are large bows, the strings being intestines or sinews of animals; their arrows are canes barbed with flint or fish-bone. Their food is boiled flesh; their drink water. Of bread and wine and money they have not the least use. They go naked or clad in the skins of beasts,—bears, deer, sea-calves, and the like. Their country, parallel to the seventh climate,[364] is nearer the West[365] than France is farther from it.”[366]


Although for a number of years, at the beginning of the sixteenth century, this part of North America was visited by English, French, and Portuguese seamen, it appears that no navigator had yet sailed along the peculiarly marked and sinuous coast of the new continent between the thirty-fourth and the forty-fifth parallels of north latitude. Fortunately for France, Giovanni da Verrazzano, a Florentine, who, in 1508, had sailed with Aubert to the New Land, was sent a second time on a voyage of discovery toward the west.[367] As pertinently said by Asher: “What Cadamosta had done for Portugal, Columbus for Spain, John Cabot for England, that Verrazzano did for France.”[368]

The history of Verazzano’s second visit to America rightly begins with the attempt of the king of Portugal, in 1523, to impede the sailing of the vessels preparing for the voyage. The means which King John III. of Portugal employed to frustrate this undertaking are partly described by D’Andrada, the Portuguese historian. He says: “At that time the king was told by some Portuguese doing business in France that one João Varezano [Giovanni da Varrazzano], a Florentine, offered himself to Francis to discover other kingdoms in the East, which the Portuguese had not found, and that in the ports of Normandy a fleet was making ready, under the patronage of the admirals of the coast and the dissimulation of Francis, to plant a colony in Santa Cruz, called Brazil, discovered and laid down by the Portuguese on the second voyage to India.[369] Accordingly, he [King John III.] sent to France an embassador,[301] João da Silveyra, son of Fernão da Silveyra, who delayed his going no longer than was necessary to get ready.”[370]

On his arrival at the court of France, Silveyra pursued his investigations respecting the expedition, and on the twenty-fifth of April, 1523, wrote to King John III., saying:

“By what I hear Master João Verazano, who is going on the discovery of Cathay, has not left up to this date for want of opportunity, and because of differences, I understand, between himself and men; and on this point, although knowing nothing positively, I have written my doubts in accompanying letters. I shall continue to doubt, unless he take his departure.”[371] Silveyra, according to what is said by D’Andrada, “accomplished nothing he had in hand except to delay the voyage of the Florentine.”

Notwithstanding the secret machinations of the king of Portugal, four vessels were finally fitted out and placed under the command of Verrazzano, “to discover new lands.” Late in the year 1523, the fleet set sail, but having encountered a severe storm in the North Sea, all the ships were disabled, and Verrazzano, having returned to Brittany to repair the two barques, La Normandie and La Dauphine, afterward sailed in the Dauphine to the New Land.[372]

When he returned to France, he wrote an interesting letter to Francis I., king of France, dated “on board the ship La Dauphine, in the port of Dieppe, in[302] Normandy, July 8, 1524.”[373] In this communication Verrazzano relates what had happened to his fleet in the North Sea, how he had carried out the orders of the king by sailing in the Dauphine toward the west to go to Cathay, where and when he discovered a new land never before seen by men of ancient or modern times. He then describes the people inhabiting the country, speaks of its various productions, mentions the peculiar physical features of its coast, tells how many leagues he had sailed along it, and concludes with a brief review of the discoveries made to the year 1524 in the western hemisphere. His remarks concerning his failure to find a convenient harbor where he first descried land, of his unsuccessful search for one south of the thirty-fourth parallel, of his steering afterward toward the north in quest of a haven, and of his disappointment in this direction, are so applicable to the peculiar features of this part of the eastern coast of the United States, that it is easy to perceive that he faithfully pictures the shores of South Carolina and North Carolina, along which he began his explorations. The comparisons he makes respecting the natives, the flora, the[303] fauna, the climate, and the harbors of the more northern part of the coast, prove that he had travelled extensively in other parts of the world, and that he was well informed concerning the things he commented upon in his letter. His geographical knowledge is far in advance of that of the scientific men of his time, and he constantly shows that he was practically acquainted with all the known means which were then used to ascertain longitude, latitude, and the measurement of distances. His opinion that the Orient extended around to the New Land was well founded, since it was not known until the eighteenth century that Behring’s Strait separated America from Asia. His reasoning concerning the dimensions of the new continent, that if its breadth corresponded to the extent of its sea-coast it doubtless exceeded Asia in size, is logically correct. Verrazzano’s hopefulness that information of a more satisfactory character respecting the extent of the territory of the New Land would be obtained by other explorers, shows that he was less thoughtful of the brilliancy of his own achievements than he was of the more desirable and important results of future voyages to that part of the present coast of the United States, between the thirty-fourth and forty-fifth parallels, of which he is rightfully entitled to be regarded the discoverer. Verrazzano wrote:[374]

“Most Serene Sire:

“After the past fortune on the northern coasts I did not write to your most serene and Christian majesty concerning the success of the four vessels ordered to the ocean to discover new lands, thinking[304] that you would be informed of all: how, by the impetuous stress of the winds, we were compelled, with only the ships La Normandie and La Dauphine, in a damaged condition, to put back to Brittany, where they were mended. Your serene majesty has heard of the wandering course we made with these, armed as in war, along the shores of Spain, and afterward of the new purpose to pursue, with the Dauphine alone, the first voyage, from which having returned, I will give your serene majesty an account of what we discovered.[375]

“From the desert-rock[376] in the sea, near the island of Madeira of the most serene king of Portugal, we departed with the said Dauphine, on the seventeenth of the past month of January, with fifty men, furnished with provisions, arms, and other martial instruments, and naval stores for eight months. Sailing westwardly, an easterly wind blowing pleasantly and moderately, we ran in twenty-five days 800 leagues.[377] On the fourteenth of February (il di 14 Febbrajo), we encountered a storm as severe as any one navigating ever experienced, from which we were enabled with divine help and goodness to escape, to the praise of the glorious and fortunate name of the ship, which endured the violent waves of the sea, and we pursued our voyage, continuing toward the west, holding a little to the north. In twenty-five more days (in venti cinque altri giorni), we ran 400 other leagues, when there appeared a new land, never before seen by men in ancient or modern times.

“At first it seemed to be somewhat low. On approaching it within a quarter of a league, we saw by the large fires made on the shore that it was inhabited. We observed that the coast trended toward the south, and we inspected it to discover some harbor which we might enter with the ship to examine the nature of the land, but for fifty leagues along it we could not find a convenient haven where we could safely stay. Seeing[306] the coast continued to run toward the south, we determined to turn and go back to the north, where we found the same want of harbors as we ascended the coast.”


A copy of a part of the map of the fourth part of the world in the French work, “La Cosmographie Universelle,” by André Thevet, printed in Paris in 1575. (The original part is about one-third larger.)

The New Land (Nuova Terra), discovered by Verrazzano, was first seen by him on the tenth of March, (old style,) being that part of the coast of the continent now included in the present territory of North Carolina, north of Cape Fear,[378] on the thirty-fourth parallel of north latitude. It appears that Verrazzano had thought of finding land on his way to the Indies, for he says: “My intention in this voyage was to reach Cathay, on the extreme coast of Asia, expecting, however, to find in the newly discovered land some such obstacle as I found.”

“Ordering a boat to carry us ashore, we beheld,” says Verrazzano, “many people who had collected on the beach. Seeing us approaching, they fled. Some, however, turned and gazed at us with much curiosity. Assuring them by various signs, a number came near, manifesting great delight in scrutinizing the peculiarities of our clothing, figure, and whiteness. They indicated by signs where we could most easily land with the boat, and proffered us some of their food. What we were able to learn of their life and customs while on land, I will briefly relate to your majesty.

“They go nearly naked, wearing only about the loins some skins of small animals similar to the martens. A girdle of woven grass encircles the body, to which they fasten the tails of animals, which hang down as far as the knees. All the rest of the body is nude, as is also the head. Some of them wear drapery in like manner made of the feathers of birds. The color[307] of these people is black (neri), not very different from that of the Ethiopians. Their hair is black and thick, but not very long; it is worn tied back upon the head in the form of a little tail.[379] In person they are of good proportion, of middle-stature, a little above our own, broad across the breast, strong in the arms, and well-formed in the legs and other parts of the body; the only exception to their good looks is that they have broad faces, but not all of them, for we saw many who had sharp ones, with large black eyes and a fixed expression. They are not very strong in body, but acute in mind, active and swift of foot as far as we could perceive by observation. They greatly resemble in these two last particulars the people of the East, especially those of the remote regions. We were not able to learn much concerning their habits on account of our short stay on land and the distance of our ship from the shore.”

Verrazzano designated his first landing-place on the coast of the New Land by calling it Diepa, the Italian form of the French name Dieppe, that of the port from which he had sailed to make discoveries in the western hemisphere. Visconte de Maiollo, on his map of the world made in 1527, places the name Diepa on the coast of Francesca, a little north of Terra Florida.[380]

Describing his next place of anchorage, Verrazzano says: “We found not far from this people another, whose mode of life we judged to be similar to that of[308] the former. The whole shore is covered with fine sand about fifteen feet deep, rising in the form of little hills about fifty paces broad. Ascending farther, we found several arms of the sea which, entering through inlets, washed the shore on each side as the coast trends. An extensive country appears, rising somewhat above the level of the sandy beach in beautiful fields and broad plains, covered with immense forests, more or less dense, the foliage of the trees being of various colors, too attractive and charming to be described. I do not believe that these are like the Hercynian forest, or the rough solitudes of Scythia, or the northern regions full of vines and trees, but growing with palms,[381] laurels, cypresses, and other varieties of trees unknown in Europe, which exhale a very sweet fragrance a great distance. We could not examine them closely for the reasons already mentioned, and not on account of any difficulty in traversing the woods, which, on the contrary, are easily penetrated.

“As the Orient stretches around to this country,[382] I do not think that it is devoid of the same kind of drugs and aromatic liquors, nor of other resources as gold and the like, which the color of the earth indicated.[383] The country abounds with many animals as deer, stags, hares, and the like. It is plentifully supplied with lakes and ponds of running water, and with a great variety of birds, fit and useful for every kind of pleasant and delightful sport. This land lies in 34°.[309] The air is salubrious, pure, and of a temperature neither hot nor cold. There are no impetuous winds in these regions, the most prevalent being the northwest and west.

“When we were there in summer-time the sky was clear with little rain, and if fogs and mists were at any time driven in by the south wind, they quickly disappeared, and the sky became again serene and bright. The sea is tranquil and not stormy. Although the whole coast is low and without harbors, it is not dangerous to navigate, being free from rocks and bold, so that within four or five fathoms from the shore there are twenty-four feet of water at all times of tide, and this depth uniformly increases as you go farther into the sea. The holding ground is so good that no ship can part her cable, however strong the wind may be, as we proved by experience, for while riding at anchor on the coast we were overtaken by a gale in the beginning of March, when the winds are high, as is usual in all countries, and we found our anchor broken before it started from its place or moved at all.”

“March being the season in our southern climate, when vegetation of all kinds is putting forth,” says an American writer, residing in South Carolina, “the woods presented to the stranger a greater variety of charms than he had ever beheld. The trees, green and beautiful with the living verdure of our early spring, were bending down with rich clusters of golden jessamine, which spread their rich perfume over the whole air, while the underbrush embraced a collection of aromatic shrubs and wild flowers, which might easily be mistaken for the rich spices of oriental production.”[384]

After inspecting the sandy, harborless shore of Onslow[310] Bay, Verrazzano sailed eastwardly in order to double Cape Lookout, in 34° 37´ north latitude. “We set sail from this place,” he says, “continuing to coast along the shore, which we found turned to the west, [east in the direction in which he was sailing]. The inhabitants were numerous, for we saw every-where many fires.[385] While at anchor on this coast, there being no harbor to enter, we sent the boat to the shore with twenty-five men to obtain water, but it was impossible to land without endangering the boat, on account of the very high surf thrown upon the shore by the sea, as it was an open roadstead.[386] Many natives came to the beach, and signified by various friendly signs that we might trust ourselves on land. One of their noble deeds of friendship deserves to be made known to your majesty. A young sailor was attempting to swim ashore through the surf to carry them some knick-knacks, as little bells, looking-glasses, and similar trifles, when after approaching near to three or four natives and casting them the things and turning about to get back to the boat, he was overturned by the waves and so dashed by them upon the beach that he lay there as if he were dead. When the people saw him in this condition they ran and took him up by the head, legs, and arms, and carried him some distance from the surf. The young man, finding himself borne off in this way, uttered very loud shrieks in fear and dismay, while they answered as best they could in their language, intimating that he had no cause for fear. Afterward they laid him down at the foot of a little hill, where they took off his shirt and trousers, and[311] examined him, expressing the greatest astonishment at the whiteness of his skin. Our sailors in the boat seeing a great fire kindled and their companion placed very near it, full of fear, as is usual in all cases of a novel character, imagined that the natives were about to roast him for food. But as soon as he had recovered his strength, after a short stay with them, and had shown by signs that he wished to return to the boat, they affectionately hugged him and accompanied him to the beach, where leaving him, they withdrew to a little hill, that he might feel more free, and watched him until he was safe in the boat. This young man reported that these people were black as the others, that they had shining skin, middle-stature, but sharper faces and very delicate bodies and limbs, and that they were inferior in strength but quicker in thought. This is all he observed.”

After this adventure, which likely occurred somewhere on the coast near the thirty-sixth parallel, perhaps in the vicinity of Roanoke Island, North Carolina, Verrazzano steered northwardly, and while sailing at night passed by the entrance to Chesapeake Bay and anchored off the coast of Virginia, some distance north of Cape Charles, which is in 37° 3´.

“Departing from this place [the coast of North Carolina], and always following the coast which trended toward the north, we came,” says Verrazzano, “in the space of fifty leagues to another land, which appeared very beautiful and full of large forests. We approached it and going ashore with twenty men, went back from the coast about two leagues, and found that the people had fled and hid themselves in the woods in fear. By searching around we discovered in the grass a very old woman with a young girl of about eighteen or[312] twenty years of age, who had concealed themselves for the same reason. The old woman carried two infants on her shoulders, and behind her neck a little boy about eight years old. When we came upon them they began to shriek and make signs to the men who had fled to the woods. We gave them a part of our provisions, which they accepted with delight, but the girl would not touch any, every thing we offered to her being thrown down in great anger. We took the little boy from the old woman to carry him with us to France, and would have taken the girl also, who was very beautiful and very tall, but it was impossible on account of the piercing shrieks she uttered, when we attempted to lead her away. Having to pass some woods, and being far from the ship, we determined to leave her and only take the boy. We found these people fairer (più bianchi) than those we had passed. From certain grasses hanging from the branches of trees, they make their clothing; the grasses being woven together with threads of wild hemp. Their heads were uncovered and of the same shape as the other natives we had seen. Their food is a kind of pulse which abounds there, different in color and in size from ours, and of a very pleasant taste. Besides they use birds and fish for food, which they take with snares, and bows made of hard wood. Their arrows are reeds, in the ends of which they fasten the bones of fish and of animals. The animals in these regions are wilder than those in Europe by being more frequently molested by those hunting them. We saw many of their boats constructed of a single tree, twenty feet long and four feet wide, fabricated without the use of stone or iron or other metal. Along the whole coast which we explored for the space of two[313] hundred leagues, we saw no stone of any sort. To hollow out the log they burn as much of it as will form the concave part of the boat, and also form the ends which are to be the prow and stern, to make the boat float well. The land in situation, fertility, and beauty is like the other, covered with forests, filled with different kinds of trees but not such fragrant ones, since the region is farther north and colder.”

While exploring the peninsula of Virginia, the warm-hearted and sympathetic Florentine was pleasingly reminded of his own delightful country by seeing many wild grape-vines festooning the tall forest trees. He observed that the savages carefully removed the shading shrubbery near the prolific vines, so that the ripening rays of the sun could fall on the green fruit.

“We saw in this country,” he says, “many vines growing naturally, entwining themselves about the trees, climbing as they do in Cisalpine Gaul, which, if they were dressed in the right way of cultivation by husbandmen, they would produce without doubt the best of wines, because often the fruit of that drinking is agreeable and sweet, seeing it is not different from our own, (perche più volte il frutto di quello beendo, veggendo suave e dolce non dal nostro differente). The vines are held in high estimation by the inhabitants, for they take away all the surrounding concealing shrubbery to enable the fruit to grow.[387]


“We also found,” Verrazzano further relates, “wild roses, violets, lilies, and many kinds of plants and fragrant flowers differing from our own. We cannot describe the habitations of the people as the structures were in the interior, but from various indications we concluded they were formed of trees and shrubs. There were also many signs which led us to suppose that the inhabitants often sleep in the open air without any covering but the sky. We are ignorant of their other habits. We believe, however, that all the people we were among live in the same way.”

When Verrazzano was on land with the twenty men, he crossed the narrow peninsula of Virginia and beheld the wide expanse of Chesapeake Bay.[388] This great body of water, stretching toward the north and south as far as he could see, and spreading westward to an unknown distance, led the surprised explorer to imagine that it was a part of the Indian Ocean, (Mare Indicum), by which, if there were a navigable entrance to it, he might sail to Cathay.[389] Ignorant of the fact that he had already passed at night the channel leading to this expanse of water, Verrazzano entertained the thought that he might discover one along the coast farther northward. Although he determined not to sail again at night along the New Land, and resolved to inspect its coast more closely thereafter, he failed to find a passage to the assumed western sea, when he sailed northward. After returning to France, he made a map[315] on which he represented this sea separated from the Atlantic Ocean by a narrow neck of land, similar in outline and situation to the northern part of the peninsula of Virginia. This is corroborated by Hakluyt, the English collector, who says: “Master John Verazanus, which had been thrise on that coast, in an olde excellent mappe which he gave to King Henrie the eight, and is yet in the custodie of Master Locke, doth so lay it out.”[390]



Verrazzano’s brother, Hieronymus, also made a map of New France, on which he placed this explanatory inscription respecting this part of the coast, which he also delineates as a narrow tract of land: “From this eastern sea [the Atlantic] one beholds the western sea; there are six miles of land between them.”[391] The Sea of Verrazzano (Mare de Verrazana), represented on the fan-shaped map made by Michael Locke, in 1582, was, as Hakluyt affirms, “according to Verazanus plat,” which “laieth out the sea makinge a little necke of land in 40 degrees of latitude much like the streyte necke or istmus of Dariena.”[392]

Sailing northwardly from the peninsula of Virginia, Verrazzano proceeded leisurely along the coast searching for an entrance to the so-called western sea. Although he does not speak of entering Delaware Bay, there is no testimony to contradict the assertion that he explored it. Describing his voyage along the coasts of the present states of Maryland, Delaware, and New Jersey, Verrazzano writes: “After having remained here three days, riding at anchor[316] off the coast [of Virginia], for we could not find a harbor, we determined to depart, sailing always along the shore, which trended to the northeast, only navigating in day-time and coming to anchor at night.”

About the last of April, 1524, the Dauphine arrived off the low point of land, now called Sandy Hook, designated on Maiollo’s map of 1527 as C. de S. Maria (Cape of St. Mary).[393] Seeing the convenient haven north of it, Verrazzano changed the vessel’s course and slowly sailed into the spacious roadstead. Having found a suitable riding-place, the French barque cast her anchor in the sight of a multitude of interested natives, who from the neighboring hills witnessed the first mooring of a European ship in the tranquil waters of the large bay.

The ship’s boat being manned, Verrazzano began to explore the mouth of the great river, as he designated the channel now called the Narrows. Eager to know the destination of the strange explorers, the curious natives thronged the shores of Staten and Long islands as Verrazzano and his men passed up the Narrows in mid-stream toward the upper bay, which the enthusiastic Italian denominated a very beautiful lake. Entering the commodious bay, Verrazzano hastily surveyed its islands and inlets, the mouth of the noble river flowing into it, and the distant highlands dimly defined along the northern horizon. Describing his short exploration of the upper bay of New York, Verrazzano writes:

“At the end of one hundred leagues we discovered a very delightful place among some small hills, eminences, between which ran a very great river (una grandissima riviera) to the ocean, which was deep within to the mouth, and from the sea to the enlargement of[317] the bay the rise of the tide was eight feet, and through it any heavy ship can pass.[394]

“As in good duty we did not wish to run the risk of penetrating the coast without knowledge of the mouth of the river, we took the boat and entered the river within the country where we found it to be thickly inhabited and the people resembling the others we had seen, adorned with birds’ feathers of different colors, coming toward us with evident delight, uttering very loud cries of admiration, indicating, if we had to land with the boat, where it was most safe. We entered the said river within the country about half a league, where we saw it formed a most beautiful lake (un bellissimo lago), about three leagues in compass, upon which we saw boats, thirty in number, moving from one part to another with innumerable people, who passed from shore to shore to see us.[395] Very suddenly, as is wont to happen to those navigating, an impetuous contrary wind blew in from the sea, compelling us to return to the ship. We departed from this region with much displeasure on account of its extent and attractiveness, for we believed that it was not without some resources of wealth as all the hills indicated the existence of minerals in them.”


As a geographical designation for the very great river (una grandissima riviera), the name Grande (Great) River was used by some of the most celebrated map-makers of Europe, during the sixteenth century. In the seventeenth century, when the Dutch took possession of this part of New France, the Dutch synonym, “Groote,” was substituted for the Italian designation. The Spaniards, who explored the coast of North America after Verrazzano had inspected it, gave different names to the river.

Henry Hudson was induced to explore the Grande River by Captain John Smith, who believed that the English navigator could find a strait connecting it with the western sea (Mare Indicum) delineated on Verrazzano’s map. In the summer of 1609, when Hudson attempted to sail to Asia by a passage north of Novaya Zemlya, and was compelled to abandon the project on account of the barrier of ice surrounding the island, it is said he placed before the officers and crew of the Half Moon (Halve Maen), the choice of one of two proposals. Respecting the proposals of which they had the consideration, the Dutch historian, Van Meteren, thus speaks: “Master Hudson gave them their choice of two things, the first was to go to the coast of America, at the fortieth degree of latitude, mostly incited to this by letters and maps which a certain Captain Smith had sent him from Virginia, and on which he showed him a sea by which he might circumnavigate their southern colony [Virginia] from the north, and from there pass into a western sea. The other proposal was to seek the passage by Davis’s Strait.”[396]

Hudson, besides knowing the situation of the noble[319] stream, was also informed that it was called the Great (Grande) River. Robert Juet, the journalist of the voyage of 1609, recording the incidents of the last day’s exploration of the river, writes: “Within a while after, we came out also of the great mouth of the great Riuer.”[397]

De Laet, the Dutch historian, writing in 1625, mentions the fact that the Dutch used the name “Great” for the river in preference to all the other appellations designating it: “The great north river of New Netherland was called by some the Manhattes river, from the people who dwell near its mouth; by others, Rio de Montaignes (River of the Mountains), but by our countrymen it was mostly called ‘de groote rieviere’ (the Great river).”[398] As early as the year 1624, the name “Hudson’s River” was inscribed on maps to designate the stream discovered by Verrazzano.[399]

Sailing from the mouth of the Grande River, between the Cape of Saint Mary (C. de S. Maria) and the point of land denominated Anguileme[400] on Maiollo’s map of 1527, Verrazzano coasted along the south side of Long Island for fifty leagues, at the end of which he passed the eastern extremity of the island, now[320] called Montauk Point. While seeking, during a storm, a port of refuge eastward of Long Island, Verrazzano discovered the island now called Block Island, which he describes as triangular in form, and in size about equal to the island of Rhodes.[401] Block Island lies southwest of Narragansett Bay, and is about eight miles long and about five miles broad at its widest part. Verrazzano called it Luisa, the name of the mother of King Francis I., Louise, the daughter of Philippe, duke of Savoy. The orthography of the Italian name, as presented by Visconte de Maiollo on his map of the world of 1527, was soon corrupted by map-makers, and on a number of charts of the sixteenth century it is inscribed “Brisa” and “Briso.” The names “Claude” and “Claudia” appear on some maps as designations for it, used most likely, in honor of Claude, the wife of Francis I., the first being the French orthography of the appellation, and the latter the Italian.

The departure of the Dauphine from the mouth of the Grande River, Verrazzano thus describes: “Weighing anchor, we sailed fifty leagues toward the east, as the coast trended in that direction, and always in sight of it. At the end of the course we discovered an island of a triangular form about ten leagues from the main-land, in size about equal to the island of Rhodes, having many hills covered with trees, and well peopled, judging from the great number of fires we saw all around it. We gave it the name of your majesty’s illustrious mother. We did not land on it, as the weather was unfavorable.”

Sailing northeasterly from Block Island, the Italian explorer beheld the coast of the main-land, and anchored[321] the Dauphine in Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island. Speaking of the discovery of the commodious bay, designated on Maiollo’s map by the Italian name, “Refugio,” Verrazzano says:

“We proceeded to another place fifteen leagues distant from the island, where we found a very excellent harbor. Before entering it we saw about twenty small boats filled with people, who came to the ship with various cries and wonderment. But they would not approach nearer than fifty paces. Stopping, they looked at the structure of the ship, our persons, and dress. Afterward they all cried out loudly together, signifying that they were delighted. By imitating their signs we inspired them with a measure of confidence, so that they came near enough for us to toss them some little bells and glasses and many toys, which they took and looked at laughing, and then came on board without fear. Among them were two kings more attractive in form and stature than can be described. One was about forty years old, the other about twenty-four, and they were dressed in the following fashion.

“The elder king had the skin of a deer wrapped around his nude body, artificially made with various embroideries to decorate it. His head was bare. His hair was bound behind with various bands, and around his neck he wore a large chain ornamented with many stones of different colors. The younger king was like him in appearance. This was the finest-looking people and the handsomest in their costumes that we found in our voyage. They exceed us in size, and are of a very fair complexion (sono di colore bianchissimo); some of them incline more to a white, and others to a tawny color. Their faces are sharp; their hair is long[322] and black, on the adornment of which they bestow great care. Their eyes are black and keen; their demeanor is gentle and attractive, very much like that of the ancients. I say nothing to your majesty of the other parts of the body that are all in good proportion as belong to well-formed men.

“The women resemble them in size, and are very graceful and handsome, and quite attractive in dress and manners. They had no other clothing except a deer-skin, ornamented as were the skins worn by the men. Some had very rich lynx-skins upon their arms, and wore various ornaments upon their heads, braided in their hair, which hung down upon their breasts. Others wore different ornaments, such as those of the women of Egypt and Syria. The older and the married people, both men and women, wore many ornaments in their ears, hanging down in Oriental fashion.

“We saw on them pieces of wrought copper, which is more esteemed by them than gold, the latter being deemed the most ordinary of metals, yellow being a color much disliked by them. Blue and red are the colors which they value most highly. Of the things which we gave them, they preferred the bells, azure crystals, and other toys, which they hung in their ears and about their necks. They do not value or desire to have silk or gold-drapery, or other kinds of cloth, nor implements of steel or iron. When we showed them our weapons, they expressed no admiration, and only asked how they were made. The same indifference was manifested when they were given the looking-glasses, which they with smiles returned to us as soon as they had looked at them. They are very generous, giving away whatever they have.

“We formed a great friendship with them, and one[323] day we entered into port with our ship, having before rode at the distance of a league from the shore, as the weather was unfavorable. They came to the ship with a number of their little boats, with their faces painted with different colors, manifesting real signs of joy, bringing us of their provisions, and signifying to us where we could best ride in safety with our ship, and keeping with us until we had cast anchor.

“We remained among them fifteen days to provide ourselves with many things of which we were in want, during which time they came every day to see our ship, bringing with them their wives, of whom they were very careful, for, although they came on board themselves, and remained a long while, they made their wives stay in the boats, nor could we ever get them on board by any solicitations or any presents we could make them. One of the two kings, however, often came with his queen and many attendants to see us for his amusement. But he always stopped on land at the distance of about two hundred paces from us, and sent a boat to announce his intended visit, saying they would come and see our ship. This was done for safety, and as soon as they had received our answer, they came and remained some time to look around. On hearing the annoying cries of the sailors, the king sent the queen, with her attendants, in a very light boat to wait, near an island, a quarter of a league distant, while he remained a long time on board, talking with us by signs, and expressing his fanciful notions about every thing in the ship, and asking the use of all. After imitating our modes of salutation, and tasting our food, he courteously took leave of us. Once, when our men remained two or three days on a small island near the ship for their various necessities,[324] as sailors are wont to do, he came with seven or eight of his attendants to inquire about our movements, often asking us if we intended to remain there long, and offering us every thing at his command. Sometimes he would shoot with his bow, and run up and down with his people, making great sport for us. We often went five or six leagues into the interior, and found the country as pleasant as can be conceived, adapted to cultivation of every kind, whether of corn, wine, or oil. There are open plains twenty-five and thirty leagues in length, entirely free from trees or other obstructions, and so fertile that whatever is sown there will yield an excellent crop. On entering the woods, we observed that they might all be traversed by any large army. The trees in them were oaks, cypresses, and others unknown in Europe. We found, also, apples, plums, filberts, and many other fruits, but of a different kind from ours. The animals, which are in great numbers, stags, deer, lynx, and many other kinds, are taken with snares and by bows; the latter is the principal weapon of the natives. Their arrows are beautifully made. For points they use emery, jasper, hard marble, and other sharp stones instead of iron. They also use the same kind of sharp stones in cutting down trees, and with them construct their boats of single logs, hollowed out with admirable skill, and sufficiently commodious to seat ten or twelve persons. Their oars are short, with broad blades, and are rowed by the force of the arms, with the greatest care and as rapidly as they wish.

“We saw their dwellings, which are circular in form, about ten or twelve paces in circumference, made of logs split in half, without any regularity of architecture, and covered with roofs of straw, nicely put on, which[325] protect them from wind and rain. There is no doubt that they would build stately edifices if they had workmen as skillful as ours, for the whole sea-coast abounds with shining stones, crystals, and alabaster, and on this account it has dens and retreats for animals. They change their habitations from place to place, as circumstances of situation and season may require. This is easily done, for they have only to take with them their mats, and they have other houses immediately prepared.

“The father and the whole family dwell together in one house. In some of their houses we saw twenty-five or thirty persons. Their food is pulse, as that of the other people, which is here better than elsewhere, and more carefully cultivated. In the time of sowing they are governed by the moon, which they think effects the sprouting of the grain. They have many other ancient customs. They live by hunting and fishing, and they are long lived. If they fall sick ...[402] they cure themselves without medicine, with the heat of fire. Death comes to them at last from extreme old age. We judged them to be very affectionate and charitable toward their relatives, for they make loud lamentations in their adversity, and in their misery call to remembrance all their good deeds. When they die their relations mutually join in weeping mingled with singing for a long while. This is all that we could learn of them.

“This region is situated on the parallel of Rome, in 41⅔ degrees, as I shall narrate hereafter to your serene majesty.[403] At present I shall describe the situation of this place. At its south end the channel is narrow[326] and a half league wide. It extends, between east [south?], and north, twelve leagues. Then it enlarges and forms a very spacious bay twenty leagues in circuit, in which are five small islands, very fertile and attractive, and covered with high trees. The bay is so spacious that between these islands any number of vessels might ride at ease without fear of tempests and other dangers. At the entrance of the bay, farther south, there are very attractive hills on both sides of the channel, and many streams of clear water flow from the eminences into the sea. In the middle of the mouth there is a rock of freestone (uno scoglio di viva pietra), formed by nature and suitable for the construction of any kind of machine or bulwark for the defence of the haven.”

Verrazzano’s description of Narragansett Bay, named Port du Refuge on Gastaldi’s map of 1553,[404] is so accurate that without any other information it would be easy to determine the situation of the place where for fifteen days, ending the sixth of May (old style), he and his crew held familiar intercourse with the friendly Indians inhabiting the islands and the main-land in the vicinity of the anchorage of the Dauphine. The latitude of the bay given by Verrazzano cannot be gainsaid.[405]


Departing, on the sixth of May, from Port du Refuge, the Dauphine sailed on a southeasterly course to pass the islands of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. Having steered fifty leagues in this direction, Verrazzano found the coast to trend toward the north, which he followed until he again cast anchor off the coast of Maine, a little north of the forty-third parallel.

The wary aborigines of this part of the New Land would not venture near the Dauphine, nor could they be induced to part with their commodities until they were remunerated with such things as were most useful to them. The landing of twenty-five men from the vessel provoked an attack, and yet after this show of hostility the Indians fled to the woods.

Speaking of his departure from Narragansett Bay, Verrazzano writes: “Having supplied ourselves with every thing necessary, on the sixth of May [old style], we departed from the port, and sailed one hundred and fifty leagues, keeping close enough to the coast not to lose it from our sight. The character of the country appeared much the same as before, but the mountains were a little higher, and in all appearance rich in minerals.

“We did not stop to land, as the weather was very favorable for pursuing our voyage, and the country presented no variety. The shore stretched to the east, and fifty leagues beyond more to the north, where we found a more elevated country, full of very dense woods of pine, cypress, and the like, indicative of a cold climate.

“The people were entirely different from the others we had seen, whom we had found kind and gentle, but these were so rude and barbarous that we were unable, by any signs we could make, to hold any communication[328] with them. They clothe themselves with the skins of bears, wolves, lynx, marine, and other animals. Their food, which we inferred from several visits to their dwellings, is obtained by hunting and fishing. They have certain vegetables which are roots of spontaneous growth. They have no pulse, and we saw no signs of its cultivation. The land appears sterile and unfit for the growth of fruits or grain of any kind. If we wished at any time to traffic with them, they came to the sea-shore and stood upon the rocks, from which they lowered down by a cord to our boats beneath whatever they had to barter, continually crying out to us not to come nearer, and instantly demanding from us that which was to be given in exchange. They took from us only knives, fish-hooks, and sharpened steel. No regard was paid to our courtesies. When we had nothing left to exchange with them, the men at our departure made the most brutal signs of disdain and contempt possible. Against their will, we penetrated two or three leagues into the interior with twenty-five men. When we came to the shore, they shot at us with their arrows, uttering the most horrible cries, and afterward fleeing to the woods. In this region we found nothing extraordinary except vast forests, and some metalliferous hills as we inferred, for we saw that many of the people wore copper ear-rings.”

Following the trend of the coast of Maine, Verrazzano found along this part of his course for the space of fifty leagues, numerous islands, thirty-two of which, near the main-land, were high and attractive. Among them he saw many excellent roadsteads and navigable channels.

Describing his exploration along the coast of Maine, Verrazzano remarks: “Departing from this place[329] [perhaps in the vicinity of Cape Neddock], we kept along the coast steering to the northeast, and found the country more pleasant and open, free from woods, and far in the interior we saw lofty mountains, but none which extended to the shore.

“Within fifty leagues we discovered thirty-two small and attractive islands, all near the main-land. They were so high and so disposed as to afford as fine harbors and channels as those that are in the Adriatic Gulf, near Illyria and Dalmatia. We had no intercourse with the people, but we judge that they were similar in disposition and habits to those we were last among.

“After sailing between east and north the distance of one hundred and fifty more leagues, and finding our provisions and naval stores nearly exhausted, we took in wood and water, and determined to return to France, having discovered five hundred and two, that is to say, seven hundred leagues of new land (avendo discoperto leghe 502 cioe leghe 700 più di nuova terra).”

The distance of seven hundred leagues Verrazzano reckoned in the following way, as explained by him in his geographical exposition of the voyage: “In addition to the 92 degrees we ran toward the west from our point of departure before we reached land on the thirty-fourth parallel, we have to count 300 [French] leagues, which we ran northeastwardly and 400 nearly east along the coast before we reached the fiftieth parallel of north latitude.” Measured directly north from the thirty-fourth parallel to the fiftieth, the space includes sixteen degrees, which multiplied by 31¼ French leagues, which at that time equaled a degree of latitude, the product of 500 French leagues is obtained.[406] Two leagues added to these, for the distance[330] sailed directly south of the thirty-fourth parallel, make 502 French leagues, or about eleven hundred and four land-miles, the geographical extent of the coast explored by Verrazzano.[407] The New Land (Nuova Terra), discovered by Verrazzano, was as early as the year 1527 delineated on a map of the world and denominated Francesca. This Italian name it bore for a number of years until the French geographical designation La Nouvelle France (New France) was substituted for it.[408]

Concluding his description of the new country, Verrazzano remarks: “As to the religious faith of all these tribes, not understanding their language, we could not learn either by signs or gestures any thing certain. It seemed to us that they had no religion or laws, nor any knowledge of a First Cause or Mover,—that they worshipped neither the heavens, stars, sun, moon, nor the other planets. We could not learn if they were given to any kind of idolatry, or offered any sacrifices or supplications, or if they have temples or houses of[331] prayer in their villages. Our conclusion was that they had no religion, but lived without any. This seems to be the result of ignorance, for they are very easily persuaded, and imitated us with earnestness and fervor in all that they saw us do as Christians in our acts of devotion.”

Verrazzano added to this general description of his remarkable discoveries, an elaborate cosmographical explanation of the situation of the New Land. His geometrical elucidation of the distances sailed by the Dauphine, shows how desirous he was to make plain the geography of the vast continent, which he and others had partly explored. He says:

“It remains for me to place before your serene majesty a cosmographical description of the voyage. As I have already said, we departed from the desert-rocks, lying in the extreme part of the West known to the ancients, and in the described meridian near the Fortunate Islands, on the thirty-second parallel from the equator of our hemisphere, and sailed from it westwardly to where we found the first land, 1,200 leagues or 4,800 miles, reckoning according to nautical custom four miles to a [marine] league.[409] ... During[332] our voyage we had no lunar eclipses or similar celestial phenomena. We therefore determined our progress from the difference of longitude, which we ascertained by various instruments, taking the sun’s altitude from day to day, and by calculating geometrically the distance run by the ship from one horizon to another. All these observations, as also the ebb and flow of the tide in all places, were noted down in a little book, which may prove serviceable to navigators. They are communicated to your majesty with the hope of promoting science.

“My intention in this voyage was to reach Cathay, on the extreme coast of Asia, expecting, however, to find in the newly discovered land some obstacle as I found, yet I did not doubt that I should sail by some passage to the eastern ocean. It was the opinion of the ancients that our eastern ocean of India was an expanse of water without any intervening land. Aristotle supports it by arguments founded on various probabilities, but it is contrary to later belief and false by observation. The discovered country, of which the ancients knew nothing, is another world compared with that which was before known, being evidently larger than our Europe together with Africa, and, perhaps, Asia, if one rightly estimate its extent, as shall now be explained briefly to your majesty.”[410] He then[333] speaks of the Spaniards sailing as far south as the Strait of Magellan and as far north as the twenty-first parallel without finding a termination to the continent....

“But to return to ourselves:—in the voyage which we have made by the order of your majesty, in addition to the ninety-two degrees we ran toward the west from the point of our departure before we reached land on the thirty-fourth parallel, we have to count 300 leagues which we sailed northeastwardly, and 400 nearly east along the coast before we reached the fiftieth parallel of north latitude, the point where we turned our course from the shore toward home. Beyond this point the Portuguese had sailed as far north as the arctic circle without coming to the end of the continent. Adding the degrees of south latitude explored, which are fifty-four, to those of the north, which are sixty-six, the sum is one hundred and twenty degrees, and therefore more than are included in the latitude of Africa and Europe, for the north point of Norway, the extremity of Europe, is in 71° north latitude, and the Cape of Good Hope, the southern extremity of Africa, is in 35° south latitude, and their sum is only one hundred and six degrees. If the breadth of this newly discovered country correspond to the extent of its sea-coast, it doubtless exceeds Asia in size. In this way we find that the land forms a much larger part of our globe than the ancients supposed, who maintained, contrary to mathematical reasoning, that it was less than the water, whereas actual experience proves the reverse, so that judging in respect to extent of surface, the land covers apparently as much space as the water.[411]


“I hope to point out and explain more clearly and satisfactorily the great extent of the New Land or New World, of which I have been speaking. Asia and Africa, we know, are joined together and are connected with Norway and Russia with Europe, which disproves the idea of the ancients that all this northern part had been navigated from the promontory of Cimbri [Denmark] eastward as far as the Caspian Sea. They also maintained that the whole continent was surrounded by two oceans, lying east and west of it, which seas in fact do not surround either of the two continents, for as we have already seen the land in the western hemisphere at 54° south latitude extends eastwardly an unknown distance, and that the land north of the equator, beyond the sixty-sixth parallel, turns to the east and does not terminate at the seventieth parallel.[412]

“In a short time, I hope we shall have more satisfactory information concerning these things by the aid of your serene majesty, whom I pray Almighty God to prosper in lasting glory, that we may see the most important results of this our geography in the fulfillment of the holy words of the gospel.

“On board the ship Dauphine, in the port of Dieppe, in Normandy, the 8th day of July, 1524.

“Your humble servant,

“Janus Verazzanus.”



The safe return of Verrazzano to France and his remarkable discoveries along the new continent were immediately heralded through Europe. The letter which he wrote on his arrival at Dieppe was at once eagerly copied and the transcripts widely circulated. In less than a month’s time the news of the navigator’s extensive explorations was spread over France, and became a prominent topic of conversation. The commercial advantages likely to accrue to France by the important discovery of a country thickly populated and rich in drugs, furs, and metals were everywhere discussed, and Verrazzano’s presence at the chief centres of trade was much desired that more information might be obtained respecting the people and the productions of the New Land.

A Florentine, named Fernando Carli, a person well acquainted with Verrazzano’s former voyages, was in Lyons at the time when the surprising intelligence reached that city. He obtained a copy of Verrazzano’s letter, and sent it to his father in Florence, inclosed in the following communication:

“In the name of God.

“August 4, 1524.

“Honored Father:—

“Considering that when I was in the army in[336] Barbary, at Gierbe, the news was sent you every day by the illustrious gentleman, Don Hugo de Moncada, captain-general of his Cesarean majesty in those barbarous parts, what followed contending with the Moors of that island, which seemed to have pleased our patrons and friends; and also the congratulatory news of the subsequent victory; [I now send you] the news [which] has recently reached this place, of the arrival of Captain Giovanni da Verrazzano, our Florentine, at the port of Dieppe, in Normandy, with his ship, the Dauphine, with which he sailed from the Canary Islands, the last of January, to go in search of new lands for this most serene crown of France, in which enterprise he displayed very noble and great courage in undertaking such an unknown voyage with only one ship, a caravel of hardly tons burden,[413] with only fifty men, with the intention, if possible, to discover Cathay, steering a course through climates other than those frequented by the Portuguese in going to it by the way of Calicut, by keeping more to the northwest and north, believing that, although Ptolemy, Aristotle, and other cosmographers assert that no land is to be found toward such climates, he would nevertheless find land there, which God has permitted him, as he distinctly describes in his letter to his serene majesty, a copy of which is inclosed in this communication. After spending many months in exploring, he asserts that he was compelled to return for want of provisions from that hemisphere into this one, having been seven months on the voyage, showing a very great and rapid passage, having accomplished a wonderful and most extraordinary undertaking in the opinion of those who understand the navigation of the globe.


“At the beginning of the voyage there was an unfavorable opinion formed concerning it, many thinking that there would be no more news respecting him and his vessel, and that he would be lost on that side of Norway, in consequence of the great ice which is in the northern ocean.[414] However, the great God, as the Moor said, in order to give us every day proofs of his infinite power, and to show how admirable is this mundane sphere, has disclosed to him a breadth of land, as you will perceive, of great extent, as shown by good reasoning and by degrees of latitude and longitude.

“He declares and shows it to be greater than Europe, Africa, and a part of Asia; therefore a new world (ergo mundus novus); and this exclusive of what the Spaniards have discovered in several years in the West; as it is hardly a year since Fernando Magellan returned, who discovered a great country with one ship out of the five sent on the discovery, from which he brought spices much more excellent than the common kind, and of his other ships no news has transpired for five years. They are supposed to be lost.[415]

“What this our captain has brought he does not state in his letter, except a very young boy taken from those countries; but it is supposed he has brought a sample of gold, which they do not value in those parts, and of drugs and other aromatic liquors, in order to confer here with several merchants after he shall have[338] been in the presence of his most serene majesty. And at this hour he should be with the king, and from choice should come here soon, as he is much desired, in order to be conversed with; moreover, here he will find his majesty, the king, our sire, who is expected in three or four days.[416] And we hope that his serene majesty will intrust him with a half dozen good vessels, and that he will go on the voyage. If our Francisco Carli be returned from Cairo, advise him to go at a venture on this voyage with him, for I believe they were acquainted at Cairo, where he [Verrazzano] was for several years, and not only in Egypt and Syria, but almost in all parts of the known world. On account of his merits, he is regarded as another Amerigo Vespucci, another Magellan, and even more than they. We hope that, being provided with other good ships and vessels, well-built and properly provisioned, he will discover and develop a profitable traffic, and will, our Lord God preserving his life, do honor to our country in acquiring immortal fame and memory. Alderotto Brunelleschi, who started with him, and by chance turned back unwilling to accompany him farther, will, when he hears this news, be discontented.

“Nothing else now occurs to me, as I have advised you by others what is necessary. I commend myself constantly to you, praying you to impart this to our friends, not forgetting Pier Francisco Dagaghiano, who, in consequence of being an experienced person, will take much pleasure in it, and commend me to him. Likewise to Rustichi, who will not be displeased,[339] if he delight, as usual, in learning matters of cosmography. God guard you from all evil.

“Your son,

“Fernando Carli,

“In Lyons.”[417]

The notable success attending Verrazzano’s voyage in 1524, it seems, induced the celebrated navigator to undertake another in 1526. For the furtherance of this project, he and five other persons entered into an agreement in which it was stipulated that Philippe Chabot, baron of Apremont, knight of the Order of the King, governor and lieutenant-general of Burgundy, admiral of France and of Brittany,[418] was to furnish him with two galleons then at Havre de Grace, and a ship belonging to Jean Ango of Dieppe,[419] of seventy tons burden, and that the admiral was also to equip and victual them for the voyage to the New Land. The three vessels were to be ready to sail within two months.[420] Before setting sail on this voyage, Verrazzano, on Friday, the eleventh of May, 1526, gave to his brother, Hieronymus, and Zanobus de Rousselay,[421][340] a power of attorney by which they were empowered to act for him in any matter pertaining to his interest; and also, on the following day, a similar instrument to Adam Godeffroy of Rouen, which authorized him to transact certain business for the navigator.[422] In each of these legal instruments, Verrazzano is named “Jehan de Varasenne, nobleman, captain of the ships equipped to go on the voyage to the Indies.”

The French sea-captain, Jean Ribaut, in his report to Admiral Gaspard de Coligni, of his first voyage to Florida, in 1562, says that Verrazzano, after his return to France, in 1524, “neuer ceassed to make suite vntil he was sent thither againe, where at last he died.”[423]

The voyage of 1526 was the third made by Verrazzano to America: the first in 1508, with Thomas Aubert; the second, in 1524, in the Dauphine. This fact is corroborated by the well-informed English collector, Hakluyt, who says that he “had been thrise on that coast.”[424]

Of Verrazzano’s death, Ramusio gives this account: “In the last voyage which he made, having gone on land with some of his men, he and they were all put to death by the inhabitants, and in the presence of those who were on board the ship were roasted and devoured. Such was the terrible death of this valiant gentleman, who, had not this misfortune happened him, would, by the great knowledge and experience which he had of maritime affairs and of navigation,[341] attended and favored by the large liberality of King Francis, have discovered and made known to the world, all that part of the earth up to the north pole, and would not have been contented with only the exploration of the coast, but would have attempted to penetrate far inland, and as far as he could go.

“Many who had known and conversed with him, have told me that he had declared that it was his intention to persuade the most Christian king to send from these parts a goodly number of people to settle in some places of the new country which are of a temperate climate and very fertile soil, with very beautiful rivers and harbors capable of holding any fleet.

“Settlers in these places would be the means of effecting many good results, and among others that of bringing those barbarous and ignorant tribes to know God and our most holy religion, showing them how to cultivate the land, transporting some of the animals of Europe to those vast plains; and finally, in time, discovering the inland parts, and seeing whether or not among the many islands in that part of the world any passage to the South Sea exists, or that the West Indies extend as far north as the pole.

“This and so much has been related respecting the achievements and efforts of this brave gentleman, and in order that his memory may not be buried and his name pass into oblivion, we have desired to give to the light the little information that has come into our hands.”[425]

Hakluyt, speaking of the map which Verrazzano had made and presented to King Henry VIII. of England, which as late as the year 1584 was still preserved by an English cartographer, says: “There is a[342] mighty large olde mappe in parchemente, made as yt shoulde seeme, by Verarsanus, traced all alonge the coaste, from Florida to Cape Briton, with many Italian names, which laieth oute the sea, makinge a little necke of land in 40 degrees of latitude much like the streyte necke or istmus of Dariena.” The English collector also refers to a globe which he believed Verrazzano made: “There is an old excellent globe in the Queens privie gallery at Westminster, which also semeth to be of Verarsanus makinge, having the coaste in Italian, which laieth oute the very same straite necke of lande in the latitude of 40 degrees, with the sea joyninge harde on bothe sides, as it dothe on Panama and Nombre di Dios; which were a matter of singular importance, yf it shoulde be true, as it is not unlikely.”[426]

Although the “mighty large olde mappe in parchemente” of Verrazzano’s drafting is lost, there are several maps extant which seemingly represent the territory of North America as it was delineated by him. The rarest and the most valuable of these is a vellum-map of the world in the Ambrosian Library at Milan, made in 1527. It is five feet seven inches long and one foot eleven inches wide, and bears this inscription: “Vesconte de Maiollo conposuy hanc cartan. In Janua anno dñy, 1527, die xx. decenbris.” (Visconte de Maiollo composed this chart, in Genoa, in the year of the Lord, 1527, the twentieth day of December). The narrow isthmus, near the fortieth parallel, and the “number of Italian names” from “Tera Florida” to “C. de Bertoni” on this map, fully agree with Hakluyt’s description of Verrazzano’s chart.[427]

Hieronymus, the brother of the navigator, it seems,[343] also made a map of the New Land, which, it is conjectured, he drafted in 1529.[428] The original is a planisphere delineated on parchment, fifty-one by one hundred and two inches. This map is in the Borgian museum in Rome. The inscription: “Hieronimus de Verrazanus faciebat” (Hieronimus de Verrazano made it), permits the inference that the map was not the one which Hakluyt described, for had Hieronymus da Verrazzano’s name been inscribed on it, the English collector, it seems, would have mentioned the fact. The representation of the so-called Western Sea, or “Mare Indicum” (the Chesapeake Bay), with the explanatory inscription on Hieronymus da Verazzano’s map, indicates that he had some knowledge of the cartographic features of his brother’s chart, and of the geographical memoranda recorded in the little book which the latter speaks of in his letter to King Francis I., and which he thought would be serviceable to other navigators.[429]



After the death of Verrazzano, the French, for a time, made no attempt to search along the coast of the new continent for a short and direct way to Cathay. The losses sustained by the projectors of the expedition of 1526, Ribaut says, gave “small courage to sende thither agayne, and was the cause that this laudable enterprise was left of, vntill the yeere 1534, at which time his Maiestie [Francis I.] (desiring alwayes to enlarge his kingdome, countreys, and dominions, and the aduauncing the ease of his subiectes), sent thither a Pilote of S. Mallowes, a Briton, named James Cartier, well seene in the art and knowledge of Nauigation, and especially of the North parts, commonly called the new land, led by some hope to find passage that waies to the south seas.”[430]

The two ships commanded by Cartier sailed from the port of St. Malo, on the twentieth of April, 1534.[345] Reaching Newfoundland on the tenth of May, Cartier began to search for a navigable channel to India. Three months were passed in exploring the coast of Labrador and the Strait of Belle Isle and a part of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. On the fifteenth of August, Cartier set sail for France, and arrived in the port of St. Malo, on the fifth of September. In the following year, Cartier sailed again to New France and explored the St. Lawrence River to the island of Hochelaga, the site of the city of Montreal. It is said that he was told by the natives that from there it was only “a month’s sailing to go to a land where cinnamon and cloves are gathered.”[431] Returning from this voyage, Cartier reached St. Malo on the sixth of July, 1536.[432]

The first explorers of the new continent called its inhabitants by different names. Columbus and his Spanish companions, imagining the field of their discoveries to be in Eastern Asia, named the aborigines Indians (Indios), believing them to be natives of India. Seven of the people of Canada, carried to France, in 1509, were described by a contemporaneous Latin writer as wood or wild men (homines sylvestres).[433] The French, it appears, called the natives of New France manants or manans, and paysans, peasants, the former name being used in the middle ages as a designation for unintelligent people or those of low condition. The name manants was likewise a designation for persons of this class living in villages and on farms. Manants[346] properly speaking were the natives of a place, and the habitans were those who came to it to reside.[434] The French appellation manants or manans not only fitly expressed the low condition of the natives of New France, but it also gave prominence to the fact that they dwelt in villages and were indigenous people. The French, as late as the year 1677, called the old Indians, or rather the descendants of the Senecas, paisans, peasants.[435] The Italians also called the natives of North America peasants, paesani.[436]

The Manants living on the island on which the city of New York is built, were very friendly to the French who came to the Grande River, in the sixteenth century, to traffic for furs. The Hollanders, however, found them to be quite hostile in the following century. De Laet, the Dutch historian, describing the natives of the Groote River in 1625, remarks: “On the east side, upon the main-land, dwell the Manhattans, a bad race of savages, who have always been very obstinate and[347] unfriendly toward our countrymen.”[437] He also says that Hudson, in 1609, called the Great River “Manhattes from the name of the people who dwelt at its mouth.”[438]

The wrong spelling of the French term manant began with a misconception of its proper pronunciation. The Dutch thinking that the t was sounded, pronounced the name man-ant, whence “man-hat,” “man-ath,” “man-ad,” and other strange forms of the name. Wassenaer, the Dutch historian, in 1624, speaking of the Indian tribes of New Netherland, says: “The Manhates are situated at the mouth” of the Mauritius River.[439] De Laet writes the name Manhattes, Manatthans, Manatthanes, and Manhattans.[440] De Vries, the Dutch navigator, who could speak French, spells the appellation Menates and Minates.[441] In the deposition of Catelyn Trico, a French woman, who emigrated from Holland, in 1624, to New Netherland, the term is written Mannantans.[442] Besides these[348] peculiar changes the name has many other anomalous forms.[443]

When the first French explorers sailed along that massive bulwark of trap-rock, now called The Palisades, rising on the west side of the Grande River to varying altitudes from two to five hundred feet above the level of the stream, and ranging northward and southward a distance of more than ten miles, they were peculiarly impressed with its grandeur, and figuratively called it L’Anormée Berge, (The Grand Scarp.)

The adjective anormée and the noun berge definitely describe the steep and extensive wall of stone which borders the noble river, now bearing the name of a later explorer. Anormé, an obsolete form of the adjective énorme, signifies that which is grand, vast, majestic.[444] The noun berge, besides meaning an elevated border of a river, a scarp of a fortification, a steep side of a moat or of a road, is a designation for certain rocks elevated perpendicularly above the[349] water.[445] In an old French lexicon it is said: “They likewise call in marine phraseology bèrges or barges those great rocks, rugged and perpendicularly elevated, that is to say, uprightly and plumb, as the bèrges or barges of Olone: such rocks as are Scylla and Charybdis, toward Messina.”[446]

A more appropriate name could not have been selected to designate geographically this part of New France than that of The Land of the Grand Scarp (La Terre d’Anormée Berge), or, in more familiar phraseology, The Land of the Palisades. The words, scarp and palisade, are terms of fortification. The first designates the steep slope below the parapet of a fortification, next to the ditch; the second an upright row of strong stakes set firmly in the ground in front of the counter-scarp, on the opposite side of the moat from the scarp.

The mispronunciation of the peculiar geographical name was evidently the cause of its orthography being obscured so soon after it was used as the designation for the elevated border of the Grande River. The more frequent use thereafter of énorme for anormé made the term more unfamiliar. It would seem also that when the name should have been written La Terre d’Énorme Berge, that it was inscribed, La Terre de Normeberge.[350] The change of the qualifying term to a word of two syllables, as norom, norum, nurum, and norim, rendered the name more ambiguous. In like manner the noun berge was corrupted, being spelled bergue, bega, berg, and bagra. In this way the territorial designation became La Terre de Norumbega, La Terre de Norembegue, La Terre de Noromberge, and La Terre de Norembergue, and its meaning and derivation incomprehensible to the descendants of its originators.

Gerard Mercator, on a terrestrial globe, (globus terrae), made in 1541, represents the Grande River as if its channel were filled with anormée bèrges, which he designates with the misspelled name “Anorumbega.”[447] On a map of the world, made about the year 1548, for King Henry II. of France, the appellation “Anorobagra” designates the river of the Grand Scarp.[448]

In the sixteenth century proper names less peculiar in construction than the appellation L’Anormée Berge, were written very irregularly. It is said by Disraeli that Leicester subscribed his name eight different ways, and that Villers is spelled fourteen times differently in the deeds of the family. Lower mentions that the name of Mainwaring, has the remarkable number of one hundred and thirty-one variations in different[351] documents. Even in this age of dictionaries the spelling of uncommon geographical names does not always conform to their orthography. A record has been kept for a number of years of the different ways in which the name of the city of Cohoes, in the state of New York, has been spelled on letters addressed to that post-office, and the extraordinary number of one hundred and ninety-seven changes in the form of the appellation has been registered.

There seems to be but a single statement that might be used to support an assertion that the natives of the country of New France originated the name “Norumbega.” It is in Ramusio’s Italian translation of the French sea-captain’s description of Francesca, in which it is said: “This region is called by the peasants Norumbega.” René Goulaine de Laudonnière, a well-informed French naval officer, who had command of a French fort in Florida, in 1564, contradicts the assertion that the name was transferred from an early map of the eastern coast of Asia, saying: “It is called by the moderns Terre de Norumberge.” André Thevet, the French geographer, who sailed along its coast in 1556, declares that his countrymen called the Grande River “Norombègue,” and the Indians, “Aggoncy.”

One of the earliest accounts of the Land of the Grand Scarp extant is in the discourse of the unnamed sea-captain of Dieppe, written in 1539. Describing the country of Francesca, he says: “Beyond Cape Breton there is a region contiguous to this cape, the coast of which extends west and a quarter southwest as far as the region of Florida, and it stretches full five hundred leagues, which coast was discovered fifteen years ago, by Monsieur Giovanni da Verrazzano, in the name of King Francis and of Madame, the[352] regent, and this region is called by many the land of the French (la Francese), and likewise by the Portuguese, and its termination toward Florida is in 78° west longitude and 30° north latitude.[449]

“The inhabitants of this domain are a tractable people, amiable and agreeable. The country abounds with all kinds of fruit. Oranges and almonds grow in wild forests, with many different varieties of odoriferous trees. This region is called by the peasants (paesani) Norumbega, and between it and Brazil there is a large gulf, extending west as far as the ninety-second meridian.”[450]

In 1540 Jacques Cartier again sailed to New France and ascended the St. Lawrence River. Jean François de la Roque, Sieur de Roberval, was placed in command of this expedition, and, by letters-patent, dated January 15, 1540, was commissioned viceroy and lieutenant-general of the new lands belonging to France in the western hemisphere. Jean Alphonse, an experienced navigator, a native of Saintonge, near the town of Cognac, France, accompanied Sieur de Roberval as chief pilot.[451]

In the manuscript of the cosmography of Raulin Secalart, written about the year 1545, preserved in the[353] National library, in Paris, is a short description of the coast and people of La Terre d’Anormée Berge.[452] The writer, evidently Jean Alphonse, very faithfully describes Long Island Sound, the eastern entrance to the Grande River, when he says: “This river is wider than forty leagues of latitude at its mouth, and within, the width is as much as thirty or forty leagues, and it is full of islands, which extend ten or twelve leagues in the sea, and it is very dangerous on account of rocks and swashings.” These observations are remarkably consonant with those of a later writer: “Long Island Sound, a Mediterranean Sea, separating the island from the main-land of Connecticut, is connected with the ocean at each end of the island and affords a sheltered line of navigation of about one hundred and twenty miles in extent.... Opposite Harlem River is the noted pass or strait called Hell-Gate, which is crooked, and from the numerous rocks, islands, eddies, and currents, is somewhat difficult and dangerous.”[453]

The identity of the river called by the French writer “Norombègue,” now the Hudson, is satisfactorily established by the statement that the water of the river is salty to the height of forty leagues or eighty-eight miles. This fact is incontrovertible. The Hudson is salty or brackish beyond the city of Poughkeepsie, which is about ninety-three miles north of Sand Hook.[454] The assertion could not be verified[354] were it assumed that the description applies to the Penobscot, or the Kennebec, or the Merrimack, or the Connecticut River. It would seem that the writer speaks of the Palisades bordering the west side of the river, opposite the Indian village of “Norombègue,” when he says: “On the side toward the west of the said town there are many rocks which extend to the sea, about fifteen miles.”

Copy of the map of “Terre de la Franciscane” in the MS. of the “Cosmographie de Jehan Allefonsce et Raulin Secalart,” 1545.

“I say that the Cape of St. John, called Cape Breton, and the Cape of the Franciscan, are northeast and southwest, and range a point from an east and west course, and there are one hundred and forty leagues on the course, and which makes one cape, called the Cape of Norombègue. The said cape is in forty-one degrees of the height of the arctic pole. The said coast [i. e. of Connecticut] is all sandy, ...[455] flat,[355] without any mountain. And along this coast there are many isles of sand and the coast very dangerous on account of banks and rocks.

“The people of this coast and of Cape Breton are an ill-disposed race, powerful, great arrow-makers, and live on fish and on flesh, and are not talkative, and speak almost the same language as those of Canada, and are a great people. And those of Cape Breton go to make war upon those of the New Land when they are fishing, and not for any thing do they spare the life of any one when they take him, unless it is a young boy or a young girl; and they are so cruel that if they take a man having a beard, they cut off his legs and arms and carry them to their wives and children, in order to be avenged in that way. And there are among them many peltries of all animals.

“Beyond the Cape of Norombègue, the river of the said Norombègue descends about twenty-five leagues from the cape. The said river is wider than forty leagues of latitude at its mouth [entrance of Long Island Sound], and within, this width is as much as thirty or forty leagues, and it is full of isles which stretch out ten or twelve leagues in the sea [or Sound], and it is very dangerous on account of rocks and swashings. The said river is in forty-two degrees of the height of the arctic pole.

“Up the said river, fifteen leagues, there is a town which is called Norombègue, and there is in it a good[356] people, and they have many peltries of all kinds of animals. The inhabitants of the town are dressed in skins, wearing mantles of martens. I think that the said river runs into the river Hochelaga [the St. Lawrence], for it is salt for more than forty leagues up, according to the statement of the people of the town. The people use many words which resemble the Latin, and they worship the sun, and are a handsome people, and large framed. The land of Norombègue is high and good.

“Before and on this side of the said river, one hundred and fifty leagues, there is an island called Vermonde [Bermuda?] which is in about thirty-three degrees of the height of the arctic pole.[456] And on the west side of the said town there are many rocks which extend to the sea, about fifteen leagues, and north of it there is a bay, in which there is a small island, which is often subject to tempests and cannot be inhabited.”

A copy of the map of a part of North America, in the third volume of Ramusio’s “Raccolta di Navigationi e Viaggi,” printed in 1556; made by Giacomo de Gastaldi. (The original is about one-third larger.)

While Jean Alphonse was exploring the coast of La Terre d’Anormée Berge (which at this time geographically included all the country between the Grande River and the Gulf of St. Lawrence), he ascended the Grande River to the height of its navigation, from which point he inferred that the stream extended to the St. Lawrence, as it is represented on the map made by Giacomo de Gastaldi, a Piedmontese cartographer, about the year 1553.[457] “I have been at a bay as far as forty-two degrees, between Norumbega[357] and Florida, and I have not searched the end thereof, and I know not whether it [the river] pass through.... I doubt not but [the river] Norumbega entereth into the river of Canada, and unto the sea of Saguenay.”[458]

This opinion, that the Hudson was an outlet of the St. Lawrence, was held by the Dutch as late as the year 1625, for De Laet observes: “Judging from appearances this river extends to the great river of St. Lawrence, or Canada, since our skippers assure us that the natives come to the fort [on the site of Albany] from that river.”[459]

René Goulaine de Laudonnière, a French officer, commanding Fort Caroline, on the river May, in 1564, gives, in his notable history of Florida, a short account of Verrazanno’s discoveries in 1524.[460] He says that the French planted in the New Land “the ensigns and arms of the king of France, so that the Spaniards themselves, who were there afterward, have called this country French land (nõmé ce païs terre Francesque).... The east part of it is named by the moderns Terre de Norumberge, which ends at the Gulf of Gamas, which separates it from the island of Canada.”[461]

Not long after the discovery of Francesca by Verrazzano, French barques were making voyages to its[358] coast, some to obtain cod-fish and others furs. As related by Jean Alphonse, the people of the village of L’Anormée Berge had “many peltries of all kinds of animals.” The large quantities of beaver, otter, and other skins obtained from the Manants, dwelling at the mouth of the Grande River, induced the speculative Frenchmen engaged in the traffic to erect at this point a small fort, where their factors might reside and more advantageously enlarge their purchases of furs. The Indian village, on the island on which the city of New York is built, was picturesquely situated on the border of the deep, limpid lake, then covering the sites of the plots of ground included between the lines of Elm, Baxter, Worth, and Franklin streets. Near the south end of the lake (which extended as far as the intersection of Centre and Duane streets and emptied into the Hudson at Canal Street) was a small island. Eligible, and opposite the tongue of land on which the Manants dwelt, the French fur factors selected it as the[359] site of the fortified trading house which they erected and called Le Fort d’Anormée Berge (The Fort of the Grand Scarp).[462]

Copy of a part of a map of the city of New York made by James Lyne in 1728.

The French geographer, André Thevet, who sailed along the coast of La Terre d’Anormée Berge, in 1556, besides corroborating some of the preceding statements respecting the discovery of New France, and mentioning the fact that the Grande River was called by his countrymen the river of “Norombègue,” and by the Indians “Aggoncy,” says[463]: “Having left Florida on the left hand with a great number of islands, islets, gulfs, and capes, a river presents itself, one of the beautiful rivers that are in the world, which we named Norombègue, and the Indians Aggoncy, and which is marked on some marine charts Grande river.[464] Several other beautiful rivers enter[360] this one, on which formerly the French had built a small fort about ten or twelve leagues up it, which fort was surrounded by fresh water that empties into the river, and this place was called the fort of Norombègue.”[465]

The site of the fort of L’Anormée Berge is indicated by Gerard Mercator on his celebrated map of the world, made at Duisburg, Germany, in 1569. The famous cartographer not only designates the situation of the French fort on the east side of the Grande River with a conventional sign used by map-makers, but also inscribes the name “Norombega” immediately over it. As is seen, he outlines the Grande River to the height of its navigation, at the confluence of the Mohawk, as far as the French had explored it.[466]

A part of Gerard Mercator’s map of the world, made in Duisburg in 1569; copied from “Les monuments de la géographie recueil d’anciennes cartes européennes et orientales, publiés en fac-similé.” par M. Jomard, Paris.

It seems that the French fur merchants undertook to build, about the year 1540, a château or castle, at the[361] height of the navigation of the Grande River. As it appears, they selected a site for the building on the long, low island lying in the bay, on the west side of the river, near the present southern limits of the city of Albany. The walls of the castle and its protecting earthworks were almost completed when a great freshet inundated the island and damaged the structure so much that the French abandoned the occupation of the island. Jean Alphonse evidently refers to the abortive undertaking, when describing the situation of the Indian village at the mouth of the Grande River, he says: “North of it there is a bay, in which is a small island that is often subject to storms, [those causing freshets,] and cannot be inhabited.” The island bore the name of Castle Island for more than a century thereafter, but it is now known as Van Rensselaer’s Island.

The fact that the French had ascended the Grande River to the height of its navigation to trade with the Indians long before Henry Hudson explored it, is corroborated by still stronger testimony than that already presented. One of the earliest maps representing the territory of Nieu Nederlandt (New Netherland), or that part of New France which the French had called La Terre d’Anormée Berge, is the figurative chart presented to their high mightinesses, the Lords States General of the United Netherlands, on the eleventh of October, 1614, by a number of Dutch merchants, praying for a special license to navigate and traffic within the limits of this part of North America.[467] Upon this map, made in 1614, are inscribed “curious notes and memoranda concerning the natives of the country,” which the well-informed discoverer of the chart intimates[362] were written by one of the Dutch companions of Henry Hudson, who accompanied the English navigator, on the voyage of 1609.[468] One of these explanatory notes contains the undeniable testimony that the French were the discoverers of the Grande River, and that they had been trading with the Mohawks long before the Half Moon sailed up the river. The plain language of the inscription makes all explanation of its meaning unnecessary: “But as far as one can understand by what the Maquaas [Mohawks] say and show, the French come with sloops as high up as their country to trade with them.”[469]

Among the things which were shown to the Dutch explorers by the friendly Mohawks to confirm what they had said concerning the French, were the conspicuous ruins of the unfinished castle. The sagacious Hollanders, not unlikely thinking that the dilapidated building might be repaired with little expense, and made useful to them as a trading house, should they be licensed by the government of the Netherlands to return there to trade for furs with the Indians, took measurements of its walls and outworks. These memoranda they also inscribed on the map of New Netherland. The castle, as described on the chart, was fifty-eight feet wide between the walls, and built in the form of a square, surrounded by a moat eighteen feet wide.[363] The interior building was thirty-six feet long and twenty-six wide.[470]

Although the Dutch explorers never left any definite information that they were personally the builders of the fortification on Castle Island, yet by naming it Fort Nassau, in honor of the stadtholder, Maurice, prince of Orange and of Nassau, they permitted historians to infer that they had constructed it, even before they had been privileged by the government of the Netherlands to occupy the country.

As late as the year 1680, the Dutch residents of Albany were unenlightened respecting the nationality of the builders of the fort, some supposing that the Spaniards had erected it. This assumption was not generally credited, as there were no facts known that would verify the presence of the Spaniards in this part of the country. The two Labadist missionaries, Jasper Dankers and Peter Sluyter, who visited Albany in 1680, thus speak of the fort on Castle Island, and of the conjecture concerning the people who had built it: “In the afternoon [Sunday, April 28th] we took a walk to an island upon the end of which there is a fort built, they say, by the Spaniards. That a fort had been there is evident enough from the earth thrown up, but it is not to be supposed that the Spaniards came so far inland to build forts when there are no monuments of them to be seen on the sea-coasts, where, however, they have been according to the tradition of the Indians.”[471]



[1] The Hebrew for man is derived from the verb (‏‎אדם‏‎), to be red.

[2] Solon, one of the seven sages of Greece, was born about the year B. C. 639, and died about the year B. C. 558.

Herodotus, the Greek historian, writing in the fifth century before the Christian era, says: “When these were subdued, and Crœsus had joined them to the Lydians, all the learned men at that time, especially those of Greece, resorted to Sardis, which had then reached a high degree of eminence. Among them was Solon, an Athenian, who, having made a code of laws for the Athenians at their request, absented himself for ten years, having sailed away under pretense of seeing the world, that he might not be compelled to abrogate any of the laws he had established: for the Athenians could not do it themselves, as they were bound by the most solemn oaths to preserve inviolate, for ten years, the institutions of Solon. Therefore, having gone abroad for these reasons, as well as to see the world, Solon had visited Amasis, in Egypt, and went from there to Crœsus, at Sardis.”—Herodotus: Clio xxix, xxx.

[3] Plutarch, the Greek biographer, says that Psenophis, the Heliopolitan, and Senchis, the Saite, the most learned of the Egyptian priests, were the persons who gave Solon this information.—Parallel Lives: Solon.

[4] “If Solon ... had not considered the writing of poetry a recreation, but had made it, as others do, an actual employment, and had completed the history which he had brought from Egypt; and had not been forced to relinquish it by seditions and many other troubles in which he found his country involved, I do not think that either Hesiod, Homer, or any other poet would have acquired more extensive fame.”—Plato: Timæus, or Concerning Nature.

[5] Plato was born about the year B. C. 430 and died about the year B. C. 348. He traced his descent from Solon through his mother.

[6] “These very writings, indeed, were in the possession of my grandfather, and are now in mine, having been made the subject of much study during my boyhood.”—Plato: Critias, or the Atlantic.

[7] Plato: Critias, or the Atlantic.

[8] The so-called Pillars of Hercules were the two mountains, Calpe and Abyla, on the opposite sides of the Strait of Gibraltar.

“I wonder, therefore, at those,” says Herodotus, “who have described the limits of and divided Libya, Asia, and Europe, for the difference between them is trifling: for in length Europe extends along both of them, but respecting width, it is evidently not to be compared. Libya shows itself to be surrounded by water, except so much of it as borders Asia.”—Herodotus: Melpomene xlii.

[9] Tyrrhenia or Umbria, in Italy, now Tuscany.

[10] Plato: Timæus, or Concerning Nature.

[11] Plato: Critias, or the Atlantic.

[12] Genesis xvi. 7; xviii. 1-8, 16-33; xix. 1-22; xxxii. 1, 2.

[13] Herodotus: Euterpe cxlii, cxliv.

[14] Genesis vi. 1, 2, 4.

Soc. Do you know that heroes are half-gods?

Herm. What then?

Soc. All of them were doubtless begotten either from a god falling in love with a mortal woman, or from a mortal man [falling in love] with a goddess.”

—Plato: Cratylus, or Concerning the Correct Use of Words.

[15] A stadium is equal to 600 Greek or 625 Roman feet, or to 606 feet 9 inches English measure.

[16] Respecting the names of the persons appearing in the narrative Plato observes: “We must briefly warn you not to be surprised at hearing Hellenic names given to the barbarians; the cause of this you shall now hear. Solon, intending to make use of this narrative in his poetry, made an investigation into the signification of the names, and found that the early Egyptians who recorded these facts transferred these names into their own language; and he again receiving the meaning of each name transcribed it into our tongue.”

[17] “Πᾶσα ἡ νῆσος τότε πέλαγος ἐσχεν ἑπωνυμίαν, Ἀτλαντικὸν λεχθέν.”

[18] Gadeira, an ancient city built, it is said, by the Phœnicians, fifteen centuries before the Christian era, on the site of Cadiz, Spain.

[19] Ὀρείχαλκος, ore of copper. From ὄρειος, mountain, and χαλκός, brass.

[20] The remains of mammoths or elephants, elephas primigenus, have been exhumed in different parts of the continent of America.

[21] A plethron is equal to a hundred feet.

[22] A trireme, a large-sized boat with three rows or benches of oars on its sides.

[23] “This agreement of the traditions of the most diverse peoples manifests itself in a striking manner when compared with the number assigned by the Bible to the antediluvian patriarchs. There are ten in the account in Genesis, and a singular persistence reproduces this number of ten in the legends of a very great number of nations, whose primitive ancestors are still enveloped in the mist of fables.... The preserved fragments of the celebrated historical papyrus of Turin, containing a list of Egyptian dynasties traced in hieratic writing, seem clearly to indicate that the editor of this canon gives ten gods, who in the beginning ruled men.”—Les Origines de l’Histoire d’après la Bible et les Traditions des Peuples Orientaux, par François Lenormant, professeur d’archéologie près la Bibliothèque nationale. Deuxième édition, Paris, 1880. pp. 214, 215, 227.

[24] Plato: Critias, or the Atlantic.

[25] “These figures of the mythic Egyptian chronology are still very imperfectly known to us—too little indeed to affirm any thing satisfactorily concerning the principle of their construction.... We must, therefore, wait for some new discovery, like that of a royal canon similar to the one of Turin, in good condition, before we can make a thorough examination of the principle of the cyclic periods with which Egypt began her annals.”—Les Origines de l’Histoire. Lenormant. p. 287.

[26] Plato: Critias, or the Atlantic.

[27] Plato: Timæus, or Concerning Nature.

[28] The ships of the ancients, in the time of Herodotus, were vessels propelled by oars and sails. Describing those used by the Egyptians on the Nile, he says: “Their ships in which they convey merchandise are made of the acacia, which in shape is similar to the Cyrenæan lotus, and its exudation is gum. From this acacia they cut planks about two cubits in length, and join them together as they do bricks, building their ships in the following manner: They fasten the planks of two cubits length to stout and long ties; when they have thus built the hulls, they lay rowing benches across them. They make no use of ribs, but caulk the seams inside with byblus. They make only one rudder, and that is driven through the keel. They use a mast of acacia, and sails of byblus. These vessels cannot sail against the current of the stream unless a fair wind prevails, but are towed from the shore. They are thus carried down the stream: There is a hurdle made of tamarisk, wattled with a band of reeds, and a stone bored through the middle, of about two talents in weight; of these two, the hurdle is fastened to a cable, and let down at the prow of the vessel to be carried on by the stream; and the stone by another cable at the stern; and by this means the hurdle, by the stream bearing hard upon it, moves quickly and draws along the ‘baris’, (for this is the name given to these vessels,) but the stone, being dragged at the stern, and sunk to the bottom, keeps the vessel in its course. They have a great number of these vessels, and some of them carry many thousand talents.”—Euterpe xcvi.

The vessels of the Phœnicians were of a better build, but they also were fitted out with oars and sails.—Ezekiel xxvii. 3-9.

[29] Genesis vi. 5, 6, 7.

[30] Plato: Critias, or the Atlantic.

Vide The Works of Plato. Bohn’s ed. London, 1849. vol. ii. Translated by Henry Davis, pp. 413-429.

[31] The date of the accession of Seti I. or Sethos I. is variously given. M. Champollion Figeac places it in 1473 B.C. Mure thinks it cannot be earlier than 1410 nor later than 1400 B.C.

[32] Transactions of the Society of Biblical Archæology. t. iv. pp. 1-19.

[33] Les Origines de l’Histoire. Lenormant. pp. 448, 449.

[34] Vide Historia Verdadera de la Conqvista de la Nueva-España. Escrita por el Capitan Bernal Diaz del Castillo, vno de sus Conquistadores. En Madrid, 1632.

Antiquities of Mexico: comprising fac-similes of ancient Mexican paintings and hieroglyphics, preserved in the Royal libraries of Paris, Berlin, and Dresden; in the Imperial library at Vienna; in the Vatican library; in the Borgian museum at Rome; in the library of the Institute at Bologna; and in the Bodleian library at Oxford. Together with the monuments of New Spain, by M. Dupaix; with their respective scales of measurements and accompanying descriptions. The whole illustrated by many valuable inedited manuscripts, by Lord Kingsborough. In nine volumes. London, 1831-1848.

[35] Now called the Shetland islands, but the name is printed on the early maps Hetland; from Swedish het, hot, and land, land. The group lies about 180 miles from Norway, between 59° 50´ and 60° 50´ north latitude.

[36] The Fer öe or Far islands lie about 170 miles northwest of the Shetland group, and are between 61° 20´ and 62° 25´ north latitude. The name is derived from fer, far, (Swedish,) and öe, islands.

[37] Iceland lies between latitude 63° 24´ and 66° 33´ N. and longitude 13° 31´ and 24° 17´ W. It is one hundred and sixty miles east of Greenland, six hundred west of Norway, and two hundred and fifty northwest of the Fer öe, or Far islands.

[38] History of the Northmen, by Henry Wheaton. London, 1831. pp. 17, 18.

Iceland, or the journal of a residence in that island, during the years 1814 and 1815, by Ebenezer Henderson, vol. i. Intro. pp. xv. and 308.

[39] “Men of experience say, who have been born in Greenland, and have recently come from Greenland, that from Stadt, in the north part of Norway, to Horns, on the east coast of Iceland, is seven days’ sailing directly westward.”—Antiqvitates Americanæ, sive scriptores septentrionales rerum Ante-Columbianarum in America. Edidit Societas Regia Antiqvariorum Septentrionalium. Hafniæ, 1837. Ivar Bardsen’s treatise. p. 302.

[40] “He who sails from Iceland [to Greenland] must steer his course from Snefelsnes, which is twelve nautical miles (tholldt soes) farther to the west than the mentioned Reychenes, and for a day and a night he will sail due west, but then he must steer to the southwest to avoid the ice that adheres to Gunnbjörn’s rocks. Then he must hold his course one day and one night to the northwest, which will bring him straight to that high land of Greenland called Hvarf, under which lie the mentioned Herjulfsnes and Sand-haffn.”

“They who wish to sail direct from Bergen [in Norway] to Greenland without touching Iceland, must sail due west until they find themselves twelve nautical miles (xii uger soes) south of Reychenes, a promontory on the south coast of Iceland, and by holding this course toward the west they will come to the high land of Greenland called Hvarf.”—Antiq. Amer. Ivar Bardsen’s treatise. pp. 304, 305; 303, 304.

[41] Bygd, inhabited land, a place of residence, an abode.

[42] Ubygd, an unpeopled tract, desert.

[43] “A day before you descry the said Hvarf you ought to see another high mountain called Hvidserk. Under these two mountains—Hvard and Hvidserk—is a promontory (nes) called Herjulfsnes, near which is a harbor called Sand-haffn.... The inhabited part of Greenland lying eastwardly, next to Herjulfsnes, is called Skagefjörd.”—Antiq. Amer. Ivar Bardsen’s treatise. pp. 304, 305.

[44] Christianity, it is said, was introduced in Iceland in the year 1000.—Antiq. Amer. pp. 10, 11, 14, and note b. The discovery of America by the Northmen. By North Ludlow Beamish. London, 1841. pp. 47, 48.

[45] The traditions of the voyages of Bjarni, the son of Herjulf, and of Leif, the son of Eric the Red, are contained in a large folio of manuscripts found in the seventeenth century, in a monastery on the island called Flatö, north of Breidafjörd, in Iceland. This book of Flatö was purchased, about the year 1660, by Bishop Brynjulf Sveinson of Skalholt, in Iceland, and was sent by him as a gift to King Frederic III. of Denmark, and is now in the Royal Library of Copenhagen. A part of the inscription on the first page of the volume bears this translation: “This book, Jónn, the son of Hakon, owns.... The priest, Jónn, the son of Thord, wrote out the narrative concerning Eric, the traveller, and the histories of each of the Olafs; and the priest, Magnus, the son of Thorhall, wrote out that which follows, also that which precedes, and illuminated the whole. God Almighty and the Holy Virgin Mary bless those who wrote and him who dictated.”

It is supposed that these traditions, which are finely engrossed in Icelandic on vellum, contained in the Codex Flateyensis, were compiled between the years 1387 and 1395.—Antiq. Amer. pp. 1-4.

[46] Thaettir af Eireki Rauda ok Graenlendingum.

[47] Bjarni leitadi Graenlands.—Antiq. Amer. pp. 17-25. Discovery of America. Beamish, pp. 47, 48.

[48] From hella, a flat stone.

Certain writers believe that Newfoundland was called Helluland by the Northmen. The island lies about six hundred miles south of Greenland.

[49] Nova Scotia is supposed by some writers to be the region named Markland by the Northmen. It is about four hundred miles southwest of Newfoundland.

[50] Hèr Hefr Graenlendinga Thátt. Antiq. Amer. pp. 26-40. Discovery of America. Beamish, pp. 59-70.

[51] Narrative of an expedition to the east coast of Greenland, sent by order of the king of Denmark, in search of the lost colonies, under the command of Captain W. A. Graah, of the Danish royal navy. Translated from the Danish by the late G. Gordon Macdougall, F.R.S.N.A., for the Royal Geographical Society of London. London, 1837. pp. 106, 107.

[52]Meira var thar jafndaegri enn á Graenlandi edr Íslandi, sól hafdi thar eyktarstad ok dagmálastad um skamdegi.

“Dag-mál, n. (vide dagr), prop. ‘day-meal,’ one of the divisions of the day, usually about eight or nine o’clock, A.M.; the Latin hora tertia is rendered by ‘er vér köllum dagmál,’ which we call d., Hom. [Homiliu-bók], 142; enn er ekki lidit af dagmálum, Hom. (St.) 10. Acts 11, 15; in Glúm. [Viga-Glúms Saga], 342, we are told that the young Glúm was very lazy, and lay in bed till day-meal every morning, cp. also 343; Hrafn. [Hrafnkéls Saga] 28 and O. H. L. [Olafs Saga Helga Legendaria] 18—áeinum morni milli rismála ok dagmála—where distinction is made between rismal (rising time) and dagmál, so as to make a separate dagsmark (q. v.) of each of them; and again, a distinction is made between ‘midday’ and dagmal, Ísl. [Islenzkar], 11, 334. The dagmal is thus midway between ‘rising’ and ‘midday,’ which accords well with the present use. The word is synonymous with dagver darmál, breakfast-time, and denotes the hour when the ancient Icelanders used to take their chief meal, opposed to náttmál, night-meal or supper-time, Fms. [Fornmanna Sögur], viii, 330; even the MSS. use dagmál and dagverdarmál indiscriminately; cp. also Sturl. [Sturlunga Saga] 111, 4 C; Rb. [Rimbegla], 452 says that at full moon the ebb takes place ‘at dagmá-lum.’ To put the dagmál at 7:30 A.M., as Pál Vidalin does, seems neither to accord with the present use nor the passage in Glúm or the eccl. hora tertia, which was the nearest hour answering to the Icel. calculation of the day. In Fb. [Flateyjar bók] 1,539, it is said that the sun set at ‘eykd’ (i. e. half-past three o’clock), but rose at ‘dagmál,’ which puts the dagmal at 8:30 A.M. Compds. dagmála-stadr, m. the place of d. in the horizon, Fb. [Flateyjar bók].”

“Eykt, eykd, f. three or half-past three o’clock, P.M.; many commentaries have been written upon this word, as by Pál Vidalin Skyr, Finn Johnson in H. E. [Historia Ecclesiastica Islandiæ] 1. 153 sqq. note 6, and in Horologium, etc. The time of eykd is clearly defined in K. Th. K. [Kristinnrettr Thorláks ok Ketils], 92 as the time when the sun has past two parts of the ‘utsudr’ (q. v.) and has one part left, that is to say, half-past three o’clock, P.M.: it thus nearly coincides with the eccl. Lat. nona (three o’clock, P.M.); and both eykt and nona are therefore used indiscriminately in some passages. Sunset at the time of ‘eykd’ is opposed to sunrise at the time of ‘dagmal,’ q. v. In Norway ‘ykt’ means a luncheon taken about half-past three o’clock. But the passage in Edda—that autumn ends and winter begins at sunset at the time of eykt—confounded the commentators who believed it to refer to the conventional Icel. winter, which (in the old style) begins with the middle of October, and lasts six months. In the latitude of Reykholt—the residence of Snorri—the sun at this time sets about half-past four. Upon this statement the commentators have based their reasoning both in regard to dagmál and eykt, placing the eykt at half-past four, P.M., and dagmal at half-past seven, A.M., although this contradicts the definition of these terms in the law. The passage in Edda probably came from a foreign source, and refers not to the Icel. winter but to the astronomical winter, viz., the winter solstice or the shortest day; for sunset at half-past three is suited not to Icel., but to the latitude of Scotland and the southern parts of Scandinavia. The word is also curious from its bearing upon the discovery of America by the ancients, vide Fb. [Flateyjar-bók] l. c. This sense (half-past three) is now obsolete in Icel., but eykt is in freq. use in the sense of trihorium, a time of three hours; whereas in the oldest sagas no passage has been found bearing this sense,—the Bs. [Biskupa Sögur] 1, 385, 446, and Hem. [Hemings-thattr] l. c., are of the 13th and 14th centuries. In Norway ykt is freq. used metaph. of all the four meal times in the day, morning-ykt, midday-ykt, afternoon-ykt (or ykt proper), and even-ykt. In old MSS., Grág., K. Th. K. Hem. Heid. S. [Grágás, Kristinnrettr, Thorláks ok Ketils, Hemings-thattr, Heidarviga Saga], this word is always spelt eykd or eykth, shewing the root to be ‘auk’ with the fem. inflex. added; it probably first meant the eke-meal, answering to Engl. lunch, and thence came to mean the time of day at which this meal was taken. The eccl. law dilates upon the word, as the Sabbath was to begin at ‘hora nona’; hence the phrase, eykt helgr dagr....

“Eyktar-stadr. m. the place of the sun at half-past three, P.M.; meira var, thar jafndaegri enn á Graenlandi edr Íslandi, sól hafdi thar eyktar-stad ok dagmála-stad um skamdegi, Fb. [Flateyjar bók] 1, 539,—this passage refers to the discovery of America; but in A. A. [Antiquitates Americanæ], l. c., it is wrongly explained as denoting the shortest day nine hours long, instead of seven; it follows that the latitude fixed by the editors of A. A. [Antiquitates Americanæ] is too far to the south.”

“Dagr, m. ... a day, ... 5. the day is in Icel. divided according to the position of the sun above the horizon; these fixed traditional marks are called dags-mörk, day-marks, and are substitutes for the hours of modern times, viz. ris-mál or midr-morgun, dag-mál, há-degi, mid-degi or mid-mundi, nón, midr-aptan, nátt-mál.”

“Stadr, m., gen. stadar, dat. stad, and older stadi, pl. stadir: ... a ‘stead,’ place, abode.”—An Icelandic-English dictionary based on the MS. collections of the late Richard Cleasby, enlarged and completed by Gudbrand Vigfusson, M. A. Oxford, 1874.

[53] Thormod Torfason, or Torfæus, as his name is Latinized, in the addenda of his History of Ancient Vinland (Historia Vinlandiæ Antiquæ), printed at Copenhagen, in 1705, explains the meaning of the words, saying that the sun in Vinland, on the shortest day, was six hours above the horizon, which would imply that this land lay between the fifty-eighth and sixty-first parallels of north latitude. “Torfæus confirms his interpretation by the authority of Arngrim Jonas, a learned Icelander who flourished at the end of the sixteenth and beginning of the seventeenth century, and who was deemed a profound astronomer. In his ‘History of Greenland,’ he thus renders the passage we are considering: ‘There is in Vinland no winter, no cold, no frost as in Iceland or Greenland; inasmuch as the sun, on the very day of the winter solstice (they had no dials there), passes about six hours above the horizon.’ Having cited this passage from Arngrim Jonas, Torfæus proceeds: ‘This meaning I had long ago given this passage, first on the authority (if I rightly understood him) of Bryniulf Sveinson, the most learned of all the bishops of Skalkholt, to whom I was sent, while yet a youth, in the year 1662, with royal letters from my gracious master, King Frederick the Third, for the purpose of learning the genuine signification of the more difficult ancient words and phrases; and, then, from the necessary correspondence of the time of sunset with that of sunrise.’”—(The Discovery of America by the Northmen. By E. Everett. North American Review. January, 1838. vol. xlvi. pp. 179-188. Vide Historia Vinlandiæ Antiquæ, seu partis Americæ Septentrionalis. Per Thormodum Torfæum. Havniæ, 1705. Addenda.)

Professor Charles C. Rafn, secretary of the Royal Society of Northern Antiquaries, gives this rendition of the passage: “When the day is shortest the sun there has a place (is above the horizon) from half-past seven before noon till half-past four in the afternoon.”—Antiq. Amer. p. 436. Vide Discovery of America. Beamish. pp. 64, 65. According to Prof. Rafn, the Northmen built their winter-quarters on the shore of Mount Hope bay, Rhode Island; the day, nine hours long, indicating the latitude of 41° 24´ 10´´.

[54] The saga of Thorfinn Karlsefne and Snorro Thorbrandson (Saga Thorfinns Karlsefnis ok Snorra Thorbrandssonar). This legend is written on vellum, and is one of the valuable Icelandic manuscripts called the Arna-Magnœan collection, which is preserved in the library of the university of Copenhagen. The manuscripts were bequeathed to the university by Arne Magnussen, or, as his name is Latinized, Arnus Magnœus, an Icelandic scholar. The saga of Thorfinn is supposed to have been compiled in the fourteenth century.

[55] In the treatise of Ivar Bardsen, it is said that in Greenland “is found the best of wheat, (beste Hvede).”—Antiq. Amer. pp. 302-318.

The wild wheat (elymus arenarius) growing on the sand flats of Iceland is thus described: “This plant, the melur of the natives, is a kind of grass, with a spike or ear four or five inches long, and generally appears in a sandy soil. The sea-shore and tracts of volcanic ashes in the interior are equally favorable to its growth, though it is principally from the latter that the seeds used for bread are obtained; and the natives regard it as a great gift wherewith the wise Creator has blessed those mournful wastes. The harvest is in August, when it becomes white in the ear, but as it is seldom fully ripe, it requires to be dried before grinding. It is cut with a sickle, made up in bundles, and carried home on the backs of horses. It is then separated from the straw, and ground in hand-mills cut out of a block of lava, into fine meal of a grayish color.”—Historical and descriptive account of Iceland, Greenland, and the Faroe islands. pp. 385, 386.

[56] From hópa to recede. Hóp, a recess, haven, bay, inlet.

Certain writers assume this place Hóp to be the country around Mount Hope bay, in Rhode Island.

[57] This statement does not agree with the one preceding it,—that “they remained at this place a half-month.”

[58] Skraelingar, m. pl. Esquimaux.

[59] Antiq. Amer. pp. 136-163. Discovery of America. Beamish. pp. 87-103.

[60]Præterea unam adhuc insulam recitavit a multis in eo repertam oceano, quæ dicitur Winland, eo quod ibi vites sponte nascantur, vinum optimum ferentes. Nam et fruges ibi non seminatas habundare, non fabulosa opinione, sed certa comperimus relatione Danosum.”—M. Adamigesta Hammenburgensis ecclesiæ pontificum. Edente M. Lappenburg. I. U. D. Reipublicæ Hamburgensis tabulario. Monumenta Germaniæ historica. By George Henry Pertz. Hannoveræ, 1846.

[61] This fragment of a geographical or historical work is supposed to have been written before the time of Columbus.—Gripla C. Antiq. Amer. pp. 280, 281, 293, 296. Discovery of America. Beamish. pp. 114, 115.

[62] The map marked Tab. ii. is contained in the historical work entitled: Gronlandia Antiqva, seu veteris Gronlandiæ Descriptio.... Authore Thormodo Torfaeo. Havniæ, 1715. p. 21.

[63] If they were grapes, it does not follow that they were found on the eastern coast of the present territory of the United States. The French navigator, Jacques Cartier, in September, 1535, found “vines laden as full of grapes as could be all along the riuer [St. Lawrence], which rather seemed to haue bin planted by mans hand than otherwise.”—The third and last volume of the voyages, navigations, traffiques, and discoueries of the English nation. By Richard Hakluyt. London, 1600. p. 218.

[64] The rock writing, as interpreted by an Indian, is an account of a battle fought by the people of two tribes, and was engraved by some or one of the members of the victorious party.—Archives of aboriginal knowledge. By Henry R. Schoolcraft. 1860. vol. i. pp. 112-124; vol. iv. pp. 119. Antiq. Amer. pp. 373-403.

[65] Benedict Arnold, the first governor of Rhode Island, living at Newport, in his will, dated December 20, 1677, directed that his body should be buried at a certain spot, “being and lying in my land, in or near the line or path from my dwelling-house leading to my stone-built windmill, in the town of Newport.” Another mill of similar construction is near Leamington, in the parish of Chesterton, in Warwickshire, England, where Benedict Arnold lived when a boy. This mill was built according to a plan first introduced into England by Inigo Jones.—History of New England, by John Gorham Palfrey. Boston, 1859. vol. i. Note. pp. 57-59.

[66] History of Wales, written by Caradoc of Llancarvan, Glamorganshire, in the British Language, translated into English by Humphry Llwyd, and published by Dr. David Powel in the year 1584.

[67] “The most ancient Discouery of the West Indies by Madoc, the sonne of Owen Guyneth Prince of North-wales, in the yeere 1170: taken out of the history of Wales, lately published by M. Dauid Powel Doctor of Diuinity.... Madoc another of Owen Guyneth his sonnes left the land in contention betwixt his brethren, & prepared certaine ships with men and munition, and sought aduentures by Seas, sailing West, and leauing the coast of Ireland so farre North, that he came vnto a land vnknowen, where he saw many strange things....

“Of the voyage and returne of this Madoc there are many fables fained, as the common people doe vse in distance of place and length of time rather to augment then to diminish: but sure it is there he was. And after he had returned home, and declared the pleasant and fruitfull countreys that he had seene without inhabitants, and vpon the contrary part, for what barren & wild ground his brethren and nephewes did murther one another, he prepared a number of ships, and got with him such men and women as were desirous to liue in quietnesse: and taking leaue of his friends, tooke his journey thitherward againe.... This Madoc arriving in that Western country, vnto his people there, and returning back for more of his owne nation, acquaintance, & friends to inhabit that faire & large countrey, went thither again with ten sailes, as I find noted by Gutyn Owen.”—Hakluyt. vol. iii. p. 1.

[68] Hakluyt. vol. iii. p. 1.

[69] Kosmos: Entwurf einer physischen Weltbeschreibung. Alexander von Humboldt. 1845-1858. Trans. by E. C. Otté. Bohn’s ed. vol. ii. pp. 608, 609.

[70] The history of the voyages of the Zeni brothers was first published with another work entitled: Dei Commentarij del Viaggio in Persia. Venezia, 1558.

[71] The name is evidently a designation for Iceland. Frislanda, the cold or frozen land; Anglo-Saxon, frysan; Icelandic, friosa; Swedish, frysa; Danish, fryse; and land, land.

[72] Estotiland seems to be an anomalous form of the name Scotland, from Anglo-Saxon, scot; Spanish and Portuguese, escote; Italian, scotto.

[73] Dello Scoprimento dell’ Isole Frislanda, Eslanda, Engronelanda, Estotilanda, & Icaria, fatto per due fratelli Zeni, M. Nicolò il Caualiere, & M. Antonio. Libro Vno, col disegno di dette Isole.

The Voyages of the Venetian Brothers, Nicolò and Antonio Zeno to the Northern Seas. By Richard Henry Major. London, 1873. Hakluyt Soc. pub. pp. 1-24.

[74] In 1260, the two brothers, Nicolò and Maffeo Polo, departed from Constantinople, on a trading expedition to the Euxine Sea; thence they travelled through the western dominions of the Grand Khan of the Tartars. In 1269 they returned home with letters from this sovereign to Pope Clement IV. On their arrival in Venice, Nicolò found that his wife had died in giving birth to his son, Marco, then a lad of fifteen years. In 1271 the brothers (Maffeo being a bachelor) again left home for the Orient, taking Marco with them. In 1295 the three returned to Venice after an absence of twenty-four years.

[75] Giovanni Battista Ramusio was born at Tevisa in 1485. For a decade of years he was secretary to the Venetian Council of Ten. His valuable collection of voyages and travels, entitled “Raccolta di Navigationi e Viaggi,” comprises three volumes. Volume I. was published in 1554, volume II. in 1559, and volume III. in 1556. Ramusio died in 1557.

[76] China. “For about three centuries,” says Yule, “the Northern provinces of China had been detached from native rule, and subject to foreign dynasties; first to the Khitau, a people from the basin of the Sungari River, and supposed (but doubtfully) to have been akin to the Tunguses, whose rule subsisted for 200 years, and originated the name Khitai, Khata, or Cathay, by which for nearly 1000 years China has been known to the nations of Inner Asia, and to those whose acquaintance with it was got by that channel.”—The book of Ser Marco Polo. By Henry Yule. London, 1875. Introd. p. 11.

[77] Ramusio: Raccolta di navigationi e viaggi. vol. ii. Prefatione.

[78] Concerning Marco Polo, Humboldt remarks: “Jacquet, who was unhappily too early removed by a premature death from the investigation of Asiatic languages, and who, like Klaproth and myself, was long occupied with the work of the great Venetian traveller, wrote to me, as follows, shortly before his decease: ‘I am as much struck as yourself by the composition of the Milione. It is undoubtedly founded on the direct and personal observation of the traveller, but he probably also made use of documents either officially or privately communicated to him. Many things appear to have been borrowed from Chinese and Mongolian works, although it is difficult to determine their precise influence on the composition of the Milione; owing to the successive translations from which Polo took his extracts. Whilst our modern travellers are only too well pleased to occupy their readers with their personal adventures, Marco Polo takes pains to blend his own observations with the official data communicated to him, of which, as Governor of the city of Yangui, he was able to have a large number.’ (See my Asie Centrale, t. ii. p. 395.) The compiling method of the celebrated traveller likewise explains the possibility of his being able to dictate his book at Genoa, in 1295, to his fellow-prisoner and friend, Messer Rustizielo of Pisa, as if the documents had been lying before him. (Compare Marsden, Travels of Marco Polo, p. xxxiii).” Humboldt: Cosmos. Otté’s trans. vol. ii. p. 625. Note.

[79] Ser Marco Polo. Yule. Second ed. vol. i. pp. 103, 104.

[80] “I John Maundevylle, knight, alle be it I be not worthi, that was born in England, in the Town of Seynt Albones, passed the See, in the zeer of our Lord Jesu Crist mcccxxii, in the Day of Seynt Michelle; and hidre to have ben long tyme over the See, and have seyn and gon thorghe manye dyverse Londes, and many Provynces and Kingdomes and Iles, and have passed thorghe Tartarye, Percye, Ermonye, the litylle and the grete; thorghe Lybye, Caldee, and a gret partie of Ethiope; thorghe Amazoyne, Inde the lasse and the more, a gret partie; and thorghe out many othere Iles, that ben abouten Inde.... And zee schulle undirstonde, that I have put this Boke out of Latyn into Frensche and translated it azen out of Frensche into Englyssche, that every Man of my Nacioun may undirstonde it.”—MS. in Cottonian library, marked Titus. c. xvi. The Voiage and Travaile of Sir John Maundevile, Kt. By J. O. Halliwell. London, 1849. Prologue. pp. 4, 5.

[81] Herodotus: Melpomene xlii.

[82] Caius Plinius Secundus, a Roman writer, born A. D. 23, and died A. D. 79. Hanno’s expedition was undertaken about 570 B. C.

[83] Eudoxus of Cyzicus, a Greek navigator, lived about 130 B. C. Ptolemy Lathyrus began his reign B. C. 117. Cornelius Nepos flourished in the century before the Christian era.

[84] Supposed to have been in the year of the building of Rome, 691.

[85] Suevi, the ancient inhabitants of that part of Germany between the Danube and the Baltic Sea.

[86] Historia Naturalis. lib. ii. cap. lxvii.

[87] “In Christian Europe the earliest mention of the use of the magnetic needle occurs in the politico-satirical poem, called La Bible, by Guyot, of Provence, in 1190, and in the description of Palestine by Jacobus, of Vitry, Bishop of Ptolemais, between 1204 and 1215. Dante (in his Parad. xii., 29) refers, in a simile, to the needle (ago) ‘which points to the star.’”

“Navarrete, in his Discurso histórico sobre los progresos del Arte de Navegar en España, 1802, p. 28, recalls a remarkable passage in the Spanish Leyes de las Partidas (II. tit. ix., ley 28), of the middle of the thirteenth century: ‘The needle, which guides the seaman in the dark night, and shows him, both in good and bad weather, how to direct his course, is the intermediary agent (medianera) between the loadstone (la piedra) and the north star.’ ... See the passage in Las Siete Partidas del sabio Rey Don Alonso el ix. (according to the usually adopted chronological order, Alonso the Xth). Madrid, 1829. t. i. p. 473.”—Humboldt: Cosmos. Otté’s trans. vol. ii. p. 629, and note.

[88]La magnete piere laide et noire. Ob ete fer volenters se joint. Lon touchet ob une aguilet. Et en festue lon fischie. Puis lon mette en laigue et se tient desus. Et la point se torne contre lestoille. Quant la nuit feit tenebrous et lon ne voie estoile ne lune, poet li mariner tenir droite voie.

[89] The Monthly Magazine, or British Register. London, 1802. vol. xiii. part 1. p. 449. The Life of Prince Henry of Portugal. By Henry Major. London, 1868. pp. 58, 59.

[90] “We are told by Antonio Beccadelli, surnamed Il Panormita from his birthplace, Palermo, and who was a contemporary of Prince Henry, that sailors were first indebted to Amalfi for the use of the magnet—‘Prima dedit nautis usum magnetis Amalphis’; and ‘Inventrix prœclara fuit magnetis Amalphis.’ ... The former of these lines is quoted from Il Panormita by Henricus Brenemanus, in his Dissertatio de Republica Amalfitana, and Klaproth has added the latter.” Life of Prince Henry of Portugal. Major. p. 59.

[91] Dom Henrique was born at Oporto, March 4, 1394.

[92]Quem passar o Cabo de Nao, ou voltara ou nao.

[93] Chronica do descobrimento e conquista de Guiné, escripta por mandado de el Rey. D. Affonso V. sob a direcçao scientifica e secundo as instrucçoes do illustre infante D. Henrique, pelo chronista Gomes Eannes de Azurara, fielmente transladada do manuscrito original contemporaneo que se conserva na Bibliotheca Real de Pariz. Edited by the Visconde da Carreira, with introduction and notes by the Vicomte de Santarem. Paris, 1841. cap. viii.

[94] Antonio Galvano was born about the year 1502. In 1538 he was appointed by the king of Portugal governor of the Moluccas or Spice Islands. He was recalled about the year 1545, and died in 1557.

[95] Tratado, que compōs o nobre & notauel capitão Antonio Galuão, dos diuersos & desuayrados caminhos, por onde nos tempos passados a pimenta & especearia veyo da India ás nossas partes, & assi de todos os descobrimentos antigos & modernos, que são feitos ate a era de mil & quinhentos & cincoenta.... Impressa em casa de Joam de Barreira impressor del rey nosso senhor, na Rua de Sā Mameda. [Lisboa.]

Vide The discoveries of the world, from their first original unto the year of our Lord 1555, by Antonio Galvano, governor of Ternate. Corrected, quoted, and published in England, by Richard Hakluyt, (1610). Now reprinted, with the original Portuguese text, and edited by Vice-admiral Bethune, C. B. London, 1862. Hakluyt Society publication.

[96] Chronica do descobrimento e conquista de Guiné. cap. ix.

[97] Historia Naturalis. lib. ii. cap. lxviii.

[98] The distance of a place, north or south of the equator, was determined by ascertaining with the astrolabe the elevation of the pole of the heavens above the plane of the horizon.

The distance of one place from another, east or west of a meridian, was obtained by ascertaining the difference of time at the two points; the difference of time being one hour to each space of fifteen degrees of longitude. Although a navigator in the latter part of the fifteenth century could determine with his astrolabe the time of the place where he was in port, from the altitude of the sun or other heavenly bodies, the want of an accurate chronometer made it impossible for him to know the exact time of a place elsewhere. Pigafetta, who sailed round the world in 1519-1522, says in his treatise on navigation: “Pilots now are satisfied with knowing the latitude, and are so presumptuous that they refuse to hear longitude mentioned.”—MS. in Ambrosian Library, Milan.

To obtain a practical solution of the difficulties which perplexed seamen in determining the longitude of places, the Spanish government offered a thousand crowns, in 1598, for an accurate method of ascertaining the time of distant places. Not long afterward the government of the United Provinces of the Netherlands offered ten thousand florins for similar information, and, in 1714, the parliament of Great Britain passed an act proffering a gift of money to any person who should discover the best means of ascertaining longitude.

[99] Joam II. of Portugal reigned from 1481 to 1495.

“Astrolabes designed for the determination of time and geographical latitudes by meridian altitudes, and capable of being employed at sea, underwent gradual improvement from the time that the astrolabium of the Majorican pilots was in use, which is described by Raymond Lully, in 1295, in his Arte de navegar, till the invention of the instrument made by Martin Behaim, in 1484, at Lisbon, and which was, perhaps, only a simplification of the meteoroscope of his friend Regiomontanus.”—Humboldt: Cosmos. Otté’s trans. vol. ii. pp. 630, 631.

[100] Martin Behaim was born in Nuremberg about the year 1459. His commercial business induced him to visit Portugal about the year 1480, where, it is said, he became a pupil of Johann Müller, known as Regiomontanus. He accompanied Diogo Cam to the Congo, in 1484. He afterward resided on the island of Fayal, one of the Azores, for a number of years. His celebrated terrestrial globe was constructed by him, at Nuremberg, about the year 1492. He died at Lisbon, on the twenty-ninth of July, 1506.

[101] Asia de Joam de Barros dos fectos que os Portugueses fizeram no descobrimento & conquista dos mares & terras do Oriente. Impressa per Germao Galharde em Lixboa: a xxviij. de Junho anno de m. vᶜ. lij. dec. i. lib. iv. cap. ii.

[102] Arte de nauegar. Por el maestro Pedro de Medina. Valladolid. 1545.

[103] “I find the first mention of the application of the log in a passage of Pigafetta’s journal of Magellan’s voyage of circumnavigation, which long lay buried among the manuscripts in the Ambrosian Library at Milan. It is there said that in the month of January, 1521, when Magellan had already arrived in the Pacific, ‘Seconda la misura che facevamo del viaggio colla catena a poppa noi percorrevamo da 60 in 70 leghe al giorno,’ [following the measure which we made of our progress with the chain at the stern, we ran from sixty to seventy leagues a day]. (Amoretti. Primo Viaggio intorno al Globo terracqueo ossia Navigazione fatta dal Cavaliere Antonio Pigafetta sulla squadra del Magaglianes, 1800. p. 46.) What can this arrangement of a chain at the hinder part of the ship (catena a poppa), ‘which we used throughout the entire voyage to measure the way,’ have been except an apparatus similar to our log?”—Humboldt: Cosmos. Otté’s trans. vol. ii. p. 633.

[104] The Cape of Good Hope is in 34° 22´ south latitude.

It is said that Dias found by the astrolabe that the cape was in 45° south latitude, and that it was 3,100 leagues distant from Lisbon. This distance, it is related, Dias set down, league by league, on a marine chart, which he presented to King John II. Historia General de las Indias. Bartolomé de las Casas. lib. i. cap. vii.

[105] Cristoforo Colombo was born in the city of Genoa, about the year 1435. His father, Dominico Colombo, was a wool-comber. The navigator married, in Lisbon, Doña Felipa, the daughter of Bartolomeo Moñis de Perestrello, a distinguished mariner, who had been in the service of Prince Henry of Portugal.

Ferdinand Columbus, in his history of the life and achievements of his father, remarks: “So it is that some, who would cast a cloud upon his fame, say he was of Nervi, others of Cugureo, and others of Bugiesco, all small towns near the city of Genoa, and upon its coast. Others, who wish to exalt him, say he was a native of Savona, others of Genoa, and others, more vain, make him of Piacenza, in which city there are some honorable persons of his family and tombs with the arms and inscriptions of the family of Colombi, this being the common surname of his ancestors, though he, complying with the customs of the country where he went to live and begin a new condition of life, altered the word that it might be like the old name, and designated the direct from the collateral line, calling himself Colon.... And the surname of Colon which he revived was appropriate, which in Greek signifies a member, and his Christian name being Christopher, designate him as being a member of Christ, by whom salvation was conveyed to those Indian people.”—Histoire del Signore Don Fernando Colombo. cap. 1.

[106] Fernando Colombo, an illegitimate son of the admiral, was born in Cordova about the year 1487. After his father’s discovery of the New World, he was made page to Prince Juan, the son of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. He accompanied his father in his fourth voyage, in 1502, and after the latter’s death, sailed twice to the West Indies. He was excellently educated, and was the author of several works. His library, it is said, contained more than twenty thousand books and manuscripts, which, after his death, became the property of the cathedral of Seville. The manuscript of his history of the life of his father was lost before the work appeared in Spanish. It is said that Luis Colon, duke of Veragua, a dissipated grandson of the navigator, went to Genoa about the year 1568, taking Fernando’s manuscript with him, and placed it in the hands of Baltano de Fornari, by whom it was transferred to Giorgio Baptista Marini, who had it translated into Italian, after which it was printed in Venice in this language, and also in Latin. Alfonso de Ulloa’s Italian translation of it was published, in Venice, in 1571, entitled Historie del S. D. Fernando Colombo; nelli quali s’ ha particolare, & vera relatione della vita, & de’ fatti dell’ Ammiraglio D. Cristoforo Colombo, suo padre. There are several English translations of Fernando Colombo’s history. Vide Collection of voyages and travels by [A. & J.] Churchhill. London, 1732. vol. ii. pp. 499-628. Pinkerton’s Collection of voyages and travels. London, 1819. vol. ii. pp. 1-155.

[107] Columbus, in his investigations, no doubt, became informed concerning the arguments advanced by the Greek astronomer, Anaximander, in the sixth century before the Christian era, respecting the globular form of the earth. He evidently read what Aristotle wrote in the fifth century of the Christian era: “As to the figure of the earth, it must necessarily be spherical.... And, moreover, from the visible phenomena, for if it were not so, the eclipses of the moon would not have such sections as they have. For in the configurations in the course of a month, the deficient part takes all different shapes; it is straight, and concave, and convex; but in eclipses it always has the line of division convex; wherefore, since the moon is eclipsed in consequence of the interposition of the earth, the periphery of the earth must be the cause of this by having a spherical form. And again, from the appearance of the stars, it is clear not only that the earth is round, but that its size is not very great; for when we go a little distance to the south or to the north, the circle of the horizon becomes palpably different, so that the stars overheard undergo a great change, and are not the same to those that travel to the north and to the south. For some stars are seen in Egypt and at Cyprus, but are not seen in the countries north of them; and the stars that in the north are visible while they make a complete circuit there [in Egypt and at Cyprus], undergo a setting. So that from this it is manifest, not only that the form of the earth is round, but also that it is not a very large sphere; for otherwise the difference would not be so obvious to persons making so small a change of place. Wherefore we may judge that those persons who connect the region in the neighborhood of the Pillars of Hercules with that toward India, and who assert that in this way the sea is one, do not assert things very improbable. They confirm this conjecture, moreover, by elephants, which are said to be of the same species toward each extreme of the earth, as if this circumstance was a consequence of the conjunction of the extreme parts. The mathematicians, who try to calculate the measure of the circumference, make it amount to 400,000 stadia; whence we infer that the earth is not only spherical, but that it is not large compared with the magnitude of the other stars,”—De Cœlo. lib. ii. cap. xiv.

[108] Historie del S. D. Fernando Colombo, cap. v.

[109] Historie del S. D. Fernando Colombo, cap. iv.

[110] Iceland lies between 63° 24´ and 66° 33´ north latitude.

[111] Historie del S. D. Fernando Colombo. cap. iv.

[112] The Azores or Western Islands, about eight hundred miles west of Portugal, lie in an oblique line, northwest and southeast, between 36° 50´ and 39° 50´ north latitude and 24° 30´ and 31° 20´ west longitude. The Azores, frequently called Terceiras, were discovered in 1439 by Josua van der Berg, a Flemish merchant, who was carried in his ship to them in a storm. They were named Açores from the number of goshawks found on them. They were not inhabited when discovered.

[113] The Cape Verd Islands, three hundred and twenty miles west of Cape Verd on the west coast of Africa, lie between 14° 45´ and 17° 13´ north latitude and between 22° 45´ and 25° 25’ west longitude.

[114] Claudius Ptolemæus, an Egyptian astronomer and geographer, lived, in the second century at Alexandria. His System of Geography, (Γεωγραφική Ἀφήγησις,) contained in eight books, was a standard work for fourteen centuries. During the first part of the sixteenth century twenty-one editions of the geography, with editions and emendations, were published. According to Ptolemy, all the known part of the earth, from the first meridian, or the Canary Islands, eastwardly, on the parallel of Rhodes, measured seventy-two thousand stadia, or one hundred and eighty degrees, which he deemed to be the half of the circumference of the globe. But the extent he was acquainted with was really measured by one hundred and twenty degrees, which made the circumference one third less than it is.

Marinus of Tyre, a Greek geographer, lived about 150 A.D. This cosmographer supposed that the country of the Seres, or Sinae (China), the farthest part of India known to the ancients, was fifteen hours, by the course of the sun, or two hundred and twenty-five degrees east of the first meridian passing through the Fortunate (Canary) Islands. According to our present geographical measurements, the distance given by Marinus was not more than one hundred and thirty degrees, leaving two hundred and thirty the remaining distance from China eastwardly to the Canary Islands. Following the deductions of Marinus, there were only one hundred and thirty-five degrees of distance between China, going eastwardly, and the Fortunate Islands.

[115] “Marinus, the Tyrian, misled by the length of time occupied in the navigation from Myos Hormos to India, by the erroneously assumed direction of the major axis of the Caspian from west to east, and by the over-estimation of the length of the land route to the country of the Seres, gave the old continent a breadth of 225°, instead of 129°. The Chinese coast was thus advanced to the Sandwich Islands. Columbus naturally preferred this result to that of Ptolemy, according to which Quinsay should have been found in the meridian of the eastern part of the archipelago of the Carolinas. Ptolemy, in the Almagest (ii. 1), places the coast of Sinae at 180°, and in his Geography (lib. i. cap. 12) at 177¼°.”—Humboldt: Cosmos. Otté’s trans. vol. ii. p. 645. Note.

[116] Alfraganius or Al Fergani, an Arabian astronomer, lived in the earlier part of the ninth century.

[117] Medea, act. ii.

Lucius Annæus Seneca, a Stoic philosopher and tragic poet, was born at Corduba, Spain, about 5 B.C., and died 65 A.D.

Tiphys was the name of the pilot of the ship of the Argonauts.

Thule, an island in the extreme part of Northern Europe, as known in the time of Ptolemy. The island is supposed by some to have been the Shetland Islands, by others the Faroe group, and by others Iceland.

[118] Historie del S. D. Fernando Colombo. cap. vi, vii.

[119] Porto Santo, a small island northeast of the island of Madeira.

[120] The island of Madeira (Wood) lies off the west coast of Africa, between 32° 37´ and 32° 52´ north latitude and 16° 38´ and 17° 16´ west longitude. It is thirty-four miles long. The island of Porto Santo is twenty-five miles northeast of it.

[121] Various fictions were current in the middle ages respecting the situation of the island of the Seven Cities, and a number of expeditions went in search of it with unsuccessful results. Mercator, Ortelius, and Locke place the island in 28° north latitude.

[122] Thucydides, a Greek historian, born B.C. 471.

[123] Historie del S. D. Fernando Colombo, cap. ix, x.

[124] “Paolo Toscanelli was so greatly distinguished as an astronomer that Behaim’s teacher, Regiomontanus, dedicated to him, in 1463, his work, De Quadratura Circuli, directed against the Cardinal Nicolaus de Cusa. He constructed the great gnomon in the church of Santa Maria Novella at Florence, and died in 1482, at the age of eighty-five, without having lived long enough to enjoy the pleasure of learning the discovery of the Cape of Good Hope by Diaz, and of the tropical part of the new continent by Columbus.”—Humboldt: Cosmos. Otté’s trans. vol. ii. p. 644. Note.

[125] Zacton, in China, is now called Tsiuenchau. “At this city” says Marco Polo, “is the haven of Zayton, frequented by all of the ships from India, ... and by all the merchants of Manzi, for hither is imported the most astonishing quantity of goods and of precious stones and pearls.... For it is one of the two greatest havens in the world for commerce.”—Ser Marco Polo. Yule. Second ed. vol. ii. p. 186. On Ruysch’s map of 1508, Zaiton is placed on the east coast of China, west of the island of Cuba. Vide map.

[126] The city is now called Hangchau, and is in the province of Chehkiang. As described by Marco Polo, the city was “the finest and the noblest in the world.”—Ser Marco Polo. Yule. Second ed. vol. ii. p. 145. Quinsai on Ruysch’s map of 1508, is northwest of Zaiton.

[127] Antonio Pigafetta, in his Treatise on navigation, written about the year 1523, says: “The circumference of the earth is supposed to be divided into three hundred and sixty degrees, and to each degree are assigned seventeen leagues and a half; the circumference of the earth is consequently six thousand three hundred leagues. The land league is three miles, the sea league is four.”—MS. in Ambrosian library, Milan.

[128] Cipango (Japan), now called by the natives Dai Nippon or Dai Nihon, is a group of islands lying between the twenty-third and fiftieth parallels of north latitude and the one hundred and twenty-second and one hundred and fifty-third meridians of east longitude.

[129] From Lisbon, Spain, in 38° 42´ north latitude and 9° 8´ west longitude (first meridian at Greenwich), to Tokio, Japan, in 35° 40´ north latitude and 139° 40´ east longitude, the westward distance is about eleven thousand six hundred statute miles; and from Lisbon to Peking, China, in 39° 56´ north latitude and 116° 27´ east longitude, about twelve thousand one hundred miles. From Liverpool, England, to New York, on the sailing route, the distance is about three thousand and twenty-three miles, and from New York to Canton, China, via the Isthmus of Panama and the Sandwich Islands, the distance is about ten thousand six hundred miles.

“As the old continent, from the western extremity of the Iberian peninsula [Portugal], to the coast of China, comprehends almost 130° of longitude, there remain about 230° for the distance which Columbus would have had to traverse if he wished to reach Cathai (China); but less if he only desired to reach Zipangi (Japan). This difference of 230°, which I have indicated, depends on the position of the Portuguese Cape St. Vincent (11° 20´ W. of Paris), and the far projecting part of the Chinese coast, near the then celebrated port of Quinsay, so often named by Columbus and Toscanelli (lat. 30° 28´, long. 117° 47´ E. of Paris).... The distance of Cape St. Vincent from Zipangi (Niphon) is 22° of longitude less than Quinsay, therefore about 209° instead of 230° 53´.”—Humboldt: Cosmos. Otté’s trans. vol. ii. p. 264. Note.

[130] Historie del S. D. Fernando Colombo. cap. viii.

[131] Diego Ortiz de Cazadilla, bishop of Ceuta.

[132] This conclave of the learned men of Spain held its meetings in the Dominican convent of St. Stephen, in Salamanca.

[133] “But as to the fable that there are antipodes—that is to say, men on the opposite side of the earth, where the sun rises when it sets to us—men who walk with their feet opposite ours, that is on no ground credible. And, indeed, it is not affirmed that this has been learned by historical knowledge, but by scientific conjecture, on the ground that the earth is suspended within the concavity of the sky, and that it has as much room on the one side of it as on the other; hence they say that the part which is beneath must be inhabited. But they do not remark that, although it be supposed or scientifically demonstrated that the world is of a round and spherical form, yet it does not follow that the other side of the earth is bare of water; nor even, though it be bare, does it immediately follow that it is peopled. For Scripture, which proves the truth of its historical statements by the accomplishment of its prophecies, gives no false information; and it is too absurd to say that some men might have taken ship and traversed the whole wide ocean, and crossed from this side of the world to the other, and that thus even the inhabitants of that distant region are descended from the first man.”—Sancti Aurelii Augustini Hipponensis episcopi operum. Tomus Septimus. Antwerpiæ. 1700. De Civitate Dei. lib. xvi. cap. ix. The works of Aurelius Augustine, bishop of Hippo. Trans. by the Rev. Marcus Dods. Edinburgh. 1871.

Lactantius, another theologian, in the fourth century, argued in the same way: “Is it possible that men can be so absurd as to believe that the plants and trees on the other side of the earth hang downward, and that men there have their feet higher than their heads? If you ask of them how they defend these monstrosities, how things do not fall away from the earth on that side, they reply that the nature of things is such that heavy bodies tend toward the centre, like the spokes of a wheel, while light bodies, as clouds, smoke, fire, tend from the centre it toward the heavens on all sides. Now I am really at a loss what to say of those who, when they have once gone wrong, steadily persevere in their folly and defend one absurd opinion by another.”—Div. Institutiones. lib. iii.

[134] Historie del S. D. Fernando Colombo. cap. xi, xii.

[135] In a letter, addressed to the king and queen describing his fourth voyage, Columbus remarks: “For seven years I was at your royal court, where every one to whom the enterprise was mentioned treated it as ridiculous, but now there is not a man, down to the very tailors, who does not beg to be allowed to become a discoverer.”—Coleccion de los viages y descubrimientos, que hicieron por mar los Españoles desde fines del siglo xv., por Don Martin Fernandez de Navarrete. Madrid, 1825. tom. i. p. 311.

Historie del S. D. Fernando Colombo. cap. xiii, xiv, xv.

[136]Tengo propósito de hacer carta nueva de navegar, en la cual situaré toda la mar y tierras del mar Océano en sus propios lugares debajo su viento; y mas componer un libro, y poner todo por el semejante por pintura, por latitud del equinocial y longitud del Occidente, y sobre todo cumple mucho que yo olvide el sueño y tiente mucho el navegar porque asi cumple, las cuales serán gran trabajo.”—Coleccion de los viages y descubrimientos. Navarrete. tom. i. pp. 1-3.

[137] Columbus, speaking of the progress of the ship, on the twenty-fourth of October, remarks: “I carried all the sail of the ship, the mainsail, and two bonnets, the foresail, and the spritsail, and the mizzen and the main-top-sail. Llevaba todas mis velas de la nao, maestra, y dos bonetas, y trinquete, y cebadera, y mezana, y vela de gavia.” A bonnet was a sail placed beneath the mainsail in fine weather to increase the speed of a ship.

[138] On the pavement of the cathedral of Seville is inscribed: “Con tres galeras y 90 personas,” with three galleys and ninety persons.

[139] Historie del S. D. Fernando Colombo. cap. xvi, xvii.

[140] The island of Ferro is the most westerly of the Canary group. The Canaries lie off the west coast of Africa, between 27° and 30° north latitude and 13° and 19° west longitude. The principal islands are: Teneriffe, Grand Canary, Palma, Lanzarote, Fuerteventura, Gomera, and Ferro. Through the last island the ancient geographers drew the first meridian of longitude.

[141] According to Columbus’s statement, 56⅔ miles were equal to a degree, and four miles to a marine league. It has been assumed that the Italian mile used in measurements by Columbus equalled 4,842 English feet, and the Italian marine league 19,368 English feet.—Vide An attempt to solve the problem of the first landing-place of Columbus in the New World. By Captain G. V. Fox, Assistant Secretary of the United States Navy. United States Coast and Geodetic Survey. Appendix No. 18. Report for 1880. Washington, 1882. pp. 58, 59.

[142] “On September 13, 1492, he had reached far enough to the westward to come from a previously eastern declination within a region of westerly declination, and that on September 17 it amounted to a whole point (11¼°).” This constitutes his well-known discovery of a part of a line of no-declination. “Two hundred and twenty-four leagues or, near enough for our purpose, 672 nautical miles, west of the island of Gomera would place him on September 13, in latitude 28° 06´ north, and in longitude 12° 42´ + 17° 08´ = 29° 50´, according to Bowditch, or if we take the position of the harbor of Sebastian near the eastern point of Gomera Island, according to admiralty chart No. 1873, viz.: latitude 28° 05´ 5 and longitude 17° 06´ 3 and considering that 11° 12´ correspond to 12° 42´ of difference of longitude in that latitude, we have for a point in the line of no-declination the latitude of 28° 05´ and longitude 29° 48´. In E. Walker’s treatise on Terrestrial and Cosmical Magnetism, Cambridge (England), 1866, p. 300, we read: ‘The history of this line dates from the 13th of September, 1492, when Columbus observed the needle pass from the east to the west of the meridian, in latitude 28° N. longitude 28° W. (probably roughly adding 11° of difference of longitude to 17° for longitude of Gomera). According to my computation of the daily position of the Admiral’s flagship, and based upon his log-book, he was on September 13 in latitude 28° 21´ longitude 29° 16´.... According to my computation of the daily track, Columbus was on September 17, 1492, in latitude 27° 38´ and in longitude 36° 30´, when he noted 11° west declination.”—An inquiry into the variation of the compass off the Bahama Islands, at the time of the landfall of Columbus in 1492. By Charles A. Schott. United States Coast and Geodetic Survey. Appendix No. 19. Report for 1880. Washington, 1882. p. 5.

“Christopher Columbus has not only the merit of being the first to discover a line without magnetic variation, but also of having excited a taste for the study of terrestrial magnetism in Europe, by means of his observations on the progressive increase of western declination in receding from that line.”—Humboldt: Cosmos. Otté’s trans. vol. ii. p. 656.

[143] “Men also became acquainted with those great banks of sea-weed (Fucus natans),—the oceanic meadows which presented the singular spectacle of the accumulation of a social plant over an extent of space almost seven times greater than the area of France. The great Fucus Bank, the Mar de Sargasso, extends between 19° and 34° north latitude. The major axis is situated about 7° west of the island of Corvo. The lesser Fucus Bank lies in a space between the Bermudas and the Bahamas. Winds and partial currents variously affect, according to the character of the season, the length and circumference of these Atlantic fucoid meadows.”—Humboldt: Cosmos. Otté’s trans. vol. ii. p. 663.

[144] Historie del S. D. Fernando Colombo. cap. xviii, xix.

[145] Historie del S. D. Fernando Colombo. cap. xx, xxii.

The discovery of land was made on Friday morning, the twelfth of October, old style. According to the calendar of Julius Cæsar, every fourth year had three hundred and sixty-six days; the others three hundred and sixty-five. Pope Gregory XIII. changed this method of reckoning time by dropping ten days in October, 1582, in order to bring back the day of the vernal equinox to the same day, in the year 325, in which the council of Nice was convened. By an act of the parliament of Great Britain, in 1751, eleven days, in September, 1752, were dropped, and the third day of the month was reckoned the fourteenth of the new style. This mode of reckoning time is called the new style.

[146] Bartolomé de las Casas was born at Seville, in 1474. In 1502 he made his first voyage to the New World, and quitted its shores for the last time in 1547. His history of the Indies,—Historia general de las Indias,—written between the years 1527 and 1562, was not printed until 1875-’76, when it was issued, in five volumes, at Madrid. Before his death, in 1566, he gave the manuscript of this work to the convent of San Gregorio, at Valladolid, with the request that it should not be published for forty years. A manuscript in Las Casas’s hand-writing, apparently an abridgment of Columbus’s journal of his first voyage, which the former evidently had made while obtaining material for his history of the Indies, was found by Martin Fernandez de Navarrete, the Spanish historian, in the archives of Spain, when making, about the year 1790, researches for information respecting the marine history of Spain.

[147] This island is believed by Munoz to be Watling Island; by Navarrete, Grand Turk Island; by Humboldt and Irving, Cat Island. The Bahamas lie between the island of Hayti or San Domingo and the east coast of Florida, or between 21° and 27° 30´ north latitude and 70° 30´ and 79° 5´ west longitude. The principal islands of the group are the Grand Bahama, Great and Little Abaco, Andros, New Providence, San Salvador, Rum Cay, Great Exuma, Watling, Long, Crooked, Atwood’s Key, Great and Little Magua islands.

The identity of the island is discussed at some length by Captain G. V. Fox, of the United States Navy, who remarks: “The study that I gave to the subject in the winter of 1878-’79 in the Bahamas, which had been familiar cruising-ground to me, has resulted in the selection of Samana or Atwood Cay for the first landing-place. It is a little island, 8.8 miles east and west, 1.6 extreme breadth, and averaging 1.2 north and south. It has 8.6 square miles. The east end is in latitude 23° 05´ N.; longitude, 73° 37´ west of Greenwich.... Turk is smaller than Samana, and Cat very much longer.”—An attempt to solve the problem of the first landing-place of Columbus in the New World. By Captain G. V. Fox, United States Coast and Geodetic Survey. Appendix No. 18. Report for 1880. Washington, 1882. pp. 43, 44.

[148] F and Y: Fernando and Ysabel.

[149] The real position of this island, in respect to that of Ferro, is E. 5° N. The port of Ferro is in latitude 27° 46´ 2´´ N. and longitude 17° 54´ 2´´ W.

[150] Vide Personal narrative of the first voyage of Columbus to America. From a manuscript recently discovered in Spain. Translated from the Spanish. [By Samuel Kettell.] Boston, 1827. pp. 33-38.

Historia general de las Indias. Por Bartolomé de las Casas. lib. 1. cap. xxxix-xli. Coleccion de los viages y descubrimientos. Navarrete. tom. 1.

[151] A coin of less value than a mill.

[152] From this point, says Humboldt, as related by Columbus’s friend, the Cura de los Palacios, “he proposed, if he had provision enough ‘to continue his course westward, and to return to Spain, either by water, by way of Ceylon (Taprobane) rodeando todo la tierra de los Negros, or by land, through Jerusalem and Jaffa.’ ... See the important manuscript of Andres Bernaldez, Cura de la villa de los Palacios (Historia de los Reyes Catolicos, cap. 123). This history comprises the years from 1488 to 1513. Bernaldez had received Columbus into his house, in 1496, on his return from his second voyage.”—Humboldt: Cosmos. Otté’s trans. vol. ii. p. 640, and note.

[153] The real distance is said to be eleven hundred and five leagues.—Vide Personal narrative of the first voyage of Columbus to America. [Kettell.] pp. 38-73.

[154] Historia general de las Indias. Las Casas. cap. xlvi. Coleccion de los viages y descubrimientos. Navarrete. tom. 1.

[155] An arroba is equal to twenty-five pounds.

[156] Las Casas remarks: “From what he here relates, it appears that had he proceeded farther northerly he would undoubtedly, in two more days, have discovered Florida.”—MS. of Las Casas. Vide Personal narrative of the first voyage of Columbus to America. [Kettell.] pp. 73-86.

[157] Letter of Columbus to Rafael (or Gabriel) Sanchez, dated Lisbon, March 14, 1493.

[158] “Only 21° of latitude.”—Navarrete.

[159] A blank space in the original.

[160] The island of Cuba lies between 19° 50´ and 23° 10´ north latitude, and 74° 7´ and 84° 58´ west longitude. Florida is about one hundred and thirty miles north of Cuba.

[161] The argument of Las Casas concerning the heat at forty-two degrees north latitude is invalidated by Columbus’s reasons for not sailing farther to the north. In his letter to Rafael Sanchez he says: “Finding myself proceeding toward the north, which I was desirous to avoid on account of the cold, and, moreover, meeting with a contrary wind, I determined to return to the south.” It would seem that Columbus was unable to satisfy his own doubts respecting the latitude of the places in the North to which he had sailed. If he had not mentioned that he was in doubt respecting the working condition of his quadrant, the question of his sailing as far north as the forty-second parallel would be an important matter for geographical discussion. Navarrete says: “The quadrants of that time measured the double altitude, and consequently the forty-two degrees which Columbus says he was distant from the equator are to be reduced to twenty-one north latitude, which is the parallel to which he had sailed.”—Vide Coleccion de los viages y descubrimientos. Navarrete, tom. i. pp. 44, 47, 62. Personal narrative of the first voyage of Columbus to America. [Kettell.] p. 95.

[162] Ferdinand Columbus says the admiral called the island of Cuba, Juana, in honor of Prince Juan, heir of Castile.—Vide Histoire del S. D. Fernando Colombo. cap. xxvi.

[163] The island of Española, which the natives called Haiti, lies between 17° 36´ and 19° 59´ north latitude, and 68° 20´ and 74° 38´ west longitude. It is about fifty miles east-southeast of Cuba and about seventy-five west-northwest of Porto Rico. It is now called Hayti or San Domingo.

[164] Apparently the original name of Jamaica. The island of Jamaica is about eighty-five miles from Cuba.

[165] On the twenty-first of November, 1492, Martin Alonso Pinzon, in the Pinta, had left the other vessels and remained away from them until the sixth of January, 1493.

[166] MS. of Las Casas.—Vide Personal narrative of the first voyage of Columbus to America. [Kettell.] pp. 86-205.

[167] Columbus’s letter to Rafael Sanchez.

[168] Columbus’s letter to Rafael Sanchez.

[169] MS. of Las Casas.—Vide Personal narrative of the first voyage of Columbus to America. [Kettell.] pp. 215-222.

[170] Martin Alonso Pinzon had previously arrived in Galicia.

[171] Historie del S. D. Fernando Colombo. cap. xli, xlii.

[172] Epistola Christofori Colom: cui etas nostra multu debit: de Insulis Indie supra Gangem nuper inuētis. Ad quas perqrendas octauo antea mense auspicies & ere invictissimor’ Fernãdi & Helisabet Hispaniar’ Regu missus fuerat: ad magnificum dum Gabrielem Sanchis eorundē Serenissimor’ Regum Tesaurariu missa: quiā nobilis ac literatus vir Leander de Cosco ab Hispano ideomate in latinum cōuertit tertio kal’s Maii m.cccc.xciii Pontificatus Alexandri Sexti anno primo.

A letter of Christopher Columbus, to whom our age is greatly indebted, respecting the islands of India lately found beyond the Ganges. In search of which he was sent eight months ago under the auspices and at the expense of the most invincible Ferdinand and Isabella, sovereigns of Spain. Sent to the magnificent lord, Gabriel Sanchez, treasurer of the same most serene king, and which the noble and learned man, Leander de Cosco, translated from the Spanish idiom into Latin. The third day of the calends of May, 1493. Pontificate of Alexander VI., first year.

[173] Historie del S. D. Fernando Colombo. cap. xlii.

[174] Tratado, que compōs o nobre & notauel capitão Antonio Galuão.

[175] Historie del S. D. Fernando Colombo. cap. xlvi.

[176] Historie del S. D. Fernando Colombo. cap. xlvi, xlvii.

[177] Historie del S. D. Fernando Colombo. cap. l.

[178] Historie del S. D. Fernando Colombo. cap. li.

[179] Historie del S. D. Fernando Colombo. cap. liii-lviii.

[180]Que esta tierra de Cuba fuesa la tierra firme al comienzo de las Indias y fin á quien en estas partes quisiere venir de España por tierra.

[181] Informacion del escribano publico. Fernando Perez de Luna. Coleccion de los viages y descubrimientos de los Espagñoles. tom. ii. pp. 143, 149.

[182] In August, 1495, Peter Martyr, writing to Cardinal Bernardino, says: “Columbus asserts that this region is the continent of the Ganges of India,—Indiæ Gangetidis continentem eam esse plagam contendit Colonus.”—Opvs, epistolaru Petri Martyris Anglerii Mediolanēsis Protonotarij Aplici atque a cōsilijs reru Indicaru: nuc pmu et natu y mediocri cura excursum: quod q dē preterstili venustatē, nostroru quoque tēporum histori loco esse poterit. Cōpluti Anno dni MDXXX.

[183] Historie del S. D. Fernando Colombo. cap. lviii-lxiv.

[184] Columbus writing from Española in October, 1498, says: “Each time that I sail from Spain to India, as soon as I have proceeded about a hundred nautical miles to the west of the Azores, I perceive an extraordinary alteration in the movement of the heavenly bodies, in the temperature of the air, and in the character of the sea. I have observed these alterations with especial care, and I notice that the mariner’s compass, whose declination had hitherto been northeast, was now changed to northwest; and when I had crossed this line, as if in passing the brow of a hill, I found the ocean covered with such a mass of sea-weed, similar to small branches of pine covered with pistachio nuts, that we were apprehensive that for want of a sufficiency of water our ships would run upon a shoal. Before we reached the line of which I speak, there was no trace of any such sea-weed. On the boundary line, one hundred miles west of the Azores, the ocean is found still and calm, being scarcely ever moved by a breeze. On my passage from the Canary Islands to the parallel of Sierra Leone, we had to endure a frightful degree of heat, but as soon as we had crossed the above-mentioned line, the climate changed, the air became temperate, and the freshness increased the farther we proceeded.”

“It is evident that the extract from the third voyage is but an amplification of his first account, and expresses his conviction that west of the Azores, where the declination was a little easterly, it changed to the westward, being nearly zero at Corvo, and gradually increasing to one point or 11° W., at a distance of 300 nautical miles W. of the longitude of Corvo. The position of Rosario on the S.E. part of the island of Corvo is, according to the Carta Esferica de las Islas Azores, Madrid, 1855, in latitude 39° 41´ and longitude 24° 53´ west of San Fernando, or in 31° 07´ west of Greenwich (according to the Conn. des Temps), 100 leagues or 300 nautical miles west of this longitude would correspond (in latitude 28°) to 5° 40´, and would bring the Columbus line in longitude 36° 47´ W.”—An inquiry into the variation of the compass off the Bahama Islands at the land fall of Columbus in 1492. By Charles A. Schott. p. 51.

[185] Histoire del S. D. Fernando Colombo. cap. lxiv.

“The necessity for attaching a special and well-informed astronomer to every great expedition was so generally felt that Queen Isabella wrote to Columbus on the 5th of September, 1493, ‘that although he had shown in his undertakings that he knew more than any other living being (que ninguno de los nacidos), she counselled him, nevertheless, to take with him Fray Antonio de Marchena, as being a learned and skillful astronomer.’ Columbus writes in the narrative of his fourth voyage that ‘there was only one infallible method of taking a ship’s reckoning, viz., that employed by astronomers. He who understands it may rest satisfied; for that which it yields is like unto a prophetic vision (vision profetica). Our ignorant pilots, when they have lost sight of land for several days know not where they are. They would not be able to find the countries again which I have discovered. To navigate a ship requires the compass (compas y arte) and the knowledge or art of the astronomer.’”—Humboldt: Cosmos. Otté’s trans. vol. ii. pp. 671-673.

[186] “That any individual among our subjects and natives, that desires, may go hereafter (according to our pleasure and will) to discover islands and the mainland in the said part of the aforesaid Indies, either to those already discovered or to any other, and to traffic in them, provided it be not in the aforesaid island of Española. He may buy from the Christians there or from those who may hereafter be there any article and merchandise, provided it be not gold; and this he may and shall do with any suitable ship, provided that at the time he leaves our kingdom he depart from the city of Cadiz, and there present himself before our officers. And they must carry thence in each of such vessels one or two persons named by our officers.... And it is our will and pleasure that of all which the said persons shall find in the aforesaid islands and mainland they shall have for themselves nine parts, and the tenth shall be our part.”—Vide Memorials of Columbus; or a collection of authentic documents of that celebrated navigator. London, 1823. pp. 88-95.

[187] Amerigo Vespucci, the third son of Anastasio Vespucci and Elizabetta Mina, was born in Florence, March 9, 1451. In his boyhood he attended the school taught by his uncle, Giorgio Antonio Vespucci, a monk of the order of St. Mark. About the year 1493 Vespucci went to Seville, and engaged in the business of furnishing and equipping vessels for voyages of discovery. He died in Seville, February 22, 1512.—Vide The life and voyages of Americus Vepucius. By C. Edwards Lester and Andrew Foster. New York, 1846. Amerigo Vespucci. Son caractère, ses écrits (même les moins authentiques), sa vie, et ses navigations, par F. A. de Varnhagen. Lima, 1865.

[188] Vide Bibliotheca Americana Vetustissima.—A description of works relating to America published between the years 1492 and 1551. [By Henry Harrisse.] New York, 1866. pp. 55-68.

[189]Electo per sua alteza che io fussi in essa flocta per adiutare a discoprire.

[190]Partimo del porto di Calis adi 10 maggio, 1497.”

[191] Likely the double altitude, and therefore eight degrees of north latitude, or near the mouths of the Orinoco River.

[192]Una terra, ch’ la giudica’mo essere terra ferma: la quale dista dalle isole d’Canaria piu allo occidente a circha di mille leghe fuora dello habitato d’ rento della torrida zona: perche trouva’mo el polo del septentrione al zare fuora del suo orizonte 16. gradi, & piu occide’tale che le isole di Canaria, seco’do che mostrouano e nostri instrumenti 75. gradi.

[193]Nauiga’mo per el maestrale, che cosi sicorreua la costa sempre a uista di terra.

In Italy the different points of the compass were designated by the winds: North, tramontana; northeast, greco; east, levante; southeast, sirocco; south, ostro; southwest, libeccio; west, ponente; northwest, maestro or maestrale.

[194] Evidently the Gulf of Coquibacoa, called shortly afterward by the Spaniards the Gulf of Venezuela—the Gulf of Little Venice.—Vide Juan de la Cosa’s map in the cover-pocket.

[195]Questa terra sta dentro del la torrida zona giuntamente, o di basso del paralello, che descriue el tropico di cancer: doue alza el polo dello orizonte 23 gradi nel fine del secondo clyma.

[196]Tanto che corremo dessa 870 leghe tutta uerso el maestrale.

The end of the second climate was at 8° 25´ north latitude. Ptolemy, the geographer, divided the surface of the globe, from the equator to the sixty-sixth parallel, into zones, called climates, to represent the successive increase of fifteen minutes in the length of a mid-summer day. The first climate extended to 4° 15´, on the north side of the equator; the second, from 4° 15´ to 8° 25´; and the third, to 12° 30´.

[197]Noi alsi facemo uela p, Spagna con 222 prigioni schiaui: & giugnemo nel porto di Calis adi 15 doctobre 1498.

[198] Lettera di Amerigo Vespucci delle isole nuouamente trouate in quattro suoi viaggi. Primo viaggio.

Vide Amerigo Vespucci. Varnhagen. pp. 34-48. Bibliotheca Americana Vetustissima. [Harrisse.] pp. 55-68, 149, 150.

[199] Vide Memorials of Columbus. pp. 96, 97.

[200] At this time, says Ferdinand Columbus, “in order that Don Diego, my brother, and I, who had served as pages to Prince Juan, who was now dead, might not suffer by his delays or be absent from court until the time of his departure, he [the admiral] sent us, on the second of November, 1497, from Seville, to serve as pages to her majesty, Queen Isabella.”

[201] Historie del S. D. Fernando Colombo. cap. lxv.

[202] Although, according to Ferdinand Columbus’s statement, his father called the firm land (or rather an island) at the mouths of the Orinoco River, Isla Santa (Holy Island), Columbus really called the continent, La Tierra de Gracia (Land of Grace).

[203] Letter from the island of Española.—Vide Select letters of Christopher Columbus, with other original documents relating to his four voyages to the New World. Translated and edited by R. H. Major. London, 1870. Second edition. Hakluyt Society pub.

[204] Historie del S. D. Fernando Colombo. cap. lxv-lxxiii.

[205] Historie del S. D. Fernando Colombo. cap. lxxiv-lxxxvii.

[206] Lettera di Amerigo Vespucci. Secundo viaggio.—Vide Historie del S. D. Fernando Colombo. cap. lxxxiv. Coleccion de los viages y descubrimientos. Navarrete. tom. iii. pp. 4-9; 543-545.

In December, 1499, Vincente Yañez Pinzon sailed from Palos, and came in sight of the coast of Brazil at a point of land which he called Cabo Santa Maria de la Consolacion. The same month Diego de Lepe sailed from Palos and made discoveries south of this cape. Rodrigo de Bastidas sailed from Cadiz in October, 1500, and explored the coast of Paria westward to the isthmus of Darien.

[207] Nueva España (New Spain), was the name which the Spaniards gave to Yucatan and Mexico when they first explored these countries.

[208] Mar del Sur, the early Spanish name for the Pacific Ocean.

[209] Historie del S. D. Fernando Colombo. cap. lxxxviii-xc.

[210] Historie del S. D. Fernando Colombo. cap. xcii.

[211] Historie del S. D. Fernando Colombo. cap. xciv-xcvi.

[212] Vide Select letters of Christopher Columbus. Major.

[213] Columbus, in his letter to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, from Jamaica, dated July 7, 1503, says: “This is the account I have to give of my voyage. The men who accompanied me were a hundred and fifty in number, among whom were many considered to be pilots and good sailors, but none of them can explain whither I went nor whence I came. The explanation is simply this: I sailed from a point above the port of Brazil, and while I was in Española, a storm prevented me from following my intended route, for I was compelled to go wherever the wind drove me. At the same time I became very sick, and there was no one who had sailed in these parts before. However, after some days the wind and sea became tranquil, but there were rapid currents. I put into a harbor at the island called Isla de las Bocas, and afterward steered for Tierra-firme. However, it is impossible to give a correct account of all our movements, for I was carried away by the current for many days without seeing land.

“I ascertained, notwithstanding, by the compass and by observation, that I was running parallel with the coast of Tierra-firme. No one could tell under what part of the heavens we were, nor at what time I changed my course for the island of Española. The pilots thought we had arrived at the island of St. John, whereas it was the land of Mango, four hundred leagues westward of the place mentioned by them. Let them answer and say if they know where Veragua is situated. I assert that they can give no other information than that they went to lands where there was plenty of gold, and this they can surely affirm; but they do not know the way to return there for it. They would be obliged to go on a voyage of discovery as if they had never been there before. There is a way of reckoning [the course and distance sailed] derived from astronomy which is trustworthy and safe, and a sufficient guide to any one who understands it. This resembles prophetic vision.

“The vessels of India do not sail except with the wind abaft. This is done, not because they are badly built or clumsy, but because the strong currents in those parts, together with the wind, make it impracticable for them to sail with the bowline (con bolina), for in one day they would lose as much way as they might have made in seven. For a similar reason I could not use caravels, even though they were Portuguese lateens. This is the reason for their [the vessels of India] not sailing except with a favorable wind, and they will sometimes remain in port, waiting for one, seven or eight months at a time, nor is this particularly strange, for the same occurs often in Spain.”—Vide Select letters of Christopher Columbus. Major.

[214] Historie del S. D. Fernando Colombo. cap. xcvii-c.

[215] Letter from Jamaica, July 7, 1503.

[216] Pietro Martire d’Anghiera, commonly called Peter Martyr, a descendant of an illustrious Milanese family originally from Anghiera, on the eastern shore of Lake Maggiore, in upper Italy, was born in 1455 at Arona, on the western border of the lake. He was carried to the baptismal font by a friar of the Dominican order and christened with the name of Peter, that of the martyr of 1252, whose feast-day falls on the twenty-ninth of April. In 1477, he went to Rome to fit himself for the priesthood. There he became acquainted with the Castilian embassador, the Count of Tendilla, and was induced to return with him to Spain, in 1487. From King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella he received a number of honoring commissions. He followed the royal standard through two campaigns. In 1501 he was sent to Egypt to conciliate the sultan. He returned to Spain in August, 1502. The mission to Egypt furnished him with some of the material for his Latin work, entitled: “P. Martyris Angli Mediolanensis opera Legatio Babylonica, Oceani decas, poemata, epigrammata.” In 1505 he was made prior of the cathedral of Granada. Pope Leo X. honored him with the office of apostolical prothonotary. As a royal counsellor in the affairs of the Indies he acquired a very extensive range of information respecting the early voyages of discovery made to the New World. His work: “De Orbe Novo Petri Martyris ab Angleria Mediolanensis protonotarij Cesaris senatoris decades,” contains valuable historical matter. His letters, eight hundred and more, in the collection entitled “Opus epistolarum,” the first dated January 1, 1488, the last May, 1525, throw considerable light upon the numerous facts relating to the voyages of Columbus and other navigators of his time. His “Legatio Babylonica” was first printed at Seville (Hispalis) in 1511; his “De Orbe Novo” and letters at Alcala (Complutum) in 1530. He died in 1525, and was entombed in the cathedral of Grenada.

[217]Quanuis huius Christophori Coloni opinio, magnitudini sphaere & opinion, veterum de subnauigabili orbe, videatur aduersari, psittaci tamen inde absportatii atque alia multa, vel propinquitate vel natura solum Indicum has insulas sapere indicant.”—De Orbe Novo decades. dec. i. cap. i.

[218]Tengo propósito de hacer carta nueva de navegar, en la cual situaré toda la mar y tierras del mar Océanus en sus propios lugares debajo su viento.”—Coleccion de los viages y descubrimientos. Navarrete. tom. i. p. 3.

[219] Vide Géographie du moyen âge, etudiée par Joachim Lelewel. Atlas. Bruxelles, 1850. Orbis typus universalis, 1501-1504. Hydrographia charta marina Portugalensium. Planche xliii. p. xiii.

[220] Claudii Ptolemei viri Alexandrini mathematicae disciplinae philosophi doctissimi geographiae opus novissima traductione e Graecorum archetypis castigatissime pressum: cæteris ante lucubratorum multo praestantius.... Anno Christi Opt. Max. MDXIII. Marcii xii. Pressus hic Ptolemæus Argentinae vigilantissima castigatione, industriaque Joannis Schotti urbis indigenae.

[221] Vide Map: Universalior cogniti orbis tabula ex recentibus confecta observationibus: in cover-pocket.

The somewhat similar inscriptions on the maps of 1501-1504 and 1513: “Hec terra cum ad iacentib’ insulis inuenta est per Columbu ianuensem ex mandato Regis Castelle.”—This land with the adjacent islands was discovered by Columbus, a Genoese, by the command of the king of Spain,—are authoritative declarations that the admiral was the discoverer of the represented territory.

[222] Ruysch has printed on his map these words on a scroll, on the west side of Cuba: “HVC VSQ NAVES FERDINADI REGIS HISPANIE PVENERVT,”—As far as this place the ships of Ferdinand, king of Spain, come.

[223] Juan de la Cosa, in 1493, accompanied Columbus, on his second voyage, as a cartographer. In 1499 he explored the coast of Paria with Alonso de Hojeda and Amerigo Vespucci. In November, 1509, he again sailed with Hojeda to South America, and heroically met his death while defending himself, when surrounded by a party of assailing savages, in the village of Yurbaco, in the province called Castilla del Oro by the Spaniards.

[224] Examen critique de l’histoire de la géographie du nouveau continent et des progrès de l’astronomie nautique aux quinzième et seizième siècles. Par Alexandre de Humboldt. Paris, 1836. tome troisième. pp. 167, 174, 183.

[225] Vide Notes on Columbus. [By Henry Harrisse.] New York, 1866. Jean et Sébastien Cabot, leur origine et leurs voyages. Par Henri Harrisse. Paris, 1881. pp. 52, 103, 156.

[226] Vide Historical and geographical notes, 1453-1530. By Henry Stevens. New Haven, 1869. p. 11.

[227] St. Christopher, it is said, after he was baptized by the bishop of Antioch, took up his abode in a desert, near a rapid stream, over which he carried travellers on his back. While bearing, one day, a child across the swollen flood, he discovered that it was the Christ, hence his name Christophorus, the Christ-bearer.

Speaking of his father’s name, Ferdinand Columbus remarks: “As St. Christopher is reported to have received that name because he carried Christ over the deep waters with great danger to himself, whence came the name of Christopher, and as he conveyed over the people whom no other could have carried, so Admiral Christophorus Colonus, imploring the assistance of Christ in that dangerous voyage, went over safely himself and his company, that those Indian nations might become citizens and inhabitants of the church triumphant in heaven.”—Historie del S. D. Fernando Colombo. cap. i.

[228] Abaco is one of the Bahama islands.

[229] La Cosa’s map, on three large sheets of paper, is contained in Les monuments de la géographie ou recueil d’anciennes cartes européennes et orientales ... publiés en fac-similé de la grandeur des originaux par M. Jomard, membre de l’institut de France, Paris. Imprimerie de Beau, a Saint-Germain-en-Laye.

[230] Vide Section of La Cosa’s map in the cover-pocket.

[231] Raccolta di navigationi e viaggi. Ramusio. vol. i. fol. 374.

[232] Little is known concerning the early history of Giovanni Caboto. In the archives of Venice is the record of his naturalization, dated March 28, 1476, which shows that he had lived in that city more than fifteen years before the privilege of citizenship was granted to him. Archives of Venice: Senato Terra 1473-1477. tom. vii. p. 109.

[233] An effaced part of the dispatch.

[234] Archives of Simancas. Capitulaciones con Inglaterra. Legajo ii. fol. 16.

Calendar of letters, dispatches, and state papers relating to the negotiations between England and Spain, preserved in the archives of Simancas and elsewhere. Edited by G. A. Bergenroth. London, 1862. vol. i. p. 89.

[235] Public Records. Bill number 51.

[236] Hakluyt. vol. iii. pp. 4, 5. Rymer’s Foedera. London, 1727. fols. 595, 596.

[237] The history and antiquities of the city of Bristol. By William Barrett. 1789. p. 172.

[238] In the privy-purse accounts of King Henry VII. is this entry: “Aug. 10, 1497. To hym that found the new Isle, 10 £.”

[239] Diarii di Marin Sanuto. tom. i. fol. 374. MS. in Marciana library, Venice.

Calendar of state papers and manuscripts relating to English affairs in the archives and collections of Venice and other libraries of northern Italy. Edited by Rawdon Brown. London, 1864. vol. ii. p. 262.

[240] Sforza archives, Milan. Calendar of state papers. London, 1864. vol. ii. p. 260.

[241]Esta tierra fue descubierta por Ioan Caboto Veneciano, y Sebastian Caboto su hijo, anno del nascimierte de nuestro Saluador Iesu Christo de m. cccc. xciiii. a ueinte y quatro de lunio por la mannana, ala qual pusieron nobre prima tierra uista, y a una isla grade que esta par de la dha tierra, le pusieron nombre sánt Ioan, por auer sido descubierta el mismo dia.”—Tabla primera. No. 8.

The Latin inscription, which seems to be a translation of the Spanish one, reads: “Terram hanc olim nobis clausam, aperuit, Ioannes Cabotus Venetus, necno Sebastianus Cabotus eius filius, anno ab orbe redempto 1494. die uero 24. Iuly, hora 5. sub dilùculo, qua terra primu uisam appellarut & Insula quanda magna ei opposita, Insula diui Ioannis nominarut, quippe quæ solenni die festo diui Ioannis aperta fuit.”—Tabula prima. No. 8.

“John Caboto, a Venetian, and also Sebastian Caboto, his son, made the land accessible which formerly was closed to us, in the year of the redemption of the world 1494 [1497?], on the twenty-fourth day of July [June?] at five o’clock in the morning, which land he called the first seen, primum visam, and a large island opposite to it, he named the island of Saint John, because it was found on the day of the feast of Saint John.”

[242]Sebastian Caboto capitan, y piloto mayor de la S. c. c. m. del Imperador don Carlos quinto deste nombre, y Rey nuestro sennor hizo esta figura extensa en plano, anno del nasciemᵒ de nro saluador Iesu Christo de m.d. xliiii. annos, tirada por grados de latitud y longitud con sus uientos como carta de marear, imitando en parte al Ptolomeo, y en parte alos modernos descobridores, asi Espannoles como Portugueses, y parte por su padre, y por el descubierto.”—Retulo del auctor.

[243] Archives of Milan. Annuario scientifico. Milan, 1866. p. 700.

[244] The thirteenth year of the reign of Henry VII. began on the twenty-fifth of August, 1497.

[245] “Henry VII., 1498, March 22. To Lanslot Thirkill of London, upon a Prest for his shipp going towards the new Ilande, £. 20.—Item delivered to Launcelot Thirkill going towards the new Ile in Prest, £. 20.—April 1. Item to Thomas Bradley and Louncelot Thirkill going to the new Isle, £. 30.—To John Carter going to the newe Ile in reward 40. s.”—Excerpta historica. London, 1831. pp. 116, 117.

[246] Public Records. Bill number 6. Hakluyt. vol. iii. p. 5. Memoir of Sebastian Cabot. [Richard Biddle.] Phila. 1831. pp. 74, 75.

[247] Pedro de Ayala, the Spanish Ambassador, was sent to London in 1497.

[248] Bernardo Buil, a Benedictine monk, who accompanied Columbus on his second voyage, in 1493, and returned to Spain in 1494.

[249] Archives of Simancas. Tratado con Inglaterra. Leg. ii. Calendar of letters, dispatches, and state papers. London, 1862. vol. i. pp. 176, 177.

[250] The fourteenth year of the reign of Henry VII. began August 21, 1498, and ended August 21, 1499.

[251] The Chronicle of England, from Brute vnto this present yeare of Christ 1580. By John Stow. London, 1580. p. 862.

Robert Fabian, from whose work Stow obtained the information concerning Caboto’s voyage, was the author of the “Chronicle of England and France,” or, as he called it, “The concordance of stories.” He was born in London about the year 1450. Besides being an alderman of the city, he was one of its sheriffs in 1493. He died in London in 1512, and was buried in St. Michael’s, Cornhill.

[252]Quare coactus fuit, uti ait, vela vertere et occidentem isequ tetenditque tamen ad meridiem, littore sese incurvante, ut Herculei freti latitudine ferè gradus æquarit ad occidentemque profectus tantum est, ut Cubam insulam à læua longitudine graduum penè parem habuerit.

The Strait of Gibraltar (Strait of Hercules) is in 36° north latitude.

[253] Demorgorgon, the spirit of the earth.

[254] The name bacallaos, or baccallaos, is evidently derived from the Greek word βάκὴλος, a large, lusty fellow. Names similar to this appellation were used by the Greeks as early as the third century of the Christian era. Athenæus, in his work entitled Δειπνοσοφισταί (the learned men at supper), presents this information respecting certain fish: “They say that they are usually caught in couples, and that one is always found following at the tail of the other; and, therefore, from the fact of one following close on the tail of the other, some ancients call men who are intemperate and libidinous by the same name.... Euthydemus, in his work on Cured Fish, says: ‘Some call this fish [the cod] the bacchus, and some the gelaria, and some the hake.’”—The Deipnosophists or banquet of the learned of Athenæus. Literally translated by C. D. Yonge. London, 1854. vol. ii. pp. 442, 496.

Great numbers of the common cod [morrhua vulgaris] are annually caught on the fishing-banks off the coast of Newfoundland and Nova Scotia. This fish is very prolific. It is said that eight millions of eggs have been counted in the roe of a female cod. Cod are sometimes caught that weigh ninety pounds.

[255] De Orbe Novo decades. dec. iii. cap. vi.

[256] The birthplace of Sebastian Caboto’s is not definitely known. Richard Eden, in his translation of the Decades of the New World of Peter Martyr, says that Sebastiano Caboto told him that he was born at Bristol, England; and Gasparo Contarini, the embassador of Charles V., avers that he informed him that Venice was his birthplace. It is conjectured that he was born about the year 1476. On the twentieth of October, 1512, Sebastiano Caboto was appointed a sea-captain by King Ferdinand of Spain. In the service of Charles V., he sailed on the fifth of April, 1526, to search for a navigable strait along the coast of South America. On this voyage, in 1527, he explored the Rio de la Plata. In July, 1530, he returned to Spain. In 1548 he went to England, where he died some time after the year 1557.—Vide The Decades of the Newe Worlde or West India. Translated into Englysshe by Richarde Eden. Londoni, 1555. f. 255. Dispatch of Contarini from Valladolid, December 31, 1522. MS. Marciana library, Venice. cod. 1019. cart. 281-283. Jean et Sébastien Cabot. Harrisse. pp. 109-133.

[257] Primera y segunda parte de la historia general de las Indias con todo el descubrimiento y cosas notables que han acaecido dende que se ganaron ata et año de 1551. [Por Francisco Lopez de Gomara.] Çaragoça, 1552. primera parte. cap. de los Bacallaos.

Francisco Lopez de Gomara was born at Seville in 1510. Hernando Cortes, on his return to Spain after the conquest of Mexico, made Gomara his chaplain. Gomara’s General history of the Indies (La historia general de las Indias), and the Conquest of Mexico and New Spain (La conquista de Mexico, y de la Nueua España), were first published at Saragossa, (Çaragoça), Spain, in 1552. Gomara died about the year 1560.

[258] Tratado, que compõs o nobre & notauel capitão Antonio Galuão.

[259] Terra de Lavrador, Portuguese: Land of the Farmer.

[260] A Discovrse of a Discouerie for a new Passage to Cataia. Written by Sir Hvmfrey Gilbert, Knight. Imprinted at London by Henry Middleton for Richarde Ihones. 1576. sig. D iii.

[261] The eighteenth year of the reign of King Henry VII. began August 21, 1502, and ended August 21, 1503.

[262] Chronicle of England. Stow. p. 875.

[263] Cape Breton Island lies between 45° 27´ and 47° 41´ north latitude. Its greatest length is one hundred miles, and its greatest breadth eighty-five miles. The island is isolated from the mainland by the Strait of Canso, which is twenty-one miles long, and from one mile to one and a half in width. Cape North is about sixty miles from Cape Ray, Newfoundland.

[264] The representation of the coast of Cape Breton Island and of Nova Scotia as trending eastward and westward, as delineated on La Cosa’s map, evidently exemplifies the incorrect conjecture made by Giovanni Caboto respecting the situation of the first land seen by him. Columbus’s delineation of the island of Cuba, as having an east coast that extended far toward the north, was a similar personal assumption which afterward was found to be false.

[265] “These regiōs are cauled Terra Florida and Regio Baccalearum or Bacchallaos of the which you may reade sumwhat in this booke in the vyage of the woorthy owlde man yet lyuing Sebastiane Cabote, in the vi. booke of the thyrde Decade. But Cabote touched only in the north corner and most barbarous parte hereof, from whense he was repulsed with Ise in the moneth of July. Neuer the lesse, the west and south partes of these regions haue sence byn better searched by other.”—The Decades of the Newe Worlde or West India. Eden. The preface to the reader. ci.

[266]La gente della andan uestidos de pieles de animales, usan en sus guèrras arcos, y flechas, lancas, y dardos, y unas porras de palo, y hondas. Es tierra muy steril, ay en ella muchos orsos plancos, y cieruos muy grandes como cauallos, y otras muchas animales, y semeiantemete ay pescado infinito, sollos; salmoes lenguados, muy grandes de uara en largo y otras muchas diuersidades de pescados, y la mayor multitud dellos se dizen baccallaos, y asi mismo ay en la dha tierra Halcones prietos como cueruos Aguillas, Perdices, Pardillas, y otras muchas aues de diuersas maneras.”—Tabla primera. No. 8.

[267] William Worthington was joined to Sebastiano Caboto in the pension given by Philip and Mary, May 29, 1557. Rymer. vol. xvi. p. 466. Divers voyages touching the discouerie of America.

[268] Navigations, voyages, and discoveries, p. 6.

[269] Richard Hakluyt was born at Yatton, England, in 1553. He took a remarkable interest in geography and navigation, and for a time held a professor’s chair of these branches at Oxford. In 1582 his “Divers voyages touching the discouerie of America and Ilands adiacent vnto the same,” was published in London. He was also the author of “A particular discourse concerninge the greate necessitie and manifolde comodyties that are like to growe to this Realme of England by the Westerne discoueries lately attempted, written in the year 1584.” In 1589, he published his celebrated work, entitled: The principal navigations, voiages, and discoveries of the English nation, made by sea or ouer Land, to the most remote and farthest distant quarters of the earth at any time within the compasse of these 1500 yeeres. Deuided into three Seuerall parts, according to the positions of the Regions whereunto they were directed. This work was further enlarged in 1599 and 1600. He was appointed prebendary of Westminster in 1605. He died October 23, 1616, and was buried in Westminster Abbey.

[270] Calicut is on the west coast of India, in 11° 15´ north latitude, and 75° 50´ east longitude.

Paesi nouamente retrouati. Et Nouo Mondo da Alberico Vesputio Florentino intitulato. Stampato in Vicentia cu la impressa de Mgrō Henrico Vicentino: & diligente cura & industria de Zamaria suo fiol nel mcccccvii. a di iii de Nouember. lib. ii. cap. li-lx. The three voyages of Vasco da Gama. From the Lendas da India of Gaspar Corvea. Translated from the Portuguese by Henry E. J. Stanley. London, 1879. Hakluyt. Soc. pub.

[271] Vide Ruysch’s map of 1508.

[272] Paesi Nouamente retrouati. lib. iii. cap. lxi-lxxxiiii. Raccolta di navigationi e viaggi. Ramusio. vol. i. fol. 132-139. Coleccion de los viages y descubrimientos. Navarrete. tom. iii. pp. 94, 101.

[273] Gaspar Cortereal was the son of João Vaz Cortereal, who, it is said, had previously made a voyage to the Land of Bacalhão (Terra de Bacalhão).

[274] Tratado, que compõs o-nobre & notauel capitão Antonio Galuão.

[275]Huma terra que por ser muito fresca e de grandes aruoredos como o sao todas as que jazem pera aquella banda lhe pos nome terra verde.”—Chronica do felicissimo rei Dom Emanuel. Lisboa, 1566. tomo i. fol. 65.

[276] Raccolta di navigationi e viaggi. Ramusio. vol. iii. fol. 346.

[277] It seems that the writer was ignorant of the fields of the discoveries of the English in 1497 and 1498. Giovanni Caboto, the Venetian navigator, no doubt had made the presents found in the possession of the inhabitants.

[278] Paesi nouamente retrouati. lib. vi. cap. cxxvi.—Vide Letter of Alberto Cantino. Archives of Modena. Cancelleria ducale. Dispacci dalla Spagna. Jean et Sébastien Cabot. Harrisse. pp. 262-264.

[279]Che fu tenuta a male la mia uenuta da quanti miconosceuano: perche miparti di Castiglia, doue mi era facto honore, & il re miteneua i’ buona possessione.

[280]Sta q’sto cauo 8. gradi fuori della linea equinoctiale uerso laustro.

[281]Tanto fumo uerso laustro, che gia stauamo fuora del tropico di capricorno: a donde el polo del Meridione salzaua sopra lo Orizonte 32. gradi: et di gia hauamo perduio del tucto lorsa minore, & la maggiore chi staua molto bassa, & quasi cisimonstraua al fine delle orizonte.

[282] André Gonçalves, it is said, had command of the fleet.—Vide O Brazil no seculo xvi. Estudos de Capistrano de Abreu. Rio de Janeiro, 1880. pp. 9-23.

[283] Lettera di Amerigo Vespucci. Terzo viaggio.—Vide Tratado, que compõs o nobre & notauel Capitão Antonio Galuão.

[284] Lettera di Amerigo Vespucci. Quarto viaggio.—Vide Chronica do felicissimo rei Dom Emanuel. Damião de Góes. tomo i. fol. 65.

[285] Ferdinand Columbus gives 1508 as the date of the voyage.

[286] Historia general de los hechos de los Castellanos en las islas tierra firme del mar oceano escrita por Antonio de Herrera. Madrid, 1601-1615. dec. i. lib. vi. cap. xvii. Historia del S. D. Fernando Colombo. cap. lxxxix. Coleccion de los viages y descubrimientos. Navarrete. tom. iii. p. 46.

Antonio de Herrera y Tordesillas was born in Cuellar, in Spain, in 1549, and died in 1625. His General history of the acts of the Spaniards on the islands and continent of the ocean-sea, is divided into eight decades, from 1492 to 1554, contained in four volumes, the first one of which was published in Madrid, in 1601.

[287] Claudius Ptolemy. In hoc opere haec continentvr geographiae Cl. Ptolemiæi a plurima uiris utriusque linguae doctiss. emēdata: & cu archetypo graeco ab ipsis collata. Schemata cu demostrationibus suis correcta a Marco Beneuentano monacho coelestino, & Ioanne Cotta Veronensis iuris mathematicis consultissimis ... Noua & universalior orbis cogniti tabula Ioā Ruysch Germano elaborata.... Anno Virginei Partvs MDVIII. Rome.

The map is twenty-two by sixteen inches. The copy of one half of the fan-shaped map in the cover-pocket is a reduced fac-simile of the original section.

[288] The names inscribed along the coast of Terra Nova are: C. Glaciato (Ice cape), Baia de Rockas (Bay of Rocks), R. Grado, In. Baccalavras (Codfish island), C. de Portogesi (Cape of the Portuguese), Barbatos In., and Biggety In.

[289] The voyage of Nicholas de Lynna, a Franciscan monk, to the regions near the north pole.—Vide Hakluyt. vol. i. pp. 121, 122. Inscription on Mercator’s map of the world of 1569.

[290] Lettera di Amerigo Vespucci delle isole nuoumente trouate in quattro suoi viaggi.—Vide Amerigo Vespucci. Varnhagen. pp. 33-64. Bibliotheca Americana vetustissima. [Harrisse.] pp. 149, 150.

[291] Cosmographiae introdvctio cvm qvibvsdam geometriae ac astronomiae principiis ad eam rem necessariis. Insuper quatuor Americi Vespuccij nauigationes Vniversalis cbosmographiae descriptio tam in solido qzplano eis etiam insertis quæ Ptholomeo ignota a nuperis reperta sunt.... Finitu. vij. kl’ Maij. Anno supra sesqui Millesium. vij.

[292] Baron von Humboldt furnishes the information that Martin Waldseemüller of Freiburg, diocese of Constantius, was a student under the rectorship of Conrad Knoll of Grüningen, the seventh of December, 1490, and had established a bookstore at St. Dié, shortly before 1507.—Examen critique de l’histoire de la géographie du nouveau continent. Humboldt. vol. iv. pp. 104-106.

[293] Hylacomylus, the forest-lake miller.

[294]Nūc vo & he partes sunt latius lustratae & alia quarta pars per Americū Vesputiū (vt in sequentibus audietur) inuenta est quā non video cur quis iūre vetet ab Americo inuentore sagacis ingenij viro Amerigen quasi Americi terra siue Americam dicendā: cū & Europa & Asia a mulieribus sua sortita sint nomina.

Herodotus, speaking of the designations of the other divisions of the earth, says: “Nor can I conjecture for what reason these different names have been given to the earth, which is one, and those derived from the names of women.... Nor can I learn the names of those who made this division, nor whence they derived the appellations. Libya [Africa] is said by most of the Greeks to take its name from a native woman of the name of Libya; and Asia, from the wife of Prometheus. But the Lydians claim this name, saying that Asia was called after Asius, son of Cotys, son of Manes, and not after Asia, the wife of Prometheus; from whom also a tribe of Sardis is called the Asian tribe. Whether Europe, then, is surrounded by water is known by no man, nor is it clear whence it received this name, nor who gave it, unless we will say that the region received the name from the Tyrian Europa, and that it was previously without a name like other regions, for she evidently belonged to Asia, and never came into the country which is now called Europe by the Grecians, and only passed from Phœnicia to Crete, and from Crete to Lycia.”—Herodotus: Melpomene xlv.

[295] Until recently the map made by Petrus Apianus (Peter Benewitz), in the Polyhistor of C. Julius Solinus, printed in Vienna, in 1520, was supposed to be the earliest on which the name of America was engraved. However, the discovery, in France, in 1880, of a copy of the “Cosmographiae introductio,” printed by Jean de la Place, without a title or colophon-date, containing a map of the world, supposed to have been made by Ludovicus Boulenger, between the years 1514 and 1520, disentitled the former to its celebrity. The map is divided into twelve sections or gores which can be cut and pasted on a globe. The represented territory of North and South America is shown in two divisions, separated by a large body of water, between the tenth and twentieth parallels of north latitude. The word “Nova” appears on the northern division; and on the southern, “America noviter reperta.” A similar inscription it is said is on a cartographic representation of the world, in Vienna, made in 1509: “Une semblable appellation se lit sur la projection, également imprimée en fuseaux, d’un globe terrestre à la date de 1509 qui fait partie de la collectione de M. le général de Hauslab à Vienne.”—Jean et Sébastien Cabot. Harrisse. p. 182. Note.

[296]Americus Vesputius maritima loca Indiæ superioris ex Hispaniis navigio ad occidentem perlustrans, eam partem quæ superioris Indiæ est credidit esse Insulam quam a suo nomine vocari instituit.”—Ioannis Schoneri Carolostadii opvscvlvm geographicvm ex diversorum libris ac cartis. [Nuremberg, 1533.]

[297] Schoner’s globe is still preserved in the library of Nuremberg.

[298] Historia general de los hechos de los Castellanos en las islas tierra firme del mar oceano. Herrera. dec. i. lib. iv. cap. i, ii. Amerigo Vespucci. Varnhagen. pp. 33-64. Bibliotheca Americana. [Harrisse.] pp. 62-68, 149, 150, 304, 305. O Brazil no seculo xvi. Capistrano de Abreu. pp. 1-39. Descobrimento do Brasil e seu deseuvolvimento no seculo xvi. Capistrano de Abreu. Rio de Janeiro, 1883. pp. 17-66.

[299] De Orbo Novo decades. dec. ii. cap. x.

[300] The map is found on the reverse page of the forty-fifth leaf of Peter Martyr’s rare book, entitled: P. Martyris Angli Mediolanensis opera Legatio Babylonica, Oceani decas, poemata, epigrammata. Impressum Hispali cu summa diligencia Jacobu Corumberger, Alemanu. Anno Millesimo quingentissimo. xi. meso vero Aprili. The chart measures seven and a half by eleven inches.

[301] Juan Ponce was born at Leon, Spain, about 1460.

[302] Historia general. Herrera. dec. i. lib. ix. cap. x.

[303] The Indians called this region Cautio. Historia general. Herrera. dec. i. lib. ix. cap. x.

[304] The Gulf Stream, which at this point is quite deep and narrow, has a velocity varying from four to five miles an hour.

[305] “On Sunday, the eighth of May, they doubled the Cape of Florida, giving it the name of the Cape of the Currents (Cabo de Corrientes), because they are stronger there than the wind, and came to an anchorage near a town called Abaiòa. All this coast, from the Point of Reefs (Punta de Arracifes) to the Cape of the Currents, trending north and south one point to the eastward, is clean, and has six fathoms water, the cape lying in twenty-eight degrees fifteen minutes. They sailed on till they met with two islands to the southward, in twenty-seven degrees, one of which, being a league in compass, they named Santa Marta, and took in water there.

“On Friday, the thirteenth of May, they sailed along a shoal and a row of islands as far as the island which they called Pola, lying in twenty-six degrees and a half. Between the shoal and the row of islands and the continent is a spacious sea, like a bay.

“On Sunday, the day of the Feast of the Holy Spirit, the fifteenth of May, they coasted ten leagues along a row of small islands as far as two white ones, and they called them all the Martyrs, (las Martires), because the high rocks, at a distance, look like men suffering, and the name has suited them well on account of the large number of persons who have since been lost there. The rocks lie in twenty-six degrees fifteen minutes. The ships held on, sometimes north and sometimes northeast, until the twenty-third of May; and on the twenty-fourth they ran along the coast to the southward as far as some small islands which lay out at sea, and still they did not perceive that it was the main-land.”

[306] Historia general. Herrera. dec. i. lib. ix. cap. x, xii.

[307] Primera y segunda parte de la historia general de las Indias. Gomara. cap. x.

[308] Ten years before this, says Humboldt, “Columbus distinctly learned, when he was coasting along the eastern shores of Veragua, that to the west of this land there was a sea ‘which in less than nine days’ sail would bear ships to the Chersonesus aurea of Ptolemy and to the mouth of the Ganges.’ In the same Carta rarissima, which contains the beautiful and poetic narration of a dream, the admiral says that ‘the opposite coasts of Veragua, near the Rio de Belen, are situated relatively to another, as Tortosa on the Mediterranean and Fuenterabia in Biscay, or as Venice and Pisa.’ The great ocean, the South Pacific, was even at that time regarded as merely a continuation of the Sinus magnus (μέγας κόλπος) of Ptolemy, situated before the golden Chersonesus, whilst Cattigara and the land of the Sines (Thinae) were supposed to constitute its eastern boundary.”—Humboldt: Cosmos. Otté’s trans. vol. ii. pp. 642, 643.

[309] Historia general. Herrera. dec. i. lib. x. cap. i, ii, iv. dec. ii. lib. i. cap. iv, xi. De Orbe Novo decades. Martire. dec. iii. cap. ii, iii, vi, x. dec. iv. cap. vi. dec. vii. cap. x.

[310] Historia general. Herrera. dec. ii. lib. i. cap. vii.

[311] Bernal Diaz del Castillo, a native of Medina del Campo, Spain, came to the New World, in 1514, with Pedro Arias de Avila, who had been appointed governor of Terra Firma. He sailed with Cordoba and Grijalva on their expeditions of discovery, and was with Cortes in his Mexican campaign, and participated in more than a hundred engagements. He was regidor of the city of Guatemala, where, on the twenty-sixth day of February, 1568, he completed his True history of the conquest of New Spain.

[312] Historia verdadera de la conquista de la Nueva España. Escrita por el Capitan Bernal Diaz del Castillo, vno de sus conquistadores. En Madrid, 1632. cap. i-vi.

Vide The memoirs of the conquistador, Bernal Diaz del Castillo, written by himself, containing a true and full account of the discovery and conquest of Mexico and New Spain. Translated from the original Spanish by John Ingrim Lockhart. London, 1844. vol. i. chap. i-vi.

[313] “The dollar of exchange (peso de plata) is worth 8 reals of old plate, or 15 reals 2 maravedis vellon.... The value of the peso of plate, or dollar of exchange, in English silver coin, is 39½d.” [about seventy-four cents United States money].—The universal cambist and commercial instructor. By Patrick Kelly. London, 1811. vol. i. pp. 388, 389.

[314] Historia verdadera de la conquista de la Nueva España. Diaz. cap. viii-xvi.—Vide The memoirs of the conquistador. Lockhart. chap. viii-xvi.

[315] “He said, though still in broken Spanish, that his name was Geronimo de Aguilar, and was a native of Ecija. About eight years ago he had been shipwrecked with fifteen men and two women, on a voyage between Darien and the island of St. Domingo.... The ship struck against a rock, and they had not been able to get her off again. The whole of the crew then got into the boat, with the hope of reaching the island of Cuba or Jamaica, but were driven on the coast of Yucatan, where the Calachionies had taken them prisoners and distributed them among the people. The most of his unfortunate companions had been sacrificed to their gods. Some had died of grief and the women had pined away, being worn out by the hard labor of grinding which they had forced them to do. He had been doomed to be sacrificed to their idols, but had made his escape at night, and fled to the cacique, with whom he had been living.... He had tried to induce Gonzalo Guerrero to leave the Indians, but had failed.”

[316] The name is spelled by Diaz “Monteçuma.”

[317] An Indian woman presented to Cortes by the cacique of Tabasco. She had readily learned to speak in Spanish, and being conversant with the language of the Mexicans, was of great value to Cortes, who made her his secretary and then his mistress.

[318] Charles V. ascended the Spanish throne in 1516.

[319] Historia verdadera de la conquista de la Nueva España. Diaz. cap. xix-xxxix.—Vide The memoirs of the conquistador. Lockhart. chap. xxx-xxxix.

[320] “The Castilian mark weighs 3557 English troy grains.”—The universal cambist. Kelly. vol. i. pp. 391, 292.

[321] Primera parte de los veinte īvn lībros rituales ī monarchia Indiana compuesto por Juan de Torquemada. En Madrid, 1723. lib. iv. cap. xvii. fol. 389, 390.

“The ducat of exchange (ducado de plata) is worth 11 reals, maravedi of old plate, or 20 reals 25¹⁵⁄₁₇ maravedis vellon.... The value of the ducat of plate in English silver coin is 4s.d. [or one dollar and one cent in United States money].”—The universal cambist. Kelly. vol. i. pp. 388-392.

Diaz gives this description of the presents: “The first was a disk about the size of a carriage-wheel, representing the sun, the entire plate being of the finest gold and of the most beautiful workmanship,—a most extraordinary work of art, which, according to the account of those who weighed it, was worth more than twenty thousand pesos de oro. The second was a disk, even larger than the former, of massive silver, representing the moon, with rays and figures on it, and of great value. The third was a casque, filled with grains of pure gold as they were found in the mine, worth about three thousand pesos, which gold was of more importance to us than if it had been ten times this value, for we were now assured that there were rich gold-mines in the country. Among the other presents there were thirty golden ducks in every way resembling the living fowl, very elaborately made. Besides, there were figures of lions, tigers, dogs, and monkeys. There were also ten chains with lockets, all of gold, and of the most costly workmanship; a bow with the string and twelve arrows; two staffs like those used by justices, five palms in length; all of which were made of the purest gold. They also brought small cases containing the most beautiful green feathers, interwoven with gold and silver, and fans similarly made, and figures of all kinds of game made of gold.”

Peter Martyr, who had inspected the presents, says: “Si quid unquam honoris humana ingenia in huiuscemodi artibus sunt adepta, principatum iure merito ista consequentur. Aurum, gemmasque non admiror quidem, qua industria, quove studio superet opus materiam, stupeo. Mille figuras et facies mille prospexi quæ scribera nequeo. Quid oculos hominum sua pulchritudine aeque possit allicere meo iudicio vidi nunquam.—De Orbe Novo decades. dec. i. cap. xi.

[322] Teules, according to Diaz, meant gods or celestial beings.

[323] From Villa Rica de Vera Cruz to the city of Mexico the distance was about one hundred and seventy-five miles. By the route of the Mexican railroad the distance from the present city of Vera Cruz to the city of Mexico is two hundred and sixty-three miles.

[324] A stone of a light green color.

[325] Paper made from the leaves of the maguey or agave-plant.

[326] Cortes conjectured the city contained twenty thousand houses. The temple of Quetzalcoatl was built on a terraced mound about two hundred feet high, and was reached by ascending one hundred and twenty steps.

[327] The name of the city is written Tenustitlan Mexico by Diaz. It is spelled Tenuchtitlan Mexico by some Spanish writers.

“In the spelling of the names of Indian chiefs, the townships, and of the provinces, we have mostly followed Torquemada, who is considered more correct on this point, for he lived fifty years in New Spain.”—The memoirs of the conquistador. Lockhart. Preface. vol. i. p. vi.

[328] This name, says Diaz, was given to Cortes “because our interpreter, Doña Marina, was always near him, particularly when embassadors arrived, and in our negotiations with the different caciques she interpreted for both parties. They therefore called him the captain of Marina, and contracted that appellation into the word Malinche.”

[329] It is said that the slimy substance mentioned by Diaz was called tecuitlatl, the excrement of stone. It was variously fashioned, and dried in the sun.

[330] Xiquipiles, according to Torquemada, expressed the number of 8,000 of any thing.

[331] Cacao-beans were used by the Mexicans in lieu of small coin.

[332] Historia verdadera de la conquista de la Nueva España. Diaz. cap. xxxix-clix.—Vide The memoirs of the conquistador. Lockhart. chap. xxxix-clix.

[333] Historia verdadera de la conquista de la Nueva España. Diaz. cap. lx, clxii.—Vide The memoirs of the conquistador. Lockhart. chap. lx, clxii.

[334] Tratado, que compõs e nobre & notauel capitão Antonio Galuão.

[335] In June, 1523, Francisco de Garay sailed with a fleet and a large number of troops from Jamaica to take possession of the province of Panuco, of which he had been appointed governor. He failed to accomplish his purpose, and died in the city of Mexico, at the end of December, 1523. Historia verdadera de la conquista de la Nueva España. cap. cxxxiii, clxii. Vide The memoirs of the conquistador. Lockhart. chap. cxxxiii, clxii.

[336] Coleccion de los viages y descubrimientos. Navarrete. tom. iii. pp. 64-69; 147-153.

[337] The situation of certain places along the coast of the present states of Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas, is thus described by Gomara: “From Santa Elena to Rio Seco, in 31°, are other forty leagues, and thence to La Cruz are twenty, and thence to Cañaveral, forty; and from Punta Cañaveral, in 28°, are other forty to Punta de la Florida (the peninsula of Florida).... This is in 25°, which is twenty leagues in length, and from it are a hundred or more leagues to Ancon bajo, which is fifty leagues from Rio Seco, from east to west, across Florida. From Ancon bajo they estimate it to be a hundred leagues to Rio de Nieves, and thence to that of Flores more than twenty, from which river it is seventy leagues to the Bay of the Holy Spirit (Baya del Espiritu Sancto), called by another name, La Culata (the breech of a gun), which river flows out into the ocean thirty leagues, and is in 29°, and thence it is more than seventy to Rio de Pescadores. From Rio de Pescadores, in 28° 30´, are a hundred leagues to Rio de las Palmas, near which crosses the tropic of Cancer; thence to Rio Panuco are more than thirty leagues; and thence to Villa Rica or Vera Cruz, seventy leagues.”—Primera y segunda parte de la historia general de las Indias. Gomara. cap. xii.

[338] Lucas Vasquez de Ayllon, a native of Toledo, Spain, was one of the licentiates appointed by King Ferdinand to act as auditors of the royal court of appeal (audiencia), afterward sitting in San Domingo. In March, 1520, Ayllon went with Pamfilo de Narvaez to New Spain, who was sent there by Diego Velasquez to administer the affairs of that country. When Ayllon landed in Mexico he became so inimical to the purposes of Velasquez that Narvaez put him under arrest and sent him back to Cuba, where he arrived in August, 1520.

[339] “So designated,” says Herrera, “because Jordan was the name of one of the captains or masters of the ships.”

Primera y segunda parte de la historia general de las Indias. Gomara. cap. vii.

[340] Ayllon, in 1523, was made governor (adelantado) of the provinces and islands of Suache, Chicora, Xapira, Tatancal, Anicatiye, Cocayo, Guacaya, Xoxi, Sona, Pasqui, Arambe, Xamunambe, Huag, Tanzaca, Yenyohol, Paor, Yamiscaron, Carixagusignanin and Anoxa, that were said to lie between the thirty-fifth and thirty-seventh parallels of north latitude. In 1524 it is said that he sent two ships to some of these places. In July, 1526, he sailed himself from Española, with six vessels, having on board five hundred men and ninety horses. Diego Miruelo, the pilot of this fleet, it is said, failed to find the coast of Chicora, which he had visited in 1520. The natives, where the Spaniards landed, manifested toward them the greatest friendliness, and so deceived Ayllon with their unbounded hospitality that he sent two hundred of his men into the interior on an exploring expedition. While they were sleeping the savages fell upon them and murdered them to a man. They then attacked those near the ships, who, being outnumbered, fled before their assailants. One hundred and fifty escaped, and in a suffering condition returned to San Domingo. It is further related that Ayllon died on the eighteenth of October, 1526.—Coleccion de los viages y descubrimientos. Navarrete. tom. iii. pp. 69-74; 153-160.

[341] De Orbe Novo decades. dec. ii. cap. vii.

[342] “Thence to Puerto del Principe are more than a hundred leagues, and from it to the Rio Jordan, seventy, and thence to Cabo de Santa Elena, which is in 32°, there are forty leagues.”—Primera y segunda parte de la historia general de las Indias. Gomara. cap. xii.

[343] Pigafetta writes the name “Magaglianes,” the Portuguese “Magalhaens,” the Spaniards “Magallanes,” and the French “Magellan.” The English follow the French spelling.

[344] Fernam de Magalhaens was born at Oporto, about the year 1470. After entering the Portuguese navy, he sailed to the East Indies and served under Affonso d’Albuquerque. He returned to Spain about the year 1517.

[345] Before Brazil was discovered, red wood was brought to Europe from Asia and Africa.

[346] In the edition of Ptolemy’s geography, printed at Rome in 1508, it is said: “The Land of the Holy Cross diminishes all the way to south latitude 37°; although, according to navigators who have explored it, it is said all the way to south latitude 50°; of which remaining part no description is found.—Terra Sanctæ Crucis decrescit usque ad latitudinem 37° aust.; quamquam ad Archiploi usque ad 50° austr., navigarint, ut ferunt; quam reliquam portionem descriptam non reperi.” cap. xiv.

[347] The eastern entrance to the strait lies between the Cape of the Virgins, on the north, and the Cape of the Holy Spirit, on the south, and is about twenty miles wide. The strait is three hundred and fifteen miles long.

[348] On the Maiollo map of 1527, the following inscription is placed near the delineated strait: “Streito doute pasas Magaianes Portogese per andare in le isole de Maluchi de le spesarie de Re de Spania,” the strait passed by Magaianes, a Portuguese, to go to the Molucca Islands for spices for the king of Spain.

[349]Il capitano-generale, che sapeva de dover fare la sua navegazione per uno streto molto ascoso, como vite ne la thesararia del re de Portugal in una carta fata per quello excellentissimo huomo Martino di Boemia.

The chart was evidently one drafted to exhibit the field of the explorations of Cabral and other Portuguese navigators along the eastern coast of Brazil.

[350] The fifth vessel, the Santiago, while exploring the coast, when the other ships were at anchor in the harbor of St. Julian, was wrecked.

[351] Gomez, after deserting the squadron with the San Antonio, returned to the port of St. Julian, and there took on board Gaspar de Casada and the priest whom Magalhaens had put on shore. On Gomez’s return to Spain, the sixth of May, 1521, he told “the emperor that Magalhaens was crazy and had lied to his majesty, for he did not know where Banda was nor the Moluccas.”—Letter of Transylvanus and Castanheda.

[352] Spanish, Las Islas Desdichados.

[353]Seconda la misura che facevamo del viaggio colla catena a poppa, noi percorrevamo da 60 in 70 leghe algiorno.

[354] Sir Francis Drake followed Magalhaens a half century later. The former departed from England on the thirteenth of December, 1577, and returned there on the third of November, 1580.

[355] Cape Cattigara was, according to Ptolemy, in one hundred and eighty degrees of longitude from the Canaries and south of the equator. It is now known as Cape Comorin, being the southern extremity of Hindostan, in north latitude 8° 5´, and in east longitude 77° 30´.

[356] Spanish, de los Ladrones. The Ladrone Islands, about twenty in number, lie between 13° and 21° north latitude, and 144° and 146° east longitude.

[357] The Moluccas or Spice Islands, more than two hundred in number, lie between 3° north and 9° south latitude, and 122° and 133° east longitude.

[358] Juan Sebastian del Cano was honored for the notable part he took in this famous voyage by being permitted to display, as his coat of arms, the figure of a globe, on which was inscribed: “Primus circumdedisti me.

[359] Primo viaggio intorno al globo terracqueo ossia ragguaglio della navigazione alle indie orientali per la via d’occidente fatta dal cavaliere Antonio Pigafetta patrizio Vicentino sulla squadra del Capit. Magaglianes negli anni 1519-1522 ora publicato per la prima volta, tratto da un codice MS. della Biblioteca Ambrosiana di Milano e corredota di note da Carlo Amoretti. In Milano, 1800.—Vide The first voyage round the world by Magellan, translated from the accounts of Pigafetta and other contemporary writers. By Lord Stanley of Alderley. London, 1874. Hakluyt Soc. pub. Vide Pinkerton’s voyages and travels. vol. i. pp. 288-381.

[360] Primera y segunda parte de la historia general de las Indias. Gomara. cap. x.

[361] According to Jacques Cartier’s statement, the Cape of Buona Vista was in 48° 30´ north latitude.

[362] Raccolta di navigationi e viaggi. Ramusio. vol. iii. fol. 359.

[363]Les Dieppois continuoient leur commerce dans les Indes Orientales, lorsqu’ils apprirent les découvertes que les Espagnols avoient faites en Amérique: leur émulation s’en trouva piquée, & ils armèrent deux vaisseaux, pour connoître si cette partie du monde ne s’étendoit pas du côte du Nord; ils en confièrent le commandement à deux de leurs plus habiles Capitaines, nommés Thomas Aubert & Jean Vérassen. Ces deux navires partirent de Dieppe au commencement de 1508, & découvrirent, la même année, le Fleuve Saint-Laurent, auquei ils donnérent ce nom, parce que ce fut ce jour-là qu’ils commencèrent à le remonter; ce qu’ils firent jusqu’ à plus de quatre-vingt lieues, trouvant des habitants affables, avec lesquels ils firent des èchanges les plus avantageux en pelleteries.”—Mémoires chronologiques pour servir à l’historie de Dieppe et à celle de la navigation Françoise. Jean Antoine Desmarquets. À Paris, 1785. tom. i. pp. 99, 100.

[364] “One of thirty regions or zones of the earth, parallel to the equator, corresponding to the successive increase of a quarter of an hour in the length of the midsummer day.”

[365] West coast of Ireland.

[366] Eusebii Caesariensis episcopi chronicon.... In alma Parisiorū academia. Millesimo quingentesimo duodecimo Idibus vero Iunij. fol. 172.

[367] Giovanni da Verrazzano, the son of Pier Andrea da Verrazzano, was born at Florence about the year 1480.

[368] Henry Hudson, the navigator. By G. M. Asher. London, 1860. Hakluyt Society pub. Introduction. p. 79.

[369] The voyage of Pedro Alvarez Cabral, in 1500.

[370] Cronica do muyto alto e muyto poderoso rey destes regnos de Portugal Dom João o III. deste nome. Francisco d’Andrada. Lisboa, 1613. part. i. cap. 13, 14.

[371] Letter of João da Silveyra to Dom João III. Archivo de Torre de Tombo. Corp. Chron. part. i. ma. 29. doc. 54.

[372] The ship La Dauphine is spoken of in the Italian text of Verrazzano’s letter as “la nave Dalfina.” Dalfina is the feminine form of the Italian word dalfino, a dolphin.

[373] A manuscript containing the Italian text of Verrazzano’s letter was found in 1837, by G. W. Greene, consul from the United States at Rome, in the Magliabecchian library of Florence, in a volume of miscellanies, marked “Class xiii. Cod. 89. Verraz.” With this letter was another written by Fernando Carli to his father, dated Lyons, August 4, 1524. As Carli remarks in his communication that it inclosed a copy of Verrazzano’s letter to Francis I., it is believed that the transcript he speaks of is the copy found in the Magliabecchian library.—Vide Life and voyages of Verrazzano, by G. W. Greene. North American Review. vol. xlv. October, 1837.

Ramusio placed in the third volume of his collection of voyages and travels a condensed form of Verrazzano’s letter, entitled “The relation of Giovanni da Verrazzano, Florentine, to the most Christian king of France, Francis I., of the land by him discovered in the name of his majesty; written at Dieppe, July 8, 1524.—Al Christianissimo Re Di Francia Francesco Primo, Relatione di Giovanni da Verrazano Fiorentino della terra per lui scoperta in nome di sua Maesta scritta in Dieppa, adi 8. Luglio M.D.XXIIII.”—Raccolta di navigationi e viaggi. Ramusio. vol. iii. fol. 350.

[374] The copy of Verrazzano’s letter has this superscription: “Il Capitano Giovanni da Verrazzano, fiorentino di Normandie, al la serenissima corona di Francia, dice”:—Captain Giovanni da Verrazzano, a Florentine, from Normandy, to the most serene crown of France, says.

[375] Hakluyt’s translation of the letter published by Ramusio, in 1556, begins with these words.

“I wrote not to your Maiesty, most Christian King, since the time we suffered the Tempest in the North partes, of the successe of the foure shippes, which your Maiestie sent forth to discouer new lands by the Ocean, thinking your Maiestie had bene already duely enformed thereof. Now by these presents I will give your Maiestie to understand how by the violence of the Windes we were forced with the two shippes, the Norman and the Dolphin (in such euill case as they were), to land in Britaine. Where after wee had repayred them in all poynts as was needful, and armed them very well, we took our course along the coast of Spaine, which your Maiestie shall understand by the profite that we receiued thereby. Afterwards with the Dolphin alone we determined to make discouerie of new Countries, to prosecute the Nauigation we had already begun, which I purpose at the present to recount unto to your Maiestie, to make manifest the whole proceeding of the matter.

“The 17 of January, the yeere 1524, by the Grace of God, we departed from the dishabited rocke by the isle of Madeira (Alli, 17. Genaro, 1524. Dio gratia partimmo dallo scoglio dishabitato), appertaining to the king of Portugal, with 50 men, with victuals, weapons, and other ship-munition very well prouided and furnished for eight months; and sailing Westward with a faire Easterly winde (per Ponente nauigando con vento di Leuante assai piaceuole), in 25 dayes we ran 500 leagues, and the 20 of Februarie (alli 20 Febraro), we were ouertaken with as sharpe and terrible a tempest as euer any saylers suffered, whereof with the diuine helpe and mercifull assistance of Almighty God, and the goodnesse of our shippe, accompanied with the good happe of her fortunate name we were delivered.”—Vide Voyages. London, 1600. vol. ii. p. 295.

[376] One of three islands lying in a row from north to south, southeast of the island of Madeira, in north latitude 32° 30´, off the west coast of Africa. The islands are called Ilhas Dezertas, and are only inhabited by sea-fowl.

[377] In Verrazzano’s geographical explanation of the voyage, he assigns 62½ miles to a degree and 4 miles to a marine league. According to this data, 15⅝ marine leagues equal a degree. On Thevet’s map of the fourth part of the world, printed in 1575, is a scale of leagues which shows that a marine league was double the length of a French league. With this information it is easy to ascertain the length of a degree in French leagues of Verrazzano’s day; 31¼, according to his explanation, equalling a degree. Columbus made 56⅔ miles equal an equinoctial degree and 60 miles equal to 15 leagues. Pigafetta assigned 17½ leagues to a degree. “The land-league is three miles,” he says, “the sea-league is four.” The modern nautical league is one-twentieth of a degree, or three equatorial miles or 3.45785 statute miles. A sea-mile, according to the United States standard, is equal to 1.152664 common statute or land-miles. One degree of longitude at the equator is equal to 69.160 land-miles. A French geographical league, according to Verrazzano’s reckoning, equals 2⅕ land-miles of the United States standard.

[378] Cape Fear is in 33° 48´ north latitude.

[379] The translation of Verrazzano’s letter by Joseph G. Cogswell, contained in the New York Historical Society’s collections, second series, vol. i. pp. 37-54, will be followed hereafter, except when a better rendering may be presented.

[380] Vide section of Maiollo map in the cover-pocket. The scale of latitudes on the margin of this part of the map has been appended to indicate the position given to places by Visconte de Maiollo. A similar scale is engraved on another part of the rare map.

[381] Palmetto trees.

[382] It was not until 1728 that this conception of the navigator was disproved. Then Vitus Behring discovered the strait which divides the two continents. The distance between East Cape in Asia and Cape Prince of Wales on the continent of America is forty-five miles.

[383]Nè pensiamo participando dello oriente per la circumferenza sieno senza qualche drogheria o liquore aromatico, et altre divitie oro ed altro del quale colore la terra tutta tende.

[384] Historical collections of South Carolina. By B. R. Carroll. vol. i. p. xxi.

[385] In Ramusio’s text the word is oriente, east. Raccolta di navigationi e viaggi. Ramusio. vol. ii. fol. 350.

It was the custom of the aborigines to set fire to the underbrush in spring to enable them to hunt and to inclose game within the limits of the burning wood.

[386] The harbor of Beaufort was too far inland to be seen by Verrazzano.

[387] In Hakluyt’s translation of the text of Ramusio’s condensed copy of Verrazzano’s letter is the following respecting the vines of Virginia: “We saw in this country many vines growing naturally, which, growing up, took holde of the trees as they doe in Lombardie, which if by husbandmen they were dressed in good order, without all doubt they would yeeld excellent wines; for hauing oftentimes seene the fruit thereof dryed; which was sweete and pleasant, and not differing from ours, we thinke that they doe esteeme the same, because in euery place where they growe, they take away the under branches growing round about, that the fruit thereof may ripen the better.”—Voyages. Hakluyt. vol. ii. p. 297.

[388] Chesapeake Bay “extends 190 miles from its mouth, into the States of Virginia and Maryland; it is from 7 to twenty miles broad, and generally 9 fathoms deep.”

The peninsula is “about 60 miles long, and from 10 to 15 wide, and bounded toward the sea by a string of low sandy islets. The waters of the Chesapeake enter the sea between Cape Charles and Cape Henry, forming a strait of fifteen miles in width.”—Gazetteer of Virginia and the District of Columbia. By Joseph Martin. 1835. pp. 23, 18.

[389] Vide Maiollo map of 1527 in the cover-pocket.

[390] “Epistle dedicatorie” to Hakluyt’s Divers voyages, 1582.

[391]Da questo mare orientale si vede il mare occidentale; sono 6 miglia di terra infra l’uno a l’altro.

[392] Hakluyt’s Particular discourse, 1584.

The English collector illustrates his Divers voyages with Locke’s map, which the English cartographer dedicated to Sir Philip Sidney.

[393] Sandy Hook light-house is in 40° 27´ 39´´ north latitude.

[394] At Sandy Hook, a low, sandy point of land, eighteen miles from the city of New York, are two ship-channels through which vessels of the heaviest tonnage can pass. Immediately north of Sandy Hook is the spacious roadstead called the Lower Bay. Between Staten Island, north of it, and Long Island is the Narrows, a channel about one mile and a half long by one wide. North of it is the Upper Bay or harbor of New York.

[395] The Upper Bay or harbor of New York, about eight miles long by five wide, lies between the mouth of the Hudson River on the north and the Narrows on the south. From the bay, vessels can pass into the East River and thence to Long Island Sound, between Long Island and the main-land. Westward is Newark Bay, through which vessels can pass from the Upper Bay of New York, thence into Staten Island Sound, thence into Raritan Bay and the Lower Bay. The rise and fall of the tide in the harbor of New York is about four and a half feet.

[396] Belgische ofte Nederlandsche oorlogen ende geschiedenissen beginnende van ’t jaer 1595 tot 1611.—Door Emanuel van Meteren. 1611. Boek xxx. fol. 327.

[397] Purchas his Pilgrimes. vol. iii. p. 595.

[398]De groote noordt rievier van Nieuw-Nederlandt wordt by eenighe ghenoemt de Manhattes rieviere naer volckeren die by naer aen’t begin ofte de mout van de rieviere woonen; by andere oock Rio de Montaigne; doch by de ouse wordt meest genoemt de groote rieviere.”—Nieuwe Wereldt. Door Johannes de Laet. Tot Leyden, 1625. Boeck iii. cap. ix.

[399] Vide map entitled: ’t Noorder deel van West-Indien, contained in the rare work in Dutch: West-Indische Spieghel. Door Athanasium Inga, Peruen, van Cusco. Amsterdam, 1624. The map-maker’s name, A. Goos, is inscribed on the chart.

[400] Angoulême, a town on the Charente River, in France, sixty-six miles northeast of Bordeaux. Angoulême, with the territory of Angoumois, was governed from the ninth to the fourteenth century by counts. Francis I., before he became king of France, was Comte d’Angoulême.

[401] The island of Rhodes, lying off the southwest coast of Asia Minor, between 35° 50´ and 36° 30´ north latitude, has an area of about 452 square miles.

[402] Blank space in the original copy.

[403] Newport is in 41° 29´, and the city of Providence in 41° 49´ 22´´ north latitude.

[404] Vide Gastaldi’s map.

[405] As described by a late writer: “Narragansett Bay is one of the most beautiful sheets of water in the United States; it is unrivalled for its navigable advantages, affording at all times a safe and ready communication with the ocean; and its shores, which are indented with innumerable bays and inlets containing many excellent harbors. This bay ... extends more than thirty miles into the interior of the state, and for this distance affords superior advantages for ship-navigation. The whole extent of the bay and river, from Point Judith to Providence, is about thirty-six miles. The average breadth of the lower section of the bay is nearly ten miles; but the upper part is narrow. Exclusive of the islands, of which there are about fifteen in number, and some of considerable extent, the waters of the bay comprise an area of about one hundred and thirty square miles.”—Gazetteer of Connecticut and Rhode Island. 1819. pp. 302, 303, 349, 359.

[406] See note, page 293.

[407] The distance given by the Spanish historian, Francisco Lopez de Gomara, in 1552, from the Point of Baccalaos, in 48° 30´ to Cape St. Helen, in 32° north latitude, is more than seven hundred and sixty Spanish leagues, measured as the coast trended: “From the Point of Baccallaos are set down eight hundred and seventy leagues to Florida, counting as follows: From the Point of Baccallaos which is in 48° 30´ are seventy leagues of coast to La Baya del Rio, which is in more than 45°. Thence are seventy to another bay called Isleos which is in less than 44°. From Baya Isleos to Rio Fonda are seventy leagues, and thence to Rio de las Gamas, are other seventy, both rivers being in 43°. From Rio de los Gamas are fifty leagues to Cabo Bajo, and thence to Rio de San Anton, they reckon more than a hundred leagues. From Rio de San Anton are eighty leagues along the shore of a gulf to Cabo de Arenas, which is in nearly 39°, thence to Puerto del Principe are more than a hundred leagues, and from it to Rio Jordan seventy, and thence to Cabo de Santa Elena, which is in 32°, there are forty leagues. From Santa Elena to Rio Seco, which is in 31°, are forty leagues.”—La historia general de las Indias. Gomara. cap. xii.

[408] The name Francesca is used on the Maiollo map of 1527. Hieronymus da Verrazzano called the region “Verrazana seu Gallia nova,”—Verrazana or New Gaul. By some French writers it was denominated in the sixteenth century, “Terre Francesque.”

[409] “This distance,” he remarks, “calculated geometrically upon the ratio that three and one seventh times the diameter of a circle is equal to its circumference, gives 92⁵⁴¹⁶⁴⁄₄₇₂₇₃₃ degrees. For if we take 114⁶⁄₁₁ degrees as the chord of an arc of a great circle, we have by the same ratio 95²⁴⁸³⁄₄₉₅₀ degrees as the chord of an arc on the parallel of 34°, being that on which we first made land, and 300²³³⁄₁₅₇₅ degrees as the circumference of the whole circle, passing through this plane. Allowing then, as actual observations show, that 62½ terrestrial miles correspond to a celestial degree, we find the whole circumference of 300²³³⁄₁₅₇₅ degrees, as just given, to be 18,759³¹⁄₁₂₆ miles, which, divided by 360, makes the length of a degree of longitude on the parallel of 34° to be 52⁹⁸⁹⁄₉₀₇₂ miles, and that is the true measure. Therefore, by a right line to the said rock which stands in 32°, we have to calculate the distance, the said 1,200 leagues which we have found, from the thirty-fourth parallel, from west to east, hence I should have run 92⁵⁴¹⁶⁴⁄₄₇₂₇₃₃ degrees, and this many therefore we have sailed to the West, which was not known to the ancients.”

114⁶⁄₁₁ × 3¹⁄₇ = 360. 300²³³⁄₁₅₇₅ × 7 ÷ 22 = 95²⁴⁸³⁄₄₉₅₀. 300²³³⁄₁₅₇₅ × 62½ = 18,759³¹⁄₁₂₆. 18,759³¹⁄₁₂₆ ÷ 560 = 52⁹⁸⁹⁄₉₀₇₂. 4,800 by 52⁹⁸⁹⁄₉₀₇₂ = 92⁵⁴¹⁶⁴⁄₄₇₂₇₃₃.

[410] “The Spaniards have sailed south beyond the equator, on a meridian 20³²⁰⁶⁰/₄₇₂₈₁ degrees west of the Fortunate Islands to the latitude of 54° and there still found land. Turning about they steered northward on the same meridian and along the coast to the eighth parallel, and then along the coast more to the west, and north to the latitude of 21° [31°?], without finding a termination to the continent. They estimated the distance run as 89²⁹⁷⁰⁹/₄₆₇₈₁ which added to the 20³²⁰⁶⁰/₄₇₂₈₁ first run make 110¹⁴⁴⁸⁸/₄₆₇₈₁, but this may vary somewhat from the truth. We did not make this voyage, and therefore cannot speak from experience. We calculated it geometrically from the observations furnished by many navigators, who have made the voyage and affirm the distance to be 1600 leagues, due allowance being made for the deviations of the ship from a straight course by reason of contrary winds. I hope that we shall now obtain accurate information on these points, by new voyages to be made on the same coasts.”—Vide Maiollo map of 1527.

[411] Verrazzano’s argument is based upon the supposition that the extent of the land of the new continent was greater than it really was, for at this time the Pacific coast of the New Land had not been explored. Verrazzano believed that the New World extended much farther westward than it does.

[412] Tierra del Fuego, south of the Strait of Magellan, had not yet been explored, and it was not known how far it extended, or in what direction.

[413] The number of tons is not mentioned.

[414] According to Carli’s statement, Verrazzano at first attempted to sail to the west by going through the North Sea. Here, as Verrazzano relates, his vessels were disabled, and he proceeded southward toward the desert-rock, whence he steered toward the west in quest of new lands.

[415] Carli evidently was not well informed concerning Magellan’s expedition, for although he speaks of the five ships of the fleet, and of the return of the one commanded by Del Cano, he appears to be ignorant of the death of Magellan, and of the arrival of Estevan Gomez, in 1521, with the ship San Antonio.

[416] King Francis wrote to his parliament, on the second of July, 1524, saying: “I am going to Lyons to prevent the enemy from entering the kingdom, and I can assure you that Charles de Bourbon is not yet in France.”—Historie de François Premier. Gaillard. Paris, 1769. tom. iii. p. 172.

[417] Lettera di Fernando Carli a suo padre. Archivo storico Italiano ossia raccolta di opere e documenti fiuora inediti o divenuti rarissimi risguardanti la storia d’Italia. Appendice. tomo ix. Firenze. Gio. Pietro Vieusseux, direttore-editore al suo gabinetto scientifico letterario. 1853.

[418] Philippe Chabot, Sieur de Brion, admiral of France, was given command of the French marine, March 23, 1526.

[419] Ango & Son was a noted firm of ship-builders in Dieppe.

[420] Twenty thousand pounds, Tours currency, were to be advanced to meet the expenses of the undertaking. The admiral of France contributed four thousand pounds, Guillaume Preudhomme, general of Normandy, two thousand; Pierre Despinolles, one thousand; Jean Ango, two thousand; Jacques Boursier, two thousand; and Verrazzano (Jehan de Varesam, as his name is written in the agreement), chief pilot, two thousand pounds. Verrazzano, having agreed to provide competent pilots for the other two vessels, was to receive one sixth of all the goods which should be brought back, and one tenth of any booty taken at sea from the Moors, or other enemies of France. Foutette collection. xxx. 770. fol. 60. Bibliothèque nationale. Paris.

[421] Zanobus de Rousselay, a merchant of Rouen, in a legal instrument, dated September 30, 1526, gave bonds that “Messire Jehan de Verrassane” was entitled “to defend a certain clameur de haro, obtained against him by Guillaume Eynoult, called Cornete, living in Dieppe.” The bonds were placed in the hands of Fremyn Poree and Robert Tassel, sergeant royal, at Rouen, until the matter could be legally settled. MS. in archives of Rouen.

[422] Foutette collection. xxx. 770. fol. 60. Bibliothèque nationale. Paris.

[423] Hakluyt’s Divers voyages, 1582.

[424] “Epistle dedicatorie” to Divers voyages.

[425] Raccolta di navigationi e viaggi. Ramusio. Discorso sopra la nuova Francia. vol. iii. fol. 438.

[426] Hakluyt’s Particular discourse, 1584.

[427] In the cover-pocket is a copy of the part of the Maiollo map representing the continent in the western hemisphere.

[428] The inscription on the chart contains this information: “Verrazana seu Gallia nova quale discopri 5 anni fa Giovanni di Verrazzano fiorentino per ordine et comandamēto del Chrystiannissimo Re di Francia” (Verrazana or New Gaul, which Giovanni di Verrazano, a Florentine, discovered five years ago, by the order and commandment of the most Christian king of France).

[429] The value of the map made by Hieronymus da Verrazzano is fully discussed in Notes on Giovanni da Verrazano, and on a planisphere of 1529 illustrating his American voyage in 1524, with a reduced copy of the map, by James Carson Brevoort. New York, 1874.

Vide Voyage of Verrazzano: A chapter in the early history of maritime discovery in America. By Henry C. Murphy. New York, 1873.

Vide Verrazano, the Explorer: being a vindication of his letter and voyage, with an examination of the map of Hieronimo da Verrazano and a dissertation upon the globe of Vlpius. By B. F. De Costa. New York, 1880.

[430] The true and last discouerie of Florida made by Captain John Ribault in the yeere 1562. Dedicated to a great noble man of Fraunce, and translated into Englishe by one Thomas Hackit. Hakluyt’s Divers voyages. 1582.

The whole and true discoverye of Terra Florida (Englished, the Florishing Land) conteyning as well the wonderful straunge Natures and Maners of the People, with the mervylous Commodities and Treasures of the Country; as also the pleasaunt Portes and Havens, and Wayes thereunto never found out before the last year, 1562. Written in French by Captain Ribauld, the fyrst that whollye discovered the same, and now newly set forthe in Englishe, the xxx. of May, 1563.

[431] Voyages. Hakluyt. vol. iii. p. 232.

[432] Brief recit, and succincte narration de la nauigation faicte es ysles de Canada, Hochelage, and Saguenay & autres, auec particulieres meurs, langaige & cerimonies des habitans d’icelles: fort delectable à veoir. Auec priuilege. On les uend à Paris au second pillier en la grand salle du Palais, & en la rue neufue Nostre dame à l’enseigne de lescu de Frāce, par Ponce Roffet dict Fanchuer & Anthoine le Clerc frères. 1545.

[433]Septem hoies syluestres ex ea isula (que terra noua dicit) Rothomagu adducti sunt.”—Eusebii Caesariensis episcopi chronicon. Paris. 1512. p. 172.

[434]Manant, s. m. Paysan habitant en un village ou en une metairie à la campagne. Indigena, incola rusticus.... On appelle proprement manans, ceux qui sont originaires du lieu; & habitans, ceux qui y sont venus demeurer.”—Dictionnaire Trevoux. Nancy, 1740.

Manant (ma-nan), s. m. 1° Terme d’ancienne pratique. Habitant d’un bourg ou d’un village.... 2° Absolument, dans le langage ordinaire, mais archaïque, un paysan.... 3° Aujourd’hui, par extension, homme grossier, mal élevé.”—Dictionnaire de la langue Française. Par É. Littré, de l’académie Française. Paris, 1874.

[435] “The French call the Maques, les Aniuez, the Oneydes, les Onoyants, the Onondagas, les Montagneurs, ... the Caiougas, les Petuneurs, the Senegues, les Paisans.”—Observations of Wenworth Greenhalgh in a journey from Albany to ye Indyans westward. 1677. London documents in the office of the Secretary of State, Albany, N. Y. vol. iii. p. 167.

[436] “This region is called by the peasants (paesani) Norumbega.”—Raccolta di navigationi e viaggi. Ramusio. vol. iii. fol. 353.

Quando per sua buona uentura intese da paesani, che erano giunto alla marina alcuni nauiglia.” “Here by good luck he heard from the natives that some boats had arrived off the coast.”—Dello Scoprimento dell’ Isole Frislanda, Eslanda, Engronelanda, Estotilanda, & Icaria, fatto per due fratelli Zeni.—Vide Voyages of the Venetian brothers. Major. p. 24.

[437] Nieuwe Wereldt. Door Johannes de Laet. Tot Leyden. 1625. boek. iii. cap. ix.

[438] Novus Orbis, seu descriptionis Indiæ Occidentalis, autore Joanne de Laet. Antuerpiensi, 1633. lib. iii. cap. vii.

When the island in 1625 was purchased from the Manants by the agents of the Dutch West India Company, the transaction is spoken of in a letter addressed to their high mightinesses, the Lords States General of the United Netherlands, as follows: “Our people have bought the island Manhattes from the Wilden (wild men) for the value of sixty guilders [about twenty-four dollars].”—Holland documents, in the office of the Secretary of State, Albany, N. Y. vol. i. p. 155.

[439] Historische Verhael door Nicolaes à Wassenaer. Amsterdam. 1621-1632. deel vi. fol. 144.

[440] Nieuwe Wereldt. boeck. iii. cap. ix. Novus Orbis. lib. iii. cap. ix.

[441] Korte historial ende journals. Door David Pietersz. de Vries. Hoorn, 1655. pp. 146, 151.

[442] New York Colonial MSS. xxxv.

Samuel de Champlain, the French explorer, describing in 1632 the coast of America in the vicinity of St. John’s River, New Brunswick, writes: “I was at four islands near the river St. John.... Farther west there are other islands, one of which extends six leagues, which is called by the savages, Menane.” Opposite this word, Champlain writes on the marginal space, “L’isle de Manthane,” adding a t and an h to the second syllable of the words.—Les voyages de la Nouvelle France occidentale, dicte Canada, faits par le Sr. de Champlain, Sanctongeois. Paris, 1632. chap. ii. p. 58.

[443] In different historical works and documents the following modes of spelling the word appear: Manatans, Manates, Manate, Manath, Manathans, Manathe, Manathes, Manatte, Manetto, Menates, Minates, Manhates, Manhatas, Manna-hatta, Manhattes, Manahattes, Manahatta, Mahates, Manahatas, Manahatans, Manahata, Manhatens, Manhathans, Manhatoes, Manhatoos, Manhatos, Manhattans, Manhatten, Manhattoes, Manhattons, Manhattos, Manhuttons, Manahactas, Manchatas, Manades, Manadoes, Manados, Menade, Monhatous, Munhaddon, and Manhattan.—Vide General index to documents relating to the colonial history of the State of New York.

[444]Anormé, ée, & anormal, adj. Ces mots ne sont plus en usage. Borel dit qu’ils signifient qui est contre la régle commune, & qu’ énorme vient de ces mots.... Énorme, adj. m & f. Prodigieux, éxcessif. Immanis, immensus.”—Dictionnaire Trevoux.

Par extension de la signification morale à la signification physique, extraordinaire par sa grosseur ou par sa grandeur. Un énorme bloc de granit.... Rem. Quand énorme signifie excessif en grandeur ou en grosseur, il se met avant ou après son substantif.”—Dictionnaire de la langue Française. Littré.

[445]Berge (bèr-j’). s. f. 1°. Bord relevé, escarpé, d’une rivière, d’un fossé, d’un chemin. 2°. Terme de marine. Certains rochers élevés à pic sur l’eau....

Etym. Espagn. et ital. barga. Diez ne veut pas qu’ il soit d’origine germanique, et il en rapproche le kymri bargodi, surplomber, bargod, bord. Cependant le bas-latin berga, garde, défense (qui vient de l’allemand bergen, défendre, protéger), n’ aurait-il pas pu donner, par une série de sens, défense, fortification, meule, et finalement bord escarpé?”—Dictionnaire de la langue Française. Littré.

[446]On appelle aussi en tèrme de Mèr, bèrges, ou barges, les grands rochers, âpres & rélevez à pic; c’est-à-dire, droitement & à plomb, comme les bèrges ou barges d’Olone: telles sont Sylla & Carybde vers Messine.”—Dictionnaire Trevoux.

[447] Gerard Mercator was born at Rupelmonde, in East Flanders, on the fifth of March, 1512. Mercator is the Latinized form of his German name, Kremer, a tradesman, merchant. After studying at Bois-le-Duc, in Brabant, he entered the university of Louvain. He selected for his profession the manufacture of mathematical instruments and the art of drawing and engraving. His cartographic fame began with the engraving of a map of Palestine, in 1537. Next followed a map of Flanders, in 1540. Then in 1541, a large terrestrial globe, which he dedicated to the “Illustriss Dno Nicolao Perrenoto, Domino à Granuella”; the original drawings of which are preserved in the Royal library of Belgium, in Brussels. In 1552, Mercator removed from Louvain to Duisburg, where, in 1569, he made his famous map of the world. He died in December, 1594.

[448] The original map is now in the possession of the count of Crawford and Balcarres, Scotland.

[449] The edict of Francis I., appointing his mother, Louise of Savoy, regent, is dated October, 17, 1524, but before this time she had virtually assumed in part the direction of the government.

[450] The large gulf is that which is now called the Gulf of Mexico.

“A discourse of a great French sea-captain of the town of Dieppe concerning the voyages made to the New World of the West Indies called New France, from the fortieth to the forty-seventh parallel under the arctic pole, and concerning the country of Brazil, Guinea, Isle of St. Lawrence and that of Sumatra as far as the French caravels and ships have sailed.”—Discorso d’vn gran capitano di mare Francese del Lvogno di Dieppa. Raccolta di navigationi et viaggi. Ramusio. vol. iii. fol. 353.

[451] Les voyages auantureaux dv capitaine Ian Alfonce, Sainctongeois. Auec Priuilege du Roy. A Poitiers, au Pelican par Ian de Marnef.

Jean Alphonse died about the year 1548.

[452] The two first leaves of the manuscript are lost and with them the title of the work. Inasmuch as the subject of the work is defined in what may be said is the preface, and as the manuscript at the beginning and at the end bears the names of “Jehan Allefonsce” and “Raulin Secalart, cosemographe de Honnefleur, 1545,” the title of the work maybe reconstructed and written: Cosmographie de Jehan Allefonsce et Raulin Secalart. 1545. The manuscript is a folio of one hundred and ninety-four leaves. It is designated MS. No. 676.

[453] History of Long Island by Benjamin F. Thompson. 1843. p. 26.

[454] The tide flows up the Hudson as far as the city of Troy, about one hundred and seventy-four miles from the ocean.

[455] An undeciphered word in the manuscript.

Je ditz que le cap de Saint Jehan, dict Cap à Breton, et le cap de la Franciscane, sont nord-est et sud-ouest et prennent un quart de est à ouest, et y a en la route cent quarante lieues et icy faict ung cap appelé le cap de Norombègue. Le dict cap est par quarante et ung degrez de la haulteur du polle artique. La dicte coste est toute sableuse ... basse, sans nulle montaigne. Et au long laquelle coste y a plusieurs isles de sable et coste fort dangereuse de bancs et rochiers.

Les gens de ceste coste et de Cap à Breton sont maulvaises gens, puissans, grandz fleschiers, et sont gens qui vivent de poissons et de chair, et ont aulcun motz et parlent quasi le mesme langaige de ceux de Canada et sont grand peuple. Et ceux de Cap à Breton vont donner la guerre à ceulx de la Terre neufve quand ils peschent et pour nulle chose ne saulveroyent la vie à ung homme quand ilz le prennent, si n’est jeune enfant ou jeune fille et sont si cruels que si prennent ung homme portant barbe, ilz luy couppent les membres et les portent à leurs femmes et enffans, affin d’estre vengez en cela. Et y a entre eux force pelleteries de toustes bestes.

Audela du cap de Norombègue descend la rivière dudict Norombègue, environ vingt et cinq lieues du cap. La dicte rivière est large de plus de quarante lieues de latitude en son entrée et ceste largeur au dedans bien trente ou quarante lieues el est toute pleine d’isles qui entrent bien dix ou douze lieues en la mer et est fort dangereuse de rochers et baptures. La dicte rivière est par quarante et deux degrez de la haulteur du polle artique.

Audedans de la dicte rivière quinze lieues y a une ville qui s’ appelle Norombègue et y a en elle de bonnes gens et y a force pelleteries de toutes bestes. Les gens de la ville sont vestuz de pelleteries, portans manteaulx de martres. Je me doubte que la dicte rivière va entrer en la rivière de Hochelaga, car elle est sallée plus de quarante lieues en dedans selon la dict des gens de la ville. Les gens parlent beaucoup de motz qui approuchent du latin et adorent le soleil et sont belles gens et grandz hommes. La terre de Norombègue est haulte et bonne.

En avant et audeça de la dicte rivière cent cinquante lieues y a une isle qui s’ appelle la Vermonde qui est par les trente et trois degrez de la haulteur du polle artique. Et du couste devers louest de la dicte ville, y a forces rochiers qui s’ avancent dans la mer bien quinze lieues, et du coste vers le nort y a une anse en laquelle y a une petite isle laquelle est fort subjecte a tempester et n’ y peut habiter.”—Cosmographie de Jehan Allefonsce et Raulin Secarlart. 1545. fol. 184-189.

[456] The Bermudas or Somers’s islands lie between 32° 14´ and 32° 25´ north latitude, and 64° 38´ and 64° 52´ west longitude. In 1522, Juan Bermudez, a Spaniard, while on a voyage from Spain to Cuba, was wrecked on them. In 1609 Sir George Somers, sailing to Virginia, met with a similar misfortune among them. They are said to number three hundred and sixty-five, and are formed by coral reefs. The principal islands are Bermuda or Long Island, St. George’s, Ireland, Somerset, and St. David’s Island.

[457] The map is contained in the third volume of Ramusio’s Raccolta di navigationi e viaggi.

[458] Voyages. Hakluyt. vol. iii. pp. 239, 240.

[459] Nieuwe Wereldt. boek iii. cap. ix.

[460] In the dedication of Laudonnière’s notable history to Sir Walter Raleigh, dated March 1, 1586, the delayed publication of the work is thus adverted to: “It having been suppressed and forgotten for nearly twenty years, I have, with the diligence of Mr. Hakluyt, a gentleman well-versed in geographical history and in various languages and sciences, disinterred it, as it were, from the tomb, where it has lain so long in useless repose, and brought it before the world.” M. Basanier, the publisher, says he followed the text of the manuscript literatim, without any emendation or changes.

[461] “That which is toward the arctic or north pole is called New France insomuch as in the the year 1524, Jean Verrazano, a Florentine, was sent by King Francis I. and Madame, the regent, his mother, to the new countries, on which he landed and explored the whole coast extending from the tropic of Cancer, namely, from the twenty-eighth to the fiftieth degree, and still more toward the north.

“He planted at this place the ensigns and arms of the king of France, so that the Spaniards themselves, who were there afterward, have called this country French land. It extends in latitude from the twenty-fifth to the fifty-fourth degree toward the north; and in longitude, from the two hundred and tenth to the three hundred and thirtieth degree. The east part of it is called by the moderns the land of Norumberge, which ends at the Gulf of Gamas, which separates it from the island of Canada.”

Celle qui est vers le pole Arctique ou Septentrion, est nommee la nouuelle France, pour autant que l’an mil cinq ces vingt quatre, Jean Verrazano Florentin fut enuoyé par le Roy François premier, & par Madame la Regente sa mere aux terres neuues, ausquelles il prit terre & descouurit toute la coste qui est depuis le Tropique de Cancer, à scauoir depuis le vingt-huictiesme degrè iusques au cinquantiesme: & encore plus deuers le North. Il planta en ce païs les enseignes, & armoiries du Roy de Frāce: de sorte que les Espagnols mesmes qui y furent depuis ont nomé ce païs terre Francesque.... La partie Orientale d’ icelle est nommee par les modernes terre de Norumberge, laquelle abortit au Golphe de Gamas, qui la separe d’auec l’Isle de Canada.”—L’historie notable de la Florida sitvee es Indes Occidentales. Par le Capitaine Laudonnière. Mise en lumiere par M. Basanier. Paris, 1586. pp. 1, 2.

[462] The Dutch, when they took possession of Manants Island, in the seventeenth century, called the lake het Versch water (the Fresh water). The island on which the French built the fort was, in 1728, selected as the site of a powder-house, which was erected there to isolate it from common intruders. John Fitch, in the summer of 1796, navigated his small steamboat on the Fresh water lake.—Vide History of the city of New York. By David T. Valentine. 1853. pp. 11, 282-284. History of the city of New York. By Mrs. Martha J. Lamb. New York and Chicago, 1877-1880. vol. ii. pp. 423, 424, 565, 736. Documentary history of New York. vol. ii. p. 603.

[463] André Thevet was born at Angoulême, France, about the second year of the sixteenth century. He visited Italy, Greece, Egypt, and Palestine, and on his return to France, in 1554, published an account of his travels. In July, 1555, he accompanied Chevalier Villegagnon to Brazil to plant a colony there of French Protestants. When Thevet arrived at Rio Janeiro in November, he was taken sick, and to hasten his recovery he embarked for France on the last day of January, 1556. The vessel sailed on the home voyage northward along the coast of North America as far as Newfoundland. Thevet died in Paris, November 23, 1590. He was the author of the following works: “Cosmographie du Levant,” Lyons, 1554; “Les singulairités de la France antarctique, autrement nommée Amérique, et de plusieurs autres terres et îles découvertes de notre temps,” Paris, 1556; “Discours de la bataille de Dreux,” Paris, 1563; “Cosmographie universelle, illustrée de diverses figures des choses les plus remarquables vues par l’auteur,” Paris, 1571; and “Les vrais portraits et vies des hommes illustres, grecs, latins, et païens, recueillés de leurs tableaux, livres, médailles, antiques et modernes,” Paris, 1584.

[464] Aggoncy or Aggonzi signified the head. Voyages. Hakluyt. vol. iii. p. 231.

[465]Ayant laissé la Florida à main gaulche, auec grand nombre d’Isles, Islettes, Goulphes, & Promontoires, se presente l’vne des belles riuieres qui soit en toute la terre, nómee de nous Norombègue, & des Barbares Aggoncy, & marquee en quelques Cartes marines riuiere grande. Il entre plusieurs autres belles riuieres dans ceste cy, & sur laquelle iades les François feirent bastir vn petit fort, quelque dix ou douze lieuës en icelle, lequel estoit enuironé d’eau doulce, qui se va desgorger das icelle: & fut nommee ceste place le fort de Norombègue.”—La cosmographie vniverselle. D’André Thevet. A Paris, 1575. tom. ii. chap. iii. fol. 1008, b.

[466] The copy of Mercator’s map preserved in the National library, in Paris, which is entitled “Nova et aucta orbis terrae descriptio at usum navigantium emendeté accommodata,” measures seventy-eight and a half inches by fifty inches. On this map is represented the earth in plano, the meridians being paralleled and the parallels of latitude straight lines, according to those principles of projection known as Mercator’s projection. Respecting the latter, he says, in an inscription on the chart: “On account of which considerations, we have increased gradually the length of the degrees of latitude toward each pole proportionate to the increase of the parallels beyond the length which they have on the globe, relatively to the equator:—“Quibus consideratis, gradus latitudinum versus utrumque polum paulatim auximus pro incremento parallelorum supra rationem quam habint ad acquinoctialem.” Abraham Ortelius, the eminent cartographer, speaks of this map of Mercator’s as “his never-enough-praised universal chart,—Sua nunquam satis laudata universalis tabula.

[467] A copy of this chart in the general library of the State of New York, at Albany, is entitled: “The Original Carte Figurative, of which the above is an accurate fac-simile, was found on the 26th of June, 1841, in the Locket-kas, of the States General, in the Royal archives at the Hague.”

[468] “This map,” says John Romeyn Brodhead, the historian, “is undoubtedly one of the most interesting memorials we have. It is about three feet long, and shows, very minutely, the course of the Hudson River from Manhattan to above Albany, as well as a portion of the sea-coast; and contains, likewise, curious notes and memoranda about the neighboring Indians,—the work, perhaps, of one of the companions of Hudson ... and made within five years of the discovery of our river, its fidelity of delineation is scarcely less remarkable than its high antiquity.”—Address of J. Romeyn Brodhead, November 20, 1844. Coll. New York Historical Soc. 1845. p. 16.

[469]Ma so vele men heeft connen verstaen uyt i seggen ende beduyen van de Maquaas so comen de Françoysen met sloupen tot bovem aen haer land met haerluy handelen.

[470]Fort van Nassoureen is binnen de wallen 58 voeten wydt in ’t viercant de gracht is wydt 18 voeten.” Fort Nassau is 58 feet wide between the walls and built as a square; the moat is 18 feet wide. “’t hujs is 36 voeten lanch en 26 wyt in t fort.” The house in the fort is 36 feet long and 26 wide.

[471] Journal of a voyage to New York and a tour in several of the American colonies in 1679 and 1680, by Jasper Dankers and Peter Sluyter of Wiewerd in Friesland. Translated from the original MSS. in the Dutch for the Long Island Historical Society by Henry C. Murphy. Memoirs of Long Island Hist. Soc. 1867. vol. i. p. 318.