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tant questions regarding our ancient history; but this precious collection of documents has been so often dispersed, robbed, and mutilated by barbarous and schismatic nations,' that almost nothing can be found there anterior to the eighth century, and but very little prior to the tenth. As in all other countries, so also in Europe, does every historical branch commence with legends scarcely more reliable than the traditions of our aborigines; yet we feel obliged to notice a couple of these, to give our readers an idea of what even learned men have afforded as an answer to the questions with which we have closed the previous volume. Although we may slightly depart from chronological order, we shall at once dispose of one of these popular tales ascribing the ancient Christianization of our continent to the same nation which, after Columbus's discovery, was foremost in preaching the gospel of Christ upon American soil.” The finding of crosses in Cozumel and Yucatan was puzzling to the Spanish discoverers. Gomara and others, rather than to admit the devil as the manufacturer of those Christian symbols, had recourse to an ancient Portuguese legend, according to which, after the battle of Xeres de la Frontera, in the year 711, in which the effeminate King Rodrigo was slain by Tarik, and Spain passed under the domination of the African Mahomedans, a great number of Christians, to escape slavery or death, sprang into their ships and confided themselves to the winds and the waves of the Dark Ocean. These fugitives, it was thought, might eventually have landed in Central America, have placed crosses upon their graves, as it was done in their native country, and taught the natives to respect them.'
* Especially in the years 409, 455, 456, 475, 847, 1117, 1527, 1796.
* Lescarbot, with excusable pride, pretends that his countrymen, the French, discovered America during the first years of, or already before, the Christian era. (Liv. iii. ch. i. p. 228.) The claim rests upon a legend of Postel’s geographical chart, telling that the French used
to sail, eighteen hundred years ago, to the fisheries of Newfoundland, yet despised to live there because it was but an immense waste. A reader of Caesar’s “Gallic War ’’ will object to the statement, although the Gauls at the time were well fitted to be the ancestors of Some of our savage tribes.
Akin to this was another story telling that, at the defeat of Rodrigo, seven bishops, or, more correctly, six bishops and the archbishop of Porto, accompanied by a great number of people fleeing from the fearful persecution, set sail and finally disembarked on a distant Western island, where they built seven cities, each one as a new diocese for each bishop. Hence the name of “Island of the Seven Cities, Septe Ciudades,” which was, however, also known by the name of “Antilia,” as we may notice from a remark on Martin Behaim's map of the year 1492.
The geographers of the fourteenth century paid no attention yet to the island Antilia or of the Seven Cities, and, as the legend did not specify any definite location for it, the Portuguese, at the first news of the discovery of the Azores, were anxious to find on them the seven cities or their ruins; but, as no trace nor vestige of them was to be seen, they naturally concluded that Antilia must be located somewhere else, farther west.” This island first appeared on the map of 1424 preserved at Weimar, and is set forth on the principal charts of the rest of that century, notably on the Bianco of 1436."
'Solorzano, Politica, lib. i. cap. Humboldt, Examen, t. ii. p. 174; V. p. 19, and De Indiarum Jure, Peschel, Entdeckungen, S. 101.
lib. i. cap. ix. " 46, p. 116. * Von Humboldt, Examen, t. ii. * Herrera, dec. i. lib. i. cap. ii. p. 175. p. 5; Solorzano, De Indiarum Jure, * Winsor, vol. i. p. 49.
lib. i cap. ix. " 46, p. 116; von
The kings of Portugal have on several occasions, and particularly in the year 1486, issued letters patent in favor of hardy sailors who would set out to discover or rediscover the island of the Seven Cities, “be it truly an island, a group of islands, or even a continent.” Thus did the Flemish Ferdinand Dulmo request the property of the island, on the condition that he should discover it or have it discovered at his own personal expense." The coveted land must have been found some time, if we can believe the learned geographer Ruysch, who traces on his map of the year 1495, west of the southern Azores and northwest of Hispaniola, a large oblong island, with the appellation “Antilia Insula,” and the subjoined circumstantial legend: “This island Antilia has, in times past, been discovered by the Portuguese. People speaking Spanish were found on it, descendants of those, it is believed, who at the time of Roderic, the last of the Gothic kings, fled to this island from the persecution of the barbarians who had invaded Spain at that time. The people here have one archbishop and six other bishops, of whom each has his own city, and for this reason the island is called by many ‘The Seven Cities.” The inhabitants live a most Christian life and abound in all the riches of this world. At present, however, this island cannot be found by those who sail in search of it.” The Ptolemean map printed in Rome in the year 1508 copies all the same curious information.” On the 24th of August, 1497, Raimund di Soncino, embassador of Ludovico il Moro in London, wrote to his master: “A few years ago His Majesty has sent out a Venetian, a distinguished mariner who has a special aptitude to discover new islands. He has returned hale and hearty, after having found again the Seven Cities at a distance of four hundred leagues from England in a western direction.”" The entire story of the seven bishops and of the Seven Cities is but a popular myth, as it was considered to be by Solorzano; and yet it was accepted by learned men as a high probability, if not as an historical truth; and it lasted, in spite of modern nautical discoveries, until the year 1582, when Michael Lok still placed the island “Sept Cités” on his map, about the twenty-fifth degree of northern latitude and the twenty-seventh east of the Washington meridian.* The island itself was imaginary, so far as its alleged form and location are concerned, yet we shall not deny that some island of the Atlantic Ocean may at some time have been known by the name of Antilia. This remark can be applied to several other islands of the same ocean which we find located on geographical charts of the middle ages and of a more recent period, under the names of Danmar or Tanmar, Reillo or Royllo, and Satanaxio,” of Brezill, of the Birds, and of Hell. Some of them have afterwards been identified with actually existing isles, as were already the “Osels” or “Birds” with the Azores, in the year 1439, by the cartographer Gabriel de Valsequa." By far the most interesting of all these islands is that of St. Brendan," not only because the learned have paid the most careful attention to it, but also because it bears the name of a remarkable historic personage, and stands in conjunction with a venerable legend founded on fact. In the sixth century there was a popular persuasion that towards the northwest of Europe there existed an “Island of the Blessed.” “This was an echo,” says von Humboldt,” “of the more ancient traditions regarding the wonders of the Cronian Sea.” In a manuscript of the tenth century, preserved in the library of Turin, we find already located in the Atlantic Ocean certain islands which, nameless yet, will soon be designated as those of St. Brendan.” Honorius of Autun writes in the year 1130 that there is in the ocean an island, called the Lost Island, which is more agreeable and fertile than any other land, but after being discovered once cannot be found again. To this isle “Brandan” is said to have sailed, he adds.” The World's Map of Jacques de Vitry and the World's Image of Robert d'Auxerre of the year 1265 likewise mention the isle of the Irish saint." On the nautical chart of the fourteenth century, preserved at the library of St. Mark in Venice, we find located, at no great distance from the western coast of Ireland, an island illuminated with gold, and called “St. Brandan's Mountain;”" and so also" does the Catalaunian map of the year 1375 locate “St. Brandan's” Island at a place where it is called for by the original legend, of which we shall presently speak, that is, not too far away from, and westward of, southern Ireland. Valsequa, the most famous of Majorcan cartographers, likewise notes on his map of the year 1439, in a southwesterly direction
* Moosmüller, S. 173. * Von Humboldt, Examen, t. vi., tables.
'Gaffarel, Découv. de l’Amér., t. ners: Brendan, Brenden, Brenii. p. 288. din, Brennen, Brandan, Brantam, * Hakluyt Society, Divers Voy- Brantan, Brandann, Brandain, ages touching the Discovery of Brandaines, Brandano, Brandam,
America, p. 55. Brandamis, Brandon, Borondan, * Winsor, vol. i. p. 49. Borondon, Blandin, Brengan, Bren‘Boletín, t. xxi. p. 245. ghan, Brennan. In the original
* We have found the name of the Irish it is Brenain or Brenainn. Saint spelled in the following man