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Author Topic: England's early voyages to America  (Read 1324 times)
Description: Expeditions from 1480 and John Cabot in 1497
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« Reply #15 on: April 21, 2007, 10:11:20 PM »

Heather Whipps
Special to LiveScience
LiveScience.com Mon Apr 16, 2007

   North America's oldest church may lie beneath a small town in Newfoundland, according to information cobbled together from the research of a historian who recently died before publishing her seminal work. 
   An Italian friar and sailing companion of explorer John Cabot erected the church during his second trip to the continent in 1498, according to the late Alwyn Ruddock, said Evan Jones, a University of Bristol researcher who investigated and pieced together Ruddock's notes.

   "To describe Alwyn Ruddock's claims as revolutionary would not be an exaggeration," Jones said. "If Ruddock is right, it means that the remains of the only medieval church in North America may still lie buried under the modern town of Carbonear."

   Ruddock, a historian with the University of London, was one of the world's foremost experts on Cabot's voyages until her death in late 2005. In keeping with her will, all of her research was destroyed when she passed away, including 40 years' worth of work for a book about the many mysteries surrounding Cabot's maligned 1498 expedition.

   However, a book proposal Ruddock gave to her publisher and some e-mail correspondences survived, allowing Jones to explore her theories in a recent article published in the journal Historical Research.

   Ruddock's most exciting claims concern an Italian friar named Fra Giovanni Antonio Carbonaro, who sailed aboard one of the five vessels that left with Cabot from Bristol, England, in 1498 and landed in Newfoundland.

"While we have long known that Fra Giovanni accompanied the expedition, along with some other 'poor Italian friars', nothing has been known of what happened to their mission," Jones said.

   Ruddock seemed to have found evidence that while Cabot sailed on down nearly the entire eastern shore of North America to the Caribbean?another new revelation?the friar and his brothers stayed on and established a religious colony in Newfoundland, at present-day Carbonear.

   "It appears that Ruddock believed the Newfoundland church was named after San Giovanni a Carbonara," Jones writes, "the locative element 'a Carbonara' presumably being carried across because it was key to the congregation's identity."

   The problem with Ruddock's notes is that they do not include actual documented evidence to substantiate her claims. "While her correspondence does not give all the answers, it does provide many clues that historians can use to investigate her claims," said Jones.

   Neither Jones nor any other historians involved in the literary reconstruction efforts understand why Ruddock chose to have her valuable work destroyed. "Even if all the documents she claimed to have found do come to light eventually, the mystery of why she sought to suppress her own basic research may never be resolved," Jones said.


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« Reply #16 on: April 22, 2007, 12:07:44 AM »

what a great loss her research is. So little is known of Cabot but Juan de la Cosa
put flags on his 1502 chart that mark Cabot's discoveries in the New World.
This really a great tragedy.
I wonder if a non-intrusive search using GPR will be attempted.
If the archaeology was discovered it would be truly earthshaking.

« Reply #17 on: April 22, 2007, 02:37:20 AM »

Well, we don't really know anything, other than the fact that we don't really know anything. So it's not possible to say if anything was lost, let alone what that may have been.

Personally, the story seems most unlikely. Why should a church have been built? And why is there no data? As you say, Doc, a geophysical survey should have been conducted - if anyone believed it worthwhile.

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« Reply #18 on: April 22, 2007, 03:53:43 AM »

Some seem to think there is something worth pursuing here.

- Bart

Historical Research
OnlineEarly Articles

To cite this article: Evan T. Jones
Alwyn Ruddock: ?John Cabot and the Discovery of America?*
Historical Research (OnlineEarly Articles).

Alwyn Ruddock: ?John Cabot and the Discovery of America?*
Evan T. Jones 1 1University of Bristol1University of Bristol

   Dr. Alwyn Ruddock was one of the best scholars to work on the North American discovery voyages of John and Sebastian Cabot (1496?1508). For thirty-five years scholars in this field awaited the groundbreaking volume Ruddock was said to be preparing on this subject. Yet, when Dr. Ruddock died in December 2005, aged eighty-nine, she ordered the destruction of all her research. This article examines the research claims she made in her 1992 book proposal to the University of Exeter Press and in her later correspondence with U.E.P. Her findings are so extraordinary that they will, if proved correct, transform our entire conception of the scale, nature and importance of John Cabot's achievements.

   Dr. Alwyn Ruddock (F.S.A., F.R.Hist.S.) was a reader in history at Birkbeck College, University of London (1952?76). A former student of Eileen Power, she was an economic historian of considerable talent, who is probably best known for her work on the Italian merchant community of late medieval England. 1 This interest led her to start investigating the Italian navigator John Cabot, and in her later years she concentrated on the Bristol discovery voyages of the late fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Ruddock published four short but scholarly articles in this field, which demonstrated her ability to pursue convoluted chains of evidence through difficult sources. 2 In the third of these articles, she indicated that she would shortly be publishing a book on this topic, to be entitled: Columbus, Cabot and the English Discovery of America.

   After Ruddock retired in 1976, she moved with her husband to Midhurst in Sussex. When he died in 1981, she continued her research from there. In the autumn of 1992 she submitted a proposal to the University of Exeter Press (U.E.P.) to write a book about John Cabot. She noted that she had originally intended to produce a book covering the whole period of the Bristol discovery voyages, up to the year 1512. However, with the approach of the 500th anniversary of John Cabot's 1497 voyage to North America, she proposed to revise her plans. Her intent was to produce a shorter volume, which concentrated on Cabot's voyages up to 1500, and would be out in time for the celebrations of 1997. 3

   The University of Exeter press sought advice on the matter and received assurances from some eminent maritime historians that Ruddock's volume promised to be a highly significant work. Indeed, Professor David Beers Quinn, who was the leading discovery historian of his day, noted that the ?book she proposes is so revolutionary and so extensively based on new documents that it will change the whole course of the [C]abot celebrations? of 1997. 4 With such recommendations, U.E.P. did not hesitate to issue Ruddock with a book contract.

  What followed is a distressing tale of delay and failing health. Ruddock was seventy-six when she submitted her proposal and her health went into sharp decline shortly thereafter. Nevertheless, by October 1996 U.E.P. felt confident that they would soon have a manuscript on which they could work. They therefore issued a press release about her forthcoming book, to be entitled John Cabot and the Discovery of America: the Voyages of a Fifteenth-Century Italian Adventurer (I.S.B.N. 0 85989 433 9). The expected publication date was autumn 1997. It was not to be. The book was delayed, and although U.E.P. continued to try to persuade Ruddock to give them a manuscript, in however rough a form, she never complied. The last contact between Ruddock and U.E.P. occurred in 2002. This reveals that she was still hoping to publish a book, although it appears that by this time she was once more working on the bigger project, which encompassed the Bristol voyages of the early sixteenth century. 5

   Alwyn Ruddock died on 21 December 2005. Her obituary in The Guardian newspaper, by her friend and former colleague, Dr. Emma Mason, revealed that Ruddock had ?left strict orders that all research papers were to be destroyed at her death?. 6 This was later confirmed by Ruddock's will, which directed her trustees:

   "to burn shred or otherwise destroy all my letters and photographs both personal and professional microfilms unfinished writings and other research and notes in my possession at the time of my death if this has not already been done prior to my death." 7

   One of her trustees was, moreover, to be paid a substantial sum to ensure that the destruction of Ruddock's work was carried out ?as soon as possible? after her death.

   For those who had respected and admired Ruddock's work, the news that she had ordered the destruction of all her research was as shocking as it seemed incomprehensible. Over the years information had leaked out that Alwyn Ruddock had made some extraordinary findings in the field and it was still hoped that she would eventually publish. Failing that, there was always the chance that it might be possible to publish her work posthumously. With Dr. Mason's obituary, it seemed that decades of research, by a fine scholar, had been entirely lost.

   In the slim hope that something might be preserved of Alwyn Ruddock's work, I contacted the general editors of the Bristol Record Society in March 2006 and suggested that the Society approach Ruddock's heirs or executors, to see whether it might be possible to save any of her findings. To this end, Dr. Peter Fleming, one of the general editors of the Bristol Record Society, contacted Emma Mason. She informed him that ?all Dr. Ruddock's papers and her work in progress was destroyed at her death on Ruddock's orders?. 8 That this had occurred was later confirmed by the friend and trustee whom Ruddock had made responsible for the destruction. This trustee revealed that all the notes, letters, photographs and microfilms, amounting to seventy-eight bags of material, had been shredded and disposed of, in line with her legal obligations and in keeping with the promises she had made to Ruddock.

   At the same time that the Bristol Record Society was contacting Emma Mason, I emailed the University of Exeter Press to see if they had a copy of Alwyn Ruddock's draft manuscript. It seemed feasible that this would be the case, since Dr. Mason's obituary indicated that Ruddock had, at one stage, ?finished a draft of her book?. Moreover, since U.E.P. had issued a press release in 1996 about the forthcoming book, complete with I.S.B.N., it seemed reasonable to suppose that they would have seen the draft and might yet retain a copy of it. Given that Ruddock's will had not been made public at this stage, I still hoped that, if the original draft survived, it might be possible for U.E.P. to publish the book.

   In June 2006, the publisher at the University of Exeter Press, Simon Baker, felt able respond to this query. He revealed that Ruddock had never in fact submitted a manuscript to U.E.P., or even any draft chapters. He noted, however, that the Press did have a correspondence file for her. Given the importance of Ruddock's work, he was willing to allow me to come down and examine the file, in the hope that it might provide some insight into the nature of her findings. This seemed reasonable, given that Alwyn Ruddock had now died and it appeared that a book would not be forthcoming. Nevertheless, Mr. Baker noted that he would comb through the correspondence file to remove first any documents that were particularly sensitive. He also laid down certain conditions about what could be copied, while I undertook not to publish anything that was not relevant to Ruddock's research findings or the case she intended to make. Finally, it was agreed that, if I wrote an article based on the correspondence file, Mr. Baker would be given a chance to check it before its submission to a journal, so that he could ensure that none of the material U.E.P. had provided was used inappropriately. 9

   On examining the file, it quickly became apparent that by far the most useful and valuable document in it was Alwyn Ruddock's initial 1992 book proposal. This was a seven-page document which outlined the content of the book that she intended to publish. From the proposal it was clear that Ruddock's claims were, as Quinn said, ?revolutionary?. For many years it had been rumoured among discovery historians that Alwyn Ruddock had made some important document finds. Indeed, it had been said that her findings were the most important in this field since the discovery of the ?John Day letter?. This was a reference to a letter discovered in the Spanish archives during the nineteen-fifties by Louis-Andre Vigneras. 10 The letter was written in the winter of 1497/8 by John Day, a Bristol merchant, to the ?Grand Admiral? of Spain, Christopher Columbus. Since the letter describes the 1497 voyage in considerable detail, while also throwing light on an earlier voyage from Bristol, it is regarded as the most important document find in this field to take place in the twentieth century.

   Despite the manifest importance of the John Day letter, it was apparent on reading Alwyn Ruddock's book proposal that the advances she appeared to have made were in fact far more significant than those made by Vigneras. For while it can not be said that any one document was as important as the John Day letter, she had apparently found, and intended to publish in her appendix, transcripts and/or translations of twenty-one documents, or extracts of documents, previously unknown to scholars. To set this in context, it must be noted that almost everything that is currently known about John Cabot's discovery voyages comes from about twenty-five surviving documents, almost all of which are published in Williamson's standard work on the subject, The Cabot Voyages and Bristol Discovery Under Henry VII. 11 Moreover, many of the documents that Ruddock had found were clearly of immense historical value, including the first letter to report the return of the 1497 voyage. Other documents she mentions revealed what happened to the 1498 expedition, the fate of which has never been established. She also claimed to have discovered evidence of a religious mission to Newfoundland in 1498, which resulted in the construction of the first church in North America.

   Having realized the importance of the proposal, the issue remained as to what should be done with it. For me to try to use the proposal as a guide to my own research would have been underhand ? this was Ruddock's research and no one else should claim it for his or her own. Having said this, given the importance of her claims, it was clear that Ruddock's case needed to be made available to the wider world.

   There can be no doubt that Ruddock's proposal could be of immense value to discovery historians, for although it contains no formal references to where the documents can be found, it does provide a large number of leads and clues that scholars could use. To facilitate research in this field the aims of the following article will thus be to present Ruddock's proposal, to highlight what is original about her claims and to provide, where relevant, pointers to future research.

   In publishing this article, one important point needs to be made. What lies below are no more than a series of claims that could be used by researchers to assist further investigations. While Alwyn Ruddock was certainly an excellent scholar, it needs to be noted that, even if she had not exaggerated the strength of her position, it is likely that at least some of her suppositions will be proved incorrect. Moreover, the format of the proposal is such that it is not always possible to determine how much evidence she had to support particular arguments. In part this is because the proposal is simply a list of the points that she intended to cover, rather than a detailed summary of her argument. A subsidiary problem is that some parts of the proposal are written in a deliberately opaque manner. This was probably because Ruddock knew that U.E.P. would send the proposal out to experts in the field for refereeing and she wanted to protect her key sources from being exploited by others. The difficulty, for current purposes, is that these features of the proposal make it difficult to determine where well-supported arguments end and speculation begins. For this reason, if for no other, it would be imprudent to take any of Ruddock's uncorroborated statements at face value.

   The approach taken in this article will be to work through Alwyn Ruddock's proposal on a chapter-by-chapter basis. Each section will begin with her own statement of what she intended to cover in her book. 12 This will be followed by a review of what was original/important about the proposed chapter. Where evidence from other sources throws light on her case, it will be considered at this point. Such additional evidence includes comments found in other parts of the proposal, statements in the supplementary notes to her proposal and statements made in later letters. Lastly, where appropriate, the discussion of each chapter will include suggestions about the most obvious lines of enquiry for future researchers who wish to investigate Ruddock's case.

?John Cabot?: the working-title for Alwyn Ruddock's book proposal to the University of Exeter Press, 4 October 1992


   August 10th 1497. King Henry VII rewards John Cabot for the discovery of North America with a tip of ?10 ?to hym that founde the new isle?. Why the absurd reward? Why ?the new isle?? The many other unanswered problems relating to the explorer and his voyages. The scanty state of present knowledge of his life, his voyages, his death and his achievements sailing under the English flag. New sources of information from English and Italian archives give a more detailed picture of the man and his supporters, both English and Italian, and his three voyages from Bristol. Acknowledgments and thanks etc.

   The function of this chapter was to set the scene and to highlight the poor state of current knowledge. While some might quibble about whether ten pounds, equivalent to two-years? wages for a common labourer, was such an ?absurd? initial reward, Ruddock's characterization of the subject is fair. 13

Chapter I John Cabot, Citizen of Venice

complete article available at link below


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« Reply #19 on: April 22, 2007, 04:53:31 AM »

Chapter I John Cabot, Citizen of Venice
Chapter II The Route to England
Chapter III The Search for Backers

Chapter IV The Friar from Milan

   Fra Giovanni Antonio Carbonaro of the order of the Hermit Friars of St. Augustine. His early life in Pavia and Milan. His arrival in England as diplomatic envoy from Lodovico il Moro to King Henry VII. Diplomatic exchanges between England and Milan. Fra Giovanni wins the approval of Henry VII and also Adriano Castelli, the Papal tax-collector in England. His diplomatic mission ended, Fra Giovanni stays in England. His work and his associates among the Italian colony in London. He is made deputy tax-collector when Castelli leaves for Rome. His knowledge of the missionaries who accompanied Columbus in 1493 inspires missionary zeal in Fra Giovanni and gives him an interest in Cabot's plan to sail westward like Columbus. John Cabot finds a patron with the entry into Court circles who could bring his project to the notice of the king.

   Almost nothing is known about what Cabot did when he first arrived in England or how he managed to persuade Henry VII to provide him with his charter. Most historians have assumed that Cabot went straight to Bristol and there persuaded the port's merchants to support his venture. 23 It seemed logical that this was the order of events, since Cabot's royal patent, when it was granted, stated that all future trade conducted under the terms of the charter would have to pass through Bristol. This seemed to imply that Bristol merchants were involved from the start. Ruddock, on the other hand, claims to have found evidence that turns this on its head. According to her, Cabot first went to London and was offered support from a well-connected Italian friar. Fra Giovanni's connections to the court gave Cabot access to the king, while his senior position within the Italian colony helped Cabot to obtain financial support in London. It was only later that Bristol became involved.

   That Fra Giovanni was connected to Cabot is not in doubt. A letter written to the duke of Milan on 20 June 1498 indicates that ?Messer Giovanni Antonio de Carbonariis? had accompanied John Cabot's 1498 expedition. 24 Williamson, moreover, carried out a brief investigation of Fra Giovanni, noting that he was a well-connected cleric who served as an emissary between Henry VII and the duke of Milan. 25 No other historian, however, has sought to pursue the friar. Ruddock did and she believed that he was one of the main protagonists in Cabot's voyages ? helping to open both doors and purses for him. Moreover, some of Ruddock's most important claimed discoveries, as will be seen later, relate to the friar.

  An initial re-examination of Fra Giovanni has confirmed a number of Ruddock's claims in respect to him. He was certainly a member of the Hermit Friars of St. Augustine (that is, Augustinian Friars, O.E.S.A.), he spent part of his life in Pavia and he was, from at least 1494, a deputy to the papal collector in England, Antonio Castellesi. The first mention of the friar that has been found is an ?authorization? issued in 1474 by the prior general of the Augustinian Friars. The item comes under matters pertaining to the order's Lombardy Province, which was the congregation of ordinary observance. This authorization states:

   Romae, 22 martii 1474. Fecimus lectorem formandum in conventu et studio Papiensi Generalem fratrem Iohannem Antonium de Carbonariis cum gratiis consuetis si in examine suo fuerit receptus ydoneus et antequam acceptetur pro lectore volimus informari a sua sufficentia ab examinatoribus. 26

   The document grants permission for Fra Giovanni to proceed to his examination for lector at the order's general study house in Pavia, located at San Pietro in Ciel d?oro. Since a friar could not profess until he was fifteen, and nine or ten years of study were required before he could become a lector, Fra Giovanni must have been at least twenty-four by this time. 27

   It has not been possible to establish what Fra Giovanni was doing between 1474 and 1489/90, when he is known to have been serving as an emissary between Henry VII and the duke of Milan. 28 It seems likely, however, that after passing as lector he continued his studies, since, when Henry VII granted ?Anthony de Carbonariis? a benefice on 9 January 1496, he was described as a doctor of theology (?sancte pagine doctor?) of the Order of St. Augustine. 29 Fra Giovanni's academic credentials are also alluded to in a papal dispensation of 14 June 1494, which describes him as ?Johanni Antonio de Carbonariis?, professor O.E.S.A. 30 This dispensation granted the friar the right to hold offices normally reserved to secular clerics, and the same document reveals that Fra Giovanni was then serving as a deputy to the papal collector in England, Antonio Castellesi.

   Indeed, it is likely that the papal dispensation had been obtained by Castellesi since, in 1494, the papal collector had left England to become Henry VII's proctor in Rome and, slightly later, clerk of the papal treasury. 31 With Castellesi's departure to the Vatican, Fra Giovanni seems to have become his chief deputy in England. At any rate, this appears to be the implication of a chancery petition written some time after April 1496, which describes ?Antony Carbonarius? as ?generall proctour unto Adryan Castelleus Collectour generall of our moste holy fader the pope in Englond?. 32 The petition also reveals that Fra Giovanni had taken over the lease of Castellesi's London house following his principal's departure.

    For researchers who might want to go further, Ruddock provides a little extra help. Her supplementary notes indicate that she had used records in ?Rome and Lombardy? to reconstruct Fra Giovanni's early life in Italy and that these records help to ?explain why he was prepared to listen to Cabot's plans and give him support?. 33 This could relate to contact between Fra Giovanni and the followers of Francis of Paola (d. 1507), the founder of the Minim Friars. Such contact seems plausible given that at least one prominent Augustinian reformer in north-west Italy, John Baptist Poggi (d. 1497), was a friend of Francis of Paola and, indeed, founded a reformed Augustinian congregation in Liguria and Piedmont, which followed similar practices to the Minims. 34

   Such contact would be significant because it was the Minims, under Friar Bernard Buil, who undertook the papal-backed mission that accompanied Columbus's 1493 expedition. Ruddock may therefore have intended to argue that Fra Giovanni's knowledge of the Minims made him particularly interested in emulating their missionary endeavours. It can be noted, lastly, that Ruddock found Fra Giovanni to be ?very well documented?. 35 This has been borne out by initial investigations and should make the friar a fruitful topic for further study.

Chapter V The Charter for Exploration
Chapter VI The Search for Money
Chapter VII Bristol and Atlantic Exploration
Chapter VIII The Voyage of 1496
Chapter IX Contemporary Observers of the Voyage of 1497
Chapter X The Voyage of 1497
Chapter XI The Isle of Brasil or Cathay?
Chapter XII Preparations for the Voyage of 1498
Chapter XIII The Caribbean Voyage
Chapter XIV The Friars in Newfoundland
Chapter XV The Return to England
Chapter XVI The English Achievement


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« Reply #20 on: April 22, 2007, 04:57:18 AM »

Chapter XIV The Friars in Newfoundland

   Separated from the other ships, the friars? vessel arrives later off Newfoundland. The value and limitations of place-name study. Early maps of Newfoundland and the work of G. R. Prowse. The origin of the name Carbonear. The Neapolitan friar and the Reformed house of friars in the charcoal burners? clearing outside the walls of Naples. The naming of the Friars? church in Newfoundland. The failure of Cabot's ship to reappear before the onset of winter. The fishing vessels sail for home, leaving only the Dominus Nobiscum and the friars. The hardships of winter in Newfoundland.

   The evidence for a voyage northward from Carbonara by the Dominus Nobiscum. The earrings and the Venetian sword found by the first Portuguese explorers in Newfoundland, area evidence of Europeans exploring there before the Corte-Real vessels arrived. Hakluyt's confusion over the Dominus Nobiscum voyage. Other evidence of their route. The Isle of Frey Luis on early Portuguese charts. The idealized cult of the hermit life-style among the Reformed houses of Hermit Friars in Italy. Frey Luis and the remembrance of his Italian nationality in the traditions of this area in the seventeenth century. The continued attempt to supply a priest for the fishermen in Newfoundland in the reign of Henry VII.

   Of all the chapters in the book, it may well be this one that excites the most attention, since Ruddock claims to have found out a considerable amount about a previously unknown attempt to establish a religious colony in Newfoundland. If she were correct, this would be the first European Christian settlement in North America, with the church Ruddock mentions being the first built on the continent.

   That the friars had their own ship, or that it was called the Dominus Nobiscum (?The Lord be with us?), is unknown. Indeed, none of the known documents provides any hint that the friars had their own ship. 80 On the other hand, a letter of 25 July 1498 from Pedro de Ayala , the Spanish ambassador in London, does at least fit with Ruddock's account. This letter mentions that one of the five ships in the 1498 expedition had been badly damaged in a storm and was forced to land in Ireland, leaving Cabot to sail on. 81 The ambassador notes that on the damaged ship was ?another Friar Buil?. This was a reference to the missionary who accompanied Columbus's 1493 expedition with twelve of his brothers. The ?Friar Buil? to whom the ambassador refers is almost certainly Fra Giovanni Antonio de Carbonariis. This document could thus be the source of Ruddock's claim that the friars? ship was separated from the others, causing them to arrive later in Newfoundland.

   The discussion of place-name evidence was presumably intended as a prelude to Ruddock's theories about Carbonear, the Isle of Frey Luis and, possibly, St. John's. Her mention of the work of G. R. Prowse implies that she intended to discuss his theory that the early Portuguese maps, produced from 1502, were based on knowledge derived from the English 1497 and 1498 expeditions. 82 Given that Ruddock was to bring up the ?origin of the name Carbonear? it seems likely she was to argue that this Newfoundland town was established by Fra Giovanni. This, however, is not an entirely original suggestion, a possible connection between Carbonariis and Carbonear having been noted previously. 83

   Ruddock was then to look into ?The Neapolitan friar and the Reformed house of friars in the charcoal burners? clearing outside the walls of Naples? and the naming of the church in Newfoundland. This appears to be a deliberately opaque reference to the church of San Giovanni a Carbonara in Naples. This church was established by the Augustinian Friars in the fourteenth century and became the centre for an influential Augustinian reform congregation, called the Carbonaria, in the fifteenth century. 84 It appears that Ruddock believed the Newfoundland church was named after San Giovanni a Carbonara, the locative element ?a Carbonara? presumably being carried across because it was key to the congregation's identity. The nature of the connection between Fra Giovanni Antonio de Carbonariis and the congregation of San Giovanni a Carbonara is, unfortunately, unclear. Although ?de Carbonariis? could, in theory, indicate that the friar was a member of this congregation, the authorization granted to him in 1474, discussed under chapter IV, indicates that Fra Giovanni was neither a ?reformed? friar nor from southern Italy. His name, ?de Carbonariis?, is therefore almost certainly a family name.

   This appears to be confirmed by the fact that, during the fourteen-nineties, a man called Christopher de Carbonariis (alias Carbonaro, Carbonari) was also, like Fra Giovanni, in the service of the duke of Milan. 85 Since both Fra Giovanni and Christopher accompanied Francesco Pagano's diplomatic mission to London at the start of 1490, it seems almost certain that there was a connection between the two men. 86 This was most likely to be a family connection, rather than a mutual religious affiliation, given that none of the letters that mentions Christopher indicates that he was in holy orders.

   There is no known documentary evidence that suggests, or even implies, either that a Neapolitan friar accompanied the 1498 expedition or that the friars built a church in North America. It may seem that this section would therefore have had to be based on new document discoveries. It is possible, however, that there is less to Ruddock's case than meets the eye. In particular, her evidence for the building of the church named after San Giovanni a Carbonara in Naples could rest solely on the ?survival? of place names in Newfoundland that could derive from such a construction. Apart from the ?survival? of Carbonara as Carbonear, she may have noted that the name ?St. John?, the English form of San Giovanni, dates back to the early sixteenth century. Indeed the use of this name continues to this day, most notably in the capital of the island, St. John's.

   Ruddock's note that Cabot's ship failed to reappear before winter and the ?fishing vessels? sailing for home is interesting. Since Ruddock implies that Cabot went south with just one ship and the friars had another, it would appear that she believed that the other three Bristol ships that are reported to have gone on the voyage were engaged in fishing. At first sight, this may appear to conflict with accounts of the 1498 voyage that state that the Bristol ships were ?fraught [that is, laden] with sleight and grosse merchandizes?. 87 On the other hand Ruddock had demonstrated previously that, in the later Bristol voyages from 1502 to 1504, there was an attempt to combine exploration, trade and fishing. 88

   It may therefore be that something similar was attempted in 1498. As for a putative voyage northward by the Dominus Nobiscum, which would presumably have taken place in 1499, it seems that this is fairly speculative. It is known that the Corte-Real expedition of 1501, which visited Labrador, claimed to have acquired from the natives with whom they came into contact a fragment of a broken Italian sword and two silver earrings of Venetian manufacture. It has, moreover, been suggested previously that these must have been relics of the 1498 expedition, since Cabot had no contact with Native Americans in 1497. 89

   Turning to ?Hakluyt's confusion over the Dominus Nobiscum voyage?, this must be a reference to Richard Hakluyt's assertion that one of the ships that took part in a 1527 voyage in search of the North-West Passage was called the Dominus Vobiscum (?The Lord be with you?). He also suggested that ?sayling very farre Northwestward, one of the ships was cast away as it entred into a dangerous gulph, about the great opening, betweene the North parts of Newfoundland, and the countrey lately called by her Majestie, Meta Incognita?. 90 Yet, as Williamson notes, Hakluyt was wrong about both the name of the ship and much of what else he says about the voyage. 91 In particular, contemporary sources indicate that the two ships were actually called the Mary of Gilford and the Sampson. There is also no evidence that either ship sailed as far north as Meta Incognita (Baffin Island).

   Ruddock clearly thought that Hakluyt had picked up some partial account of the 1498 voyage and believed that it related to the 1527 voyage. This is confirmed by a later letter, where she wrote that, when Hakluyt tried in the late sixteenth century to discover more about the early English voyages, ?It was not John Cabot but the Milanese friar, Fra Giovanni Antonio, who was still recalled vaguely in the seamen's traditions gleaned for him by Martin Frobisher and others?. 92 This must be a reference to Hakluyt's note that Martin Frobisher and Richard Allen had told him that ?a Canon of Saint Paul in London, which was a great Mathematician, and a man indued with wealth, did much advance the action, and went therein himselfe in person?. 93

   That Frobisher's account does relate to Fra Giovanni and the 1498 voyage is something for which there is some evidence. In particular, while Fra Giovanni was not a canon at St. Paul's, he was deputy to Adriano Castellesi, who had been a canon at St. Paul's since 1492. 94 As mentioned above, in 1494 Castellesi moved to Rome to become Henry VII's proctor. Fra Giovanni, in turn, became Castellesi's ?general proctor? in England, even taking over the tenancy of the house in the City that Castellesi had leased from the bishop of London. 95 It is thus not difficult to understand how later commentators might have thought that this wealthy, educated and exceedingly well-connected friar was himself a canon at St. Paul's, rather than just a deputy to one. Lastly, it should be noted that Ruddock believed that Frobisher had got the name of Fra Giovanni's ship wrong, believing it to be the Dominus Vobiscum, rather than the Dominus Nobiscum. This suggests that she had come across the ship in some other source.

   With regard to the discussion of the ?Isle of Frey Luis? it seems likely that Ruddock was to suggest that the Dominus Nobiscum sailed north and, en route, dropped off one of the friars, a Friar Luis, on the island referred to as the ?Ilha de Frey Luis? on the c.1503 Portuguese chart known as the Salvat de Pilestrina Map, or Kunstmann III. 96 Ruddock apparently intended to back up her suggestion by reference to folk traditions about the putative Frey Luis and his Italian nationality. The existence of such traditions has not been discussed by other discovery historians. Similarly, no known documents relate to the ?continued attempt to supply a priest for the fishermen in Newfoundland in the reign of Henry VII?.

   Nevertheless, it seems likely that the gist of Ruddock's argument was that Frey Luis continued to live on this island as a hermit for several years after 1498 and was known to the fishermen who began to visit Newfoundland during the first decade of the sixteenth century. Her argument was presumably that the friar provided for some of the fishermen's religious needs and that, after he had died or had left his island, there were efforts to have another priest appointed.

   As with the previous chapter outline, this one is very frustrating. While some of Ruddock's statements seem to imply the existence of hard documentary evidence, it is unclear how much of this there was, or where such evidence might be found. On the other hand, it seems possible that key elements of her argument were conjectural, being based on her analysis of maps and place-names. Such sources are notoriously open to interpretation.


Learning is a treasure which accompanies its owner everywhere.
« Reply #21 on: April 22, 2007, 09:37:19 AM »

It is not clear exactly when Europeans began fishing the Grand Banks, but is recorded that the English and Basque were doing so probably before 1480 and certainly by that time.

Several navigators, including Basque fisherman are known to have fished these waters in the 15th century. In the 15th century some texts refer to a land called Bacalao, the land of the codfish, which is possibly Newfoundland. However, it was not until John Cabot reached the New World in 1497 that the existence of these fishing grounds became generally known in Europe. Ships from France, Spain, Portugal and England came to fish these waters.

Bacalao (also spelled Bacalhau, Bachalaos, Bacalhaos, Baccalieu, Baccalar) was a phantom island depicted on several early 16th century maps. It is presumed to refer to Newfoundland. The name first appears on a map in 1508, but there are earlier accounts of Bacalao. Off the north-east tip of Newfoundland's Avalon Peninsula, however, there is in fact a Baccalao Island.

In 1472, the Portuguese navigator Jo?o Vaz Corte-Real was granted lands in the Azores by the king of Portugal, because of his discovery of the Terra do Bacalhau. Furthermore, Bartolom? de Las Casas wrote about Portuguese voyages of discovery to Tierra de los Bacallao. This has led some to believe that Corte-Real must have reached the Americas several decades before Columbus.

Bacalao literally means "dried codfish", also known as "stockfish". Basque fisherman fished for cod at the Grand Banks of Newfoundland in the 15th century [1], so this is a possible origin of the name.

   1. ch 1. Mark Kurlansky (1997). Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World. New York: Walker. ISBN 0-8027-1326-2.

Discovery, colonization, and settlement
The Portuguese also lay claim to discovering the New World in 1431 when Prince Henry the Navigator discovered the Azores and with the by virtue of the existence of the Paris Map c. 1490 which depicts a group of three islands southwest of Iceland at roughly the same latitude as Ireland, Newfoundland and possibly some other, nearby islands (such as Cape Breton). These three islands are known as 'Islands of the Seven Cities' and 'The Isle of Brasile' said to be discovered by seven bishops. Documents from the voyages made by Bristol merchants in 1480 speak of a trip in search of the Isle of Brasile, to no avail.

Antillia (or Antilia) is a phantom island said to lie in the Atlantic Ocean far to the west of Spain. This mythical island had several other names such as Isle of Seven Cities, Ilha das Sete Cidades (Portuguese), Septe Cidades, Sanbrandan (or St Brendan), etc. Antillia was also identified with islands including the Isles of the Blest and the Fortunate Islands.

The origin of the name is quite uncertain. The oldest suggested etymology (1455) fancifully connects it with the name of the Platonic Atlantis, while later writers have endeavoured to derive it from the Latin anterior (i.e. the island that is reached "before" Cipango), or from the Jezirat al Tennyn, "Dragon's Isle," of the Arabian geographers.

Medieval beliefs
A Portuguese legend tells how the island was settled by the Archbishop of Porto accompanied by six bishops and their parishioners in either 714 or 734 in the face of the Moorish conquest of Iberia. The archbishop and bishops each founded a city, known as Aira, Anhuib, Ansalli, Ansesseli, Ansodi, Ansolli and Con. A similar Spanish tradition claims that these bishops were all Spanish.

Antilia is first marked in an anonymous map which is dated 1424 and preserved in the grand-ducal library at Weimar. It reappears in the maps of the Genoese B. Beccario or Beccaria (1435), and of the Venetian Andrea Bianco (1436), and again in 1455 and 1476. In most of these it is accompanied by the smaller and equally legendary islands of Royllo, St Atanagio, and Tanmar, the whole group being classified as insulae de novo repertae, "newly discovered islands". The Florentine Paul Toscanelli, in his letters to Columbus and the Portuguese court (1474), takes Antilia as the principal landmark for measuring the distance between Lisbon and the island of Cipango or Zipangu (Japan).

One of the chief early descriptions of Antilia is that inscribed on the globe which the geographer Martin Behaim made at Nuremberg in 1492. Behaim relates that in 734--a date which is probably a misprint for 714--and after the Moors had conquered Spain and Portugal, the island of Antilia or "Septe Cidade" was colonized by Christian refugees under the archbishop of Oporto and six bishops. The inscription adds that a Spanish vessel sighted the island in 1414, while a Portuguese crew claimed to have landed on Antillia in the 1430s. According to an old Portuguese tradition each of the seven leaders founded and ruled a city, and the whole island became a Utopian commonwealth, free from the disorders of less favoured states. Later Portuguese tradition localized Antilia in the island of Sao Miguel, the largest of the Azores. It is impossible to estimate how far this legend commemorates some actual but imperfectly recorded discovery, and how far it is a reminiscence of the ancient idea of an elysium in the western seas which is embodied in the legends of the Isles of the Blest or Fortunate Islands.

Many expeditions were launched in an attempt to find the island, and in 1492 Christopher Columbus planned to stop there on his journey to Asia.

On maps, Antillia was typically shown as being almost the size of Portugal, lying around two hundred miles west of the Azores. It was an almost perfect rectangle, its long axis running north-south, but with seven or eight trefoil bays shared between the east and west coasts. This has made some scholars to identify the island as Puerto Rico. Each city lay on a bay. The similar island of Saluaga was shown north of Antillia, while Taumar and Ymana (or Roillo) lay nearby.

The work claimed by Dr. Alwyn Ruddock was based, she said, on archival research. If those documents existed, then they still exist and further, her access to them will have been recorded. Retracing her work is a simple detective matter.

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