The discouerie of the Isles of Frisland, Iseland, Engroneland, Estotiland, Drogeo and Icaria: made by two brethren, namely M. Nicholas Zeno, and M. Antonio his brother: Gathered out of their letters by M. Francisco Marcolino.
In the yere of our Lord 1200 there was in the Citie of Venice a famous Gentleman, named Messer Marino Zeno, who for his great vertue and singular wisdome, was called and elected gouernour in certaine common wealths of Italy: in the administration whereof he bore himselfe so discretly, that he was beloued of all men, and his name greatly reuerenced of those that neuer knew or saw his person. And amongst sundry his worthy workes, this is recorded of him, that he pacified certaine grieuous ciuile dissentions that arose among the citizens of Verona: whereas otherwise, if by his graue aduise and great diligence they had not bene preuented, the matter was likely to broke out into hot broyles of warre. He was the first Podesta, or Ruler, that the Common wealth of Venice appointed in Constantinople in the yeere 1205 when our state had rule thereof with the French Barons. This Gentleman had a sonne named Messer Pietro, who was the father of the Duke Rinieri, which Duke dying without issue, made his heire M. Andrea, the sonne of M. Marco his brother. This M. Andrea was Captaine Generall and Procurator, a man of great reputation for many rare partes, that were in him. He had a sonne M. Rinieri, a worthy Senatour and prudent Counsellour: of whom descended M. Pietro Captaine Generall of the league of the Christians against the Turkes, who was called Dragon, for that in his shield, in stead of a Manfrone which was his armes at the first, he bare a Dragon. He was father to M. Carlo Il grande the famous Procurator and Captaine generall against the Genowayes in those cruell warres, when as almost all the chiefe Princes of Europe did oppugne and seeke to ouerthrow our Empire and libertie, wherein by his great valiantie and prowesse, as Furius Camillus deliuered Rome, so he deliuered his countrey from the present perill it was in, being ready to become a pray and spoile vnto the enemie: wherefore he was afterward surnamed the Lyon, and for an eternall remembrance of his fortitude and valiant exploits he gaue the Lyon in his armes. M. Carlo had two brethren, M. Nicolo, the knight and M. Antonio, the father of M. Dragon, of whom issued M. Caterino, the father M. Pietro da i Grocecchieri. This M. Pietro had sonnes M. Caterino, that died the last yere, being brother vnto M. Francisco, M. Carlo, M. Battista, and M. Vincenzo: Which M. Caterino was father to M. Nicola, that is yet liuing.
Now M. Nicolo, the knight being a man of great courage, after this aforesaid Genouan warre of Chioggia, that troubled so our predecessours, entred into a great desire and fansie to see the fashions of the worlde and to trauell and acquaint himselfe with the maners of sundry nations, and learne their languages, whereby afterwards vpon occasions he might be the better able to doe seruice to his countrey, and purchase to himselfe credite and honour. Wherefore he caused a ship to be made, and hauing furnished her at his proper charges (as he was very wealthy) he departed out of our seas and passing the straites of Gibraltar, he sailed for certaine dayes vpon the Ocean, keeping his course still to the Northwards, with intent to see England and Flanders. The ship of M. N. Zeno cast away vpon Frisland in Anno 1380. Where being assailed in those Seas by a terrible tempest, he was so tossed for the space of many dayes with the sea and winde, that he knew not where he was, till at length he discouered land, and not being able any longer to susteine the violence of the tempest the ship was cast away vpon the Isle of Friseland. The men were saued and most part of the goods that were in the ship. And this was in the yere 1380. The inhabitants of the Island came running in great multitudes with weapons to set vpon M. Nicolo and his men, who being sore weather-beaten and ouer-laboured at sea and not knowing in what part of the world they were, were not able to make any resistance at all, much lesse to defend themselues couragiously, as it behooued them in such a dangerous case. A forraine prince hapning to be in Frisland with armed men, when M. Zeno suffered shipwracked there came vnto him and spake Latine. And they should haue bene doubtlesse very discourteously intreated and cruelly handled, if by good hap there had not beene hard by the place a prince with armed people. Who vnderstanding that there was euen at that present a great ship cast away vpon the Island, came running at the noyse and outcryes that they made against our poore Mariners, and dryuing away the inhabitants, spake in Latine and asked them what they were and from whence they came, and perceiuing that they came from Italy and that they were men of the sayd Countrey, he was surprised with maruelous great ioy. Wherefore promising them all, that they should receiue no discourtesie, and that they were come into a place where they should be well vsed and very welcome, he tooke them into his protection vpon his faith. Zichmni prince of Porland or Duke of Zorani. This was a great Lord, and possessed certaine Islands called Porland, lying on the South side of Frisland, being the richest and most populous of all those parts, his name was Zichmni: and beside the said little Islands, he was Duke of Sorani, lying ouer against Scotland.91
Of these North parts I thought good to draw the copie of a Sea carde, which amongst other antiquities I haue in my house, which although it be rotten through many yeres, yet it falleth out indifferent well: and to those that are delighted in these things, it may serue for some light to the vnderstanding of that, which without it cannot so easily be conceiued. Zichmni being Lord of those Sygnories (as is said) was a very warlike and valiant man and aboue all things famous in Sea causes. Frisland the king of Norwayes. And hauing the yere before giuen the ouerthrow to the king of Norway, who was Lord of the Island, being desirous to winne fame by feates of armes, hee was come on land with his men to giue the attempt for the winning of Frisland, which is an Island much bigger then Ireland. Wherefore seeing that M. Nicolo was a man of iudgement and discretion, and very expert both in sea matters and martiall affaires, hee gaue him commission to goe aboord his Nauy with all his men, charging the captaine to honor him and in all things to use his counsaile.
This Nauy of Zichmni was of thirteene vessels, whereof two onely were rowed with oares, the rest small barkes and one ship, with the which they sayled to the Westwards and with little paines wonne Ledouo and Ilofe and diuers other small Islands: and turning into a bay called Sudero, in the hauen of the towne named Sanestol, they tooke certaine small barks laden with fish. And here they found Zichmni, who came by land with his armie conquering all the countrey as he went: they stayed here but a while, and led on their course to the Westwards till they came to the other Cape of the gulfe or bay, then turning againe, they found certaine Islandes and broken lands which they reduced al vnto the Signorie and possession of Zichmni. These seas for as much as they sailed, were in maner nothing but sholds and rocks, in so much that if M. Nicolo and the Venetian mariners had not bene their Pilots, the whole fleete in iudgement of all that were in it, had bene cast away, so small was the skill of Zichmnis men, in respect of ours, who had bene trained vp in the arte and practise of Nauigation all the dayes of their life. Now the fleete hauing done such things as are declared, the Captaine, by the counsaile of M. Nicolo, determined to goe a land, at a towne called Bondendon, to vnderstand what successe Zichmni had in his warres: where they heard to their great content, that he had fought a great battell and put to flight the armie of his enemie: by reason of which victory, they sent Embassadours from all parts of the Island to yeeld the countrey vp into his handes, taking downe their ensignes in euery towne and castle: they thought good to stay in that place for his comming, it being reported for certaine that hee would be there very shortly. At his comming there was great congratulation and many signes of gladnesse shewed, as well for the victory by land, as for that by sea: for the which the Venetians were honoured and extolled of all men, in such sort that there was no talke but of them, and of the great valour of M. Nicolo. Wherefore the prince, who was a great fauourer of valiant men and especially of those that could behaue themselues well at sea, caused M. Nicolo to be brought before him, and after hauing commended him with many honourable speeches, and praysed his great industrie and dexteritie of wit, by the which two things he acknowledged himselfe to haue receiued an inestimable benefite, as the sauing of his fleet and the winning of many places without any great trouble, he made him knight, and rewarded his men with many rich and bountiful gifts. Then departing from thence they went in tryumphing maner toward Frisland, the chiefe citie of that Island. In this gulf or bay there is such great abundance of fish taken, that many ships are laden therewith to serue Flanders, Britain, England, Scotland, Norway, and Denmarke, and by this trade they gather great wealth.
And thus much is taken out of a letter, that M. Nicolo sent to M. Antonio his brother, requesting that he would seeke some meanes to come to him. Wherefore he who had as great desire to trauaile as his brother, bought a ship, and directed his course that way: and after he had sailed a great while and escaped many dangers, he arriued at length in safetie with M. Nicolo, who receiued him very ioyfully, for that he was his brother not onely in flesh and blood, but also in valour and good qualities. M. Antonio remained in Frisland and dwelt there for the space of 14 yeres, 4 yeeres with M. Nicolo, and 10 yeres alone. Where they came in such grace and fauour with the Prince, that he made M. Nicolo Captaine of his Nauy, and with great preparation of warre they were sent forth for the enterprise of Estland, which lyeth vpon the coast betweene Frisland and Norway, where they did many dammages, but hearing that the king of Norway was coming towardes them with a great fleet, they departed with such a terrible flaw of winde, that they were driuen vpon certaine sholds: were a great part of their ships were cast away, the rest were saued vpon Grisland, a great Island but dishabited. The king of Norway his fleete being taken with the same storme, did vtterly perish in those seas: Whereof Zichmni hauing notice, by a ship of his enemies that was cast by chance vpon Grisland, hauing repayred his fleet, and perceiuing himself Northerly neere vnto the Islands, determined, to set vpon Island, which together with the rest, was subiect to the king of Norway: but he found the countrey so well fortified and defended, that his fleete being so small, and very ill appointed both of weapons and men, he was glad to retire. And so he left that enterprise without performing any thing at all: and in the chanels, he assaulted the other Isles called Islande, which are seuen, Talas, Broas, Iscant, Trans, Mimant, Dambere, and Bres: and hauing spoyled them all, hee built a fort in Bres, where he left M. Nicolo with certaine small barkes and men and munition. And now thinking he had done wel for this voyage, with those few ships which were left he returned safe into Frisland. Engroneland. M. Nicolo remaining nowe in Bres, determined in the spring to go forth and discouer land: wherefore arming out three small barkes in the moneth of Iuly, he sayled to the Northwards, and arriued in Engroneland. Preaching fryers of Saint Thomas. Where he found a Monasterie of Friers, of the order of the Predicators, and a Church dedicated to Saint Thomas, hard by a hill that casteth forth fire, like Vesuuius and Etna.
There is a fountaine of hot burning water with the which they heate the Church of the Monastery and the Fryers chambers, it commeth also into the kitchin so boyling hot, that they vse no other fire to dresse their meate: and putting their breade into brasse pots without any water, it doth bake as it were in an hot ouen. They haue also smal gardens couered ouer in the winter time, which being watered with this water, are defended from the force of the snow and colde, which in those partes being situate farre vnder the pole, is very extreme, and by this meanes they produce flowers and fruites and herbes of sundry sorts, euen as in other temperate countries in their seasons, in such sort that the rude and sauage people of those partes seeing these supernaturall effects, doe take those Fryers for Gods, and bring them many presents, as chickens, flesh, and diuers other things, they haue them all in great reuerence as Lords. When the frost and snowe is great, they heate their houses in maner before said, and wil by letting in the water or opening the windowes, at an instant, temper the heate and cold at their pleasure. In the buildings of the Monasterie they vse no other matter but that which is ministred vnto them by the fire: for they take the burning stones that are cast out as it were sparkles or cinders at the fierie mouth of the hill, and when they are most enflamed, cast water vpon them, whereby they are dissolued and become excellent white lime and so tough that being contriued in building it lasteth for euer. And the very sparkles after the fire is out of them doe serue in stead of stones to make walles and vautes: for being once colde they will neuer dissolue or breake, except they be cut with some iron toole, and the vautes that are made of them are so light that they need no sustentacle, or prop to holde them vp, and they will endure continually very faire and whole. By reason of these great commodities, the Fryers haue made there so many buildings and walles that it is a wonder to see. The couerts or roofes of their houses for the most part are made in maner following: first they rayse vp the wall vp to his full height, then they make it enclinining or bowing in by little and litle in fourme of a vaut. Winter of 9 moneths. But they are not greatly troubled with raine in those partes, because the climate (as I haue saide) is extreme colde: for the first snow being fallen, it thaweth no more for the space of nine moneths, for so long dureth their winter. They feede of the flesh of wilde foule and of fish: for wheras the warme water falleth into the sea, there is a large and wide hauen, which by reason of the heate of the water, doeth neuer freeze all the winter, by meanes whereof there is such concourse and flocks of sea foule and such abundance of fish, that they take thereof infinite multitudes, whereby they maintaine a great number of people round about, which they kepe in continuall worke, both in building and taking of foules and fish, and in a thousand other necessarie affaires and busines about the Monasterie.
Their houses are built about the hill on euery side, in forme round, and 25 foote broad, and in mounting vpwards they goe narower and narower, leauing at the top a litle hole, whereat the aire commeth in to giue light to the house, and the flore of the house is so hot, that being within they feele no cold at all. Hither in the Summer time come many barkes from the Islands there about, and from the cape aboue Norway, and from Trondon, and bring to the Friers al maner of things that may be desired, taking in change thereof fish, which they dry in the sunne or in the cold, and skins of diuers kindes of beasts. Trade in summer time from Trondon to S. Thomas Friers in Groneland. Resort of Fryers from Norway and Sueden, to the Monastery in Engroneland, called S. Tho. For the which they haue wood to burne and timber very artificially carued, and corne, and cloth to make them apparell. For in change of the two aforesaid commodities all the nations bordering round about them couet to trafficke with them, and so they without any trauell or expences haue that which they desire. To this Monasterie resort Fryers of Norway, of Suetia and of other countreys, but the most part are of Islande. There are continually in that part many barks, which are kept in there by reason of the sea being frozen, waiting for the spring of the yere to dissolue the yce. The fishers boates are made like into a weauers shuttle: taking the skins of fishes, they fashion them with the bones of the same fishes, and sowing them together in many doubles they make so sure and substanciall, that it is miraculous to see, howe in tempests they will shut themselues close within and let the sea and winde cary them they care not whether, without any feare either of breaking or drowning. M. Frobisher brought these kinde of boats from these parts into England. And if they chance to be driuen vpon any rocks, they remaine sound without the least bruse in the world: and they haue as it were a sleeue in the bottome, which is tyed fast in the middle, and when there commeth any water into the boat, they put it into the one halfe of the sleeue, then fastening the ende thereo with two pieces of wood and loosing the band beneath, they conuey the water forth of the boats: and this they doe as often as they haue occasion, without any perill or impediment at all.
Moreouer, the water of the Monastery, being of sulphurious or brimstonie nature, is conueyed into the lodgings of the principall Friers by certaine vesselles of brass, tinne, or stone, so hot that it heateth the place as it were a stone, nor carying with it any stinke or other noysome smell.
Besides this they haue another conueyance to bring hot water with a wall vnder the ground, to the end it should not freeze, vnto the middle of the court, where it falleth into a great vessel of brasse that standeth in the middle of a boyling fountaine, and this is to heat their water to drinke and to water their gardens, and thus they haue from the hill the greatest commodities that may be wished: and so these Fryers employ all their trauaile and studie for the most in trimming their gardens and in making faire and beautifull buildings, but especially handsome and commodious: neyther are they destitute of ingenious and paineful artificers for the purpose; for they giue very large payment, and to them that bring them fruits and seedes they are very bountifull, and giue they care not what. So that there is great resort of workemen and masters in diuers faculties, by reason of the good gaines and large allowance that is there.
In the Monastery of Saint Thomas most of them spake the Latine tongue. The most of them speake the Latine tongue, and specially the superiours and principals of the Monastery. And this is as much as is knowen of Engroneland, which is all by the relation of M. Nicolo, who maketh also particular description of a riuer that he discouered, as is to be seene in the carde that I drew. And in the end M. Nicolo, not being vsed and acquainted with these cruell coldes, fel sicke, and a litle while after returned into Frisland, where he dyed. The end of the 2. letter. He left behind him in Venice, two sonnes, M. Giouanni and M. Toma, who had two sonnes, M. Nicolo the father of the famous Cardinal Zeno, and M. Pietro of whom descended the other Zenos, that are liuing at this day.
M. Zeno dyed in Frisland. Now M. Nicolo being dead, M. Antonio succeeded him both in his goods, and in his dignities and honour and albeit he attempted diuers wayes, and made great supplication, he could neuer obtaine licence to returne into his countrey. For Zichmni, being a man of great courage and valour, had determined to make himself Lord of the sea. Wherefore vsing alwayes the counsaile and seruice of M. Antonio, he determined to send him with certaine barks to the Westwards, for that towards those parts, some of his fishermen had discouered certaine Islands very rich and populous: which discovery M. Antonio, in a letter to his brother M. Carlo, recounteth from point to point in this maner, sauing that we haue changed some old words, leauing the matter entire as it was.
Sixe and twentie yeeres agoe there departed foure fisher boats, the which, a mightie tempest arising, were tossed for the space of many dayes very desperately ypon the Sea, when at length, the tempest ceasing, and the wether waxing faire, they discouered an Island called Estotiland, lying to the Westwards aboue 1000 Miles from Frisland, vpon the which one of the boats was cast away, and sixe men that were in it were taken of the inhabitants and brought into a faire and populous citie, where the king of the place sent for many interpreters, but there was none could be found that vnderstood the language of the fishermen, except one that spake Latine, who was also cast by chance vpon the same Island, who in behalfe of the king asked them what countreymen they were: Sixe were fiue yeeres in Estotiland. and so vnderstanding their case, rehearsed it vnto the king, who willed that they should tary in the countrey: wherefore they obeying his commandement, for that they could not otherwise doe, dwelt fiue yeres in the Island, and learned the language, and one of them was in diuers partes of the Island, and reporteth that it is a very rich countrey, abounding with all the commodities of the world, and that it is litle lesse then Island, but farre more fruitfull, hauing in the middle thereof a very high mountaine, from the which there spring foure riuers that passe through the whole countrey.
The inhabitants are very wittie people, and haue all artes and faculties, as we haue: and it is credible that in time past they haue had trafficke with our men, for he said, that he saw Latin bookes in the kings Librarie, which they at this present do not understand: they haue a peculiar language, and letters or caracters to themselues. They haue mines of all maner of mettals, but especial they abound with gold. They haue their trade in Engroneland, from whence they bring furres, brimstone and pitch and he saith, that to the Southwards, there is a great populous countrey very rich of gold. Many cities and castles. They sow corne, and make beere and ale, which is a kinde of drinke that North people do vse as we do wine. They haue mighty great woods, they make their buildings with wals, and there are many cities and castles. They build small barks and haue sayling, but they haue not the load stone, nor know not the vse of the compasse. A countrey called Drogio. Wherefore these fishers were had in great estimation, insomuch that the king sent them with twelue barks to the Southwards to a countrey which they call Drogio: but in their voyage they had such contrary weather, that they thought to haue perished in the sea: but escaping that cruell death, they fell into another more cruell: for they were taken in the countrey and the most part of them eaten by the Sauage people, which fed vpon mans flesh, as the sweetest meat in their iudgements that is.
The 6 fishermen of Frisland onely saved, by shewing the maner to take fish. But that fisher with his fellowes shewing them the maner of taking fish with nets, saued their liues: and would goe euery day a fishing to the sea and in fresh riuers, and take great abundance of fish and giue it to the chiefe men of the countrey, whereby he gate himselfe so great fauour, that he was very well beloued and honoured of euery one.
The fame of this man being spread abroad in the countrey, there was a Lord there by, that was very desirous to haue him with him, and to see how he vsed his miraculous arte of catching fish, in so much that he made warre with the other Lord with whom he was before, and in the end preuailing, for that he was more mightie and a better warriour, the fisherman was sent vnto him with the rest of his company. In the space of 13 yeeres he serued 25 lords of Drogio. And for the space of thirteene yeres that he dwelt in those parts, he saith, that he was sent in this order to more than 25 Lords, for they had continuall war amongst themselues, this Lord with that Lord, and he with another, onely to haue him to dwell with them: so that wandring vp and downe the countrey without any certaine abode in one place, he knew almost all those parts. He saith, that it is a very great countrey and as it were a new world: the people are very rude and voide of all goodnesse, they go all naked so that they are miserably vexed with colde, neither haue they the wit to couer their bodyes with beasts skins which they take in hunting, they haue no kinde of mettal, they liue by hunting, they carry certaine lances of wood made sharpe at the point, they haue bowes, the strings whereof are made of beasts skins: they are very fierce people, they make cruell warres one with another, and eate one another, they haue gouernours and certaine lawes very diuers among themselues. But the farther to the Southwestwards, the more ciuilitie there is, the ayre being somewhat temperate, so that there they haue cities and temples to idols, wherein they sacrifice men and afterwards eate them, they haue there some knowledge and vse of gold and siluer.
Now this fisherman hauing dwelt so many yeeres in those countreys purposed, if it were possible, to returne home into his countrey, but his companions despairing euer to see it againe, let him goe in Gods name, and they kept themselues where they were. Wherefore he bidding them farwell, fled through the woods towards Drogio, and was very well receiued of the Lord that dwelt next to that place; who knew him and was a great enemie of the other Lord: and so running from one Lord to another, being those by whom he had passed before, after long time and many trauels he came at length to Drogio, where he dwelt three yeres. When as by good fortune he heard by the inhabitants, that there were certaine boates arriued vpon the coast: wherefore entring into good hope to accomplish his intent, he went to the sea side, and asking them of what countrey they were; they answered of Estotiland, whereat he was exceeding glad, and requested that they would take him in to them, which they did very willingly, and for that he had the language of the countrey, and there was none that could speake it, they vsed him for their interpreter.
He returned from Estotiland to Frisland. And afterward he frequented that trade with them in such sort, that he became very rich, and so furnishing out a barke of his owne, he returned into Frislande, where he made reporte vnto this Lord of that wealthy countrey.
And he is throughly credited because of the mariners, who approue many strange things, that he reporteth to be true. Zichmni minded to send M. Antonio Zeno with a fleete towards those parts of Estotiland. Wherefore this Lord is resolued to send me forth with a fleet towards those parts, and there are so many that desire to go in the voyage, for the noueltie and strangenesse of the thing, that I thinke we shall be very strongly appointed, without any publike expence at all. And this is the tenour of the letter before mentioned, which I haue here set downe to giue intelligence of another voyage that M. Antonio made, being set out with many barkes, and men, notwithstanding he was not captaine, as he had thought at the first he should: for Zichmni went in his owne person: and concerning that matter I haue a letter in forme following.
The 4. letter. The fisherman dyed that should haue bene interpreter. Certaine mariners taken in his steede, which came with him from Estotiland. One great preparation for the voyage of Estotiland was begun in an vnlucky houre: for three dayes before our departure the fisherman died that should haue bene our guide: notwithstanding this Lord would not giue ouer the enterprize, but instead of the fisherman tooke certaine mariners that returned out of the Island with him: and so making our Nauigation to the Westwards, we discouered certaine Islands subiect to Frisland, and hauing passed certaine shelues we stayed at Leduo for the space of 7 daies to refresh our selues, and to furnish the fleet with necessarie prouision. Isle Ilof. Departing from thence we arriued the first of Iuly at the Isle of Ilofe: and for that the wind made for vs, we stayed not there, but passed forth, and being vpon the maine sea, there arose immediately a cruel tempest, wherewith for eight dayes space we were miserably vexed, not knowing where we were: and a great part of the barks were cast away, afterward the weather waxing faire, we gathered vp the broken peices of the barkes that were lost, and sayling with a prosperous winde we discovered land at West. Zichmni his discouerie of the Island Iscaria. Wherefore keeping our course directly vpon it, we arriued in a good and safe harborough, where we saw an infinit companie of people ready in armes, come running very furiously to the water side, as it were for defence of the Iland. An Island man in Icaria. Wherefore Zichmni causing his men to make signes of peace vnto them, they sent 10 men vnto vs that coulde speake ten languages, but we could vnderstand none of them, except one that was of Island. The kings of Icaria called Icaria after the name of the first king of that place, who as they report, was sonne to Dedalus the king of the Scots. He being brought before our prince and asked, what was the name of the Island, and what people inhabited it, and who gouerned it, answered that the Island was called Icaria, and that all the kings that reigned there, were called Icari, after the name of the first king of that place, which as they say was the sonne of Dedalus king of Scotland, who conquered that Island, left his sonne there for king, and left them those lawes that they retaine to this present, and after this, he desiring to sayle further, in a great tempest that arose, was drowned, wherefore for a memoriall of his death, they call those seas yet, the Icarian Sea, and the kings of the Island Icari, and for that they were contented with that state, which God had giuen them, neither would they alter one iote of their lawes and customes, they would not receiue any stranger: wherefore they requested our prince, that hee would not seeke to violate their lawes, which they had receiued from that king of worthy memory and obserued very duly to that present: which if he did attempt, it would redound to his manifest destruction, they being all resolutely bent rather to leaue their life, then to loose in any respect the vse of their lawes. The people of Icaria desirous of the Italian tongue. Notwithstanding, that we should not thinke they did altogether refuse conuersation and traffick with other men, they tolde vs for conclusion that they would willingly receiue one of our men, and preferre him to be one of the chiefe amongst them, onely to learne my language the Italian tongue, and to be informed of our manners and customes, as they had already receiued those other ten oftensundry nations, that came into their Island. Infinite multitudes of armed men in Icaria. To these things our Prince answered nothing at all, but causing his men to seke some good harborough, he made signes as though he would depart, and sayling round about the Island, he espied at length a harborough on the East side of the Island, where hee put in with all his Fleet: the mariners went on land to take in wood and water, which they did with as great speede as they could, doubting least they should be assaulted by the inhabitants, as it fell out in deed, for those that dwelt thereabouts, making signes vnto the other with fire and smoke, put themselues presently in armes and the other comming to them, they came all running downe to the sea side vpon our men, with bowes and arrowes, and other weapons, so that many were slaine and diuers sore wounded. And we made signes of peace vnto them, but it was to no purpose, for their rage increased more and more, as though they had fought for land and liuing. Zichmni departed from Icaria Westwards. Wherefore we were forced to depart, and to sayle along in a great circuite about the Islande, being alwayes accompanyed vpon the hil tops and the sea coastes with an infinite number of armed men: and so doubling the Cape of the Island towards the North, we found many great sholdes, amongst the which for the space of ten dayes we were in continuall danger of loosing our whole fleet, but that it pleased God all that while to send vs faire weather. Wherefore proceeding on till we came to the East cape, we saw the inhabitants still on the hill tops and by the sea coast keepe with vs, and in making great outcryes and shooting at vs a farre off, they vttered their old spitefull affection towards vs. Wherefore wee determined to stay in some safe harborough, and see if wee might speake once againe with the Islander, but our determination was frustrate: for the people more like vnto beasts then men, stood continually in armes with intent to beat vs back, if we should come on land. Wherefore Zichmni seeing he could not preuaile, and thinking if he should haue perseuered and followed obstinately his purpose, their victuals would haue failed them, he departed with a fayre wind and sailed sixe daies to the Westwards, but the winde changing to the Southwest, and the sea waxing rough, wee sayling 4 dayes with the wind the powp, and at length discouering land, were afraid to approch nere vnto it, the sea being growen, and we not knowing what land it was: but God so prouided for vs, that the wind ceasing there came a great calme. Wherefore some of our company rowing to land with oares, returned and brought vs newes to our great comfort, that they had found a very good countrey and a better harborough: 100 men sent to discrie the countrey. vpon which newes we towed our ships and smal barks to land, and being entred into the harborough, we saw a farre off a great mountain, that cast forth smoke, which gaue vs good hope that we should finde some inhabitants in the Island, neither would Zichmni rest, although it were a great way off, but sent 100 souldiers to search the countrey and bring report what people they were that inhabited it, and in the meane time they tooke in wood and water for the prouision of the fleete, and catcht great store of fish and sea foule and found such abundance of birds egges that our men that were halfe famished, were filled therewithall. Whiles we were riding here, began the moneth of Iune, at which time the aire in the Island was so temperate and pleasant, as is impossible to express; but when we could see no people at al, we suspected greatly that this pleasant place was desolate and dishabited; We gaue name to the hauen calling it Trin, and the point that stretched out into the sea, we called Capo de Trin. The 100 souldiers returned which had bene through the Island, report what they saw and found. The 100 souldiers that were sent forth, 8 dayes after returned, and brought word that they had bene through the Island and at the mountaine, and that the smoke was a naturall thing proceeding from a great fire that was in the bottome of the hill, and that there was a spring from which issued a certaine water like pitch which ran into the sea, and that thereabouts dwelt great multitudes of people halfe wilde, hiding themselues in caues of the ground, of small stature, and very fearefull: for as soone as they saw them they fled into their holes, and that there was a great riuer and a very good and safe harborough. Zichmni being thus informed, and seeing that it had a holesome and pure aire, and a very fruitfull soyle and faire riuers, with sundry commodities, fell into such liking of the place, that he determined to inhabite it, and built there a citie. But his people being weary and faint with long and tedious trauell began to murmure, saying that they would returne into their countrey, for that the winter was at hand, and if they entred into the harborough, they should not be able to come out againe before the next Summer. Wherefore he retaining onely the barks with Oares and such as were willing to stay with him, sent all the rest with the shippes backe againe, M. Antonio Zeno, made chiefe captaine of those ships which went back to Frisland. and willed that I (though vnwilling) should be their captaine. I therefore departing, because I could not otherwise chuse, sayled for the space of twenty dayes to the Eastwards without sight of any land: then turning my course towards the Souteast, in 5. dayes I discouered land, and found my selfe vpon the Isle of Neome, and knowing the countrey, I perceiued I was past Island: wherefore taking in some fresh victuals of the inhabitants being subiect to Zichmni, I sayled with a faire winde in three dayes to Frisland, where the people, who thought they had lost their prince, because of his long absence, in this our voyage receiued vs very ioyfully.
What followed after this letter I know not but by coniecture, which I gather out of a peice of another letter, which I will set down here vnderneath: That Zichmni built a towne in the port of the Iland that he discouered, and that he searched the countrey very diligently and discouered it all, and also the riuers on both sides of Engroneland, for that I see it particularly described in the sea card, but the discourse or narration is lost. The beginning of the letter is thus.
The 5 letter. Concerning those things that you desire to know of me, as of the men and their maners and customes, of the beasts, and of the countries adioyning, I haue made therof a particuler booke, which by Gods help I will bring with me: wherein I haue decribed the countrey, the monstrous fishes, the customes and lawes of Frisland, Island, Estland, the kingdome of Norway, Estotiland, Drogio, and in the end the life of M. Nicolo, the knight our brother, with the discouery which he made, and the state of Groneland. I haue also written the life and acts of Zichmni, a prince as worthy of immortall memory, as euer liued, for his great valiancie and singular humanitie, wherein I haue described the discouery of Engroneland on both sides, and the citie that he builded. Therefore I will speake no further hereof in this letter, hoping to be with you very shortly, and to satisfie you in sundry other things by word of mouth.
All these letters were written by M. Antonio to Messer Carlo his brother: and it grieueth me, that the booke and diuers other writings concerning these purposes, are miserably lost: for being but a child when they came to my hands, and not knowing what they were, (as the maner of children is) I tore them, and rent them in pieces, which now I cannot cal to remembrance but to my exceeding great griefe. Notwithstanding, that the memory of so many good things should not bee lost: whatsoeuer I could get of this matter, I haue disposed and put in order in the former discourse, to the ende that this age might be partly satisfied, to the which we are more beholding for the great discoueries made in those partes, then to any other of the time past, being most studious of the newe relations and discoueries of strange countries, made by the great mindes, and industrie of our ancestours.
For the more credite and confirmation of the former Historie of Messer Nicolas and Messer Antonio Zeni (which for some fewe respects may perhaps bee called in question) I haue heere annexed the iudgement of that famous Cosmographer Abraham Ortelius, or rather the yealding and submitting of his iudgement thereunto: who in his Theatrum Orbis, fol. 6. next before the map of Mar del Zur, boroweth proofe and authoritie out of this relation, to shew that the Northeast parte of America called Estotiland, and in the original alwayes affirmed to bee an Islande, was about the yeere 1390 discouered by the aforesayd Venetian Gentleman Messer Antonio Zeno, aboue 100 yeeres before euer Christopher Columbus set saile for those Westerne Regions; and that the Northren Seas were euen then sayled by our Europæan Pilots through the helpe of the loadstone: with diuers other particulars concerning the customes, religion and wealth of the Southern Americans, which are most euidently confirmed by all the late and moderne Spanish Histories of Nueua Espanna and Peru.
And here I shall not (as I suppose) commit any great inconuenience, or absurditie, in adding vnto this History of the new world, certaine particulars as touching the first discouery thereof, not commonly known. Which discouerie al the writers of our time ascribe (and that not vnworthily) vnto Christopher Columbus. For by him it was in a maner first discouered, made knowen, and profitably communicated vnto the Christian world, in the yeere of our Lord 1492. Estotiland first discouered. The second discouerie thereof. Howbeit I finde that the North part thereof called Estotiland, (which most of all extendeth toward our Europe and the Ilands of the same, namely, Groneland, Island, and Frisland) was long ago found out by certaine fishers of the Isle of Frisland, driuen by tempest vpon the shore thereof: and was afterward about the yeere 1390 discouered a new by one Antonio Zeno a gentleman of Venice; which sayled thither vnder the conduct of Zichmni king of the saide Isle of Frisland, a prince in those parts of great valour, and renowned for his martiall exploits and victories. Of which expedition of Zichmni there are extant in Italian certaine collections or abridgements gathered by Francisco Marcolino out of the letters of M. Nicolo and Antonio Zeni two gentlemen of Venice which liued in those partes. Out of which collections I doe adde concerning the description of Estotiland aforesaid these particulars following.
Estotiland (saith he) aboundeth with all things necessary for mankinde. In the mids thereof standeth an exceeding high mountaine, from which issue foure riuers that moisten all the countrie. The inhabitants are wittie and most expert in Mechanicall arts. They haue a kinde of peculiar language and letters. Howbeit in this Kings Librarie are preserued certaine Latine bookes which they vnderstand not, being perhaps left there many yeeres before by some Europeans, which traffiqued thither. They haue all kinde of mettals; but especially golde, wherewith they mightily abound. They trafficke with the people of Groneland: from whence they fetch skinnes, pitch and brimstone. The inhabitants report that towardes the South, there are regions abounding with gold, and very populous: they haue many and huge woods, from whence they take timber for the building of ships and cities, whereof and of castles there are great store. The vse of the loadstone for Navigation is vnknowen vnto them. Drogio. They make relation also of a certaine region toward the South, called Drogio, which is inhabited by Canibals, vnto whom mans flesh is delicate meat: wherof being destitute they liue by fishing, which they vse very much. Beyond this are large regions, and as it were a newe world: but the people are barbarous and goe naked: howbeit against the colde they cloth themselues in beastes skinnes. These haue no kinde of metall: and they liue by hunting. Their weapons are certaine long staues with sharpe points, and bowes. They wage warres one against another. They haue gouernours, and obey certaine lawes. But from hence more towardes the South the climate is much more temperate: and there are cities, and temples of idoles, vnto whom they sacrifice liuing men, whose flesh they afterwards deuoure. These nations haue the vse of siluer and gold.
This much of this tract of landes out of the aforesaide collections and abridgements. Wherein this also is worthy the obseruation, that euen then our Europæan Pilots sayled those seas by the helpe of the loadstone. For concerning the vse thereof in Nauigation, I suppose there is not to be found a more ancient testimonie. And these things I haue annexed the rather vnto this table of Mar del Zur; considering that none of those Authours which haue written the Histories of the Newe world, haue in any part of their writings, mentioned one word thereof. Hitherto Ortelius.
91 It seems probable that either Zeno was wrecked on one of the Shetlands, and that by Sorani is meant Orkney, or that Iceland is the true Frisland.
Last updated Tuesday, August 25, 2015 at 14:09