The relation of John de Verrazano of the land by him discovered.
To the most Christian King of France, Francis the first.
The relation of Iohn de Verrazzano a Florentine, of the land by him discouered in the name of his Maiestie. Written at Diepe the eight of Iuly, 1524.
I wrote not to your Maiesty, most Christian king, since the time we suffered the tempest in the north partes, of the successe of the foure Shippes, which your Maiestie sent forth to discouer new lands by the Ocean, thinking your Maiestie had bene already duely enformed thereof. Now by these presents I will giue your Maiestie to vnderstand, how by the violence of the windes we were forced with two ships, the Norman and the Dolphin (in such euill case as they were) to land in Britaine. Where after wee had repayred them in all poynts as was needefull, and armed them very well, we tooke our course along by the coast of Spaine, which your Maiestie shall vnderstand by the profite that we receiued thereby. Afterwards with the Dolphin alone we determined to make discouerie of new Countries, to prosecute the nauigation we had already begun, which I purpose at this present to recount vnto your Maiestie to make manifest the whole proceeding of the matter.
The Isle of Madêra The 17 of Ianuary the yeere 1524. by the grace of God we departed from the dishabited rocke by the isle of Madêra, apperteining to the king of Portugal, with 50. men, with victuals, weapons, and other ship-munition very well prouided and furnished for 8 moneths: And sayling Westwards with a faire Easterly winde, in 25. dayes we ran 500. leagues, and the 20. of Februarie we were ouertaken with as sharpe and terrible a tempest as euer any saylers suffered: whereof with the diuine helpe and mercifull assistance of Almighty God, and the goodnesse of our shippe, accompanied with the good happe of her fortunate name, we were deliuered, and with a prosperous winde followed our course West and by North. They discouer land. And in other 25. dayes we made aboue 400. leagues more, where we discouered a new land, neuer before seene of any man either ancient or moderne, and at first sight it seemed somewhat low, but being within a quarter of a league of it, we perceiued by the great fires that we saw by the Sea coast, that it was inhabited: and saw that the land stretched to the Southwards. In seeking some conuenient Harborough wherein to anchor and to haue knowledge of the place, we sayled fiftie leagues in vaine, and seeing the land to runne still to the Southwards, we resolued to return back againe towards the North where wee found ourselues troubled with the like difficulty. At length being in despaire to finde any Port, wee cast anchor vpon the coast, and sent our Boate to shore, where we saw great store of people which came to the sea side: and seeing vs approch, they fled away, and sometime would stand still and looke backe, beholding vs with great admiration: but afterwards being animated and assured with signes that we made them, some of them came hard to the Sea side, seeming to reioyce very much at the sight of vs, and marueiling greatly at our apparel, shape and whitenesse, shewing vs by sundry signes where we might most commodiously come aland with our Boat, offering vs also of their victuals to eat. Now I wil briefly declare to your Maiestie their life and maners, as farre as we could haue notice thereof: These people goe altogether naked, except only that they couer their priuie parts with certaine skins of beastes like vnto Martens, which they fasten vnto a narrow girdle made of grasse very artificially wrought, hanged about with tayle of diuers other beastes, which round about their bodies hang dangling downe to their knees. Some of them weare garlands of byrdes feathers. The people are of colour russet, and not much unlike the Saracens: their hayre blacke, thicke and not very long, which they tye together in a knot behind and weare it like a litle taile. They are well featured in their limbes, of meane stature, and commonly somewhat bigger then we: broad breasted, strong armed, their legs and other parts of their bodies well fashioned, and they are disfigured in nothing, saving, that they have somewhat broade visages, and yet not all of them: for we saw many of them wel favoured, having blacke and greate eyes, with a cheerefull and steady looke, not strong of body, yet sharpe witted, nymble and exceeding great runners, as farre as we could learne by experience, and in those two last qualities they are like to the people of the East partes of the world, and especially to them of the uttermost parts of China. We could not learne of this people their maner of living, nor their particular customs, by reason of the short abode we made on the shore, our company being but small, and our ship ryding farre off in the Sea. And not farre from these we found another people, whose living wee thinke to be like unto theirs; (as hereafter I wil declare unto your Majestie) shewing at this present the situation and nature of the foresayd land. The shore is all covered with small sand, and so ascendeth upwards for the space of 15 foote, rising in forme of litle hils about 50 paces broad. And sayling forwards, we found certaine small Rivers and armes of the Sea, that fall downe by certaine creekes, washing the shoare on both sides as the coast lyeth. And beyond this we saw the open Countrey rising in height above the sandy shoare with many faire fields and plaines, full of mighty great woods, some very thicke, and some thinne, replenished with divers sorts of trees, as pleasant and delectable to behold, as is possible to imagine. And your Majesty may not thinke that these are like the woods of Hercynia or the wilde deserts of Tartary, and the Northerne coasts full of fruitlesse trees: But they are full of Palme trees, Bay trees, and high Cypresse trees, and many other sorts of trees unknowen in Europe, which yeeld most sweet savours farre from the shoare, the propertie whereof we could not learne for the cause aforesayd, and not for any difficulty to passe through the woods, seeing they are not so thicke but that a man may passe through them. Neither doe we thinke that they partaking of the East world round about them, are altogether voyd of drugs and spicery, and other riches of golde, seeing the colour of the land doth so much argue it. And the land is full of many beastes, as Stags, Deere and Hares, and likewise of Lakes and Pooles of fresh water, with great plentie of Fowles, conuenient for all kinde of pleasant game. This land is in latitude 34. degrees, with good and wholesome ayre, temperature, betweene hot and colde, no vehement windes doe blowe in those Regions, and those that doe commonly reigne in those coasts, are the Northwest and West windes in the summer season, (in the beginning whereof we were there) the skie cleere and faire with very little raine: and if at any time the ayre be cloudie and mistie with the Southerne winde, immediatly it is dissolued and waxeth cleere and fayre againe. The Sea is calme, not boysterous, the waues gentle: and although all the shore be somewhat sholde and without harborough, yet it is not dangerous to the saylers, being free from rocks and deepe, so that within 4. or 5. foote of the shore, there is 20. foote deepe of water without ebbe or flood, the depth still increasing in such vniforme proportion. There is very good ryding at Sea: for any ship being shaken in a tempest, can neuer perish there by breaking of her cables, which we haue prooued by experience. For in the beginning of March (as it is vsuall in all regions) being in the Sea oppressed with Northerne windes, and ryding there, wee found our anchor broken before the earth fayled or mooued at all. The coast trendeth to the East in 34. degrees of latitude. We departed from this place, stil running along the coast, which we found to trend toward the East,1 and we saw euery where very great fires, by reason of the multitude of the inhabitants. While we rode on that coast, partly because it had no harborough, and for that we wanted water, we sent our boate ashoare with 25. men: where by reason of great and continuall waues that beat against the shoare, being an open Coast, without succour, none of our men could possibly goe ashoare without loosing our boate. Courteous and gentle people. Wee saw there many people which came vnto the shoare, making diuers signes of friendship, and shewing that they were content we should come aland, and by trial we found them to be very courteous and gentle, as your Maiestie shal vnderstand by the successe. To the intent we might send them of our things, which the Indians commonly desire and esteeme, as sheetes of paper, glasses, bels, and such like trifles; we sent a young man one of our Mariners ashoare, who swimming towards them, and being within 3. or 4. yards of the shore, not trusting them, cast the things vpon the shoare: but seeking afterwards to returne, he was with such violence of the waues beaten vpon the shore, that he was so bruised that he lay there almost dead: which the Indians perceiuing, ranne to catch him, and drawing him out, they caried him a litle way off from the sea. The yong man perceiuing they caried him, being at the first dismaied, began then greatly to feare, and cried out piteously: likewise did the Indians which did accompany him, going about to cheere him and to giue him courage, and then setting him on the ground at the foote of a litle hil against the sunne, they began to behold him with great admiration, marueiling at the whitenesse of his flesh: And putting off his clothes, they made him warme at a great fire, not without our great feare which remayned in the boate, that they would haue rosted him at that fire, and haue eaten him. The young man hauing recouered his strength, and hauing stayed a while with them, shewed them by signes that he was desirous to returne to the ship: and they with great loue clapping him fast about with many imbracings, accompanying him vnto the sea, and to put him in more assurance, leauing him alone, went vnto a high ground and stood there, beholding him vntill he was entred into the boate. This yong man obserued, as we did also, that these are of colour inclining to Blacke as the other were, with their flesh very shining, of meane stature, handsome visage, and delicate limmes, and of very litle strength, but of prompt wit: farther we obserued not.
They run 50 leagues farther. Departing from hence, following the shore which trended somewhat toward the North, in 50. leagues space we came to another land which shewed much more faire and ful of woods, being very great, where we rode at anker: and that we might haue some knowledge thereof, wee sent 20. men aland, which entred into the countrey about 2 leagues, and they found that the people were fled to the woods for feare. They saw onely one olde woman with a young maide of 18. or 20. yeeres old, which seeing our company, hid themselues in the grasse for feare: the olde woman caried two Infants on her shoulders, and behind her necke a child of 8. yeeres old. The young woman was laden likewise with as many: but when our men came vnto them, the women cried out: the olde woman made signes that the men were fledde vnto the woods. Assoone as they saw vs to quiet them and to winne their fauour, our men gave them such victuals as they had with them, to eate, which the old woman receiued thankfully: but the yong woman disdained them all, and threw them disdainfully on the ground. They tooke a child from the olde woman to bring into France, and going about to take the yong woman which was very beautiful and of tall stature, they could not possibly, for the great outcries that she made, bring her to the sea: and especially hauing great woods to passe thorow, and being farre from the ship, we purposed to leaue her behind, bearing away the child onely. We found those folkes to be more white then those that we found before, being clad with certaine leaues that hang on boughs of trees, which they sewe together with threds of wilde hempe: their heads were trussed vp after the same maner as the former were: their ordinary food is of pulse, whereof they haue great store, differing in colour and taste from ours; of good and pleasant taste. Moreouer they liue by fishing and fowling, which they take with ginnes, and bowes made of hard wood, the arrowes of Canes, being headed with the bones of fish, and other beasts. The beasts in these parts are much wilder then in our Europe, by reason they are continually chased and hunted. They ran along the coast 200 leagues. They make hollow their Canoes with fire. We saw many of their boats made of one tree 20 foote long, and 4 foote broad, which are not made with yron or any other kind of metall (because that in all this countrey for the space of leagues which we ranne, we neuer saw one stone of any sort:) they helpe themselues with fire, burning so much of the tree as is sufficient for the hollowness of the boat; the like they doe in making the sterne and the forepart, vntil it be fit to saile vpon the sea. The land is in situation goodnes and fairenesse like the other: it hath woods like the other, thinne and full of diuers sorts of trees: but not sweete, because the countrey is more Northerly and colde.
Vines like those of Lombardie. We saw in this Countrey many Vines growing naturally, which growing vp, tooke holde of the trees as they doe in Lombardie, which if by husbandmen they were dressed in good order, without all doubt they would yeeld excellent wines: for hauing oftentimes seene the fruit thereof dryed, which was sweete and pleasant, and not differing from ours, wee thinke that they doe esteeme the same, because that in euery place where they growe, they take away the vnder branches growing round about, that the fruit thereof may ripen the better.
We found also roses, violets, lilies, and many sorts of herbes, and sweete and odoriferous flowers different from ours. We knewe not their dwellings, because they were farre vp in the land, and we iudge by many signes that we saw, that they are of wood and of trees framed together.
We doe beleeue also by many coniectures and signes, that many of them sleeping in the fields, haue no other couert then the open sky. Further knowledge haue we not of them: we thinke that all the rest whose countreys we passed, liue all after one maner. Hauing made our aboade three dayes in this countrey, and ryding on the coast for want of harboroughs, we concluded to depart from thence, trending along the shore betweene the North and the East, sayling onely in the daytime, and riding at anker by night. In the space of 100. leagues sayling we found a very pleasant place situated amongst certaine litle hils: A mighty riuer. from amidst the which hils there ran downe into the sea an exceeding great streme of water, which within the mouth was very deepe, and from the sea to the mouth of the same with the tide which we found to rise 8. foote, any great ship laden may passe vp.
But because we rode at rode at anker, in a place well fenced from the wind, we would not venture ourselues without knowledge of the place: and we passed vp with our boat onely into the sayd Riuer, and saw the countrey very well peopled. People clad with feathers of diuers colours. The people are almost like vnto the others, and are clad with the feathers of fowles of diuers colours: they came towards vs very cheerefully, making great showts of admiration; shewing vs where we might come to land most safely with our boat. We entered vp the sayd river into the land about halfe a league where it made a most pleasant lake about 3 leagues in compasse: on the which they rowed from the one side to the other to the number of 30. of their small boates, wherein were many people which passed from one shore to the other to come and see vs. The pleasantness and riches of the land. And behold vpon the sudden (as is woont to fall out in sayling) a contrary flaw of wind comming from the sea, we were inforced to returne to our ship, leauing this lande to our great discontentment, for the great commodity and pleasantnesse thereof, which we suppose is not without some riches, all the hils shewing minerall waters in them. The description of Claudia, Iland, tenne leagues from the mayne. Claudia was mother of king Francis. We weyed anker, and sayled toward the East, for so the coast trended, and so alwayes for 50. leagues being in the sight thereof, we discouered an Iland in forme of a triangle, distant from the maine land 10. leagues, about the bignesse of the Iland of the Rhodes: it was ful of hils couered with trees, well peopled, for we saw fires all along the coast: wee gaue it the name of your Maiesties mother, not staying there by reason of the weather being contrary.
And we came to another land being 15. leagues from the Iland, where we found a passing good hauen, wherein being entred, we found about 20. small boats of the people, which with diuers cries and wondrings came about our ship, comming no neerer then 50. paces towards vs: they stayed and beheld the artificialnesse of our ship, our shape and apparel: then they all made a loud showt together, declaring that they reioyced. When we had something animated them, vsing their gestures, they came so neere vs, that we cast them certaine bels and glasses, and many toyes, which when they had receiued, they looked on them with laughing, and came without feare aboard our ship. There were amongst these people 2. kings of so goodly stature and shape as is possible to declare: the eldest was about 40. yeeres of age, the second was a young man of 20. yeeres olde. Their apparell was on this maner: the elder had vpon his naked body a Harts skin wrought artificially with diuers branches like damaske: his head was bare with the hayre tyed vp behind with diuers knot: about his necke he had a large chaine, garnished with diuers stones of sundry colours: the yong man was almost apparelled after the same maner. This is the goodliest people, and of the fairest conditions that we haue found in this our voyage. They exceed vs in bignes: they are of the colour of brasse, some of them incline more to whitenesse: others are of yellow colour, of comely visage, with long and blacke haire, which they are very careful to trim and decke vp: they are blacke and quicke eyed, and of sweete and pleasant countenance, imitating much the old fashion. I write not to your Maiestie of the other parts of their body, hauing al such proportion as apperteineth to any handsome man. The women are of the like conformitie and beautie: very handsome and well fauoured, of pleasaunt countenance, and comely to behold: they are as wel manered and continent as any women, and of good education: they are all naked saue their priuy partes, which they couer with a Deeres skin branched or embrodered as the men vse: there are also of them which weare on their armes very rich skinnes of Luzernes: they adorne their heads with diuers ornaments made of their owne haire, which hang downe before on both sides their brestes: others vse other kinde of dressing themselues like vnto the women of Egypt and Syria, these are of the elder sort: and when they are maried, they weare diuers toyes, according to the vsage of the people of the East, as well men as women.
Among whom we saw many plates of wrought copper, which they esteeme more then golde, which for the colour they make no account of Azure and Red. The things that they esteeme most of all those which we gaue them, were bels, christall of Azure colour, and other toyes to hang at their eares or about their necke. They did not desire cloth of silke or of golde, much lesse of any other sort, neither cared they for things made of steele and yron, which wee often shewed them in our armour which they made no wonder at, and in beholding them they onely asked the arte of making them: the like they did at our glasses, which when they beheld, they suddenly laught and gaue them vs againe. They are very liberall, for they giue that which they haue: wee became great friends with these, and one day we entred into the Hauen with our ship, whereas before we rode a league off at Sea by reason of the contrary weather. They came in great companies of their small boats vnto the ship with their faces all bepainted with diuers colours, shewing vs that it was a signe of ioy, bringing vs of their victuals, they made signes vnto vs where we might safest ride in the Hauen for the safegard of our ship keeping still our company: and after we were come to an anker, wee bestowed 15 dayes in prouiding our selues many necessary things, whither euery day the people repaired to see our ship bringing their wiues with them, whereof they were very ielous: and they themselues entring abord the ship and staying there a good space, caused their wiues to stay in their boats, and for all the entreatie we could make, offring to giue them diuers things, we could neuer obtaine that they would suffer them to come abord our ship. And oftentimes one of the two kings comming with his queene, and many gentlemen for their pleasure to see vs, they all stayed on shore 200. paces from vs, sending a small boat to giue vs intelligence of their comming, saying they would come to see our ship: this they did in token of safety, and assone as they had answere from vs, they came immediatly, and hauing staied awhile to behold it, they wondered at hearing the cries and noyses of the mariners. The queene and her maids stayed in a very light boat, at an Iland a quarter of a league off, while the king abode a long space in our ship vttering diuers conceits with gestures, viewing with great admiration all the furniture of the ship, demanding the property of euery thing particularly. He tooke likewise great pleasure in beholding our apparell, and in tasting our meats, and so courteously taking his leaue departed. And sometimes our men staying 2 or 3 daies on a litle Iland neere the ship for diuers necessaries (as it is the vse of seamen) he returned with 7 or 8 of his gentlemen to see what we did, and asked vs oftentimes if we meant to make any long abode there, offring vs of their prouision: then the king drawing his bow and running vp and down with his gentlemen, made much sport to gratifie our men: Most pleasant and fruitful lands. we were oftentimes within the land 5 or 6 leagues, which we found as pleasant as is possible to declare, very apt for any kind of husbandry of corne, wine and oyle: for that there are plaines 25 or 30 leagues broad, open and without any impediment, of trees of such fruitfullnesse, that any seed being sowed therein, wil bring forth most excellent fruit. We entred afterwards into the woods, which we found so great and thicke, that any army were it neuer so great might haue hid it selfe therein, the trees whereof are okes, cipresse trees, and other sortes vnknowen in Europe. We found Pomi appii, damson trees, and nut trees, and many other sort of fruit differing from ours: there are beasts in great abundance, as harts, deere, luzerns, and other kinds which they take with their nets and bowes which are their chiefe weapons: the arrowes which they vse are made with great cunning, and in stead of yron, they head them with flint, with iasper stone and hard marble and other sharp stones which they vse in stead of yron to cut trees, and to make their boates of one whole piece of wood, making it hollow with great and wonderful art, wherein 10 or 12 men may sit commodiously: their oares are short and broad at the end, and they vse them in the sea without any danger, and by maine force of armes, with as great speedines as they list themselues. The fashion of their houses. We saw their houses made in circular or round forme, 10 or. 12 paces in compasse, made with halfe circles of timber separate one from another without any order of building, couered with mattes of straw wrought cunningly together, which saue them from wind and raine; and if they had the order of building and perfect skil of workmanship as we haue there were no doubt but that they would also make eftsoones great and stately buildings. The coast full of good havens. For all the sea coasts are ful of cleare and glistering stones, and alablaster, and therefore it is full of good hauens and harboroughs for ships. They mooue the foresaid houses from one place to another according to the commodity of the place and season wherin they wil make their abode, and only taking of the mattes, they haue other houses builded incontinent. The father and the whole family dwell together in one house in great number: in some of them we saw 25 or 30 persons. They feed as the other doe aforesaid of pulse which grow in that Countrey with better order of husbandry then in the others. They obserue in their sowing the course of the Moone and the rising of certaine starres, and diuers other customes spoken of by antiquity. Moreouer they liue by hunting and fishing. Their curing with Tobacco and perfumes. They liue long, and are seldome sicke, and if they chance to fall sicke at any time, they heale themselues with fire without any phisitian, and they say that they die for very age. They are very pitifull and charitable towards their neighbours, they make great lamentations in their aduersity: and in their miserie, the kinred reckon vp all their felicitie. At their departure out of life, they vse mourning mixt with singing, which continueth for a long space. This is as much as we could learne of them. The description of a notable hauen in 41. deg. and 2 tierces. This land is situated in the Paralele of Rome, in 41. degrees and 2. terces: but somewhat more cold by accidentall causes and not of nature, (as I wil declare vnto to your highnesse elsewhere) describing at this present the situation of the foresaid Countrey, which lieth East and West, I say that the mouth of the Hauen lieth open to the South halfe a league broad, and being entred within it betweene the East and the North, it stretcheth twelue leagues: where it waxeth broader and broader, and maketh a gulfe about 20. leagues in compasse, wherein are fiue small Islands very fruitfull and pleasant, full of hie and broade trees, among the which Islandes any great Nauie may ride safe without any feare of tempest or other danger. Afterwards turning towardes the South in the entring into the Hauen on both sides there are most pleasant hils, with many riuers of most cleare water falling into the Sea.
In the middest of this entrance there is a rocke of free stone growing by nature apt to build any Castle or Fortresse there, for the keeping of the hauen. The fift of May being furnished with all things necessarie, we departed from the said coast keeping along in the sight thereof, and wee sailed 150. leagues finding it alwayes after one maner; but the land somewhat higher with certaine mountaines, all which beare a shew of minerall matter, wee sought not to land there in any place, because the weather serued our turne for sailing: but wee suppose that it was like the former, the coast ranne Eastward for the space of fiftie leagues. And trending afterwards to the North, we found another land high full of thicke woods, the trees whereof were firres, cipresses and such like as are wont to grow in cold Countreys. Here the people begin to be more sauage. The people differ much from the other, and looke how much the former seemed to be courteous and gentle: so much were these full of rudenesse and ill maners, and so barbarous that by no signes that euer we could make, we could haue any kind of traffike with them. They cloth themselues with Beares skinnes and Luzernes and Seales and other beasts skinnes. Their food, as farre as we coulde perceiue, repairing often vnto their dwellings, we suppose to be by hunting and fishing, and of certaine fruits, which are a kind of roots which the earth yeeldeth of her own accord. They haue no graine, neither saw we any kind or signe of tillage, neither is the land, for the barennesse thereof, apt to beare fruit or seed. If at any time we desired by exchange to haue any of their commodities, they vsed to come to the sea shore vpon certaine craggy rocks and we standing in our boats, they let downe with a rope what it pleased them to giue vs, crying continually that we should not approch to the land, demanding immediatly the exchange, taking nothing but kniues, fishookes, and tooles to cut withall, neyther did they make any account of our courtesie. And when we had nothing left to exchange with them, when we departed from them, the people shewed all signes of discourtesie and disdaine, as were possible for any creature to inuent. We were in despight of them 2 or 3 leagues within the land, being in number 25 armed men of vs: And when we went on shore they shot at vs with their bowes making great outcries, and afterwards fled into the woods. We found not in this land Beades of copper. any thing notable, or of importance, sauing very great woods and certaine hilles, they may haue some minerall matter in them, because wee saw many of them haue beadstones of Copper hanging at their eares. 32 pleasant Islands. We departed from thence keeping our course Northeast along the coast, which we found more pleasant champion and without woods, with high mountaines within the land continuing directly along the coast for the space of fiftie leagues, we discouered 32 Islands lying al neere the land, being small and pleasant to the view, high and hauing many turnings and windings betweene them, making many faire harborougbs and chanels as they doe in the gulfe of Venice in Sclauonia, and Dalmatia, we had no knowledge or acquaintance with the people: we suppose they are of the same maners and nature as the others are. They ran almost to 50. degrees. Sayling Northeast for the space of 150. leagues we approched to the land that in times past was discouered by the Britons, which is in fiftie degrees. Hauing now spent all our prouision and victuals, and hauing discouered about 700 leagues and more of new Countreys, and being furnished with water and wood, we concluded to returne into France.
Touching the religion of this people, which wee haue found, for want of their language wee could not vnderstand neither by signes nor gesture that they had any religion or lawe at all, or that they did acknowledge any first cause or moouer, neither that they worship the heauen or stars the Sunne or Moone or other planets, and much lesse whither they be idolaters, neither could wee learne whither that they vsed any kind of sacrifices or other adorations, neither in their villages haue they any Temples or houses of prayer. We suppose that they haue no religion at all, and that they liue at their owne libertie. And that all this proceedeth of ignorance, for that they are very easie to be perswaded: and all that they see vs Christians doe in our diuine seruice, they did the same with the like imitation as they saw vs to doe it.
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