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Author Topic: American History  (Read 29493 times)
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Bob
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« Reply #930 on: August 31, 2007, 08:12:04 PM »

On page 300 Menzies points out that in Columbus' records there's a statement  that there were Portuguese in Antilia and that therefore the Portuguese were here before Columbus. He further states the story was confirmed by the Portuguese  historian Antonion Galvo 100 years later.  The story is used today by some to indicate they were in Puerto Rico.

"The crew were welcomed by the inhabitants, invited in good Portugeues." (Menzies, first edition, p 300)

The problem with the story is this. This a rendering of a story current to its time and believed by Columbus and other reputable people that there was an island  group in which Antilia was the largest land mass. Unfortunately, with the exception of a very few hold outs nobody believes Antilia ever existed. It was a legend akin to King Arthur and Camelot. The story revolved around seven priests or monks leaving Spain after the Moorish invasion and setting up house there to await a reconquest of Spain. In  the course of their stay there, of course, as legends would have it, the Monks found  seven cities and the cities were just filled with gold. Well, on the way over in the first voyage went to the exact  latitude designated as where Antilia was supposed to be (28 degrees). Of course he failed to find it. He failed because it didn't exist.

Another version of story has a caravel being swept across the sea to the "New World" and that they discovered Hispanolia and Cuba. When the captain got home to Portugal, he kept the discovery secret from the rest of the world, except he reported  it to the Venetian cartographer of 1424, on whose chart these  islands are represented by Antilla and Satanazes.

Morison, in his NORTHERN VOYAGES, says "If you can believe that, you can believe anything.  Why would anybody who knew the two biggest islands of the West Indies rotate them 90 degrees and place them only a few hundred miles off Portugal?"

"How can one explain  why these supposed Portugese discoveries appear  only on Italian, Spanish,  or other maps, never on a Portuguese map...how secret is a policy  of secrecy when every cartoigrapher outside of Portugal gets the word."

So the story isn't that Columbus encountered the Portugese, its a story which has Portuguese encountering Portuguese on a mythical island in the 1420's and passed on to Columbus by Toscanelli. Both of them believed it
to be the truth.

Maps of the era are filled with mythical islands mixed in with the real.

(See NORTHERN VOYAGES, page 102)

In 1514 the chief pilot of Portugal wrote a book of sailing directions which included "Courses for the islands NOT YET DISCOVERED" NOT YET DISCOVERED!!!!!  The list included Antilia---which was never discovered and was not Puerto Rico. (NORTHERN VOYAGES, page 100)

As to the Portuguese historian, rember that history and literature were intrertwined. The discipline did not require historical truth in order to be included in a history and be presented as the truth--myth was accepted.

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Bob
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« Reply #931 on: August 31, 2007, 08:30:21 PM »

I was reading Fernandez-Armesto's AMERIGO--a biography of Vespucci. I can spend the rest of the night on the guy--the book is excellent. It's short but worth the money and worth reading. It gives Columbus the honor of discovering America in general, pointiong out that Amerigo was  a fraud of sorts in some instances. To make a long story very short the author points out that when Amerigo's accounts of his voyages were published, they claimed he was the first to discover South America. In order to do this somebody (Amerigo, the editors or publishers) invented a voyage which never occured. They did this by splitting the first voyage  in two--so that it appeared Vespucci was in South America before Columbus. In reality he got there a year after Columbus and, although he didn't correct his memoir, he readily acknowledged Columbus' feat with regard to South America. Samuel Eliot Morison  in THE NORTHERN VOYAGES says the same thing.

Armesto doesn't take away the importance of Vespucci. He readily acknowledges them (such as his recognition that South America was a separate Continent), but just as readily points out his personality and behavioral flaws. He also reminds his readers that Columbus was no saint in this area either---becoming more and more grandiose as the years rolled by.

By the way, these two guys lived together at one point. They were close friends and associates for many years. I never knew that. Columbus surely knew of the Vespucci claims--but seemingly ignored them. After Columbus died the Columbus family sued to straighten out some of the claims.
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Bob
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« Reply #932 on: August 31, 2007, 08:38:24 PM »

To balance my post on the Portuguese claim, the link below shows the controversy to be very much alive today---Here's the other side of the story:

http://www.americanheritage.com/articles/magazine/ah/1955/3/1955_3_16.shtml
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weezo
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« Reply #933 on: August 31, 2007, 10:42:41 PM »

Bob,

Thanks for the link on the information on the 1424 map. I agree with the closing line that history is never a closed issue. There are always new discoveries that bring to question the traditional beliefs.
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nnyhav
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« Reply #934 on: September 01, 2007, 12:00:48 AM »

This just in: Amerigo: The Man Who Gave His Name to America, Felipe Fernández-Armesto:

Vespucci's contemporaries were not in thrall to hard facts based on firm evidence. Their world view was far closer to the magic realism of such Latin American novelists as Jorge Luis Borges and Gabriel Garcia Márquez than to the methodology of modern historians. So Vespucci, a Florentine adventurer variously in the employ of the Portuguese and Spanish crowns, met the expectations of the reading public of his day when he let his imagination rip in describing his voyages along the eastern coast of South America. His encounters with lions, baboons and many other species alien to the New World were a familiar and acceptable genre.

http://www.economist.com/books/displaystory.cfm?story_id=9719515
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Bob
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« Reply #935 on: September 01, 2007, 02:30:38 AM »

Article disputing the Menzies position with particular reference to the map:

http://www.sochistdisc.org/2006_articles/masson_article.htm
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Dzimas
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« Reply #936 on: September 01, 2007, 04:54:58 AM »

I sincerely hope the next book is not the American Renaissance, as I find the history of literature boring and clouded with lots of experts whose greatest significance is their ponderation of verbage.

Who needs experts when you can have Menzies?  Actually the history of literature can be quite fascinating, it all depends on the author.  At the moment, I would like to read The Great Deluge or Leviathan.  It would take me awhile to get a copy of 1491, as things move pretty slowly from America to Europe these days.  Don't know why?  It used to take about 10 days, but now no less than three weeks to get a book from amazon. 

I think the Portuguese were probably playing games if nothing else, or spotted what they thought might be distant islands from the Azores and ascribed names to them.  Who knows?  Anyway, the Azores first appeared on a map in 1427, and colonization started in 1439,

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Azores

Kind of odd to me that they would have reached the Caribbean before the Azores. 

Columbus did indeed reach the coast of South America before Amerigo, but Amerigo was the first to extensively map it.  Amerigo's voyages brought back far more valuable information about the Caribbean and the coast of South America than did Columbus's voyages, as he seemed mostly interested in finding the mysterious passage to the Orient.  On his last voyage, Columbus even made it to the Mosquito Coast (modern day Nicaragua).  As I said, he was all over the place.  But, his mapping of the region left a lot to be desired.

Columbus always maintained that he had found the true Indies and Cathay in the face of mounting evidence that he had not. Perhaps he genuinely believed that he had been there; in any event, his disallowances of the “New World” hindered his goals of nobility and wealth and dented his later reputation.

http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-25450/Christopher-Columbus
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Bob
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« Reply #937 on: September 01, 2007, 06:24:31 AM »

I recently finished   LEVIATHAN  and thought it was excellent.  If we don't go for1491 , I'd go for  LEVIATHAN. It's a compainion volume to MOBY DICK---I think it'll win a prize it's well written.

I haven't read the GREAT DELUGE yet. I'll look for it today when I go to B&N.

« Last Edit: September 01, 2007, 06:45:38 AM by Bob » Logged
Bob
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« Reply #938 on: September 01, 2007, 06:42:10 AM »

Morison points out that Cartographers were notorious for filling up empty space with  imaginary islands--that's why they had strange texts like the one he pointed out: A list of  undiscovered islands.....and they really believed in them. Mariners would record the existence of islands which were really puffs of clouds on the horizon, bunches of rocks, etc--and they would end up on charts. 

Here's Armesto's note on Charts--
Quote
Charts were then luxuries for landlubbers. Real seamen did not normally use them. Faith in charts was an eccentricity of semi amateurs like Columbus.Experienced navigators  on familiar routes simply memorized the way. Alternatively, they relied on sailing directions orally transmitted or confided  by forebearers in written form. If they carried charts, they did so  chiefly to show passangers the route, or as a general guide to unfamiliar objectives. Not until  well into the seventeenth century did charts become a normal  part of shipboard  equipment
(Armesto, p 173-174)

Vespucci convinced landlubbers of the royal council that charts were critical at sea. He convinced them he was an expert  mapmaker, "even though no map from his hand has survived." Armesto says Columbus was the same way -- a lot of talk about producing charts without  action. "Neither explorer ever seems to have delivered [charts]"



« Last Edit: September 01, 2007, 06:46:22 AM by Bob » Logged
weezo
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« Reply #939 on: September 01, 2007, 07:36:44 AM »

Dzimas,

With your insistance on only factual history, I am surprised that your read the fluff that is literary history. To me, reading of the history of literature seems like reading the history of cinema or television. Nice, but not really "history".

I notice that Leviathan is only out in hardback. I can no longer read hardback books - it create a terrific amount of pain in my hands and wrists. So, if that is the book choice, I will pass on it.

 
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Bob
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« Reply #940 on: September 01, 2007, 08:00:04 AM »

Weezo

We share a malady--mine is relatively new as I find it difficult now to hold a book for a long period of time without experiencing pains in my wrist and hand. I have cervical stenosis.  I sit in a chair and  bring up my knees and prop the book on my legs. It works---so I know what you mean.  (and very few of my books are softcover)  :'(
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Bob
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« Reply #941 on: September 01, 2007, 08:02:04 AM »

I just came on to  add a note to my other post

Charts and maps are different things--I don't want to produce confusion in that area.
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madupont
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« Reply #942 on: September 01, 2007, 09:27:06 AM »

Dzimas, re:#993

"things move pretty slowly from America to Europe these days.  Don't know why?  It used to take about 10 days, but now no less than three weeks to get a book from amazon"

Have you tried Powell's from the UK ? I have no idea of the comparison rates but it was so often mentioned by our friends in Europe during my sojourn with Western Europe posters (who supplied me with so much archived stuff, particularly the German participants who like to collect the minutiae of history as well as their basic familiarity with a broad outline; can't say that I organized very officially,kept it rather in chronological order of when received as it usually came up because of current political events).

Might I suggest that something similar is occuring with your long wait for books to arrive; things did not work out with commerce quite up to the practicality so politically imagined.  I began complaining immediately  from the beginning of the administration when very practical items of clothing in Europe were no longer made available. The spinners, which every forum is allotted, chided me with cliches like,'the market corrects itself';in four years time, they made out like bandits in Alberta, as the oil business expanded their economy.

Along with the long-wearing textiles, cotton underwear, flannel nightgowns for cold weather(although the flannel bedding remained available from Germany),I was horrified the day that women's shirts from France took off into an extreme mark-up something like we used to find on Chinese textiles during their original probationary period in US trade. Last year at this time,expecting a guest, with the intent that we were going to a theatrical performance at one of Philadelphia's many Catholic colleges, I tried getting an appropriate evening sweater and was told the next shipment from Peru might arrive with Christmas. I finally was able to buy it this last month of so, as sale merchandise, because the weather was unsuitable for the item to be used and they did not want the expense of keeping it in inventory.

I corelate this with the blatant remark of Donald Rumsfeld that just popped out of him as he could not restrain himself,when he decided to publicly comment on our  having no need for "Old Europe", what with "New allies". It was about the dumbest differentiation, I'd ever heard except for one vague familiarity; it resembled things said from the White House during the Nixon administration.  I can't remember when it dawned on me that why,of course, Donald had been Nixon's "house-boy" in the same way as Scooter Libby might have been Cheney's "valet" in that wing, or friendly looking guard-dog,which ever you prefer.  Whatever Nixon had, it must have been contagious.  The only other thing that occurs to me is that the longer that they are in employ, the more personally ambitious they become until they end up behaving like Doris Duke's butler.           
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madupont
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« Reply #943 on: September 01, 2007, 09:43:32 AM »

Dzimas

http://www.powells.com/s?kw=Charles+Mann%2C1491&x=49&y=13

They have it as a download from Knopf publishing for $8.46 as an e-book
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Dzimas
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« Reply #944 on: September 01, 2007, 10:15:29 AM »

Personally, I prefer hardbacks, first editions if I can get them, which is why I buy a lot of books through abebooks.com and abebooks.co.uk, depending on which company I get a better deal through.  I figure if I'm going to plunk down $15-$20 for a book, including S&H, I might as well buy a book that has a chance to retain its value over time.  So I buy fewer books, but make them hardbacks.

It seems to me, weezo, that the only books you want to read are the ones you have already read or are planning to read, which is fine, but don't expect us all to go along with your reading selection each time. 
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