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Was John Cabot the first European to reach Newfoundland since (arguably) the Vikings?

Was John Cabot the first European to reach Newfoundland since (arguably) the Vikings?

Recently I read Cod, by Mark Kurlansky, a poorly written yet amazingly informative book on the history of cod fishing.

Among other fascinating things in that book, the Basques are mentioned as pioneers in cod fishing (and drying) in the Atlantic.

John Cabot's voyage to Newfoundland is also mentioned, for this purpose:

It appears (according to the author) that John Cabot, an Italian navigator and explorer sponsored by Henry VII of England, left an account of what he found containing a detailed description of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, in which he mentioned the appearance of the flora, fauna, weather conditions, as well as about 1000 Basque ships.

The author of the book theorizes that the Basques landed in North America long before Columbus' first voyage but kept the information secret in order to maintain their near-monopoly on the cod market in Europe.

Does this claim have any validity?

Yes, it is well known here in New England where I live that Portuguese and Basque fishermen fished seasonally in the Gulf of Maine, a large cod fishery, long before Columbus went to the Caribbean. In fact, Columbus is believed to have consulted with these men and the Portuguese navigators he hired to pilot his ships were experienced with the North Atlantic fishing routes. Note that Columbus did not want to go to the North Atlantic, but directly west, which was a new idea.

In New England there is a long estuarial spit called "Plum Island". This is where the cod fisherman used to dry their catch. They would fish for the season, dry the catch, then return home. Even today in Massachusetts and Maine there are old Portuguese families that descend from these fishermen and some are still cod fisherman today.

On March 5, 1496, in the wake of the tremendous news about the voyage of Christopher Columbus to the New World, King Henry VII of England granted “letters patent” to John Cabot, an Italian sailor and adventurer, along with his sons, to explore the world on behalf of the English Crown. As Columbus was an Italian (Genoese) working for the King and Queen of Spain, so too was Cabot, an Italian originally from The Kingdom of Naples, employed by a foreign power. Cabot became (probably) the first European since perhaps the Vikings in the 11 th Century to visit North America, giving England their entry into the settlement of North America by a European country.

Digging Deeper

Born Giovanni Caboto (in Italian), we remember this exploring legend by his Anglicized name, John Cabot. While on business in Venice, Italy, Cabot is known to have used the Venetian form of his name, Zuan Chabotto. As if not confusing enough, Cabot’s Italian banker in London referred to him as Giovanni Chabbote. His exact birthplace on or about 1450 is unknown, possibly in the Province of Genoa, or maybe in the Province of Latina (more likely). One of Cabot’s sons later claimed John Cabot had originally hailed from Genoa, and other contemporaneous sources also refer to him as “Genoese like Columbus.” Still not sure? Cabot was made a citizen of Venice in 1476, a status that required at least 15 years residence at that time, implying that Cabot had lived in Venice at least from 1461 to 1476.

John Cabot in traditional Venetian garb by Giustino Menescardi (1762). A mural painting in the Sala dello Scudo in the Palazzo Ducale, Venice.

Probably from a family of at least some social standing, Cabot is believed to have entered the maritime trading business soon after being granted Venetian citizenship in 1476. Records indicate he was already married with 2 sons by 1484 (he had a total of 3 sons, Ludovico, Sebastian, and Sancto), and might have been involved in the construction business in Venice. Financial problems led to Cabot seeking work in Spain, moving to Valencia (the author has been there, and the city is beautiful!) ahead of his creditors in 1488. The next few years found Cabot unsuccessfully attempting various construction projects, and by 1494 he was seeking sponsorship to mount an expedition to the New World. Failing to find funding in Seville and Lisbon, Cabot traveled to London, England in 1495 in search of a sponsor. Cabot was given an audience with King Henry VII, arranged by a fellow Italian, a Papal Tax Collector.

Upon receiving permission from King Henry VII, with the following stipulations:

“…free authority, faculty and power to sail to all parts, regions and coasts of the eastern, western and northern sea, under our banners, flags and ensigns, with five ships or vessels of whatsoever burden and quality they may be, and with so many and with such mariners and men as they may wish to take with them in the said ships, at their own proper costs and charges, to find, discover and investigate whatsoever islands, countries, regions or provinces of heathens and infidels, in whatsoever part of the world placed, which before this time were unknown to all Christians.”

Cabot’s travels around Europe, 1488–95, following his escape from Venice. Map by Evan T Jones.

Cabot secured financing, probably from the Italian expatriate banking community in London and Bristol. Cabot’s first voyage, 1496, has no substantial documentation, and is believed to have been aborted early with a turn around back to England before getting very far. His second voyage, of 1497, probably made landfall on the Canadian East coast, possibly in what is now Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Labrador, or even Maine. A record of this voyage is documented by a letter sent to Christopher Columbus from England by a third party. Despite the lack of firm information about Cabot’s first landfall, authorities in Canada and the UK have designated Cape Bonavista in Newfoundland as the “official” site of Cabot’s landing. Cabot reportedly did not venture far inland, nor meet with any natives, although he did report finding evidence of human activity. He spent the rest of that first voyage to reach North America “discovering” the coastline. Of course, the crew did take the time to replenish fresh water stocks and plant Venetian and Papal flags, as well as claiming the land for England. (England was still Catholic at this time.)

Upon his return to England, Cabot regaled the King with his report, and was awarded a monetary prize of £10! Paltry pay for being the first person to reach North America from Europe (since the Vikings) and the first representative of England in the New World. A while later the King lavished another £2 on our intrepid explorer, and in December of 1497 awarded Cabot with a pension of £20 per year, this being a pretty decent amount of money in those days. (Annual income for a tradesman would be around £5 per year.)

Route of 1497 voyage posited by Jones and Condon. Map by Evan T Jones.

In 1498, Cabot set sail with new letters of patent and a fleet of 5 ships, this time packed with trade items for trading with Native Americans. One of the ships only made it as far as Ireland and Cabot forged ahead with the other 4 ships. What happened next is unknown to history, with the possibility that Cabot and his ships were lost at sea, either on the way to North America or on the return. A tantalizing bit of information is that a sailor known to have been on the expedition is recorded as having been in London in 1501, and some recent historical investigation has concluded that Cabot and/or at least some of his men did make it back to England in 1500, but the evidence seems inconclusive to others.

The reports from the first successful voyage of John Cabot on behalf of England inspired other English expeditions to North America and ultimately resulted in the colonization of Canada and what is now the United States by British settlements, resulting in the 2 great countries that occupy the Northern portion of North America today. For this achievement, we thank John Cabot, whatever his real name and fate is!

Square Cabot, Montreal. Photograph by Andrevruas.

Question for students (and subscribers): What do you think happened to Cabot and his last expedition? Did you know of Cabot’s role in exploring North America? Please let us know in the comments section below this article.

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Historical Evidence

For more information, please see…

Pope, Peter. The Many Landfalls of John Cabot. University of Toronto Press, 1997.

The featured image in this article, a Newfoundland Postage stamp, 1897 issue, obtained from eBay (eBay item I320594637410), is in the public domain.

This is because it is one of the following:

  1. It is a photograph taken prior to 1 June 1957 or
  2. It was published prior to 1969 or
  3. It is an artistic work other than a photograph or engraving (e.g. a painting) which was created prior to 1969.

HMSO has declared that the expiry of Crown Copyrights applies worldwide (ref: HMSO Email Reply)
More information.

About Author

Major Dan is a retired veteran of the United States Marine Corps. He served during the Cold War and has traveled to many countries around the world. Prior to his military service, he graduated from Cleveland State University, having majored in sociology. Following his military service, he worked as a police officer eventually earning the rank of captain prior to his retirement.


Like many explorers, Cabot had thought that he had found Asia. It had to be in his mind. Though he did not find the people and the spices that he had expected, there was no doubt in his mind that he had found Asia. It was a large land mass in the direction he was heading. Logic told him it was Asia.

To most Europeans the world was smaller than it actually was. Yes, some might have thought the earth was flat, but educated Europeans knew it was round. They just thought it wasn&apost quite so round. Scientists had calculated that Asia was closer than in reality. Therefore, there could not be such a large land mass between the two cultures. Land was found. Conclusion was that Asia was discovered.

The Vikings in Newfoundland

It was long believed that the first European to visit Newfoundland was John Cabot (c. 1450-1499), who arrived in 1497 under the banner of england’s King Henry VII (1457-1509). We now know that other Europeans visited Newfoundland and Labrador 500 years before Cabot, and they later committed their story to writing. For many years scholars weren’t sure if Newfoundland was the place being written about, or even if the stories were based on real events. These tales – the Sagas – were very much real. They tell of the first verified contact between people of the Old and New Worlds, as voyagers from Europe made an appearance in North America.

These voyagers were the Scandinavian warriors and explorers popularly known as Vikings (vikingr, meaning “raider” or “pirate”) or Norsemen (men from the north). Unlike most Europeans of the time, the Vikings practised their old pagan religion, worshipping many gods like Odin and Thor. Before the Vikings adopted Christianity people were shocked by their behaviour, especially the Norse destruction of churches and monasteries, and occasional human sacrifices.

Their open boats, propelled by oars or a simple square sail, were among the most efficient sea- going craft of the Dark Ages, and the Vikings used them to great advantage. The most famous type of Viking craft were the dragon-prowed langskips or longships, though their farthest voyages were made in deeper-draught vessels. Starting in the late-700s AD, the Vikings began raiding the British Isles and France before finally settling there. Their attention was also focussed further afield. Swedish Vikings reached Russia, while others visited the Byzantine Empire, now modern Turkey, and fought the Arabs.

The Vikings always seemed to like a challenge, and were possessed of a restless spirit. By the late-800s they settled the island of Iceland. One colonist was Thorwald, exiled from Norway for the crime of murder. He was accompanied by his son Eirik raudi (Eric the Red), who was banished from Iceland after he too committed murder. Leaving Iceland and sailing west, Eric discovered a large Arctic island which he named Greenland to encourage settlers. Eric established two settlements there which survived for 500 years before failing due to worsening climate conditions.

One of Greenland’s new colonists was Eric’s son Lief, or Leifr (fl. 1000). Young Lief Ericsson and his mother were converts to Christianity, though Eric followed the old pagan religion until he died. At Greenland Lief heard tales of the traveller Bjarni Herjolfsson. Blown off course while making his way to the new settlement from Iceland, Herjolfsson sighted a forested land to the west of any previous Viking discoveries. Though he never went ashore, Bjarni Herjolfsson might have been the first European to see mainland North America.

Buying Herjolfsson’s boat, Lief Ericsson sailed off around the year 1000 to find the new land. Lief and his crew first spotted an island they named Helluland, or Flat Stone Land, believed to be Baffin Island. They next came to a place whose trees led to the name Markland – Forest Land, probably Labrador. Finally, the explorers arrived at a locale they named Vinland after the grapes they found growing there. It is now thought that Vinland has some connection to Newfoundland. If not actually Vinland itself, the island may have been used as a base camp for exploring a larger area of that name. Lief and his compatriots returned to Greenland about a year after he first set out.

Over the next few years other Norsemen tried to establish a colony at Vinland. About the year 1003 Lief’s brother Thorvald led his own expedition to the new land. From the beginning the Norse settlements ran into problems, especially clashes with the aboriginal peoples, whom the Vikings called Skraelings,. After he and his men killed a number of the Natives, Thorvald died in a counter-attack. Around 1009 AD Þorfinnr, or Thorfinn, Karlsefni took up the challenge of permanently settling Vinland. Thorfinn also ran afoul of the locals, and returned to Greenland after a stay of around two years. About a year later Eric the Red’s daughter Freydis, and some Norwegian collaborators, made the last serious attempt to colonize Vinland. Trouble soon arose between Freydis’ people and the Norwegians, all of whom were killed. Once the survivors returned to Greenland the settlement was abandoned, but it remained in the Viking tradition through their oral tales, later written down as the Sagas. As the years passed people forgot the reality behind the Sagas and most assumed they were nothing more than legends.

One person who believed the Sagas recounted real events was Norwegian adventurer Helge Ingstad. He noticed similarities between physical descriptions of the land in the Sagas and Newfoundland. Along with his wife, professional archaeologist Anne Stine, Ingstad explored Newfoundland’s Northern Peninsula in the 1960s, and noticed how well a place called L’Anse aux Meadows fit with the characteristics of Vinland. With the help of local residents the Ingstads were able to find and excavate a Viking settlement which could very well be inland.

The name of the place was a stumbling block for many years, as grapes do not grow in Newfoundland. Perhaps the Vinlanders discovered some of the island’s many berry varieties that can be used to grow wine, and named the settlement from there. Scholar Magnústefánsson has argued that beer was the Norse beverage of the era. Wine drinking was quite rare. According to Stefánsson, the problem may stem from confusion over the terms vín and vin. The name might derive from abundant grasslands, rather than having anything to do with wine. Other academics like Alan Crozier favour the “Wineland” interpretation. Whatever the truth behind the name Vinland, L’Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland can claim the only authenticated Viking settlement in North America.

English, L. E. F. Historic Newfoundland and Labrador. St. John’s: Newfoundland Department of Tourism, 1988.

Lewis-Simpson, Shannon (ed.). Vinland Revisited: the Norse World at the Turn of the First Millennium. St. John’s: Historic Sites Association of Newfoundland and Labrador, Inc., 2003.

Major, Kevin. As Near to Heaven by Sea. A History of Newfoundland and Labrador. Toronto: Penguin Books, 2001.

Nimoy, Leonard (narrator). Ancient Mysteries. Vikings in North America. A & E Television, 1995. Smallwood, Joseph R. and Poole, Cyril F. (editors-in-chief). The Encyclopedia of Newfoundland and Labrador. 5 volumes. CD-ROM Edition. Version 1.8. St. John’s: Harry Cuff Publications, 1997.



(JOB 41:11, PSALM 74:14, ISAIAH 27:1 Apocalypse 2:24).



O JEHOVAH , our JEHOVAH , how majestic is your name in all the earth (Psalm 8:9).



"And he showed me JOSHUA the high priest standing before the angel of JEHOVAH, and SATAN standing
at his right hand to oppose him. And JEHOVAH said unto Satan, "JEHOVAH rebuke thee, O Satan
even JEHOVAH that hath chosen Jer usa lem rebuke thee" (Zechariah 3:1-2).

Saint Paul said "we (Christians) have a great high priest, JOSHUA the Son of Elohim" (Hebrews 4:14) .


Around 1730 BC, the Patriarch Jacob or Israel predicted that his nation would endure until the Messiah came:
"The sceptre shall not depart from JUDAH , nor a lawgiver from his loins, UNTIL SHILOH COMES
and unto him shall the gathering of the people be" (Genesis 49:10).

"When JUDAH saw her (Tamar) he thought she was a harlot (prostitute)
because she had covered her face " (Genesis 38:15).

The Prophet Malachi predicted that Elijah the Prophet would come before Shiloh!
John the Baptist fulfilled that prophecy by coming in the spirit and power of Elijah!

King David began reigning when he was 30-years-old , and he reigned for 40 years (II Samuel 5:4).
Shiloh was manifested to Israel when he was 30-years-old (Saint Luke 3:3), and exactly 40 years
later the Roman legions destroyed Israel at that location forever (Amos 5:2, Daniel 9:26).

JUDAH ISCARIOT —one of the 12 Apostles—is a remarkable type of ancient and modern Israel. Judah
betrayed the Messiah for 30 pieces of silver, and then self-destructed by committing suicide
(Jeremiah 17:1, Zechariah 11:12, Saint Matthew 27:3).

In 70 AD, ancient Israel committed suicide by taking up arms against the mighty Roman Empire,
and modern "suicidal Jews" are still very eager to trigger Armageddon and join Judah in Hades!!



Joshua ben David warned the new Jer usa lem repeatedly to beware of fake "Jews," or Kosher Nostra,
who deny that the Messiah has come: "I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews
and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan " (Apocalypse 2:9, 3:9).

By giving the Jewish Messiah the Latin name JESUS, it also slanders the Virgin Miriam
because it implies that she committed fornication with Tiberius Julius Pantera!

In Holy Scripture, the divine Holy Spirit is symbolized by 7 Eyes, 7 Lamps of Fire, and 7 Horns:

"For behold the STONE that I have laid before JOSHUA : upon the STONE are SEVEN EYES .
Behold, I will engrave its inscription," says JEHOVAH of Hosts, "and I will remove the
iniquity of that land in one day" (Zechariah 3:9, Apocalypse 4:5, 5:6).

The Reformation began on October 31, 1517, when German monk Saint Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the Castle Church door in Wittenberg, Germany. That was one of the greatest events of the past 1000 years. Saint Martin made a translation of the Bible from Greek and Hebrew into German. Soon all the countries of Europe followed his example by translating the Scriptures into their languages. For the first time in history, the recently invented printing press made the Word of JEHOVAH available to all the people.

When Saint Martin was excommunicated by Pope Leo X, he began an intensive study of the Book of Daniel and the Apocalypse of Saint John. It was from a study of those 2 books that led him to write his magnum opus entitled On the Babylonian Captivity of the Church.

The end of the Babylonian Captivity of the Jews in 457 BC led to the rebirth of Israel, and started the 490-year countdown to the First Coming of the Messiah. That explosive book, published in 1520, sent shockwaves through the underworld, and the fallout soon reached fake "Roman Emperor" Charles V. As a result, he summoned the Saint to the Diet of Worms, to publicly disallow the book, and be reconciled to the Church of Roma.

Next year is the 1990th anniversary (30 AD�) of the Death and Resurrection of the Messiah, at Golgotha, on the Mount of Olives!!

In 313, Romulus and Remus were renamed Saints Peter and Paul!

In 1119, 9 "Fighting Monks" formed the Knights Templar in Jerusalem!

In March 1945, the Counter-Reformation Nazis tested a small thermonuclear bomb just a stone's throw from the Wartburg Castle!!

In May 1521, at the Diet of Worms, Luther made his courageous defense of On The Babylonian Captivity of the Church . For that reason, Elector Frederick the Wise feared for the life of the Reformer, and his soldiers "kidnapped" the Saint and hid him away in the Wartburg Castle. While "imprisoned" there, Luther translated the Bible from Hebrew and Greek into German. That is the place where he also threw the inkwell at the Devil.

Saint Martin Luther's desk and the wall
where he threw the inkwell at the Devil.

The Wartburg Castle, in Thuringia, is a sacred site and a place of pilgrimage for all true Christians.

The "big bang" Jesuits would have loved to do a Guy Fawkes on the Castle, but it was shielded by angels, and the surrounding hills.

On the left can be seen Luther's desk, and the spot where he threw the inkwell at the Devil. Over the centuries, souvenir hunters have removed chunks of the wall.

Ground zero was a valley, just a stone's
throw from the Wartburg Castle.

In 1525, Saint Martin took another step which caused consternation at the Vatican—he married his sweetheart—escaped nun Saint Katharine von Bora.

The wedding of Saints Martin and
Katharine, Wittenberg, June 13, 1525.

After his escape from the spiritual Babylon, Saint Martin soon discovered that monks and nuns were nowhere mentioned in the Holy Bible!

In 1523, to inaugurate the modern "women's-lib" movement, he helped a group of 12 nuns escape from the Nimbschen Convent. One of the escapees, Katharine von Bora, became his loving wife and helpmeet.

Saints Martin and Katharine became the perfect partnership , as they devoted their lives to their 4 children, and demolishing the thick walls of Babylon!

Saint Katharine Luther
(1499 – 1552).

It is a good thing that there was no German Equal Wrongs Amendment in force at that time. Otherwise, the gender roles would have been completely reversed, and there would have been no perfect partnership between the 2 saints. Monks and nuns are the true transgenders because they are obsessed with SEX . . . and yet they are forbidden to marry and have children (I Timothy 4:3).

The spiritual Babylon is the Papacy, which began its rise in 313 AD, and received a mighty blow in 1517. However, the spiritual Babylon has a TWIN . . . and her HQ is in LONDON . . . Babylon on the Thames!!

In 337, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, began in Roma with Pope Julius I.

In 1520, Babylon the Great received a mighty blow from the pen of Saint Martin Luther.

The second Babylon the Great began with the founding of the East India Company in 1600.

The Holy Bible predicted the time of the Messiah's birth (Daniel 9:25) the location of his birth (Micah 5:2), and his Holy Name (Zechariah 6:11-13). The secret of Samson's great strength lay in his Nazarite vow not to cut his hair, and the Messiah's great strength lay in his Holy Name.

Over 3500 years ago, on Mount Sinai, JEHOVAH gave Moses the Hebrew ALPHABET. Today, most nations use an ALPHABET .

4 times in the Book of Revelation the Messiah calls Himself
Alpha and Omega , so those 2 Greek alphabet letters
be present in his Holy Name!!

The name JESUS is Latin, IESOUS in Greek, and it cannot be the name of the Messiah because it is missing 2 vital letters. Under Roman occupation, the Virgin Miriam would never give her son a Latin name because that would imply that the child was illegitimate. Illegitimacy was the very charge leveled against the Messiah because the rulers didn't believe he was born of a Virgin and therefore JEHOVAH (Isaiah 9:6).

Real Jewish parents were very, very traditional about naming their children. The most popular names for boys were: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, David. The most popular names for girls were: Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, Miriam, Deborah, Ruth, Abigail, etc., etc. Names ending in US, such as Julius, Tiberius, Antonius, Pius etc., etc., are Roman names. Under Roman occupation, the Jews did not give their children Roman names. One of the most famous, or infamous, Roman Emperors was named Jesus Constantine.

The last form of monarchy, or tyrannical government, is symbolized by the 10-toes of the giant.

To make the prophecy plainer, Winston Winston's grandmother, Queen Victoria, had 10 children: 9 with Prince Albert and one top secret girl in Switzerland.

The Great Pyramid was built by antediluvian twins to preserve a written record of that technologically advanced but highly corrupt civilization.

"Speak to the (stationary flat) earth, and
it shall teach thee (not to poison
it with deadly radiation)"
(Job 12:8).

The Grand Canyon in theNew Je rusa lem is the most stunning visual aid that proves the veracity of the Book of Genesis.


The prehistory of Greenland is a story of repeated waves of Paleo-Eskimo immigration from the islands north of the North American mainland. (The peoples of those islands are thought to have descended, in turn, from inhabitants of Siberia who migrated into Canada thousands of years ago.) Because of Greenland's remoteness and climate, survival there was difficult. Over the course of centuries, one culture succeeded another as groups died out and were replaced by new immigrants. Archaeology can give only approximate dates for the cultures that flourished before the Norse exploration of Greenland in the 10th century.

The earliest known cultures in Greenland are the Saqqaq culture (2500–800 BC) [2] and the Independence I culture in northern Greenland (2400–1300 BC). The practitioners of these two cultures are thought to have descended from separate groups that came to Greenland from northern Canada. [3] Around 800 BC, the so-called Independence II culture arose in the region where the Independence I culture had previously existed. [4] it was originally thought that Independence II was succeeded by the early Dorset culture (700 BC–AD 1), but some Independence II artifacts date from as recently as the 1st century BC. Recent studies suggest that, in Greenland at least, the Dorset culture may be better understood as a continuation of Independence II culture the two cultures have therefore been designated "Greenlandic Dorset". [5] Artefacts associated with early Dorset culture in Greenland have been found as far north as Inglefield Land on the west coast and the Dove Bugt area on the east coast. [6]

After the Early Dorset culture disappeared by around AD 1, Greenland was apparently uninhabited until Late Dorset people settled on the Greenlandic side of the Nares strait around 700. [5] The late Dorset culture in the north of Greenland lasted until about 1300. [7] Meanwhile, the Norse arrived and settled in the southern part of the island in 980.

Europeans probably became aware of Greenland's existence in the early 10th century, after Gunnbjörn Ulfsson, while sailing from Norway to Iceland, was blown off course by a storm and sighted some islands off Greenland. During the 980s explorers led by Erik the Red set out from Iceland and reached the southwest coast of Greenland. They found the region uninhabited, and subsequently settled there. Erik named the island "Greenland" (Grœnland in Old Norse, Grænland in modern Icelandic, Grønland in modern Danish and Norwegian). Both the Book of Icelanders (Íslendingabók, a medieval account of Icelandic history from the 12th century onward) and the Saga of Eric the Red (Eiríks saga rauða, a medieval account of his life and of the Norse settlement of Greenland) state that Erik said that it would encourage people to go there that the land had a good name." [8] [ failed verification – see discussion] [9]

According to the sagas, the Icelanders had exiled Erik the Red for three years for committing murder, [10] c. 982. He sailed to Greenland, where he explored the coastline and claimed certain regions as his own. He then returned to Iceland to persuade people to join him in establishing a settlement on Greenland. The Icelandic sagas say that 25 ships left Iceland with Erik the Red in 985, and that only 14 of them arrived safely in Greenland. [11] Radiocarbon dating of remains at the first settlement at Brattahlid (now Qassiarsuk) have approximately confirmed this timeline, yielding a date of about 1000. According to the sagas, in the year 1000 Erik's son, Leif Eirikson, left the settlement to explore the regions around Vinland, which historians generally assume to have been located in present-day Newfoundland.

The Norse established settlements along Greenland's south-western fjords. It is possible that the bottom lands of the southern fjords at that time were covered by highgrown shrub and surrounded by hills covered with grass and brush (as the Qinngua Valley currently is), but this hasn't been determined yet. [12] If the presumption is true then the Norse probably cleared the landscape by felling trees to use as building material and as fuel, and by allowing their sheep and goats to graze there in both summer and winter. Any resultant soil erosion could have become an important factor in the demise of the colonies, as the land was stripped of its natural cover.

The Norse settled in three separate locations in south-western Greenland: the larger Eastern Settlement, the smaller Western Settlement, and the still smaller Middle Settlement (often considered part of the Eastern one). Estimates put the combined population of the settlements at their height between 2,000 and 10,000, with recent estimates [13] trending toward the lower figure. Archeologists have identified the ruins of approximately 620 farms: 500 in the Eastern Settlement, 95 in the Western Settlement, and 20 in the Middle Settlement.

The economy of the Norse Greenlanders depended on a combination of pastoral farming with hunting and some fishing. Farmers kept cattle, sheep and goats - shipped into the island - for their milk, cheese and butter, while most of the consumed meat came from hunted caribou and seals. Both individual farmers and groups of farmers organised summer trips to the more northerly Disko Bay area, where they hunted walruses, narwhals and polar bears for their skins, hides and ivory. Besides their use in making garments and shoes, these resources also functioned as a form of currency, as well as providing the most important export commodities. [14]

The Greenland settlements carried on a trade with Europe in ivory from walrus tusks, as well as exporting rope, sheep, seals, wool and cattle hides (according to one 13th-century account). [ citation needed ] They depended on Iceland and Norway for iron tools, wood (especially for boat building, although they may also have obtained wood from coastal Labrador - Markland), supplemental foodstuffs, and religious and social contacts. For a time, trade ships from Iceland and Norway traveled to Greenland every year and would sometimes overwinter in Greenland. Beginning in the late-13th century, laws required all ships from Greenland to sail directly to Norway. The climate became increasingly colder in the 14th and 15th centuries, during the period of colder weather known as the Little Ice Age.

In 1126 the Roman Catholic Church founded a diocese at Garðar (now Igaliku). It was subject to the Norwegian archdiocese of Nidaros (now Trondheim) at least five churches in Norse Greenland are known from archeological remains. In 1261 the population accepted the overlordship of the King of Norway, although it continued to have its own law. In 1380 the Norwegian kingdom entered into a personal union with the Kingdom of Denmark.

After initially thriving, the Norse settlements in Greenland declined in the 14th century. The Norse abandoned the Western Settlement around 1350. In 1378 there was no longer a bishop at Garðar. In 1379 Inuit attacked the Eastern Settlement, killed 18 men and captured two boys and a woman. [15] In 1402–1404 the Black Death hit Iceland for the first time and killed approximately half the population there - but there is no evidence that it reached Greenland. [16] The last written record of the Norse Greenlanders documents a marriage in 1408 at Hvalsey Church, whose ruins are the best-preserved of the Norse buildings of that period.

After 1408 few written records mention the settlers. Correspondence between the Pope and the Biskop Bertold af Garde dates from the same year. [17] The Danish cartographer Claudius Clavus seems to have visited Greenland in 1420, according to documents written by Nicolas Germanus and Henricus Martellus, who had access to original cartographic notes and a map by Clavus. In the late 20th century the Danish scholars Bjönbo and Petersen found two mathematical manuscripts containing the second chart of the Claudius Clavus map from his journey to Greenland (where he himself mapped the area). [18]

In a letter dated 1448 from Rome, Pope Nicholas V instructed the bishops of Skálholt and Hólar (the two Icelandic episcopal sees) to provide the inhabitants of Greenland with priests and a bishop, the latter of which they had not had in the 30 years since a purported attack by "heathens" who destroyed most of the churches and took the population prisoner. [19] It is probable that the Eastern Settlement was defunct by the middle of the 15th century, although no exact date has been established. A European ship that landed in the former Eastern Settlement in the 1540s found the corpse of a Norse man there, [20] which may be the last mention of a Norse individual from the settlement. [21]

There are many theories as to why the Norse settlements in Greenland collapsed after surviving for some 450–500 years (985 to 1450–1500). Among the factors that have been suggested as contributing to the demise of the Greenland colony are: [22] [23]

  • Cumulative environmental damage
  • Gradual climate change
  • Conflicts with Inuit peoples
  • Loss of contact and support from Europe
  • Cultural conservatism and failure to adapt to an increasingly harsh natural environment
  • Opening of opportunities elsewhere after plague had left many farmsteads abandoned in Iceland and Norway
  • Declining value of ivory in Europe (due to the influx of ivory from Russian walrus and African elephants), forcing hunters to overkill the walrus populations and endanger their own survival [24]

Numerous studies have tested these hypotheses and some have led to significant discoveries. In The Frozen Echo, Kirsten Seaver contests some of the more generally accepted theories about the demise of the Greenland colony, and asserts that the colony, towards the end, was healthier than Diamond and others have thought. Seaver believes that the Greenlanders cannot have starved to death, but rather may have been wiped out by Inuit or unrecorded European attacks, or they may have abandoned the colony for Iceland or Vinland. However, the physical evidence from archeological studies of the ancient farm sites does not show evidence of attack. [ citation needed ] The paucity of personal belongings at these sites is typical of North Atlantic Norse sites that were abandoned in an orderly fashion, with any useful items being deliberately removed but to others it suggests a gradual but devastating impoverishment. Middens at these sites do show an increasingly impoverished diet for humans and livestock. Else Roesdahl argues that declining ivory prices in Europe due to the influx of Russian and African ivory adversely affected the Norse settlements in Greenland, which depended largely on the export of walrus ivory to Europe. [25]

Greenland was always colder in winter than Iceland and Norway, and its terrain less hospitable to agriculture. Erosion of the soil was a danger from the beginning, one that the Greenland settlements may not have recognized until it was too late. For an extended time, nonetheless, the relatively warm West Greenland current flowing northwards along the southwestern coast of Greenland made it feasible for the Norse to farm much as their relatives did in Iceland or northern Norway. Palynologists' tests on pollen counts and fossilized plants prove that the Greenlanders must have struggled with soil erosion and deforestation. [15] A Norse farm in the Vatnahverfi district, excavated in the 1950s, had been buried in layers of drifting sand up to 10 feet deep. As the unsuitability of the land for agriculture became more and more patent, the Greenlanders resorted first to pastoralism and then to hunting for their food. [15] But they never learned to use the hunting techniques of the Inuit, one being a farming culture, the other living on hunting in more northern areas with pack ice. [15]

To investigate the possibility of climatic cooling, scientists drilled into the Greenland ice cap to obtain core samples, which suggested that the Medieval Warm Period had caused a relatively milder climate in Greenland, lasting from roughly 800 to 1200. However, from 1300 or so the climate began to cool. By 1420, the "Little Ice Age" had reached intense levels in Greenland. [26] Excavations of middens from the Norse farms in both Greenland and Iceland show the shift from the bones of cows and pigs to those of sheep and goats. As the winters lengthened, and the springs and summers shortened, there must have been less and less time for Greenlanders to grow hay. A study of North Atlantic seasonal temperature variability showed a significant decrease in maximum summer temperatures beginning in the late 13th century to early 14th century—as much as 6-8 °C lower than modern summer temperatures. [27] The study also found that the lowest winter temperatures of the last 2,000 years occurred in the late 14th century and early 15th century. By the mid-14th century deposits from a chieftain's farm showed a large number of cattle and caribou remains, whereas, a poorer farm only several kilometers away had no trace of domestic animal remains, only seal. Bone samples from Greenland Norse cemeteries confirm that the typical Greenlander diet had increased by this time from 20% sea animals to 80%. [28]

Although Greenland seems to have been uninhabited at the time of initial Norse settlement, the Thule people migrated south and finally came into contact with the Norse in the 12th century. There are limited sources showing the two cultures interacting however, scholars know that the Norse referred to the Inuit (and Vinland natives) as skræling. The Icelandic Annals are among the few existing sources that confirm contact between the Norse and the Inuit. They report an instance of hostility initiated by the Inuit against the Norse, leaving eighteen Greenlanders dead and two boys carried into slavery. [29] Archaeological evidence seems to show that the Inuit traded with the Norse. On the other hand, the evidence shows many Norse artefacts at Inuit sites throughout Greenland and on the Canadian Arctic islands but very few Inuit artefacts in the Norse settlements. This may indicate either European indifference—an instance of cultural resistance to Inuit crafts among them—or perhaps hostile raiding by the Inuit. It is also quite possible that the Norse were trading for perishable items such as meat and furs and had little interest in other Inuit items, much as later Europeans who traded with Native Americans.

The Norse never learned the Inuit techniques of kayak navigation or ring seal hunting. Archaeological evidence plainly establishes that by 1300 or so the Inuit had successfully expanded their winter settlements as close to the Europeans as the outer fjords of the Western Settlement. By 1350, the Norse had completely deserted their Western Settlement. [30] The Inuit, being a hunting society, may have hunted the Norse livestock, forcing the Norse into conflict or abandonment of their settlements. [ citation needed ]

In mild weather conditions, a ship could make the 900-mile (1400 kilometers) trip from Iceland to Eastern Settlement within a couple of weeks. Greenlanders had to keep in contact with Iceland and Norway in order to trade. Little is known about any distinctive shipbuilding techniques among the Greenlanders. Greenland lacks a supply of lumber, so was completely dependent on Icelandic merchants or, possibly, logging expeditions to the Canadian coast. [ citation needed ]

The sagas mention Icelanders traveling to Greenland to trade. [31] Settlement chieftains and large farm owners controlled this trade. Chieftains would trade with the foreign ships and then disperse the goods by trading with the surrounding farmers. [32] The Greenlanders' main commodity was the walrus tusk, [22] which was used primarily in Europe as a substitute for elephant ivory for art décor, whose trade had been blocked by conflict with the Islamic world. Professor Gudmundsson suggests a very valuable narwhal tusk trade, through a smuggling route between western Iceland and the Orkney islands. [ citation needed ]

It has been argued that the royal Norwegian monopoly on shipping contributed to the end of trade and contact. However, Christianity and European customs continued to hold sway among the Greenlanders for the greater part of the 14th and 15th centuries. In 1921, a Danish historian, Paul Norland, found human remains from the Eastern Settlement in the Herjolfsnes church courtyard. The bodies were dressed in 15th century medieval clothing with no indications of malnutrition or inbreeding. Most had crucifixes around their necks with their arms crossed as in a stance of prayer. Roman papal records report that the Greenlanders were excused from paying their tithes in 1345 because the colony was suffering from poverty. [33] The last reported ship to reach Greenland was a private ship that was "blown off course", reaching Greenland in 1406, and departing in 1410 with the last news of Greenland: the burning at the stake of a condemned male witch, the insanity and death of the woman this witch was accused of attempting to seduce through witchcraft, and the marriage of the ship's captain, Thorsteinn Ólafsson, to another Icelander, Sigríður Björnsdóttir. [34] However, there are some suggestions of much later unreported voyages from Europe to Greenland, possibly as late as the 1480s. [35] In the 1540s, [11] a ship drifted off-course to Greenland and discovered the body of a dead man lying face down who demonstrated cultural traits of both Norse and Inuit. An Icelandic crew member of the ship wrote: "He had a hood on his head, well sewn, and clothes from both homespun and sealskin. At his side lay a carving knife bent and worn down by whetting. This knife they took with them for display." [36]

According to a 2009 study, "there is no evidence for perceptible contact between Iceland and Greenland after the mid fifteenth century. It is clear that neither Danish and Norwegian nor Icelandic public functionaries were aware that the Norse Greenland colony had ceased to exist. Around 1514, the Norwegian archbishop Erik Valkendorf (Danish by birth, and still loyal to Christian II) planned an expedition to Greenland, which he believed to be part of a continuous northern landmass leading to the New World with all its wealth, and which he fully expected still to have a Norse population, whose members could be pressed anew to the bosom of church and crown after an interval of well over a hundred years. Presumably, the archbishop had better archives at his disposal than most people, and yet he had not heard that the Greenlanders were gone." [25]

One intriguing fact is that very few fish remains are found among their middens. This has led to much speculation and argument. Most archaeologists reject any decisive judgment based on this one fact, however, as fish bones decompose more quickly than other remains, and may have been disposed of in a different manner. Isotope analysis of the bones of inhabitants shows that marine food sources supplied more and more of the diet of the Norse Greenlanders, making up between 50% and 80% of their diet by the 14th century. [37]

One Inuit story recorded in the 18th century tells that raiding expeditions by European ships over the course of three years destroyed the settlement, after which many of the Norse sailed away south and the Inuit took in some of the remaining women and children before the final attack. [11]

The Late Dorset culture inhabited Greenland until the early fourteenth century. [38] This culture was primarily located in the northwest of Greenland, far from the Norse who lived around the southern coasts. Archaeological evidence points to this culture predating the Norse or Thule settlements. [39] In the region of this culture, there is archaeological evidence of gathering sites for around four to thirty families, living together for a short time during their movement cycle.

Around AD 1300–1400, the Thule arrived from the west settling in the Northeast areas of Greenland. [40] These people, the ancestors of the modern Greenland Inuit, [39] [41] were flexible and engaged in the hunting of almost all animals on land and in the ocean, including walrus, narwhal, and seal. [42] [43] The Thule adapted well to the environment of Greenland, as archaeological evidence indicates that the Thule were not using all parts of hunting kills, unlike other arctic groups, meaning they were able to waste more resources due to either surplus or well adapted behaviors. [42]

The nature of the contacts between the Dorset and Norse cultures is not clear, but may have included trade elements. The level of contact is currently the subject of widespread debate, possibly including Norse trade with Thule or Dorsets in Canada.

Most of the old Norse records concerning Greenland were removed from Trondheim to Copenhagen in 1664 and subsequently lost, probably in the Copenhagen Fire of 1728. [44] The precise date of rediscovery is uncertain because south-drifting icebergs during the Little Ice Age long made the eastern coast unreachable. This led to general confusion between Baffin Island, Greenland, and Spitsbergen, as seen, for example, in the difficulty locating the Frobisher "Strait", which was not confirmed to be a bay until 1861. Nonetheless, interest in discovering a Northwest Passage to Asia led to repeated expeditions in the area, though none were successful until Roald Amundsen in 1906 and even that success involved his being iced in for two years. Christian I of Denmark purportedly sent an expedition to the region under Pothorst and Pining to Greenland in 1472 or 1473 Henry VII of England sent another under Cabot in 1497 and 1498 Manuel I of Portugal sent a third under Corte-Real in 1500 and 1501. It had certainly been generally charted by the 1502 Cantino map, which includes the southern coastline. [44] The island was "rediscovered" yet again by Martin Frobisher in 1578, prompting King Frederick II of Denmark to outfit a new expedition of his own the next year under the Englishman James Alday this proved a costly failure. [44] The influence of English and Dutch whalers became so pronounced that for a time the western shore of the island itself became known as "Davis Strait" (Dutch: Straat Davis) after John Davis's 1585 and 1586 expeditions, which charted the western coast as far north as Disko Bay. [45]

Meanwhile, following Sweden's exit from the Kalmar Union, the remaining states in the personal union were reorganized into Denmark-Norway in 1536. In protest against foreign involvement in the region, the Greenlandic polar bear was included in the state's coat of arms in the 1660s (it was removed in 1958 but remains part of the royal coat of arms). In the second half of the 17th century Dutch, German, French, Basque, and Dano-Norwegian ships hunted bowhead whales in the pack ice off the east coast of Greenland, regularly coming to shore to trade and replenish drinking water. Foreign trade was later forbidden by Danish monopoly merchants.

From 1711 to 1721, [46] the Norwegian cleric Hans Egede petitioned King Frederick IV of Denmark for funding to travel to Greenland and re-establish contact with the Norse settlers there. Presumably, such settlers would still be Catholic or even pagan and he desired to establish a mission among them to spread the Reformation. [47] Frederick permitted Egede and some Norwegian merchants to establish the Bergen Greenland Company to revive trade with the island but refused to grant them a monopoly over it for fear of antagonizing Dutch whalers in the area. [48] The Royal Mission College assumed authority over the mission and provided the company with a small stipend. Egede found but misidentified the ruins of the Norse colony, went bankrupt amid repeated attacks by the Dutch, and found lasting conversion of the migrant Inuit exceedingly difficult. An attempt to found a royal colony under Major Claus Paarss established the settlement of Godthåb ("Good Hope") in 1728, but became a costly debacle which saw most of the soldiers mutiny [47] and the settlers killed by scurvy. [49] Two child converts sent to Copenhagen for the coronation of Christian VI returned in 1733 with smallpox, devastating the island. The same ship that returned them, however, also brought the first Moravian missionaries, who in time would convert a former angekok (Inuit shaman), experience a revival at their mission of New Herrnhut, and establish a string of mission houses along the southwest coast. Around the same time, the merchant Jacob Severin took over administration of the colony and its trade, and having secured a large royal stipend and full monopoly from the king, successfully repulsed the Dutch in a series of skirmishes in 1738 and 1739. Egede himself quit the colony on the death of his wife, leaving the Lutheran mission to his son Poul. Both of them had studied the Kalaallisut language extensively and published works on it as well, Poul and some of the other clergy sent by the Mission College, such as Otto Fabricius, began wide-ranging study of Greenland's flora, fauna, and meteorology. However, though kale, lettuce, and other herbs were successfully introduced, repeated attempts to cultivate wheat or clover failed throughout Greenland, limiting the ability to raise European livestock. [46]

As a result of the Napoleonic Wars, Norway was ceded to Sweden at the 1814 Treaty of Kiel. The colonies, including Greenland, remained in Danish possession. The 19th century saw increased interest in the region on the part of polar explorers and scientists like William Scoresby and Greenland-born Knud Rasmussen. At the same time, the colonial elements of the earlier trade-oriented Danish presence in Greenland expanded. In 1861, the first Greenlandic-language journal was founded. Danish law still applied only to the Danish settlers, though. At the turn of the 19th century, the northern part of Greenland was still sparsely populated only scattered hunting inhabitants were found there. [50] During that century, however, Inuit families immigrated from British North America to settle in these areas. The last group from what later became Canada arrived in 1864. During the same time, the northeastern part of the coast became depopulated following the violent 1783 Lakagígar eruption in Iceland.

Democratic elections for the district assemblies of Greenland were held for the first time in 1862–1863, although no assembly for the land as a whole was allowed. In 1888, a party of six led by Fridtjof Nansen accomplished the first land crossing of Greenland. The men took 41 days to make the crossing on skis, at approximately 64°N latitude. [51] In 1911, two Landstings were introduced, one for northern Greenland and one for southern Greenland, not to be finally merged until 1951. All this time, most decisions were made in Copenhagen, where the Greenlanders had no representation. Towards the end of the 19th century, traders criticized the Danish trade monopoly. It was argued that it kept the natives in non-profitable ways of life, holding back the potentially large fishing industry. Many Greenlanders however were satisfied with the status quo, as they felt the monopoly would secure the future of commercial whaling. It probably did not help that the only contact the local population had with the outside world was with Danish settlers. Nonetheless, the Danes gradually moved over their investments to the fishing industry.

By 1911, the population was about 14,000, scattered along the southern shores. They were nearly all Christian, thanks to the missionary efforts of Moravians and especially Hans Egede (1686–1758), a Lutheran missionary called "the Apostle of Greenland." He founded Greenland's capital Godthåb, now known as Nuuk. His grandson Hans Egede Saabye (1746–1817) continued the missionary activities. [52]

At the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century, American explorers, including Robert Peary, explored the northern sections of Greenland, which up to that time had been a mystery and were often shown on maps as extending over the North Pole. Peary discovered that Greenland's northern coast in fact stopped well short of the pole. These discoveries were considered to be the basis of an American territorial claim in the area. But after the United States purchased the Virgin Islands from Denmark in 1917, it agreed to relinquish all claims on Greenland.

After Norway regained full independence in 1905, it argued that Danish claims to Greenland were invalid since the island had been a Norwegian possession prior to 1815. In 1931, Norwegian meteorologist Hallvard Devold occupied uninhabited eastern Greenland, on his own initiative. After the fact, the occupation was supported by the Norwegian government, who claimed the area as Erik the Red's Land. Two years later, the Permanent Court of International Justice ruled in favor of Denmark.

World War II Edit

During World War II, when Nazi Germany extended its war operations to Greenland, Henrik Kauffmann, the Danish Minister to the United States — who had already refused to recognize the German occupation of Denmark — signed a treaty with the United States on April 9, 1941, granting permission to establish stations in Greenland. [53] Kauffmann did this without the knowledge of the Danish government, and consequently "the Danish government accused him of high treason, fired him and told him to come home immediately – none of which had any result". [53] Because it was difficult for the Danish government to govern the island during the war, and because of successful exports, especially of cryolite, Greenland came to enjoy a rather independent status. Its supplies were guaranteed by the United States.

One Dane was killed in combat with Germans in Greenland. [53]

Cold War Edit

During the Cold War, Greenland had a strategic importance, controlling parts of the passage between the Soviet Union's Arctic Ocean harbours and the Atlantic Ocean, as well as being a good base for observing any use of intercontinental ballistic missiles, typically planned to pass over the Arctic. In the first proposed United States purchase of Greenland, the country offered to buy it for $100,000,000 but Denmark did not agree to sell. [54] [55] In 1951, the Kauffman treaty was replaced by another one. [ citation needed ] The Thule Air Base in the northwest was made permanent. In 1953, some Inuit families were forced by Denmark to move from their homes to provide space for extension of the base. For this reason, the base has been a source of friction between the Danish government and the Greenlandic people. In the 1968 Thule Air Base B-52 crash of January 21, 1968, four hydrogen bombs contaminated the area with radioactive debris. Although most of the contaminated ice was cleaned up, one of the bombs was not accounted for. A 1995 Danish parliamentary scandal, dubbed Thulegate, highlighted that nuclear weapons were routinely present in Greenland's airspace in the years leading up to the accident, and that Denmark had tacitly given the go-ahead for this activity despite its official nuclear free policy.

The United States upgraded the Ballistic Missile Early Warning System to a phased array radar. [56] Opponents argue that the system presents a threat to the local population, as it would be targeted in the event of nuclear war.

The American presence in Greenland brought Sears catalogs, from which Greenlanders and Danes purchased modern appliances and other products by mail. [57] From 1948 to 1950, the Greenland Commission studied the conditions on the island, seeking to address its isolation, unequal laws, and economic stagnation. In the end, the Royal Greenland Trading Department's monopolies were finally removed. In 1953, Greenland was raised from the status of colony to that of an autonomous province or constituent country of the Danish Realm. Greenland was also assigned its own Danish county. Despite its small population, it was provided nominal representation in the Danish Folketing.

A plantation of exotic arctic trees was created in 1954 near Narsarsuaq. [58]

Denmark also began a number of reforms aimed at urbanizing the Greenlanders, principally to replace their dependence on (then) dwindling seal populations and provide workers for the (then) swelling cod fisheries, but also to provide improved social services such as health care, education, and transportation. These well-meaning reforms have led to a number of problems, particularly modern unemployment and the infamous Blok P housing project. The attempt to introduce European-style urban housing suffered from such inattention to local detail that Inuit could not fit through the doors in their winter clothing and fire escapes were constantly blocked by fishing gear too bulky to fit into the cramped apartments. [59] Television broadcasts began in 1982. The collapse of the cod fisheries and mines in the late 1980s and early 1990s greatly damaged the economy, which now principally depends on Danish aid and cold-water shrimp exports. Large sectors of the economy remain controlled by state-owned corporations, with Air Greenland and the Arctic Umiaq ferry heavily subsidized to provide access to remote settlements. The major airport remains the former US air base at Kangerlussuaq well north of Nuuk, with the capital unable to accept international flights on its own, owing to concerns about expense and noise pollution.

Greenland's minimal representation in the Folketing meant that despite 70.3% of Greenlanders rejecting entry into the European Common Market (EEC), it was pulled in along with Denmark in 1973. Fears that the customs union would allow foreign firms to compete and overfish its waters were quickly realized and the local parties began to push strongly for increased autonomy. The Folketing approved devolution in 1978 and the next year enacted home rule under a local Landsting. On 23 February 1982, a bare majority (53%) of Greenland's population voted to leave the EEC, a process which lasted until 1985. This resulted in The Greenland Treaty of 1985. [60]

Greenland Home Rule has become increasingly Greenlandized, rejecting Danish and avoiding regional dialects to standardize the country under the language and culture of the Kalaallit (West Greenland Inuit). The capital Godthåb was renamed Nuuk in 1979 a local flag was adopted in 1985 the Danish KGH became the locally administered Kalaallit Niuerfiat (now KNI A/S) in 1986. Following a successful referendum on self-government in 2008, the local parliament's powers were expanded and Danish was removed as an official language in 2009.

International relations are now largely, but not entirely, also left to the discretion of the home rule government. As part of the treaty controlling Greenland's exit of the EEC, Greenland was declared a "special case" with access to the EEC market as a constituent country of Denmark, which remains a member. [60] Greenland is also a member of several small organizations [ which? ] along with Iceland, the Faroes, and the Inuit populations of Canada and Russia. [ citation needed ] It was one of the founders of the environmental Arctic Council in 1996. The US military bases on the island remain a major issue, with some politicians pushing for renegotiation of the 1951 US–Denmark treaty by the Home Rule government. The 1999–2003 Commission on Self-Governance even proposed that Greenland should aim at Thule base's removal from American authority and operation under the aegis of the United Nations. [61]

Was John Cabot the first European to reach Newfoundland since (arguably) the Vikings? - History

Genoa . . . Venice . . . Bristol . . . New World!!

It's time to throw fake "Discoverer" Portuguese "Christopher Columbus" overboard into the sea of oblivion where he rightly belongs!!

The Fall of Constantinople to the Muslim Turks in 1453 blocked the great maritime power of Venice from the Eastern Mediterranean and the Asian spice trade. As a result, they set their eyes on a westward passage to the Orient.

John Cabot used maps that the Venetian looted from Constantinople in 1202.

On June 24, 1494, John Cabot landed in the New World and planted the banners of England, Ireland and France and the lion of St. Mark of Venice.

According to the laws of discovery in force at that time, when a country discovered an island, that entire island belonged to that country.

Since the New World was ONE CONTINENT or landmass from north to south, John Cabot's claim of first discovery extends to the entire New World.

Christopher Columbus can claim the islands of Santo Domingo, Cuba and the Caribbean Islands—but that is all.

John Cabot (Giovanni Caboto) was born in Genoa, Italy, in 1450.

New World Discoverer John Cabot was born in Genoa, Italy, in 1450. We believe that he was born in this very house that is now falsely called the birthplace of Columbus.

John Cabot was born in Genoa, Italy, in 1450.

The house that is the supposed birthplace of wool-comber Columbus is actually the birthplace of the great mariner and Discoverer.

Only the Genoese and Venetians fought side by side with the Eastern Romans to defend their beloved city against the Muslim Turks.

Venice was the adopted homeland of the family of John Cabot

John Cabot's family moved to Venice when he was 11 years old.

Venice was the sailing superpower of the Middle Ages. She was also known as "queen of the seas." Any non-Venetian who wanted to learn oceangoing navigation went to Venice. Venice had a very special relationship with Constantinople and often fought side by side with the Eastern Romans.

Venice—the queen of the seas—had a very special relationship with Constantinople.

St. Mark's Cathedral is modeled after Hagia Sophia in Constantinople.

Greek scholars found a refuge in Venice after the Fall of Constantinople in 1453.

Greek scholars found a refuge in Venice after the Fall of Constantinople in 1453.

John Cabot moved to Bristol, England, in the year 1480, when he was 30 years old. His dream of emulating Marco Polo and traveling to China was blocked by the Muslim Turkish conquest of Constantinople.

England was the adopted homeland of John Cabot

Expert mariner that he was, John Cabot realized that the only way of reaching China was to sail westward. The most westerly port at that time was located in Bristol, England.

Bristol had a seafaring tradition dating back to the Romans, and her fishermen often visited the rich fishing grounds off Newfoundland.

Genoa . . . Venice . . . Bristol . . . John Cabot was already a world traveler before he set out on his Homeric voyage of Discovery.

In Bristol, he built his own ship called the Matthew, after his Venetian wife Matea.

John Cabot was a POOR MAN so he worked in the Bristol fishing industry. After many years of hard work he financed the building of his own ship. A Bristol merchant named Richard AMERIKE helped to finance his voyages. John Cabot repaid his generosity by naming the New World Amerike.

Legal claim to the New World rests upon the Discovery of Cabot!!

The legal claim to the New World rests upon the prior Discovery of John Cabot. Joseph Story was a Supreme Court justice from 1812 to 1845 and the first professor of law at Harvard University Law School. He was the author of Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States—one of the most excellent commentaries on the Constitution ever written. Here is a brief quote from that book:

Of course Justice Story did not know that it was the initial voyages of Cabot to the New World that caused Spain to send Columbus in order to preempt the great Venetian Discoverer. The LEGEND of Christopher Columbus only began in the U.S. following the fall of the Papal States in 1870.

We understand that the New World was inhabited by millions of people thousands of years before Cabot's Discovery. The first people to arrive here were the descendants of Noah who came a few hundred years after the nations were scattered at the Tower of Babel. The first settlers might have been blown across a then much smaller ocean by a hurricane or simply fishermen in search of fish.

Later on the Phoenicians came here and we know that the Egyptians built the pyramids in Mexico. Around the year 600 A.D., Hibernian (Irish) missionaries came here in order to preach true Christianity to the natives. The merciless, mercenary Vikings came here too but they followed the Irish missionaries in order to kill them and destroy their work.

The Sebastian Cabot Planisphere was in the secret archives of the Vatican!!

The famous Sebastian Cabot Planisphere was hidden away in the Secret Archives of the Vatican for 300 years until Napoleon found it and took it Paris.

The map was the work of Sebastian Cabot, the son of John Cabot. It was discovered in 1843 in Bavaria. Like the Juan de la Cosa map, it was taken to Paris when Napoleon invaded Rome in 1810. Most of the archives were returned except for this map and the Juan de la Cosa map.

The GREAT New World Discoverer may have made earlier attempts to reach the New World, but the first voyage that we know about was made in 1491.

All the later historians have the first Cabot voyage in 1497, but that is an error because Cabot (unlike Columbus) made his discoveries first, and then went to his sovereign for official recognition.

This map, called the Sebastian Cabot Planisphere (1544) is in the Bibliothèque Nationale de Paris. It shows the correct date of 1494 for the Discovery. It reads in Latin with the date of 1494:

Here is the Spanish inscription on the map:

Queen Elizabeth I had a copy of this map by Sebastian Cabot in her palace at Westminster.

King Henry VII granted a Royal Charter to John Cabot to take possession of the New World.

By doing so he defied the Papal Bull of Pope Alexander VI granting the entire New World to Spain.

John Cabot explaining his great Discovery of the New World to King Henry VII of England.

By the time John Cabot arrived back in Bristol after his great Discovery, the Papal Bull granting the entire New World to Spain had arrived in England.

Cabot realized at once that Rome and Spain were trying to STEAL the New World from him. To protect his Discovery, he applied to the king for a Royal Charter or Letters Patent.

King Henry granted the Charter but he knew that this could cost him his throne due to the Papal threat of excommunication. This was just before the Reformation and ALL of Europe still trembled before the roaring lion seated on the 7 Hills.

Thank God that the king ignored his threats and fulminations!!

The Juan de la Cosa map was in the secret archives for about 300 years!!

John Cabot used his own superb navigation skills plus the ancient maps from Venice to chart the New World coastline.

This map shows English flags all the way from Newfoundland to Florida.

Like the Sebastian Cabot Planisphere, it was taken to Paris when Napoleon invaded Rome in 1810.

The original parchment of this map or chart, a piece of ox-hide measuring 37.5 x 72 inches (96 X 183 cm), superbly illustrated in ink and water colors, was found in 1832 in a shop in Paris by Baron Walckenaer, a bibliophile and the Dutch Ambassador, and was brought to the attention of the world the following year by Alexander Humboldt, the famous German scholar. Upon the death of Baron Walckenaer in 1853, the map was purchased by the Queen of Spain, and though greatly deteriorated, is now the chief treasure of the Museo Naval in Madrid.

The Waldseemuller map was the first map to have the name America!!

If we discount aliens from outer space, there is ONLY ONE explanation for the mysterious Waldseemuller map. Cabot was an excellent mariner and the Venetians were the best sailors in the world up to that time. Of course the men from Bristol were used to long sea voyages into the Atlantic ocean in search of fish. John Cabot must have discovered the strait leading into the Pacific ocean and basically followed the same route as later followed by Sir Francis Drake.

Universalis Cosmographia , the Waldseemüller wall map dated 1507, depicts the Americas, Africa, Europe, Asia, and the Pacific Ocean separating Asia from the Americas.
The New World is named America and the Pacific ocean is clearly displayed on this map years before Balboa first saw it!!

This is the first modern map depicting the Pacific ocean and the first map to contain the name AMERICA.

How America got its name. A Vespucci sting operation!!

There is no reord that Amerigo Verspucci got a license from Spain to visit the New World. Therefore, it is certain that he never made a voyage over here.

Amerigo Vespucci (1451-1512),
shown here as a young boy.

Vespucci was a COMMONER—of that we can be certain.

Even his profession—money lending—was frowned upon because of the practice of usury.

Never during the AGE of Discovery was the first name of a commoner used to name a new found land.

Vespa from which the name Vespucci is derived is the Italian word for WASP. The entire New World has received a nasty sting of venom from the wasp Amerigo Vespucci.

Amerigo Vespucci (son of Nastagio Vespucci) was born into the rich money lending Vespucci family in Florence, Italy, on March 9, 1451. The family was related to the rich and powerful money lending Medici banking cartel. Several of the Medici dynasty became Popes, among them was the infamous Leo X who excommunicated Saint Martin Luther:

John Cabot's Bristol paymaster was named Richard Amerike!!

Intimate details of the Cabot voyages were sent back to Spain—including maps. Now it so happens that John Cabot had a pa ymaster named Richard Amerike. John Cabot had a habit of giving away islands to his friends:

It is certain that John Cabot wrote the name of his paymaster (Amerike) on one of the islands or perhaps on the MAINLAND ITSELF:

When Verspucci saw the name Richard Amerike either on a map of the New World or among the papers of John Cabot, he noticed the similarity of names. Right there and then, his devilish mind began to concoct a scheme to supplant Richard Amerike and have the New World named after himself.

A Latin Church historian named Bartolomé de la Casas wrote about the "long premeditated plan of Vespucci to have the world acknowledge him as the Discoverer of the largest part of the Indies." (de las Casas, History of the Indies, p. 95).

Memorial brass of Richard Amerike's
daughter Joan, in St. Mary Redcliffe.
St. Mary Redcliffe, Bristol.

"Fig.25: Memorial brass of Richard Amerike's daughter Joan, and her husband John Brook, to be seen virtually alongside that of John Jay in the chancel of Bristol's St. Mary Redcliffe church. The Latin inscription reads: 'Here lies the body of that venerable man John Brook, serjeant-at-law to that most illustrious prince of happy memory King Henry VIII and Justice of Assize for the same king in the western parts of England, and chief steward of the honourable house and monastery of the Blessed Mary of Glastonbury in the County of Somerset in which John died on the 25th day of December 1522. And near him rests Joan his wife, one of the daughters and heirs of Richard Amerike, on whose souls may God have mercy, Amen." (Wilson, The Columbus Myth, p.167).


According to the Sagas of Icelanders, Norsemen from Iceland first settled Greenland in the 980s. There is no special reason to doubt the authority of the information that the sagas supply regarding the very beginning of the settlement, but they cannot be treated as primary evidence for the history of Norse Greenland because they embody the literary preoccupations of writers and audiences in medieval Iceland that are not always reliable. [5]

Erik the Red (Old Norse: Eiríkr rauði), having been banished from Iceland for manslaughter, explored the uninhabited southwestern coast of Greenland during the three years of his banishment. [6] [7] He made plans to entice settlers to the area, naming it Greenland on the assumption that "people would be more eager to go there because the land had a good name". [8] The inner reaches of one long fjord, named Eiriksfjord after him, was where he eventually established his estate Brattahlid. He issued tracts of land to his followers. [9]

Norse Greenland consisted of two settlements. The Eastern was at the southwestern tip of Greenland, while the Western Settlement was about 500 km up the west coast, inland from present-day Nuuk. A smaller settlement near the Eastern Settlement is sometimes considered the Middle Settlement. The combined population was around 2,000–3,000. [10] At least 400 farms have been identified by archaeologists. [9] Norse Greenland had a bishopric (at Garðar) and exported walrus ivory, furs, rope, sheep, whale and seal blubber, live animals such as polar bears, supposed "unicorn horns" (in reality narwhal tusks), and cattle hides. In 1126, the population requested a bishop (headquartered at Garðar), and in 1261, they accepted the overlordship of the Norwegian king. They continued to have their own law and became almost completely politically independent after 1349, the time of the Black Death. In 1380, the Kingdom of Norway entered into a personal union with the Kingdom of Denmark. [11]

Western trade and decline Edit

There is evidence of Norse trade with the natives (called the Skræling by the Norse). The Norse would have encountered both Native Americans (the Beothuk, related to the Algonquin) and the Thule, the ancestors of the Inuit. The Dorset had withdrawn from Greenland before the Norse settlement of the island. Items such as comb fragments, pieces of iron cooking utensils and chisels, chess pieces, ship rivets, carpenter's planes, and oaken ship fragments used in Inuit boats have been found far beyond the traditional range of Norse colonization. A small ivory statue that appears to represent a European has also been found among the ruins of an Inuit community house. [11]

The settlements began to decline in the 14th century. The Western Settlement was abandoned around 1350, and the last bishop at Garðar died in 1377. [11] After a marriage was recorded in 1408, no written records mention the settlers. It is probable that the Eastern Settlement was defunct by the late 15th century. The most recent radiocarbon date found in Norse settlements as of 2002 was 1430 (±15 years). [ citation needed ] Several theories have been advanced to explain the decline.

The Little Ice Age of this period would have made travel between Greenland and Europe, as well as farming, more difficult although seal and other hunting provided a healthy diet, there was more prestige in cattle farming, and there was increased availability of farms in Scandinavian countries depopulated by famine and plague epidemics. In addition, Greenlandic ivory may have been supplanted in European markets by cheaper ivory from Africa. [12] Despite the loss of contact with the Greenlanders, the Norwegian-Danish crown continued to consider Greenland a possession.

Not knowing whether the old Norse civilization remained in Greenland or not—and worried that if it did, it would still be Orthodox [13] [14] [15] [16] or Catholic 200 years after the Scandinavian homelands had experienced the Reformation—a joint merchant-clerical expedition led by the Dano-Norwegian missionary Hans Egede was sent to Greenland in 1721. Though this expedition found no surviving Europeans, it marked the beginning of Denmark's re-assertion of sovereignty over the island.

Climate and Norse Greenland Edit

Norse Greenlanders were limited to scattered fjords on the island that provided a spot for their animals (such as cattle, sheep, goats, dogs, and cats) to be kept and farms to be established. [17] [18] In these fjords, the farms depended upon byres to host their livestock in the winter, and routinely culled their herds in order to survive the season. [17] [18] [19] The coming warmer seasons meant that livestocks were taken from their byres to pasture, the most fertile being controlled by the most powerful farms and the church. [18] [19] [20] What was produced by livestock and farming was supplemented with subsistence hunting of mainly seal and caribou as well as walrus for trade. [17] [18] [19] The Norse mainly relied on the Nordrsetur hunt, a communal hunt of migratory harp seals that would take place during spring. [17] [20] Trade was highly important to the Greenland Norse and they relied on imports of lumber due to the barrenness of Greenland. In turn they exported goods such as walrus ivory and hide, live polar bears, and narwhal tusks. [19] [20] Ultimately these setups were vulnerable as they relied on migratory patterns created by climate as well as the well-being of the few fjords on the island. [18] [20] A portion of the time the Greenland settlements existed was during the Little Ice Age and the climate was, overall, becoming cooler and more humid. [17] [18] [19] As climate began to cool and humidity began to increase, this brought longer winters and shorter springs, more storms and affected the migratory patterns of the harp seal. [17] [18] [19] [20] Pasture space began to dwindle and fodder yields for the winter became much smaller. This combined with regular herd culling made it hard to maintain livestock, especially for the poorest of the Greenland Norse. [17] In spring, the voyages to where migratory harp seals could be found became more dangerous due to more frequent storms, and the lower population of harp seals meant that Nordrsetur hunts became less successful, making subsistence hunting extremely difficult. [17] [18] The strain on resources made trade difficult, and as time went on, Greenland exports lost value in the European market due to competing countries and the lack of interest in what was being traded. [20] Trade in elephant ivory began competing with the trade in walrus tusks that provided income to Greenland, and there is evidence that walrus over-hunting, particularly of the males with larger tusks, led to walrus population declines. [21]

In addition, it seemed that the Norse were unwilling to integrate with the Thule people of Greenland, either through marriage or culture. There is evidence of contact as seen through the Thule archaeological record including ivory depictions of the Norse as well as bronze and steel artifacts. However, there is essentially no material evidence of the Thule among Norse artifacts. [17] [18] In older research it was posited that it was not climate change alone that led to Norse decline, but also their unwillingness to adapt. [17] For example, if the Norse had decided to focus their subsistence hunting on the ringed seal (which could be hunted year round, though individually), and decided to reduce or do away with their communal hunts, food would have been much less scarce during the winter season. [18] [19] [20] [22] Also, had Norse individuals used skin instead of wool to produce their clothing, they would have been able to fare better nearer to the coast, and wouldn't have been as confined to the fjords. [18] [19] [20] However, more recent research has shown that the Norse did try to adapt in their own ways. [23] Some of these attempts included increased subsistence hunting. A significant number of bones of marine animals can be found at the settlements, suggesting increased hunting with the absence of farmed food. [23] In addition, pollen records show that the Norse didn't always devastate the small forests and foliage as previously thought. Instead the Norse ensured that overgrazed or overused sections were given time to regrow and moved to other areas. [23] Norse farmers also attempted to adapt. With the increased need for winter fodder and smaller pastures, they would self-fertilize their lands in an attempt to keep up with the new demands caused by the changing climate. [23] However, even with these attempts, climate change was not the only thing putting pressure on the Greenland Norse. The economy was changing, and the exports they relied on were losing value. [20] Current research suggests that the Norse were unable to maintain their settlements because of economic and climatic change happening at the same time. [23] [24]

According to the Icelandic sagas—Eirik the Red's Saga, [25] Saga of the Greenlanders, plus chapters of the Hauksbók and the Flatey Book—the Norse started to explore lands to the west of Greenland only a few years after the Greenland settlements were established. In 985, while sailing from Iceland to Greenland with a migration fleet consisting of 400–700 settlers [9] [26] and 25 other ships (14 of which completed the journey), a merchant named Bjarni Herjólfsson was blown off course, and after three days' sailing he sighted land west of the fleet. Bjarni was only interested in finding his father's farm, but he described his findings to Leif Erikson who explored the area in more detail and planted a small settlement fifteen years later. [9]

The sagas describe three separate areas that were explored: Helluland, which means "land of the flat stones" Markland, "the land of forests", definitely of interest to settlers in Greenland where there were few trees and Vinland, "the land of wine", found somewhere south of Markland. It was in Vinland that the settlement described in the sagas was founded.

Leif's winter camp Edit

Using the routes, landmarks, currents, rocks, and winds that Bjarni had described to him, Leif sailed from Greenland westward across the Labrador Sea, with a crew of 35—sailing the same knarr Bjarni had used to make the voyage. He described Helluland as "level and wooded, with broad white beaches wherever they went and a gently sloping shoreline." [9] Leif and others had wanted his father, Erik the Red, to lead this expedition and talked him into it. However, as Erik attempted to join his son Leif on the voyage towards these new lands, he fell off his horse as it slipped on the wet rocks near the shore thus he was injured and stayed behind. [9]

Leif wintered in 1001, probably near Cape Bauld on the northern tip of Newfoundland, where one day his foster father Tyrker was found drunk, on what the saga describes as "wine-berries." Squashberries, gooseberries, and cranberries all grew wild in the area. There are varying explanations for Leif apparently describing fermented berries as "wine."

Leif spent another winter at "Leifsbúðir" without conflict, and sailed back to Brattahlíð in Greenland to assume filial duties to his father.

Thorvald's voyage (1004 AD) Edit

In 1004, Leif's brother Thorvald Eiriksson sailed with a crew of 30 men to Vinland and spent the following winter at Leif's camp. In the spring, Thorvald attacked nine of the local people who were sleeping under three skin-covered canoes. The ninth victim escaped and soon came back to the Norse camp with a force. Thorvald was killed by an arrow that succeeded in passing through the barricade. Although brief hostilities ensued, the Norse explorers stayed another winter and left the following spring. Subsequently, another of Leif's brothers, Thorstein, sailed to the New World to retrieve his dead brother's body, but he died before leaving Greenland. [9]

Karlsefni's expedition (1009 AD) Edit

In 1009, Thorfinn Karlsefni, also known as "Thorfinn the Valiant", supplied three ships with livestock and 160 men and women [26] (although another source sets the number of settlers at 250). After a cruel winter, he headed south and landed at Straumfjord. He later moved to Straumsöy, possibly because the current was stronger there. A sign of peaceful relations between the indigenous peoples and the Norsemen is noted here. The two sides bartered with furs and gray squirrel skins for milk and red cloth, which the natives tied around their heads as a sort of headdress.

There are conflicting stories but one account states that a bull belonging to Karlsefni came storming out of the wood, so frightening the natives that they ran to their skin-boats and rowed away. They returned three days later, in force. The natives used catapults, hoisting "a large sphere on a pole it was dark blue in color" and about the size of a sheep's belly, [28] which flew over the heads of the men and made an ugly din. [28]

The Norsemen retreated. Leif Erikson's half-sister Freydís Eiríksdóttir was pregnant and unable to keep up with the retreating Norsemen. She called out to them to stop fleeing from "such pitiful wretches", adding that if she had weapons, she could do better than that. Freydís seized the sword belonging to a man who had been killed by the natives. She pulled one of her breasts out of her bodice and struck it with the sword, frightening the natives, who fled. [28]

Purported runestones have been found in North America, most famously the Kensington Runestone. These are generally considered to be hoaxes or misinterpretations of Native American petroglyphs. [29]

There are many claims of Norse colonization in New England, none well founded.

Monuments claimed to be Norse include: [30]

Horsford's Norumbega Edit

The nineteenth-century Harvard chemist Eben Norton Horsford connected the Charles River Basin to places described in the Norse sagas and elsewhere, notably Norumbega. [31] He published several books on the topic and had plaques, monuments, and statues erected in honor of the Norse. [32] His work received little support from mainstream historians and archeologists at the time, and even less today. [33] [34] [35]

Other nineteenth-century writers, such as Horsford's friend Thomas Gold Appleton, in his A Sheaf of Papers (1875), and George Perkins Marsh, in his The Goths in New England, seized upon such false notions of Viking history also to promote the superiority of white people (as well as to oppose the Catholic Church). Such misuse of Viking history and imagery reemerged in the twentieth century among some groups promoting white supremacy. [36]

Settlements in continental North America aimed to exploit natural resources such as furs and in particular lumber, which was in short supply in Greenland. [37] It is unclear why the short-term settlements did not become permanent, though it was likely in part because of hostile relations with the indigenous peoples, referred to as the Skræling by the Norse. [38] Nevertheless, it appears that sporadic voyages to Markland for forages, timber, and trade with the locals could have lasted as long as 400 years. [39] [40]

From 985 to 1410, Greenland was in touch with the world. Then silence. In 1492 the Vatican noted that no news of that country "at the end of the world" had been received for 80 years, and the bishopric of the colony was offered to a certain ecclesiastic if he would go and "restore Christianity" there. He didn't go. [41]

For centuries it remained unclear whether the Icelandic stories represented real voyages by the Norse to North America. The sagas first gained serious historic respectability in 1837 when the Danish antiquarian Carl Christian Rafn pointed out the possibility for a Norse settlement in, or voyages to, North America. North America, by the name Winland, first appeared in written sources in a work by Adam of Bremen from approximately 1075. The most important works about North America and the early Norse activities there, namely the Sagas of Icelanders, were recorded in the 13th and 14th centuries. In 1420, some Inuit captives and their kayaks were taken to Scandinavia. [43] The Norse sites were depicted in the Skálholt Map, made by an Icelandic teacher in 1570 and depicting part of northeastern North America and mentioning Helluland, Markland and Vinland. [44]

Evidence of the Norse west of Greenland came in the 1960s when archaeologist Anne Stine Ingstad and her husband, outdoorsman and author Helge Ingstad, excavated a Norse site at L'Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland. The location of the various lands described in the sagas remains unclear, however. Many historians identify Helluland with Baffin Island and Markland with Labrador. The location of Vinland poses a thornier question.

In 2012 Canadian researchers identified possible signs of Norse outposts in Nanook at Tanfield Valley on Baffin Island, as well as on Nunguvik, Willows Island, and Avayalik. [45] [46] [47] Unusual fabric cordage found on Baffin Island in the 1980s and stored at the Canadian Museum of Civilization was identified in 1999 as possibly of Norse manufacture that discovery led to more in-depth exploration of the Tanfield Valley archaeological site for points of contact between Norse Greenlanders and the indigenous Dorset people. [48] [49]

Archeological findings in 2015 at Point Rosee, [50] [51] on the southwest coast of Newfoundland, were originally thought to reveal evidence of a turf wall and the roasting of bog iron ore, and therefore a possible 10th century Norse settlement in Canada. [52] Findings from the 2016 excavation suggest the turf wall and the roasted bog iron ore discovered in 2015 were the result of natural processes. [53] The possible settlement was initially discovered through satellite imagery in 2014, [54] and archaeologists excavated the area in 2015 and 2016. [54] [52] Birgitta Linderoth Wallace, one of the leading experts of Norse archaeology in North America and an expert on the Norse site at L'Anse aux Meadows, is unsure of the identification of Point Rosee as a Norse site. [55] Archaeologist Karen Milek was a member of the 2016 Point Rosee excavation and is a Norse expert. She also expressed doubt that Point Rosee was a Norse site as there are no good landing sites for their boats and there are steep cliffs between the shoreline and the excavation site. [56] In their November 8, 2017, report [57] Sarah Parcak and Gregory Mumford, co-directors of the excavation, wrote that they "found no evidence whatsoever for either a Norse presence or human activity at Point Rosee prior to the historic period" [51] and that "none of the team members, including the Norse specialists, deemed this area as having any traces of human activity." [50]

John Cabot and the first English Expedition to America

Did you know that Christopher Columbus never discovered mainland America? In fact, during his first voyage in 1492 he only landed in the West Indies, Cuba and the Dominican Republic, leaving the vast continent of North America untouched since Leif Ericson and his Viking expedition some five centuries earlier.

It was, in fact, a ship commissioned by England’s very own King Henry VII which first reached the American mainland in 1497, albeit led by a Venetian captain called John Cabot. Dropping anchor at Cape Bonavista on Newfoundland on June 24th, Cabot and his English crew only remained on land long enough to fetch some fresh water and claim the land for the Crown. Although the crew did not meet any natives during their brief visit, they did apparently come across tools, nets and the remains of a fire.

For the following weeks Cabot continued to explore the coastline of Canada, making observations and charting the coastline for future expeditions.

Upon arriving back in England in early August, Cabot went straight to London to inform King Henry VII of his discoveries. For a short period of time Cabot was treated as a celebrity throughout the country, although surprisingly Henry only offered him £10 as a reward for his work!

Above: The monument to John Cabot’s landing at Cape Bonavista, Canada. Photo by Tango7174, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License

Although Cabot’s expedition would have seen the first Englishmen walk upon the American mainland, it is important to remember that the Welsh were reputedly colonising Alabama as far back the 12th century! You can read the story of Prince Madog and his exploration of America here.

Watch the video: The JCU Elevator Pitch Competition - John Cabot University (January 2022).