BLTC Press Titles

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The Characters of Theophrastus


The Secret Doctrine, Volume II Anthropogenesis

H. P. Blavatsky

Shakti and Shakta

John Woodroffe

My Man Jeeves

P. G. Wodehouse

History of America before Columbus

by Peter De Roo




St. Brendan's Island And Legend.

The very nature of the questions which we have proposed to examine, the seeking after the European influences which so largely contributed to shape the religious and social institutions of ancient America, gives us readily to understand that our further study will require, above all, the help of European information.

We have succeeded in obtaining valuable intelligence regarding the history of pre-Columbian America from quite a number of authentic documents, either but little known or yet altogether unpublished. Ancient manuscripts and rare collections of authentic historical sources, besides the writings of venerable historians, also cast a flood of light upon a period of our continent which, until lately, was regarded as simply prehistoric. Yet we must acknowledge that we have not found any information strictly historical anterior to the sixth century of our era in regard to influential communication between Christian Europe and pagan America.

We might have expected to find in the Vatican archives, which form the most complete and most authentic history of the world, the solution of the imporII.—1 i

tant questions regarding our ancient history; but this precious collection of documents has been so often dispersed, robbed, and mutilated by barbarous and schismatic nations,1 that almost nothing can be found there anterior to the eighth century, and but very little prior to the tenth.

As in all other countries, so also in Europe, does every historical branch commence with legends scarcely more reliable than the traditions of our aborigines; yet we feel obliged to notice a couple of these, to give our readers an idea of what even learned men have afforded as an answer to the questions with which we have closed the previous volume.

Although we may slightly depart from chronological order, we shall at once dispose of one of these popular tales ascribing the ancient Christianization of our continent to the same nation which, after Columbus's discovery, was foremost in preaching the gospel of Christ upon American soil.2

The finding of crosses in Cozumel and Yucatan was puzzling to the Spanish discoverers. Gomara and others, rather than to admit the devil as the manufacturer of those Christian symbols, had recourse to an ancient Portuguese legend, according to which, after the battle of Xeres de la Frontera, in the year 711, in which the effeminate King Rodrigo was slain by Tarik, and Spain passed under the domination of the African Mahome

1 Especially in the years 409, 455, to sail, eighteen hundred years 456, 475, 847, 1117, 15*27, 1796. ago, to the fisheries of Newfound

2 Lescarbot.with excusable pride, land, yet despised to live there bepretends that his countrymen, the cause it was but an immense waste. French, discovered America during A reader of Cwsar's "Gallic AVar" the first years of, or already be- will object to the statement, alfore, the Christian era. (Liv. iii. though the Gauls at the time were ch. i. p. 228.) The claim rests upon well fitted to be the ancestors of a legend of Postel's geographical some of our savage tribes.

chart, telling that the French used

dans, a great number of Christians, to escape slavery or death, sprang into their ships and confided themselves to the winds and the waves of the Dark Ocean. These fugitives, it was thought, might eventually have landed in Central America, have placed crosses upon their graves, as it was done in their native country, and taught the natives to respect them.1

Akin to this was another story telling that, at the defeat of Rodrigo, seven bishops, or, more correctly, six bishops and the archbishop of Porto, accompanied by a great number of people fleeing from the fearful persecution, set sail and finally disembarked on a distant western island, where they built seven cities, each one as a new diocese for each bishop. Hence the name of "Island of the Seven Cities, Septe Ciudades," 2 which was, however, also known by the name of "Antilia," as we may notice from a remark on Martin Behaim's map of the year 1492.

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