It has long been known that the Vikings crossed the Atlantic Ocean long before Christopher Columbus. But until now there was no indication that anyone outside Northern Europe had heard of the Americas before Columbus’s voyage in 1492. Professor of medieval Italian Latin literature Paolo Chiesa, of the University of Milan, has found a book written by an early Italian monk. Fourteenth century books refer to the continent.
In their stories, the Vikings spoke of expeditions to the coast of modern Canada: to Helioland, identified by scholars as present-day Labrador, to Markland (Newfoundland) and Vinland (southern Newfoundland). In Newfoundland, the remains of Norwegian buildings were found in 1960.
There was no indication that these new territories were also known to peoples other than the Normans. But Chiesa and his team discovered a manuscript by the Dominican friar Galvanius Flama (1283-1345) in Milan, written in the early 14th century, describing an unusual land between the Atlantic and the icy oceans of the Arctic, just outside modern Greenland.
Marshalada is mentioned in his writings. “This land corresponds to the Markland region, mentioned in Icelandic sources and identified by scientists as part of the Atlantic coast of North America,” explains Kiza. Flama had heard about this area in Genoa, which, according to Chiesa, is the first mention of the American continent in the Mediterranean.
Flama wrote about the American continent in the third of the 15-volume Cronica Universalis, which he wrote between 1339 and 1345. There is only one copy left of it, made at the end of the fourteenth century and in the possession of a private collector who allowed Chiesa and his team to study and photograph it.
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