I looked into some of the stories you have cited. For me, I "stumbled"
quite randomly to a book Northern Mists, by a well-known US academic
geographer, Carl Sauer. In fact, I was studying geography at the time
the University of Texas. A student of Carl Sauer, professor Robin
was present to help explain the book. Finding the book was odd, because
I picked it up at random from literally hundreds of thousands of books
in the PCL library at the University of Texas and open the book to
on the Name. That led me to dig deeper. In the Harry Ransom center
the University, where they store such artifacts as a Guetenberg bible,
found a microfiche that described sailors having testified to finding
the island of Brasil to the Irish Congress around the 1640s. The claimed
they could not find their way back however. People they picked up from
this island, they call O'Brasil. That was in the testimony. This
microfiche can only be viewed on premises however and I do not have
access to these notes. However, I have access to the text I typed in
from this very informal geography book...
Coincidently, even though my name, Francisco comes from my mother's
of the family, which is Hispanic, there was a "Francisco Brazile",
last and first name spelled identicle to my name, registered in
Tuscalusca, Alabama in the 1860 census, if I do recall correctly.
Frank Brazile | Internet:
| University of Zurich, Geography Institute
Generalization Group | Winterthurerstr. 190
number: 41 1 635 5255 | 8057 Zuerich, CH
Taken from various chapters of Northern mists, by Sauer, C.
Double spaces represent separation of chapters in book.
Perhaps because Bristol had a privileged position with regard
Ireland, the ancient Irish legend of the Isle of Brasil took root
there. Its quest from Bristol has been documented as far back
reported as returning to an Irish port on September 18,
been driven back by storm without finding the island. On July
purpose of ``examining and finding a certain island
isle of brasil. The ships belonged to a partnership of
merchants. It is known by Bristol records that the ships
and returned but not what they found. The chief participant,
Thomas Croft, was given exemption of duty on
forty bushels of
salt loaded on each ship as not being merchandise but for
intent to search and fynde the
Isle of Brasil.'' This might
satisfy the customs record, but why so much salt unless it was to
be used as Professor Quinn has surmised, for salting
fish at a
western fishing ground already known to Bristol?
If men of
Bristol had discovered the great fishery off NewFoundLand,
might not have advertised it in a public record...
sending two or more sips to go in search of Brasil, which
place the beginnings of the search in 1491 or eariler...
from Bristol to American shores? By the quantity of salt
west from Bristol in 4181,
the conjecture is that the
congregation of cod along the American shores was known then
that they were being taken there.
In medieval Christian tradition the lost Paradise
lay in the
farthest East. In older classical lore the Fortunate Islands
blessed lands were in the western oceans. The Celtic Otherworld
also lay in to the west. Cardinal directions have deep reiligous
significance, differing by particular culture. The
offered the Irish pre-Christian mysticism looked to the
the promised land or other world, and that this direction
into Christian time.
The Atlantic Ocean of the Middle Ages was thought
islands, some imagined as places of perfect nature and as abodes
of the blessed, either spirits or living persons. The legendary
islands acquired widely known names when cartographers
transfer stories of the sea to their maps. From the
century on, island names appeared on maps in increasing
and in changing locations, to the distress of modern historians
Other than the Fortunate Islands, which were the dimly remembered
reality of the Canary Islands, the oldest and
island names on maps derive from Celtic sources. Insofar
know the oldest of these is Yma, the isl of the blessed nameed in
the life of St. Machutus, which St. Brendan and St. Male set
to find. In various spellings the name appears
on maps of the
fourteenth century and through the fifteenth, by which
had become one of the Antilles.
Honorius of Autun in his De Imagine Mundi (ca.1130)
island Perdita: ``There lies in the Ocean
an island which is
called the Lost(Perdita); in charm and all kinds of fertility
far surpasses every other land, but is unknown to
men. Now and
again it may be found by chance; but if one seeks
for it, it
cannot be found and therefore is called 'the Lost.' Men say that
it was this island that Brandanus came to.'' The
(1207?) entered an Insula perdita, with the Latin
``This is the island found by Saint Brendan, and after he sailed
for it, never after has it been found by any man.'' BY
Hereford Map stated that Fortunate Islands, six in number,
the islands of St. Brendan.'' This map
maker interpreted St.
Brendan's alleged discovery as identical with
Islands of antiquity, the Canaries.
These early map makers were wholly ignorant
position. The tale of voyaging of St. Brendan first passed
chronicle and map in western Europe and later was taken
Italian and Catalan cartographers. Celtic
legends provided a
major part of the concept of the western oceans
Henry introduced recorded exploration. As late
as 1492 Martin
Behaim placed St. Brendan's Isle on his globe in midocean
the the equator with the inscription ``in the year
565 A.D. S.
Brandon came in his ship to this island. He saw
there and after seven years left again for
his own country.''
Benhaim is remembered mainly for the terrestrial globe
before the discovery of Columbus, the only such that has survived
from that century; his knowledge was a good deal less than
of his time.
The most persistent of the legendary islands was that os Brasil,
which had a separate and migratory existence on maps
became confused with a name of different origin and meaning. E.T.
Hamy showed in 1887 that Brasil was from
the Gaelic term for
fortunate or blessed (breas-ail, hy-breasail, o'brasil, etc.) The
vernacular Irish name for the isle of the blessed is first shown
cartographically on the Italian Dalorto map of 1325, as lying
the west of Ireland. Thereafter it appears on many maps,
and Catalan, continuing well into the fifteenth century. On
Pizigani map (1367) it was places far west in the Atlantic in the
latitude of Brittany. On the Phillipps Chart (1424) it is
as a large disk to the west of Ireland and in the
same form on
the Pareto map (1455), the latter having also an island
(Yma?) to the south, in the form of a
crescent. -See Armondo
Cortesao for refer.
The earilier locations of Brasil are in
the ocean west of
Ireland. this tradition seems to derive from the voyages
Brendan and St. MAlo and was kept alive in folk memory. In
Bristol, as previously noted, sent out one Thloyde (Lloyd),
most `knowledgable seamen of the whole of
England'' to the
``Island of Brasylle'' to the west of Ireland. A
who had the knowledge to sail west to the Island
Another expedition was sent out the following year
to find the
``isle of Brasil,'' and apparently succeeded, as related
the Bristol voyages. Brasil of the Celtic tradition
fact the new found land, which neither proves nor disproves
far the voyages attributed to St. Brendan got. The tradition
so strong that many centuried later voyages from
their course west across the Atlantic
toward its supposed
9. The island
existed in the mind of the British
Admiralty into the latter
nineteenth century (1873?). An
made ``under the superintendence of the Society for the Diffusion
of Useful Knowledge,''
has a``Brazil Rock High'' in the
deep ocean about 250
miles west of Tralee.
Late in the fourteenth century map malers began
to place an
island Brasil i a different location, guessed at as representing
the Azores and even the Canaries. The maps
were Italian and
Cataln, made in remote reception of
Atlantic knowledge and
surmise and still ignorant of geographic position.
as to the identity of this island has proposed a derivation from
a rootword ``bras,'' flame-colored, as
in brazilwood. This
dyewood was an item of medieval trade from the Far East but it is
not native to islands of the Eastern Atlantic. It was therefore
suggested that the inferred dyewood-island name was
islands providing a less vivid dye from
lichens. This dye,
however, has a name that was familiar at the time, archil in
English form, orseille in French, orchilla in Spanish, and so on.
The substitution of brasil for its unlikely, aside from the doubt
that the Azores or Madeira were then known. One might speculate
that a place had been discovered thus
early where brazilwood
grew. This would have been in the West Indies or South
which is about improbable as the lichen attribution.
The preferable option seems to be that the Gaelic
wandered south in the Atlantic by misinformation of Mediterranean
map makers, perhaps by misinterpretation of the Navigation of St.
Brendan or of another Gaelic seafarer such as St. Malo.
The legendary Gaelic isle of the blessed, Brasil, had nothing
do with the naming of the South American country, which was known
as Santa Cruz until 1507, when it was given
the name Brazil
because of its wealth of that dyewood. What facts
may be contained in the legendary voyages of St. Brendan
The promised land of Irish tradition lay in the western
and passed into Christian mythology with
St. Brendan as the
legendary seafarer. The Irish were indeed the first nation of the
Middle Ages to go out onto the high Atlantic. Shortly the
of legend gave way to historical fact.
However illegible the facts are in the Irish sea
Irish looked to the sea for adventure and discovery in praise
God, not in fear of mishap and danger nor for gain. A persistent
theme is that the land of the blessed, called the Isle of Brasil,
lay in the ocean to the west. St. Brendan whose legend tells
years of romantic sailing, was a real abbot of known
did go to the sea...
Seven Cities, both to be the object of search.
Thus men of
Bristol found the prime cod fishing grounds on Canadian
and perhaps learned to appreciate the fine pelts
Thanks Frank the
Contribution is appreciated
[whats new] [email