It’s Columbus Day, but is it more than just a day for government workers to take off? For me, where I live, it means that the deer hunters who work for the government, or the banks, or someplace else that offers the furlough (with pay) are enjoying the White Tail Season will remain. in the area for one more day in large numbers.
I refer you first to our fellow blogger, Ed B.and his radio program, Your American Heritage. Ed’s guests are interesting and insightful each week. In this case, his interview: A discussion with Bill Federer: Who was Christopher Columbus and why do we care? is very much on point.
Bill Federer’s point is that the angst toward Columbus is “a case of misplaced blame”.
All those blaming Columbus for sailing west must turn one chapter back in the history books to find that it had been an Islamic jihad that disrupted the traditional caravan land routes from Europe to India and China that resulted in Columbus looking for a sea route.
Mr. Federer has written books on the subject and while I diverge from his thesis slightly, he does solid research.
The European conquest of the Americas, I argue, was inevitable. The disruption in the silk trade was motivation enough, but technology and motivation had arrived at the point where Europeans had the capacity to send large numbers of people who were in search of “free land”.
In what became British North America, the king forced himself and his taxes on people who fancied themselves as “free” and “equal”. The notion of common people placing themselves on par with their sovereign was odious to the king – who only had subjects.
And it’s running full circle, isn’t it? Are we subjects of Beltway Oligarchs or do we send representatives who are servants of the people?
But I digress…
(h/t WSF) Ancient Documents... suggest that there was a general understanding that there was “something” big out there if you sailed west. They didn’t know how far they needed to travel, but they had a very general sense of ocean current circulation, etc. The Vikings didn’t have the social momentum to settle in sufficient numbers AT THAT DISTANCE (when France and Britian were closer at hand) and to kill the locals in sufficient numbers.
Regardless though, Chiesa states, Cronica universalis “brings unprecedented evidence to the speculation that news about the American continent, derived from Nordic sources, circulated in Italy one and half centuries before Columbus.”
He adds: “What makes the passage (about Marckalada) exceptional is its geographical provenance: not the Nordic area, as in the case of the other mentions, but northern Italy.
“The Marckalada described by Galvaneus is ‘rich in trees’, not unlike the wooded Markland of the Grœnlendinga Saga, and animals live there.
What the Nordic people may have lacked in terms of social momentum, the Spanish and other Europeans did not. Stories of “Cities of Gold” turned out to be true, and they looted the place three ways from Sunday and brought it back home.
The question that we might all ask ourselves is whether we (assuming that this blog’s readership was all of the “exploring age” in our lives) would embark on rough and unknown oceans to seek new, strange, and exotic land and treasures had we the opportunity.
You can each as yourselves that question but I expect that most of you would say, “yes!!”
Thus when people are unkind to the memory of Columbus, I feel that the revisionist history that they spew is just wrong. The Incas, Aztecs, Toltecs, Olmecs, Cherokee Confederation, and so forth in the New World were no less kind in their own efforts at empire building than the Europeans were.