A briefe commentarie of Island/1/The First Section

Commentarie of Island | Preface | Beginning
Sections: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14
Concerning the Inhabitants
Sections: 1 | Chronological Table of the Bishops of Island | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16
A letter written by the graue and learned Gudbrandus Thorlacius Bishop of Holen in Island, concerning the ancient state of Island and Gronland, &c.


[Munsterus lib. 4. cosmographiæ] The Isle of Island being seuered from other countreys an infinite distance, standeth farre into the Ocean, and is scarse knowen vnto Sailers.

Albeit a discourse of those things which concerne the land, and the adiuncts or properties thereof be of little moment to defend the nation or inhabitants from the biting of slanderers, yet seemeth it in no case to be omitted, but to be intreated of in the first place; that the friendly reader perceiuing how truely those writers of Island haue reported in this respect, may thereby also easily iudge what credit is to be giuen vnto them in other matters which they haue left written concerning the inhabitants, and which others haue receiued from them as oracles, from whence (as they say) they haue borrowed scoffes and taunts against our nation.

First therefore, that the distance of Island from other countreys is not infinite, nor indeed so great as men commonly imagine, it might easily be prouided, if one did but in some sort know the true longitude & latitude of the said Iland. For I am of opinion that it cannot exactly be knowen any other way then this, whenas it is manifest how the Mariners course (be it neuer so direct, as they suppose) doth at all times swerue. In the meane while therfore I will set downe diuers opinions of authors, concerning the situation of Island, that from hence euery man may gather that of the distance which seemeth most probable, vntil perhaps my selfe being one day taught by mine owne experience, may, if not intrude, yet at least adioin, what I shal thinke true as touching this matter.5

                                    Longit.     Latitud.
                                   deg  min.    deg  min.

Munster placeth Island almost in 20 68 Gerardus Mercator 325 68 Gemma Frisius placeth the midst

  of Island                          7    0      65   30
 Hersee                              7   40      60   42
 Thirtes                             5   50      64   44
 Nadar                               6   40      57   10
    Iacobus Zieglerus

The West shore of Island 20 0 63 0 The promontorie of Chos 22 46 63 0 The East shore is extended

 Northward, and hath bounds
 of extension in                    30    0      68    0

The North shore is extended

 Westward and hath bounds of
 extension in                       28    0      69    0

The description of the West side The promontorie of Heckelfell 25 0 67 0 The promontorie of Madher 21 20 65 10 The inland cities of Island Holen the seat of a bishop 28 0 67 50 Schalholten the seat of a bishop 22 63 30


By Holen in Island 68

        Iohannes Miritius

By Mid-Island 69-1/2


Island stretcheth it selfe 3 degrees

 within the circle arctic from the
 equinoctial, insomuch that the
 said circle arctic doeth almost
 diuide it in the midst &c.

There be others also, who either in their maps, or writings haue noted the situation of Island: notwithstanding it is to no purpose to set downe any more of their opinions, because the more you haue, the more contrary shall you finde them. For my part, albeit I haue probable coniectures perswading me not to beleeue any of the former opinions, concerning the situation of Island, but to dissent from them all: yet had I rather leaue the matter in suspense then affirme an vncerteinty, vntill (as I haue sayd) I may be able perhappes one day not to gesse at the matter, but to bring forth mine owne obseruation, and experience.

[Seuen dayes sailing from Island to Hamburg Island but two dayes sailing distant from Faar–Islands & from the desert shores of Norway.]

A certeine writer hath put downe the distance betweene the mouth of Elbe & Batzende in the South part of Island to be 400 leagues: from whence if you shall account the difference of longitude to the meridian of Hamburgh, Island must haue none of the forenamed longitudes in that place. I am able to proue by three sundry voyages of certaine Hamburgers, that it is but seuen dayes sailing from Island to Hamburgh. Besides all those Islands, which by reason of the abundance of sheepe, are called Fareyiar or more rightly Faareyiar,6 as likewise the desert shores of Norway, are distant from vs but two dayes sailing. We haue foure dayes sailing into habitable Gronland; and almost in the same quantitie of time we passe ouer to the prouince of Norway, called Stad, lying betweene the townes of Nidrosia or Trondon, 7 and Bergen, as we finde in the ancient records of these nations.