Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 1.djvu/470

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AMERICA 418 AMERICA verted to Catholicism while at court, the daring mar- iner was sent baclc to Greenland by Olaf in the year 1000 in order to co-ojjerate with the priests of the ex- pedition in propagating the Faith. On his return journey Leif was cast on the shores of a hitherto unknown land where he found the vine and wheat in a natural state, besides masur wood suitable for build- ing purposes. The sailors took with them samples of all these products. Steering north-east they at last reached Greenland. In the winter of 1000-1 Christianity was introduced into Greenland. At the same time measures were taken to find the newly-dis- covered Vinland. Thorstein, Leif's elder brother, took charge of the undertaking, and was joined by twenty companions. They did not reach their goal, and weary and exhausted returned to Greenland after roaming over the sea for months. In 1003 Thorstein's widow Gudrid, with her second husband, the rich Iceland merchant Tliorfinn Karlsefni, under- took a new expedition to find and colonize Vinland, which seemed so promising a country. The starting place, which lay within the limits of the present Godthaab, was the manor of Gudrid, whose praises are sung in the saga. About one hundred and fifty took part in the expedition, among them two children of Eric the Red— Thorwald and the virago Freydi, who was accompanied by her husband Thorward. The voyage began propitiously. The first land encoun- tered was remarkable for long flat stones and was con- sequently called Helluland, i. e. stone land. After a journey of two days, another land was sighted, unusually ricli in timber, and was named accordingly Markland, i. e. Woodland. After a long ^•oyage in a southerly direction they reached a third country, where they landed. Here two "swift runners" whom Leif had received as a gift from Olaf, after a long search found grape-clusters and wheat growing wild. To reach the desired spot, Karlsefni steered south. As the vine land seemed well adapted for purposes of settlement, huts were forthwith erected. There- upon the natives came to trade with the new-comers. The Vikings took special note of the fact that they used boats made of skins. Unfortunately friendly relations were soon broken off. A bellowing steer bursting from the woods struck such terror into the Skrselings that they took to their boats and hastily departed. In place of peaceful trading, the Skra?- lings now thronged about in great numbers and they engaged in a bloody combat, in which the Icelander Thorbrand fell. Only after heavy losses did the Skraelings retreat. Karlsefni, fearing fresh misfor- tunes, abandoned his first settlement and attempted to found a new colony more to the north. The col- onists were free from hostile attacks, but internal dissensions broke out and the undertaking was given up entirely in the svimmer of 1006. On his return trip to Greenland Karlsefni again visited Markland. Of five Skr;elings whom he encountered there, three escaped, a man and two women, but two children were captured, carried away, and taught to speak Icelandic. Karlsefni with his wife Gudrid, who later made a pilgrimage to Rome, and his three year old son Snorri, the first child l)orn of European parents on the mainland of America, was successful in reaching Greenland. His companion 15jarni and his crew were driven by storms from tlicir course, their worm-eaten vessel sank, and only half of the crew escaped to Ire- land, where they related the heroic act of Bjarni, who Bacrificcd his life for a younger comrade. The an- cient Icelandic historical .sources say nothing of fur- ther attempts at colonization. The last historical notice of Vinland relates to the year 1121. " Bisliop Eric .set out from Greenland to find Vinland" and " Hishop l>ic was searching for Vinland"; such are the meagre statements foimd in the Iceland iinnals. Lyschander, in his Greenland nhronicle, is the first to give a i)oetic expansion of this story (1G09). He represents Bishop Eric as bringing "both emigrants and the Faith" to Vinland. As Torfceus (Torfesson) in his "Historia Vinlandis an- tiquoe" (1705) and Rafn in various works presented similar views, it is not a matter of surprise that men finally came to speak of a bishopric in Vinland and of the fruitful work of Bishop Eric as of facts estab- lished beyond doubt. In reply to such statements, emphasis must be laid on the fact that the sources say merely that Eric set out in search of Vinland, but that they are silent as to his success, not even reporting that he found Vinland again. Nevertheless, those who uphold the theory of a permanent colonization of Vinland urge numerous arguments in support of their position, many of w-hich were long considered incon- trovertible, as for instance the Norman tower near Newport, Rhode Island. This, as a matter of fact, is merely the ruin of a windmill built by Governor Arnold (c. 1670). The runic inscription on Dighton Rock, so often misinterpreted, proves no more. The inscription is merely Indian picture wTiting such as is frequently found far to the south. In answer to arguments based on Mexican manuscripts, sculptures, and other remains to prove the pre-Columbian exis- tence of Christianity in America, careful critical re- search reveals the fact that all the evidence presented is unreliable. The worship of the cross practised in Mexico and Central America does not prove the Christianization of pre-Columbian America, either by St. Thomas the Apostle, or by Irish monks, or by the Northmen. This is clearly proved by the fact that the cross is found as a religious symbol among pre-Christian peoples. When opponents of this iew point to the martyrdom of Bishop John of Ireland, the answer is that Bishop John (d. 1066) met his death not in Vinland the Good, but in the land of the Wends as I have elsewhere proved from original historical sources. There is a twofold error in the statement that a valuable cup of Vinland masur wood is men- tioned among the tithes of the diocese of Gardar dating from 1327. First, this {ciphus de nucc ultra- marina) was not part of the tithes of the Greenland diocese of Gardar, but of Skara, a Swedish diocese; second, this goblet was not of masur but of cocoanut. Nor are the arguments drawn from the amount and the character of the tithes leWed in the diocese of Gardar for the Crusades more convincing. They are partly based on a faulty computation which estimates the tithes at triple their real amounts, and partly on a mistaken conception of conditions in Greenland. .s the sources testify and modern excavations have shown, the Northmen of Greenland, as w-ell as their Icelandic cousins, were active cattle breeders, and raised horses, cattle, sheep, and goats, so that they miglit easily pay their tithes in calf-skins. And lastly, the story related by Zeno the Younger, of a fisherman having seen Latin books in the library of the King of Estotiland can no more be considered historical than the rest of Zeno's romance. It is a fiction, hke the island of Estotiland itself and Plato's Atlantis. The history of Vinland ends with the year 1121, but trustworthy accoimts of Markland extend to a later date. The Iceland annals of 1347 have the following record: "There came a Greenland ship to Straumsfjord; the .sail was set for Markland. but it was driven hither (Iceland) over the sea. There was a crew of eighteen men". The object of the voyage is not mentioned, but the most probable conjecture is that the ship was bound for the forest land to ol)- tain wood, in which Greenland was entirely deficient. But whatever the unfortunate sailors .sought on the shores of Markland, it is an undoubteil fact that in the middle of the fourteenth century Marklaml had not been forgotten by the people of Icclaml, who spoke and wrote of it as a country generally known. History is silent as to later voyages to Helluland, but the role played by the Lauil of Stone is all the