Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 1.djvu/474

This page needs to be proofread.

AMERICA 422 AMERICA fields which covered the more congelatum. So men arrived at the conviction that there existed a land connection between Greenland and Bjarnieland or north-western Russia. Being uninhabited, this was called Ubygdear or the "uninhabited land". Ac- cordingly Hjarmeland is described as follows in the above mentioned geographical description of the twelfth century: "Uninhabited lands extend as far north as Greenland". A similar statement occurs in a thirteenth-century account: "To the north of Norway is Finmarken whence the land extends north- east and east as far as Bjarmeland which is tributarj' to the Rus.sian king. From Bjarmeland the land stretches northward through unknown regions up to the borders of Greenland". Finally the author of the "Historia Norwegife" (thirteenth century) sums up what was known of Greenland in the following noteworthy sentences: "Some sailors wishing to re- turn from "Iceland to Norway w-ere driven by adverse winds into the icebound regions. At last they landed between Greenland and Bjarmeland in a country whicli, according to their report, has men of remarkable size, and in the land of the virgins who conceived by drinking water. Greenland is sep- arated from them by rocks covered with ice; it was discovered, colonized, and converted to the Catholic faith by Icelanders; it is the western extremity of Europe, and extends almost to the African islands". These words and others of similar import account both for the correct representation of Claudius Clavus who himself visited Greenland, as well as the faulty map of Nicholas Germanus who pursued his geo- graphical and cartographical studies in Florence about 1470. The recollection of Greenland was kept aUve by charts and geographical descriptions even at the time when all commimication witli the Norse colonies had been broken off. The eighteen sailors who were driven in 1347 from Markland to Iceland proceeded, according to Icelandic records, across Norway to Greenland. There seems at that time to have been no longer any direct communication be- tween Iceland and Greenland. Intercourse was still kept up between Bergen and Greenland by the royal merchantman, the "Knorr", but only at irregular intervals. In the year 1346, according to Icelandic annals, the "Knorr" was in good condition, and "laden with a rich cargo," returned to Bergen from Greenland, which from 1261 had been like Iceland under Norwegian rule. Not until 1355 ditl the vessel undertake its next voyage to Greenland. For this journey extraordinary provisions were made and a formal expedition fitted out. The purpose of the undertaking is said to have been the "preservation of Christianity" in Greenland which could only be attained by means of a conflict with the Sknelings (Eskimo). It cannot be exactly ascertained when the "Knorr' returned, but it was proljably about 1363 or 1364, as about this time Ivar Bardsson who for many years administered the diocese of Gardar, makes his appearance in Norway. We can gather from the original sources how the Northmen had gradually to retire before the advanc- ing Eskimo. The first colli.sicm took place, accord- ing to the "Historia Norwegia;" (thirteenth century) in nortli Greenland. The passage (accortling to Thalbitzer) reads as follows in literal translation: "Beyond the Greenlanders toward the nortli the hunters came across a kind of people called the Skro-- lings; when they are wounded alive tlicir wounds become white, without any i.ssue of blood, but the blood scarcely ceases to stream out of them when they are dead. They have no iron whatever and use whale teeth for missile weapons, and sharp stones for knives". In the chart of Claudius Clavus (1427), ac- conlingly we find the Careli, in the extreme north of Greenlan<l. and the accompanying description is as follows: "Tenent autem .septentrionalia eius (Gron- landiae) Careli infideles, quorum regio extenditur sub polo septentrionah vensus Seres orientales, quare polus [polar circle] nobis septentrionalis est eis meri- dionalis [in] gradibus 60" (The north of Greenland is occupied by the pagan Careli whose country extends from the North Pole toward the eastern Seres; therefore the northern polar circle is to us north, to them soutli in the 00th degree of latitude). It is in- teresting to knowtliat in this very part of Greenland near the Umanak fjord, there now exists a tradition among the Eskimo concerning a battle on the ice between Eskimo and Northmen. The Northmen were the attacking party, but the Eskimo were vic- torious. Thalbitzer gives the tradition according to Rink (Eskimoiske E'entyr og Saga, Copenhagen. 1860): "The Norsemen had pursued some little girls who had been out to fetch water. These girls came running home and shouted 'they are attacking us'. The Greenlanders fled and hid themselves be- tween the heaps of stones, yet the Norsemen man- aged to get hold of some of them and maltreated them. The Greenlanders, however, by means of artifice, lured their enemies out on the slippery fjord ice, where they could not stand firmly, and thus the Skra'lings succeeded in overcoming them one at a time and killed tliem all". In the course of the four- teenth century the Eskimo of Greenland advanced farther southward. About 1360 the western colony fell into their hands. Ivar Bardsson, an eye-witness, related how, under commision of the royal governor, he had taken part in an expedition to drive the Es- kimo from the western settlement. But no human being either Christian or lieatlien was found. Cattle and sheep ran wikl. Having put them on shipboard they returned home (Gardar). In 1397 the Icelandic annals report a new attack: The Skra^lings assaileil the Greenlanders, killing eighteen men, capturing and enslaving two boys. Undoubtedly the many shipwrecks which took place at this time hastened the catastrophe. The government ship went down north of Bergen. Moreover in 1.392 " a great plague " visited the whole of Norway. In 1393 Bergen was conquereil and pillaged by the Germans who took with them all ships and anchors. After this we hear of no more voyages of the "Knorr" to Greenland. The last record in the Icelandic annals of the landing of a foreign vessel in Greenland is found under the date 1406. It was not till four years later that the ship which had been driven by storms to Greenland reached Norway. To the same period belongs a marriage certificate given, 19 April, 1409, by a priest in Gardar. Soon afterwards the final catastrophe must have befallen the eastern settlements. Ac- cording to the letter of Pope Nicliolas V (c. 1448) to the bishops of Iceland, the Cliristians of Greenland were attacked by the heathens of the neighbouring coasts, and the country was laid waste with fire and swortl, but all persons who were fit to become slaves were made captives. The approximate date of the invasion is obtained by the mention of "thirty years ago" (1418). The efTorts of Nicholas V were un- fortunately without success, as appears from the let- ter of .lexander VI dated in the first year of his pontificate (1492-93). The inhabitants were de- prived of rehgious ministration; there was no longer either bishop or priest and a great part of the popula- tion returned to paganism. Those who remained true to the Faith possessed as a memorial of Catliolic times only the corporal on which a hundred years before the Lord's Body had been consecrated by the last priest. Once a year this cor]>oral was exposeil for veneration. The date "a hundred years ago", is not entirely accurate, even if we agree with Storm in taking the last priest to mean the last resident bishop. The statement that "for eighty years no flOuropean] ship had landed on llie coasts of (ireen- iand " is not positively made. Bjornbo and Petersen