The American Cyclopædia (1879)/Zeno, Nicolò and Antonio

Edition of 1879. See also Zeno brothers on Wikipedia, and the disclaimer.

ZENO, Nicolò and Antonio, two Italian navigators, born about the middle of the 14th century. They were members of one of the noblest Venetian families, and brothers of Carlo Zeno, grand admiral of Venice. About 1390 Nicolò went on a voyage of discovery into the northern seas, was wrecked on what he describes as the island of Frislanda, supposed to be one of the Faroe isles, and was rescued from wreckers by the chief of a neighboring principality, whom he calls Zichmni. After serving this chieftain as pilot of his fleet for a year or two, he wrote a letter giving an account of his voyage to his brother Antonio, who soon after joined him. Nicolò died in Frislanda four years after his brother's arrival; and Antonio, after remaining ten years longer in the service of Zichmni, returned to Venice, where he died about 1405. From the above mentioned letter from Nicolò to Antonio, and from other letters from Antonio to his brother Carlo, a narrative was compiled and published in 1558 by Nicolò Zeno, a descendant of Antonio. This was accompanied by a map illustrative of the account, which was found in the palace and supposed to be by one of the brothers. The narrative gives an account of a visit made by both to the Shetland isles, and by Nicolò to Greenland, with details concerning the colonies there, and of the voyages of fishermen to an island called Estotiland, supposed to be Newfoundland, and to a country called Drogeo, conjectured to be on the mainland of North America. This narrative, which if true would seem to prove that the new world was visited by Venetians a century before the discovery by Columbus, has been severely assailed by several writers, especially Admiral Zahrtmann of the Danish navy; but Mr. R. H. Major, in a communication to the royal geographical society of London, upholds its general accuracy, and shows Zichmni to be Henry Sinclair, earl of Orkney. (See “Journal of the Royal Geographical Society,” 1873.)