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Nicolo Zeno

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ZENO, Nicolo, Venetian navigator, born in Venice about. 1340; died in Newfoundland about 1391. He was a member of a patrician family in Venice, and about 1375 went at his own expense on a voyage to the northern seas, but was wrecked on what he describes as the island of Frislanda (probably in the Faroe group), and rescued by Zichmin, the chief of a neighboring island, into whose service he entered. He remained with Zichmin for some time, assisted in the conquest of Frislanda, and invited his brother Antonio to join him.

 

They visited Greenland (which they named Engronelanda) and Newfoundland, and in company with fishermen navigated along the coast of North America as far, it is claimed, as Virginia. Nicolo died four years after Antonio's arrival, often sending to a third brother, Carlo, grand-admiral of Venice, accounts of his discoveries. Antonio remained ten years more in the service of Zichmin, and then returned to Venice, where he died about 1405.

 

 Zeno wrote an account of his voyages, which he showed to several persons, but his papers were partly burned by Antonio's young grandson, Caterino (born in Venice in 1515). The latter, realizing afterward the value of his grand-uncle's papers, was able, with a few letters that had been sent from Frislanda to Carlo, to compile from them a narrative, which he published under the title "Scoprimento dellas isolas Frislanda, Eslanda, Engronelanda, Estotilanda, et Icaria " (Venice, 1558, with a map of North America dated 1390).

 

The authenticity of the two brothers' discoveries was attacked during the following centuries, and even their existence was doubted, but later researches have proved that Marco Barbaro, in his "Discendenze Patrizie" (Venice, 1526), knew of the existence of Zeno's letters, narrative, and map thirty years before their publication.

 

The Hakluyt society published an English translation, with an introduction and notes, entitled " The Voyages of the Venetian Brothers, Nicolo and Antonio Zeno, to the Northern Seas in the 14th Century, comprising the latest known Accounts of the Lost Colony of Greenland, and of the Northmen in America, before Columbus," translated by Richard Henry Major (London, 1873).

 

Zeno's map of Greenland, Newfoundland, and the northern coast of America is remarkably accurate, and his narrative demonstrates also the existence, more than a century before the time of Columbus, of the remains of the Scandinavian colonies that are mentioned by Adam of Bremen in the 11th century, and by Odericus Vitalis in the 12th century, and whose history was recently written by Karl C. Rain. See also Placido Zurla;s "Dissertazione interne ai viaggi e scoperte setten-trionali di Nicolo ed Antonio, fratelli Zeni," which includes a copy of the original text and also a chart (Venice, 1808).

 

However, the web page “Antique Maps of Iceland,” at http://www.bok.hi.is/kort/english.html which is sponsored by Icelandic Students Innovation Fund and NORDINFO maintains:

 

It is now known that the narrative was manufactured by the younger Zeno himself not long before the publication of the book, and the same is true of the map. So it does in no way reflect geographical knowledge in the 14th century. We now know that Zeno´s principal sources were Olaus Magnus´ map of the North, the Caerte van Oostland of Cornelis Anthoniszoon, and old maps of the North of the Claudius Clavus type with elements taken from southern sea charts of the 15th and 16th centuries. Zeno probably put the book and map together for the purpose of giving Venice, the author´s native city, the credit for discovering America more than a century ahead of Columbus. In the bottom left hand corner we see two lands (Estotiland and Drogeo) that perhaps represent the eastern coast of America.

As for Zeno´s Iceland, we need not look far to its sources, it is obviously taken from Carta Marina. The mountains, rivers and all the pictures are gone and the ice floes off the east coast on Olaus´ map have become islands.

In spite of its discreditable parentage, the Zeno map was to have a remarkable career. For the next 40 years it influenced most maps that were made of Iceland.

 

Edited Appletons Encyclopedia, by John Looby Copyright © 2001 StanKlos.comTM

ZEN0, Nicolo, Venetian navigator, born in Venice about. 1340; died in Newfoundland about 1391. He was a member of a patrician family in Venice, and about 1375 went at his own expense on a voyage to the northern seas, but was wrecked on what he describes as the island of Frislanda (probably in the Faroe group), and rescued by Zichmin, the chief of a neighboring island, into whose service he entered. He remained with Zichmin for some time, assisted in the conquest of Frislanda, and invited his brother Antonio to join him. They visited Greenland (which they named Engronelanda) and Newfoundland, and in company with fishermen navigated along the coast of North America as far, it is claimed, as Virginia. Nicolc died four years after Antonio's arrival, often sending to a third brother, Carlo, grand-admiral of Venice, accounts of his discoveries. Antonio remained ten years more in the service of Zichmin, and then returned to Venice, where he died about 1405, Zeno wrote an account of his voyages, which he showed to several persons, but his papers were partly burned by Antonio's young grandson, Caterino (born in Venice in 1515). The latter, realizing afterward the value of his grand-uncle's papers, was able, with a few letters that had been sent from Frislanda to Carlo, to compile from them a narrative, which he published under the title "Scoprimento dellas isolas Frislanda, Eslanda, Engronelanda, Estotilanda, et Icaria " (Venice, 1558, with a map of North America dated 1390). The authenticity of the two brothers' discoveries was attacked during the following centuries, and even their existence was doubted, but later researches have proved that Marco Barbaro, in his " Discendenze Patrizie" (Venice, 1526), knew of the existence of Zeno's letters, narrative, and map thirty years before their publication. The Hakluyt society published an English translation, with an introduction and notes, entitled " The Voyages of the Venetian Brothers, Nicolo and Antonio Zeno, to the Northern Seas in the 14th Century, comprising the latest known Accounts of the Lost Colony of Greenland, and of the Northmen in America, before Columbus," translated by Richard Henry Major (London, 1873). Zone's reaper Greenland, Newfoundland, and the northern coast of America is remarkably accurate, and his narrative demonstrates also the existence, more than a century before the time of Columbus, of the relnains of the Scandinavian colonies that are mentioned by Adam of Bremen in the 11th century, and by Odericus Vitalis in the 12th century, and whose history was recently written by Karl C. Rain. See also Placido Zurla;s "Dissertazione interne ai viaggi e scoperte setten-trionali di Nicolo ed Antonio, fratelli Zeni," which includes a copy of the original text and also a chart (Venice, 1808).

Edited Appletons Encyclopedia, Copyright © 2001 VirtualologyTM

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