Prince Henry the Navigator, the Hero of Portugal and of Modern Discovery, 1394-1460 A.D.
by C. Raymond Beazley
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Heroes of the Nations.


I.—Nelson, and the Naval Supremacy of England. By W. CLARK RUSSELL, author of "The Wreck of the Grosvenor," etc.

II.—Gustavus Adolphus, and the Struggle of Protestantism for Existence. By C.R.L. FLETCHER, M.A., late Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford.

III.—Pericles, and the Golden Age of Athens. By EVELYN ABBOTT, M.A., Fellow of Balliol College, Oxford.

IV.—Theodoric the Goth, the Barbarian Champion of Civilisation. By THOMAS HODGKIN, author of "Italy and Her Invaders," etc.

V.—Sir Philip Sidney: Type of English Chivalry. By H.R. FOX BOURNE.

VI.—Julius Caesar, and the Organisation of the Roman Empire. By WARDE FOWLER, M.A., Fellow of Lincoln College, Oxford.

VII.—Wyclif, Last of the Schoolmen and First of the English Reformers. By LEWIS SERGEANT.

VIII.—Napoleon, Warrior and Ruler; and the Military Supremacy of Revolutionary France. By WILLIAM O'CONNOR MORRIS.

IX.—Henry of Navarre, and the Huguenots in France. By P.F. WILLERT, M.A., Fellow of Exeter College, Oxford.

X.—Cicero, and the Fall of the Roman Republic. By J.L. STRACHAN-DAVIDSON, M.A., Fellow of Balliol College, Oxford.

XI.—Abraham Lincoln, and the Downfall of American Slavery. By NOAH BROOKS.

XII.—Prince Henry (of Portugal) the Navigator, and the Age of Discovery. By C.R. BEAZLEY, Fellow of Merton College, Oxford.

XIII.—Julian the Philosopher, and the Last Struggle of Paganism against Christianity. By ALICE GARDNER, Lecturer on Ancient History, Newnham College.

XIV.—Louis XIV., and the Zenith of the French Monarchy. By ARTHUR HASSALL, M.A., Senior Student of Christ Church College, Oxford.

(For titles of volumes next to appear and for further details of this Series see prospectus at end of volume.)


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Heroes of the Nations

Edited by Evelyn Abbot, M.A. Fellow of Balliol College, Oxford




With an Account of Geographical Progress Throughout the Middle Ages As the Preparation for His Work



Fellow of Merton College, Oxford; Geographical Student in the University of Oxford, 1894

Venient annis saecula seris Quibus Oceanus vincula rerum Laxet, et ingens pateat tellus, Tethys que novos detegat orbes, Nec sit terris ultima Thule.

SENECA, Medea 376/380.

G. P. Putnam's Sons New York 27 West Twenty-Third Street London 24 Bedford Street, Strand The Knickerbocker Press 1895 Copyright, 1894 by G. P. Putnam's Sons Entered at Stationers' Hall, London Electrotyped, Printed and Bound by The Knickerbocker Press, New York G. P. Putnam's Sons
















PORTUGAL TO 1400 (1095-1400) 123














THE ARMADA OF 1445 228


VOYAGES OF 1446-8 240


THE AZORES (1431-60) 250




CADAMOSTO (1455-6) 261











Built on the site of an old sailor's chapel, existing in Prince Henry's day, and used by his men. In the niche between the two great entrance doors, is a statue of Prince Henry in armour.


West front of church in which Prince Henry and his House lie buried. This church was founded by the Prince's father, King John, in memory of his victory over Castille at Aljubarrota.


The aisle containing the tombs of Prince Henry and his brothers, the Infants of the House of Aviz.


Henry's father and mother, from their tomb in the Abbey of Batalha.


The Mother Church of the Order of Christ, of which Henry was Grand-Master.


The original forms the frontispiece to the Paris MS. of Azurara's Discovery and Conquest of Guinea.



From his tomb in Batalha Church; with his escutcheons (1) as titular King of Cyprus; (2) as Knight of the Garter of England; (3) as Grand Master of the Order of Christ.


Supposed to represent Columbus, as St. Christopher, carrying across the ocean the Christian faith, in the form of the infant Christ. From the map of Juan de la Cosa, 1500.


From a portrait in the possession of the Count of Lavradio.


[Footnote 1: From a water-colour.]

[Footnote 2: From Major's Life of Henry the Navigator.]

[Footnote 3: From the Hakluyt Society's Select Letters of Columbus.]

[Footnote 4: From the Hakluyt Society's edition of Three Voyages of Vasco da Gama.]

[Footnote 5: From the Hakluyt Society's edition of Albuquerque's Commentaries.]



From Nordenskjoeld's fac-simile atlas


As reconstructed by M. Reinaud from the written descriptions of the Arabic geographer. This illustrates the extremely unreal and untrue conception of the earth among Moslem students, especially those who followed the theories of Ptolomy—e.g., in the extension to Africa eastward, so as practically or actually to join China, making the Indian Ocean an inland sea.


(B. Mus., Map room, shelf 35 [5], sheet 6). Of uncertain date, between c. 780-980 but probably not later than the 10th century. One of the earliest examples of Christian map-making.


(B. Mus., Cotton mss., Tib. B.V., fol. 59). This gives us the most interesting and accurate view of the world that we get in the pre-Crusading Christian science. The square, but not conventional outline is detailed with considerable care and precision. The writing, though minute, is legible; but the Nile, which, like the Red Sea in Africa, is coloured red, in contrast to the ordinary grey of water in this example, is made to wander about Africa from side to side, with occasional disappearances, in a thoroughly mythical fashion. This map, from a ms. of Priscian's Peviegesis, appears to have been executed at the end of the 10th century; it is on vellum, highly finished, and has been engraved, in outline, in Playfair's Atlas (Pl. I), and more fully in the Penny Magazine (July 22, 1837). In the reign of Henry II., it appears to have belonged to Battle Abbey.


(B. Mus., Map room. From Ottino's reproduction). One of the oldest and simplest of Christian Mappe-Mondes, giving a special prominence to Paradise, (with the figures of Adam, Eve, and the serpent), to the mountains and rivers of the world, and to the four winds of heaven. It is to be associated with the Spanish map of 1109, and the Mappe-Monde of St. Sever.


(B. Mus., Add. mss., 11695). The original, gorgeously coloured, represents the crudest of Christian and Moslem notions of the world. Even more crude than in the Turin map and the Mappe-Monde of St. Sever, both of which offer some resemblances to this. The earth is represented as of quadrangular shape, surrounded by the ocean. At the E. is Paradise with the figures of the Temptation. A part of the S. is cut off by the Red Sea, which is straight (and coloured red), just as the straight Mediterranean, with its quadrangular islands, divides the N.W. quarter, or Europe, from the S.W. quarter, or Africa. The AEgean Sea joins the Mediterranean at a right angle, in the centre of the map. In the ocean, bordering the whole, are square islands, e.g., Tile (Thule), Britania, Scocia, Fu(o)rtunarum insula. The Turin map occurs in another copy of the same work—A Commentary on the Apocalypse.


(B. Mus., Add. mss., 28, 681). A good illustration of the circular type of mediaeval map, which is sometimes little better than a panorama of legends and monsters. Christ at the top; the dragons crushed beneath him at the bottom; Jerusalem, the navel of the earth, in the middle as a sort of bull's-eye to a target, all show a "religious" geography. The line of queer figures, on the right side, figuring the S. coast of Africa, suggests a parallel with the still more fanciful Mappe-Monde of Hereford. (For copy see Bevan and Phillott's edition of the Hereford map).


(B. Mus., King's Lib., XXIII). The S. coast of Africa, as in the Psalter map, is fringed with monstrous tribes; monstrous animals fill up a good deal of the interior; half of the wheel representing Jerusalem in the middle of the world appears in the N.E. corner; and the designer's idea of the Mediterranean and Atlantic islands is specially noteworthy. The Hereford map is a specimen of the thoroughly traditional and unpractical school of mediaeval geographers who based their work on books, or fashionable collections of travellers' tales—such as Pliny, Solinus, or Martianus Capella—and who are to be distinguished from the scientific school of the same period, whose best works were the Portolani, or coast-charts of the early 14th century.


(B. Mus., King's Lib., 149 F. 2 p. 282). The shape of Africa in this map is supposed by some to be valuable in the history of geographical advance, as suggesting the possibility of getting round from the Atlantic into the Indian Ocean.


(From Nordenskjoeld's fac-simile atlas). This illustrates the accuracy of the 14th century coast-charts, especially in the Mediterranean.


(From the Medicean Lib. at Florence; reproduced in B. Mus., Map room, shelf 158, 22, 23). This is the most remarkable of all the Portolani of the 14th century, as giving a view of the world, and especially Africa, which is far nearer the actual truth than could be expected. Especially its outline of S. Africa and of the bend of the Guinea coast, is surprisingly near the truth, even as a guess, in a chart made one hundred and thirty-five years before the Cape of Good Hope was first rounded.


(B. Mus., Map room, 13, 14). This gives the British Islands, the W. coasts of Europe, N. Africa as far as Cape Boyador, and the Canaries and other islands in the Atlantic. The interior of Africa is filled with fantastic pictures of native tribes; the boat load of men off Cape Boyador in the extreme S.W. of the map probably represents the Catalan explorers of the year 1346, whose voyage in search of the "River of Gold" this map commemorates.


(Engraved in copper 1595. Almost an unaltered copy of a Portolano from the 14th century. From Nordenskjoeld's fac-simile atlas). This illustrates the remarkable correctness in the drawing of the Mediterranean basin and the coasts of W. Europe, reached by the Italian and Balearic coast-charts, or Portolani, in the 14th century.


(B. Mus., Map room, shelf 2 [6], 13, 14; copy of 1797). This map was executed just before the fall of Constantinople (1453), and gives a view of the world as imagined in the 15th century. It is very fantastic and unscientific, but remarkable among its kind for its comparative freedom from ecclesiastical influence.


(Cf. reproduction in B. Mus., Add. mss., 11267, and photographic copy in Map room). This map of Fra Mauro of Murano, (near Venice), is usually understood to be a sort of picture, not merely of the world as then known, but of Prince Henry's discoveries in particular on the W. African coast. From this point of view it is perhaps disappointing; the inlet of the Rio d'Ouro(?), to the S. of the Sahara, is exaggerated beyond all recognition; at the S. Cape (of Good Hope) a great island is depicted, separated from the mainland by a narrow channel—possibly Madagascar displaced.


As reduced and simplified in Lelewel's Atlas. The corners of the table are filled up with four small circles representing: (1) The Ptolemaic System in the Spheres. (2) The lunar influences over the tides. (3) The circles described in the terrestial globe. (4) A picture of the expulsion from Eden, with the four sacred rivers.

MAP OF 1492 322

(B. Mus., Add. mss. 15760). This gives a general view of the Portuguese discoveries along the whole W. coast of Africa, and just beyond the Cape of Good Hope, which was rounded in 1486.

[Footnote 6: **Missing.** Please see the Transcriber's Note at the foot of the text.]


This volume aims at giving an account, based throughout upon original sources, of the progress of geographical knowledge and enterprise in Christendom throughout the Middle Ages, down to the middle or even the end of the fifteenth century, as well as a life of Prince Henry the Navigator, who brought this movement of European Expansion within sight of its greatest successes. That is, as explained in Chapter I., it has been attempted to treat Exploration as one continuous thread in the story of Christian Europe from the time of the conversion of the Empire; and to treat the life of Prince Henry as the turning-point, the central epoch in a development of many centuries: this life, accordingly, has been linked as closely as possible with what went before and prepared for it; one third of the text, at least, has been occupied with the history of the preparation of the earlier time, and the difference between our account of the eleventh-and fifteenth-century Discovery, for instance, will be found to be chiefly one of less and greater detail. This difference depends, of course, on the prominence in the later time of a figure of extraordinary interest and force, who is the true hero in the drama of the Geographical Conquest of the Outer World that starts from Western Christendom. The interest that centres round Henry is somewhat clouded by the dearth of complete knowledge of his life; but enough remains to make something of the picture of a hero, both of science and of action.

Our subject, then, has been strictly historical, but a history in which a certain life, a certain biographical centre, becomes more and more important, till from its completed achievement we get our best outlook upon the past progress of a thousand years, on this side, and upon the future progress of those generations which realised the next great victories of geographical advance.

The series of maps which illustrate this account, give the same continuous view of the geographical development of Europe and Christendom down to the end of Prince Henry's age. These are, it is believed, the first English reproductions in any accessible form of several of the great charts of the Middle Ages, and taken together they will give, it is hoped, the best view of Western or Christian map-making before the time of Columbus that is to be found in any English book, outside the great historical atlases.

In the same way the text of this volume, especially in the earlier chapters, tries to supply a want—which is believed to exist—of a connected account from the originals known to us, of the expansion of Europe through geographical enterprise, from the conversion of the Empire to the period of those discoveries which mark most clearly the transition from the Middle Ages to the Modern World.

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The chief authorities have been:

For the Introductory chapter: (1) Reinaud's account of the Arabic geographers and their theories in connection with the Greek, in his edition of Abulfeda, Paris, 1848; (2) Sprenger's Massoudy, 1841; (3) Edrisi, translated by Amedee Jaubert; (4) Ibn-Batuta (abridgment), translated by S. Lee, London, 1829; (5) Abulfeda, edited and translated by Reinaud; (6) Abyrouny's India, specially chapters i., 10-14; xvii., 18-31; (7) texts of Strabo and Ptolemy; (8) Wappaeus' Heinrich der Seefahrer, part 1.

I. For Chapter I. (Early Christian Pilgrims): (1) Itinera et Descriptiones Terrae Sanctae, vols. i. and ii., published by the Societe de l'Orient, Latin, Geneva, 1877 and 1885, which give the original texts of nearly all the Palestine Pilgrims' memoirs to the death of Bernard the Wise; (2) the Publications of the Palestine Pilgrims' Text Society; (3) Thomas Wright's Early Travels in Palestine (Bohn); (4) Avezac's Recueil pour Servir a l'histoire de la geographie; (5) some recent German studies on the early pilgrim records, e.g., Gildemeister on Antoninus of Placentia.

II. For Chapter II. (The Vikings): (1) Snorro Sturleson's Heimskringla or Sagas of the Norse Kings; (2) Dozy's essays; (3) the, possibly spurious, Voyages of the Zeni, with the Journey of Ivan Bardsen, in the Hakluyt Society's Publications.

III. For Chapter III. (The Crusades and Land Travel): (1) Publication of the Palestine Pilgrims' Text Society; (2) Avezac's edition of the originals in his Recueil pour Sevir a l'histoire de la geographie; (3) Yule's Cathay and the Way Thither; (4) Yule's Marco Polo; (5) Benjamin of Tudela and others in Wright's Early Travels in Palestine; (6) Yule's Friar Jordanus; (7) Sir John Mandeville's Travels.

IV. For Chapter IV. (Maritime Exploration): (1) The Marino Sanuto Map of 1306; (2) the Laurentian Portolano of 1351; (3) The Catalan Map of 1375-6; (4) scattered notices collected in early chapters of R.H. Major's Prince Henry the Navigator; (5) Bethencourt's Conquest of the Canaries (Hakluyt Society, ed., Major); (6) Wappaeus' Heinrich der Seefahrer, part 2.

V. For Chapter V. (Geographical Science): (1) Neckam's De Naturis Rerum; (2) the seven chief Mappe-Mondes of the fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries; (3) the leading Portolani; (4) scattered notices, e.g., from Guyot de Provins' "Bible," Brunetto Latini, Beccadelli of Palermo, collected in early chapters of Major's Henry the Navigator; (5) Wauwerman's Henri le Navigateur.

VI. For Chapter VI. (Portugal to 1400): (1) The Chronicle of Don John I.; (2) Oliveiro Martins' Sons of Don John I.; (3) A. Herculano's History of Portugal; (4) Osbernus de Expugnatione Lixbonensi.

VII. For Chapter VII. (Henry's position in 1415): Azurara's Discovery and Conquest of Guinea.

VIII. For Chapter VIII. (Ceuta): (1) Azurara's Chronicle of the Conquest of Ceuta; (2) Azurara's Discovery of Guinea.

IX. For Chapter IX. (Henry's Settlement at Sagres): (1) Azurara's Guinea; (2) De Barro's Asia; (3) Wauwerman's Henri le Navigateur et l'Ecole Portugaise de Sagres.

X. For Chapter X. (Cape Bojador and the Azores): (1) Azurara's Guinea; (2) O. Martins' Sons of Don John I.

XI. For Chapter XI. (Henry's Political Life, 1433-41): (1) Pina's Chronicle of King Edward; (2) O. Martins' Sons of Don John I.; (3) Azurara's Chronicle of John I.; (4) Pina's Chronicle of Affonso V.

XII. For Chapter XII. (From Boyador to Cape Verde).—(1) Azurara's Guinea; (2) De Barros; (3) Pina's Chronicle of Affonso V.; (4) O. Martins' Sons of Don John I.

For Chapters XIII. to the end.—(1) Azurara's Discovery and Conquest of Guinea; (2) Narratives of Cadamosto and Diego Gomez; (3) Pina's Chronicle of Affonso V.; (4) Prince Henry's Charters.

The three modern lives of Prince Henry which I have chiefly consulted are:

R.H. Major's Henry the Navigator, Wappaeus' Heinrich der Seeffahrer, and De Weer's Prinz Heinrich, with O. Martins' Lives of the Infants of the House of Aviz in his Sons of Don John I.

The maps and illustrations have been planned in a regular series.

I. As to the former, they are meant to show in an historical succession the course of geographical advance in Christendom down to the death of Prince Henry (1460). Setting aside the Ptolemy, which represents the knowledge of the world at its height in the pre-Christian civilisation, and the Edrisi which represents the Arabic followers of Ptolemy, whose influence upon early Christian geography was very marked, all the maps reproduced belong to the science of the Christian ages and countries. The two Mappe-mondes above referred to are both placed in the introductory chapter, and are treated only as the most important examples of the science which the Graeco-Roman Empire bequeathed to Christendom, but which between the seventh and thirteenth centuries was chiefly worked upon by the Arabs. Among early Christian maps, that of St. Sever, possibly of the eighth century, the Anglo-Saxon map of the tenth century, the Turin Map of the eleventh, and the Spanish map of the twelfth (1109), represent very crude and simple types of sketches of the world, in which within a square or oblong surrounded by the ocean a few prominent features only, such as the main divisions of countries, are attempted. The Anglo-Saxon example, though greatly superior to the others given here, essentially belongs to this kind of work, where some little truth is preserved by a happy ignorance of the travellers' tales that came into fashion later, but where there is only the vaguest and most general knowledge of geographical facts.

On the other hand, in the next group, to which the Psalter map is allied, and in which the Hereford map is our best example, mythical learning—drawn from books like Pliny, Solinus, St. Isidore, and Martianus Capella, which collected stories of beasts and monsters, stones and men, divine, human, and natural marvels on the principle Credo quia impossible—has overpowered every other consideration, and a map of the world becomes a great picture-book of curious objects, in which the very central and primary interest of geography is lost. But by the side of and almost at the same time as these specimens of geographical mythology, geographical science had taken a new start in the coast charts or portolani of Balearic and Italian seamen, some specimens of which form our next set of maps.

Dulcert's portolano of 1339 and the Laurentian of 1351 are two of the best examples of this kind of work, which gave us our first really accurate map of any part of the globe, but which for some time was entirely confined to coast drawing, and was meant to supply the practical wants of captains, pilots, and seamen. The Catalan atlas of 1375-6 shows the portolano type extended to a real Mappa Mundi; the elaborate carefulness and sumptuousness of this example prepares us for the still higher work of Andrea Bianco and of Benincasa in the fifteenth century. As the Laurentian portolano of 1351 commemorates the voyage of 1341 and marks its discoveries in the Atlantic islands, so the Catalan map of 1375-6 commemorates the Catalan voyage of 1346, and gives the best and most up-to-date picture of the N.W. African coast as it was known before Prince Henry's discoveries.

Last of these groups of maps is that of examples from Henry's own age, such as the Fra Mauro map of 1459 or the maps of Andrea Bianco and Benincasa (e.g., 1436, 1448, 1468), among which the first-named is the only one we have been able to give here.

The Borgian map of 1450 is given as an extraordinary specimen of what could be done as late as 1450, not as an example of geographical progress; and the map of 1492, recording Portuguese discoveries down to the rounding of the Cape of Good Hope, is added to illustrate the advance of explorers in the years closely following Henry's death, as it was realised at the time.

The maps have in most cases been set from the modern standpoint, but, as will readily be seen by the position of the names, the normal mediaeval setting was quite different, with the S. or E. at the top.

II. The illustrations aim at giving portraits or pictures of the chief persons and places connected with the life of Prince Henry. There are three of the Prince himself; one from the Paris MS. of Azurara, one from the gateway of the great convent church of Belem, one from the recumbent statue over his tomb at Batalha. Two others give: (1) The whole group of the royal tombs of Henry's house,—of his father, mother, and brothers in the aisle at Batalha, and (2) the recumbent statues of his father and mother, John and Philippa, in detail; the exterior and general effect of the same church—Portugal's Westminster, and the mausoleum of the Navigator's own family of Aviz—comes next, in a view of this greatest of Portuguese shrines.

Coimbra University, with which as rector or chancellor or patron Prince Henry was so closely connected, for which he once provided house room, and in which his benefactions earned him the title of "Protector of the studies of Portugal" is given to illustrate his life as a student and a man of science; the mother church of the order of Christ at Thomar may remind us of another side of his life—as a military monk, grand master of an order of religious chivalry which at least professed to bind its members to a single life, and which under his lead took an active part in the exploration and settlement of the African coasts and the Atlantic islands.

The portraits of Columbus, Da Gama, and Albuquerque, which conclude this set of illustrations, are given as portraits of three of Prince Henry's more or less conscious disciples and followers, of three men who did most to realise his schemes. The first of these, who owed to Portuguese advance towards the south the suggestion of corresponding success in the west, and who found America by the western route to India,—as Henry had planned nearly a century before to round Africa and reach Malabar by the eastern and southern way,—was the nearest of the Prince's successful imitators in time, the greatest in achievement; he was not a mere follower of the Portuguese initiative, for he struck out a new line or at least a neglected one, made the greatest of all geographical additions to human knowledge, and took the most daring plunge into the unknown that has ever been taken—but Columbus, beside his independent position and interest, was certainly on one side a disciple of Henry the Navigator, and drew much of his inspiration from the impulse that the Prince had started. Da Gama, the first who sailed direct from Lisbon to India round Africa, and Albuquerque, the maker, if not the founder, of the Portuguese empire in the East, were simply the realisers of the vast ambitions that take their start from the work and life of Prince Henry, and he has a right to claim them as two leading champions of his plans and policy. In many points Albuquerque, like Columbus, is more than a follower; but in the main outline of his achievement he follows upon the work of other men, and, among these men, of none so much as the Hero of Portugal and of modern discovery.

Lastly. I have to thank many friends generally for their constant kindness and readiness to assist in any way, and in particular several for the most generous and valuable help in certain parts.

Mr. T.A. Archer, besides the benefit of his suggestions throughout, has given special aid in Chapters I., III., V., and the Introductory Chapter, especially where anything is said of the connection of geographical progress with the Crusades.[7]

[Footnote 7: Compare Archer and Kingsford, The Crusades, in the Stories of the Nations.]

Mr. F. York Powell has revised Chapter II. on the Vikings, and Professor Margoliouth has done the same for the Introductory Chapter on Greek and Arabic geography; Mr. Coote has not only given me every help in the map room of the British Museum, but has read the proofs of Chapter V. Mr. H. Yule-Oldham in Chapter XVIII. on the Voyage of Cadamosto, and Mr. Prestage in Chapters VIII. and IX. on Prince Henry's capture of Ceuta and settlement at Sagres, have been most kind in offering suggestions. For several hints useful in Chapter I.—the early Christian pilgrims—I have also to thank Professor Sanday; and for revision of a great part of the proof-sheets of the entire book, Mr. G.N. Richardson and the Rev. W.H. Hutton.

As to the illustrations, of portraits and monuments, etc., I am especially obliged to the Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University (Dr. Boyd), who has allowed his water-colour paintings of Portuguese subjects to be reproduced; and to the Rev. R. Livingstone of Pembroke, and Sir John Hawkins of Oriel, for their loan of photographs.


The Lusitanian Prince who, heaven-inspired, To love of useful glory roused mankind, And in unbounded commerce mixed the world.

THOMSON: Seasons, Summer, 1010-2.



Arabic science constitutes one of the main links between the older learned world of the Greeks and Latins and the Europe of Henry the Navigator and of the Renaissance. In geography it adopted in the main the results of Ptolemy and Strabo; and many of the Moslem travellers and writers gained some additional hints from Indian, Persian, and Chinese knowledge; but, however much of fact they added to Greek cartography, they did not venture to correct its postulates.

And what were these postulates? In part, they were the assumptions of modern draughtsmen, but in some important details they differed. And first, as to agreement. Three continents, Europe, Asia, and Africa, an encircling ocean, the Mediterranean, the Black Sea and Caspian, the Red Sea and Persian Gulf, the South Asiatic, and North and West European coasts were indicated with more or less precision in the science of the Antonines and even of Hannibal's age. Similarly, the Nile and Danube, Euphrates and Tigris, Indus and Ganges, Jaxartes and Oxus, Rhine and Ebro, Don and Volga, with the chief mountain ranges of Europe and Western Asia, find themselves pretty much in their right places in Strabo's description, and are still better placed in the great chart of Ptolemy. The countries and nations from China to Spain are arranged in the order of modern knowledge. But the differences were fundamental also. Never was there a clearer outrunning of knowledge by theory, science by conjecture, than in Ptolemy's scheme of the world (c. A.D. 130). His chief predecessors, Eratosthenes and Strabo, had left much blank space in their charts, and had made many mistakes in detail, but they had caught the main features of the Old World with fair accuracy. Ptolemy, in trying to fill up what he did not know from his inner consciousness, evolved a parody of those features. His map, from its intricate falsehood, backed as it was by the greatest name in geographical science, paralysed all real enlargement of knowledge till men began to question, not only his facts, but his theories. And as all modern science, in fact, followed the progress of world-knowledge, or "geography," we may see how important it was for this revolution to take place, for Ptolemy to be dethroned.

The Arabs, commanding most of the centres of ancient learning (Ptolemy's own Alexandria above all), riveted the pseudo-science of their predecessors on the learned world, along with the genuine knowledge which they handed down from the Greeks. In many details they corrected and amplified the Greek results. But most of their geographical theories were mere reproductions of Ptolemy's, and to his mistakes they added wilder though less important confusions or inventions of their own. The result of all this, by the tenth century A.D., was a geography, based not on knowledge, but on ideas of symmetry. It was a scheme fit for the Arabian Nights.

And how did Ptolemy lend himself to this?

His chief mistakes were only two;—but they were mistakes from which at any rate Strabo and most of the Greek geographers are free. He made the Indian Ocean an inland sea, and he filled up the Southern Hemisphere with Africa, or the unknown Antarctic land in which he extended Africa.[8] The Dark Continent, in his map, ran out on the one side to the south-east of China, and on the other to the indefinite west, though there was here no hint of America or an Atlantic continent. It was a triumph of learned imagination over humdrum research. Science under Hadrian was ambitious to have its world settled and known; it was not yet settled or fully known; and so a great student constructed a melange of fact and fancy mainly based on a guess-work of imaginary astronomical reckonings. On the far east, Ptolemy joined China and Africa; and on this imaginary western coast, fronting Malacca and Further India, he placed various gratuitous towns and rivers. Coming to smaller matters, he cut away the whole of the Indian peninsula proper, though preserving the Further or "Golden" Chersonesus of the Malays, and he enlarged Taprobane, or Ceylon, to double the size of Asia Minor. Thus the southern coast of Asia from Arabia to the Ganges ran almost due east, with a strait of sea coming through the modern Carnatic, between the continent and the Great Spice Island, which included most of the Deccan. The Persian Gulf, much greater on this map than the Black Sea, was made equal in length and breadth; the shape of the Caspian was, so to say, turned inside out and its length given as from east to west, instead of from north to south; while the coast line, even of the familiar Euxine, AEgean, and Southern Mediterranean, was anything but true. Scandinavia was an island smaller than Ireland; Scotland represented a great eastern bend of Britain, with the Shetlands and Faeroes (Thule) lying a short distance to the north, but on the left-hand side of the great island. The Sea of Azov, hardly inferior to the Euxine, stretched north half way across Russia. All Central Africa and the great Southern or Antarctic continent was described as pathless desert—"a land uninhabitable from the heat"; and the sources of the Nile were accounted for by the marshes and Mountains of the Moon.

[Footnote 8: Rejecting the old idea of an encircling ocean as the girdle or limit of the known world, and replacing it with a new fancy of unbounded continent (on all sides except the north-west)—a fancy which the vast extension of Roman Dominion under the Empire may have fostered.]

Thus all the problems of ancient geography were explained: where Ptolemy's knowledge failed him altogether, no Western of that time had ever been, or was likely to go. The whole realised and unrealised world was described with such clearness and consistency, men thought, that what was lacking in Aristotle was now supplied.

Yet it is worth while observing how, centuries before Ptolemy, in the ages nearer to Aristotle himself, the geography of Eratosthenes and Strabo, by a more balanced use of knowledge and by a greater restraint of fancy, had composed a far more reliable chart.[9]

[Footnote 9: In using the expressions "Chart," or "Map" of Strabo's description (c. A.D. 20), it is not meant to imply that Strabo himself left more than a written description from which a plan was afterwards prepared: "The world according to Strabo." The same applies to Eratosthenes (c. B.C. 200) and all pre-Ptolemaic Greek geographers. Ptolemy's Atlas, probably, and the Peutinger Table, more certainly, are maps really drawn by ancient designers; but these are the only ones that have survived from a much larger number.]

This earlier and discredited map avoided all the more serious perversions of Ptolemy. Africa was cut off at the limit of actual knowledge, about Cape Non on the west and Cape Guardafui on the east; and the "Cinnamon-bearing Coast," between these points, was fringed by the Mountains of AEthiopia, where the Nile rose. This was the theory which revived on the decline of the Ptolemaic, and which encouraged the Portuguese sailors with hopes of a quick approach to India round Africa, as the great eastern bend of the Guinea coast seemed to suggest. Further, on this pre-Ptolemaic map the Southern Ocean was left untouched by a supposed Southern Continent, and except for an undue shrinkage of the Old World in general as an island in the midst of the vast surrounding ocean, a reliable description of Western Asia and Central Europe and North Africa was in the hands of the learned world two hundred years before Christ.

It is true that Strabo's China is cramped and cut short; that his Ceylon (Taprobane) is even larger than Ptolemy's; that Ireland (Ierne) appears to the north of Britain; and that the Caspian joins the North Sea by a long and narrow channel; but the true shape of India, of the Persian Gulf and the Euxine, of the Sea of Azov and the Mediterranean, is marked rightly enough in general outline. This earlier chart has not the elaborate completeness of Ptolemy's, but it is free from his enormous errors, and it has all the advantage of science, however imperfect, over brilliant guessing.

Of course, even in Ptolemy, this guess-work pure and simple only comes in at intervals and does not so much affect the central and, for his day, far more important tracts of the Old World, but we have yet to see how, in the mediaeval period and under Arabic imagination, all geography seemed likely to become an exercise of fancy.

The chief Greek descriptions of the world, we must clearly remember, were before the mediaeval workers, Christian and Moslem, from the first; these men took their choice, and the point is that they, and specially the Arabs, chose with rare exceptions the last of these, the Ptolemaic system, because it was the more ambitious, symmetrical, and pretty.

Let us trace for a moment the gradual development of this geographical mythology.

Starting with the notion of the world as a disc, or a ball, the centre of the universe, round which moved six celestial circles, of the Meridian, the Equator, the Ecliptic, the two Tropics, and the Horizon, the Arab philosophers on the side of the earth's surface worked out a doctrine of a Cupola or Summit of the world, and on the side of the heavens a pseudo-science of the Anoua or Settings of the Constellations, connected with the twelve Pillars of the Zodiac and the twenty-eight Mansions of the Moon.

With Arabic astrology we are not here concerned; it is only worth noting in this connection as the possible source of early Christian knowledge of the Southern Cross and other stars famous in the story of exploration, such as Dante shows in the first canto of his Purgatorio. But the geographical doctrines of Islam, compounded from the Hebrew Pentateuch and the theoretical parts of Ptolemy, had a more immediate and reactionary effect on knowledge. The symmetrical Greek divisions of land into seven zones or climates; and of the world's surface,[10] into three parts water and one part terra firma; the Indian fourfold arrangement of "Romeland" and the East; the similar fourfold Chinese partition of China, India, Persia, and Tartary: all these reappeared confusedly in Arabic geography. From India and the Sanscrit "Lanka," they seem to have got their first start on the myth of Odjein, Aryn, or Arim, "the World's Summit"; from Ptolemy the sacred number of 360 degrees of longitude was certainly derived, beautifully corresponding to the days of the year, and neatly divided into 180 of land or habitable earth and 180 of sea, or unharvested desert. With the seven climates they made correspond the great Empires of the world—chief among which they reckoned the Caliphate (or Bagdad), China, Rome, Turkestan, and India.

[Footnote 10: In which the habitable quarter of the world, situated mainly in the Northern Hemisphere, was just about twice as long as it was broad.]

The sacred city of Odjein had been the centre of most of the earlier Oriental systems; in the Arabic form of Arim ("The Cupola of the Earth"), it became the fixed point round which circled mediaeval theories of the world's shape. "Somewhere in the Indian Ocean between Comorin and Madagascar," became the compromise when the mountain could not be found off any of the known coast-lines; it was mixed up with notions of the Roc, and the Moon Mountains in Africa, of the Magnet Island and of the Eastern Kingdom made out of one vast pearl; and even in Roger Bacon it serves as an algebraic sign for a mathematical centre of the world.

The enlargement of knowledge, though forcing upon Arabic science a conviction of Ptolemy's mistake in over-extending the limits of the world known to him, only led to the invention of a scholastic distinction between the real and the traditional East and West, while the confusion was made perfect by the travestied history always so popular among Orientals. The "Gades of Alexander and Hercules," the farthest points east and west, were named after the mythical conquests of the real Iskander and the mythical hero of Greeks and Phoenicians. Arim in the middle, with the pillars of Hercules and Alexander, and the north and south poles at equal distance from it—the centre and the four corners of the world as neatly fixed as geometry could define—this was the map, first of the Arabs, and then of their Christian scholars.

To form any idea of the complete spell thus cast over thought both in Islam and Christendom, we may look at the words of European scholars of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, living far from Islam, long after its intellectual glory had begun to decay, and at a time when Christian scholastic philosophy had reached an independent position. Gerard of Cremona and Adelard of Bath (the translator of the great Arabic geographer, Mohammed Al-Kharizmy) in the twelfth century, Roger Bacon and Albertus Magnus in the later thirteenth, are all as clear about their geographical postulates as about their theological or ethical rules. And what concerns us here is that they exactly reflect the mind of the Arabic science or pseudo-science of the time just preceding, so that their words may represent to us the state of Mohammedan thought between the eighth and twelfth centuries, between the writers at the Court of Caliph Almamoun (813-833) and Edrisi at the Court of King Roger of Sicily (1150).

(1.) Adelard, summarising Mohammed Al-Kharizmy with the results of his Paris education, tells us of the Arabic "Examination of planets and of time, starting from the centre of the world, called Arim, from which place to the four ends of the earth the distance is equal, viz., ninety degrees, answering to the fourth part of the world's circumference. It is tedious and unending to attempt to place all the countries of the world and to fix all the marks of time. So the meridian is taken as the measure of the latter and Arim of the former, and from this starting-point it is not hard to fix other countries." "Arim," he concludes, "is under the equator, at the point where there is no latitude," and he plainly implies that there were then existing among the Arabs tables calculating all the chief places of every country from the meridian of Arim.

(2.) Gerard of Cremona, who, though for some time a resident at Toledo, is essentially an Italian, tells us about the "Middle of the World," from which longitudes were calculated, "called Arim," and "said to be in India," whose longitude from west to east or from east to west is ninety degrees.

In his Theory of the Planets Gerard tells us still more wonderful things. Arim was a geographical centre known and used by Hermes Trismegistus and by Ptolemy, as well as by the great Arab geographers; Alexander of Macedon marched just as far to the east of Arim as Hercules to the west; both reached the encircling ocean, and accordingly "Arim is equidistant from both the Gades, 90 degrees; likewise from each pole, north and south, the same, 90 degrees." This all recurs in the tables of Alphonso the Wise of Castille about A.D. 1260, and two of the greatest of mediaeval thinkers, Albert and Roger Bacon, reproduced the essential points of this doctrine, its false symmetry, and its balance of the true and the traditional, with variations of their own.

(3.) Albert the Great, Albertus Magnus, second only to Aquinas among the Continental Schoolmen, in his View of Astronomy, repeats Adelard upon the question of Arim, "where there is no latitude," while (4) Roger Bacon discusses not only the true and the traditional East and West, but even a twofold Arim, one "under the solstice, the other under the equinoctial zone." Arim he finds not to be in the centre of the real world, but only of the traditional. In another passage of the Opus Majus, Bacon, our first English worker in the exact sciences, allows the world-summit not to be exactly 90 degrees from the east, although so placed by mathematicians. Yet there is no contradiction, he urges, because the men of theory are "speaking of the habitable world known to them, according to the true understanding of latitude and longitude," and this "true understanding" is "not as great as has been realised in travel by Pliny and others." "The longitude of the habitable world is more than half of the whole circuit." This, reproduced in the Imago Mundi of Cardinal Peter Ailly (1410), fell into the hands of Columbus and helped to fix his doctrines of the shape of the world ("in the form of a pear") of the terrestrial paradise, and of the earth's circumference,—so enormously contracted as practically to abolish the Pacific.[11]

[Footnote 11: In Columbus' letters to Queen Isabella in 1498, we catch, as it were, the last echo of the Arabic melange of Moses and Greek geography, along with the results of Roger Bacon's corrections of Ptolemy. "The Old Hemisphere," he writes "which has for its centre the isle of Arim, is spherical, but the other (new) Hemisphere has the form of the lower half of a pear. Just one hundred leagues west of the Azores the earth rises at the Equator and the temperature grows keener. The summit is over against the mouth of the Orinoco."]

To return to the Arabs: We have seen how they not merely followed Greek theories, which their own experience as conquerors in the Further East went to discredit, but, in the great outlines of geography, added to earlier errors, put prejudice in the place of knowledge, and handed on to Christendom a half-fanciful map of the world. It only remains for us to illustrate their leading fault, of a too vivid fancy, with a few details on minor points.

(1.) Ptolemy's "Habitable Quarter" of the world, amounting to just half the longitude of the globe, was literally accepted by the Moslem world, as it accepted the Pentateuch from the moment when it began its study of science at the Court of Almamoun (813-833). But, as the conquests of the Caliphs disclosed districts in the east far beyond Ptolemy's limits, it was necessary, in case of keeping his data for the whole, to compress the part which alone was to be found fully described in his chart: "On the west, unhappily, there were no countries newly discovered to compensate for this abridgment." By Massoudy's time,—by the tenth century,—fact and theory were thus hopelessly at variance.

(2.) On the shape of Africa, the mass of Arabic opinion confirmed Ptolemy, but among the more enlightened there is traceable from Massoudy's time a tendency either to react towards Strabo's partly agnostic position, or to invent some new theory rather more in harmony with the known facts. That is, either their later map-makers cut off Africa at Cape Non or Bojador and Cape Guardafui, and gave away the rest to the "Green Sea of Darkness," or, like Massoudy, they sketched a great Southern Continent, divided from Africa by a narrow channel, which connected the Western Ocean with the Sea of Habasch—of Abyssinia or India. In either case Africa was left an island.

(3.) The words "Gog and Magog" from Jeremiah, describing the nomades of Central Asia, appear in the Koran as Yadjoudj and Madjoudj. The complete story, in the tenth century and in Edrisi's day, connects them with Alexander the Great, who is also found in the Koran as Doul-Carnain, and with the Wall of China. "When the Conqueror," said the Arabs, "reached the place near where the sun rose, he was implored to build a wall to shut off the marauders of Yadjoudj and Madjoudj from the rich countries of the South." So he built a rampart of iron across the pass by which alone Touran joined Iran, and henceforth Turks and Tartars were kept outside. Till the Arabs reached the Caucasus, they generally supposed this to answer to Alexander's wall; when facts dispelled this theory, the unknown Ural or Altai Mountains served instead; finally, as the Moslems became masters of Central Asia, the Wall of China, beyond the Gobi desert, alone satisfied the conditions of shadowy but historic grandeur, beyond all practical danger of verification.

(4.) In striking contrast with the steady advance of Arabic exploration and trade in the Eastern Sea is the Moslem horror of the Western Ocean beyond Europe and Africa, the "Green Sea of Darkness" or the Atlantic. And what we have to note is that they imparted much of this paralysing cowardice to the Christian nations. Only the Northmen of Scandinavia, living a life apart, and forced to make their way over the wild North Sea, were untouched by this southern superstition, and ventured across the ocean by the Faeroes, Iceland, and Greenland, to the coast of Labrador.

The doctors of the Koran indeed thought that a man mad enough to embark for the unknown, even on a coasting voyage, should be deprived of civil rights. Ibn Said goes further, and says no one has ever done this: "whirlpools always destroy any adventurer." As late as the generation immediately before Henry the Navigator, about A.D. 1390, another light of Moslem science declared the Atlantic to be "boundless, so that ships dare not venture out of sight of land, for even if the sailors knew the direction of the winds, they would not know whither those winds would carry them, and as there is no inhabited country beyond, they would run a risk of being lost in mist, fog, and vapour. The limit of the West is the Atlantic Ocean."

This was the final judgment of the Arabic race and its subject allies upon the western limits of the world, and in two ways they helped to fix this belief, derived from the timid coasting-traders of the Roman Empire on Greek and Latin Christendom. First, the Spanish Caliphate cut off all access to the Western Sea beyond the Bay of Biscay, from the eighth to the twelfth centuries. Not till the capture of Lisbon in 1147, could Christian enterprise on this side gain any basis, or starting-point. Not till the conquest of the Algarve in the extreme south-west of the peninsula, at the end of the twelfth century, was this enterprise free to develop itself. Secondly, in the darkest ages of Christian depression, the seventh, the eighth, the ninth, the tenth centuries, when only the brief age of Charlemagne offered any chance of an independent and progressive Catholic Empire in the west, the Arabs became recognised along with the Byzantines as the main successors of Greek culture. The science, the metaphysic, the abstract ideas of these centuries came into Germany, France, and Italy from Cordova and from Bagdad, as much as from Byzantium. And on questions like the South Atlantic or Indian Ocean, or the shape of Africa,—where Islam had all the field to itself, and there was no positive and earlier discovery which might contradict a natural reluctance to test tradition by experiment—Christendom accepted the Arabic verdict with deference.

In the same way, on still more difficult points, such as the theory of a canal from the Caspian to the Black Sea, or from the Caspian to the Arctic circle, or from the Black Sea to the Baltic, Paris and Rome and Bologna and Oxford accepted the Arabic descriptions.

It has been necessary for us to attend to the defects of Arabic geography, in order to understand how in the long Saracen control of the world's trade routes and of geographical tradition, science and seamanship were so little advanced. Between Ptolemy and Henry of Portugal, between the second and the fifteenth centuries, the only great extension of men's knowledge of the world was: (1) in the extreme north, where the semi-Christian, semi-Pagan Vikings reached perhaps as far as the present site of New York and founded, on another side, the Mediaeval Kingdom of Russia; (2) on the south-east coast of Africa, from Cape Guardafui to Madagascar, which was opened up by the trading interest of the Emosaid family (800-1300); (3) in the far east, in Central and Further Asia, by the discoveries of Marco Polo and the Friar preachers following on the tracks of the earlier Moslem travellers. The first of these was a Northern secret, soon forgotten, or an abortive development, cut short by the Tartars; the second was an Arabic secret, jealously guarded as a commercial right; the third alone added much direct new knowledge to the main part of the civilised world.

But throughout their period of commercial rule from the eighth to the twelfth centuries, the Arabs took a keen interest in land traffic, conquest, and exploration. They were of small account at sea; it took them some time to turn to their own purposes Hippalus' discovery (in the second century A.D.) of the monsoon in the Indian Ocean; but, on land, Moslem travellers and writers—generally following in the wake of their armies, but sometimes pressing on ahead of them—did not a little to enlarge the horizon of the Mohammedan world, though it was not till Marco Polo and the Franciscan missionaries of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, that Christian Europe shared in this gain.

As the early Caliphs conquered, they made surveys of their new dominions. Thus after Tarik and Mousa had overrun Spain, Walid at Damascus required from them an account of the land and its resources. The universal obligation of the Mecca pilgrimage compelled every Moslem to travel once in his life; and many an Arab, after the Caliphate was settled in power from the Oxus to the Pyrenees, journeyed to and fro with the joy of a master going over vast estates, shewing his dreaded turban to subjects of every nation.

This, however, was not geographical science, or even pseudo-science. Before Mohammed the Arabs had possessed some knowledge of the stars and used it for astrology; but it was at the Court of Almamoun (813-833) that their inquiring spirits first set themselves to answer the great question of geography—Where? Through the ninth and tenth centuries there arose a succession of travellers and thinkers who, with all their wild dreamings, preserved the best results of Greek maps and would have made much greater advances but for their helplessness in original work. As they could not recast Aristotle in philosophy, so they could not with all their new knowledge of the Further East recast the geography of Ptolemy and Strabo.

A few great ages, the age for instance of Almamoun in Bagdad (A.D. 830), of Mahmoud in Ghazneh (A.D. 1000), of Abderrahman III. in Cordova (A.D. 950), give us the history of Arabic geography.

Beginning in the latter years of the eighth century, Moslem science was reformed and organised, in the New Empire, by the patronage of the Caliphs of the ninth. Itineraries of victorious generals, plans and tables prepared by governors of provinces, and a freshly acquired knowledge of Greek and Indian and Persian thought, made up the subject-matter of study. The barbarism of the first believers was passing away, and Mohammed's words were recalled: "Seek knowledge, even in China." By the end of the eighth century Ptolemy's Geography and the now lost work of Marinus of Tyre had already been translated. Almamoun drew to his Court all the chief "mathematicians" or philosophers of Islam, such as Mohammed Al-Kharizmy, Alfergany, and Solyman the merchant. Further he built two observatories, one at Bagdad, one at Damascus, and procured a chart fixing the latitude and longitude of every place known to him or his savants. Al-Kharizmy interpolated the new Arabic Ptolemy with additions from the Sanscrit, and made some use of Indian trigonometry. Alfergany wrote the first Arab treatise on the Astrolabe and adopted the Greek division of the seven Climates to the new learning. Solyman, at the time of closest intercourse between China, India, and the Caliphate, travelled in every country of the Further East, sailed in the "Sea of Pitchy Darkness" on the east coast of Asia, and by his voyages became the prototype of Sinbad the Sailor.

The impulse given by Almamoun did not die with him. About 850 Alkendy made a fresh version of Ptolemy; as early as 840 the Caliph Vatek-Billah sent to explore the countries of Central Asia, and his results have been preserved by Edrisi. A few years later (c. 890) Ibn-Khordadbeh, "Son of the Magi," described the principal trade-routes, the Indian by the Red Sea from Djeddah to Scinde, the Russian by the Volga and North Caspian, the Persian by way of Balkh to China. It was by this last that some have thought the envoys of the English King Alfred went in 883, till they turned south to seek India and the Christians of San Thome.

The early scientific movement in Islam reached its height in Albateny and Massoudy at the beginning of the tenth century. The former determined, more exactly than before, various problems of astronomical geography.[12] The latter visited every country from Further India to Spain;—even China and Madagascar seem to have been within the compass of his later travels; and his voyages in the Indian Ocean bring us to the real Sinbad Saga of the tenth century.

[Footnote 12: "The Obliquity of the Ecliptic, the Eccentricity of the Sun, the Precession of the Equinoxes."]

Sinbad, as his story appears in the Arabian Nights, has been traced to an original in the Indian tales of The Seven Sages, in the voyages of the age of Chosroes Nushirvan or of Haroun-Al-Rashid, but the tale appears to be an Arabic original, the real account, with a little more of mystery and exaggeration than usual, of the ninth-and tenth-century travellers, from Solyman to Massoudy, reproduced in form of a series of novels.[13]

[Footnote 13: "With the Sinbad story is connected the historical extension of the Arab settlements in the East African coast through the enterprise of the Emosaid family."]

With Massoudy begins also the formal discussion of geographical problems affecting Islam. Was the Caspian a land-locked sea? Did it connect with the Euxine? Did either or both of these join the Arctic Ocean? Was Africa an island? If so, was there also an unknown Southern Continent? What was the shape of South-Eastern Asia? Was Ptolemy's longitude to be wholly accepted, and if not, how was it to be bettered? By a use of Strabo and of Albateny rather than of Ptolemy, Massoudy arrived at fairly accurate and very plausible results. His chief novelties were the long river channel from the Sea of Azov to the North Sea, and the strait between South Africa and the shadowy Southern Continent. On his scheme the Indian Ocean, or Sea of Habasch, contains most of the water surface of the world, and the Sea of Aral appears for the first time in Moslem geography. Lastly his account of the Arab coasting voyages from the Persian Gulf to Socotra and Madagascar proves, implicitly, that as yet there was no use of the compass.

Massoudy cut down the girth of the world even more than Ptolemy. The latter had left an ocean to the west of Africa: the former made the Canaries or Fortunate Islands, the limit of the known Western world, abut upon India, the limit of the Eastern.

The first age of Arabic geography ends with Massoudy, its greatest name, in the middle of the tenth century. The second age is summed up in the work of the Eastern sage Albyrouny and of Edrisi, the Arabic Ptolemy (A.D. 1099-1154), who found a home at the Christian Court of Roger of Sicily. In the far East and West alike, in Spain and Morocco, in Khorassan and India, Moslem science was now driven to take refuge among strangers on the decay of the Caliphates of Bagdad and Cordova. The Ghaznevides Mahmoud and Massoud in the first half of the eleventh century, attracted to their Court not only Firdusi and Avicenna, but Albyrouny, whose "Canon" became a text-book of Mohammedan science, and who, for the range of his knowledge and the trained subtlety of his mind, stands without a rival for his time.[14] The Spanish school, as resulting directly in Edrisi, half Moslem, half Christian, like his teachers, is of still more interest. One of its first traces may be found in the Latin translation of the Arab Almanack made by Bishop Harib of Cordova in 961. It was dedicated and presented to Caliph Hakem—one of our clearest proofs of the conscious interworking of Catholic and Mahometan philosophy in the age of Pope Sylvester II. and of our own St. Dunstan. A century later, on the recapture of Toledo by Alfonso VI. (1084), an observatory was built, served by Jews and Moslems, who had been steadily producing, through the whole of the eleventh century, astronomical and geographical tables and dictionaries. A whole tribe of commentators on place-names, on the climates and constellations, and on geographical instruments was at work in this last age of the Spanish Caliphate, and their results are brought together by Abou Hamid of Granada and by Edrisi.

[Footnote 14: The school of Persian mathematicians who produced the maps of Alestakliry-Ibn-Hankal, the book of latitudes and longitudes, ascribed by Abulfeda to Alfaraby the Turk, was the immediate descendant of Albyrouny.]

Born at Ceuta in 1099, this great geographer travelled through Spain, France, the Western Mediterranean, and North Africa before settling at the Norman Court of Palermo. Roger, the most civilised prince in Christendom, the final product of the great race of Robert Guiscard and William the Conqueror, valued Edrisi at his proper worth, refused to part with him, and employed men in every part of the world to collect materials for his study. Thus the Moor gained, not only for the Moslem world but for Southern Europe as well, an approximate knowledge even of Norway, Sweden, Finland, and the coasts of the White Sea. His work, dedicated to Roger and called after him, Al-Rojary, was rewarded with a peerage, and it was as a Sicilian Count that he finished his Celestial Sphere and Terrestrial Disc of silver, on which "was inscribed all the circuit of the known world and all the rivers thereof."

Each of his great Arabic predecessors, along with Eratosthenes, Ptolemy, and Strabo, was welded into his system—the result of fifteen years of abstract study, following some thirty of practical activity in travel.[15]

[Footnote 15: The world he divided by climates in the Greek manner, taking no account of political divisions, or of those resting on language or religion. Each climate was further subdivided into ten sections. In the shape of Africa he followed Ptolemy.]

A special note may be made on Edrisi's account of the voyage of the Lisbon "Wanderers" ("Maghrurins") some time before 1147, the date of the final Christian capture of the Portuguese capital. For this is the earliest recorded voyage, since the rise of Islam, definitely undertaken on the Western Ocean to learn what was on it and what were its limits. The Wanderers, Edrisi tells us, were eight in number, all related to one another. They built a transport boat, took on board water and provisions for many months, and started with the first east wind. After eleven days, they reached a sea whose thick waters exhaled a fetid odour, concealed numerous reefs, and were but faintly lighted. Fearing for their lives, they changed their course, steered southwards twelve days, and so reached an island, possibly Madeira,—which they called El Ghanam from the sheep found there, without shepherd or anyone to tend them. On landing, they found a spring of running water and some wild figs. They killed some sheep, but found the flesh so bitter that they could not eat it, and only took the skins. Sailing south twelve more days, they found an island with houses and cultivated fields, but as they neared it they were surrounded, made prisoners, and carried in their own boats to a city on the sea-shore, to a house where were men of tall stature and women of great beauty. Here they stayed three days, and on the fourth came a man, the King's interpreter, who spoke Arabic, and asked them who they were and what they wanted. They replied they were seeking out the wonders of the ocean and its limits. At this the King laughed heartily, and said to the interpreter: "Tell them my father once ordered some of his slaves to venture out on that sea and after sailing across the breadth of it for a month, they found themselves deprived of the light of the sun and returned without having learnt anything." Then the Wanderers were sent back to their prison till a west wind arose, when they were blindfolded and put on board a boat, and after three days reached the mainland of Africa. Here they were put ashore, with their hands tied, and so left. They were released by the Berbers, and after their reappearance in Spain, a "street at the foot of the hot bath in Lisbon," concludes Edrisi, "took the name of Street of the Wanderers."

On the other extremity of the Moslem world, on the south-east coast of Africa, there was more real progress. By Edrisi's day that important addition of Arabic travellers and merchants to the geographical knowledge of the world, by the remarkable trade-ventures of the Emosaids, had been already made.

It had taken long in the making.

About A.D. 742, ten years after the battle of Tours, the Emosaid family, descended from Ali, cousin and son-in-law of Mahomet, tried to make Said, their clan-chieftain, Ali's great-grandson, Caliph at Damascus. The attempt was foiled, and the whole tribe fled, sailed down the Red Sea and African coast, and established themselves as traders in the Sea of India. First of all, Socotra seems to have been their mart and capital, but before the end of the tenth century they had founded merchant colonies at Melinda, Mombasa, and Mozambique, which, in their turn, led to settlements on the opposite coasts of Asia. Thus the trade of the Indian Ocean was secured for Islam, the first Moslem settlements arose in Malabar, and when the Portuguese broke into this mare clausum, in 1497-8, they found a belt of "Moorish" coast towns, from Magadoxo to Quiloa, controlling both the Indian and the inland African trades, as Ibn Batuta had found in 1330.

By Edrisi's day, moreover, the steady persistence and self-evident results of Arabic overland exploration had become recognised by a sort of "Traveller's Doctorate." It was not enough for the highest knowledge to study the Koran, and the Sunna, and the Greek philosophers at home; for a perfect education, a man must have travelled at least through the length and breadth of Islam. All the successors of Edrisi, in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, shew this mingling of science and religion, of practical and speculative energy.

Tradition still governed Moslem thought, but there had come into being a sort of half-acknowledged appendix to tradition, made up of real observations on men and things. And in these observations, geographical interest was the main factor.

The Life of Al Heravy of Herat (1173-1215), the "Doctor Ubiquitus" of Islam in the age of the Crusades, gives us a picture of another Massoudy. The friend of the Emperor Manuel Comnenus, the "first man among Christians," Heravy seems able in his own person to break down the partition wall of religious feud by the common interest of science. In 1192 he was offered the patronage of the Crusading princes, and Richard Coeur de Lion begged for the favour of an interview, and begged in vain. Heravy, who had been on one of his exploring journeys, angrily refused to see the King whose men had broken his quiet and wasted his time. Before his death, he had run over the world (men said) from China to the Pyrenees and from Abyssinia to the Danube, "scribbling his name on every wall," and his survey of the Eastern Empire was the single matter in which Turks and "Romans" made common cause,—for Greeks and Latins at Byzantium alike read Heravy, like a Christian doctor. Another example of the same catholic spirit is "Yacout the Roman,"[16] whose Dictionary, finished in the earlier half of the thirteenth century, was a summary of geographical advance since Edrisi, like the similar work of Ibn Said, of the same period.

[Footnote 16: Yacout "the ruby," originally a Greek slave, who made a brave but fruitless attempt to change his name into Yacoub or Jacob, became one of the greatest of Arab encyclopaedists, was checked by the hordes of Genghiz-Khan in his exploration of Central Asia, and died 1229.]

But as a matter of fact, the balance both of knowledge and power was now shifting from Islam to Christendom. The most daring and successful travellers after the rise of the Mongols were the Venetian Marco Polo and the Friar Preachers who revived Chinese Christianity (1270-1350); Madeira and the Canaries (off Moslem Africa) were finally rediscovered not by Arabic enterprise, but by the Italian Malocello in 1270, by the English Macham in the reign of our Edward III., and by Portuguese ships under Genoese captains in 1341; in 1291 the Vivaldi ventured beyond Cape Bojador, where no Moor had ever been, except by force of storm, as in the doubtful story of Ibn Fatimah, who "first saw the White Headland," Cape Blanco, between Cape Bojador and Cape Verde.

In the fourteenth century the map of Edrisi was superseded by the new Italian plans and coast-charts, or Portolani. As the Moslem world fell into political disorder, its science declined. "Judicial astrology" seemed gaining a stronger and stronger hold over Islam, and the irruption of the Turks gradually resulted in the ruin of all the higher Moslem culture. Superstition and barbarism shared the honour and the spoils of this victory.

But two great names close the five hundred years of Arab learning.

1. Ibn Batuta (c. 1330), who made himself as much at home in China as in his native Morocco, is the last of Mohammedan travellers of real importance. Though we have only abridgments of his work left to us, Colonel Yule is well within his rights in his deliberate judgment, "that it must rank at least as one of the four chief guide books of the Middle Ages," along with the Book of Ser Marco Polo and the journals of the two Friar-travellers, Friar Odoric and Friar William de Rubruquis.

2. With Abulfeda the Eastern school of Moslem geography comes to an end, as the Western does with Ibn Batuta. In the early years of the fourteenth century he rewrote the "story and description of the Land of Islam," with a completeness quite encyclopaedic. But his work has all the failings of a compilation, however careful, in that, or any, age. It is based upon information, not upon inspection; it is in no sense original. As it began in imitation, so it ended. If it rejects Ptolemy, it is only to follow Strabo or someone else; on all the mathematical and astronomical data its doctrine is according to the Alexandrians of twelve hundred years before, and this last precis of the science of a great race and a great religion can only be understood in the light of its model—in Greek geography.



CIRCA 333-867.

The special interest of the life and work of Henry the Navigator (1394-1460) lies in the relation it bears to the general expansion of Europe and Christendom—an expansion that had been slowly gathering strength since the eleventh century. But even before the tide had turned in the age of Hildebrand and the First Crusade, even from the time that Constantine founded the Christian Empire of Rome, the Christian Capital on the Bosphorus, and the State Church of the Western World,—pilgrimage, trade, conquest, and colonisation had been successively calling out the energies of the moving races, "the motor muscles" of Europe. It is through the "generous Henry, Prince of Portugal," that this activity is brought to its third and triumphant stage—to the time of Columbus and Da Gama and Magellan,—but it is only by tracing the earlier progress of that outward movement, which has made Europe the ruling civilisation of the world, that we can fairly grasp the import of that transition in which Henry is the hero.

More than any other single man he is the author of the discovering movement of the fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth centuries,—and by this movement India has been conquered, America repeopled, the world made clear, and the civilisation which the Roman Empire left behind has conquered or utterly overshadowed every one of its old rivals and superiors—Islam, India, China, Tartary.

But before the fifteenth century, before the birth of Prince Henry, Christendom, Greek and Latin, was at best only one of the greater civilising and conquering forces struggling for mastery; before the age of the Crusades, before the eleventh century, it was plainly weaker than the Moslem powers; it seemed unable to fight against Slav or Scandinavian Heathendom; it was only saved by distance from becoming a province of China; India, the world's great prize, was cut off from it by the Arabs. Even before the rise of Islam, under Constantine or Theodosius or Justinian, the Church-State of the Byzantine Caesars, though then ruling in almost every province of Trajan's empire, was in a splendid but sure decline from the exhaustion of the southern races. Our story then begins naturally with the worst time and climbs up for a thousand years, from the Heathen and Mohammedan conquests of the fifth and seventh centuries, to the reversal of that judgment, of those conquests, in the fifteenth. The expansion of Europe is going on all this time, but at our beginning, in the years before and after Pope Gregory the Great, even the legacy of Greece and Rome, in wide knowledge of the world and practical exploring energy, seemed to have passed from sight.

And in the decline of the old Empire, while Constantine and Justinian are said to receive and exchange embassies with the Court of China, there is no real extension of geographical knowledge or outlook. Christian enterprise in this field is mainly one of pilgrimage, and the pilgrims only cease to be important when the Northmen, first Heathen, then Christian, begin to lead, in a very different manner, the expansion of Europe. Into this folk-wandering of the Vikings, the first great outward movement of our Europe in the Middle Ages, is absorbed the reviving energy of trade, as well as the ever-growing impulse of pilgrimage. The Vikings are the highest type of explorers; they do not merely find out new lands and trade with them, but conquer and colonise them. They extend not merely the knowledge, but the whole state and being of Europe, to a New World.

Lastly, the partial activity of commerce and religion made universal and "political" by the leading western race—for itself only—is taken up by all Christendom in the Crusades, borrowed in idea from Spain, but borrowed with the spirit of the Norse rovers, and made universal for the Latin world, for the whole federation of Rome. In the eleventh, twelfth, and thirteenth centuries we have the preparation for the discovery and colonisation of the outside world by Europeans in the fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth centuries of the Christian era.

From the conversion of Constantine to the Reformation the story of Christendom is unbroken; the later Roman Empire is the Church-State of a Christian Prince, as modern Europe is the Church-State of a nominally Christian society. Mediaeval Europe thought of itself as nothing but the old world-state under religion; from Spain to Russia men were living under a Holy Roman Empire of an Italian, or Teutonic, or Byzantine, or independent type. England and Russia were not parts of the Germanic revival of Charlemagne, but they had just the same two elements dominant in their life: the classical tradition and the Christian Church.

And so throughout this time, the expansion of this society—by whatever name we may call it, discovery, exploration, geographical knowledge—has a continuous history. But before the rise of Islam, in the seventh century, throws Christendom into its proper mediaeval life, before the new religion begins the really new age, at the end of which lived Henry himself, we are too far from our subject to feel, for instance in the fourth and fifth-century pilgrims and in Cosmas Indicopleustes, anything but a remote preparation for Henry's work. It is only with the seventh century, and with the time of our own Bede and Wilfrid, that the necessary introduction to our subject really begins.

Yet as an illustration of the general idea, that discovery is an early and natural outlet of any vigorous society and is in proportion to the universal activity of the State, it is not without interest to note that Christian Pilgrimage begins with Constantine. This, the first department of exploring energy, at once evidences the new settlement of religion and politics. Helena, the Emperor's mother, helped, by her visit to Palestine, her church at Bethlehem, and her discoveries of relics in Jerusalem, to make a ruling fashion out of the custom of a few devotees; and eight years after the council of Nicaea, in 333, appeared the first Christian geography, as a guide-book or itinerary, from Bordeaux to the Holy Places of Syria, modelled upon the imperial survey of the Antonines. The route followed in this runs by North Italy, Aquileia, Sirmium, Constantinople, and Asia Minor, and upon the same course thousands of nameless pilgrims journeyed in the next three hundred years, besides some eight or nine who have left an account mainly religious in form, but containing in substance the widest view of the globe then possible among Westerns.

Most of the pilgrims, like Jerome's friend Paula, Bishop Eucherius, and Melania, tread the same path and stop at the same points, but three or four of them distinctly add some fresh knowledge to the ordinary results.

St. Silvia, of Aquitaine (c. 385), not only travels through Syria, she visits Lower Egypt and Stony or Sinaitic Arabia, and even Edessa in Northern Mesopotamia, on the very borders of hostile and heathen Persia. "To see the monks" she wanders through Osrhoeene, comes to Haran, near which was "the home of Abraham and the farm of Laban and the well of Rachel," to the environs of Nisibis and Ur of the Chaldees, lost to the Roman Empire since Julian's defeat; thence by "Padan-aram" back to Antioch. When crossing the Euphrates the pilgrims saw the river "rush down in a torrent like the Rhone, but greater," and on the way home by the great military road, then untravelled by Saracens, between Tarsus and the Bosphorus, Silvia makes a passing note on the strength and brigand habits of the Isaurian mountaineers, who in the end saved Christendom from the very Arabs with whom our pilgrim couples them.

Again, Cosmas Indicopleustes, in the time of Justinian, is at the end, as Silvia is at the beginning, of a definite period, the period of the Christian empire of Rome, while still "Caesarean" and not merely Byzantine, "patrician" and not papal, "consular" and not Carolingian.

And contemporary with Cosmas are two of the chief among the earlier or primitive pilgrims, Theodosius and Antoninus the Martyr. The first-named indulges in a few excursions—in fancy—beyond his known ground of Palestine, going as far east as Susa and Babylon, "where no one can live for the serpents and hippo-centaurs," and south to the Red Sea and its two arms, "of which the eastern is called the Persian Gulf," and the western or Arabian runs up to the "thirteen cities of Arabia destroyed by Joshua,"—but, for the rest, his knowledge is not extensive or peculiar. Antoninus of Placentia, on the other hand, is very interesting, a sort of older Mandeville, who mixes truth and its opposite in fairly even proportions and with a sort of resolute partiality to favourite legends.

He tells us how Tripolis has been ruined by the late earthquake (July 9, 551); how silk and various woven stuffs are sold at Tyre; how the pilgrims scratched their names on the relics shewn in Cana of Galilee—"and here I, sinner that I am, did inscribe the names of my parents"; how Bethshan, the metropolis of Galilee, "is placed on a hill," though really in the plain; how the Samaritans hate Christians and will hardly speak to them; "and beware of spitting in their country, for they will never forgive it"; how "the dew comes down upon Hermon the Little, as David says, 'The dew of Hermon that fell upon the hill of Zion'"; how nothing can live or even float in the Dead Sea, "but is instantly swallowed up"—as exact an untruth as was ever told by traveller; how the Jordan opens a way for pilgrims "and stands up in a heap every year at the Epiphany during the baptism of Catechumens, as David told, 'The sea saw that and fled, Jordan was driven back'"; how at Jericho there is a Holy Field "sown by the Lord with his own hand." A report had been spread that the salt pillar of Lot's wife had been "lessened by licking"; "it was false," said Antoninus, the statue was just the same as it had always been.

In Jerusalem the pilgrims first went up the Tower of David, "where he sang the Psalter," and into the Basilica of Sion, where among other marvels they saw the "Corner-stone that the builders rejected," which gave out a "sound like the murmuring of a crowd."

We come back again to fact with rather a start when told in the next section of the Hospitals for 3000 sick folk near the Church of St. Mary, close to Sion; then with the footprints and relics of Christ, and the miraculous flight of the Column of Scourging—"carried away by a cloud to Caesarea," we are taken through a fresh set of "impressions."

The same wild notions of place and time and nature follow the Martyr through Galilee to Gilboa, "where David slew Goliath and Saul died, where no dew or rain ever falls, and where devils appear nightly, whirled about like fleeces of wool or the waves of the sea"—to Nazareth, where was the "Beam of Christ the Carpenter"—to Elua, where fifteen consecrated virgins had tamed a lion and trained it to live with them in a cell—to Egypt, where the Pyramids become for him the "twelve Barns of Joseph," for the legend had not yet insisted that the actual number should be made to fit the text of the seven years of plenty.

But with all this Antoninus now and then gives us glimpses of a larger world. In Jerusalem he meets AEthiopians "with nostrils slit and rings about their fingers and their feet." They were so marked, they told him, by the Emperor Trajan "for a sign."

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