Part 4 out of 8
In our England are such commodities
Withouten helpe of any other lond
Which by witte and practise both yfound:
That all humors might be voyded sure,
With that we gleder with our English cure:
That we should haue no neede of Scamonie,
Turbit, enforbe, correct Diagredie,
Rubarbe, Sene, and yet they ben to needefull,
But I know things al so speedefull,
That growen here, as those things sayd.
Let of this matter no man be dismayde;
But that a man may voyde infirmitie
Without degrees fet fro beyond the sea.
And yet they should except be any thing
It were but sugre, trust to my saying:
He that trusteth not to my saying and sentence,
Let him better search experience.
In this matter I will not ferther prease,
Who so not beleeueth, let him leaue and cease.
Thus these galeys for this licking ware,
And eating ware, bare hence out best chaffare.
Cloth, woll, and tinne, which as I sayd before,
Out of this lond worst might be forbore,
For ech other land of necessitie
Haue great neede to buy some of them three:
And we receiue of hem into this coste
Ware and chaffare that lightly wilbe loste.
And would Iesus, that our Lord is wold
Consider this well both yong and old:
Namely old that haue experience,
That might the yong exhorte to prudence;
What harme, what hurt, and what hinderance
Is done to vs, vnto our great grieuance,
Of such lands, and of such nations:
As experte men know by probations,
By writings as discouered our counsailes,
And false colour alwaies the countertailes
Of our enimies: that doth vs hindering
Vnto our goods, our Relme, and to the king:
As wise men haue shewed well at eye;
And all this is couloured by marchandye.
An example of deceite
Also they bere the gold out of this land,
And sucke the thrift away out of our hand:
As the Waspe souketh honie fro the bee,
So minisheth our commoditee.
Nor wol ye here how they in Cotteswold
Were wont to borrow or they shold be sold
Her woll good as for yere and yere.
Of cloth and tinne they did in like manere:
And in her galies ship this marchandie:
Then soone at Venice of them men woll it bye.
Then vtterne there the chaffare by the peise,
And lightly als there they make her reise.
And when the goods beene at Venice sold,
Then to carie her change they this money haue,
They will it profer, their subtiltie to saue,
To English marchants to yeue it out by eschange
To be payed againe they make not strange,
At the receiuing and sight of a letter,
Here in England, seeming for the better,
by foure pence lesse in the noble round:
That is twelue pence in the golden pound.
And if wee wol haue of payment
A full moneth, than must him needes assent
To eight pence losse, that is shillings twaine
In the English pound: as eft soone again,
For two moneths twelue pence must he pay.
In the English pound what is that to say,
But shillings three? So that in pound fell
For hurt and harme hard is with hem to dwell.
And when English marchants haue content
This eschange in England of assent,
That these sayd Venecians haue in woone
And Florentines to bere her gold soone
Ouer the see into Flanders againe:
And thus they liue in Flanders sooth to saine,
And in London with such cheuisance,
That men call vsury, to our losse and hinderance.
Another example of deceite.
Now lesten well how they made vs a valeys
When they borrowed at the town of Caleis
As they were wont, their woll that was hem lent,
For yere and yere they should make payment.
And sometimes als two yere and two yeare.
This was fayre  loue: but yet will ye heare
How they to Bruges would her woll carie,
And for hem take payment withouten tarie,
And sell it fast for ready money in hand.
For fifty pounds of money of losse they wold not wond
In a thousand pound, and liue thereby
Till the day of payment easily,
Come againe in exchange: making
Full like vsury, as men make vndertaking.
Than whan this payment of a thousand pound
Was well content, they should haue chaffare sound
If they wold fro the Staple full,
Receiue againe three thousand pound in woll.
In Cotteswold also they ride about,
And all England, and buy withouten doubte
What them list with freedome and franchise,
More then we English may gitten many wise
But would God that without lenger delayes
These galees were vnfraught in fortie dayes,
And in fortie dayes charged againe,
And that they might be put to certaine
To goe to oste, as we there with hem doe.
It were expedient that they did right soe,
As we doe there. If the king would it:
Ah what worship wold fall to English wit?
What profite also to our marchandie
Which wold of nede be cherished hertilie?
For I would witte, why now our nauie fayleth, [Note diligently]
When manie a foe vs at our doore assayleth.
[Sidenote: A woful complaint of lacke of nauie if need come. A storie of
destruction of Denmarke for destruction of their marchants.]
Now in these dayes, that if there come a nede,
What nauie should we haue it is to drede.
In Denmarke were full noble conquerours
In time past, full worthy warriours:
Which when they had their marchants destroyed,
To pouerty they fell, thus were they noyed:
And so they stand at mischiefe at this day.
This learned I late well writon, this no nay.
Therefore beware, I can no better will,
If grace it woll, of other mennis perill.
For if marchants were cherished to her speede,
We were not likely to fayle in any neede.
If they be rich, then in prosperitee
Shalbe our londe, lords, and commontee,
And in worship. Now thinke I on the sonne
Of Marchandy Richard of Whitingdon;
[Sidenote: The prayse of Richard of Whittingdon marchant.]
That load sterre, and chiefe chosen floure:
What hath by him our England of honour,
And what profite hath bin of his riches,
And yet lasteth dayly in worthines?
That pen and paper may not me suffice
Him to describe: so high he was of price
Aboue marchants, that set him one of the best:
I can no more, but God haue him in rest.
[Footnote 7: Or, lone.]
Now the principal matter.
What reason is it that we should goe to oste
In their countries, & in this English coste
They should not so? bat haue more liberty
Then we our selues now also motte I thee.
I would to gifts men should take no heede
That letteth our thing publicke for to speede
For this we see well euery day at eye,
Gifts and fests stopen our policie.
Now see that fooles ben either they or wee
But euer we haue the worse in this countree.
Therefore let hem vnto oste go here,
Or be we free with hem in like manere
In their countrees: and if it will not bee,
Compell them vnto oste, and yee shall see
Moch auantage, and moch profite arise,
Moch more then I can write in any wise.
Of our charge and discharge at her marts.
Conceiue wel here, that Englishmen at martes
Be discharged, for all her craftes and artes,
In Brabant of her marchandy
In fourteene dayes, and ageine hastily
In the same dayes fourteene acharged eft.
And if they bide lenger all is bereft,
Anon they should forfeit her goods all,
Or marchandy: it should no better fall.
And we to martis in Brabant charged beene
With English cloth full good and fayre to seene:
We ben againe charged with mercerie,
Haburdasher ware, and with grosserie:
To which marts, that English men call fayres,
Ech nation oft maketh her repayres:
English, and French, Lombards, Iennoyes,
Catalones, thedre they take her wayes:
Scots, Spaniards, Irishmen there abides,
With great plenty bringing of sale hides.
And I here say that we in Brabant bye,
Flanders and Zeland more of marchandy
In common vse then done all other nations:
This haue I heard of marchants relations:
And if the English ben not in the marts
They ben feeble, and as nought bene her parts.
For they byemore, and fro purse put out
More marchandie then all the other rowte.
Kept then the see, shippes should not bring ne fetch,
And then the carreys wold not thidre stretch:
And so those marts wold full euill thee,
If we manly kept about the see.
Of the commodities of Brabant and Zeland and Henauld and marchandy carried
by land to the martes. Cap. 8.
Yet marchandy of Brabant and Zeland
The Madre and Woad, that dyers take on hand
To dyen with, Garlike and Onions,
And saltfishe als for husband and commons.
But they of Holland at Caleis byen our felles,
And wolles our, that Englishmen hem selles.
And the chaffare that Englishmen doe byen
In the marts, that noe man may denien,
Is not made in Brabant that cuntree:
It commeth from out of Henauld, not by see,
But al by land, by carts, and from France,
Bourgoyne, Colem, Cameret in substance,
Therefore at marts if there be a restraint,
Men seyne plainely that list no fables paynt,
If Englishmen be withdrawen away,
Is great rebuke and losse to her affray:
As though we sent into the land of France
Ten thousand people, men of good puissance,
To werre vnto her hindring multifarie.
So ben our English marchants necessarie.
If it be thus assay, and we shall witten
Of men experte, by whom I haue this written.
[Sidenote: What our marchants bye in that cost more then all other.]
For sayd is that this carted marchandy
Draweth in value as much verily,
As all the goods that come in shippes thider,
Which Englishmen bye most and bring it hither.
For her marts ben febel, shame to say,
But Englishmen thither dresse her way.
A conclusion of this depending of keeping of the sea.
Than I conclude, if neuer so much by land
Were by carres brought vnto their hand,
If well the sea were kept in gouernance
They should by sea haue no deliuerance.
Wee should hem stop, and we should hem destroy,
As prisoners we should hem bring to annoy.
And so we should of our cruell enimies
Make our friends for feare of marchandies,
If they were not suffered for to passe
Into Flanders. But we be frayle as glasse
And also brittle, not thought neuer abiding,
But when grace shineth soone are we sliding,
We will it not receiue in any wise:
That maken lust, enuie, and couetise:
Expone me this; and yee shall sooth it find,
Bere it away, and keepe it in your mind.
Then shuld worship vnto our Noble bee
In feate and forme to lord and Maiestie:
Liche as the seale the greatest of this land
On the one side hath, as I vnderstand,
A prince riding with his swerd ydraw,
In the other side sitting, soth it is in saw,
Betokening good rule and punishing
In very deede of England by the king.
And it is so God blessed mought he bee.
So in likewise I would were on the see
By the Noble, that swerde should haue power,
And the ships on the sea about vs here.
What needeth a garland which is made of Iuie
Shewe a tauerne winelesse, also thriue I?
If men were wise, the Frenchmen and Fleming
Shuld bere no state in sea by werring.
Then Hankin lyons shuld not be so bold
To stoppe wine, and shippes for to hold
Vnto our shame. He had be beten thence
Alas, alas, why did we this offence,
Fully to shend the old English fames;
And the profits of England and their names:
Why is this power called of couetise;
With false colours cast beforn our eyes?
That if good men called werriours
Would take in hand for the commons succours,
To purge the sea vnto our great auayle,
And winne hem goods, and haue vp the sayle,
And on our enimies their liues to impart,
So that they might their prises well departe,
As reson wold, iustice and equitie;
To make land haue lordship of the sea.
[Sidenote: Lombards are cause enough to hurt this land although there were
none other cause. False colouring of goods by Lombards. Alas for bribes &
gift of good feasts & other means that stoppen our policie. This is the
very state of our time.]
Then shall Lombards and other fained friends
Make her chalenges by colour false offends,
And say their chaffare in the shippes is,
And chalenge al. Looke if this be amisse.
For thus may al that men haue bought to sore,
Ben soone excused, and saued by false colour.
Beware yee men that bere the great in hand
That they destroy the policie of this land,
By gifte and good, and the fine golden clothis,
And silke, and other: say yee not this soth is?
But if we had very experience
That they take meede with prime violence,
Carpets, and things of price and pleasance,
Whereby stopped should be good gouernance:
And if it were as yee say to mee,
Than wold I say, alas cupiditie,
That they that haue her liues put in drede,
Shalbe soone out of winning, all for meed,
And lose her costes, and brought to pouerty,
That they shall neuer haue lust to goe to sea.
An exhortation to make an ordinance against colour of maintainers and
excusers of folkes goods
[Sidenote: It is a marueilous thing that so great a sicknes and hurt of
the land may haue no remedie of so many as take heselues wise men of
For this colour that must be sayd alofte
And be declared of the great full ofte,
That our seamen wol by many wise
Spoile our friends in steede of our enimies:
For which colour and Lombards maintenance,
The king it needes to make an ordinance
With his Counsayle that may not fayle, I trowe,
That friends should from enimies be knowe,
Our enimies taken and our friends spared:
The remedy of hem must be declared.
Thus may the sea be kept in no sell,
For if ought be spoken, wot yee well,
We haue the strokes, and enemies haue the winning:
But mayntainers are parteners of the finning.
We liue in lust and bide in couetise;
This is our rule to maintaine marchandise,
And policie that wee haue on the sea,
And, but God helpe, it will no other bee.
Of the commodities of Ireland and policie and keeping thereof and
conquering of wild Irish: with an incident of Wales. Chap. 9.
I cast to speake of Ireland but a litle:
Commodities of it I will entitle,
Hides, and fish, Salmon, Hake, Herringe,
Irish wooll, and linen cloth, faldinge,
And marterns goode ben her marchandie,
Hertes Hides, and other of Venerie.
Skinnes of Otter, Squirell and Irish hare,
Of sheepe, lambe, and Fox, is her chaffare,
Felles of Kiddes, and Conies great plentie.
So that if Ireland helpe vs to keepe the sea,
Because the King cleped is Rex AngliŠ,
And is Dominus also HyberniŠ,
Old possessed by Progenitours:
The Irish men haue cause like to ours
Our land and hers together to defend,
That no enemie should hurt ne offend,
Ireland ne vs: but as one commontie
Should helpe well to keepe about the sea:
For they haue hauens great, and goodly bayes,
Sure, wyde and deepe, of good assayes,
At Waterford, and costes many one.
And as men sayne in England be there none
Better hauens, ships in to ride,
No more sure for enemies to abide,
Why speake I thus so much of Ireland?
For all so much as I can vnderstand,
It is fertile for things that there doe growe
And multiplien, loke who lust to knowe,
So large, so good, and so commodious,
That to declare is strange and maruailous.
[Footnote 8: Hunting.]
[Sidenote: Mynes of siluer and gold in Ireland.]
For of siluer and golde there is the oore,
Among the wilde Irish though they be poore.
For they are rude can thereon no skill:
So that if we had their peace and good will
To myne and fine, and metal for to pure,
In wilde Irish might we finde the cure,
As in London saith a Iuellere,
Which brought from thence golde oore to vs here,
Whereof was fyned mettal good and clene,
As they touch, no better could be seene.
Nowe here beware and heartily take intent,
As yee will answere at last iudgement,
That for slought and for racheshede
Yee remember with all your might to hede
To keepe Ireland that it be not lost.
For it is a boterasse and a post,
Vnder England, and Wales another:
God forbid, but ech were others brother,
Of one ligeance due vnto the king.
But I haue pittie in good faith of this thing
That I shall say with auisement:
I am aferde that Ireland will be shent:
It must awey, it wol bee lost from vs,
But if thou helpe, thou Iesu gracious,
And giue vs grace al slought to leue beside.
For much thing in my herte is hide,
Which in another treatise I caste to write
Made al onely for that soile and site,
Of fertile Ireland, wich might not be forborne,
But if England were nigh as goode as gone.
God forbid that a wild Irish wirlinge
Should be chosen for to bee their kinge,
After her conqueste for our last puissance,
And hinder vs by other lands alliance.
Wise men seyn, wich felin not, ne douten,
That wild Irish so much of ground haue gotten
There vpon vs, as likenesse may be
Like as England to sheeris two or three
Of this our land is made comparable:
So wild Irish haue wonne on vs vnable
Yet to defend, and of none power,
That our ground is there a litle corner,
To all Ireland in true comparison.
It needeth no more this matter to expon.
Which if it bee lost, as Christ Iesu forbed,
Farewel Wales, then England commeth to dred,
For aliance of Scotland and of Spaine,
[Sidenote: This is now to be greatly feared.]
And other moe, as the pety Bretaine,
And so haue enemies enuiron round about.
I beseech God, that some prayers deuout
Mutt let the said apparance probable
Thus disposed without feyned fable.
But all onely for perill that I see
Thus imminent, it's likely for to bee,
And well I wotte, that from hence to Rome,
And, as men say, in all Christendome,
Is no ground ne land to Ireland liche,
So large, so good, so plenteous, so riche,
That to this worde Dominus doe long.
Then mee semeth that right were and no wrong,
To get the lande: and it were piteous
To vs to lese this high name Dommus.
And all this word Dominus of name
Shuld haue the ground obeysant wilde and tame.
That name and people togidre might accord
Al the ground subiect to the Lord.
And that it is possible to bee subiect,
Vnto the king wel shal it bee detect,
In the litle booke that I of spake.
I trowe reson al this wol vndertake,
And I knowe wel howe it stante,
Alas fortune beginneth so to scant,
Or ellis grace, that deade is gouernance.
For so minisheth parties of our puissance,
In that land that wee lese euery yere,
More ground and more, as well as yee may here.
I herd a man speake to mee full late,
Which was a lord  of full great estate;
Than expense of one yere done in France
Werred on men well willed of puissance
This said ground of Ireland to conquere.
And yet because England might not forbere
These said expenses gadred in one yeere,
But in three yeeres or foure gadred vp here,
Might winne Ireland to a finall conqueste,
In one sole yeere to set vs all at reste.
And how soone wolde this be paied ageyne:
Which were it worth yerely, if wee not feyne:
I wol declare, who so luste to looke,
I trowe full plainely in my litle booke.
But couetise, and singularitie
Of owne profite, enuie, crueltie,
Hath doon vs harme, and doe vs euery day,
And musters made that shame is to say:
Our money spent al to litle auaile,
And our enimies so greatly doone preuaile,
That what harme may fall and ouerthwerte
I may vnneth write more for sore of herte.
[Footnote 9: This Lorde was the Earle of Ormond that told to me this
matter, that he would vndertake it, in pain of losse of al his liuelihood.
But this proffer could not be admitted. Ergo malŔ.]
An exhortation to the keeping of Wales
Beware of Wales, Christ Iesu mutt vs keepe,
That it make not our childers childe to weepe,
Ne vs also, so if it goe his way,
By vnwarenes: seth that many a day
Men haue bee ferde of her rebellion,
By great tokens and ostentation:
Seche the meanes with a discrete auise,
And helpe that they rudely not arise
For to rebell, that Christ it forbede.
Looke wel aboute, for God wote yee haue neede,
Vnfainingly, vnfeyning and vnfeynt,
That conscience for slought you not atteynt:
Kepe well that grounde for harme that may ben vsed,
Or afore God mutte yee ben accused.
Of the commodious Stockfish of Island and keeping of the Sea namely the
Narrow sea, with an incident of the keeping of Caleis. Chap. 10.
[Sidenote: The trade of Bristow to Island.]
[Sidenote: The old trade of Scarborough to Island and the North.]
Of Island to write is litle nede,
Saue of Stock fish. Yet forsooth in deed
Out of Bristowe, and costes many one,
Men haue practised by nedle and by stone
Thider wardes within a litle while,
Within twelue yere, and without perill
Gon and come, as men were wont of old
Of Scarborough, vnto the costes cold.
And nowe so fele shippes this yeere there ware,
That moch losse for vnfreyght they bare:
Island might not make hem to bee fraught
Vnto the Hawys: thus much harme they caught.
Then here I ende of the commoditees
For which neede is well to kepe the seas:
Este and Weste, South and North they bee.
And chiefly kepe the sharpe narrow see,
Betweene Douer and Caleis: and as thus
that foes passe none without good will of vs:
And they abide our danger in the length,
What for our costis and Caleis in our strength.
An exhortation for the sure keeping of Caleis.
And for the loue of God, and of his blisse
Cherish yee Caleis better then it is.
See well thereto, and heare the grete complaint
That true men tellen, that woll no lies paint,
And as yee know that writing commeth from thence:
Doe not to England for slought so great offence,
But that redressed it bee for any thing:
Leste a song of sorrow that wee sing.
For litle wenith the foole who so might chese
What harme it were good Caleis for to lese:
What wo it were for all this English ground.
[Sidenote: The ioy of Sigismund the Emperour that Caleis was English.]
Which wel concerned the Emperour Sigismound,
That of all ioyes made it one of the moste,
That Caleis was subiect vnto English coste.
Him thought it was a iewel most of all,
And so the same in Latine did it call.
And if yee wol more of Caleis heare and knowe,
I cast to write within a litle scrowe,
Like as I haue done before by and by
In other parteis of our policie.
Loke how hard it was at the first to get;
And by my counsell lightly doe not it let.
For if wee lese it with shame of face
Wilfully, it is for lacke of grace.
Howe was Harflew  cried vpon, and Rone,
That they were likely for shought to be gone:
Howe was it warned and cried on in England,
I make record with this pen in my hand.
It was warened plainely in Normandie,
And in England, and I thereon did crie.
The world was defrauded, it betyde right so.
Farewell Harflew: lewdly it was a go.
Nowe ware Caleis, I can say no better:
My soule discharge I by this present letter.
[Footnote 10: Harfleur, which was lost in 1449.]
[Footnote 11: Rouen]
After the Chapitles of commodities, of diuers lands, sheweth the conclusion
of keeping of the sea enuiron, by a storie of King Edgar and two
incidents of King Edward the third, and King Henrie the fifth. Chap. 11.
Now see we well then that this round see
To our Noble by pariformitee
Vnder the ship shewed there the sayle,
And our king with royal apparayle,
With swerd drawen bright and extent
For to chastise enimies violent;
Should be lord of the sea about,
To keepe enimies from within and without;
To behold through Christianitee
Master and lord enuiron of the see:
All liuing men such a prince to dreed,
Of such a regne to bee aferd indeed.
Thus proue I well that it was thus of old;
Which by a [*] Chronicle anon shalbe told,
Right curious: but I will interprete
It into English, as I did it gete:
Of king Edgar: O most marueilous
Prince liuing, wittie, and cheualerous:
So good that none of his predecessours
Was to him liche in prudence and honours.
Hee was fortanate and more gracious
Then other before, and more glorious:
He was beneth no man in holines:
Hee passed all in vertuous sweetnes.
[Marginal note *: Dicit Chronica, quod iste Edgarus cunctis prŠdecessoribus
suis fŠlicior, nulli sanctitate inferior, omnibus morum suauitate
prŠstantior fuerit Luxit ipse Anglis non minus memorabilis quÓm Cyrus
Persis, Carolus Francis, Romulus ver˛ Romanis.]
Of English kings was none so commendable
To English men no lesse memorable:
Then Cyrus was to Perse by puissance,
And as great Charles was to them of France,
And as to the Romanes was great Romulus,
So was to England this worthy Edgarus.
I may not write more of his worthines
For lacke of time, ne of his holines:
But to my matter I him exemplifie,
Of conditions tweyne and of his policie:
Within his land was one, this is no doubt,
And another in the see without,
That in time of Winter and of werre,
When boystrous windes put see men into fere;
Within his land about by all prouinces
Hee passed through, perceiuing his princes,
Lords, and others of the commontee,
Who was oppressour, and who to pouertee
Was drawen and brought, and who was clene in life,
And was by mischiefe and by strife
With ouer leding and extortion:
And good and badde of eche condition
Hee aspied: and his ministers als,
Who did trought, and which of hem was fals:
Howe the right and lawes of the land
Were execute, and who durst take in hand
To disobey his statutes and decrees,
If they were well kept in all countrees:
Of these he made subtile inuestigation
Of his owne espie, and other men's relation.
Among other was his great busines,
Well to ben ware, that great men of riches,
And men of might in citie nor in towne
Should to the poore doe non oppression.
Thus was he wont in this Winter tide,
On such enforchise busily to abide.
This was his labour for the publike thing,
Thus was hee occupied: a passing holy King
Nowe to purpose, in the Sommer faire
Of lusty season, whan clered was the aire,
He had redie shippes made before
Great and huge, not fewe but many a store:
Full three thousand and sixe hundred also
Stately inough on our sea to goe.
[Sidenote: Dicit Chronica prŠparauerat naues robustissimas numero tria
millia sexcenta: in quibus redeunte Šstate omnem insulam ad terrorem
extraneorum & ad suorum excitationem cum maximo apparatu circumnauigare
The Chronicles say, these shippes were full boysteous:
Such things long to kings victorious.
In Sommer tide would hee haue in wonne
And in custome to be ful redie soone,
With multitude of men of good array
And instruments of werre of best assay.
Who could hem well in any wise descriue?
It were not light for eny man aliue.
Thus he and his would enter shippes great
Habiliments hauing and the fleete
Of See werres, that ioyfull was to see
Such a nauie and Lord of Maiestee,
There present in person hem among
To saile and rowe enuiron all along,
So regal liche about the English isle;
To all strangers terrours and perile.
Whose fame went about in all the world stout,
Vnto great fere of all that be without,
And exercise to Knights and his meynee
To him longing of his natall cuntree
For courage of nede must haue exercise,
Thus occupied for esshewin of vice
This knew the king that policie espied;
Winter and Somer he was thus occupied.
Thus conclude I by authoritee
Of Chronike, that enuiron the see
Should bene our subiects vnto the King,
And hee bee Lord thereof for eny thing:
For great worship and for profile also
To defend his land fro euery foo.
That worthy king I leue, Edgar by name,
And all the Chronike of his worthy fame:
[Sidenote: Dicit Chronica &c. vt non minus quantum ei etiam in hac vita
bononum operum mercedem donauerit: cum aliquando ad maximam eius
festiuitatem, reges, comites multar˙mque, prouinciarum protectores
Saffe onely this I may not passe away,
A worde of mighty strength till that I say,
That graunted him God such worship here,
For his merites, hee was without pere,
That sometime at his great festiuitee
Kings, and Erles of many a countree,
And princes fele were there present,
And many Lords came thider by assent.
To his worship: but in a certaine day
Hee bad shippes to be redie of aray:
For to visit Saint Iohns Church hee list
Rowing vnto the good holie Baptist,
Hee assigned to Erles, Lords, and knights
Many ships right goodly to sights:
And for himselfe and eight kings moo
Subiect to him hee made kepe one of thoo,
A good shippe, and entrede into it
With eight kings, and downe did they sit;
And eche of them an ore tooke in hand,
At ore hales, as I vnderstand,
And he himselfe at the shippe behinde
As steris man it became of kinde.
Such another rowing I dare well say,
Was not seene of Princes many a day.
Lo than how hee in waters got the price,
In lande, in see, that I may not suffice
To tell, O right, O magnanimitee,
That king Edgar had vpon the see.
An incident of the Lord of the sea King Edward the third.
Of king Edward I passe and his prowes
On lande, on sea yee knowe his worthines:
The siege of Caleis, ye know well all the matter
Round about by land, and by the water,
Howe it lasted not yeeres many agoe,
After the battell of Crecye was ydoe:
Howe it was closed enuiron about,
Olde men sawe it, which liuen, this is no doubt.
[Sidenote: Caleis was yeelded to the English 1347.]
Old Knights say that the Duke of Borgoyn,
Late rebuked for all his golden coyne;
Of ship on see made no besieging there,
For want of shippes that durst not come for feare.
It was nothing besieged by the see:
Thus call they it no siege for honestee.
Gonnes assailed, but assault was there none,
No siege, but fuge: well was he that might be gone:
This maner carping haue knights ferre in age,
Expert through age of this maner language.
[Sidenote: King Edward had 700. English ships and 14151. English mariners
But king Edward made a siege royall,
And wanne the towne: and in especiall
The sea was kept, and thereof he was Lord.
Thus made he Nobles coyned of record;
In whose time was no nauie on the see
That might withstand his maiestie.
Battell of Scluse, yee may rede euery day,
Howe it was done I leue and goe my way:
It was so late done that yee it knowe,
In comparison within a litle throwe:
For which to God giue we honour and glorie,
For Lord of see the king was with victorie.
[Footnote 12: The battle of L'Ecluse.]
Another incident of keeping of the see, in the time of the marueilous
werriour and victorious Prince, King Henrie the fifth, and of his great
[Sidenote: The great ships of Henry the fift, made at Hampton.]
And if I should conclude all by the King
Henrie the fift, what was his purposing,
Whan at Hampton he made the great dromons,
Which passed other great ships of all the commons,
The Trinitie, the Grace de Dieu, the holy Ghost,
And other moe, which as nowe bee lost.
What hope ye was the kings great intent
Of thoo shippes, and what in minde hee meant?
It was not ellis, but that hee cast to bee
Lorde round about enuiron of the see.
And when Harflew had her siege about,
There came caracks horrible great and stoute
In the narrow see willing to abide,
To stoppe vs there with multitude of pride.
[Sidenote: Great caracks of Genoa taken by the Duke of Bedford.]
My Lord of Bedford came on and had the cure,
Destroyed they were by that discomfiture.
This was after the king Harflew had wonne,
Whan our enemies to siege had begonne:
That all was slaine or take, by true relation,
To his worshippe, and of his English nation.
[Sidenote: The French nauie thus ouerthrowen was of fiue hundred saile.]
There was present the kings chamberlaine
At both battailes; which knoweth this in certaine;
He can it tell other wise then I:
Aske him, and witte; I passe foorth hastily
What had this king of his magnificence,
Of great courage of wisedome, and prudence?
Prouision, forewitte, audacitee,
Of fortitude, iustice, and agilitee,
Discretion, subtile auisednesse,
Attemperance, Noblesse, and worthinesse:
Science, prowesse, deuotion, equitie,
Of most estate, with his magnanimitie
Liche to Edgar, and the saide Edward,
As much of both liche hem as in regard.
Where was on liue a man more victorious,
And in so short time prince so marueilous?
By land and sea, so well he him acquitte,
To speake of him I stony in my witte
Thus here I leaue the king with his noblesse,
Henry the fift, with whom all my processe
Of this true booke of pure policie
Of sea keeping, entending victorie
I leaue endly: for about in the see
No prince was of better strenuitee.
And if he had to this time liued here,
He had bene Prince named withouten pere:
[Sidenote: The Trinitie, the Grace de Dieu, the holy Ghost]
His great ships should haue ben put in preefe,
Vnto the ende that he ment of in cheefe,
For doubt it not but that he would haue bee
Lord and master about the round see:
And kept it sure to stoppe our enemies hence,
And wonne vs good, and wisely brought it thence:
That no passage should be without danger,
And his licence on see to moue and sterre.
Of vnitie, shewing of our keeping of the see: with an endly or finall
processe of peace by authoritie. Chap. 12.
[Sidenote: Exhortatio generales in custodiam totius AngliŠ per diligentiam
custodiŠ circutus maris circa littora eiusdem: quŠ debet esse per
vnanimitatem Consilariorum regis, & hominum bonŠ voluntatus.]
Now than for loue of Christ, and of his ioy,
Bring it England out of trouble and noy:
Take heart and witte, and set a gouernance,
Set many wits withouten variance,
To one accord and vnanimitee.
Put to good will for to keepe the see.
First for worship and profite also,
And to rebuke of eche euill willed foe.
Thus shall worship and riches to vs long.
Than to the Noble shall we doe no wrong,
To beare that coyne in figure and in deede,
To our courage, and to our enemies dreede:
For which they must dresse hem to peace in haste,
Or ellis their thrift to standen and to waste.
As this processe hath proued by and by
All by reason and expert policy;
And by stories which proued well this parte:
Or ellis I will my life put in ieoparte,
But many londs would seche her peace for nede,
The see well kept: it must be doo for drede.
Thus must Flanders for nede haue vnitee
And peace with vs: it will non other bee,
Within short while: and ambassadours
Would bene here soone to treate for their succours.
[Sidenote: Tres sunt causŠ prŠdictŠ custodiŠ scilcet, honor commodum
regnum, & opprobrium inimicis.]
This vnitie is to God pleasance:
And peace after the werres variance.
The ende of battaile is peace sikerly,
And power causeth peace finally.
Kept than the sea about in speciall,
Which of England is the towne wall.
As though England were likened to a citie,
And the wall enuiron were the see
Kepe then the sea that is the wall of England:
And than is England kept by Goddes hande;
That as for any thing that is without,
England were at ease withouten doubt,
And thus should euery lond one with another
Entercommon as brother with his brother
And liue togither werrelesse in vnitie,
Without rancour in very charitie,
In rest and peace, to Christes great pleasance,
Without strife, debate and variance.
Which peace men should enserche with businesse,
And knit it saddely holding in holinesse.
[Sidenote: Ephes. 4. Solliciti sitis seruare vnitatem spiritus in vinculo
The Apostle seith, if ye list to see,
Bee yee busie for to keepe vnitee
Of the spirit in the bond of peace.
Which is nedeful to all withouten lese.
The Prophet biddeth vs peace for to enquire
To pursue it, this is holy desire.
Our Lord Iesu saith, Blessed motte they bee
That maken peace; that is tranquillitee.
[Sidenote: Matth. 5. Beati pacifici quoniam filij Dei vocabuntur.]
For peace makers, as Matthew writeth aright,
Should be called the sonnes of God almight.
God giue vs grace, the weyes for to keepe
Of his precepts, and slugly not to sleepe
In shame of sinne: that our verry foo
Might be to vs conuers, and turned so.
[Sidenote: Cum placuerint Domino viŠ hominis eius inimicos ad pacem
For in the Prouerbs is a text to this purpose
Plaine inough without any glose:
When mens weyes please vnto our Lord,
It shall conuert and bring to accord
Mans enemies vnto peace verray,
In vnitie, to liue to Goddis pay,
With vnitie, peace, rest and charitie.
Hee that was here cladde in humanitie,
That came from heauen, and styed vp with our nature,
Or hee ascended, he gaue to vs cure,
And left with vs peace, ageyne striffe and debate,
Mote giue vs peace, so well irradicate
Here in this world: that after all this feste
[Sidenote: Vrbs beata Ierusalem dicta pacis visio.]
Wee may haue peace in the land of beheste
Ierusalem, which of peace is the sight,
With his brightnes of eternall light,
There glorified in rest with his tuition,
The Deitie to see with full fruition:
Hee second person in diuinenesse is,
Who vs assume, and bring vs to the blis. Amen
Here endeth the true procease of the Libel of English policie, exhorting
all England to keepe the sea enuiron: shewing what profit and saluation,
with worship commeth thereof to the reigne of England.
Goe forth Libelle, and meekely shew thy face;
Appearing euer with humble countenance:
And pray my Lords to take in grace,
In opposaile and cherishing the aduance.
To hardines if that not variance
Thou hast fro trought by full experience
Authors and reasons: if ought faile in substance
Remit to hem that yafe thee this science;
That seth it is soth in verray fayth,
[Sidenote: The wise lord of Hungerfords iudgement of this booke.]
That the wise Lord Baron of Hungerford
Hath thee ouerseene, and verely he saith
That thou art true, and thus he doeth record,
Next the Gospel: God wotte it was his worde,
When hee thee redde all ouer in a night.
Goe forth trew booke, and Christ defend thy right.
_Explicit libellus de Politia conseruatiua maris_.
* * * * *
Breuis Commentarius de Islandia: quo Scriptorum de hac Insula errores
deteguntur, & extraneorum quorundam conuitijs, ac calumnijs, quibus
Islandis liberi¨s insultare solent, occurritur: per Arngrimum Ionam
Islandum. Serenissimo Principi ac Domino, domino Christiano IIII, DaniŠ,
NoruegiŠ, Vandalorum, Gothor˙mque, Regi electo: Slesuici, HolsatiŠ,
StormariŠ & DithmarsiŠ Duci: Comiti in Oldenburg & Delmenhorst: Domino
PrŠclaram sanŔ apud Historicos meretur laudem, Sereniss. Princeps, Anchuri
illius MidŠ regis filij ausus plusquam humanus, & in patriam pietas, ferŔ
exemplo carens, qu˛d ad occludendum ingentem circa CelŠnam PhrygiŠ oppidum,
terrŠ hiatum, quotidie homines haud exiguo numero, & quicquid in propinquo
erat, absorbentem, sese vltr˛ obtulerit. Cum enim ab oraculo Midas pater
accepisset, non prius conclusum iri istam voraginem, quam res e˛
preciosissimŠ immitterentur: Anchurus existimans, nihil esse anima
pretiosius, sese viuum in illud profundissimum chasma prŠcipitem dedit:
Ýdque tanto animi cum feruore, vt neque parentis desiderio, neque
dulcissimŠ coniugis amplexu vel lachrymis, ab isto proposito se retrahi
Nec inferiorem mult˛ consecuti sunt gloriam Sperthius & Bulis, LacedŠmonij,
qui ad auertendam potentissimi Regis Persarum Xerxis, ob occisos Ó
Lacedemonijs Darij patris legatos, vltionem, ad Regem profecti sunt, & vt
legatorum necem in se, non in patria vlcisceretur, erectis & constantibus
animis sese obtulerunt.
QuŠ ver˛ res, Sereniss. Princeps, illos ac alios complures mouit, vt patriŠ
flagrantes amore, nullum pro ea periculum, nullas molestias, im˛ ne mortem
ipsam recusarint, ea profect˛ me quoque impulit, non quidem, vt quemadmodum
illi, mortem sponte oppeterem, aut me mactandum vltro offerrem, sed tamen,
vt id qu˛d solum possem, in gratiam patriŠ tentarem: Hoc est, vt scriptorum
de ea errores colligerem & rumusculos vanos refellerem: Ac ita rem profect˛
periculosam, & multorum forsan sinistro obnoxiam iudicio, aggrederer.
In eo proposito me etiam Cn. Pompeij exemplum confirmauit: Quem rei
frumentariaŠ apud Romanos procuratorem, cum in summa Vrbis annonŠ
charitate, in Sicilia, Sardinia & Africa frumentum collegisset, maiorem
patriŠ, quÓm sui, tradunt rationem habuisse. Cum enim Romam versus
properaret, & ingenti ac periculosa oborta tempestate, Naucleros trepidare,
nec se ventorum aut maris sŠvitiŠ committere velle animaduerteret, ipse
nauim primus ingressus, anchoras tolli iussit, in hŠc verba exclamans: Vt
nauigemus vrget necessitas: vt viuamus, non vrget. Quibus vir
prudentissimus innuisse videtur, patriŠ periclitantis maiorem habendam
rationem, quÓm priuatŠ incolumitatis.
Hunc ego sic imitor,
(Si parua licet componere magnis, & muscam Elephanto conferre) vt collectis
ac comportatis ijs, quibus ad succurrendum gentis nostrŠ nomini ac famŠ,
apud extraneos, ex maleuolorum quorundam inuidia iam diu laboranti vterer;
paucula hŠc in lucem emittere, mÚque pelago huic quantumuis turbulento
committere, lintea ventis tradere, c˙mque illo exclamare non dubitem: Vt
scribamus, vrget necessitas: Vt ver˛ scriptum nostrum, cuiusuis, delicato
palato, vbÝque satisfaciat, aut omnem Momi proteruiam effugiat, non vrget.
Institutum meum complures probaturos spero: successum forsan non itidem
omnes probabunt. Nihiiominus tamen maiorem habendam rationem patriŠ,
multorum hactenus opprobria & contumelias sustinentis, quÓm siue laudis,
siue vituperationis, ad me ipsum hinc forsan rediturŠ, existimabam. Quid
enim causŠ esse potest, cur nonnullorum odium & inuidentiam, cum hoc
patriŠ, benefaciendi seu gratificandi studio fortŔ coniunctam recusem?
Quodsi scriptorum errores liberius notare, si quorundam calumnias durius
perstringere videbor, eos tamen Šquos me habiturum censores confido, qui
paul˛ diligentius animaduertere volent, quam par¨m tolerabiles sint
scriptorum de nostra gente errores: quot etiam & quÓm graues quorundam in
nos calumniŠ, quibus nationem nostram varijs modis laccssiuere, & etiamnum
lacessere non desistunt. Dandum etiam aliquid omnibus congenito soli
natalis amori est; Dandum iusto, ob hanc patriŠ illatam iniuriam, dolori.
Et ego quidem, quantum fieri potuit, vbÝque mihi temperaui, ac Ó conuitijs
abstinere volui: qu˛d si quid videatur mollius dicendnm fuisse, id prŠdicta
ratione veniam, spero, merebitur.
Cum igitur hŠc mihi subeunda sit alea, quod omnibus scriptum aliquod
edituris in more positum animaduerto, id mihi hoc tempore solicitŔ curandum
est: NempŔ vt patronum & mecŠnatem aliquem huic meo commentariolo quŠram,
sub cuius nomine & numine, tutius in vulgi manus exeat.
Eam igitur ad rem nihil poterit contingere optatius, vestra, clementissime
Princeps Sereniss. Maiestate: Et enim nos ei, qui vitam & fortunas nostras
in suam potestatem & tutelam accepit, ei inquam, nomen quoque gentis nostrŠ
innocenter contaminatum, curŠ vt sit, supplices rogamus.
Im˛ ver˛, Rex clementiss. non sol¨m ad hanc rem, S. Maiestatis V. clemens
implorare auxilium necessum habemus; Sed ad multa quoque alia, quŠ in
nostra patria desiderantur, aut quŠ alioqui ad huius vtilitatem & salutem
communem spectant: quŠque non per me, sed per summorum nostrŠ gentis
viroram libellos supplices hoc tempore exponuntur, aut certŔ breui
exponentur. Nihil enim dubitamus quin S. V. Maiestas, Christianissimorum
maiorum exemplo, etiam nostram patriam, inter reliquas imperij sui Insulas,
sua cura & protectione regia dignari velit. Nam quŠ nostra est ad S.
Maiestatem V. confugiendi necessitas, ea est S. Maiestatis V. in nobis
subleuandis, curandis & protegendis, gloria: Et ob nutritam extremi ferŔ
orbis Arctoi ecclesiam, in remotissimis M. V. imperij finibus, quŠ
tranquillitatem & tuta singulari Dei beneficio halcyonia habet, prŠmium, ac
reposita in coelis immarcessibilis vitŠ ŠternŠ corona.
CŠterum c¨m illa huius loci non sint, id quod mei est propositi subiungo: &
Ó S. Maiestate V. ea, qua par est, amimi submissione peto, vt huic meŠ
opellŠ & studio in patriam collato, fauere, & patroni benigni esse loco,
clementer dignetur. Quod superest, Sereniss. Princeps, Dom. clementissime,
Maiestatem V. sapientiŠ & prudentiŠ, omni˙mque ade˛ virtutnm heroicarum
indies incrementa sumentem, ad summum imperij fastigium, summas ille
regnorum, omni˙mque ade˛ rerum humanaram dispensator, Deos opt. max.
euehat: Euectam, omni rerum foelicissimo successu continuŔ beet: Beatßmque
hoc modo, vt summum horum regnorum ornamentum, columen, prŠesidium,
EcclesiŠ clypeum & munimen, quÓm diutissimŔ conseruet: Ac tandem in altera
vita, in solido regni coelestis gaudio, c¨m prŠcipuis ecclesiŠ Dei
nutritijs, syderis instar, illustrem fulgere faciat. Faxit etiam idem Pater
clementis. vt hŠc vota, quanto sŠpius, in amplissimorum Maiestatis V.
regnorum & Insularem quouis angulo, quotidiŔ repetuntur ac ingeminantur,
tant˛ rata magis & certiora, maneant.
HaffniŠ 1593. Mense Mart.
S. M. V. humiliter subiectus:
Aragrimos Ionas Islandus.
The same in English.
A briefe commentarie of Island: wherein the errors of such as haue written
concerning this Island, are detected, and the slanders, and reproches of
certaine strangers, which they haue vsed ouer-boldly against the people
of Island are confuted.
By Arngrimus Ionas, of Island.
To the most mighty Prince and Lord, Lord Christian the 4. [Footnote:
Christian IV. was the last elective king of Denmark and Norway. Frederick
III. in 1665 changed the constituion to an hereditary monarchy, vested in
his own family.] of Denmarke, Norway, and of the Vandals and Gothes, King
elect: of Sleswic, Holste, Stormar, and Dithmarse Duke: Earle of
Oldenburg, and Delmenhorst: His most gratious Lord.
That heroical attempt of Anchurus, sonne of King Midas (most gratious
prince) and that pietie towards his countrey in maner peerelesse, deserueth
highly to be renowmed in histories: in that freely and couragiously he
offered his owne person, for the stopping vp of an huge gulfe of earth,
about Celoena, a towne in Phrigia, which daily swallowed multitudes of men
and whatsoeuer else came neere vnto it. For when his father Midas was
aduertised by the Oracle, that the said gulfe should not be shut vp, before
things most precious were cast into it; Anchurus deeming nothing to be more
inualuable then life plunged himselfe aliue downe headlong into that
bottomless hole; and that with so great vehemencie of mind, that neither by
his fathers request nor by the allurements and teares of his most amiable
wife, he suffered himselfe to be drawne backe from this his enterprise.
[Footnote: It is added that Midas raised an altar to Jupiter on the spot.]
Sperthius also and Bulis, two Lacedemonians, were not much inferiour to the
former, who to turne away the reuenge of Xerxes that most puissant King of
the Persians, entended against the Lacedemonians, for killing the
ambassadors of his father Darius, hyed them vnto the sayd king and that he
might auenge the ambassadours death vpon them, not vpon their countrey,
with hardy, and constant mindes presented themselues before him.
The very same thing (most gracious prince) which moued them and many others
being enflamed with the loue of their countrey, to refuse for the benefite
thereof, no danger, no trouble, no nor death it selfe, the same thing (I
say) hath also enforced me, not indeed to vndergoe voluntarie death, or
freely to offer my selfe vnto the slaughter, but yet to assay that which I
am able for the good of my countrey: namely, that I may gather together and
refute the errors, and vaine reports of writers, concerning the same: and
so take vpon me a thing very dangerous, and perhaps subiect to the sinister
iudgement of many.
In this purpose the example of Cneius Pompeius hath likewise confirmed me:
who being chosen procurator for corne among the Romanes, and in an extreme
scarcetie and dearth of the citie hauing taken vp some store of grains in
Sicilia, Sardinia, and Africa, is reported to haue had greater regard of
his countrey, then of himselfe. For when he made haste towards Rome, and a
mighty and dangerous tempest arising, he perceiued the Pilots to tremble,
and to be vnwilling to commit themselues to the rigor of the stormie sea,
himselfe first going on boord, and commanding the anchors to be weighed,
brake foorth into these words: That we should sayle necessitie vrgeth: but
that we should liue, it vrgeth not. In which words he seemeth wisely to
inferre, that greater care is to be had of our countrey lying in danger,
then of our owne priuate safetie.
This man doe I thus imitate,
If small with great as equals may agree:
And Flie with Elephant compared bee.
Namely that gathering together and laying vp in store those things which
might be applied to succour the fame and credite of our nation, hauing now
this long time bene oppressed with strangers, through the enuie of certeine
malicious persons, I boldly aduenture to present these fewe meditations of
mine vnto the viewe of the world, and so hoysing vp sailes to commit my
selfe vnto a troublesome sea, and to breake foorth into the like speeches
with him: That I should write necessitie vrgeth: but that my writings in
all places should satisfie euery delicate taste, or escape all peeuishnes
of carpers it vrgeth not. I doubt not but many will allow this my
enterprise: the successe perhaps all men will not approue. Neuertheles, I
thought that there was greater regard to be had of my countrey, sustaining
so many mens mocks and reproches, then of mine owne praise or dispraise,
redounding perhaps vnto me vpon this occasion. For what cause should moue
me to shunne the enuie and hate of some men, being ioyned with an endeuour
to benefite and gratifie my countrey?
[Sidenote: The errors of the writers of Island intolerable.]
But if I shall seeme somewhat too bold in censuring the errors of writers,
or too seuere in reprehending the slanders of some men: yet I hope all they
will iudge indifferently of me, who shall seriously consider, how
intolerable the errors of writers are, concerning our nation: how many also
and how grieuous be the reproches of some, against vs, wherewith they haue
sundry wayes prouoked our nation, and as yet will not cease to prouoke.
They ought also to haue me excused in regard of that in-bred affection
rooted in the hearts of all men, towards their natiue soile, and to pardon
my iust griefe for these iniures offered vnto my countrey. And I in very
deed, so much as lay in me, haue in all places moderated my selfe, and haue
bene desirous to abstaine from reproches but if any man thinke, we should
haue vsed more temperance in our stile, I trust, the former reason will
Sithens therefore, I am to vndergo the same hazard, which I see is commonly
incident to all men that publish any writings: I must now haue especiall
regarde of this one thing: namely, of seeking out some patron, and Mecoenas
for this my briefe commentary, vnder whose name and protection it may more
safety passe through the hands of all men.
But for this purpose I could not finde out, nor wish for any man more fit
then your royal Maiestie, most gratious prince For vnto him, who hath
receiued vnder his power & tuition our liues and goods, vnto him (I say)
doe we make humble sute, that he would haue respect also vnto the credit of
our nation, so iniuriously disgraced.
Yea verily (most gracious King) we are constreined to craue your Maiesties
mercifull aide, not only in this matter, but in many other things also
which are wanting in our countrey, or which otherwise belong to the
publique commoditie and welfare thereof which not by me, but by the letters
supplicatory of the chiefe men of our nation, are at this time declared, or
will shortly be declared. For we doubt not but that your sacred Maiesties,
after the example of your Christian predecessors, will vouchsafe vnto our
countrey also, amongst other Islands of your Maiesties dominion, your
kingly care and protection. For as the necessitie of fleeing for redresse
vnto your sacred Maiestie, is ours so the glory of relieuing, regarding,
and protecting vs, shal wholy redound vnto your sacred Maiestie: as also,
there is layd vp for you, in respect of your fostering and preseruing of
Gods church, vpon the extreme northerly parts almost of the whole earth,
and in the vttermost bounds of your Maiesties dominion (which by the
singular goodnes of God, enioyeth at this present tranquillitie and quiet
safetie) a reward and crowne of immortall life in the heauens.
But considering these things are not proper to this place, I wil leaue
them, and returne to my purpose which I haue in hand: most humbly
beseeching your S. M. that yon would of your clemencie vouchsafe to become
a fauorer, and patron vnto these my labours and studies, for the behalfe of
It now remaineth (most gracious and mercifull souereigne) for vs to make
our humble prayers vnto almighty God, that king of kings, and disposer of
all humane affaires, that it would please him of his infinite goodnes, to
aduance your Maiestie (yearely growing vp in wisedome & experience, and all
other heroicall vertues) to the highest pitch of souereigntie: and being
aduanced, continually to blesse yon with most prosperous successe in all
your affaires: and being blessed, long to preserue you, as the chief
ornament, defence and safegarde of these kingdomes, and as the shield and
fortresse of his church: and hereafter in the life to come, to make you
shine glorious like a starre, amongst the principall nurcing fathers of
Gods Church, in the perfect ioy of his heauenly kingdome. The same most
mercifull father likewise grant, that these praiers, the oftener they be
dayly repeated and multiplied in euery corner of your Maiesties most ample
territories & Islands, so much the more sure and certain they may remaine,
Amen. At Haffnia, or Copen Hagen 1593. in the moneth of March. Y. S. M.
most humble subiect,
Arngrimus Ionas, Islander. [Footnote: A celebrated Icelandic astronomer,
disciple of Tycho Brahe, and coadjutor of the Bishop of Holen, died in 1649
at the great age of 95. His principal works, besides his Description and
History of Iceland, (published at Amsterdam in 1643, 4to), are _Idea Vera
Magistratus_ (Copenhagen, 1689, 8vo); _Rerum Islandicarum libri tres_
(Hamburg, 1630, 4to); _The Life of Gundebrand de Thorlac_, etc. He is
remembered amongst the peasantry of Iceland as the only instance known in
that country of a man of ninety-one marrying a girl in her teens.]
Benigno & pio Lectori salutem.
In lucem exijt circa annum Christi 1561. Hamburgi foetus valdŔ deformis,
patre quodam Germanico propola: Rhythmi videlicet Germanici, omnium qui
vnquam leguntur spurcissimi & mendacissimi in gentem Islandicam. Nec
sufficiebat sordido Typographo sordidum illum foetum semel emisisse, nisi
terti¨m etiam aut quart¨m publicasset, quo videlicet magis innocenti genti
apud Germanos & Danos, aliˇsque vicinos populos summam & nunquam delendam
ignominiam, quantum, in ipso fuit, inureret. Tantum Typographi huius odium
fuit, & ex re illicita lucri auiditas. Et hoc in illa ciuitate, quŠ
plurimos annos commercia sua magno suorum c¨m lucro in Islandia exercuit,
impunŔ fecit. Ioachimus Leo nomen illi est, dignus certŔ qui Leones pascat.
Reperiuntur prŠterea multi alij scriptores, qui cum miracula naturŠ, quŠ in
hac Insula creduntur esse plurima, & gentis IslandicŠ mores ac instituta
describere se velle putant, Ó re ipsa & veritate prorsus aberrarunt,
nautarnm fabulas plusquam aniles, & vulgi opiniones vanissimas secuti. Hi
Scriptores etsi non tam spurca & probrosa reliquerunt, quÓm sordidus iste
Rhythmista: multa tamen sunt in illorum scriptis, quŠ illos excusare non
possunt, aut prorsus liberare, quo minus innocentem gentem suis scriptis
deridendam alijs exposuerint. HŠc animaduertens, legens, expendens, subinde
nouis, qui Islandorum nomen & Šstimationem lŠderent, scriptoribus ortis,
alienorum laborum suffuratoribus impudicis, qui etiam non desinunt gentem
nostram nouis conspurcare mendacijs, lectorÚsque noua monstrorum
enumeratione & descriptionibus fictis deludere, sŠpe optabam esse aliquem,
qui ad errata Historicorum, & aliorum iniquorum censorum responderet,
quÝque aliquo scripto innocentem gentem Ó tot conuicijs si non liberaret,
certŔ aliquo modo apud pios & candidos Lectores defenderet. Quare hoc
tempore Author eram honesto studioso, _Arngrimo IonŠ_ F. vt reuolutis
scriptorum monumentis, qui de Islandia aliquid scripserunt, errores &
mendacia solidis rationibus detegeret. Ille etsi prim˛ reluctabatur, vicit
tamen demum admonitio, amˇrque communis patriŠ, ita vt hunc qualemcunque
commentariolum conscriberet, non ex vanis vulgi fabulis, sed & ex sua &
multorum fide dignorum experientia, comprobationibus sumptis.
Ille ver˛, qui hanc rem meo est aggressus instinctu, vicissim Ó me suo
quasi iure flagitabat, vt in has pagellas, vel tribus saltem verbis
prŠfarer: existimans aliquid fidei vel authoritatis opusculo inde
conciliatum iri. Quare vt mentem breuiter exponam: Ego quidem & honestam &
necessariam quoque operam nauasse eum iudico, qui non mod˛ scriptorum
varias sententias de rebus ignotis perpendere, & inuicem conferre, nec non
ad veritatis & experientiŠ censuram exigere: Sed etiam patriam Ó venenatis
quorundam sycophantarum morsibus vindicare conatus sit. Ăquum est igitur,
Lector optime, vt quicquid hoc est opusculi, velut sanctissimo veritatis &
patriŠ amore aduersus Zoilorum proteruiam munitum & muniendum excipias.
Gudbrandus Thorliacus Epýscopus
Holensis in Islandia.
Anno 1592. Iul. 29.
[Footnote: In the _original_ edition of the description of Iceland by
Arngrimus, follow these lines:
Â Authoris ad Lectorem.
Imbute Lector suauis arte Palladis,
Lector benigne, humane, mult¨m candide,
Qui cuncta scis collis sacri mysteria:
Has videris si fortŔ quando paginas
Non lectione sÝque dedignabere,
Fac, nos tuo candori vt hŠc committimus
Et Šquitati, fronte sic non tetrica,
Vultu legas nec ista quando turbido:
Communis vnquam sortis haud sis immemor,
Infirmitas quam nostra nobis contulit.
Obnoxius nam non quis est mortalium
Erroribus nŠuÝsque semper plurimis?
Quod si diu mult˙mque cogitauens,
Nostris eris conatibus paul˛ Šquior,
Tuis & isto rite pacto consules:
Candore nam quo nostra arctans vtere,
En te legentes rursus vtentur pari:
Sic ipse semper alteri quŠ feceris.
Ăqualitatis lege & hŠc fient tibi.
De gente multis prŠdicata Islandica
Authoribus quamuis probata maximis,
Nostro periclo huc˙sque vulg˛ credita,
Licere nobis credimus refellere,
Non vt notam scriptorum muram nomini,
Nostrum sed Ó nota probosa vindicem:
Hoc institutum i˙sque fßsque comprobant:
Hoc nostra consuetudo lÚxque comprobant:
Hoc digna lectu exempla denique comprobant.
Ergo faue: nostris faue conatibus,
Sis mitis indulgens et Šquus arbiter,
O lector arte imbute suauis Palladis,
Lector benigne, amice, multum candide,
Qui cuncta scis collis sacri mysteria.]
The same in English.
To the courteous and Christian reader Gudbrandus Thorlacius, Bishop of
Holen in Island, wisheth health.
There came to light about the yeare of Christ 1561, a very deformed impe,
begotten by a certain Pedlar of Germany: namely a booke of German rimes of
al that euer were read the most filthy and most slanderous against the
nation of Island. Neither did it suffice the base printer once to send
abroad that base brat, but he must publish it also thrise or foure times
ouer: that he might thereby, what lay in him, more deepely disgrace our
innocent nation among the Germans, & Danes, and other neighbour countries,
with shamefull, and euerlasting ignominie. So great was the malice of this
printer, & his desire so greedy to get lucre, by a thing vnlawfull. And
this he did without controlment, euen in that citie, which these many yeres
hath trafficked with Island to the great gaine, and commodity of the
citizens. His name is Ioachimus Leo, a man worthy to become lions foode.
[Sidenote: Great errors grow vpon mariners fabulous reports.]
Moreouer, there are many other writers found, who when they would seeme to
describe the miracles of nature, which are thought to be very many in this
Island, & the maners, & customs of the Islanders, haue altogether swarued
from the matter and truth it selfe, following mariners fables more trifling
than old wiues tales, & the most vain opinions of the common sort. These
writers, although they haue not left behind them such filthy and reprochful
stuffe as that base rimer: yet there are many things in their writings that
wil not suffer them to be excused, & altogether acquited from causing an
innocent nation to be had in derision by others. Wherefore marking,
reading, & weighing these things with my selfe, & considering that there
dayly spring vp new writers, which offer iniury to the fame & reputation of
the Islanders, being such men also as do shamelesly filtch out of other
mens labours, deluding their readers with feined descriptions, & a new
rehearsal of monsters, I often wished that some one man would come forth,
to make answere to the errors of historiographers & other vniust censurers:
and by some writing, if not to free our innocent nation from so many
reproches, yet at leastwise, in some sort to defend it, among Christian &
friendly readers. And for this cause I haue now procured an honest and
learned young man one Arngrimus Fitz-Ionas, to peruse the works of authors,
that haue written anything concerning Island, and by sound reasons to
detect their errors, & falshoods. And albeit at the first he was very loth,
yet at length my friendly admonition, & the common loue of his countrey
preuailed with him so farre, that he compiled this briefe commentary,
taking his proofes, not out of the vaine fables of the people, but from his
owne experience, and many other mens also of sufficient credit.
Now, he that vndertooke this matter at my procurement, did againe as it
were by his owne authority chalenge at my hands, that I should in two or
three words at least, make a preface vnto his booke; thinking it might
gaine some credit, and authority thereby. Wherfore to speake my minde in a
word: for my part, I iudge hin to haue taken both honest & necessary
paines, who hath done his indeuour not onely to weigh the diuers opinions
of wrighters concerning things vnknowen, and to examine them by the censure
of trueth, and experience, but also to defend his countrey from the
venemous bitings of certaine sycophants. It is thy part therefore (gentle
reader) to accept this small treatise of his, being as it were guarded with
the sacred loue of truth, and of his countrey, against the peruersnes of
Anno 1592. Iulii 19.
COMMENTARII DE ISLANDIA INITIUM.
Quemadmodum in militia castrensi, alios nulla Šqua ratione adductos, sed
ambitione, inuidia & auaritia motos, Martis castra sequi animaduertimus:
Alios ver˛ iustis de causis arma sumere; vt qui vel doctrinŠ coelestis
propagandŠ aut seruandŠ ergo bella mouent, vel aliquo modo lacessiti
paratam vim ac iniuriam repellunt, vel saltem non lacessiti, propter
obsidentem hostem metu in armis esse coguntur: Non secus Apollini
militantes: alij animo nequaquam bono, Philosophico seu verius Christiano,
ad scribendum feruntur: puta qui gloriŠ cupiditate, qui liuore ac odio, qui
affectata ignorantia alios sugillant, vt ipsi potiores habeantur, nunc in
personam, nomen ac famam alicuius, nunc in gentem totam stylum acuentes,
atque impudenter quasi mentiendo, insontem nationem & populos
commaculantes: Alij ver˛ contrÓ, animo ingenuo multa lucubrando inuestigant
& in lucem emittunt; vt qui scientiam Theologicam & Philosophicam scriptis
mandarunt, quique suis vigilijs veterum monumenta nobis explicuerunt: qui
quicquid in illis obscurum, imperfectum, inordinatum animaduerterunt, vsu &
experientia duce illustrarunt, explerunt, ordinarunt: qui mundi historias,
bona fide, ŠternŠ memoriŠ consecrarunt: qui linguarum cognitionem suis
indefessis laboribus iuuerunt: denique qui aliorum in se suamue gentem vel
patriam, licentiosam petulantiam reprimere, calumnias refellere, & quandam
quasi vim iniustam propulsare annixi sunt.
Et quidem ego, cui literas vix, ac ne vix quidem videre contigit, omnium
qui diuinŠ Palladi nomen dederunt, longŔ infimus (vt id ingenuŔ de mea
tenuitate confitear) facere certŔ non possum, quin me, in illorum aciem
conferam, qui gentis suŠ maculam abluere, veritatem ipsam asserere, &
conuitiantium iugum detrectare studuerunt: Maiora ingenio sors denegauit:
Id quoquo modo tentare compellit ipsius veritatis dignitas, & innatus amor
patriŠ, quam extraneos nonnullos falsis rumoribus deformare, varijs
conuitijs, magna cum voluptate proscindere, aliÝsque nationibus deridendam
propinare comperimus. Quorum petulantiŠ occurrere, & criminationes falsas,
detectis simul scriptorum de hac Insula erroribus, apud bonos & cordatos
viros, (Nam vulgus sui semper simile, falsi & vani tenacissimum, non est
qu˛d sperem me ab hac inueterata opinione abducere posse) diluere hoc
Etsi autem Islandia multos habet, vt Štate, ita ingenio & eruditione me
longe superiores, ideˇque ad hanc causam patriŠ suscipiendam mult˛ magis
idoneos: Ego tamen optimi & clarissimi viri, Dom. Gudbrandi Thorlacij,
Episcopi Holensis, apud Islandos, sollicitationibus motus communi causŠ,
pro viribus, nequaquam deesse volui, tum vt ŠquissimŠ postulationi ipsius
parerem, atque amorem & studium debitum erga patriam declararem, tum vt
reliquos sympatriotas meos, in bonarum literarum scientia foelicius
versatos, atque in rerum plurimarum cognitione vlterius progresses, ad hoc
gentis nostrŠ patrocinium inuitarem: Tantum abest, vt ijs qui idem
conabuntur, obstaculo esse voluerim.
CŠterum vt ad rem redeamus, quoniam illi quicunque sunt nostrŠ gentis
obtrectatores, testimonio scripto se vti ac niti iactitant: videndum omnino
est, quidnam de Islandia, & quÓm vera scriptores prodiderint, vt si fortŔ
isti, alijs in nos dicendi aliquam occasionem dederint, patefactis ipsorum
erroribus (nolo enim quid durius dicere) quÓm merit˛ nos calumnientur,
reliquis planum fiat, Porr˛, quamuis vetustiorum quorundam scripta de hac
Insula, ad veritatis & experientiŠ normam exigere non verear: Tamen nobis
eorundem alioqui sacra est memoria, reuerenda dignitas, suspicienda
eruditio, laudanda voluntas & in Rempub. literariam studium; Nouitij ver˛,
si qui sunt id genus scriptores, aut verius pasquilli, cum ijs longŔ
veriora quÓm scripserant, audire & nosse de Islandia licuerit, sua leuitate
& ingenio malŔ candido, nihil nisi inuidiŠ & calumniŠ maculam lucrati esse
[Sidenote: Commentarij duŠ partes.]
Atque vt Commentarius hic noster aliquid ordinis habeat, duo erunt
propositŠ orationis capita, vnum de Insula, de incolis alterum: quantum
quidem de his duobus capitibus Scriptores qui in nostris manibus versantur,
annotatum reliquerunt: Quoniam vltra has metas vagari, vel plura quÓm hŠc
ipsa, & quŠ huc pertinere videbuntur attingere nolo. Non enim ex professo
Historicum vel geographum sed disputatorem tant¨m agimus. [Sidenote: PrimŠ
partis tractatio.] Itaque omissa longiore prŠfatione partem primam, quŠ est
de situ, nomine, miraculis & alijs quibusdam adiunctis InsulŠ, aggrediamur.
The same im English.
HERE BEGINNETH THE COMMENTARY OF ISLAND.
Euen as in war, dayly experience teacheth vs, that some vpon no iust &
lawful grounds (being egged on by ambition, enuie, and couetise) are
induced to follow the armie, and on the contrary side, that others arme
themselues vpon iust and necessary causes: namely such as go to battell for
the defence and propagation of the Gospel, or such as being any way
prouoked thereunto, doe withstand present violence and wrong, or at least
(not being prouoked) by reason of the enemie approching are constrained to
be vp in armes right so, they that fight vnder Apolloes banner. Amongst
whom, a great part, not vpon any honest, philosophical, or indeede
Christian intention, addresse themselues to wright: especially such as for
desire of glory, for enuy and spight, or vpon malicious and affected
ignorance, carpe at others: and that they may be accompted superiours,
sometimes whette their stiles against the person, name and fame of this or
that particular man, sometimes inueighing against a whole countrey, and by
shamelesse vntrueths disgracing innocent nations and people. Againe, others
of an ingenuous minde, doe by great industry, search and bring to light
things profitable: namely, they that write of Diuinity, Philosophy, History
and such like: and they who (taking vse and experience for their guides) in
the said Sciences haue brought things obscure to light, things maimed to
perfection, and things confused to order: and they that haue faithfully
commended to euerlasting posteritie, the stories of the whole world: that
by their infinite labours haue aduaunced the knowledge of tongues: to be
short, that endeuour themselues to represse the insolencie, confute the
slanders, and withstand the vniust violence of others, against themselues,
their Nation or their Countrey:
And I for my part, hauing scarce attained the sight of good letters, and
being the meanest of all the followers of Minerua (that I may freely
acknowledge mine owne wants) can do no lesse then become one of their
number, who haue applied themselues to ridde their countrey from dishonor,
to auouch the trueth, and to shake off the yoke of railers & reuilers. My
estate enabled me onely to write; howbeit the excellencie of trueth and the
in bred affection I beare to my countrey enforceth me to do the best I can:
sithens it hath pleased some strangers by false rumours to deface, and by
manifolde reproches to iniurie my sayd countrey, making it a by word, and a
langhing-stocke to all other nations. To meet with whose insolencie and
false accusations, as also to detect the errours of certeine writers
concerning this Island, vnto good and well affected men (for the common
people will be alwayes like themselues, stubbornly mainteining that which
is false and foolish, neither can I hope to remooue them from this
accustomed and stale opinion) I haue penned the treatise following.
And albeit Island is not destitute of many excellent men, who, both in age,
wit, and learning, are by many degrees my superiors, and therefore more fit
to take the defence of the countrey into their hands: notwithstanding,
being earnestly perswaded thereunto, by that godly & famous man Gudbrandus
Thorlacius Bishop of Hola in Island, I thought good (to the vtmost of mine
ability) to be no whit wanting vnto the common cause: both that I might
obey his most reasonable request, and also that I might encourage other of
my countreymen, who haue bene better trained vp in good learning, and
indued with a greater measure of knowledge then I my selfe, to the defence
of this our nation: so farre am I from hindering any man to vndertake the
But to returne to the matter, because they (whatsoeuer they be) that
reproch and maligne our nation, make their boast that they vse the
testimonies of writers: we are seriously to consider, what things, and how
true, writers haue reported of Island, to the end that if they haue giuen
(perhaps) any occasion to others of inueying against vs, their errours
being layd open (for I will not speake more sharpely) all the world may see
how iustly they do reproch vs. And albeit I nothing doubt to examine some
ancient writers of this Island, by the rule of trueth and experience: yet
(otherwise) their memory is precious in our eyes, their dignity reuerend,
their learning to be had in honour, and their zeale and affection towards
the whole common wealth of learned men, highly to be commended: but as for
nouices (if there be any such writers or rather pasquilles) when they shall
heare and know truer matters concerning Island, then they themselues haue
written, they shall seeme by their inconstancie and peruerse wit to haue
gained nought else but a blacke marke of enuy and reproch.
And that this commentarie of mine may haue some order, it shall be diuided
into two general parts: the first of the Island, the second of the
inhabitants: and of these two but so farfoorth as those writers which are
come to our hands haue left recorded: because I am not determined to wander
out of these lists, or to handle more then these things and some other
which perteine vnto them. For I professe not my selfe an Historiographer,
or Geographer, but onely a Disputer. Wherefore omitting a longer Preface,
let vs come to the first part concerning the situation, the name, miracles,
and certaine other adiuncts of this Iland.
[Sidenote: Munst. lib. 4. Cosmograph.] Insula IslandiŠ, quŠ per immensum Ó
cŠteris secreta longŔ sita est in Oceano, vixque Ó nauigantibus
Et si hŠc tractare, quŠ ipsam terram vel illius adiuncta seu proprietates
concernunt, ad gentem vel incolas Ó calumniantium morsu vindicandos par¨m
faciat: tamen id nequaquam omittendum videtur. Sed de his prim¨m, & quidem
prolixi¨s aliquant˛ agendum est, vt perspecto, quÓm vera de hac re tradant
illi IslandiŠ scriptores, facilŔ inde candidus Lector, in ijs quŠ de
Incolis scripta reliquerant, quŠque ab illis alij, tanquam Dijs
prodentibus, acceperunt, vnde sua in gentem nostram ludibria depromi aiunt,
quantum fidei mereantur, iudicet.
Primum igitur distantiam IslandiŠ Ó reliquis terris non immensam esse, nec
tantam, quanta vulg˛ putatur, si quis insulŠ longitudinem & latitudinem
aliquo modo cognitam haberet, facilŔ demonstrari posset. Non enim id alio,
quÓm isto cognosci exactŔ posse modo existimarim, cum nulli dubium sit,
quÓm semper nautarum vel rectissimus, vt illis videtur, cursus aberret.
Quare varias authorum de situ IslandiŠ sententias subiungam, vt inde quiuis
de distantia id colligat, quod maximŔ verisimile videbitur, donec fortŔ
aliquando propria edoctus experientia, meam quoque sententiam si non
interponam, tamen adiungam.
Munsterus Islandiam collocat sub
gradibus ferŔ 20 68
Gerardus Mercator 352 68
Medium IslandiŠ: 7 0 65 30
Hersee: 7 40 60 42
Thirtes: 5 50 64 44
Nadar: 6 40 57 20
Littus IslandiŠ Occident. 20 63
Chos promontorium: 22 46 63
Latus orientale extenditur contra
Septentrionem: & finis extensionis
habet 30 68
Latus septentrionale contra occidentem
extenditur, & finis extensionis
habet 28 69
Lateris Occidentalis descriptio.
Heckelfel promontorium 25 67
Madher promontorium 21 20 65 10
Ciuitates in ea mediterraneŠ sunt
Holen Episcopalis 28 67 50
Schalholten Episcopalis 22 63 30
Per Holen IslandiŠ 68
Per Med. IslandiŠ 69
Islandia tribus gradibus in circulum
vsque Arcticum ab Šquinoctiali
excurrit, ade˛ ferŔ, vt
mediam circulus ille secet, &c.
Et si qui sunt prŠterea, qui vel in mappis, vel alioqui suis scriptis
InsulŠ situm notarunt, quorum plures sententias referre nihil attinet, c¨m
qu˛ plures habeas, e˛ magis dissidentes reperias. Ego quamuis verisimiles
coniecturas habeo, cur nullŠ citatŠ de IslandiŠ situ sententiŠ assentiar,
quin potius diuersum quippiam ab ijs omnibus statuam, tamen id ipsum in
dubio relinquere malo, quÓm quicquam non exploratum satis affirmare, donec,
vt dixi, fortŔ aliquando non coniecturam, sed obseruationem & experientiam
propriam afferre liceat.
[Sidenote: Bidui nauigatio ab Islandia ad Noruagiam desertam.]
Distantiam ab ostio Albis ad portum IstandiŠ meridionalis Batzende, quidam
scripserat esse circiter 400. milliarium: Vnde si longitudinis differentiam
ad meridianum Hamburgensem supputaueris, nullam mod˛ positarum longitudinum
habebit illo in loco Islandia. Ego ternis Hamburgensium nauigationibus
docere possum, septimo die Hamburgum ex Islandia peruentum esse. PrŠterea
etiam, InsulŠ quŠ ab ouium multitudine FŠreyjar, seu rectius Faareyjar
dictŠ sunt, bidui nauigatione, vt & littora NoruagiŠ deserta distant.
Quatridui ver˛ nauigatione in Gronlandiam habitabilem, & pari ferŔ temporis
interuallo, ad prouinciam NoruagiŠ Stad. inter opida Nidrosiam & Bergas
sitam peruenitur, quemadmodum in harum nationum vetustis codicibus
The same in English.
THE FIRST SECTION.
[Sidenote: Munsterus lib. 4. cosmographiŠ] The Isle of Island being seuered
from other countreys an infinite distance, standeth farre into the Ocean,
and is scarse knowen vnto Sailers.
Albeit a discourse of those things which concerne the land, and the
adiuncts or properties thereof be of little moment to defend the nation or
inhabitants from the biting of slanderers, yet seemeth it in no case to be
omitted, but to be intreated of in the first place; that the friendly
reader perceiuing how truely those writers of Island haue reported in this
respect, may thereby also easily iudge what credit is to be giuen vnto them
in other matters which they haue left written concerning the inhabitants,
and which others haue receiued from them as oracles, from whence (as they
say) they haue borrowed scoffes and taunts against our nation.
First therefore, that the distance of Island from other countreys is not
infinite, nor indeed so great as men commonly imagine, it might easily be
prouided, if one did but in some sort know the true longitude & latitude of
the said Iland. For I am of opinion that it cannot exactly be knowen any
other way then this, whenas it is manifest how the Mariners course (be it
neuer so direct, as they suppose) doth at all times swerue. In the meane
while therfore I will set downe diuers opinions of authors, concerning the
situation of Island, that from hence euery man may gather that of the
distance which seemeth most probable, vntil perhaps my selfe being one day
taught by mine owne experience, may, if not intrude, yet at least adioin,
what I shal thinke true as touching this matter. [Footnote: The real
position of Iceland is 700 miles west of Norway, 200 miles east of
Greenland, and 320 miles north-west of the Faroe Islands. It lies between
latitude 63░ 25 and 66░ 32 north and longitude 13░ 30' and 24░ 30' west;
length east to west 280 miles; breadth 210 miles. It will be thus seen that
while Frisius is nearly right in his latitude, Gerard Mercator is
considerably out. As regards the longitude, whilst Munster's estimate is
converted to the standard of Greenwich, Mercator's reckoning is from
Copenhagen or Hamburg, and Frisius has reckoned east of Reikiavik or
deg min. deg min.
Munster placeth Island almost in 20 68
Gerardus Mercator 325 68
Gemma Frisius placeth the midst
of Island 7 0 65 30
Hersee 7 40 60 42
Thirtes 5 50 64 44
Nadar 6 40 57 10
The West shore of Island 20 0 63 0
The promontorie of Chos 22 46 63 0
The East shore is extended
Northward, and hath bounds
of extension in 30 0 68 0
The North shore is extended
Westward and hath bounds of
extension in 28 0 69 0
The description of the West side
The promontorie of Heckelfell 25 0 67 0
The promontorie of Madher 21 20 65 10
The inland cities of Island
Holen the seat of a bishop 28 0 67 50
Schalholten the seat of a bishop 22 63 30
By Holen in Island 68
By Mid-Island 69-1/2
Island stretcheth it selfe 3 degrees
within the circle arctic from the
equinoctial, insomuch that the
said circle arctic doeth almost
diuide it in the midst &c.
There be others also, who either in their maps, or writings haue noted the
situation of Island: notwithstanding it is to no purpose to set downe any
more of their opinions, because the more you haue, the more contrary shall
you finde them. For my part, albeit I haue probable coniectures perswading
me not to beleeue any of the former opinions, concerning the situation of
Island, but to dissent from them all: yet had I rather leaue the matter in
suspense then affirme an vncerteinty, vntill (as I haue sayd) I may be able
perhappes one day not to gesse at the matter, but to bring forth mine owne
obseruation, and experience.
[Sidenote: Seuen dayes sailing from Island to Hamburg Island but two dayes
sailing distant from Faar-Islands & from the desert shores of Norway.]
A certeine writer hath put downe the distance betweene the mouth of Elbe &
Batzende in the South part of Island to be 400 leagues: from whence if you
shall account the difference of longitude to the meridian of Hamburgh,
Island must haue none of the forenamed longitudes in that place. I am able
to proue by three sundry voyages of certaine Hamburgers, that it is but
seuen dayes sailing from Island to Hamburgh. Besides all those Islands,
which by reason of the abundance of sheepe, are called Fareyiar or more
rightly Faareyiar,[Footnote: Faroe Islands.] as likewise the desert shores
of Norway, are distant from vs but two dayes sailing. We haue foure dayes
sailing into habitable Gronland; and almost in the same quantitie of time
we passe ouer to the prouince of Norway, called Stad, lying betweene the
townes of Nidrosia or Trondon, [Footnote: Trondheim.] and Bergen, as we
finde in the ancient records of these nations.
[Sidenote: Munsterus, Olaus magnus & reliqui.] In hac, Šstiuo solstitio,
sole signum Cancri transeunte, nox nulla, brumali Solstitio proinde
nullus dies. Item, Vadianus. In ea autem Insula quŠ longe Supra Arcticum
circulum in amplissimo Oceano sita est, Islandia hodie dicta, & terris
congelati maris proxima, quas Entgronlandt vocant, menses sunt plures
Nullum esse hyemali solstitio diem, id est, tempus quo sol supra horizontem
conspicitur in illo tantum IslandiŠ angulo, si mod˛ quis est, fatemur, vbi
polus ad integros 67. gradus attollitur. Holis autem, quŠ est sedes
Episcopalis Borealis IslandiŠ, sita etiam in angustissima & profundissima
conualle, latitudo est circiter grad. 65. 44. min. vt Ó Domino Gudbrando
eiusdem loci Episcopo accepimus, & illic diem breuissimum habemus ad
minimum duarum horarum, in meridionali autem Islandia longiorem, vt ex
artificum tabulis videre est. Vnde constat nec Islandiam vltra Arcticum
circulum positam esse, nec menses plures noctibus in Šstiuo, vel diebus in
brumali solstitio carere.
The same in English.
THE SECOND SECTION.
[Sidenote: Munsterus, Olaus Magnus and others.] In this Iland, at the
Summer solstitium, the Sun passing thorow the signe of Cancer, there is
no night, and therefore at the Winter solstitium there is no day. Also:
Vadianus. But in that Iland, which farre within the artic circle is
seated in the maine Ocean, at this day called Island, and next vnto the
lands of the frozen sea, which they call Engrontland, there be many
moneths in the yere without nights.
At the solstitium of winter, that there is no day (that is to say, no time,
wherein the Sunne is seene aboue the horizon) we confesse to be true onely
in that angle of Island (if there be any such angle) where the pole is
eleuated full 67. degrees. But at Holen (which is the bishops seat for the
North part of Island, and lieth in a most deepe valley) the latitude is
about 65. degrees and 44. minutes, as I am enformed by the reuerend father,
Gudbrand, bishop of that place: and yet there, the shortest day in all the
yere is at least two houres long, and in South-Island longer, as it
appeareth by the tables of Mathematicians. [Sidenote: Island is not within
the circle arctic.] Heerehence it is manifest, first that Island is not
situate beyond the arctic circle: [Footnote: This is true, except for the
very small portion of Iceland round about Cape North.] secondly, that in
Island there are not wanting in Summer solstitium many nights, nor in
Winter solstitium many dayes.
[Sidenote: Musterus Saxo.] Nomen habet Ó glacie quŠ illi perpetuo ad Boream
adheret Item. A latere Occidentali NoruagiŠ Insula, quŠ Glacialis
dicitur, magno circumfusa Oceano repentur, obsoletŠ admodum habitationis
tellus, &c. Item, HŠc est Thyle, nulli veterum non celebrata.
Nomen habet Ó glacie) Tria nomina consequenter sortita est Islandia.
[Sidenote: Snelandia.] Nam qui omnium primus eius inuentor fuisse creditur
Naddocus genere Noruagus, cum versus insulas Farenses nauigaret tempestate
valida, ad littora IslandiŠ Orientalis fortŔ appulit: vbi cum fuisset
aliquot septimanas cum socijs commoratus, animaduertit immodicam niuium
copiam, montium quorundam cacumina obtegentem, atque ide˛ Ó niue nomen
InsulŠ Snelandia indidit. Hunc secutus alter, Gardarus, fama quam de
Islandia Naddocus attulerat impulsus, Insulam quŠsitum abijt, reperit, &
nomen de suo nomine Gardarsholme id est, Gardars Insula imposuit. Quin &
plures nouam terram visendi cupido incessit: nam & post illos duos adhuc
tertius quidam Noruagus (Floki nomen habuit) contulit se in Islandiam,
illique Ó glacie qua viderat ipsam cingi nomen fecit.
ObsoletŠ admodum) Ego ex istis verbis Saxonis hanc sententiam nequaquam
eruo, vt quidam, qu˛d inde ab initio habitatam esse Islandiam, seu vt verbo
dicam, Islandos autocthonas dicat, cum constet vix ante annos 718. incoli
HŠc est Thyle) Grammatici certant & adhuc sub iudice lis est. Quam tamen
facilŔ dirimi posse crediderim, si quis animaduertat, circa annum Domini
874. prim¨m fuisse inhabitatam. Nisi quis dicere velit Thulen illum Ăgypti
Regem, quem hoc ipsi nomen dedisse putant, ad Insulam iam tum incultam &
inhabitatam penetrasse. Illud ver˛ rursus si quis neget, per me sanŔ
licebit, vt illud sit quaddam quasi spectaculum, dum ita in contrarias
scinduntur sententias. Vnus affirmat esse Islandiam. Alter quandam insulam,
vbi arbores bis in anno fructificant. Tertius vnam ex Orcadibus, siue
vitimam in ditione Scoti, vt Ioannes Myritius & alij, qui nomen illius
referunt, Thylensey, quod etiam Virgilius per suam vltimam Thylen sensisse
videtur. Siquidem vltra Britannos, quo nomine Angli hodie dicti & Scoti
veniunt, nullos populos statueret. Quod vel ex illo Virgilij Eclog I.
Et penitus toto diuisos orbe Britannos.
Quartus vnam ex Farensibus. Quintus Telemarchiam NoruagiŠ. Sextus
Perpetu˛ ad Boream adhŠret.) Illud ver˛, Glaciem InsulŠ perpetu˛, vel vt
paul˛ post asserit Munsterus: Octo continuis mensibus adhŠrere: neutrum
verum est. [Sidenote: Glacies Aprili aut Maio soluitur.] Nam vt plurimum in
mense Aprili aut Maio soluitur, & Occidentem versus propellitur, nec ante
Ianuarium aut Februarium sŠpissimŔ etiam tardius redit. Quid? qu˛d plurimos
annos numerare licet, quibus glaciem illam huius nationis immite flagellum,
ne viderit quidem Islandia: Quod etiam hoc anno 1592. compertum est. Vnde
constat quÓm verŔ Ó Frisio scriptum sit, nauigationem ad hanc insulam
tant¨m quadrimestrem patere, propter glaciem & frigora, quibus
intercludatur iter, C¨m AnglicŠ naues quotannis nunc in Martio, nunc in
Aprili, quŠdam in Maio, Germanorum & Danorum in Maio & Iunio, plŠrumque ad
nos redeant, & harum quŠdam non ante Augustum iterum hinc soluunt.
Superiore autem anno 1591. quŠdam nauis Germanica, cupro onusta, portum
IslandiŠ Vopnafiord 14. dies circiter in Nouembri occupauit, quibus lapsis
inde foeliciter soluit Quare cum glacies IslandiŠ, nec perpetu˛, neque octo
mensibus adhŠreat, Munsterus & Frisius manifestŔ falluntur.
The same in English.
THE THIRD SECTION.
It is named of the ice which continually cleaueth vnto the North part
thereof. [Sidenote: Munsterus Saxo] Another writeth: From the West part
of Norway there lieth an Iland which is named of the ice, enuironed with
an huge sea, and being a countrey of ancient habitation, &c. Zieglerus.
This is Thyle [Footnote: Thule] whereof most of the ancient writers haue
It is named of ice, &c. Island hath beene called by three names, one after
another. [Sidenote: Island first discouered by Naddocus in a tempest.] For
one Naddocus a Noruagian borne, who is thought to be the first Discouerer
of the same, as he was sailing towards the Faar-Ilands, [Footnote: Faroe
Islands.] through a violent tempest did by chance arriue at the East shore
of Island; [Sidenote: Sneland.] where staying with his whole company
certaine weeks, he beheld abundance of snow couering the tops of the
mountaines, and thereupon, in regard of the snow, called this Iland
Sneland. [Sidenote: Gardarsholme] After him one Gardarus, being mooued
thereunto by the report which Naddocus gaue out concerning Island, went to
seeke the sayd Iland who when he had found it, called it after his owne
name Gardars-holme, that is to say, Gardars Ile. There were more also
desirous to visit this new land. [Sidenote: Island.] For after the two
former a certaine third Noruagian, called Flok, went into Island, and named
it of the ice, wherewith he saw it enuironed.
Of ancient habitation &c. I gather not this opinion out of these wordes of
Saxo (as some men do) that Island hath bene inhabited from the beginning or
(to speake in one word) that the people of Island were autochthones, that
is, earth-bred, or bred out of their owne soile like vnto trees and herbs:
sithens it is euident that this Island scarse began to be inhabited no
longer agoe then about 718 yeres since. [Footnote: The Viking Naddodr is
said to have discovered Iceland in 860, and it was colonised by Ingulf, a
chieftain from the west coast of Norway.]
This is Thyle, &c. Grammarians wrangle about this name, and as yet the
controuersie is not decided. Which notwithstanding, I thinke might easily
grow to composition, if men would vnderstand that this Iland was first
inhabited about the yeere of our Lord 874. Vnlesse some man will say that
Thule King of Ăgypt (who, as it is thought, gaue this name thereunto)
passed so farre vnto an Iland, which was at that time vntilled, and
destitute of inhabitants. Againe, if any man will denie this, he may for
all me, that it may seeme to be but a dreame, while they are distracted
into so many contrary opinions. One affirmes that it is Island: another,
that it is a certeine Iland, where trees beare fruit twise in a yeere: the
third, that it is one of the Orcades, or the last Iland of the Scotish
dominion, as Iohannes Myritius and others, calling it by the name of
Thylensey, which Virgil also seemeth to haue meant by his vltima Thyle. If
beyond the Britans (by which name the English men and Scots onely at this
day are called) he imagined none other nation to inhabit. Which is euident
out of that verse of Virgil in his first Eclogue:
And Britans whole from all the world diuided.
The fourth writeth, that it is one of the Faar-Ilands: the fift, that it is
Telemark in Norway: the sixt, that it is Scrichfinnia.
[Sidenote: The ice of Iseland sets always to the West.] Which continually
cleaueth to the North part of the Iland. That clause that ice continually
cleaueth &c. or as Munster affirmeth a little after, that it cleaueth for
the space of eight whole moneths, are neither of them both true, when as
for the most part the ice is thawed in the moneth of April or May, and is
driuen towards the West: neither doth it returne before Ianuarie or
Februarie, nay often times it commeth later. [Sidenote: No ice at all some
yeres in Island.] What if a man should recken vp many yeeres, wherein ice
(the sharpe scourge of this our nation) hath not at all bene seene about
Island? which was found to be true this present yeere 1592. Heereupon it is
manifest how truely Frisius hath written that nauigation to this Iland
lieth open onely for foure moneths in a yeere, and no longer, by reason of
the ice and colde, whereby the passage is shut vp, when as English ships
euery yere, sometimes in March, sometimes in April, and some of them in
May; the Germans and Danes, in May and Iune, doe vsually returne vnto vs,
and some of them depart not againe from hence till August. [Sidenote:
Nauigation open to Island from March till the midst of Nouember.] But the
last yere, being 1591, there lay a certeine shippe of Germanie laden with
Copper within the hauen of Vopnafiord in the coast of Island about
fourteene dayes in the moneth of Nouember, which time being expired, she
fortunately set saile. Wherefore, seeing that ice, neither continually, nor
yet eight moneths cleaueth vnto Iland, Munster and Frisius are much
deceiued. [Footnote: The mean temperature of Iceland is said to be 40
[Sidenote: Kranzius. Munsterus.] Tam grandis Insula, vt populos multos
contineat. Item, Zieglerus. Situs InsulŠ extenditur inter austrum &
boream ducentorum prope SchŠnorum longitudine.
Grandis.) Wilstenius quidam, rector ScholŠ OLDENBVRGENSIS Anno 1591. ad
auunculum meum in Islandia Occidentali misit breuem commentarium, quem ex
scriptorum rapsodijs de Islandia collegerat. Vbi sic reperimus Islandia
duplo maior Sicilia,&c. Sicilia autem secundum Munsterum 150. milliaria
Germanica in ambitu habet. [Sidenote: Magnitudo IslandiŠ.] NostrŠ ver˛
InsulŠ ambitus etsi nobis non est exactŔ cognitus, tamen vetus & constans
opinio, & apud nostrates recepta 144. milliaria numerat per duodecim
videlicet promontoria IslandiŠ insigniora, quŠ singula 12. inter se
milliaribus distent, aut circiter, quŠ collecta prŠdictam summam ostendunt.
Populos multos.) Gysserus quidam, circa annum Domini 1090, Episcopus
Schalholtensts in Islandia, omnes InsulŠ colonos seu rusticos qui tantas
facultates possiderent, vt regi tributum soluere tenerentur (reliquis
pauperibus cum foeminis & promiscuo vulgo omissis) lustrari curauit,
reperÝtque in parte InsulŠ Orientali 700, meridionali 1000, Occidentali
1100, Aquilonari 1200. Summa 4000. colonorum tributa soluentium. Iam si
quis experiatur, inueniet Insulam plus dimidio fuisse inhabitatam.
The same in English.
THE FOURTH SECTION.
[Sidenote: Krantzius. Munsterus.] The Iland is so great that it conteineth
many people. Item Zieglerus sayth: The situation of the Iland is extended
betweene the South and the North almost 200 leagues in length.
So great, &c. One Wilstenius schoolemaster of Oldenburg, in the yere 1591,
sent vnto mine Vncle in West Island, a short treatise which he had gathered
out of the fragments of sundrie writers, concerning Island. Where we found
thus written: Island is twise as great as Sicilie, &c. But Sicilie,
according to Munster, hath 150. Germaine miles in compasse. [Sidenote: 144.
Germaine miles in compasse.] As for the circuit of our Iland, although it
be not exactly knowen vnto vs, yet the ancient, constant, and receiued
opinion of the inhabitants accounteth it l44 leagues; namely by the 12
promontories of Iland, which are commonly knowen, being distant one from
another 12 leagues or thereabout, which two numbers being mulitplied,
produce the whole summe. [Footnote: The exact area is 39,737 square miles.]
Many people, &c. One Gysserus about the yere of our Lord 1090, being bishop
of Schalholten in Island, caused all the husbandmen, or countreymen of the
Iland, who, in regard of their possessions were bound to pay tribute to the
king, to be numbred (omitting the poorer sort with women, and the meaner
sort of the communally) and he found in the East part of Island 700, in the
South part 1000, in the West part 1100, in the North part 1200, to the
number of 4000. inhabitants paying tribute. Now if any man will trie, he
shall finde that more then halfe the Iland was at that time vnpeopled.
[Footnote: In 1875 the population was 69,800.]
[Sidenote: Munst. Frisius, Ziegler] Insula multa sui parte montosa est &
inculta. Qua parte autem plana est prŠstat plurimum pabulo, tam lŠto, vt
pecus depellatur Ó pascuis, ne ab aruina suffocetur.