Archiver > GENEALOGY-DNA > 2007-05 > 1180508218

From: "grandcross" <>
Subject: Re: [DNA] Phoenicians arriving in N America long ago
Date: Wed, 30 May 2007 01:56:58 -0500
References: <><a06240846c28241076ea0@[]>

> Just to note on something I haven't seen it mentionned yet...
> Mark Kurlansky in The Basque History of the World makes interesting
> points supporting the presence of Basque cod fishermen as early as
> the 13th Century off the coast of Newfoundland. One of them that they
> were supplying most of Europe, the Mediterranean and to the Middle
> East with cod throughout this time, and the Nord Sea alone could not
> supply that amount alone. And as fishermen go, you don't reveal a
> good fishing spot...

It's entirely possible the Basques were fishing off of Newfoundland,
Greenland and even the mainland of Canada a century before Columbus arrived
in the west Indies - possibly earlier - but Kurlansky can't be relied upon
for that proposition. He's a talented and engaging writer who published a
terrific book about Cod ("A biography of the Fish that changed the World")
before his lame effort at Basque history. But there are no footnotes in that
book and I have catalogued at least two dozen historical errors and highly
suspect assertions of fact he passes along without attribution. His listed
bibliography of "Basque Maritime History" consists of eight sources, all but
one in Spanish. None of them are authoritative on the subject.
For example, it's one thing to say the Basques were great fishermen which is
true. It's something else to claim, as does Kurlansky without doubt or
reservation, that they were the *first* to fish cod and whales off north
America. That's a proposition which has sharply divided historians for
years. To assert as he does that the Basques developed the first commercial
law of the sea is to ignore the Rhodian Code, Amalfi "Tablets", Rules of
Oleron, parts of Justinian's Digests and the Llibre del Consolat de Mar of
Barcelona. It's an absurd and unnecessary comment in what is otherwise a
great read about Basque culture, food,etc.

A better source is John Selden's 1652 "Mare Clausum Seu de Dominio Maris"
which he authored as a check on the theories of maritime jurisdiction and
right of free passage being advanced by the Dutch and Hugo Grotius.
Selden's book contains some revealing passages about who were the earliest
explorers and fishermen in the "new world"; mainly just about every maritime
nation in Europe bordering the Atlantic, including "Spain" which I'm sure
was meant to encompass the Basques.

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