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In this work is brought together for the first time the interpretation of the best authorities respecting the evidences, historical, archaeologic, inscriptive and deductive, of Norse discovery, occupation, and colonization of America five centuries before the time of Columbus. The subject, though it has engaged in a general way the attention of historians for a long time, has only within recent years been brought into great prominence by a serious study of the Saga writers of Iceland and Scandinavia. The beginning of this interest dates from 1837 in which year was published, by the Royal Danish Society of Northern Antiquaries, a large quarto volume of old Icelandic documents, in which the proofs were set forth that the discovery credited to Columbus was anticipated by sea-roving Norsemen five hundred years earlier. This great work was edited by Prof. C. C. Rafn, founder of the Royal Danish Society, and was the result of painstaking labor and expensive research by that very distinguished antiquarian.

Interest in the subject thus aroused by Prof. Rafn was further promoted by Dr. R. B. Anderson's "America not First Discovered by Columbus," published in 1874, which ran through several editions and was translated into French, German and probably other languages.

Inspired by Dr. Anderson's work, Prof. Arthur entered most earnestly into a study of the question, for which he prepared himself by becoming a master of the Danish tongue,

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with a view to investigating all the original documents in possession of the Antiquarian Society. Not being fully satisfied with what he was able to find in Copenhagen, Stockholm, Trondhjem, and other Scandinavian centers, in 1879, he set sail for Iceland and there continued his examination of records and his enquiries, results of which were published in London in 1895, which with a work by Prof. Beamish, are reproduced in this volume.

While Prof. Reeves does not in all matters pertaining thereto agree perfectly with Professor Rafn, there is sufficient concurrence in their arguments to establish corroboration of conclusions; this is most important because Professor Rafn's work was not freely translated into English, and thus escaped the notice of American historians, while Professor Reeves, a master of the Danish tongue, took up the work of investigating, in the original, the documents submitted by the Antiquarian Society in 1879.

It may truly be said that thirty years ago only a very cultured few professed even the least familiarity with the literature of the Gothic people, notwithstanding our descent from that sturdy race. The Vatican exhibit at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, 1904, intensified the interest aroused by Professor Reeves' investigations among the libraries of Copenhagen, Christiana, Stockholm and Reykjavik, Iceland's capital. Some had theretofore conjectured that the Church of Rome had maintained a brief relation to Pre-Columbian America, but not until the records were produced and placed on exhibition at St. Louis, did many believe that the Holy Church had established itself so successfully in the New World as early as the year 1000, as to require the services of an archbishop, whose See extended from Greenland to Vineland (Massachusetts?) This almost coincident, and in a way co-operative, enlightenment of the educated, scarcely

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less than of the popular mind on the subject of American discovery, has led to the liveliest appreciation of the Norsemen, and particularly so since with an understanding of their early visits to these shores we have learned that Americans, through the English, are descended from these rugged, fearless, sea-roving, liberty-loving people. The interest that has thus been aroused in the deeds of our Scandinavian ancestors has led to a wide-spread desire for knowledge respecting their civilization, by which the masses are coming to know that the Norsemen were not only the greatest of seamen, but even in their remote isolation, on Iceland's frigidly inhospitable coast, they developed a literature, as well also a popular form of government, the excellence of which is scarcely to be equalled by that of any other ancient people.

That America was discovered and colonized by Norsemen nine hundred years ago has been a disputed claim over which historians have for a long while contended, like enemies struggling in the dark, but in the light of recently exhumed evidence, resurrected out of the age-invested tome repositories of the Vatican, and libraries of the North, the question is fully resolved and the credit may now be properly placed. The argument and evidences that establish this claim are set forth in this volume by such distinguished authorities as Arthur Reeves, Charles Christian Rafn, North Ludlow Beamish and Rasmus B. Anderson. There is also printed, in connection with the historical presentation of the subject, confirmatory proofs, in the form of reproduced manuscripts, ancient maps, and church records not heretofore accessible to the general reader. In fact, some of these documents were not known to exist until accidentally discovered by very recent investigation and are now published as a whole for the first time.

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The allusions herein made to the tradition of Irish discovery of America will not wholly satisfy the critical enquirer, but it may lead to a more general study of this much neglected chapter of Irish history. This much may be set down as fact: Sixty-five years before the discovery of Iceland by Norsemen, Irish sea-rovers had not only visited but erected habitations on that island. About the year 725 Irish ecclesiastics are known to have sought seclusion on the Faroe Islands. In the Tenth Century voyages between Ireland and Iceland were so frequent as to be ordinary occurrences. Finally, in the Eleventh Century, a county west of Iceland and South of Vinland, known to the Norsemen as White-Man's Land, or Great Ireland, was discovered, and probably settled by Irish. All that history recounts, or that known documents confirm, regarding the New World anterior to the time of Columbus, will be found gathered and sifted in this volume, to which is added Professor Anderson's most interesting description of Norumbega, a supposed settlement of Norsemen established near Boston, about A. D. 1008.



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