3.2—Read the Legend of Madoc of Wales

ASSIGNMENT: 

  1. Read the account given by Richard Hakluyt concerning the legend of Madoc of Wales.
  2. Write a short essay or discuss with your instructor: What are the evidences Hakluyt provides for Madoc’s possible arrival in the Americas?

SELECTION: From The Principal Navigations, Voyages, and Discoveries of the English Nation by Richard Hakluyt.


After the death of Owen Gwynedd, his sons fell at debate who should inherit after him, for the eldest son born in matrimony, Edward, or Jorwerth Drwyndwn, was counted unmeet to govern because of the maim upon his face, and Howel, that took upon him the Rule, was a bare son, begotten upon an Irish woman. Therefore David, another son, gathered all the power he could, and came against Howel, and fighting with him, slew him, and afterwards enjoyed quietly the whole land of North Wales until his brother, Jorwerth’s son, came to age.

Madoc, another of Owen Gwyneth’s sons, left the land in contentions betwixt his brethren, and prepared certain ships with men and munition and fought adventures by seas, sailing west and leaving the coast of Ireland so far north, that he came to a land unknown, where he saw many strange things.

This land must needs be some parts of the country of which the Spaniards affirm themselves to be the first finders since Hauno’s time: whereupon it is manifest that that country was by Britons discovered long before Columbus led any Spaniards thither.

Of the voyage and return of this Madoc, there be many fables framed, as the common people do use in distance of place and length of time, rather to augment than to diminish, but sure it is, there he was. And after he had returned home, and declared the pleasant and fruitful countries that he had seen, without inhabitants; and upon the contrary, for what barren and wild ground his brethren and nephews did murder one another, he prepared a number of ships, and got with him such men and women as were desirous to live in quietness, and taking leave of his friends, took his journey thitherwards again.

Therefore it is supposed that he and his people inhabited part of those countries; for it appeareth by Francis Lopez de Gomara that in Acuzamil, and other places, the people honored the Cross. Whereby it may be gathered that Christians had been there before the coming of the Spaniards; but because this people were not many, they followed the manner of the land which they came to, and the language they found there.

This Madoc arriving in that western country, unto the which he came in the year 1170, left most of his people there, and returning back for more of his own nation, acquaintance and friends to inhabit that fair and large country, went thither again with ten sails, as I find noted by Guttun Owen. I am of opinion that the land whereunto he came was some part of the West Indies.

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