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Re: Knowledge

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>My bias is against the American
>school of Historians that only look for evidence of a US connection in
>all history and capsules centuries into hollywood bite sized
>compartments. Neither actual knowledge not acquired wisdom works in
>that way.

Not to mention, Columbus never set foot in what is now the U.S., either,
so why should it make a big difference whether Prince Henry did?
The real question is whether he made it past Greenland to North America.

It's also interesting to ask whether he got to the present day U.S.,
but that is a secondary question.

And the really interesting questions have to do with why did he do it
(don't forget he apparently wanted timber for ships), what did he do
when he got there, and what did he intend to do next.

>This states something about the
>strength of oral legends and stories as historical evidence.

The Trojan War was widely considered mythical until Heinrich Schliemann
used the evidence of Homer to locate and excavate the site.  Whether he
found the right Troy is still in question (partly because his methods
were so crude that he may have destroyed what he sought), but that
there was a real Troy and probably a real Trojan War is no longer in
much question, both because of his excavations and because his work led
to the development of the modern science of archeology, which has
provided plenty of evidence for a civilization of appropriate time and

Many incidents of the Old Testament were considered by
many people to be legendary until objects such as tablets
containing Hammurabi's Laws were excavated.  Until a few years
ago, there was no direct archaeological evidence for King David
as a specific person; only one set of stories, in one book,
constituted the evidence for his existence.

The basic constitution of the Iroquois League was handed down orally,
with some assistance from wampum belts, from about the time of Henry's
voyage or earlier.  When there was no writing, people took care to
pass down oral histories correctly.

Old tales often contain much truth.

They can also be wrong, of course.  One of the most famous cases
is the Song of Roland, which claims that Charlemagne's troops were
attacked by Muslims.  A history written about a generation later,
and presumably using primary sources, says the attackers were
Christian Basques.  Which is right?  Not both.

Oral sources and old tales are nonetheless sources, and should be
treated as evidence among other evidence until disproven.

One of the most convincing things to me about the evidence for
Prince Henry's voyage is that little if any evidence for it has
been disproven, and more evidence for it keeps coming to light.
This is the pattern one expects for historical truth.

>	More appreciation must be extended to individuals like Peter
>Cummings and John Quaterman who took the time to share their

It really does seem to be a trend that everyone who wants to thank
me for something is compelled to misspell my name.

However, I'm just a dilettante regarding the subject of Prince Henry's
voyage.  Pete Cummings, Alexander Sinclair, Frederick J. Pohl, Niven Sinclair,
David S. Bouschor, and many others have done the real work.

Many thanks for your message and its bibliography.

John S. Quarterman <jsq@mids.org>
President, Matrix Information and Directory Services (MIDS)
mids@mids.org, http://www.mids.org, +1-512-451-7602, fax: +1-512-452-0127
1106 Clayton Lane, Suite 500W, Austin, TX 78723, U.S.A.
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