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Re: The Zeno/St Clair 14th century voyages to America
Further to the latest disputes over the Zeno/St Clair voyages to America,
and particularly the comments by Henry Root, please note the following;
1) As I have a book on this subject being considered by two publishers (one
English language, one Italian) and a Canadian TV executive, I cannot
ethically comment in detail from my own research, prior to publication.
2) Anyone who takes Frederic Pohl's research, or that of any other authors -
including myself - at face value without referring back to primary sources,
is quite frankly, naive in the extreme.
3) While we all owe a debt of gratitude to Pohl for giving these events
widespread public attention, he got several important aspects of the story
a) No political or military strategist of Henry's stature would
leave his lands undefended by taking his entire
fleet with him on such a voyage.
b) For similar reasons, Henry would not have sent his fleet home
while he explored in small rowing boats.
Pohl's naivety in confusing the Italian term for oared
galleys with ships rowing boats verges on the criminal.
c) No sea-faring man of any experience would have
built a ship, in mid-winter, from green wood and
expected to survive.
d) All of Pohl's story about exploration around the Bay
of Fundy and Cap D'Or is pure invention based upon
the misconception mentioned in (b) above and no hard
e) Pohl's hijacking of the entire creation mythology of
the Mi'qmaq, is a gross misrepresentation of the facts.
4) The real evidence for the voyages, archival and archaeological, evaluated
without prior prejudice and with reason, lead to one inevitable conclusion -
that the voyages in question took place between 1396-1400.
As I have mentioned so many times before, this fascinating story needs no
elaboration, embroidery or mythologizing. Well-intentioned exaggeration
causes damage and impairs credibility. It is precisely because of this that
that this fascinating piece of very real history has not been taken
seriously in modern times.
As for the comments made by Henry Root. He is, of course, entitled to his
own opinions. However I note with regret that he has not contested one fact
nor advanced one piece of evidence in support of whatever case he wishes to
promote, which would at least stimulate greater debate and understanding,
but has restricted himself to snide and personal remarks about myself based
upon his faulty and inaccurate memory of events that took place
over eighteen months ago. When, incidentally, I did not address the Orkney
Science festival in my own right, but was priviledged to assist someone else
who has for years earned my personal respect and admiration -namely Niven
Therefore, to clarify matters I offer a public challenge to Mr Root. I am in
the process of organising a series of seminars on historical themes both in
the South West of England this autumn and later, in France. I will willingly
tack on to one of these programmes a debate on the subject that :
This house believes that, having considered the evidence before it on the
reasonable basis of the 'balance of probabilities', that the St Clair/Zeno
voyages to America are historical fact and not legend.
I would propose the motion and speak for one hour. Mr Root would then have
an hour for refutation. The debate would then be opened to the audience
followed by a a brief summation by both speakers, before proceeding to a
This would give Mr Root a superb opportunity to put his case and accomplish
what no critic of the voyage has yet done - namely prove by acceptable
archival sources, be they Oracadian, Scottish, Norwegian, Danish or any
other, that Earl Henry St Clair of Orkney was in Europe at the time and not
in or en-route to/ or from the American continent.
Over to you Mr Root.
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