Eric the Red - George Upton

Chart of the World

According to Icelandic Manuscripts of the Thirteenth Century

[Illustration] from Eric the Red by George Upton

The above chart was prepared from an Icelandic manuscript of the thirteenth century by Mr. Joshua Toulmin Smith, the northern antiquarian, and appears in his work, Discovery of America by the Northmen. The original manuscript divides the world into three parts, Asia, Africa, and Europe. The words "Synnri Bygd," at the bottom of the chart, signify a "habitable tract," in the Southern Hemisphere, from which it may be inferred that the Northmen had some idea of South America, Australia, and Polynesia. They defined Asia as extending from northeast to southwest; Africa from southwest to west and northwest, and joining the Western Continent; and Europe from west and northwest, that is from the Western Continent to northeast, where it joined Asia. Greenland was supposed to be connected with Europe by extensive uninhabitable tracts to the far north, and Vineland was supposed to be connected with Africa.

The names upon the chart in Icelandic are thus explained: The three regions to the east in Asia, "Indialand," are India; "Ninive," said to be a city three days' journey in length and one day's in width, is Nineveh; "Babilon," where "Nabugudunosor" (Nebuchadnezzar) reigned, is Babylon, "but now is that city so completely destroyed that it is altogether uninhabitable by man, on account of serpents and all manner of noxious animals."

"Antiochia" is Antioch, where "the Apostle Peter founded an Episcopal seat, and there, first of any man, chanted Mass," and "Jerusalem" explains itself. "Asia en Minni" is Asia Minor, and to the north of it is Paradise, out of which four rivers flow: (1) the "Phison" or "Ganges," which rises near Mount Orcades and empties into the ocean surrounding the world; (2) the "Tigris"; (3) the "Eufrates," which, like the Tigris empties into the "Midjardarhaf" (Mediterranean Sea); and (q) the "Nilus," otherwise called "Geon" (the Nile), which divides Asia from Africa and flows through the whole of "Egiptaland" (Egypt), in which are two cities, "Alexandria" and "Babilon in Nyga" (Cairo).

"Affrika" (Africa), the second part of the earth, contains "Serkland" or the land of the Saracens, Morocco, Tripoli, etc.; "Egiptaland" or Egypt; and three regions called "Blaland" (land of black men or negroes).

"Europa" (Europe) is the third part. In the extreme east is "Gardavelldi" (Russia). South of it is "Grikjakonungs velldi" (Empire of the Greek Kings) or the Eastern Roman Empire. To this empire belongs "Bolgaraland" (Bulgaria) and a number of islands, "Griklands Eyjar," the most celebrated of which are "Krit" (Crete) and "Kipr" (Cyprus). "Sikiley" (Sicily) is set down as a great kingdom. "Italia" (Italy) is another great kingdom south of the "Mundia" (Alps). In the middle of Italy is "Romaborg" (Rome), and to the north is "Langbardaland" (Lombard). North of the mountains, toward the east, is "Saxland" (Germany), and to the southwest "Fracland" (France). "Spanland" (Spain) extends to the Mediterranean between Langbardaland and Fracland. The "Rin" (Rhine) is a great river flowing to the north of the "Mundia" between Saxland and Fracland, and near its mouth lies "Frisland." North of Saxland is "Danmork" (Denmark), near which the ocean pours into "Austrveg" (Baltic Sea). "Svithjod" (Sweden) lies east of "Danmork," "Noreg" (Norway) to the north, and "Finnmork" (Finland) to the north of "Noreg." Then the shore bends northeast and then east till it reaches "Bjarmaland" (Permia), and from "Bjarmaland" extend long unpopulated tracts ("Lond obygd"), stretching to the north until they reach "Gronland" (Greenland). To the south of Gronland lies "Helluland," and beyond that "Markland"; "beyond that it is not far to Vinland er sumir menn aetla at gangi of Affrika (which some men think to be extended even from Africa). England and Scotland are one island, but each of them is a separate kingdom. Ireland is a great island. Iceland is also a great island to the north of Ireland. All these regions lie in that part of the world which is called Europe."

It is evident they thought Europe extended from the Western Continent to where it joins Asia, and that in the extreme south Vineland was connected with Africa.