Author: Peter Martyr d'Anghiera


“The natives are white men”; an excerpt from De Orbe Novo by Peter Martyr d’Anghiera (1530)

In this excerpt from an English translation of De Orbe Novo, originally published posthumously in Latin in 1530, the Italian historian Peter Martyr d’Anghiera tells the story of Lucas Vásquez de Ayllón, under whose partial auspices two ships in search of slaves sailed up the Atlantic coast of North America in July and August of 1521. Martyr’s account helped fuel the so-called Chicora Legend, named for Ayllón’s enslaved Indian. The legend suggested that the area of what today is known as the Chesapeake Bay promised a climate and natural resources equal to the Spanish region of Andalucía. Divided into eight parts, or “decades,” De Orbe Novo provided a comprehensive account of Spanish exploration and conquest. What follows is Book II of the Seventh Decade.

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