Monday, November 23, 2015

Recently Read: Sir Francis Drake by George Malcolm Thomson

I recently finished reading Sir Francis Drake by George Malcolm Thomson. The book was published in 1973. A very good read - well worth the £2 I paid for it in a local bookshop :)

Anyway I'll relay some of the interesting bits n bobs I found within its pages.

Firstly it mentioned the fabled great southern continent called Beach which earlier explorers searched for in vain. I'd heard tell of this great southern continent in other books and suchlike (more commonly known as Terra Australis), however I'd never came across the fact that it was named Beach - a name both simple and alluring. Beach was said to be rich in gold - a super-continental El Dorado of sorts. More real estate anyone?

Another snippet from the book I liked was one concerning Walter Raleigh.
'What is that island?' asked Sir Walter Raleigh of a Spanish cartographer. 'It is called the Painter's Wife's Island. Why? Because she wanted an island of her own. He put it in to oblige her.'
A tale illustrating how little people knew of the world back then, and how untrustworthy maps could be. As we know from our recent Flat Earth investigations of course all we really have are paintings ;) Are things really so different now?

Also worthy of note is the fact that the book mentions that one Spaniard, Don Miguel de Eraso, thought Drake was French! It's one of those odd little out of place bits of history that suggests our accepted historical narrative is somewhat wrong. The author simply decides that Don Miguel was misinformed, however other things in the book lend weight to Drakes apparent Frenchness. It mentions that French ambassadors would send pictures of Drake to their correspondents. There's also the fact that Drake sailed under French or Flemish colours when he "singed the King of Spain's Beard" by attacking the Spanish naval forces assembling in the Bay of Cadiz. It's said he later hoisted the Cross of St George and that the French/Flemish colours were intended to trick the Spanish. However, I guess it's possible that that could be a papering-over-the-cracks by later historians of an unwelcome fact that doesn't quite fit the narrative.

Finally one other thing that caught my eye. The book mentions that when Drake and his troops captured a Spanish palace in the Americas they found painted on the staircase a horse with one foot on the globe and the other in the air. It had upon it the motto: Non sufficit orbis - the world is not enough. A name now more familiar as the title of a Bond movie. Obviously the globe caught my eye as well xD

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