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Columbus is still credited with being the first European to discover America, apart from the early visits of the Vikings. This is because he had the wit to secure a remarkable charter from the Catholic Sovereigns, which gave him possession, under the Spanish Crown, of all lands he might discover in the west. It was entirely to his advantage to trumpet his discoveries. Earlier voyages to America, with no such charter, had no profit unless they kept secret what they found. David Quinn and others have successfully argued that Bristol fishermen were taking catches from the Grand Banks off Newfoundland by 1482, 10 years before Columbus reached the Bahamas. Someone must have led the way. The only indication is to a mysterious Jon Scolvus, about 1476. The legend of Prince Madoc provides the key.
The Geographical Journal © 1984 The Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers)