Although it seems likely that Norse explorers had visited our lands previously, in the year 1524, Italian navigator Giovanni da Verrazano and the crew of the La Dauphine were the first visitors to what is now our coastline to leave a written record of their visit.
As Verrazano reported to King Francis I,
“We found a high land and full of very thick forests, the trees of which were pines, cypresses, and such as grow in cold regions. The people … were full of uncouthness and vices, so barbarous that we were never able, with howsuover many signs we made them, to have any intercourse with them. . . . If, trading at any time with them, we desired their things, they came to the shore of the sea upon some rock where it was veyr steep we remaining in the small boat – with a cord let down to us what they wished to give, continually crying on the land that we should not ap- proach, giving quickly the barter, nor taking in exchang for it except knives, hooks for fishing, and sharp metal. They had no regard for courtesy, and when they had nothing more to exchange, at their departing the men made at us all the signs of contempt and shame which any brute creature could make, such as showing their bare buttocks and laughing imoderately.*”
In 1529, the explorer’s brother, Girolamo de Varrazano, created a map documenting the travels of La Dauphine, and labeled the coast of Casco Bay as Terra Onde di Mala Gente – the land of the bad people.
The Province of Malagentia is a local chapter of the Society for Creative Anachronism, a living history organization devoted to the study and recreation of the Middle Ages and Renaissance. We are a branch of the East Kingdom, located in Southern Maine. If you are new to the SCA or just want to learn more about this non-profit organization please contact the Chatelaine for more information. Malagentia holds monthly, except August, business meetings on the first Thursday of the month. Meetings are held at Doughboy’s, 57 Bridge St, Westbrook, ME. Meetings start at 7:00.
*As translated and quoted in North America: The Historical Geography of a Changing Continent, 2001.