Friday, April 06, 2007


"This may come as a shock for Anglophiles" - begins Australian historian Peter Trickett speaking about his new book "Beyond Capricorn" - "but the map evidence leaves absolutely no doubt that Portuguese sailed into Botany Bay and charted it 250 years before Cook arrived there in the Endeavour". And the same goes for the Dutch, the French or any other Europeans claiming to have discovered Australia and New Zealand.
Long has the possibility (that the Portuguese were the first to reach "land autralis") been around. But the evidence available was considered scant by the nordicphile chauvinist scholars, up till now.
The documental prove has always been around; what is amiss, is often the will or interest to come to terms with the fact that such a small, poor country, with little wheigt in the International scene nowadays, can take such a relevant and prestigious position under the spotlight. This is easily verifiable just by watching the History Channel and see how many "anglophile" (especially Americans) documentaries about the "Discoveries" marginalize the role that Portugal played in parting with the Middle Ages and shaping the modern world has we know it today, since step 1.
On the other hand, the secrecy which the Portuguese navigators used to keep their findings under, along with the lost of the Maritime archives in the 1755 Lisbon Earthquake also contributed to the lack of official documentation that could, once and for all, help shrug off foreign resistance to our achievements.
A few months before "Beyond Capricorn" came into public light, another book was being ready for publishing with evidence that Cristopher Colón (Colombus is wrong) was not the person everybody assumed he was (not Genovese, not Italian, not ignorant about where he "thought" he was, etc.)... but, funny enough, the authors did not find one sole Anglophone publisher willing to print and sell the book - out in Portuguese, with soon to follow Spanish and French editions...
We may have not known what to do with the large chunks of the world that we were the first Europeans to trail, but at least do not try to remove the credit from us. The Americans would be confused to have a founder coming from a country they assume is somewhere in Latin America, and the Italians would be ever so embarassed on Columbus' Day; but as Prof. Trickett put it, speaking about the Aussies: "we'd be a lot better at soccer."

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