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PostLanzarotto Malocello and the Island of Lanzarote (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy, 07/10/18 10:17 am)
On 30 May, Carmen Negrín posted a very good essay about the marvelous Canary Islands, which I have visited and love very much--almost as much as my beloved Mount Prospect, Illinois.
Carmen mentioned a 1776 book by Joseph de Viera Clavejo, Noticias de la historia general de las Islas Canarias.
Reading this book I was dismayed that chapter XIX, on the island of Lanzarote, presents the name of the "modern" (1312) discoverer in a rather fuzzy way.
For an Italian seafarer with a passion for the voyages of exploration, this is a serious blow, and I feel obliged to correct the error.
The European navigator who first arrived in 1312 at the island of Lanzarote was Lanzarotto Malocello.
The Malocellos were a rich family from Genoa with many proprieties in Liguria since at least the 1100s. This family provided eleven consuls to Genoa and various important individuals even related to Popes. Carbone Malocello in 1235 attacked the Sultan of Ceuta to make him pay for depredations against the Genoese merchants residing there. The first Doge of Genoa, Simon Boccanegra, died in 1363 in the "palazzo" of the Malocellos, probably poisoned by the feuding Adorno and Fregoso families. See also the opera by Giuseppe Verdi.
Lanzarotto, born at Varazze near Savona in 1270, sailed toward the South Atlantic in search of the brothers Ugolino and Vadino Vivaldi, who were planning to reach the Indies well ahead of Henry the Navigator of Portugal. Lanzarotto did not find the Vivaldis, but in 1312 he reached Lanzarote and remained there for 20 years until he was sent away by the Guanci.
Jean de Bethencourt arrived in 1402 and found the ruins of the fortification erected by Lanzarotto on the hill of Guanapay. Later the surrounding waters became very congested shipping lanes.
The first chart/portolano of Angelino Dulcert appeared in 1339, on which Lanzarote is clearly indicated as "insula de Lanzarotus Maloncelus."
In 2012 Spain and Italy organized great conferences and studies on the 700th anniversary of the discovery.
It is reported that one branch of the Malocello family at the end of the 14th century moved to France to offer its services as shipping captains. They later became the De Maloisel. Probably it is from this fact that in 1659 a French family claimed to be the discoverers of Lanzarote, their ancestor being called Lancelot Maloisel.
On other topics in response to Noah Rich and Istvan Simon:
!) For a long time I have been strongly against the death penalty, especially for political reasons, but now I am so sick and tired of our lousy society that a death penalty for some particularly despicable crimes does not seem so bad. But certainly a death penalty imposed 20 years after the crime is ridiculous.
2) Of course an average American does not like Putin and will probably believe all the possible evil about him. He would prefer the drunkard Boris Yeltsin, as with the latter a broken Russia was about to become the final colony of the Empire.
But an enlightened authoritarian leader is preferable to a lackey of foreigners.
Finally, please, do not speak too badly of Stalin, after all he was the good Old Uncle Joe for FDR and his followers.
JE comments: Most on-line sources give the first name of Lancelotto, but I am indebted to Eugenio Battaglia for another "pre-Columbian" history lesson. We Latin Americanists tend to look no further back than 1492.
All this begs the question: where would the Spanish be without the contributions of their Genoese/Savonese sailors?
To shift gears, Eugenio has once again expressed his fondness for enlightened authoritarians. Perhaps I could too, but I cannot think of any. Perhaps--just perhaps--Abraham Lincoln? Russia had some aggressive modernizers, from Peter the Great to Stalin, but I wouldn't call them enlightened.