“F” is for “The French”
Some time ago there was quite a to-do, not to mention a fuss, over the fact that it was some four hundred years ago that Henry Hudson sailed up the river of the same name.
From the local paper: “A fleet of 18 Dutch boats sailed into the New York harbor on Tuesday to begin month-long celebrations of the 400th anniversary of the discovery of New York by Dutch Captain Henry Hudson.”
“The discovery of New York”? The claim is often made that it was Henry Hudson who was the first European to discover New York; that seems to be what is taught in schools.
But it’s wrong.
The score card should read like this: Hudson second; French first.
Not many people are aware that long before Ol’ Cap’n Hudson showed up in New York in 1609, the French Navy had much earlier been there, done that.
It was in 1524 that the French arrived in what is now NYC. Think of it. That’s 85 years before Hudson!
The French, in their warship La Dauphine, were looking for China – as was just about everyone else in those days – and they ran smack into the North American continent. On their trip up the coast they sailed into a magnificently sheltered body of water…
And they anchored here, in today’s New York harbor, right about where the Verrazano Bridge is in our time.
They then proceeded to do what one did in those days; they claimed the place for their king, Francis I. The captain wrote to his sovereign: “Once we were anchored and well sheltered, we took the small boat to land, which we found densely populated. The people came to us joyfully, uttering loud cries of wonderment and showing us the safest place to beach the boat. Some thirty small boats ran to and fro across the water with innumerable people aboard who were crossing from one side to the other to see us.” New Yorkers, almost 500 years ago.
They named the beautiful land about them, what we now know as New York City, “New Angouleme” – Angouleme is a beautiful city in the southwestern part of France – because that was the king’s home town. So New York was New Angouleme long, very long, before it was New Amsterdam.
You learn almost nothing about this in our schools. Most New Yorkers have no idea that New York was once New Angouleme. But that’s okay; I’ve been to Angouleme and asked around. Most people there don’t seem to be aware of it either.
So here’s a toast of cognac (from the Angouleme region) to Henry Hudson and his trip, 400 years ago, up the river that bears his name. But as far as what the local paper recently wrote – that he discovered New York – that is simply not true.
Vive la Nouvelle Angouleme!
1 year ago