It’s claimed by some that Newport Tower on Rhode Island is a Templar construction. Others say that it’s just a seventeenth century (or later) mill that gives the impression of being a ruined castle. But actually there are similar mills in England.
The pro-Templars argue that the tower is older because it turns up on a sixteenth century map drawn up by the Italian explorer Giovanni da Verrazano.
Verrazano was sent on a mission by the French king Francis I who had watched Spain and Portugal hog the New World for a while and was now determined to tear a chunk off for himself.
The Italian was commissioned to explore the north American coastline and if possible, find a way through to the wide ocean that lay beyond, the Pacific.
Nobody had any idea how wide and vast north America was at this stage. Verrazano stalked the coast from the Carolinas upwards mooring at what would eventually become New York and mistaking the Hudson estuary for a lake. Well, give him a break – Florida was believed to be an island by Spanish explorers early on – easy mistake.
He sailed on to Narragansett Bay near Long Island and met some of the native Americans. This is where people get very excited because on his map there is a place described as “Norman Villa”. Aha! So, there was a Norman villa there – say the supporters of the Templar theory.
Hmmm…there’s another way of looking at this. Like all explorers working for a particular monarch, they went round naming places after towns back home. It was like leaving your scent behind – or more accurately, staking a claim for the motherland. So New York was named Angouleme after a town in France. When the Dutch came later, it would be called New Amsterdam. When the English booted them out, it would be renamed New York.
“Ville” is a town. Plenty of “villes” in France if you look at a map. Normandy is part of France. You get where I am going? I think Verrazano was just littering the coastline with French place names.
Look at a map of Africa from the same time and you’ll see the Portuguese coated the coast from Morocco round to Ethiopia with the names of Portuguese towns and villages – even if they hadn’t occupied all these place names with actual people.
So I’m afraid I’m with this guy here who says bunkum. Convince me otherwise.