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The Voyage of Verrazzano

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  • The Voyage of Verrazzano

    In 1524, the Italian Giovanni da Verrazzano, sailing for the King of France,  explored the eastern seaboard of North America from Cape Hatteras northward. His voyage included a two week stay in Narragansett Bay, an estuary he named Refugio. This is a letter Verrazzanno wrote to the King describing his voyage of discovery. In describing the natives he encountered bordering Narragansett Bay(Refugio), his description of a "Two Kings" system of rulership matches Narragansett practice of an elder and younger sachem. Although the notes herein suggest an island described by Verrazzano just offshore of Refugio is not matched perfectly by any island in the vicinity, in fact Block Island is triangular shaped and there is little dispute Block Island matches what Verrazzano described. I've never seen that identification in dispute before.
    The Narragansett:
    "These people are the most beautiful and have the most civil customs that we have found on this voyage. They are taller than we are; they are a bronze color, some tending more toward whiteness, others to a tawny color; the face is clear-cut; the hair is long and black, and they take great pains to decorate it; the eyes are black and alert, and their manner is sweet and gentle, very like the manner of the ancients."
    Rhode Island