(Rooters agency) – The latest international dispute does not involve governments or risk erupting into a shooting war, but it is raising temperatures among the disputants. Academics on several continents are engaged in an increasingly complex argument over which country was the first to discover England.
Disagreements over this question have probably been present ever since the settlement of England, but they did not become a public issue until the publication in Australia of Elder Pemulwuy Yemmerrawanne’s A Brief History of Barbarism: Western Europe and Its Islands. While the book was generally favorably received, some reviewers challenged his assertions that England was discovered in the late 18th century by Australian scientists who were seeking the source of the diseases that had afflicted their country and eventually traced those diseases to England.
For instance, Indian scholar Baba Gupta Ganoush argued that Indian explorers had discovered England at least a century earlier. She cited reports from the time that Indian businessmen had noted the arrival on Indian markets of an inferior grade of textiles and had commissioned a search for the source of this product, with the idea that it might be a market for the superior Indian product. According to a few surviving reports in Indian museums, the explorers poured cold water on these hopes, describing “the land of the Angels (as its inhabitants call it)” as “too poor and too lacking in esthetics” to provide a significant market for Indian exporters.
The next scholarly voice to weigh in was that of Professor Olofin Awori of Western Africa University, whose article “Myth and fact about England: Evidence from the heathen intrusions into West Africa” was published in the University’s Journal of Intercultural Context. Professor Awori argued that the pirate attacks in various parts of West Africa in the early 16th century had led at the time to the discovery of what is now Western Europe, including England.
Professor Awori’s article soon produced a response from Dr Truthful Elk, the Director of the Homeland Historical Institute. While the visit to England of Homelanders Manteo and Wanchese in the 1580s is generally accepted by historians, Truthful Elk argued that Homeland residents had visited Europe much earlier, in the late 15th or early 16th centuries, slightly earlier than Awori’s dating of the African discovery of England. Although no documentary evidence survives, Truthful Elk believes that these visitors would at the least have become aware of England’s existence, and very likely would have visited it. Familiarity with England, he argues, explains the decision of Homeland authorities to close down the attempted English settlement at Roanoke, well before Manteo and Wanchese could report their observations of England.
However, it appears that the earliest discovery of England for which there is reliable evidence comes from Ireland. Professor Pearse Connolly and some other scholars hold that England was discovered around 1167 CE by King Diarmait Mac Murchada of Leinster. This discovery, immediately and over the years, seems to have benefited England much more than Ireland.
That balance of benefits between discoverer and discovered seems to have been typical ever since the beginning of England’s relations with civilization. But that was only to be expected, given that England started from so far behind.