In the 1960’s a map came to public attention purportedly made in the mid 1400’s. The map clearly shows a landmass to the south west of Greenland labeled “Vineland”. The map describes Vineland as having been visited by Europeans in the 11th century. This corresponds with the writings of Norse explorer Lief Ericson who started a small colony at L’Anse aux Meadows in North America in the area that Vineland is shown to be on the map.
The controversy surrounding the Vineland Map arises because it is the belief of historians that knowledge of Lief Ercison’s discovery of Vineland around 1000 was forgotten about by the 1400’s. and wasn’t believed to be truthful account until the discovery of the settlement at L’Anse aux Meadows in 1960.
Just prior to Lief Ercison’s expedition that discovered Vineland, it is said that Lief had converted Greenland to Christianity. At the time, the Norse leaders had been said to have given ultimatums to the leaders of outlying colonies to convert their colonies, or loose leadership. It has been rumored that Lief begrudgingly converted Greenland to Christianity.
If this is the case, it seems likely that he would then hide the knowledge, and location of a new colony in Vineland if his hope was to keep that colony pagan. It is also reasonable to assume that the Vatican would be interested in knowing where this remaining pagan colony is.
Considering books like the one the Vineland map was found in were all hand written in the mid 1400’s, and usually monks handwrote them, it seems likely that this book was something the Vatican was aware of. But would the Vatican still be trying to convert a 400 year old pagan settlement across the sea? Maybe not, but what would make them interested in the location of Vineland?
One theory to explain the Vatican’s interest in Vineland is that the Templar navy escaped to arrest in the 1300’s by fleeing to the Vineland settlement. The Templars had been charged with heresy by the Vatican, and would need a place not under church rule to escape to. When the Templar navy disappeared, so did the Templar treasure. At the time of their disappearance, the Templars where the richest organization in Europe, and some claim that their treasure even included looted artifacts from under the temple mount in Jerusalem. (Possibly even the Holy Grail, or the Arc of the Covenant). Finding the Templar treasure is something the Vatican would be very interested in.
Could it be that Christopher Columbus (an Italian who sailed under the funding of the Catholic monarchs of Spain), sailed to the new world 50 years after the Vineland map was supposedly created? Could Columbus have been searching for a southern route to Vineland? Taking the northern route would be unwise. It would take you past both Iceland, and Greenland, and give the Viking Settlements there the opportunity to warn Vineland of an approaching armada.
I think historians need to consider the possibility that Christopher Columbus was actually on a secret mission to find a southern route to the Vineland settlement to allow the Vatican to retrieve the Templar treasure, and artifacts brought back from the holy land by the Templars.