Related Research (European history)
Since writing the original Lombard Origins, two details emerged that corroborate the assertion that Lombards first appeared in European history on the northwestern coast of Gaul/France. Both of those details are found on the following map, depicting Julius Caesar's 56 BC battle on the northwestern coast of Gaul in the Atlantic.
These details relate to the Chronicon Gothanum, an early account about the Lombards. In this account, it recorded that the Lombards' earliest foothold in Europe was near the rivers Vindilicus and Ligurius. Let's examine that more closely.
First, the map offers the interesting detail about the main island just southwest of the battle, an island that is notably called Vindilis. The Chronicon Gothanum recorded that the Winnili (early Lombards) first dwelt near a river called Vindilicus "on the extreme boundary of Gaul." It would appear that this river Vindilicus was one of the rivers in northwestern Gaul near Vindilis Island. This is the region south of what we now call Brittany, where Caesar reported that the fierce Venelli (Winnili?) tribe was based.
The second thing of importance on this map is the name of the river from which the Roman fleet embarked for this battle: the Liger. (This was an early name for what we now call the Loire River.) This matches the Ligurius river mentioned in the Chronicon Gothanum as the Lombard's earliest foothold in Europe.
Thus the Atlantic seaboard northwestern Gaul/France is the likely landfall of the earliest Lombards, and the Venelli/Winnili (Lombards) may well have taken part in that early 56 BC sea battle.
(Click on the map to zoom in.)
This also brings up the issue...who were the Veneti? Whoever they may really have been, it would appear from the name given to them by the Romans that Caesar feared (or wanted Rome to fear) they may have been a remnant of the much-hated seafaring Phoenicians/Carthiginians. (Phoenicia=Veneti). Comparing Caesar's account with parallel passages in the Lombard accounts, the Veneti and the Venelli were either allies, as Caesar suggests, or were one and the same people.
More importantly, these Venelli/Winilli arriving from a largely-populated island suggest an origin either in the British Isles, or further west.
Accounts in the British Isles and elsewhere suggest an origin further west.
The initial reasoning is that Lombards, the English, and part of the Viking community claimed a common origin, through an ancestral ruler named Scef (or Sheaf), a person mentioned repeatedly in early narratives and genealogies. Even more renowned was his descendant Scyld (or Skjold or Shield) said to have made landfall in Europe as a young seafaring lad. Scyld was not just some idle story. Tolkien, an expert in early texts from northern Europe, explained that there was more evidence for the existence of the mostly-forgotten Scyld than there was for the more-famous King Arthur. One of the most important accounts from Scyld, the epic poem Beowulf, tells that for Scyld's burial, in accordance with his dying wish, his people pushed his body out to sea in a ship, to be able to sail back to the unknown land from whence he came. It was a vivid account recorded and retold for generations in England.
Where such a land across the ocean lay may well have been answered by Viking explorers, responding to ancestral legends of a homeland westward. For when Vikings made landfall in the New World, they happened to dub it Viniland and Vinland. (Historians are in disagreement as to what the name signifies, as are the early sagas.) However, by granting the Americas such a name, they may well have been acknowledging that, as descendants of the Venelli/Winnili, they had returned west to Winili-land, the land of their ancestors.
Such were the historically-based legends that Columbus later gathered in Italy, the British Isles, and even Iceland, home of the Vinland Sagas. These accounts strengthened Columbus' conviction that land would be found westward, across the Atlantic.
Based on this, oddly enough, many Europeans may therefore trace their heritage to ancient Vinland, homeland of Scef...a reality suggested by several maps generated long before Columbus, and by numerous north-European origin accounts.
Copyright John D. Nelson, 2008
JohnDavidNelson2 at gmail.com