sabato 24 settembre 2016

Jean Fontenaud (1482-1557) chiamato Giovanni o Jean Alphonse Alfons (Saintonge 1482 - La Rochelle, 1557) Explorer

Jean Alfonse

Jean Fontenaud (1482-1557) chiamato Giovanni o Jean Alphonse Alfons (Saintonge 1482 - La Rochelle, 1557) è stato uno dei primi esploratori francesi in Nord America.

Representació imaginària del navegant Jean Alfonse

 Jean Fontenaud (1482-1557) anomenat Joan Alfonso o Jean Alfonse (Saintonge, 1482 - La Rochelle, 1557) fou un dels primers exploradors francesos d'Amèrica del Nord.

Biografia

Nascut com a Jean Fonteneau, es va casar amb una portuguesa anomenada Victorine Alfonso o Victorina Alfonso, d'on pren el sobrenom "Alfonse". Als 12 anys es va enrolar en vaixells mercants portuguesos. Va viatjar fins a l'Àfrica occidental, el Brasil, va doblar el cap de Bona Esperança, va desembarcar a Madagascar i a l'Índia. A partir de la dècada de 1540, ja com a reputat capità, va encapçalar flotes fins a Costa d'Or o les Índies Occidentals, sense perdre mai cap vaixell. André Thevet esmenta una conversa en la qual Alfonso descriu haver saquejat Puerto Rico com a corsari. Durant molt de temps es va creure que Xenomanes, l'heroi de Rabelais, tingué com a model a Alfonse.
Durant l'hivern de 1542 a 1543, Alfonse serví com a pilot de Jean-François de La Rocque de Roberval, que seguint les petjades de Jacques Cartier tenia esperances de fundar una colònia al Canadà. La tripulació, formada per més de 200 persones, va passar un dur hivern a la vora del riu Sant Llorenç. Allà, delmats per l'escorbut, una quarta part de la mateixa va morir abans de tornar cap a França.
A finals de 1544, una vegada finalitzades les hostilitats entre França i Espanya, Alfonse va sortir de la Rochelle amb una petita flota a la recerca del pas del Nord-oest a través del riu Sant Llorenç. El 1557, una esquadra espanyola comandada per Pedro Menéndez de Avilés l'ataca quan estava tornant a La Rochelle, enfonsant el seu vaixell i provocant-li la mort. Algunes fonts afirmen que aquesta trobada tingué lloc el 1544 o el 1549.
Els seus escrits van ser publicats com Les voyages du Capitaine avantureux Ian Alfonce (1559), Le Routier (1600) i La Cosmographie avec l’espère et régime du soleil du nord par Jean Fonteneau dit Alfonse de Saintonge, capitaine-pilote de François Ier (1904). En ells s'hi descriuen els diversos indrets i pobles que havia visitat, alguns d'ells per primera vegada, com ara Gaspé, Beothuk, l'illa Saint-Pierre... i proporciona instruccions de navegació sobre com arribar-hi.

 
World Map of Nicolas Desliens, c. 1566. João Afonso`s writings and Cosmographies (also based on his previous voyages to the East and the West) inspired and helped the Dieppe School in France

 Jean Fonteneau, dit Alfonse de Saintonge (also spelled Jean Allefonsce) or João Afonso in Portuguese (also spelled João Alfonso) (born c. 1484 in Portugal - died December 1544 or 1549 off La Rochelle) was a Portuguese navigator,  explorer and corsair, prominent in the European age of discovery. He had an early career in Portugal and later served the King of France.

Born João Afonso and later known in France as Jean Fonteneau or Alfonse of Saintonge, he married a woman named Victorine Alfonse (Victorina Alfonso). Taking to the sea at age 12, he joined the Portuguese India Armadas and the Portuguese commercial fleets as they sailed past the seven seas to the coasts of Brasil, Western Africa, and around the Cape to Madagascar and Asia. His writings talk of days lasting three months, and of a vast southern continent, the Terra Australis, and the Jave la Grande, which he claims to have seen south of Southeast Asia, possibly suggesting he had approached the Arctic (by North America), Australia, and Antarctica.
Before or around 1530, for some reasons, he moved to France putting himself at the service of Francis I. The correspondence of diplomatic agents of the king of Portugal in France, in the first half of the century, tried to clarify the causes of this change of allegiance. Gaspar Palha, a Portuguese diplomat in Paris in 1531, having met a man from La Rochelle to whom he requested information concerning the pilot Jean Alfonse, wrote that he had been exiled because, when he was lost near the coast of Brittany hit by a storm, he had been involved in a quarrel (according to what was reported, with his own oldest son) that resulted in the death of his son or some man aboard; and that consequently he had been exiled and did not dare to appear in public, but it is a report by indirect testimony, and there may have been other non-criminal reasons for the exile. However, it appears that it was to escape the Portuguese Justice for some reason. Jean Alfonse left the country, later in the company of his wife and his sons. In 1531, John III attempted to repatriate the defector pilot because of his high qualifications and for his vast and possible classified knowledge. The king himself corresponded directly with Afonso, sending letters of pardon by his ambassadors and representatives and later exchanging letters with him in this attempt.
By the 1540s, he was a renowned pilot, leading fleets to Africa and the Caribbean and reputed to have never lost a ship. André Thévet mentions a conversation where Alfonse described looting Puerto Rico as a corsair. It was long thought that the Rabelaisian hero Xenomanes was based on Alfonse.
In 1542-43, Alfonse piloted Jean-François de la Roque de Roberval's attempt to colonize Canada on the heels of Jacques Cartier's third voyage there. Alfonse established that one could sail through a passage between Greenland and Labrador.[citation needed] The crew of 200, including prisoners and a few women, spent a harsh winter on the shores of the St. Lawrence River, hit by scurvy and losing a quarter of the colonists before sailing back to France. During this trip, Alfonse described a land he called Norombega.

n late 1544, Alfonse left La Rochelle with a small fleet and disrupted Basque shipping, while the treaty of Crépy had just been signed between France and Spain. A Spanish fleet led by Pedro Menéndez de Avilés caught up to him as he was getting back to La Rochelle and killed him at sea. Some sources say this fatal encounter occurred in 1549.

His writings were published as Les voyages avantureux du Capitaine Ian Alfonce (1559), the Rutter of Jean Alphonse (1600) and La cosmographie avec l’espère et régime du soleil du nord par Jean Fonteneau dit Alfonse de Saintonge, capitaine-pilote de François Ier (1904). In them he describes the various places and peoples he and others have seen, many of them for the first time in print (such as Gaspé, the Beothuk, Saint-Pierre Island, the jewels of Madagascar, a continent south of Java) and provides navigational instructions on how to get there.

 The Dauphin Map of Canada, circa 1543, showing Cartier's discoveries and explorations. A region explored by the pilot Jean Alfonse in 1542-43

 Part of Abraham Ortelius atlas from 1570, showing "Norvmbega" among other more or less mythical names for various areas (as well as several phantom islands)

 Jave La Grande's east coast: from Nicholas Vallard's atlas, 1547. Copy held by the [http://nla.gov.au/nla.map-rm2393 National Library of Australia

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