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Madoc or Madog ab Owain Gwynedd was, according to folklore, a Welsh prince who sailed to America in 1170, over three hundred years before Christopher Columbus's voyage in 1492. According to the story, he was a son of Owain Gwynedd, who took to the sea to flee internecine violence at home. The "Madoc story" legend evidently evolved out of a medieval tradition about a Welsh hero's sea voyage, to which only allusions survive. However, it attained its greatest prominence during the Elizabethan era, when English and Welsh writers wrote of the claim that Madoc had come to the Americas as an assertion of prior discovery, and hence legal possession, of North America by the Kingdom of England. The "Madoc story" remained popular in later centuries, and a later development asserted that Madoc's voyagers had intermarried with local Native Americans, and that their Welsh-speaking descendants still live somewhere in America. These "Welsh Indians" were credited with the construction of a number of natural and man-made landmarks throughout the American Midwest, and a number of white travellers were inspired to go and look for them. The "Madoc story" has been the subject of much speculation in the context of possible pre-Columbian trans-oceanic contact. No historical or archaeological proof of such a man or his voyages has been found in the New or Old World; however speculation abounds connecting him with certain sites, such as Devil's Backbone, located on the Ohio River at Fourteen Mile Creek near Louisville, Kentucky.
The Nuttall Encyclopedia
a Welshman who, according to Welsh tradition, discovered America 300 years before Columbus, after staying in which for a time he returned, gave an account of what he had seen and experienced, and went back, but was never heard of more; his story has been amplified by Southey in an epic.
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