Eugene Beauvois's Very Bad Case for Ancient Irish Evangelizers in Precolumbian Mexico
Over at the A Hot Cup of Joe, Carl Feagans has a thoughtful analysis of the disturbing implications of recent social media postings from Xplrr Media about “200” skulls in Peru that are most likely deformed due to ritual head binding and which Feagans says seem to have been found in an area looted by grave robbers. (The woman who found the skull says she works with an archaeologist, but that archaeologist is a member of UFO groups.) Xplrr Media said that the skulls are a “DNA game changer.” Xplrr’s owners said they are working on “access” to the remains to “test” the DNA of the deformed skulls. Why test their DNA? Who knows? The most common reasons to do so for fringe historians like Lloyd Pye, L. A. Marzulli, and Brien Foerster are to look for (a) aliens, (b) Nephilim, or (c) a lost white race respectively. The continuing quest for an Old World (or even out of this world) origin for New World civilizations brings me to my topic for today.
A couple of weeks ago I presented a translation of the French academic journal article that introduced the idea that the Knights Templar had voyaged across the Atlantic and set up shop in the Americas. This article, written by the French diffusionist writer Eugène Beauvois in 1902, was a sequel to an earlier piece, “Traces d'influence Européenne dans les langues, les sciences et l'industrie précolumbienne du Mexique et de l’Amérique centrale” (“Traces of European Influence in the Languages, Science, and Industry of Mexico and Central America”), which the author had published in 1897. I’m happy to share the translation I have recently completed of this journal article. While it was not as original in content as its successor, it does contain certain formulations of the “White people ruled ancient America” myth that are familiar from fringe history accounts today.
Beauvois’s arguments are instantly familiar to any fan of diffusionism: He points to the existence of “white” gods in Mexican mythology, whom he identifies as Celts from Ireland. He speaks of the supposed similarities between Mexican religious rituals and Christianity, and he makes tortured connections between Nahuatl words and words in Latin, Gaelic, and other European tongues. He argues that the Mexicans were unable to develop the arts of civilization until white Europeans delivered them. (Here he focuses on medieval Irishmen, but he suspects ancient Old World peoples, too.) None of his claims has a scrap of evidence behind it, and most are almost laughably naïve, both in the faith the author places in his own ingenuity and in the objectivity of the Spanish missionaries whose Biblically biased reports strained to find any hint of Christianity that they could use to justify conversion and conquest.
But what’s worse is that Beauvois also accepts the Zeno Narrative and the Zeno Map as genuine medieval survivals. These documents, composed in the 1550s by Niccolò Zeno, a young Venetian nobleman, as a hoax designed to give Venice claim to priority over the Genoese Columbus in terms of exploring the New World, had long been suspected of being a hoax when Beauvois wrote. The text had recently undergone a bit of a renaissance of acceptance due to Richard Henry Major’s 1875 translation and lengthy argument for its authenticity, but the number of scholars rejecting the Zeno Narrative had grown over the two decades that followed, culminating in Fred W. Lucas’s definitive debunking in 1892, in a volume Beauvois would not have seen because it was published in too limited an edition.
Beauvois also shares with modern fringe writers a penchant for mistranslation and misrepresentation. At one point, to try to claim that white people brought the Bible and monastic texts to Mexico, he quotes Domingo Muñoz Camargo’s Historia de Tlaxcala 2.3 to the effect that an ancient myth said that the visitors were “white, bearded, and governed by small books.” He got that from an 1843 French translation by Henri Ternaux-Compans and used it even though he knew full well that the Spanish original said that they were white, bearded, and “had helmets on their heads as symbols of their governing power.” He even quoted this in his notes, but implied that he blamed the editor of the Spanish text for omitting his preferred reading! That editor, Alfredo Chavero, wrote (en español) that Ternaux-Compans “published a paraphrased translation. The translation was bad, and copies of it are quite rare.” Beauvois, who quotes from this volume, could not fail to know this.
Where Beauvois attempts his own translations from Spanish or Latin, the results are underwhelming. He clearly had enough facility with both languages to translate almost correctly, but he had a tendency to omit words and phrases at will, and when he wasn’t sure, he seemed to make things up. In one laughable instance, in translating Diego Duran’s Historia 52, it seems that he mistook the typesetter’s use of a hyphen to divide a polysyllabic word in breaking it to fit on two lines for a hyphenated compound. This wouldn’t be a huge deal except that he was also ignorant of Duran’s Portuguese-inflected archaic Spanish, so he misread that word--dobleses—as “doble-ses,” a nonsense phrase made up of the word “double” and a non-existent reflexive pronoun, instead of as dobleces, “folds.” He might also have misread the word as dobles or “doubles” due to the hyphen. (To confirm this, I checked the modern Spanish critical commentaries to confirm that dobleces is the correct modern reading.) It’s a small but telling error.
But the technical errors pale in comparison to the stunning admission that Beauvois makes in the course of the article. At one point, he notes that readers might be hard-pressed to decide whether the white colonizers were really Irishmen or Scandinavians, and he concedes that it can be quite difficult to distinguish between the influence of the two groups once one starts attributing every aspect of Mexican civilization to medieval Europeans. It didn’t really matter, he said. Dans l’une ou l’autre alternative, la source sera toujours européene—“With either alternative, the source will always be European.”
I give him points for honesty. Beauvois was a Eurocentric racist, and he was proud of it. His “it’s always European” claim is only one step above the satirical version of an ancient astronaut theorist’s refrain that the answer is always “aliens.” For Beauvois “European” was an answer in search of a question.
9/5/2016 10:31:00 am
>>introduced the idea that the Knights Templar had voyaged across the Atlantic and set up shop in the Americas
9/5/2016 10:34:24 am
Beauvois material is listed in fringe writer's bibliographies only to be discounted - so they can endorse the claim relating to Prince Henry Sinclair.
9/5/2016 10:36:43 am
It doesn't matter whether they agree with earlier versions for that earlier version to have been the first to suggest such a thing.
9/5/2016 10:41:26 am
Yes, Beauvois can be used as the earliest known example of Templars discovering America, that in itself can be used to marginalise the claims of the fringe Rosslyn movements.
9/5/2016 10:34:50 am
Ideas have to come from somewhere. Andrew Sinclair helped marry the Templar claims to Prince Henry Sinclair, and he was drawing on European fringe literature about the Templars that was inspired, indirectly, by Beauvois.
9/5/2016 10:38:48 am
It would be great to know if the likes of Pohl were influenced by Beauvois, but it looks very much like these people were using the claims of Johan Reinhold Forster
9/5/2016 10:48:15 am
It's only the fringe Rosslyn pundits that promote the Sinclair Templar claims, and mostly Scottish people. And this element has virtually disappeared now in a puff of smoke. It only lasted for as long as The Da Vinci Code was in vogue. It relied entirely upon that aspect.
9/6/2016 11:07:12 am
Hi Jason -
An Over-Educated Grunt
9/6/2016 12:48:03 pm
"Not all ideas have to come from somewhere - sometimes they come from somewhere!"
9/7/2016 10:04:03 am
Hi OG -
9/5/2016 10:51:33 am
An actual Irishman, Juan Galindo, thought no such thing when he explored the ruins of Copan and other Mesoamerican sites in the 1830's.
9/5/2016 10:56:08 am
There is a claim that the Irish discovered America.
9/5/2016 10:59:56 am
9/5/2016 12:13:49 pm
It's certainly not unique to Beauvois. He was recycling old claims.
9/5/2016 01:22:42 pm
I can't take anything Xplrr-related with any seriousness; *everything's* a "game-changer" or "smoking gun". I just see two turds who want the prestige of academics while constantly talking shit about academics to promote their nonsense.
9/5/2016 01:48:22 pm
I wonder if reading the news reports of the vicious Knights Templar cartel has reawoken the time worn and fuzzy association of a medieval religious order and Mexico in the minds of the fringers?
9/5/2016 03:12:57 pm
For a minute I assumed his named was Beavis, as is Beavis and Butt-Head, and that the hyphen in that last name was some kind of mystery, like is his head a butt, or does he like to butt heads, or what.
9/5/2016 04:26:36 pm
So, what JHP learned from the whole "Giant Ruckus" is that it is OK to desecrate human remains as long as someone else despoils the grave site?!
9/6/2016 03:57:34 pm
All you really need to know about JHP you can learn from his comments on Andy Whites blog. It's bad enough he makes false statements, he posts under the names of other commenters and pretends he doesn't understand why that's a problem.
9/5/2016 04:50:48 pm
Good for a chuckle...
9/5/2016 08:25:55 pm
Once again, a European culture journeys half way around the world to discover a new world, then returns home and forgets to record the journey and discovery... or even tell anyone about it. And these diffusionists thought the "savages" were stupid?
9/6/2016 02:53:18 pm
Clearly ameranthropoides loysi is the degenerated spawn of the Templars.
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I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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