"Markland" was the name given by Leif Erikson to part of North America north of Vinland (presumably the Labrador coast of present-day Canada). The Viking discovery of North America around 1000 A.D. is well documented; what has not been known is the extent to which this information may have circulated beyond Scandinavia.
Now the diffusion of that geographic knowledge to mainland Europe has been confirmed, by the discovery and translation of a manuscript written by a Dominican friar in Milan in the mid-fourteenth century.
Here is the abstract from a fascinating longread at Terrae Incognitae:
The Cronica universalis written by the Milanese friar Galvaneus Flamma (it. Galvano Fiamma, d. c. 1345) contains an astonishing reference to a terra que dicitur Marckalada, situated west from Greenland. This land is recognizable as the Markland mentioned by some Icelandic sources and identified by scholars as some part of the Atlantic coast of North America. Galvaneus’s reference, probably derived by oral sources heard in Genoa, is the first mention of the American continent in the Mediterranean region, and gives evidence of the circulation (out of the Nordic area and 150 years before Columbus) of narratives about lands beyond Greenland. This article provides a transcription of the passage, explains its context in the Cronica universalis, compares it to the other (Nordic) references of Markland, and discusses the possible origin of Galvaneus’s mention of Markland in light of Galvaneus’s biography and working method.
And selected excerpts from the article:
Galvaneus was a Dominican friar who lived in Milan and was connected to the Visconti family, which held at the time the lordship of the city... The Cronica universalis is thought to be one of his later works, perhaps the last one, and was left unfinished and unperfected; the approximate date is 1339–1345...The work, written in Latin, is still unpublished; an edition is planned, in the context of a scholarly and educational program promoted by the University of Milan. It is preserved in a single manuscript held by a private owner, who kindly gave permission to photograph it. The manuscript was written in Milan at the very end of the fourteenth century... His sources are both scholarly treatises, such as Isidorus and Solinus, and recent accounts of travelers, such as Marco Polo and Odoric of Pordenone... Here is the text, with an English translation; I preserve some underlining of sources, visible in the manuscript. In italics are the most relevant passages, which we are going to discuss:Sailors who frequent the seas of Denmark and Norway say that northwards, beyond Norway, there is Iceland; further ahead there is an island named Grolandia, where the Polar Star remains behind you, toward the south. The governor of this island is a bishop. In this land, there is neither wheat nor wine nor fruit; people live on milk, meat, and fish. They dwell in subterranean houses and do not venture to speak loudly or to make any noise, for fear that wild animals hear and devour them. There live huge white bears, which swim in the sea and bring shipwrecked sailors to the shore. There live white falcons capable of great flights, which are sent to the emperor of Katai. Further westwards there is another land, named Marckalada, where giants live; in this land, there are buildings with such huge slabs of stone that nobody could build with them, except huge giants. There are also green trees, animals and a great quantity of birds. However, no sailor was ever able to know anything for sure about this land or about its features.
Lots of discussion at the source article, for those with an interest in history.
The lands called Yslandia and Grolandia do not pose problems of identification, since they are easily recognizable as Iceland and Greenland. Concerning the terra que dicitur Marckalada—not specifically defined insula, as Galvaneus does for Greenland...All these scant sources are Icelandic; no mention of the name Markland has ever been reported outside of the Nordic area. Scholars agree in identifying Markland, as with Vinland and Helluland, as some part of the Atlantic coast of North America, where Icelanders and Greenlanders made explorations and marginal settlements, as is demonstrated by archeological evidence. Markland is usually assumed to be Labrador or Newfoundland, Helluland Baffin Island or Labrador, Vinland Newfoundland or some southern seaside.36 This is obviously a matter for specialists, and we do not dare to enter the field...What makes the passage exceptional is its geographical provenance: not the Nordic area, as in the case of the other mentions, but northern Italy. We are in the presence of the first reference to the American continent, albeit in an embryonic form, in the Mediterranean area...The giants who are said to inhabit Marckalada are common in Old Norse epic traditions, although they are usually reported to live north-eastward (and not westward); an exception is the Bárðar saga Snæfellsáss, which sets giant people in Helluland...Therefore, we are allowed to trust Galvaneus when he says that his knowledge comes from an oral report (dicunt): had he had some written source at his disposal, he would have most likely declared it (as he does customarily), in order to gain a stronger authority. Compatible with oral sources is also the conflation of elements drawn from various stories, legendary or real, belonging to previous traditions on different lands, blended together and reassigned to a specific place. Moreover, Galvaneus identifies his source as seafarers: marinarii qui conversantur in mari Datie et Norvegye, and I do not see any reason to disbelieve him...Where might Galvaneus have heard, directly or indirectly, about sailors’s experience? He lived in Milan, an inland city, not exactly a customary destination for seafarers. Our assumption is that he is reporting firsthand or secondhand information coming from Genoa, the closest seaport to Milan...The news reported by Galvaneus about Marckalada/Markland, just like those about the less evanescent Greenland, remain isolated, and there is no trace of an early reception either in Latin geographical treatises or in the Mediterranean cartography...Despite its isolated position, and regardless of the assumptions that can be made about its provenance, Galvaneus’s narrative bears witness to the circulation of geographic knowledge between the Nordic and the Mediterranean world in the first half of the fourteenth century. Furthermore, it brings unprecedented evidence to the speculation that news about the American continent, derived from Nordic sources, circulated in Italy one and half centuries before Columbus.