Antillia (or Antilia) is a legendary island which was reputed during the age of exploration to lie in the Atlantic Ocean far to the west of Portugal and Spain. The island went by various other names such as Isle of Seven Cities, Ilha das Sete Cidades (Portuguese), Septe Cidades, Sanbrandan (or St Brendan). Antillia was also connected at times with ancient legends including the Isles of the Blest and the Fortunate Islands.
The origin of the name is uncertain. A variant of the name, Atullia appeared on a 1367 chart by Franciscus Pizigano. Although difficult to read, it has been translated as "Here are statues which stand before the shores of Atullia (ante ripas Atulliae) and which have been set up for the safety of sailors; for beyond is the vile sea, which sailors cannot navigate." and a possible abbreviation mark over the 'A' was thought to suggest a better reading of Antullia. No island is mentioned and no island is shown on the chart.<ref name="Crone, G. R 1938 pp. 260-262">Crone, G. R. "The Origin of the Name Antillia" The Geographical Journal, Vol. 91, No. 3 (Mar., 1938), pp. 260-262</ref> A theory which first emerged in the late eighteenth century<ref>Vicenzio Formaleoni, "Essai sur la marine ancienne des Vénetiens", 1788</ref> fancifully connected it with Plato's Atlantis but this has been dismissed by academics. Later writers have favoured a derivation from the Portuguese ante-ilha (i.e. the island out before or the island in front of) <ref>William H. Babcock, Legendary Islands of the Atlantic, 1922 </ref>. Alexander von Humboldt suggested an Arabic etymology from Jezirat al Tennyn ("Al-Tin"), or "Dragon's Isle". Historians Samuel Morison and G.R. Crone suggested that the name may have derived from Getulia, the classical name for the north-western part of Africa<ref>quotation from Samuel Morison found in Diffie, Bailie Wallys; Winius, George Davison Foundations of the Portuguese empire, 1415-1580 University of Minnesota Press (25 Nov 1977) ISBN 978-0816607822 p.441 </ref>, and that the phrase on the 1367 chart actually read "ante ripas Getuliae" where in medieval times it was thought that there were islands where Hercules had set up columns warning that sailors had reached the boundaries of safe navigation, at the edge of the then known world.<ref name="Crone, G. R 1938 pp. 260-262" />
==Cartographical representation== Antillia is first marked in the Pizzigano Chart of 1424 together with its northerly companion Satanazes ("Devil's Island"). It appears in virtually all of the known surviving Portolan charts of the Atlantic; notably those of the Genoese B. Beccario or Beccaria (1435), the Venetian Andrea Bianco (1436) and Grazioso Benincasa (1476 and 1482).<ref>See also- Bartolomeo de Pareto, 1455; Petrus Roselli, 1468, held by the Hispanic Society of America; attr. Toscanelli, 1474: original is lost but a copy survives in Columbus's notes</ref>. It is usually accompanied by the smaller and equally legendary islands of Royllo, St Atanagio, and Tanmar, the whole group often classified as insulae de novo repertae, "newly discovered islands".
On these maps, Antillia was typically depicted on a similar scale as Portugal, lying around 200 miles west of the Azores. It was drawn as an almost perfect rectangle, its long axis running north-south, but with seven trefoil bays shared between the east and west coasts. Each city lay on a bay. The form of the island occasionally becomes more figurative than the semi-abstract representations of Bartolomeo de Pareto, Benincasa et al.; Bianco, for instance, shifts its orientation to north-west - south-east, transmutes generic bays into river mouths (including a large one on the north-eastern coast), and elongates a southern tail into a Cape with a small cluster of islets offshore.
Around the time of Spain's discovery of South America, Antillia dwindles substantially in size on Behaim's Globe and later charts. Contrary to the earlier descriptions of the two island groups as distinct entities, a 16th century notion relegates Antillia to the island of Sao Miguel, the largest of the Azores, where a national park centring on two lakes still bears the name Sete Cidades.
==Medieval beliefs and the Age of Discovery== A Portuguese legend tells how the island was settled in the early eighth century in the face of the Moorish conquest of Iberia by the Archbishop of Porto, six other bishops and their parishioners, to avoid the ensuing Moorish invasion. Each congregation founded a city, respectively Aira, Anhuib, Ansalli, Ansesseli, Ansodi, Ansolli and Con<ref>Pizzigano map, 1424</ref>, and once established burnt their caravell ships as a symbol of their autonomy. The reporting of this settlement comes courtesy of a young couple who eloped back to Europe on a rare trading ship<ref>For a modern recantation of the various early sources, see Tales of the Enchanted Islands of the Atlantic, Thomas Wentworth-Higginson, 1899.</ref> and reported the seven cities as a model of agricultural, economic and cultural harmony. Centuries later, the island became known as a proto-utopian commonwealth, free from the disorders of less favoured states.
It should be noted that since these events predated the Kingdom of Portugal and the clergy's heritage marked a claim to significant strategical gains, Spain counter claimed that the expedition was, in fact, theirs.<ref>Tales of the Enchanted Islands of the Atlantic, Thomas Wentworth-Higginson, 1989.</ref> One of the chief early descriptions of the heritage of Antillia is inscribed on the globe which the geographer Martin Behaim made at Nuremberg in 1492. Behaim relates the Catholic escape from the barbarians, though his date of 734 is probably a mistake for 714. The inscription adds that a Spanish vessel sighted the island in 1414, while a Portuguese crew claimed to have landed on Antillia in the 1430s.
With this legend underpinning growing reports of a bountiful civilisation mid-way between Europe and Cipangu, or Japan<ref>Paul Toscanelli's 1474 letter to the Spanish Court, 'Toscanelli and Columbus', H. Vignaud, 1902</ref>, the quest to discover the Seven Cities attracted significant attention. However, by the last decade of the 15th century the Portuguese state's official sponsorship of such exploratory voyages had ended<ref>RA Skelton, "Explorers' Maps: Chapters in the Cartographic Record of Geographical Discovery" http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=61480298</ref>, and in 1492, under the Spanish flag of Ferdinand and Isabella, Christopher Columbus set out on his historic journey to Asia, citing the island as the perfect halfway house by the authority of Paul Toscanelli<ref>Paul Toscanelli's 1474 letter to the Spanish Court, RA Skelton, "Explorers' Maps: Chapters in the Cartographic Record of Geographical Discovery"</ref>. Columbus had supposedly gained charts and descriptions from a Spanish navigator, who had "sojourned... and died also" at Columbus's home in Madeira, after having made landfall on Antillia.<ref>Peter Martyr d'Anghiera, De Orbe Novo, 1511-25 http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/12425</ref>
==Current beliefs and legacy== Others following d'Anghiera suggested contenders in the West Indies for Antillia's heritage (most often either Puerto Rico or Trinidad), and as a result the Caribbean islands became known as the Antilles. As European explorations continued in the Americas, maps reduce the scale of the island Antillia, tending to place it mid-atlantic, whereas the Seven Cities were attributed to mainland Central America, as the various European powers vied for territory in the New World. Sixteenth-century explorers such as de Vaca and de Coronado, inspired by the reported "Seven Cities of Cibola", conquered swathes of continental North America- far beyond the smaller Caribbean islands which Columbus first encountered.