Translated from the Venetian and introduced by Claire Judde de Larivière, member of the Scientific Committee of Via Querinissima.
In April 1431, the nef Querina, a Venetian ship, left Crete for Flanders with sixty-eight men on board. The voyage was to last ten months. Eighteen months later, only eleven terrified survivors returned to Venice.
We have two accounts, both complementary and divergent, of their appalling shipwreck on the edge of the Arctic Circle: one from Pietro Querini, the ship’s owner and captain, and the other from the sailors Cristoforo Fioravante and Nicolò de Michiel.
All recount how, driven by relentless storms in the middle of the Atlantic, after weeks of drifting on a disintegrating vessel that had to be abandoned for frail rowboats, they finally ran aground, in the heart of the boreal winter, on a deserted island in the Lofoten archipelago, north of Norway.
These accounts of the survivors reveal with rare force the universal fear of sinking into the abyss.
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