The origin of the name of the US State of California is disputed by scholars. It is known that to the right of the Indies there exists an island called California very near the terrestrial paradise; and peopled by black women among whom there was not a single man since they lived in the way of the Amazons. They had beautiful robust bodies, spirited courage and great strength. Their island was the most impregnable in the world with its cliffs and headlands and rocky coasts. Their weapons were all of gold…because in all the island there was no metal except gold. And there ruled over that island of California a queen of majestic proportions, more beautiful than all others, and in the very vigor of her womanhood…she was reputed the most beautiful of women; and it was she, O Californias!

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On Tuesday, Los Angeles becomes ground zero for Michael Jackson fans that want to pay their last respects. Some decry the influence of pop culture on Southern California. But pop culture gave California its name in the first place.

Blame it on a best seller. The year was Spanish writer Garci Rodriguez de Montalvo had just published the fifth in a series of blockbuster novels. This wonderous island east of the Indies possessing great wealth in precious metals and pearls was protected by tall, rocky cliffs and by its sole inhabitants: Amazon-like black women who were fierce, ardent and beautiful and who wore gold armor and rode wild beasts.

Felde: The popularity of the series endured. Two decades later, a Spanish expedition landed at the tip of what was thought to be an island. We know it as Baja. They called it California — and the name stuck. Lively and in-depth discussions of city news, politics, science, entertainment, the arts, and more. Reviews of the week's new movies, interviews with filmmakers, and discussion.

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The Island of California

Nobody today would mistake California for an island. It is firmly attached to the rest of mainland North America. Yet for centuries, off and on, California was shown on maps as an island. The origin of that misconception was Expeditions in and later seemed to indicate that this California was a peninsula, and at first it was thus shown on maps, including some by Mercator and Ortelius. However, the fictional accounts of Juan de Fuca, who claimed to have found a large opening in the western coast of North America, possibly the legendary Northwest Passage, were conflated with the older misconception of an insular California, and kept that cartographic persona on life support.


California: What’s In a Name?

This article will be permanently flagged as inappropriate and made unaccessible to everyone. Are you certain this article is inappropriate? Email Address:. The first known edition of this work was published in Seville in July But there was another edition published prior, possibly in Seville in , as the sixth book of the series, Florisando , appeared four months earlier, in April

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