Mythical Isles of Demons on the Blaeu map of 1617

Isles of Demons

The Isles of Demons (generally portrayed as two islands), is a legendary land once believed to exist around Newfoundland. It began appearing on maps in the beginning of the 16th century, and disappeared in the mid-17th century. It was believed that the land was populated by demons and wild beasts. Strange noises could be heard as ships passed, and the demons and wild beasts would torment and attack ships or anyone that was foolish enough to wander onto the island. It first appears in the 1508 map of Johannes Ruysch, and became more widely known when it appeared on maps by Mercator and Ortelius in the 1560's and 1570's. It may simply be the relocated version of the older legendary island of Satanazes ("Devils" in Portuguese), that was normally depicted in 15th-century maps in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, just north of Antillia. With the Atlantic Ocean better mapped with the trans-oceanic voyages of the 1490s, Ruysch may simply have transplanted old Satanazes to a more suitable location.