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By Morten St. George

The Fraternity of the Rose Cross may have been the most secret of any secret society there ever was. It was not a secret society that restricted membership to the usual categories, such as rich people or nobility. This secret society was comprised exclusively of intellectual giants whose shared objective was to change the world for the better. To change the world, however, you must interact with it, and when you interact with the world, it is inevitable -- despite your best efforts to maintain secrecy -- that you leave telltale signs of your presence.

It is therefore possible to accumulate the bits and pieces of evidence and try to reconstruct the secret history of the Rosicrucians. Nonetheless, please keep in mind that this alternative history is especially speculative in nature.


He is the first authenticated discover of Australia, spotting the southern continent in late 1605 and making landfall in 1606. It was reported that he grew up as an orphan in Amsterdam but Wikipedia rejects this notion and proclaims: "Nothing is known of Willem Janszoon's early life."

Willem Janszoon is not a unique name. Living in the same time frame as Willem Janszoon (c. 1570 – 1630) the discoverer of Australia, we find Willem Janszoon (1571-1621), a famous cartographer. Whereas we know a bit about the cartographer's birthplace, parents, and early life, there is no historical record of the explorer until 1598.

It was not unusual for the Rosicrucians to adopt the names of living persons to cause confusion and provide better security. For example, John Florio adopted the name of William Shakespeare, a living businessman, and Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa adopted the name of Lope de Vega, a living -- and quite famous -- writer in Spain. It therefore seems plausible that "Willem Janszoon" was a fictitious name adopted by the discoverer of Australia.

Unlike Florio and Gamboa, however, the young Janszoon appears to have had no need to adopt an alias. Consistent with conjuring up an "orphan" to sidetrack the issue, this young man likely adopted the Janszoon name not to protect himself but his father. Due to age and other circumstances, there was only one Rosicrucian who could have had a son born around 1570. His name was Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa.

John Florio is believed to have had indirect contact with William Shakespeare, and it also seems likely that Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa, when working as an editor of poetry in Spain, had contact with Lope de Vega. When and where did Willem Janszoon the explorer have contact with Willem Janszoon the cartographer?


Tycho Brahe (1546-1601) was a distinguished Danish astronomer of the same epoch. Towards the end of his life, he was assisted by Johannes Kepler who became a very famous astronomer. Brahe was known for his observations of the night sky.

Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa (a type of Leonardo da Vinci due to his talents in many diverse fields) was also an astronomer who made observations of the night sky. It seems plausible that there should have been some type of contact or communication between Gamboa and Brahe.

Here's the point: Between 1594 and 1596, Willem Janszoon the cartographer was a student of Tyro Brahe. Consequently, Willem Janszoon the explorer may have also been a student of Brahe during the same time. This is consistent with the fact that the earliest historical record of Willem Janszoon the explorer dates from shortly thereafter (1598).


Joseph Scaliger (1540 - 1609) was a noted French philologist of this epoch. In 1593, he became resident scholar at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands, a position he held until his death. And there was contact with the University's library: a portrait of Scaliger was painted by the librarian.

Wikimedia: Joseph Justus Scaliger

Prior to settling in the Netherlands, Scaliger visited England. In a letter published in 1590, Gamboa refers to the lost Chronicle of Eusebius, a book that Scaliger began to reconstruct in his youth but did not print until 1606. Hence, it seems likely that there was direct contact between Gamboa and Scaliger. Indeed, Scaliger may have assisted the Rosicrucians on the redaction of their French-language publications.

The first -- and mostly fictional -- biography of Michel de Nostredame, published in France in 1594, refers to the Italian scholar Julius Caesar Scaliger (Giulio Cesare della Scala), Joseph's father, reinforcing suspicions that Joseph played a role in the publication of Nostradamus.

In 1785, the manuscript of Gamboa's History of the Incas (stolen from the King of Spain in the late 16th century) was sold out of the estate of the librarian of the University of Leiden, and one can surmise that this manuscript was secretly guarded in that library for nearly two hundred years.

The Pilgrims were based in Leiden, and there is reason to believe that Gamboa's fantastic tales about Atlantis -- linking it to the Bible -- inspired their decision to migrate to America, but that topic is beyond the scope of this article.

In an earlier letter (published 1589), Gamboa refers to his son by the name of Caesar. In his History of the Incas, Gamboa employs only two lines of pure Latin:

Nocte pluit tota, redeunt spectacula mane,
Divisum imperium cum Jove Caesar habet.

Once again we find the name "Caesar." Chances are high that the real first name of Willem Janszoon was Caesar, and Caesar may have studied under Scaliger at the University of Leiden.


Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa, as a Protestant Rosicrucian with powerful contacts, would have some influence in the Netherlands. Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa, as an admiral in the Spanish navy, would also have had some influence in the Netherlands because the Netherlands was then part of the Spanish empire under King Philip II. Either way, being the son of Gamboa could have helped the young Janszoon become a ship's captain in the merchant marine and later a regional governor in the Dutch East Indies, positions that normally would be difficult for an Amsterdam orphan to achieve.


One source says that Janszoon witnessed the fire ship attack from the coast, but the VOC Historical Society of Perth, Australia, writes: "In 1588, whilst on duty in the English Channel, young Janszoon and his fellow shipmates witnessed the destruction of the great Spanish Armada by the English navy." Even the merchant marine kept records, and with no historical record of Janszoon until 1598, the only realistic way he could have witnessed the fire ship attack was from on board an English warship. Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa, who a few years earlier was a Spanish fleet commander assigned to hunt down Sir Francis Drake on the open seas, is believed to have switched sides, now using his enormous knowledge of Spanish naval warfare to assist Drake -- vice admiral of the fleet -- in battle against the Armada including the fire ship attack. In other words, Gamboa and son may have very well been on board Drake's ship.

When back in Spain a few years later, Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa found himself in a rather ironic situation: King Philip II made him an admiral and placed him in charge of a new fleet of Spanish warships. Gamboa quickly got out of this predicament by pretending to die.


Surprisingly, Rosicrucian literature strongly contests the notion that Australia was discovered by Willem Janszoon. A novel about efforts to establish a Rosicrucian utopia in Australia, dated 1627, begins with the words "We sailed from Peru." Willem Janszoon did not sail from Peru.

Janszoon's discovery of Australia is even more strongly contested in a prophecy published by the Rosicrucians:

Prophecy X-25

Nostradamus Prophecy X-25

As we can see in the first line, the rhetorical devices of Latin poetry were in common use. One of their tricks was to stick extraneous letters in front or behind a word. Here, ebro, the Ebro River of northern Spain has an «N» placed in front of it. This «N» has the effect of isolating the «b» in the middle of the word: «Ne» b «ro». Thus, Brisanne, the mystery word in the line, must also have a «b» in the middle of it giving us «Bris» b «anne», Brisbanne. Now let's take another look at Nebro and we see that it has an unneeded «N» in it since it should be merely Ebro. Thus, «Brisbanne» must also have an unneeded «n» in it, and, naturally, we have to remove it, giving us Brisbane. The first line now reads: From Ebro (river) he shall open passage to Brisbane. Brisbane lies at the easternmost point of Australia and is thus a very plausible place of arrival for a ship crossing the Pacific.

There was only one Rosicrucian who had any chance at all of being born on or near the Ebro River. His name was Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa.


Some historians suspect that Gamboa was born in northwestern Spain where is his father is from, but the fact remains that his place of birth was never recorded. We are therefore free to assume that he was born in Pamplona, the largest city on the Ebro River. Back then, however, Pamplona was not part of Spain, but the capital of Navarre, a kingdom with closer ties to France than Spain. There are several reasons for believing that Gamboa was born in Pamplona:

1. In a four-line stanza of Rosicrucian poetry, line 1 begins with Pau, Henry IV's place of birth, and this is complemented with Pamplon (Pamplona) at the beginning of line 3, suggesting that Pamplona was the place of birth of someone else who supported the Protestant cause.

2. Gamboa's mother was from Basque Country, which bordered the Kingdom of Navarre, and Basque was one of the languages spoken in Navarre. Gamboa's parents are known to have traveled and there could have been reasons why they would want a child to be born in Navarre (rather than Spain) in the same way that the pregnant Queen of Navarre made an excursion to Pau so that her child would be born in France.

3. In Shakespeare's Love's Labour's Lost, Gamboa is represented by the Spaniard "Armado, a soldier, a man of travel, that hath seen the world." This play is set in Navarre. (Note that the name Armado, a play on Armada, supports the notion that Gamboa played a major role in the defeat of the Spanish Armada.)

4. Being born in Pamplona, Gamboa would have good reason to keep it a secret (which in turn explains why his place of birth is unknown to us): in nationalistic Spain, a non-Spaniard could have had a difficult time rising in the ranks of the Spanish military, not to mention incurring additional animosity from the Inquisition.

Conclusion: Australia was discovered by the Rosicrucian Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa.

The ship of Admiral Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa (alias Admiral Lope de Vega) was exchanged for a better ship in Peru prior to departure for the South Seas. As reported, holes were deliberately punctured into the hull of the old ship to force the exchange, which certainly sounds like something typical of Rosicrucian trickery. They named the new ship the Santa Isabel, doubtless in honor of Queen Elizabeth I of England (Elizabeth is Isabel in Spanish). One possible scenario would be that Gamboa and comrades left England in mid 1593 (the same time that Scaliger set out for the Netherlands), reaching Peru in 1594, where they joined up with Alvaro de Mendaña's expedition to the South Pacific, departing from Peru in 1595. Gamboa had previously sailed into the South Pacific with Mendaña, back in 1567, so they were old buddies.

In 1567, according to insinuations, Gamboa made a map of Australia (Terra Australis) or perhaps it was just a map showing the route to Australia, presumably compiled from talking with the inhabitants of nearby Solomon Islands. Gamboa wanted the fleet to go there but was overruled. On both voyages to the South Seas under Mendaña, Gamboa was only second in command.

Peruvian historical records indicate that the Admiral (name applied to Lope de Vega by Mendaña who was apparently aware of the king's appointment) was accompanied by two captains. Gamboa staged his death in July, 1592, so I searched for an English captain who "died" around that time. The only candidate was Sir Thomas Cavendish, reported to have died somewhere out in the Atlantic, sometime during the month of May 1592, and of unspecified causes. Cavendish was a national hero who sailed around the globe and was knighted by the Queen. It is surprising that no more details about his mysterious death, at the age of 32, is recorded. Cavendish's 1586 around-the-world mission included the rescue of Gamboa's Puerto del Hambre colony in the Straits of Magellan, but when he got there, he found only one survivor, who got dropped off in Chile.

It is now believed that Cavendish's ship picked up the "dead" Gamboa in 1592, possibly at the Azores west of Lisbon, and then proceeded to make a second rescue attempt in the Straits of Magellan, discovering the Falkland Islands in route. Gamboa would have been in charge of navigation, so credit him with the discovery of the Falklands.

I could find no other captain dying around that time but the third guy may not have been a real captain. In May of 1593 (Cavendish's ship found its way back to England in March of 1593), an English spy by the name of Christopher Marlowe is reported to have died under contentious circumstances. Like Gamboa in Lisbon, and of course Cavendish at sea, Marlowe was buried in an unmarked grave (Rosicrucian Manifesto: "their burial place should be kept secret"). He is suspected of directly assisting Gamboa on preparations for naval combat against the Spanish Armada, this being the secret activity that won him the commendation of the queen's Privy Council in 1587 along with a Master of Arts degree from Cambridge. In Love's Labour's Lost, Marlowe is represented by the young and impetuous Moth (Marlowe, Christopher), Armado's attendant.

During the undeclared war between Spain and England, Cavendish and Marlowe would not have been welcome in Peru, but they could have been passed off as Dutch as the Netherlands was then part of the Spanish empire. Recall that Marlowe had worked in the Netherlands and probably spoke some Dutch. (Of course, Marlowe's real mission in the Netherlands may have been to look after Gamboa's son; in 1592, Marlowe was arrested in Vlissingen --harbour of the Dutch East India Company.)

According to reports, the Santa Isabel suddenly vanished during a fog in the western Pacific. Mendaña's ships searched for the Santa Isabel but could not find it. Doubtless, however, from the very beginning the Rosicrucian plan was to break away from Mendaña's fleet (which wanted to colonize the Solomon Islands) and go to Australia.

The prophetic account indicates that the Rosicrucians made landfall in Brisbane. But Australian explorer Lawrence Hargrave found evidence (cave drawings) that they established a colony at Botany Bay, near Sydney. Thus, after landing at Brisbane, we must assume that the Rosicrucians headed further south, deciding to establish their colony at Botany Bay. Hargrave's unpublished manuscript on Lope de Vega includes the cave drawings and can be viewed online at the website of the State Library of Victoria (Australia).

The fate of the Rosicrucian colony is unknown other than that it probably did not survive for very long. Janszoon, for his part, had the intention of exploring the entire land mass but ran out of food. He sent men onshore to search for food at two different locations but each time they were viciously attacked by savages, man-eaters by some reports. With nine men -- more than half his crew -- killed (and maybe eaten as well), Janszoon had no choice but to return to base. It is not known if the Sydney area was likewise inhabited by man-eaters in the late 16th century. Nearly two hundred years would pass before Europeans returned to that area.

The Santa Isabel carried 180 men, women, and children on board. The Admiral himself is reported to have married Mendaña's sister-in-law, and surely one motive for linking up with Mendaña -- rather than proceeding independently to Australia -- was to pick up people for populating their colony. It therefore seems unlikely that the Australian settlement simply evaporated. Man-eaters remain a distinct possibility. Back then, even some of islanders were hostile.


We have surmised that Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa was Willem Janszoon's father, but who was his mother?

Gamboa finished writing his historical masterpiece, Historia de los Incas, in Cuzco, Peru, in 1572 (Peruvian calendar corresponding to 1571 on the Julian calendar). Before that, he likely spent a lot of time doing research for that book such as probing the memory of the Inca high priests to record the early history of the Incas. Thus, the birth of Willem Janszoon (born circa 1570) would have occurred when Gamboa was in contact with the Incas.

In the prophecy displayed above, Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa discovers Australia in the first line. It therefore seems reasonable that he is also connected with the remaining lines of the prophecy. In other words, Gamboa would be the person who rapes the "grand dame" of the last line. In 1911, the explorer Hiram Bingham found the burial place of the "grande dame" (Bingham's term) "on the slopes of Machu Picchu Mountain about a thousand feet above the highest part of the ruins," that is, overlooking the semicircular (orchestra) temple. From items found close to her bones, Bingham concluded that she was the "High Priestess," the "Mama Cuna or Mother Superior of the Virgins of the Sun."

Gamboa may have himself buried or reburied the high priestess on the mountain slopes, circa 1594. One of the items found by Bingham was a concave mirror, something that can be associated with Dr. John Dee (a Rosicrucian colleague of Gamboa) implying that Gamboa could have brought it to Peru as a gift for the high priestess.

Conclusion: Willem Janszoon was not Dutch at all. He was the son of a Spanish explorer and an Inca high priestess, which might explain why no portrait of him can be found. And, undoubtedly, both of his voyages to Australia had the underlying purpose of finding his father, and he likely installed himself as governor of the East Indies to be in a position to hear news of his father's fate.


The VOC (Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie) Historical Society has the following to say about Janszoon's discovery of Australia:

Weeks into the journey and a new land appeared on the horizon. Janszoon trained his telescope on the unfriendly coastline, heavy and dark with trees. ... As dawn breaks on the new year of 1606, the landscape had changed dramatically - it was now barren and grey. Janszoon raised his telescope to look at this foreboding land – could it be part of Terra Australis - the Great South Land that scholars speculated upon?

Is this supposed to be some kind of joke? The telescope is indeed believed to have been a Dutch invention, but this happened in 1608. Galileo found out about it in 1609 and then proceeded to build his own telescope, and Johannes Kepler made improvements to the telescope in 1611. But here, so we read, we find Janszoon using a telescope to view the Australian coast back in late 1605.

Is it even remotely imaginable that a telescope was in use in Australia -- then a land of aboriginal savages -- before Galileo had ever heard of any such thing? Well, yes. There can be no doubt at all that the Rosicrucians of London would have sent their telescope to Australia to help search for their beloved colleague: Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa.


Let's begin with a cryptic communication found in the Rosicrucian manifesto of 1614:

The first of this Fraternity which died, and that in England, was J.O., as brother C. long before had foretold him; he was very expert, and well learned in Cabala, as his book called H. witnesseth. In England he is much spoken of; and chiefly because he cured a young Earl of Norfolk of the leprosy. They had concluded, that as much as possibly could be, their burial place should be kept secret, as at this day it is not known unto us what is become of some of them.

Norfolk was devasted by the plague in 1579, so that would have to be the year in which the cabalist migrated to England. («Büchlein H.», booklet H., apparently refers to the Sefer Yetzirah which was a short work written in Hebrew.) We can also assume that this cabalist was the originator of the staged-death concept having already put it into practice for himself. Since he (post mortem) died in England, he cannot be among the those who went to Australia, explaining why the manifesto laments that it is unknown to us what has become of "some of them."

The sequel to the manifesto -- a novel published in 1627 -- continues this story: "We sailed from Peru ... knowing how that part of the South Sea was utterly unknown, and might have islands or continents that hitherto were not come to light." The cabalist J.O. remained an influence; in the novel he reappears as Joabin who "by a secret cabala ordained the laws of Bensalem which they now use." Of course, Bensalem (B - - s a - - -) -- the utopia's name -- alludes to Brisanne (B - - s a - - -), the original Rosicrucian name for Australia as seen in the first line of the prophecy.

The novel goes on to provide details of Rosicrucian plans for creating a utopia -- far from the religious and political turmoil of Europe -- that emphasized scientific progress. It's a real shame about the man-eaters. Otherwise, humankind may have had airplanes and submarines a very long time ago (both were Rosicrucian objectives: "we have some degrees of flying in the air, we have ships and boats for going under water") along with telescopes, microscopes, skyscrapers, and many other wonders of the modern world announced in this 1627 account of their futuristic plans.


The alternative history of the discovery of Australia reflects many aspects of the secret history of the Fraternity of the Rose Cross.

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