On the 20th of this month of May, the man we erroneously call "Christopher Columbus" died in Valladolid, Spain at the age of 51 years old. His Spanish life was twisted by the Spanish and Portuguese crowns into an intentional labyrinth to keep the public from ever knowing the discoverer's true identity. They succeeded! Forced to take on a new identity, Don Cristóbal Colón achieved fame and glory in 1493 under this false name. Today, through new research and DNA studies, we are getting closer than ever to discovering the true name and genealogy that the Iberian courts hid from the world some 500 years ago. Certainly the Don Cristóbal who wrote that he was 28 years old in 1484 could never be the Cristoforo Colombo from Genoa, who was described in the Assereto Document as being 27 years old in 1479.
CRISTOFORO COLOMBO versus CRISTÓBAL COLÓN
Cristoforo Colombo, the weaver from Genoa, was not
Don Cristóbal Colón, the navigator from Iberia
Doctoral Dissertation in Insular and Atlantic History (XV-XX Centuries), Azores University, 2022
by Manuel Rosa
Cristoforo Colombo in Italian or Christopher Columbus in English/Latin are the names given to the man credited with discovering the Americas, to whom has been attributed an alleged Genoese birth. There is no uncontested evidence to support that the navigator was Genoese and the surname he used in Castile was Colón, and never Colombo/Columbus.
Various misinterpretations in contemporary reports and chronicles, coupled with a misinformation campaign by the navigator himself, his descendants, and the courts of Portugal and Castile, largely helped to manufacture the fog of intentional uncertainty around the identity of the navigator that has lasted until the present day. As a consequence of these uncertainties, there was, in the last century, a general acceptance of the plebeian “Genoese weaver Cristoforo Colombo” as being the noble “Don Cristóbal Colón, admiral, governor and viceroy of the New World.”
The navigator assumed a new identity when he entered Castile, circa 1484, and did his best to keep secret his place of birth, his real name, and his parents’ identity. We can assert today that the courts of Portugal and Castile helped him in maintaining this secrecy. His son, Don Hernando Colón, when writing his father's story not only maintained the secret but increased the confusion further by feigning ignorance. Although much of the blame for the confusion falls directly upon the navigator and his son, there was also a universal shortcoming that marred the various historical investigations and biographies.
This shortcoming was the general minimization of the navigator’s Portuguese life, a matter of the uttermost importance because it was in Portugal that Colón got married, learned to navigate, and lived most of his life. The existence of forged documents utilized in support of the Genoese Columbus theory, juxtaposed to the numerous letters and notes coming from the navigator's own pen, documents from the court of Castile and the archives of Portugal, together with the social norms of his time prove that the wool weaver from Genoa and the navigator who sailed in 1492 under the flag of Castile were two distinct persons; with two different career paths, two highly disparate pedigrees, and with roots in different kingdoms.
Numerous errors, missteps, misguided assumptions, and inventions of past biographers have further contributed to confuse this piece of history by reducing an Admiral and Viceroy to an insignificant commoner - a Colombo son of a nobody.
The navigator's son insisted in his chronicle that his father's correct Latin surname was Colonus, and not Columbus. The Christopher Columbus documented as a plebeian weaver in Genoa was not the Admiral and Viceroy Christopher Colonus of Castile; nor can the opposite ever be accepted, knowing that the navigator got married within the elite nobility of Portugal some 14 years before returning from his epic voyage in 1493, when he became famous. Even more so whilst the social norms of his time prevented commoners from marrying noble daughters of knights and captains, as was the case of Filipa Moniz, wife of the navigator. Any noble lady who married a commoner during those times would have lost her nobility, acquiring her husband’s lower status.
The uncertainty and doubts grow when you bear in mind that the privileged daughters of the nobility had various impediments and rules regarding their choice of husbands, which were often chosen by the family or the territorial Overlords rather than the bride or groom.
In the case of Filipa Moniz, daughter of the Captain of Porto Santo, there would have been even more restrictions. She not only belonged to the influential House of Viseu, but also lived under the protection of the Military Order of Santiago, whose Governor was João II, and where she possessed a commandery in Todos-os-Santos (All-Saints.)
What the documents demonstrate, as well as the rules of 15th century Portuguese society, is that there was a case of mistaken identity in the 19th century. Historians confused the noble navigator Colón with the commoner woolworker Colombo, giving to the latter the glory that did not belong to him. This inaccurate identity and nationality impetus seems to have begun in the 15th century, for covert reasons. The aim was to keep the true identity that the navigator had in Portugal an eternal secret, and the plan was almost perfect. It remained intact until now because nobody doubted the Portuguese chronicles’ description of the navigator as an “Italian Colombo.”
This dissertation not only endeavors to unravel this intricate piece of distorted history, but further, it seeks to restore a closer truth imparted through scientific rigor and documented evidence.
KEYWORDS: Christopher Columbus, Cristóvão Colombo, Cristóbal Colón, Filipa Moniz, Bartolomeu Perestrelo, Captain of Porto Santo, Duke of Veragua, Diego Colón, Hernando Colón, Discovery of America, House of Viseu.
Christopher Columbus was not Christopher Columbus, this name is a gross corruption of his Spanish name Don Cristóbal Colón, meaning Christ-Going Member. While Columbus in Latin and Colombo in Italian mean pigeon, Don Cristóbal chose the name Colón from the Greek Kõlon, meaning member. Clearly pigeon is not member. After 500 years, the discoverer's name continues to be Colón in all Spanish-speaking nations.
English language writers, for century after century, have botched Colón's name and continuously call him Columbus, a name he never utilized in his lifetime. The ineptitude of American writers to see beyond the written word when tackling the subject of their Christopher Columbus has left readers with a completely wrong, even false, version of the life and deeds of the great First Admiral of the Ocean Sea. At the same time, the misinformation, published century after century and taught to school children all over the world, has turned many citizens into haters of "Columbus" and not into admirers of the great feats he succeeded in accomplishing. This blame, wrongfully placed on Columbus's shoulders would be akin to blaming Neil Armstrong in 400 years for stepping on the moon, thus leading to the colonization of the same. History, must not only place blame where it is due, but give praise where it is due. Christopher Columbus, or better said Don Cristóbal Colón, was a great sailor who never got lost in his four voyages across the Atlantic, a scholar who read countless books and who wrote hundreds of letters and his own Book of Prophecies, a scientist who studied all his life and who was capable of drawing sailing charts, maps and even built globes, and a great man who foresaw his work as contributing to the advancement to humanity. On this May 20, let us remember the death of the great explorer, as the death if a great contributor of knowledge to the progress of our human race.