Millions of Italians will parade to Columbus statues throughout the country and the world today. At the statues they will place expensive wreaths. Then they will make flowery speeches on the daring and the brilliance of the man they know as Christopher Columbus, the man they believe was born in Genoa, Italy, of humble weaver parents, who grew up to be a sailor and on October 12, 1492, discovered America.
And when the fanfare and the oratory and the toasts are done with, it will be very difficult to convince even one Italian that the man to whom they have paid reverent homage is not the man they believe him to be.
For Christopher Columbus is not Christopher Columbus at all.
Rightfully, by documentary evidence unearthed as early as 1898 and as recently as 1929, the man is Cristobal Colon, with an “acute” accent over the second “o” in the last name.
Rightfully, according to the same documents which were discovered after eight years of exhausting search by the noted scholar and statesman Don Celso Garcia de la Riega, the man was born in Pontavedro. And Pontavedro is in Galicia. Not the Galicia in Poland, incidentally. This one is a province in the northwestern tip of Spain.
Rightfully, his parents were not humble weavers. They were makers and sellers of nautical maps.
PARENTS WERE MARANOS
And the parents, named Domingo de Colon and Suzana de Fonterosa, were Maranos, Jews who were forced to embrace Christianity to save their lives in that day of the Inquisition terror.
And now Christopher Columbus, or Christoforo Columbo as the Italians think of him, emerges in his true lightâ€”a Spanish Jew.
But how, the skeptical reader will ask, does it happen that history has recorded him as an Italian, born in Genoa of weaver parents if actually he was a Spaniard born in Pontavedro of map-making parents, and a Jew to boot?
The answer may, more accurately than historian may be willing to admit, lie in the difference in the Spanish and Italian heritage.
Italians have always set great store by history. Spaniards have somehow lagged in this tedious pursuit. Witness the fact that there is no outstanding Spanish historian that can be compared with the Roman Tacitus.
This may possibly account for the fact that it was an Italian historian, an obscure person with neither the talent nor literary ability of Tacitus, who got the jump on the Spaniards by claiming for the first time in a history book that Colon was a Genoese Italian.
This historian, Casoni, wrote in the eighteenth century, the first time incidentally that the name Columbus appears in print anywhere, that Columbus was born in Genoa. Casoni based his claim on the rather skimpy evidence that there were several Colombos in Genoa and, therefore, the navigator must have been one of them. Another basis for the Casonian theory is supposed to be a statement by Colon himself that he was a Genoese by birth. That statement, however, has been heavily discounted by evidence since discovered. Evidence that he had himself thus represented because in Spain it was fatal to admit being a Jew; because there was more chance of being favorably accepted in Madrid as a foreigner rather than as a native from Galicia, which at that time was not in the good graces of the ruling provinces of Castile and Aragon.
PROOF OF JEWISH ORIGIN
As opposed to this evidence which has clung persistently in the world’s school histories (historians being notorious sufferers from the malady of inertia when it comes to accepting new historical data that completely refutes the old) there is the following abundance of proof to substantiate the claim that the famous navigator was a Spanish Jew: (Most of the evidence was unearthed by la Riega and later, in 1922, sensationally supported and expanded by Otero Sanchez, a noted Spanish expert in deciphering ancient writings.)
1.â€”In all the nevigator’s correspondence with his friends he always signed himself Cristobal Colon, never Christoforo Columbo, the name given him by Casoni.
2.â€”All the writings of Colon were in Spanish, never in Italian.
3.â€”He was supposed to have been educated in the University of Pavia in Genoa, which would have made him well grounded in Italian. Yet there is no record of his having spoken or written that language.
4.â€”Improbable that the son of a weaver would become a navigator.
5.â€”Highly probable that the son of a nautical map maker and himself a map maker would become navigator. His parents were also members of nautical societies in Pontavedro.
6.â€”He was befriended by Fray Diego de Deza, a Marano professor at the University of Salamanca, who introduced him as a Genoese navigator, for reasons already stated above, to King Ferdinand and Isabella.
7.â€”There is proof that conversations between the professor and the young navigator were conducted in the peculiar Galician dialect. It is extremely unlikely that a Genoese sailor would know that unusual language.
CARRIED ZACUTO’S TABLES
8.â€”Colon always carried with him astronomical tables compiled by the celebrated Jewish savant, Abraham Zacuto, translated into Latin by another Jew, Joseph Vecinlo.
9.â€”The help afforded him by Jewish scientists and financiers of that time can be explained only in the light that he was of the same race. In this connection, it is interesting to note the comment of Herbert B. Adams in his “Columbus and his Discovery of America.” “Not jewels,” he writes, “but Jews were the real financial basis for the first expedition of Columbus.” Furthermore, in a card he wrote to a Jewish friend, Luis de Santangel, treasurer of Aragon, Colon announced his discovery of America with a fleet manned in part by Jewish sailors.
NAMES OF SHIPS
10.â€”The very names of his three first ships, the Santa Maria, the Nina and the Pinta. At first, the flagship was named by him La Gallega (Galician). It is certain that an Italian wouldn’t have called his ship after an unkown land called Galicia. The final name of the ship had no religious significance or connotation as has been erroneously supposed. It was named after Santa Maria, a beautiful spot near the mouth of the Pontavedro river.
11.â€”When Colon landed in America, he named his landing place San Salvador (now Watling’s Island). The name was not a way of thanking the Saviour, as is supposed. It was named thus in honor of a small place by the same name opposite his home of Pontavedro. The same holds true for the many other places he namedâ€”Porta Santa, Punta Lanzada, Punta de la Galicia, Cap San Miguel, Cap San Nicolas, representing either spots near Pontavedro or the names of Pontavedro sailors’ societies.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.