Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Did Columbus Rape Anyone? The Michele de Cuneo's Letter

Did Columbus rape anyone or give women away for that purpose? To answer the question I used excerpts from my book Christopher Columbus The Hero, Chapter 29 with some additions, modifications, and edits specifically designed for this article:

According to a letter Cuneo wrote to a friend, he admitted to raping a native girl that was supposedly given to him by Columbus. I'm telling you revisionists love Michele de Cuneo’s rape story! They love it because, in their view, Columbus is guilty by association. This Cuneo’s rape story is in many of Columbus’ biographies out there, including Wikipedia, as if Cuneo was Columbus himself, or his clone; or as if Columbus knew what his friend did and approved or applauded the assault!

The bottom line is, Columbus wasn't in the bedroom with his friend to know what he did. The reason why we know today Cuneo’s rape story is because he wrote about it in a personal letter that became public centuries later. This is assuming the letter is legit, since some scholars have doubted its authenticity in the past.

*In it Cuneo seems to contradict himself when he said: 'While I was in the boat I captured a very beautiful Carib woman, whom the said Lord Admiral gave to me.' Which one is it? Did Cuneo 'captured' her? or the Lord Admiral 'gave' her to him?

Contrary to what revisionists want us to believe, Columbus wasn't giving women away 24/7 either. On his First Voyage, he gave 7 women away (to both Spaniards and natives), on the 12th of November 1492. That was all for that excursion. There is no evidence that he kept doing this during the rest of the voyage. In fact, almost two months later, Columbus was upset with one of the Pinzón brothers because: 'When he left here he took away four Indians and two girls by force. I have ordered them to be given clothes and taken ashore so that they may go home. Treating them thus can only be to Your Majesties' benefit, in all the islands but especially in this one, where you now have a settlement, for in an island with such a wealth of gold and spices and fine land the people must be treated honourably and generously.' (Columbus’ Journal translated by John Cummins, Thursday 10, January 1493). 

The only other time we have any record of Columbus giving any women away, was the Cuneo incident, which happened at the beginning of Columbus’ Second Voyage. In other words, there are only two recorded times where Columbus did such thing, because after that, he didn't trust the Spaniards anymore, and kept women away from them. 

*The reason why Columbus gave Cuneo the native girl -again, assuming the account is accurate in its entirety- was precisely because he was not a Spaniard and he was his personal friend. Giving women away was practiced by some cultures back then, including some natives tribes.

Those are the details revisionists won't tell you. 

One of the complaints against Columbus’ brothers, by Francisco Roldan (a man who later started a rebellion) and his rebels, was that they 'made them observe the three monastic vows;' that is poverty, chastity, and obedience. (The Life of the Admiral Christopher Columbus by his son Ferdinand, Chapter 74, page 192).

Columbus also sent letters to the Spanish Kings reporting that Roldan and his accomplices were messing around with native women. (Historia de las Indias, Las Casas, Libro I, Tomo II, Capítulo CLIX, páginas 360-361).

It was at this time that Columbus called these Spaniards, 'debauchees, profligates, thieves, seducers, ravishers, vagabonds,' etc. (De Orbe Novo by Peter Martyr, The First Decade, Book VII, page 142).

According to, the word 'debauchees' means 'a person addicted to excessive indulgence in sensual pleasures; one given to debauchery.' The word 'profligate' means 'utterly and shamelessly immoral or dissipated; thoroughly dissolute.' 'Ravisher' means 'rapist.' So, we can clearly see Columbus wasn't happy with the Spaniards, and he wasn't giving them women, like he did on just ONE occasion with them. It's clear that Columbus was not okay with rape, and that was not his intention either. 

It is funny how revisionists highlighted, and magnified Michele de Cuneo’s rape story, but skipped the parts where Cuneo tells us, in the same letter, how Columbus was rescuing Tainos from being kidnapped and raped by the Caribs (who were cannibals too): 

'In that island we took twelve very beautiful and very fat women from 15 to 16 years old, together with two boys of the same age. These had the genital organ cut to the belly; and this we thought had been done in order to prevent them from meddling with their wives or maybe to fatten them up and later eat them… there were three or four Carib men with two Carib women and two Indian slaves, of whom (that is the way the Caribs treat their other neighbors in those other islands), they had recently cut the genital organ to the belly, so that they were still sore.' 
De Cuneo's Letter on Second Voyage, Journal and Other Documents, Morison, pages 211-212.

*Guillermo de Coma who was in the same voyage confirmed the rape raids by Caribs in a letter: 'They hand over the female captives as slaves to their womenfolk, or make use of them to satisfy their lust. Children borne by the captured women are eaten like the captives.'
Syllacio's Letter to Duke of Milan, Journal and Other Documents, Morison, page 236.

Happy Indigenous Peoples' Day! Right?

Any outrage against this? Why are Wikipedia, and others, so willing to stain Columbus’ reputation with innuendos, by using selected portions of the Cuneo’s letter, but skip the parts where Cuneo and others reported the natives were doing the same thing revisionists pretend they lament? Besides, Cuneo was the rapist; not Columbus.

Now, did you know some native tribes used to give their women away too? During Columbus’ Fourth Voyage, while he and the Spaniards were trading with some natives, the natives sent two girls, which according to Columbus son, Ferdinand, one was eight and the other fourteen years old; yet Columbus perceived they were even younger: one 7 and the other 11. The natives told the Spaniards 'to take the girls.' Columbus said both girls were 'behaving with such lack of modesty as to be no better than whores.'
Columbus's Lettera Rarissima to the Sovereigns, Journal and Other Documents,Morison, page 381.

So, how did Columbus respond? Columbus 'clothed' them (most natives were partly or fully naked, especially in the Caribbean) and fed' them, 'and then sent them ashore.' Giving clothes away as gifts was something Columbus did in all of his voyages, especially to women. (The Life of the Admiral Christopher Columbus by his son Ferdinand, Chapter 91, page 237). 

Where are the revisionists condemning such actions by the natives? 

During Amerigo Vespucci's First Voyage, the natives gave him and the Spaniards their women. Any outrage against the natives for doing what Columbus did a couple of times? Or is the outrage exclusively reserved for Columbus?
Letter of Amerigo Vespucci to Pier Soderini, The First Voyage, The First Four Voyages of Amerigo Vespucci, page 17.

Cuneo's description of the natives was not that positive either. He said the natives ate poisonous beasts, insects, reptiles, dogs, snakes, lizards, spiders, etc. He also said the Caribs depopulated islands with raids, slavery, rapes, murder, and cannibalism. Among the natives' customs, if a father was sick and their idols tell them they were not going to recuperate, they would cut their own father's head off and then cook it. The first woman to enter their temple would have sex with their "holy man." They would have sex anywhere openly, with anyone, except with brothers and sisters; they were sodomites; they were cold-blooded people; they would live short lives, etc.
De Cuneo's Letter on Second Voyage, Journal and Other Documents,Morison, pages 219-220.

It's interesting how selective revisionists are with Cuneo's letter, and how they skipped what they felt it was convenient for them. 

Question: Did Columbus rape anyone or gave women away for that purpose? The answer is no.



  1. If slavery and other evil things were normal, then we can safely say the natives were disgusting and Columbus was disgusting. It's settled. They were all disgusting people. Why call any of them heroes?

  2. Because judging people that lived 500 years ago by self-righteous political standards of today is goofy...that's why. Besides...I do not really give a hoot and take it personal the way many do today. No one today has any business judging Columbus, the Indians or anyone else as if people today are some sort of sinless angels...they are not. Unlike today, at least sodomy was taboo in those days. People may have had their faults, but they weren't godless heathens who believed humans came from slime under a rock. I could go on, but the point is made. Times and tech may change, but human nature does not. The sanctimonious, self-righteous, stone-throwers of today's world have no business casting judgement on anyone from Columbus's time.

  3. I finally found that letter in full translated online...I am leaving the link below for anyone who wants to read it for themselves. He took the woman when a canoe with several Caribs attacted their ship, which was laying at anchor. I thought that the meaning of "While I was in the boat I captured a very beautiful Carib woman, whom the said Lord Admiral gave to me" was that Cuneo captured the Carib woman during that skirmish and then later asked Columbus if he could keep her as a slave and Columbus and that was granted (I assume that Columbus had authority over captives taken by his men, Cuneo I don't see a conflict between him capturing her and Columbus
    giving her). Columbus did on other occasions enslave Caribs captured in battles, so this would not be out of character.

    Context answered another of my questions, which was whether what happened in his "cabin" was on the cabin of a ship or was certainly a cabin of a ship. So, others onboard would have heard what happened when the woman was whipped, although they may not have known that she was whipped for defending herself from being raped. What isn't answered is whether Columbus was onboard this ship when this happened (it seems likely on the one hand, but he could have been ashore exploring at the time).

    Columbus had said things in some of his letters that showed that he didn't approve of the relationships the men had with the native women ("Our people here are such that there is neither good man nor bad who hasn't two or three Indians to serve him and dogs to hunt for him and, though it perhaps were better not to mention it, women so pretty that one must wonder at it. With the last of these practices I am extremely discontented, for it seems to me a disservice to God, but I can do nothing about it...[nor] other wicked practices that are not good for Christians."). So I don't think that he would have given this women to his friend TO BE RAPED. It sounds from the writing that Cuneo was on the same boat as Columbus...based on some things written earlier, though that's not for certain since I believe several boats were exploring together. If Columbus was aware, I'd be bothered that he didn't do anything about (though if he had intervened, that's probably not something Cuneo would have writen his friends to brag about, so even thats unknown. There's just a whole bunch we can only conjecture about).

    Still, whether Columbus didn't know about this , knew and choose to turn a blind eye because of his friend, or didn't care because this was a Carib prisoner of war (not a member of the peaceful tribes who's nature he praised), I agree with you that this isn't a sign that he was a "sex trafficker" as I've seen some sites say.

    But was sex trafficking going on? Absolutely. Columbus himself complained about the "slavers" going after young girls.

    I would not have wanted to be a women during this period.

    Here's where I found the letter in full: