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 30 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 from Columbus. Revisionists love Michele de Cuneo’s rape story because, in their view, Columbus is guilty by association. This Cuneo’s rape story is in many of Columbus’ biographies out there as if Cuneo was Columbus himself, or his clone; or as if Columbus knew what his friend did and approved or applauded the assault!

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 in 1885. This is assuming the letter is authentic in its entirety, since some scholars challenged it in the past due to “inconsistencies in style.” [1] Today it is accepted as genuine because it passed the test of paleography in the 19th-century. The original letter doesn’t exist and what we have today is a copy made around 1511. Of course, that doesn’t mean it’s fake, but it doesn’t mean it’s all true either. The fact is since Columbus became famous many forged letters, or authentic ones containing false information, have come to surface.

So let's look at some of the inconsistencies and falsehoods in Cuneo’s letter:  

He started the letter with, “In the name of Jesus and of His Glorious Mother Mary,” but a few pages later he rapes a native girl. Next, 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 is true? That Cuneo “captured” her, or that the Lord Admiral “gave” her to him? 

Cuneo claimed he took the Carib girl he raped to his cabin, where she screamed at the top of her lungs after he beat her for initially denying him intercourse. [2] If that is so, how come no one else heard the screaming? This was Columbus’ second voyage where there were 1,200 people on 17 ships!

Can you imagine the enemies of Columbus if they have heard a native woman screaming because "Columbus gave her away to be raped"? Columbus’ enemies would have a field day with such an accusation! 

Another falsehood by Cuneo is the existence of temples in the Caribbean when there were none. 

There were also two respectable persons who were on the same second voyage when the alleged rape happened. One was a doctor named Doctor Diego Álvarez Chanca, and the other was Guillermo Coma of Aragon. Neither Dr. Chanca, Guillermo de Coma, and I would add Ferdinand Columbus, Peter Martyr, Las Casas, Herrera, or any other credible source ever mentioned that Columbus was raping or giving women away to be raped. [3] 

Cuneo also said that when the native girl yielded to him, “she seemed to have been brought up in a school of harlots.” That means Cuneo knew what such a “school” would be like. So here we are taking the words of a sexual pervert as “gospel.” 

Cuneo was young, so it's possible that he made up this story, acting in a juvenile manner as he was writing to his friend. He himself gossiped about Columbus being in love with Beatriz de Bobadilla, the Countess of La Gomera in the Canary Islands. He is the only "source" for that claim.

During this second voyage, Columbus kept the Spaniards from native women. Strangely enough, those who hated Columbus, accused him of everything, except giving women away to be raped. In fact, one of the complaints against Columbus and his brothers by Roldán and his rebels (during the third voyage) was that they “made them observe the three monastic vows;” that is poverty, chastity, and obedience. [4] 

Columbus sent letters to the Spanish kings reporting that Roldán and his accomplices were harassing the native women. Historia de las Indias by Las Casas, Libro I, Tomo II, Capítulo CLIX, pp. 360-361. 

Columbus called these Spanish rebels, “debauchees, profligates, thieves, seducers, ravishers, vagabonds,” etc. De Orbe Novo by Peter Martyr, The First Decade, Book VII, p. 142.

“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.” [5]

It is clear Columbus wasn't pleased with the Spaniards, and he wasn't giving them women. It's also clear Columbus was not okay with rape. 

As one can see, Cuneo’s rape account raises more questions than answers. 

In the meantime, it is ironic how revisionists highlighted, and magnified Michele de Cuneo’s rape story, but avoided the parts in the very same letter where he confirmed that the Caribs depopulated islands with raids, slavery, rapes, murder, and cannibalism. Cuneo also tells us that Columbus was rescuing the Taínos from being kidnapped and raped by the Caribs. This is what he wrote: 

“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.” [6] 

Where is the outrage against these kidnappings and castrations? 
Guillermo de Coma, who was on the same voyage as Cuneo, confirmed the rape raids by the 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.” [7] 

Any outrage against this? Why is that some websites are so willing to stain Columbus’ reputation with innuendos, by using selected portions of Cuneo’s letter, but skip the parts where Cuneo reported the natives were doing the same things revisionists pretend they lament? 

In addition, Cuneo's description of the natives was not positive either. He said the natives ate poisonous beasts, insects, reptiles, dogs, snakes, lizards, spiders, etc. According to him, the natives would cut their own father’s head off and then cook it, as told by their idols, if the father was sick with no hope to recuperate. 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. [8] 

Should we take that as “gospel” too? In fact, the description of the natives above is another reason why I’ve been skeptical with Cuneo’s account. Whereas every primary source made distinction from Caribs and Taínos, Cuneo painted them all with the same broad brush. 

Samuel Eliot Morison, who translated Cuneo’s letter into English says Cuneo was not like Columbus or the “solem Spaniards who wrote on the early voyages.” Morison admitted Cuneo’s narrative is “somewhat confused.” 

Anyone reading Columbus’ accounts can clearly see that Columbus was very protective toward the native women. It is also clear that the rapists in Cuneo’s account, by his own admission, were him and the Caribs, and not Columbus. 

I’m not saying Cuneo’s account is a hoax, but I would not be surprised if the future reveals it to be one. I’m just saying there are a lot of problems with his side of the story and his account is unreliable. But as to the question, “Did Columbus rape anyone or give women away for that purpose?” The answer is NO!


1. Journals and Other Documents on the Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus by Morison, p. 209.

2. Ibid, p. 212.

3. Ibid, p. 210 and 214 note 1.

4. The Life of the Admiral Christopher Columbus by his son Ferdinand, Chapter 74, p. 192. Also, Note # 2 from Chapter 74, p. 301.


6. Journals and Other Documents on the Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus by Morison, pp. 211-212.

7. Ibid, Syllacio's Letter to Duke of Milan, p. 236.

8. Ibid, pp. 219-220.



  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?

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    3. Columbus was not disgusting. He actively OPPOSED slavery. He was, in fact, the first civil rights activist of the Americas. It's borne out the primary sources. THAT'S why Columbus was a hero.

    4. Columbus dehumanized and oppressed Native Americans. He had no regard to Native's civil rights and enslaved many Native people. Columbus started a chain of complete colonization of America, which culminated in the attempted genocide of Native Americans by the US government. Native Americans continue to one of the most oppressed minority groups in America with little to none civil rights. Columbus ruined the Americas.

    5. It's frankly not Columbus's fault that the White Americans (USA people) and the British have been greedy murderous A-holes. People take Columbus as a scapegoat he was an explorer of his time more than anything. Plus he was Italian.

    6. What is your evidence that Columbus opposed slavery? Do you have a quotation from Columbus or some other source?

      Maybe he did at some point, but he didn't by the time of his voyages in the new world. First, he owned a slave. Secondly, in a letter Columbus talked about his plans to enslave thousands and discussed the merits of Indian slaves over African slaves.

      "From here can be sent, in the name of the holy Trinity, all of the slaves and brazilwood that can be sold. If the information that I have is correct, they tell me that four thousand slaves can be sold and that they will bring in at least twenty million." He went on to compare them to African slaves " of these is worth three of them, as I see it. When I went to the Cape Verde Islands, where there is a great trade in slaves... I saw that that they demanded for the most decrepit of them eighth thousand maravedis." And he went on to say "Even if at first they die, that will not always be the case, for the same thing happened with the blacks and the Canarians at the beginning. And the Indians even have an advantage over the blacks, for unless one escapes, his owner will not sell him for any amount of money." (That letter was transcribed and included in History of the Indies by Bartolome de las Casas, Book 1, Chapter 150. I don't know who the recipient of this letter was.) He also described how he transported 600 Taino, enslaved after a war started when they revolted...and that they were dying on the ships before they even left the docks.

      Don't like de las Casas? Well Colubmus also talked about it in another letter to Luis De Sant Angel.

      He said "To speak, in conclusion, only of what has been done during this hurried voyage, their Highnesses will see that I can give them as much gold as they desire, if they will give me a little assistance, spices, cotton, as much as their Highnesses may command to be shipped, and mastic as much as their Highnesses choose to send for, which until now has only been found in Greece, in the isle of Chios, and the Signoria can get its own price for it; as much lign-aloe as they command to be shipped, and as many slaves as they choose to send for, all heathens."

    7. (Just to clarify...las Casas described how he transported 600 slaves, and quoted from another letter from Columbus. I thought it might be mistaken from the way I wrote things that it was the same letter in which Columbus mentioned the 600 slaves and says he can transport 4,000. The second letter las Casas quotes from was sent during the time of the Roldan Rebellion, and las Casas doesn't quote the whole of it but just where he is explaining why he couldn't hold the ships until negotiations were over for those rebelling colonists who wanted to return to spain, because they were dying.) That's from History of the Indies, Book 1, Chapter 152.

    8. The people who were already here when Columbus and his men arrived were in fact Israelites from the Northern Tribes of the land of Israel 2 Esdras 13:41. The so called white man (Esau/Geneses 25:25) who isn't white but 'red' are the Devil, Wicked, Proud, and other names the Scriptures are speaking about. Job 9:24, Psalms 58:3-4, 2 Samuel 7:10, Malachi 1:1-4, or Psalms 140:1-5 as just very few scriptures describing who the Devil is which means to deceive. John 10:10 helps describe them even more as well. when you look at the Edomites or so called white peoples history thats all you see is them stealing, killing, and destroying. Also they push lies and deceit, this is just their nature they are the Serpants seed and indeed speak with a forked tongue.

      The Edomites can claim that they can't be blamed for their ancestors faults but many of them are living off of the money tht was made off of free labor of the Israelite slaves they had working on their fields, and they were not Africans, your ancestors and some today know exactly who they had in their posession, and to this day Deueteronomy 28:68, 4:27, Luke 21:23-24, Ezekiel 12:15, and 39:21-29 are just a few scriptures proving what we know as the "Siege" or Trans Atlantic Slave Trade Deuteronomy 28:52-53. They are still their ancestors and this can be proven because you still have Christopher Columbus and Thankskilling on the Calendar. Now what people would think to put a man rapist and murderer on the Calendar to honor him??? What people would put Thankskilling on the Calendar to honor it knowing full well the rape, rob, and slaughter that was accomplished by their ancestors not even thinking to take it down??? Whos going into other Nations to commit evil acts having other Nations afraid of them because the power and earth has been given into their hands??? I can go on about their Criminal History but the answer is the Wicked.

    9. Wrong- There were good natives and bad natives. Good Spaniards and bad Spaniards. Columbus was a hero, not the villain.

    10. Gale- Columbus did not own slaves. The letter he wrote to Luis de Santagel (from his 1st voyage) was about the cannibal Caribs, not the Tainos. Your first quote was written on the 3rd voyage about the enemies of his ally, chief Guacanagari. Those were the only ones he was allowed to "enslaved" or sent to Spain as prisoners of war. This kind of "slavery" was temporal and was suspended at the end of his 3rd voyage. Fray Bartolome de las Casas also owned slaves and suggest to bring black slaves to help the natives. I would suggest you to read my 1st book, "Christopher Columbus the Hero" where I gave more details that I won't bring here since it would make my response way too long and because this post was not about slavery anyway, but about false claims of rape.

  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.

    1. judging people for raping women is "goofy?" rape has always been wrong and it is very strange and honestly creepy that you are trying to defend it

    2. always the finest defending colombo. Defends slavery but draws the line at sodomy, then goes on to call others self righteous.

    3. Sydney- True, rape is always wrong, including when the Caribs were raping and killing the Tainos in entire islands. It's also wrong when people make things about Columbus. Cuneo's letter is either false or juvenile.

  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:

    1. Gale- Columbus, nor Las Casas, said the Spaniards enslaved women for sex. They did not need a sex slave ring for that. And Columbus punished the Spaniards for mistreating the natives. It's very strange that Cuneo says the woman he raped scream at the top of her lungs, yet nobody noticed and no one ever accused Columbus of giving women away to be rape. In fact, the rebels complained Columbus and his brothers kept the women away from them.

    2. Columbus came to the Americas and took everything from the Native people. He did not "save" them or treat any of them with kindness. All colonizers viewed Native people as less than human and as savages. Gale, your thought process simply does not make sense. You said you "assume that Columbus had authority over captives taken by his men, Cuneo included." Then you put in a quote where Columbus claims that he can nothing about his men raping Native women. Then you said you would be bothered if he didn't do anything. Obviously, Columbus did not do anything to stop men from brutally raping Native women. This you should be bothered by, according to your own words. Columbus raped the land of the Americas along with Native women. Stating at the end that you would not want too be a woman at this time shows that you know of the brutality and horrors Columbus and his men put women through, but simply do not care enough to call out Columbus.

      Official Christopher Columbus- first off, disgusting name. Why would Columbus admit to enslaving women? They knew it was wrong even back then, but saw Native women as objects that were theirs for the taking. Columbus did not punish the Spaniards for mistreating natives. How could he if their entire colonization campaign is brutally mistreating the Natives. I see you think it is strange that nobody noticed that the woman Cuneo was raping was screaming, but you failed to consider that many men probably heard and simply did not care. Cuneo was not the only one brutally raping woman. Although Cuneo admits to raping this woman, you are still claiming that this did not happen.

    3. That was a typo. I meant to say "was it sex trafficking...abolutely not." Somehow I missed the not.

  4. Guilt by association is accurate here: if not for Columbus these horrendous, heinous acts would not have happened. Stop making excesses for a shitty person.

    1. That's nonsense. If not for Columbus, the tribal peoples of the Americas would have been wiped out. Columbus saved their lives and put an end to their slavery and mistreatment by successfully petitioning the King of Spain to promulgate the first civil rights legislation of the Americas. Columbus also conducted the first "underground railroad" of the Americas, freeing Tainos from slavery by their cannibalistic Carib captors.

    2. R.P., your comment is so incredibly stupid. Columbus began the process of wiping the Native people of the Americas out. The Native tribes were thriving before the colonizers came and took everything from them. He enslaved, colonized, and mistreat all Native people he came in contact with.

  5. this is literally the most unintelligent and misogynistic article I have every read. do incels have nothing better to do than to make false narratives about the original colonizer? of course he raped native women. he raped the entirety of the land in the Americas.

    1. Care to provide reasons why you find the blogger's arguments faulty? You haven't done that.

      Blogger, care to refute sydney's comments? You should be better than this person.

  6. columbus enabled rape, slavery, murder, apologists should die