Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Christopher Columbus was 100% Italian


Columbus was born in Genoa, Italy. Anyone who says otherwise is not a historian but a conspiracy theorist. There is NOT one single primary source that says Columbus was NOT from there. All primary sources, including Columbus himself, say he was. 

Here is what the primary sources had to say:

1. Andrés Bernáldez [1] (1450 - 1513) said “There was a man of Genoa… that was called Christopher Columbus.” ( “Obo un hombre de Génova… que llamaban Christoval de Colon…” Historia de los Reyes Católicos by Andrés Bernáldez, Tomo I, Cap. CXVIII, p. 269. Translation from Archaic Spanish to English made by me).

Bernáldez was a historian and the archbishop of Seville, Spain. He was a friend of Columbus, and Columbus had stayed at his house a few times. 

2. Fray Bartolomé de las Casas [2] (1484 - 1566) called Columbus “the illustrious Genoese Christopher Columbus…” History of the Indies by Las Casas, Book One, Ch. 3, p. 15.

Las Casas was a friar, priest, bishop, and historian who personally knew Columbus and he testified Columbus had a foreign accent.

3. Peter Martyr d'Anghiera [3] (1457 - 1526) wrote that “A certain Christopher Columbus, a Genoese, proposed to the Catholic King and Queen, Ferdinand and Isabella, to discover the islands which touch the Indies, by sailing from the western extremity of this country.” De Orbe Novo by Peter Martyr, The First Decade, Book I, p. 57.

Martyr was another historian, scholar, and chaplain to the court of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabel. He was a friend of Columbus as well, but like Columbus, he was Italian. Martyr was born in Arona, Piedmont, which is 119.7 miles from Genoa, Italy. If anyone knew Columbus was not Italian, it was him.

4. Christopher Columbus himself said he was born in Genoa, Italy. In a letter he wrote in 1498 to secure his eldest son’s rights of primogeniture (institución de mayorazgo) he said, “I was born in Genoa [and] I came to serve you [the king and queen] here in Castile.” (“... que siendo yo nacido en Génova les vine á servir aquí en Castilla..” Relaciones y Cartas de Cristóbal Colón, p. 248).

In the same letter Columbus requested his heir to always help someone of “our lineage” in the “city of Genoa” because “from there I came and from there I was born.” (“... que tenga y sostenga siempre en la ciudad de Génova una persona de nuestro linaje que tenga alli casa é mujer, é le ordene renta con que pueda vivir honestamente, como persona tan llegada á nuestro linaje, y haga pie y raiz en la dicha Ciudad, como natural della, porque podrá haber de la dicha Ciudad ayuda é favor en las cosas del menester suyo, pues della salí y en ella nací.” Relaciones y Cartas de Cristóbal Colón, p. 254).

That’s the quote used in the meme at the top of this article. The ellipsis was made to fit the sentence in the meme. The full letter is available here (in Spanish):

5. Amerigo Vespucci [4] (1451 - 1512), from whom America’s name is derived, was another Italian explorer who had met Columbus as well. Vespucci himself delivered a letter Columbus wrote to his eldest son, Diego, in 1505.

You can read the letter here:

Like Martyr, Vespucci would have known for sure if Columbus was Italian or not. 

6. Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo [5] (1478 – 1557) wrote: “Christopher Columbus, according to what I know from people of his nation, was a natural of the province of Liguria, which is in Italy, where… Genoa is.” (“Chripstóbal Colom, segun yo he sabido de hombres de su nascion, fue natural dela provincia de Liguria, que es en Italia, en la qual cae la cibdad é señoria de Génova.” Historia General y Natural by Oviedo, Lib. II, Cap. II, p. 12. Translation from Archaic Spanish to English made by me). 


At the time, Genoa was a republic. Today Genoa is the capital of Liguria, Italy. Oviedo was a Spanish historian who served the king and queen’s court during the times of Columbus’ discoveries.

If Columbus was a Spaniard, how come none of his Spanish friends and Spanish historians above didn’t know about it? Were they that foolish? Were Columbus’ Italian friends also that dumb?

7. Antonio de Herrera y Tordesillas [6] (1549 – 1625 or 26) wrote: “Don Christopher Colombo, which for easier pronunciation was called ‘Colón’, born in the city of Genoa.” (“D. Chriftoval Colombo, à quien por mas comoda pronunciacion, dixeron Colòn, nacido en la Ciudad de Genova…” Historia General by Herrera, Década I, Lib. I, Cap. VII, p. 11. Translation from Archaic Spanish to English made by me).

Though Herrera was not alive during the times of Columbus, his historical work is considered one of the best.

Italian historian Paolo Emilio Taviani brings more evidence of Columbus being born in Genoa in his book The Grand Design. He uses the testimonies of several ambassadors of the period: 

  1. Pedro de Ayala was the Spanish Ambassador to the English court. In 1498 he wrote to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabel concerning John Cabot, (who was Italian as well) and his discoveries. In the same letter Ayala affirmed Columbus’ Genoese birth.

  1. Nicolo Oderico was ambassador of the Republic of Genoa to Spain. In a letter on April 1501, he praised Spain for their discoveries under Columbus’ leadership by saying “our fellow citizen, illustrious cosmographer and stedfast leader.”

  1. Angelo Trevisan was chancellor and secretary to Domenico Pisano, from the Venitian Republic’s envoy to Spain. Trevisan wrote to Domenico Malipiero, a member of Venice’s Council of Pregadi and said, “I have succeeded in becoming a great friend of Columbus... Christoforo Colombi, Genoese, a tall, well-built man, ruddy, of great creative talent, and with a long face.”

  1. Gaspar Contarini was Venice’s ambassador to Spain and Portugal. In November 1525, as he was reporting to the Senate of the Venitian Republic on the whereabouts of Hispaniola, he spoke of the Admiral Diego Columbus, who was Columbus’ son. He said, “This Admiral is son of the Genoese Columbus and has great powers, granted to his father.”

All of the above is in Chapter II of Taviani’s book. In Chapter III, Taviani brings more evidence of Columbus’ Genoan origins, where he, his father, grandfather, and other family members are mentioned in Genoan contracts, documents, deeds of sale, and the like. Here are a few examples: 

A 1429 contract mentions Columbus’ grandfather, Giovanni. 

Another document indicates he was dead by 1444. 

Columbus’ father, Domenico, is mentioned as a master weaver in 1447. 

Records indicating Domenico was appointed as a warder of Porta dell’Oliviela, in Genoa. 

At some point Domenico moved, as he is mentioned as working in Savona in 1470, but six months later he moved back to Genoa with Columbus. Both names, Domenico and Columbus, are mentioned in a contract. 

Another document shows Domenico selling his house in Genoa in 1473. 

In another, Domenico was a witness to a notarial deed drawn up in Genoa on 30 September 1494, etc.

Taviani also reminds the reader that subsequent historians and geographers, including those from Spain, Portugal, Germany, England, the Netherlands, Switzerland, France, and Turkey, affirmed Columbus was a Genoan. 

Note, that the house Columbus grew up as a child is now a museum in Genoa, Italy. [7]

I’m not writing any of this because of “my heritage” since I’m not an Italian American. I’m writing all this because facts are facts, and truth still matters.

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

"The Journey of Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca" Book/ Audiobook/ Movie Review

Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca (1488 or 90- 1556 or 58) is among the history of explorers during the 16th century. A short biography of him appears on the Christopher Columbus Encyclopedia. He had a few things in common with Columbus, like his opposition to the mistreatment of natives and that he was removed from office by “mutinous colonists.” (pp. 83-84)

De Vaca was a Spanish explorer whose epic story also resembles Robinson Crusoe, the character created by Daniel Defoe, since he was shipwrecked and stranded for several years, but in De Vaca’s case, in North America. Out of the crew of 350 men, only he and three others (including a Black African) survived the adventure. Many of them died due to the attacks of North American tribes, while others died of starvation. He and those who survived were enslaved by the natives, who constantly abused them. 

Unlike the 1991 boring Spanish movie version, De Vaca never lost his mind or his faith in Christ. In fact, he said that during his trials he would meditate on the sufferings of Christ and “the blood He shed for me” and this gave him comfort and strength. The movie version focuses mainly on his time on land after the shipwreck. As usual, the book (the real story) is better than the movie (and their “artistic license”). I didn't like the movie, but it's available here in Spanish with English subtitles if you want to watch it:

At some point in the real story, Cabeza de Vaca prayed for the healing of a native person who was healed. Several more were healed by him and one was raised from the dead. This gave him, along with his companions, the grace they needed with the natives, and the opportunity to preach the gospel to them. 

Eventually, De Vaca and his companions were reunited with the Spaniards. However, strong arguments were exchanged because De Vaca didn’t want the Spaniards to enslave the natives anymore. In spite of his sufferings, De Vaca believed they could bring the natives to the Christian faith with kindness. 

This amazing story is available as a primary source as a book, ebook, or audiobook. The audiobook was made by LibriVox, based on “The Journey of Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca” by Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, and translated by Fanny Bandelier (1869-1936). Here is the link to listen to the audiobook version:

If you were wondering about the strange last name, “Cabeza de Vaca,” it literally means “Cow’s head.” It was a made-up last name by one of De Vaca’s ancestors from his mother's side during the 13th century. It signified his family's transition from peasants to nobles after they won a victory in a war, this according to the (audiobook’s) introduction on the link above.

#CabezaDeVaca #Audiobook #BookReview #LibriVox #YouTube #AlvarNúñezCabezaDeVaca