Origins of Christopher Columbus

By Judith Mestre

To some extent, almost all of us have accepted as dogma that Cristopher Columbus, the discoverer of the American continent, was born in Italy in the mid-15th century.

A lot has happened since then, and several nations claim to be the cradle of the illustrious sailor, perhaps seeking for a medal in the podium of History, maybe trying to unravel the mystery locked in the annals of History for more than 500 years.

The truth is that Columbus himself did not want to disclose his place of origin, and that is in itself a clue. Why would he fail to mention simply the place where he was born? It is measured in thousands the historical figures contemporary and prior to Columbus whose origins are recorded.

That is why it is surprising, to say the least, that, if it was true that the so-called wool-sorter was born in the outskirts of Genoa by 1451, this fact was concealed or not made public, unlike it happened to many contemporaneous of Columbus born in Genoa or elsewhere.

Now, a very interesting book has reached my hands this summer, intitled Colom of Catalonia: Origins of Christopher Columbus Revealed. It supports the thesis that Columbus was not Italian – nor Portuguese, or Corsican, Breton, Croatian, Norwegian or Basque, to mention a few.

After setting forth a thorough and detailed background of historical and recorded facts, the author defends the only conclusion aimed by all facts, in his opinion: Columbus was a Catalonian.

It needs to be made clear that the person who stands for this affirmation is not a Catalan nor a Spaniard. It is an American scholar named Charles Merrill, who spent eight years researching before he wrote his conclusions in this book.

My intention is not to list the facts that support his theory. It is not the goal of this article. Nor I want to make a patriotic panegyric to the nation of Catalonia, land of origin of the one who pens this article. It needs to be further mentioned that the first scholar who proclaimed such a bold theory was neither a Catalan nor even an American – it was a Peruvian: Luis Ulloa (1884-1939), in 1927. Needless to say, such thesis caused a great stir in the next decades.

I definitely encourage the reading of this book because, even if I am not aware of any teaching that sets this point clear, I believe that the theory sustained by Merrill is plausible. If the Master Saint Germain (or another) said something that contradicts this hypothesis, I present my apologies and promise to write about a different topic next time.

Briefly, after studying in detail and tracing Columbus’ steps, Merrill concludes that the name Christopher was a pen name (this point had been previously established) that he wrote in a totally bizarre signature began with the sign X-Ferens, which stands for Christ-Ferens, meaning the Christ-bearer; and then other letters added.

His last name, Merrill explains, was COLOM (with the letter M) – not Colón, with an N as it has been spelled in Spanish ever since. There is a traditional Spanish linguistic custom of not ending words with an M (for example, cederrón for CD-Rom), a final sound which, by the way, is very common in the Catalan language.

The family name spelled as “Columbus” was a later translation because the Cristoforo Colombo born in 1451 in the surroundings of Genoa, Italy. However, he was simply another person, a wool-sorter, uneducated and deprived of the vast knowledge possessed by the real discoverer. On the contrary, the real Christopher Columbus was a learned high-society man, as his hand-written letters prove, as well as the deep studies he undertook before proposing his voyage to the West Indies to several monarchs in Europe (England, Portugal, France and Spain), being rejected by all but the Catholic Monarchs Isabel and Ferdinand – after the long time it took him to finally convince them.

By the way, not a single letter written by Columbus in Italian is recorded; not even those headed to Italian civilians. Weird, indeed. Another interesting fact: it used to be said by some of his contemporaries in the kingdom of Castille (such as Bartolomé de las Casas) that his Spanish idioms was understandable but sounded like a non-native Spanish. A context remark here –by that time Spain did not look like it does today –the Iberic peninsula was formed by a few kingdoms, being the main (aside from Portugal) Castille –being Isabel its queen—and Aragon – its king, Ferdinand. The marriage between both did not merge their kingdoms in one and alone, but both maintained their own historical laws, regulations and privileges. Each was the consort monarch of each other’s kingdom and that conferred them some power over the other. I omit further considerations on this topic for it exceeds the aim of this article.

In the final analysis, the motives for Columbus to conceal his place of origin, according to Charles Merrill, were mainly two:

1. Columbus brothers and himself (who as a young man was not a wool sorter but a corsair and expert sailor) had fought against the king of Aragon Juan II (Ferdinand’s father) and that was indeed a bad precedent for his reputation – as a discoverer tagged for the future. The historical background is quite complicated. I will only mention that the king of Aragon Ferdinand (first cousin of Isabel), who came like her from the castilian Trastámara dynasty, inherited his father’s (Juan II) conflicts with the Catalonians whom, apparently, he didn’t love.

2. Isabel (queen of Castille) forbade those who were not Castilians to travel to the discovered lands or even to trade with them. In fact, the non-Castilians who needed to sail there where constrained to obtain a royal authorization. This proscription was kept on paper for some years but in practice was violated. Had Columbus contemporaries known that he was a Catalonian, the entire Catalan people would have revolted due to the ban’s contradiction.

In any event, if that theory is true, it should not come as a surprise, since it is not the first time we hear that the soul of Columbus (or Colom) appears with a name which is not his real name. I am talking about William Shakespeare and Francis Bacon. And other examples may come to one’s mind.

May all decipher the enigma with the alchemist´s eye.

Happy “Colom’s” day to the United States on October 11!

And happy “Día de la Hispanidad” to the rest on October the 12th – the real day of the discovery!

One Response to Origins of Christopher Columbus

  1. Interesting. I welcome challenging history presented to people.
    Past we know about, is probably as much true, as it is present according to official media channels.

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