Columbus, Christopher

   Discoverer of America. Until 1914 it was believed that Columbus was born in Genoa, the son of a weaver, and worked as a wool carder before going to sea at the age of fourteen. The discovery of documents by a Spanish scholar revealed the existence of one Cristobo Colon, son of Susan Fonterosa, a recently converted Jew, who was born in Pontevedra, in northwest Spain. Since then it has been a matter of scholarly controversy whether the discoverer of America was the Spanish Cristobo Colon or the Italian Christoforus Columbus. Another theory is that Columbus is the Italian version of Colon, a name not uncommon among 15–century Italian Jews, and that Christoforus’ parents were Jewish converts. Certainly Columbus himself was deliberately mysterious about his origins and various cryptic statements he made could be interpreted as references to a Jewish origin. He pointed out that ‘in the same month in which the Spanish rulers determined to expel the Jews from the entire kingdom, they gave me my commission to undertake a voyage to the Indies’. Columbus had Jewish backers, among them Isaac ABRABANEL and Abraham Seneor, who supported him until forced to leave Spain (or in Seneor’s case accept baptism). He was also supported by influential new Christian converts from Judaism, Luis de Santangel and Gabriel Sanchez. Among his crew were several Marranos (Christians who were secretly Jews), perhaps attracted by the idea of a voyage to a country where religious persecution might be unknown.

Who’s Who in Jewish History after the period of the Old Testament. . 2012.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • COLUMBUS, CHRISTOPHER — (1451–1500), discoverer of America, thought by some to have been of Marrano extraction. He was himself mysterious when speaking of his origin, apparently having something in his background which he wished to conceal. However, he boasted… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Columbus,Christopher — Columbus, Christopher. 1451 1506. Italian explorer in the service of Spain who determined that the earth was round and attempted to reach Asia by sailing west from Europe, thereby discovering America (1492). He made three subsequent voyages to… …   Universalium

  • Columbus, Christopher — • Lengthy biographical article on the explorer Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006 …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Columbus, Christopher — Italian Cristoforo Colombo Spanish Cristóbal Colón born between Aug. 26 and Oct. 31?, 1451, Genoa died May 20, 1506, Valladolid, Spain Genoese navigator and explorer whose transatlantic voyages opened the way for European exploration,… …   Universalium

  • Columbus, Christopher — (in Italian, Cristoforo Colombo; in Spanish, Cristobal Colón; 1451 1506)    Italian born Spanish navigator, explorer, and colonial administrator, conventionally recognized as the discoverer of the Americas. Although recent criticisms by ethnic… …   Historical Dictionary of Renaissance

  • COLUMBUS, CHRISTOPHER —    discoverer of America, on Oct. 12, 1492, after two months of great peril and, in the end, mutiny of his men, born in Genoa; went to sea at 14; cherished, if he did not conceive, the idea of reaching India by sailing westward; applied in many… …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

  • Columbus, Christopher — (1451 1500)    Explorer of Italian origin, discoverer of America. He was possibly of marrano extraction. He boasted about his connection with King David and was inter ested in Jewish and marrano society. His name was not unknown among Italian… …   Dictionary of Jewish Biography

  • Columbus, Christopher — (1451 1506)    Genoa, Italy. Explorer. On his third voyage to the Americas in 1498, supported by the Spanish king and queen, it is said that he was accompanied by four Gypsies …   Historical dictionary of the Gypsies

  • Columbus's Letter on the First Voyage — to the New World was written on February 15, 1493, on board the caravel Niña at sea with a postscript written on March 14 when he arrived back into port at Lisbon, Portugal. Anzovin, p. 109, item #2282. The first letter containing a description… …   Wikipedia

  • Christopher Columbus —     Christopher Columbus     † Catholic Encyclopedia ► Christopher Columbus     (Italian CRISTOFORO COLOMBO; Spanish CRISTOVAL COLON.)     Born at Genoa, or on Genoese territory, probably 1451; died at Valladolid, Spain, 20 May 1506.     His… …   Catholic encyclopedia

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