by Manuel Rosa
September 23, 2021
Manuel Rosa is a PhD candidate in Insular and Atlantic
History (15th-20th Centuries) at the University of the
has spent 30 years investigating the life of the
discoverer, took part in DNA testing and advised UNESCO
and the Haitian Government on matters of Colón's lost
Several of his books published on this subject include
COLUMBUS - The Untold Story (Outwater Media, 2016) and
Portugal e o Segredo de Colombo (Alma dos Livros, 2019).
webpage is located at
Was the fleet of Santa Maria, Pinta and Niña
represented here admiral led by
or Don Cristóbal Colón?
Source: Michael Rosskothen / Adobe Stock
The news was astounding!
Famous India was
discovered just a month's sailing across the Atlantic,
proclaimed the first-ever International Press Release, dated
Lisbon, March 4, 1493...
The outrageous assertion
addressed to Luis de Santángel (clerk of Ración de la Corona
de Aragón,) begins,
"Sir: Since I know
that you will rejoice with the glorious success that our Lord
has given me in my voyage, I write this to tell you that in 33
days I sailed to the Indies," wrote Don Cristóbal Colón, the
newly created Admiral of the Ocean Sea, Viceroy and Governor of
Commonly known today as
Colón's First Letter, the published newsflash was so
extraordinary that it spread like wildfire amongst the population of
You may have never heard of the noble knight named Don
Cristóbal Colón that discovered the New World on October 12,
1492, because historians gave the discovery fame to another man.
The man historians chose
was Cristoforo Colombo, a peasant weaver from Genoa, Italy,
whom the English call by the Latinized name of Christopher Columbus.
Inspiration de Cristobal Colón
Maria Obregon, 1856.
What's In A
Name: Columbus's Mistaken Identity
For the last 100 years, Italians have celebrated their Genoese
Christopher Columbus, and professors still teach this
Christopher Columbus fairytale in schools all around the globe.
Historians mixed up the
noble navigator Colón with the peasant weaver Colombo, giving the
wool-weaver the glory that did not belong to him.
prove that the Genoese weaver Christopher Columbus was not the
explorer Don Cristóbal Colón. The investigation of the
documents by this author is published in COLUMBUS-The Untold Story.
How did such a mistake come to be?
It was not just a simple
case of mistaken identity...
Lead to Mistaken Identity
To understand how researchers took the wrong road to Genoa, we must
recognize the labyrinth of misinformation created initially by the
printing press in 1493.
Also imperative to this
story is a 30-year-long Spanish Inheritance Lawsuit initiated in
Aside from the false news
published in the European Press of the day, forged documents were
introduced during the Inheritance Lawsuit to support the Genoese
As soon as Admiral Colón anchored in Lisbon on March 4, 1493, he
sent the now-famous letter to Santángel who, not only helped
to convince Queen Isabel to sponsor him, but had lent money to the
Spanish Crown to finance the 1492 voyage.
It is not clear how the
Barcelona printer Pedro Posa managed to get his hands on the
missive sent to Santángel. Still, during its printing Posa gave the
discoverer the surname of Colom.
Posa's final sentence
"This letter was sent
by Colom to the Escrivano de Ración about the islands discovered
in the Indies, contained in another letter to Their Highnesses,"
page of the Barcelona Letter printed in April 1493 by Pedro Posa,
with, "This letter sent Colom..." Colom means pigeon in Catalan.
New York Public Library )
This minor misspelling by Posa was probably an innocent mistake.
Using an m instead of an
n was the first misinformation step. A more considerable error arose
just a few weeks later when Posa's publication was translated by
Aliander de Cosco into Latin and republished in Rome on April 29,
This Roman news pamphlet
further corrupted the name Colom into Columbo, gaining the infamy of
being the first publication to give the false name of Columbo to
Colón, as shown in Figure 2.
Ever since Cosco's 1493 publication, the mistake of changing Colón
into Colombo spread to all non-Spanish-speaking nations.
Colón's propaganda letter
was such a sensation that eleven editions were published in 1493
alone. Between 1494 and 1497, six more editions were published,
spreading the news of the discovery to the four corners of Europe.
The unaware public never
knew they were being communicated false information.
of the First Letter printed in Rome,
the printing error of the name as "Columbo."
(Source: Library of Congress,
Those who contended that the navigator's surname was Colombo were
people outside of Spain, living far from the events and alien to the
Hence all places outside
Spain started to know Admiral Colón by the wrong name of
However, Colombo and
Columbus were not the only wrong versions of the Admiral's
Various publications show
no agreement on the surname with variations such as,
Christophorum Coloni, Christoforo Colûbo, Christophoro Colõbo,
Christofano Colombo, Xpõfano Cholonbo,
...among others... see
versions of Colón's letter
the name appears according to
This false portrayal of the mastermind of the epic voyage as Columbo
instead of Colón was a mistake that grew and grew over the centuries
and tricked historians into investigating and writing about the
The error continued until the present day and has been impossible to
from Colón to Columbus
We can now comprehend how from 1493 until today the media, (authors,
printers and translators,) have been altering the facts about
Admiral Colón's life.
First, they distorted
the name of Colón to Colom in Catalan, and then to
Columbo, Columbus, Colombo, Kolomb,
and so on...
The rest, as they
say, is history, albeit erroneous.
Had Cristóbal Colón's
voyage taken place just a few decades earlier, before the
establishment of the printing press, he would not have garnered so
much worldly fame, and less confusion would have been created around
Don Hernando Colón, Don Cristóbal's son, wrote in his
Historie that the Latin form of his father's name was Christopher
Colonus, thus, not Columbus – see Figure 4.
This explanation was
necessary because countless people were already calling his father
by the wrong name during Hernando's lifetime. Don Hernando even
explained that the name Colón came from the Greek kōlon, meaning
member in that language.
The same word where the
English language got its colon and semicolon from.
of Don Hernando's Historie
he wrote Christopher Colonus.
Contrary to the
Portuguese language, where Colom corresponds to a Portuguese
form of the Spanish Colón, unfortunately, the word colom in
Catalan means pigeon.
The Catalan colom
in Posa's printing is equivalent to the Italian colombo and
the Latin columbus, which are not the same as the Greek
Nevertheless, historians insisted, contrary to Hernando's
clarifications and many of Cristóbal Colón's own documents, that his
name was Colombo with the meaning of pigeon in Italian.
Aside from discounting
Don Hernando's statements, the researchers asserted continuously and
incorrectly that Hernando had lied about this father's name and
They even named him
falsely Hernando Colombo when printing his Historie in 1571.
The Spanish documents show that the correct name is Cristóbal Colón,
never Colombo. Colón is the surname the discoverer used while living
in Spain - see Figure 5.
Colón has been the name
for him and his descendants in Spain and all Spanish-speaking
nations for 530 years.
Colón is the surname by
which his Spanish descendants are presently known.
title page from Don Cristóbal Colón's Book of Privileges
prepared by the discoverer in 1502 reads Cartas Previlegios Cedulas
Escrituras de Dõ Xpõval Colon
Almirãte Mayor del Mar Oceano Visorey y Governador de las Islas y
[Letters, Grants, Bonds and other Documents of D. Cristóbal Colón,
Major of the Atlantic, Viceroy and Governor of the Islands and
(Source: University of North Carolina at Chapell Hill,
Books Collection, RBC folio E114.S84c.1.)
Many authors, including those of the Raccolta Colombiana,
used the names Colón and Colombo indiscriminately and
interchangeably as if they were the same name.
Treating both surnames as
the same caused even more confusion.
They would certainly not
have done so innocently, but to remove obvious doubts that exposed
the Genoese weaver as not being the Iberian navigator.
"Not a single
document from the Raccolta proves the Italian origin of Colón or
clarifies the mystery of his birth and childhood," declared
Ezquerra Abadía in 1966, and we totally concur.
writers who knew the navigator in person referred to him as Colom
"Don Christoual Colom
was the first discoverer and Admiral of these Indies," wrote
Oviedo (1478-1557) at the beginning of his second book Historia
general de las Indias. Andrés Bernáldez (1450-1513), in his
Historia de los Reyes Catholics Don Fernando y Doña Isabel wrote
"whom they called Christobal Colon, a man of very high
Pedro Matire de
Anghiera, the chaplain to Queen Isabel, wrote "Cristophorus
Colonus" in his book De orbe nouo …
Colón in Spanish is not a translation of the Italian word Colombo,
which is palomo in Spanish.
The merging of the two names into one happened either because
biographers wrongly accepted the two as the same person, or possibly
because it is evident that they were not the same person and some
authors were intent in falsifying the story, just as they have.
This fact caused Afonso Dornelas to write that,
never imagined that confusion could arise between Colombos and
This grave translation
error, however, continues to be accepted today and has proven to be
impossible to correct.
For instance, when trying
to translate the Latin word columbus into Spanish, dictionaries give
us Colón and not palomo. In the same way, when we search for the
translation of Colón into English, Lithuanian or any other language,
we get the mistranslation as,
Kolumb, Colomb, Colombo,
...just to mention a few,
and not the Greek κῶλον nor the Latin colon.
Today, it is clear that the discoverer's name was not Colombo but
Colón and that he was not the Colombo weaver from Genoa.
Still, how could
researchers accept and graft the Colombo weaver into Colón's story?
Portrait of a Man,
to be Christopher Columbus
by Sebastiano del Piombo (1485-1547)
Double-Dealings, and Forgeries
The false propaganda and rumors had a way to overwhelm the truth.
Yet Colombo families
in Genoa did not believe they were related to the famous
Colón from Spain.
In 1578, when Colón's great-grandson, Don Diego Colón, died without
an heir, all the discoverer's great-grandchildren fought for the
posts, titles, real estate, gold, and lands, some of which were
considerable territories in the New World.
This inheritance lawsuit
lasted until 1609... 30 years of litigation
When the Italian Colombo families learned of this inheritance, some
decided to try and steal it for themselves. However, since they were
not related to the Spanish Colón family, they needed to forge
documents to present to the Spanish Tribunal.
The forgeries were not
only done by the Colombo pretenders but also by the Genoese
government itself in the attempt to inherit what would be, perhaps,
the wealthiest inheritance at the time:
In 1582, arrived Don
Baltazar Colombo, Lord of Cuccaro in Italy, in Monferrato, but
residing in Genoa. In 1588, another Italian, Don Bernardo
But this litigator
was forced to withdraw because it was demonstrated during the
litigation the falsity of the documents on which his claim was
In the 1580s, not one
Colombo was found in Genoa who believed himself related to the Colón
family from Spain.
one false pretender who fought for the opportunity to be named the
heir to the Spanish House of Colón, was from Cogoleto and not
The other false pretender, Baltazar Colombo was a nobleman who could
afford to prepare a better deception. But he too failed to prove
that Colón was a noble Italian, not from Genoa, but from Baltazar's
land of Cuccaro.
Baltazar supported the defense of his cause through purchased
witness testimony, including a monk who claimed under oath to
remember the birth of the Colón brothers in the Castle of Cuccaro.
Knowing that Admiral
Colón was born circa 1455 and that the monk's testimony was written
how could he swear
that he remembered something that had happened 125 years
Nevertheless, this second
Genoese pretender persevered and fought for Colón's inheritance for
nearly three decades.
With so much
documentation forged in the lawsuit, it became difficult for the
judges of the Tribunal to decipher where the truth was.
persevered, as the transcripts from the lawsuit show:
[...] is the aforementioned Don Baltazar [Colombo], for not
belonging, as he claimed to belong, to the same family of the
[...] founder [Don Cristóbal Colón] [...]
Don Baltazar is not,
nor proved to be, a relative of the founder [...] [the 1498 Last
Will that he presented was] neither legitimate, nor public, nor
authentic, nor solemn [...] after analysis by all the judges of
the investigative Council, it proved to be nothing more than a
(CANOVA & MARTUCHO)
What is clear is that a
pretender who did not belong to the Colón family would have to forge
all of his documents to have any chance of entering the inheritance
And among the papers
presented by Baltazar Colombo is a Last Will of 1498. In it one can
"I was born in
The 1498 Last Will was
suspected at the outset as not authentic, thus fraudulent, and duly
And because it was
said, explicitly and openly, that the aforementioned Baltazar
had previously presented the aforementioned Last Will, which he
considers authentic, along with other writings, Your Majesty
should not accept the fraud that may result, because what
Baltazar previously presented was supposed to correspond only to
a missing page of the [true] Last Will of 1502.
(CANOVA & MARTUCHO)
Forgeries Say It All?
When we saw this 1498 Last Will at the Archivo General de Indias in
Seville in 2003, we knew instantly that it was a forgery.
The first word of the
document reads, "Tresaldo," which means Copy, yet the document is
signed "El Almirante," The Admiral.
Another words, this
supposed copy is signed by the Admiral who was already dead.
Furthermore, the date on the document is 1 598 but someone wrote a 4
over the 5 to make it look like 1498, as shown in Figure 6.
The Last Will of 1498,
claiming Colón was born in Genoa and utilized today by so many
historians in their false claims that Colón was the Genoese Colombo,
was reviewed and rejected as a forgery by the Spanish Tribunal in
the 16th century.
fraudulent 1498 Last Will's first page on the left
its first word Treslado.
last page on the right shows the signature
Almirante" instead of a name,
date 1 598 corrected to 1 498,
(Arquivo Geral de Índias, PATRONATO, 295, N.101.)
Only 72 years had passed since the death of the First Admiral of the
Still, no person in
Genoa, and not even the Genoese government, seemed to know that the
famous Don Cristóbal Colón was supposed to be the Cristoforo Colombo
weaver from that city.
Genoa's Senate chose
instead to support a false Bernardo Colombo pretender from Cogoleto
to go to Spain and try to steal the inheritance from the navigator's
This episode shows how no one in Genoa believed that Don Cristóbal
Colón was Genoese, despite the publications and searches for
relatives of the navigator carried out by the Senate of Genoa.
The best they could find
were two postulants, Bernardo de Cogoleto and Baltazar de
Cuccaro, both without any blood ties to the famous Spanish
Since Don Cristóbal Colón never belonged to a Colombo family and
considering that he was not born in Genoa, as it appears he was not,
all Genoese documents become suspicious of being fraudulent and
should be discarded as not being part of Don Cristóbal Colón's
The puzzle of Don
Cristóbal's identity became much more complicated because of
Baltazar's false documents that historians later accepted as
authentic and continue to be accepted nowadays.
They also claim
falsely that the surnames Colón and Colombo were the same.
appears as Baltazar Colon in several of the lawsuit documents,
something intolerable to accept because, as we have shown, the
two surnames are very different in meaning, and the two families
(CANOVA & MARTUCHO)
How was it that the
Tribunal of the Indies rejected the 1498 Last Will as "not
authentic" and this deception by Baltazar came to be accepted as
authentic by historians,
who then presented it
as the only Iberian proof of Colón's Genoese birth?
Document Age Discrepancy
The last document utilized in the fraud of the Genoese Columbus, and
the last one we will discuss here (since they are discussed in
detail in our book) is called the
document supposedly from 1479 claiming that a Cristoforo Colombo
from Genoa was sent to Madeira Island by Paulo Di Negro to buy sugar
The Assereto describes
Cristoforo Colombo as being 27 years old in 1479.
Even if we choose to ignore all the physical irregularities of the
document that make it suspect, we are left with the following
That Colombo had been
sent by Di Negro to buy sugar at the end of the world, since Madeira
and the Azores, in 1479, were the known end of the European world to
the west; but Di Negro did not give him money to make the purchase!
Would any commercial agent act with such incompetence by sending a
buyer so far to buy sugar without giving him the money?
Perhaps no more evidence is needed than the year of birth to prove
that Colombo was not Colón. Don Cristóbal Colón wrote several times
that he was 28 years old in 1484. Therefore, the navigator was born
in 1455 or 1456.
However, the Colombo from
the Assereto was born in 1451. Unlike words and opinions, the math
does not lie. A person cannot be 27 years old in 1479 and then be 28
years old in 1484.
The only explanation is
that Colón and Colombo were two different people.
Admiral Colón, not only by his 1479 marriage to a Portuguese high
noble dame, but also in all of his writings, deeds, relations with
the nobility, and connections to the courts, shows himself to be,
a very cultured
person, full of authority, immersed in matters of the sea since
his childhood; a person who studied throughout his youth, who
never worked a day in manual labor, and who, in his own words,
told us he started his seafaring career at a very young age...
Even if we set aside the
fact that the navigator's name was never Colombo and that he was not
a peasant, we can still show that the weaver was not the mariner.
Two of the three
primary documents supporting the weaver theory are
There is not a single
piece of documentary evidence today to maintain that the two
men, the weaver and the navigator, were one.
The Last Will of 1498
is a forgery not written by Colón, the Assereto Document
gives that Colombo as born in 1451.
Yet Don Cristóbal
Colón was born in 1455/56, because he wrote several times
that he was 28 years old in 1484 when he entered Spain.
While the weaver
Cristoforo Colombo spent his youth behind a loom in Genoa,
Cristóbal Colón spent his youth in school.
Among the expertise
his studies provided him are the languages of Portuguese,
Castilian, and Latin, in addition to familiarity with Greek and
Hebrew - but did NOT know the Italian language.
In the sciences he was
acquainted with geography, cosmography, geometry, cartography,
theology, mathematics, advanced navigation techniques, and even
We know Bobadilla
confiscated secret encrypted letters that Don Cristóbal wrote to his
brother Don Bartolomé.
Don Bartolomé Colón
himself was not far behind Don Cristóbal because aside from
encryption, he wrote at least Castilian and Latin.
Don Bartolomé was so
well educated in Cartography and Navigation that he equaled his
In 1493, following
written instructions left by Don Cristóbal, Don Bartolomé
captained a fleet of ships directly to Haiti without ever having
Friar Las Casas
"not less educated in
Cosmography and what pertains to it, and in making of, or
painting, of navigation charts and globes and other instruments
of that art, than his brother".
CASAS, T. II, 214.)
Like Don Cristóbal, Don
Bartolomé was a man of the sea, and not a wool weaver, to whom Don
Cristóbal entrusted important tasks like the governance of the New
World in his absence or the preparing of the ships, as he declared,
"the Lord Lieutenant
already left with the ships for careening in the old town."
Vol. 3, 264.)
Occam's logic tells us
that if we are going to doubt any of the documents, we must start by
doubting those which are foreign to the Admiral, written by other
people who lived in another world and, thus, separated from the
events by time and space, before we choose to put in doubt the
documents written by the subject about his own life.
We must not fall into the same mistakes as the past investigators
and discard the words of a noble Admiral and Viceroy to impose facts
that do not fit his life.
We must demand the truth,
by every means possible, and not allow ourselves to accept as truth
documents that are clearly fraudulent, composed of uncertainties,
and not even related to the person whose life we are scrutinizing.
I submit that the Spanish documents are enough proof that Don
Cristóbal Colón was not Cristoforo Colombo, and he
was not a Genoese peasant.
knows who Don Cristóbal Colón actually was because we
have spent centuries investigating and writing about the wrong guy.
Furthermore, DNA tests
currently underway at the University of Granada will likely fail to
give us a final identity of the famous Admiral because out of all
the candidates being compared by Professor José Lorente,
there is not one who fits the profile of the great navigator.
In our latest book we have presented a mountain of irrefutable
evidence in support of the Polish-Portuguese prince born on Madeira
Island and await access to the bones in Wawel Cathedral for future
Therefore, this ongoing "
Columbus" Identity Mystery will take a long while yet to solve. We
are only at the beginning of the truth!
For further explanation and full references of supporting evidence,
COLUMBUS - The Untold Story.
Martire d', De orbe nouo Petri Martyris ab Angleria
Mediolanensis protonotarij C[a]esaris senatoris decades, Logart
Press, 1530, iii, iiii.
ANGHIERA, Pietro Martire d', De Orbe Novo, Petri Martyris ab
Angleria Mediolanensis protonotarii cesaris senatoris decades,
BERNÁLDEZ, Andrés, Historia de los reyes católicos Don Fernando
y Doña Isabel, Cap. CXVIII.
CANOVA, Scipion e MARTUCHO, Carlos, Por Don Baltasar Colombo,
contra Don Nuño de Portugal, y consortes, sobre el Almirantazgo
de las Indias, Ducado de Veragua, y Marquesado de Iamayca …,
COLÓN, Cristóbal, Relaciones y cartas de Cristóbal Colón,
Librería de La Viuda de Hernando y C.ª, Calle Del Arenal, Núm.
11, Madrid, 1892, 380-381.
COLÓN, Cristóbal and VARELA, Consuelo Cristóbal Colón Textos y
documentos completos: relaciones de viajes, cartas y memoriales,,
Alianza Editorial, 1989, 215.
COLÓN, Hernando, HISTORIE, Cap. I, 3. Noi vogliamo ridurre alla
pronuncia latina ch'è Chriftophorus Colonus.
DORNELAS, Afonso, Elementos para o estudo etimológico do apelido
Colon, Centro Tipográfico Colonial, Lisboa, 1926, 10.
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LAS CASAS, Fray Bartolomé de, Historia de las Indias, Imprenta
de Miguel Ginesta, Madrid, 1875
MORISON, Samuel Eliot, Admiral of the Ocean Sea, Time
Incorporated, New York, 1962, 33. Centurione had given Di Negro
1290 ducats for this purpose, but Di Negro gave Colombo only
OVIEDO Y VALDÉS, Gonzalo Fernández de, Historia general de las
Indias, 1525, Libro Segundo, iii.
POSA, Pedro, Letter of Columbus to Luis de Santangel, 1493. New
York Public Library. Available online:
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colombiana, MINISTERO DELLA PUBBLICA ISTRUZIONE, Roma,
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del Nuevo Mundo 15 Febrero-14 Marzo 1493, Talleres Hauser y
Menet, Madrid, 1956, 23.
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