Christophorus Columbus - was he Greek?
Christophorus Columbus - was he Greek?
1 May 2003
When you enter some Greek ship-owners office, you will notice a model of the Caravel Santa Maria, which was the flagship of the renowned Christophorus Columbus. Asking why to have this ship in the office - you will probably get the answer: “Do you not know Columbus was a Greek from Chios?” (the Greek Island of Xios). At first I took this alike a Greek Mythos - but still wondering over this and have been searching over the years and have come to the following conclusion: Columbus was not born in Genoa but was a Byzantine nobleman, Disypatos Paleologos.
Paleologos (Columbus) was born in Constantinople in 1439 and not, as the Genoese claim, in their city in 1446, 1447, 1449 or 1451 or 1452. Just before the fall of Constantinople in 1453, Columbus left with his uncle Admiral Disypatos George Paleologos. He was then 14 years old and became a privateer in his uncle’s ship. It was then the time that the French needed good seamen and his uncle eventually became an Admiral in the French navy, which he joined under the name Colon Le Jeune. Colon was a common name then, as it meant “Captain”. The name and that Columbus’ uncle was a privateer, is written in the biography by his son Ferdinand who writes that “He learned seamanship from the famous privateer Admiral Colon who had the same name and was his kinsman”. Official French documents are in existence today which states that Colon Le Jeune was the Greek Admiral George Disypatos Paleologos. But though he did not speak Italian or Genoese, he knew another language with different characters. Peter Martyr writes that “The Admiral sent letters to his brother Bartholomew written in a different alphabet”. Naturally he would be writing to his brother in their mother language and not in Latin. But naturally one should ask why Columbus never mentioned that he was Greek. There is a reason for this. As a Greek he was Orthodox and at that time he could be considered by the fanatics of the Inquisition as a heretic, and most probably instead of discovering in the new World, he could be burned as a heretic. But regardless of the above arguments, if at a later date he stated that he was a Greek Orthodox, they would never give him the title of the Viceroy of the Indies, neither Admiral of the Oceans. A heretic could not have all these honors for life. He could not be Great Admiral of Castile and Duke of Veragua. But there is another fact to consider. Columbus never wrote in Italian or Genoese, even to the Pope, but in Spanish. He also wrote in Spanish to the Genoese Banker, Antonio Kallo. And any serious researcher must ask and answer this question: “How can a Genoese write to another Genoese in a language other than their own?” Columbus paid for the purchase of his three masted flagship “Santa Maria” of 223 tons, 500,000 Maravedies. While the king of Spain paid another 1,000,000 Maravedies. How could he, only a short time before a mere wool-worker, be able to raise this very large sum of money? Could it be that Columbus was indeed a privateer, a Greek from Constantinople who started his naval career as a privateer? When he was imprisoned in America and was sent in chains to Spain by Bobadella, Columbus wrote to the King, that “up to 1500 he was more or less continuously at Sea for 40 years”. If we consider that in another document he states that he went to sea at the age of 14 years old and that he spent 7 years in Spain in his effort to secure the ships for the expedition, we come to the conclusion, that Columbus, in 1500 must have been at least 61 years old (14+40+7=61) and that he must have been born in 1439 and not as the Genoese want to prove that, their Columbus, the ex wool-worker was born in 1446, 1447, 1449, 1451 or 1452. Thus we have another possible argument to make us believe that Columbus could have been born in 1439 in Constantinople and left it just before its fall. Columbus had stated that he was Genoese, but Chios, to which he often referred with admiration, Chios was Genoese ruled at the time. It may be concluded that he was a Greek, not only from research in Greece, but also for the following reasons:
1. The signature of Columbus is Grecolatin, XroFERENS,
2. Columbus used to write Chios the Greek was, XIOS,
3. He named Cape Maus with the Greek words Alfa and Omega,
4. He did not ask the Genoese for ships or supplies,
5. He never referred to his family in Genoa,
6. He never wrote nor has anyone written that he spoke Italian,
7. Some of the notes in his books were also in Greek,
8. They called him the Genoese because he was dressed in the Genoese fashion which the Chios people had made their own.
9. He signed his name prior to becoming an Admiral of the Ocean, Columbus de Terra Rubra (red earth) which is an area in the south of Chios.
The final conclusion is that the origin of Columbus the ex weaver of Genoa is an incorrect statement, “the invention of the glory seeking Italian patriots of Genoa”, and does not correspond to known facts - as already discussed and to Columbus’ own statements as reported in his letters an as stated by his son Ferdinand. It is not possible that he was born between 1446 and 1452; Columbus’ statements as reported by his son make it more probably that he was born in or around 1439. But history is not a myth or a novel where we can produce our heroes or our characters the way we want them or as our personal whims or interests will have them. However, looking at the sources of history for Columbus’ origin, we must accept what Borromai states in his letter of 1494, that Columbus should not be confused with another Christopher Columbo born in Genoa, who was a wool worker. The assumption that he was a Byzantine corresponds with his own statements and those of his son Ferdinand when they both state that he was a kinsman of Colon the Younger whose true name was George Disypatos Paleologos.S. L.