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BEHIND THE MYTH, BEYOND THE LEGEND
CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS, DISCOVERER OF AMERICA, WAS PORTUGUESE
For the past five centuries it has been widely accepted that America was discovered by a Genoese sailor – Cristoforo Colombo.
He entered this epic adventure under a contract with the Kings of Spain (at the time, Castile and Aragon kingdoms) and the exceptional outcome of his enterprise made him to become a national hero of Spain, under the name of Cristóbal Colón.
Prior to his appearance in Castile, the seafarer lived in Portugal where he learned everything about cartography and ocean navigation. His name would then be Cristóvão Colon.
Despite of being known as a Genoese, it is very strange that several other cities in Italy keep claiming to be Colombo’s birthplace. Without wanting to be exhaustive, we just name a few of those italian cities: Genoa, Savona, Nervi, Cugureo, Piacenza. Even Milano was included, at the earliest times.
In each of these cities we may be shown “the house where Cristoforo Colombo was born”, and there are also several official italian documents certifying the origin of Colombo from each of them.
This sole fact should be enough for a first conclusion: it can’t be true!
At least, all except one documents are false. Then, as we go deeper and deeper, and this has been done by various authors and investigators, none of those documents is trustful. Or, to be more precise, it is possible that a Cristoforo Colombo was born in Italy, it is also probable that he born in the city of Genoa, but it is sure he was not the same man who discovered America.
THE MYTH OF AMERICA
A few words also to clarify another myth: when it is said that Christopher Columbus discovered America, this America should be considered the whole mainland plus the islands, as in fact, the ships first arrived to some islands in the Bahamas and the West Indies (nowadays better known as the Caribbean), touched Central America in today’s Panama and South America in today’s Venezuela, and explored those coasts, but in none of Columbus’ four trips they have reached North America.
HERO OF SPAIN
Because the genoese theory was proved to be false, many other hypothesis have grown and we may find articles trying to claim that the seafarer was born in places as different as Sardinia, Calvi (Corsica), Khios (Greece) or Ibiza, Galicia, Viscaya and Catalonia in Spain.
Given that Cristobal Colon became the national hero of Spain, celebrated with monuments in several cities, towns and villages, it is not a surprise the increasing and stronger efforts made by Spain to turn the contracted foreigner hero into a Spanish born citizen.
Paramount of these efforts is a recent TV program on Discovery Channel, where the italian theory is broken into pieces by Prof. Charles Merrill, from Mount St. Mary’s University.
But a fallacious alternative is offered to the audience. “Enigma Colón: was he italian or spaniard?”
Then, a series of arguments is thrown to influence the conclusion: Colon was, probably, a catalan spaniard. However, none of the arguments is convincing and we may even think that there is a manipulation to some extent.
In fact, exactly the same arguments used to force that conclusion, could be used to conclude that the navigator was Portuguese.
This could be a surprise to everybody except for a few portuguese authors who have spend large parts of their lives investigating the origins of Christopher Columbus or, more precisely Cristóvão Colon.
“COLUMBUS” WAS PORTUGUESE
Prof. Mascarenhas Barreto, Dr. Luciano da Silva and, more recently, Manuel da Silva Rosa, portuguese historian and investigators, proved that there are several other aspects of Columbus or Colon’s life and many historical documents left ignored by those who want to give him a wrong nationality.
A GREAT SWIMMER
It is usually said that Colombo arrived to Portugal in 1476, having swam six miles to shore, after the ship he was sailing in was burned by privateers, off the Cape St. Vincent, southwest Portugal.
Only a miracle could allow somebody to swim 6 miles in the cold strong waters of the Atlantic Ocean in that area and survive several hours at low temperatures. Then he had to cover the distance between Cape St. Vincent and Lisbon, which is nowadays around 250 km by road with crossing of several long bridges. Just imagine how “easy” it was five centuries ago.
There is also no proof that Cristoforo Colombo sailed with Genoese merchants, and his name is not included in the list of crew members from the five ships that suffered the attack.
Greater than a miracle is the fact that in 1474 (i.e. 2 years before), Colombo in Lisbon and the cosmographer Toscanelli in Italy were writing to each other. And their letters were not written in Italian. They were written in Latin, at the time the equivalent to the use of English nowadays, between people who do not speak the same language. Why would two Italians use Latin instead of Italian?
And for the rest of his life, Colombo never wrote or spoke in Italian, not even with his brothers. Could this mysterious amnesia to the Italian language be a result of swimming 6 miles in cold waters?
By 1477, Columbus was sailing with the portuguese fleet. He sailed to Ireland and Iceland in 1477, to Madeira islands in 1478, and to West Africa between 1482 and 1485.
By Royal laws, only Portuguese citizens were allowed to become crew members of the portuguese fleet. Who could be this “Italian” Colombo to sail in the portuguese fleet?
In 1479, Colombo married to Felipa Perestrelo, daughter from a noble portuguese family.
Felipa’s father was Bartolomeu Perestrelo, partner on the second voyage of the navigator João Gonçalves Zarco, who discovered Madeira Islands,
All our knowledge about marriages within the nobility should now be subject to doubt. Cristoforo Colombo, son of a poor weaver Genoese family, married to Felipa, member of the portuguese nobility, daughter of a navigator, the most prestigious group at those times. Unbelievable!
For Drª Anunciada Colón de Carvajal, historian and descendent from the navigator, this marriage was also impossible.
But Felipa was in fact, a noble, she in fact, married to Columbus. Could her husband be Cristoforo Colombo?
MOVING TO SPAIN
Felipa and Columbus had a son, Diogo, but Felipa died in January 1485 and Columbus moves to Spain, where he starts contacts with friends and relatives as he arrives to the monastery of La Rabida.
Just before Columbus’ departure from Portugal, King João II organized a meeting of experts to evaluate the navigator’s plan to reach India and Asia sailing westwards.
At the time, Portugal was the most powerful nation over the seas and has achieved several milestones progressing along the coast of Africa.
The books of history have been telling us that King João II refused support to Columbus and, for that reason, he decided to offer his plan to the Kings of Castile and Aragon. He spent seven years to convince them.
It is surprising that Columbus kept pursuing his aim of convincing the Kings of Spain during seven long years, but withdraw from his attempt with King João II of Portugal, immediately after the initial refuse.
AGENT FOR AN ENTERPRISE
For some investigators, King João II refused support because the experts concluded that it was impossible to survive the long extension of the trip. For Prof. Mascarenhas Barreto and other portuguese investigators, King João II had hidden objectives and sent Columbus as an agent to Spain in order to keep the spanish fleet far from those objectives.
For Manuel da Silva Rosa, that meeting did not exist as it is described. King João II and Cristóvão Colon just pretended...
King João II wanted to ensure that the route to India, sailing around the african continent would be achieved without spanish interference as per the Treaty of Toledo, but also wanted to modify this treaty. The portuguese strategic way of sailing forth and back from Africa in large circles, had already offered very interesting results, and a new land was found: Brazil. However, it’s location was beyond the meridian division at 100 miles from Cape Verd, set by the treaty, and the Portuguese kept it secret. King João II wanted to move the division line further west. How could this be done?
The navigator Salvador Fernandes Zarco was appointed by the King to perform a strategic move in Spain. Once there, Salvador Zarco avoided to use his real identity. Queen Isabel and thus also King Fernando knew who Salvador was, as they were relatives (cousins, from same grand-grandfathers). However, Salvador convinced them that he had moved to Spain due to his bad relation with King João II and his refusal for support. Thus the reason to offer his services abroad, under a pseudonym.
After seven long years trying to convince the Kings of Castile and Aragon, the navigator is offered the enterprise of finding a route to India and Asia, sailing westwards.
The existing treaty also defined a parallel division line at the latitude of the Canaries Islands. Above that line -for Spain, below that line -for Portugal.
The spanish fleet of three ships, Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria, under the command of Cristóvão Colon, crosses below the line and goes to discover several islands inside the portuguese area for new possessions.
When they return to Spain after the discoveries, the ship of Cristóvão Colon diverts to Lisbon where Colon submits to his King João II a detailed report of the new lands discovered. Only after that meeting Colon proceeds to Spain, where he announces the good news and is proclaimed as an hero.
The Portuguese King looses no time to claim the territories, as they belong to the portuguese area.
He pretends to send a large fleet to make possession, until the Kings of Spain accepted another negotiated solution.
A brand new treaty was signed between Portugal and Spain, blessed by the Pope. The Treaty of Tordesillas defines a single division line for the whole world. It is a meridian at 370 miles from Cape Vert.
Spain gets the new islands discovered by Colon. It looks like Portugal gets nothing but sea…, without spanish competition.
It has taken no long until Portugal announced more progressions along the coast of Africa and arrived to India. It took no long until Portugal announced the discovery of Brazil, conveniently located before the 370 miles division line.
THE PAPAL BULLS
In the library of the Vatican City are kept some of the most important documents of the world. Amongst them, are two Papal Bulls addressed to the Kings of Spain, confirming the discovery of the New World and declaring spanish possession. The Bulls are written in Latin. The Pope at the time was Alexander VI, an italo-spaniard. The first Bull is dated May 1493 and displays the name of the navigator as Christofom Colon. The second Bull, some weeks later, displays the name as Christofõru (latinised form of Christofom) Colon.
There is no doubt: the navigator who discovered the New World was not Cristoforo Colombo. Neither he was Christobal.
There are a few documents and letters from Columbus. Some were hand-written by himself, others by his personal secretary. Many others are just falsifications forged to pretend he was the genoese.
When we look to Columbus’ signature, we do not specifically see his name as he always used a coded form of signing: a sigla.
This coded form, the “Kaballah” was common amongst Hebrews and medieval Templar Knights. When Templar Knights organisation was forced to extinction elsewhere, in Portugal it has been replaced by Christ Knights.
At the time of the discoveries, Christ Knights were lead by Infante D. Henrique (Prince Henry, the Navigator) and the portuguese navigators were members of the Knights.
Salvador Fernandes Zarco (or Cristóvão Colon) was certainly no exception.
Up to very recently, it wasn’t easily accepted that this sigla could have any relation with secret organisations like the Knights. But after the book “The da Vinci Code” has been published, people starts to understand the existence of those mysteries.
Run Futthark, in the book “Les Templiers – Moines et Chevaliers de la Lumiére” says that Columbus’ ships displayed the Templar cross symbol on their sails and concludes that Columbus had some relation with the organisation, in spite of its official extinction, and probably was a member of the Calatrava Knights, that succeeded to the Templars in Spain.
Why should a member of Calatrava Knights use the symbol of the Temple instead of Calatrava?
Templar Knights have been forced to extinction. In Spain they were succeeded by Calatrava Knights; in Portugal they were succeeded by Christ Knights. Using the symbol of Templars instead of Calatrava, he was, certainly, pointing his secret affiliation.
This sigla has been deeply investigated by Prof. Mascarenhas Barreto, who, after 15 years, achieved to decode the meaning of the encryption:
“Fernandus ensifer copiae Pacis Juliae illaqueatus cum Isabella Sciarra Camarae mea soboles Cubae sunt”
This latin sentence translates to english as “Fernando, Duke of Beja and Isabel Sciarra da Câmara are my parents from Cuba”
(Beja is the capital city of the Baixo Alentejo district in Portugal. Under the Roman Empire, its name was Pax Julia;
Cuba is a village located about 10 miles north of Beja. No other village, city or territory had the same name at the time, in Italy, Spain or Portugal)
Dr. Luciano da Silva also studied the sigla, basing his conclusions just on the alphabetic symbols:
“[ Xpõ ] is a standard abbreviation of Christo in Greek, meaning ‘Christ’.
[ FERENS ] is the Latin word meaning messenger. FERENS in Portuguese became vão, producing Cristó + vão, or Cristóvão.
[ . / ] is the Greek semicolon. But five centuries ago was only called colon.
Cristóvão Colon was the trade name of the discoverer.
His natural name was Salvador Fernandes Zarco
We have stated above that a sigla has secret meanings. Now we will show the Navigator’s sigla has a double meaning. The bottom part of the sigla contains also his other name, Salvador Fernandes Zarco. How?
We should know that Christians commonly called Christ the Savior. Savior in Portuguese is ‘Salvador’. The letters ‘põ’ of Xpõ are small letters. Why? Because the name Salvador is the name of a person and does not stand for ‘Christ” or ‘God’, otherwise, all letters would have been capitalized.
In addition to its meaning as messenger, FERENS has an encoded meaning. It is the abbreviation of the name Fernandes in Portuguese.
So far, we have two names, Salvador Fernandes. Where in the sigla is the last name Zarco?
Taking another look at FERENS, we note the final S differs from the Ss in the upper part of the sigla—its upper extremity is raised. Although similar to an upper case S, it is not an S. Rather, it is the inverted Hebrew letter called a Lamed.
Lamed has the same meaning as the Greek word “Colon” [ : ] or [ . / ] meaning ‘member’ or ‘parts’.
But there is a rule in Hebrew alphabet that when a letter is upside down or inverted, it alters the meaning of what follows: “It looks like, but it is not. It is the other one.”
And the other meaning of [ . / ], Colon, in Greek, should be read as the meaning in Hebrew of the inverted Lamed, which is the name Zarco.
Colon in Greek is equal to Zarco in Hebrew.”
Cristovão Colon never signed his name on his documents or letters. He always used his sigla. To the left of his sigla, he placed his Monogram, which no historian or investigator had noticed or deciphered until January 1989.
Dr. Luciano da Silva’s wife, Sílvia, is an excellent embroideress. Because she has executed many monograms in needle-point, Dr. Luciano asked her to unscramble the letters contained in the monogram to the left of the sigla. She easily obtained the letters, S, F, Z, which are the initials of the Navigator, Salvador Fernandes Zarco.
Monogram SFZ = Salvador Fernandes Zarco
The other cipher used by Cristóvão Colon is his blessing, which appears on all the last twelve personal letters the Navigator wrote to his legitimate son, Diogo, from November 12, 1504 to February 24, 1505.
This peculiar sign or cipher, according to Simon Wiesenthal (1973), appears on all of those letters in the upper left corner. This cipher consists of two Hebrew characters “beth” and “hei”, which stand for baruch hashem, meaning a blessing salutation between hebrews. The letters beth and hei are intertwined like a monogram. All dozen letters to his son, Diogo, are consistent in having the three ciphers, constantly reminding Diogo which were his origins and jewish ancestors from the Zarco family.
COATS OF ARMS
Cristoforo Colombo was a son of a poor genoese family of weavers. Coats of Arms were only a privilege to the nobility.
As a reward for his successful voyage of discovery, the Spanish sovereigns granted Columbus the right to bear arms. According to the blazon specified in letters patent dated May 20, 1493, Columbus was to bear in the first and the second quarters the royal charges of Castile and Leon -- the castle and the lion -- but with different tinctures or colors. In the third quarter would be islands in a wavy sea, and in the fourth, “the customary arms of his family”.
Clearly, the man whose family used to have a customary coat of arms, could not be a genoese weaver.
And the forth quarter of Columbus’ coat of arms displays five small silver anchors, forming an X, over a blue area. The royal portuguese coat of arms displays five blue Shields, each of them with five silver coins forming an X. The silver coins in the portuguese coat are a sign for “good luck”. The equivalent for the Hebrews were the anchorets, or small anchors.
Salvador was the son of D. Fernando, Duke of Beja, from his relation with Isabel Sciarra da Câmara.
Fernandes stands for “son of Fernando”.
D. Fernando was son of King D. Duarte of Portugal. Isabel da Câmara was daughter of João Gonçalves Zarco, a portuguese navigator who discovered Madeira island with partner navigator Bartolomeu Perestrelo. Both of them were members of Christ Knights, lead by D. Henrique (Prince Henry – The Navigator)
Christopher Columbus married to Felipa Perestrelo, daughter of Bartolomeu Perestrelo.
This was too much of a coincidence for Christopher Columbus not to be Salvador Fernandes Zarco.
One of the arguments used on Discovery Channel documentary is the analysis of Columbus’ handwriting. To conclude that he could be Catalan, one of his letters was compared, by Pe. Gabriel Roura, to catalan documents of the 15th Century and the type of handwriting was found to be very similar.
But this is not only a very poor theory , as it also can be a major mistake: the letter shown by Discovery can be clearly identified by an expert – it is addressed to his son Diogo and dated April 29th 1498. There is only one issue: the sigla is wrong. This letter was not hand-written by Columbus, it was written by his personal secretary.
So, it could only be used to conclude that the secretary was catalan, not the navigator.
Another argument is that there are many hesitations and strange words in Columbus’ documents and letters, written in castillian. For Prof. Dr. Luis de Yzaguirre, linguistics engineering specialist from Pompeu Fabra University, this could mean he was Catalan. But not a single catalan word is shown from his texts.
However, Prof. Mascarenhas Barreto has found more than a hundred pure portuguese words and many other portuguese original words transformed by spanish influence.
He was a bizarre Catalan, this Columbus!
Another argument used by french investigator Francesc Albardaner, to enforce the catalan theory is that Columbus could be a member of a noble catalan family of rich merchants, and he was fighting against King Ferdinand of Aragon. The kingdom of Aragon included the territory of Catalonia. The family name would be Coullon and the man survived the battle between the fleet of genoese ships and privateers, but he was with the privateers, not with the genoese.
As described, Salvador Fernandes Zarco was a grand-son of King D. Duarte of Portugal. And who was Salvador’s grandmother, married to D. Duarte? Queen D. Leonor of Aragon!
The portuguese Salvador was also a member of a noble family from Aragon, that included Catalonia.
No wonder he can be described as a member of a catalan family. But that’s it. From here there is no path to argue he was catalan.
FORCING THE HISTORY
There are already some scientific conclusions based on anthropomorphic studies done by Prof. Miguel Botella, forensics antropology specialist at Granada University, to the remains of Diogo, Columbus’ brother. At the date of his dead, Diogo would be about 56 years old.
According to the documentation submitted by italian authorities and related to the family from Genoa, this brother of Cristoforo Colombo was less than 48 years old when he died. So, cannot be the same person.
The Colombo family from Genoa where Dominicus Colombo and Susana Fontanarossa, parents of Christoforus, Bartholomeus, Jacobus, Giovanni and Bianchinetta.
Because Cristovão Colom had two brothers sailing with him, Bartolomeu and Diogo, the italians had to force history: they found a Cristoforo Colombo with a brother Bartolomeu. But the other brother was Jacobus, not Diogo, so they changed the name in the documents that followed.
Only a miraculous coincidence would allow the remains of Diogo, brother of the navigator Cristóvão to proof he had the same age as Jacobus, brother of the weaver Cristoforo.
As well, the scientists from Granada University, Dr. Jose Manuel Llorente and Carlos Alvarez, said that it was not possible to conclude that Columbus and Diogo were brothers, based on the DNA tests, because the sequence extracted from Columbus’s bones was too short.
Maybe it was too short .
CUBA AND OTHER PORTUGUESE NAMES
To the first island he arrived, Columbus gave his own first name: Salvador
Then he gave the following names to the places he discovered:
Fernandina, which relates to Fernando, his father’s name.
Isabella, relating to Isabel, his mother’s name.
Juana, relating to João, his King’s name (but then he decided to replace the name, as Juana could be too obvious for the Kings of Spain) and the new name was
Cuba, the name of the village he was born in Alentejo, Portugal.
Conceição, the name of the church he was baptised (?), in Beja, built by his father.
It’s also very interesting the name Hispaniola he gave to the second largest island. People usually make the association with España (Spain), but in fact it stands for the whole Iberian peninsula. A look to old maps will confirm that the Iberian peninsula was Hispania.
More than forty portuguese names were given by Columbus to locations in the Greater and Lesser Antilles of the Caribbean area.
Not one single italian name was identified!!!
BEHIND AND BEYOND
Behind the Myth of the Genoese Colombo, beyond the poor attempts to give him another wrong nationality where he is a Legend, we arrive to the bright side of the mystery:
Christopher Columbus, the navigator known as the italian Cristoforo Colombo from the history, was not the spaniard Cristobal Colon. He used the pseudonym of Cristóvão Colon and was, in fact, the portuguese Salvador Fernandes Zarco, born in the village of Cuba, in the Alentejo region, inland south Portugal.
Now, after the DNA tests made to the remains of Fernando Colon - navigator’s son (second marriage), of Diogo Colon – navigator’s brother and of the navigator himself, only a very small step is required to close the gap and bring scientific confirmation to the document proofs for the portuguese and real Columbus – Salvador Fernandes Zarco: to make DNA tests to one of his ancestors, for example the portuguese kings D. Duarte (his grandfather) or D. Manuel I (his half-brother, same father), given that there are no remains left in the grave of his father D. Fernando, Duke of Beja.
It is not even required to go that far, as actually there are in Portugal living persons carrying the same DNA type of King D. Duarte, as the Y cromossome thoes not change along a male chain, from father to son.
|Revised Oct 2007||
Carlos Calado – Núcleo de Amigos da Cuba