Monday, October 8, 2007

Christopher Columbus - Man of Mystery

A fascinating article today at The New York Times. What will the DNA tests eventually reveal? And - I thought there was some controversy about this - are they sure those bones from which they extracted a smidgeon of DNA are Columbus' bones? Seeking Columbus’s Origins, With a Swab By AMY HARMON Published: October 8, 2007 BARCELONA, Spain — When schoolchildren turn to the chapter on Christopher Columbus’s humble origins as the son of a weaver in Genoa, they are not generally told that he might instead have been born out of wedlock to a Portuguese prince. Or that he might have been a Jew whose parents converted to escape the Spanish Inquisition. Or a rebel in the medieval kingdom of Catalonia. Yet with little evidence to support them, multiple theories of Columbus’s early years have long found devoted proponents among those who would claim alternative bragging rights to the explorer. And now, five centuries after he opened the door to the New World, Columbus’s revisionist biographers have found a new hope for vindication. The Age of Discovery has discovered DNA. In 2004, a Spanish geneticist, Dr. Jose A. Lorente, extracted genetic material from a cache of Columbus’s bones in Seville to settle a dispute about where he was buried. Ever since, he has been beset by amateur historians, government officials and self-styled Columbus relatives of multiple nationalities clamoring for a genetic retelling of the standard textbook tale. Even adherents of the Italian orthodoxy concede that little is known about the provenance of the Great Navigator, who seems to have purposely obscured his past. But contenders for his legacy have no compunction about prospecting for his secrets in the cells he took to his grave. And the arrival on Oct. 8 of another anniversary of Columbus’s first landfall in the Bahamas has only sharpened their appetite for a genetic verdict, preferably in their own favor. A Genoese Cristoforo Colombo almost certainly did exist. Archives record his birth and early life. But there is little to tie that man to the one who crossed the Atlantic in 1492. Snippets from Columbus’s life point all around the southern European coast. He kept books in Catalan and his handwriting has, according to some, a Catalonian flair. He married a Portuguese noblewoman. He wrote in Castilian. He decorated his letters with a Hebrew cartouche. Rest of article here.

1 comment:

Colon-o-Novo said...

Open Letter to Amy Harmon

Dear Amy Harmon,
After our communication, I was eager to read your article on Columbus and the struggle historians are involved in to identify his true lineage and nationality.
I read the article “Seeking Columbus's Origins, With a Swab” with interest hoping to learn new facts and to locate some bit of our long conversations and of the facts I passed on to you.

As you recall you contacted me requesting my assistance because Prof. José Lorente told you about my involvement with the DNA studies at the University of Granada.
Being the only historian ever to locate a document related to Columbus's wife in Portugal, the only Historian working with the Portuguese DNA and the only to have proven that the Last Will of Columbus was falsified 67 years after his death, I felt there was some newsworthiness to my work that would appear in your article.

But there was not a single mention of my work in your article, or should I say there was a lot of mentioning of my work with the DNA (His Royal Highness the Duke of Bragança and His Lordship the Count of Ribeira Grande but not linked to my name and my investigation nor to my book, being I the reason they are involved in this DNA study in the first place!).
I found it hard to believe that you quoted even Peter Dickson, who is not involved with any DNA studies but did not mention me and my work nor of my assistance to you. Even my Polish Prince was mentioned and the Count of Ribeira Grande quoted. I fail to understand why my work which is being praised by the scientific community and is being shown on an upcoming Discovery Channel Documentary, was not mentioned.
I was able to get to where I did by being able to understand Portuguese, Spanish, English, Italian, French and by digging deep into the genealogy this is why the DNA is so important because it will resolve this fairytale history once and for all.

I can only hope that you did not mention me or my investigation because you are working on another article solely to mention my work.

Best Regards,
___________________________
Manuel Rosa - Columbus Historian
www.colombo.bz

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