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Christopher Columbus, Beyond His Own Thoughts -- Vivid History as We Saw it
Going Back in Time...
From the Dominican Republic's Lighthouse, "El faro," to his final resting place at the Seville Cathedral in Spain, we wanted to find our man; our historical person with no set limitations. So much was said and so much he claimed in his own defense. He was no easy task. We delved our mind into books and infinite biographies. We had an advantage on our side, though: we spoke Columbus language, therefore we knew our Latin and Castilian.
May 20, 1506
Is, let's say, it's Christopher Columbus final hours on earth, right here in Valladolid-Spain. High fever and uneasiness couldn't stop him from worrying about his two sons until the last minute of his frail and vulnerable life. Why did he look so worried?
Franciscan priests were giving him his last rites according to the Catholic ecumenical tradition. We were able to see a weary and tired old man that wanted to repent himself for sins that he must've kept to the last minutes of that rentless breathing of his.
We hear words in Latin and Castilian. "pater, filius sancty, amen!"... "Os doy la bendicion hijo mio..."
The priests said their prayers for the relief of suffering of this famous man, through anointing, and the final administration of the Eucharist, known as "Viaticum," which is Latin for "provision for the journey." An old ritual sacred song was sung acapella on-and-off. The room echoed the words and we felt like we were really back there...
What do we see ourselves?
We see a man bedridden and weak. A reddish neck product of decades of sunburn dreams and that unforgivable ocean breeze. He didn't look 54 at all. His gray hair didn't help him much. It was thinner and with bold spots His aquiline nose denoted his Mediterranean origins. What do we see or smell under his bedsheets? A strong odor, close to the tapestry from old Catholic churches. Where do we get all this detailed perception? A time traveling mind united to our passion for History.
But there is more... is this just us? We wanted to know the real cause of his death. Columbus had a wife in Portugal and a mistress in Spain. Was he infected on his last fourth voyage by an Indian woman just to "feed" his needs? What was really put away from the books of history? Time, research and more advanced mitochondrial DNA tests will tell us some day.
Columbus could not have died of tuberculosis in a couple of years, not even dysentery. Pleurisy was out of the picture. He looked worn down and abandoned. Could it be syphilis or a tropical venereal disease?. His last Voyage took place in 1502, and his life went down to nothing in four years. He was exposed to that nasty tropical weather and so many new world traditions and their own personal hygiene.
Going back to... August 3rd, 1492
We knew Leif Ericsson made it to America almost 500 years before Columbus. But on this day Christopher Columbus was ready to sail from "Palos de la frontera," A seaport in Andalusia Spain.
Portugal, Genoa and other Italian kingdoms like Venice refused and denied support due to the nature of the enterprise. Royal advisers and hidden interests got in the way. King Ferdinand II of Aragon and Queen Isabella I from Castile, had just finished a war against the Moorish Kingdom of Granada on January 2nd, 1492. Hispania, as it was known then the Iberian peninsula, was ruled by an Islamic al-Andalus entity since 711 C.E., and at this very moment the Monarchs of Castile and Aragon, defeated the last stronghold from the East.
Perseverance, luck and the ultimate Glory
Columbus was about to give up on his dreams, but Franciscans Antonio De La Marchena and Juan Pérez, gave him a place to stay at the Monastery of "La Rabida." Here is where his beliefs took a new turn. He was thankful up to his last days.
Brothers Vicente Yañes Pinzon who commanded "La Niña," and Martin Alonso Pinzon who also took charge of "La Pinta," were born in Palos. Martin was bold enough to "lend" half a million of Maravedis (currency of that time) for supplies and food.
Christopher Columbus had it made. Was this a historical event set up in heaven? We just wonder how many lost to time visionaries didn't have his luck. But at the end of a chapter from history, do we really think it was worth it?
Let's go Inside "La Rabida" and Join Columbus on his praying
Inside the Monastery
Monastery of La Rabida Days Before Departure
Columbus and his myriad of seafarers and consummated sailors, just started praying. Due to the Moorish influence and consequential fashion of the century, most wore long beards. All of them joined in prayer. This was the place where future names like "Los Angeles," "Columbia," "DeSoto." "Florida," "San Antonio," and so many cities would be born. This is the starting point for Pizarro, Diego De Almagro, Hernan Cortes and DeSoto himself. All united in Christendom and reckoning deeds.
But honestly, who in the world would venture into an unknown sea with vivid tales of gigantic sea monsters, and the edge of far away oceans? We just have a name for them: Adventurers. Adventurers and risk takers that dared to go beyond safe common sense and rational understanding. Some will carry sexual transmitted diseases. Were they promised a holy land? Were they cold blooded enough to sail away with just some maritime expertise or crafting dexterity?
This would mean, as we said before, the beginning of the clash of cultures. No Castilian women left for the new world in 1492. Mestizos would be born after 1453, and some will carry those flamboyant last names. Spain wasn't even born yet. These people were coming together as a put together kingdom after an expensive war against Moorish chiefdom.
Most didn't have much to worry about and were ready for a new world and its riches. They wanted to have that solid gold between their hands and their greed was as natural as our American dream, even if they thought they were going westward onto the West Indies or Cipango (Japan).
Fast forward ... October 10, 1492
Columbus was in deep trouble. He kept two logs for a purpose: to deceive and perhaps, as we see it now, try to caress and put his name in the annals of history through a crafted daring deed. A fifteen minutes of fame or well earned death that would be remember up to this day. He wasn't sure how far they would go with the enterprise. This was the tip of the iceberg of his dark side. His nautical leagues were fudged, and worst of all, they were running out of everything.
Mutiny was imminent, but trying to go back with not much food left? He just left it to a Divine intervention... or maybe to the knowledge of old Atlases that he saw back in Portugal? By the way, yeah, there we go again: La Rabida was owned by Iberian Knight Templars, who must've given Columbus access to manuscripts that could've gone back to the library of Alexandria and maybe the pyramids along with Zoroastrian secrets . Was his meetings with the Franciscans just a coincidence?
A Paranormal incident from the Bermuda Triangle?
Was his trip witnessed by people from another space-time. or probably a future world? Here is an account from his log on October 11 at around 10 p.m.
"...the Admiral, at ten o'clock, being on the castle of the poop, saw a light, though it was so uncertain that he could not affirm it was land. He called Pedro Gutierrez, a gentleman of the King's bedchamber, and said that there seemed to be a light, and that he should look at it. He did so, and saw it. The Admiral said the same to Rodrigo Sanchez of Segovia, whom the King and Queen had sent with the fleet as inspector, but he could see nothing..."
Source: Bartolome De Las Casas' Account
On the very early morning of Thursday October the twelve, at around 2 a.m. Rodrigo de Triana saw a green spot of land a few miles ahead. "Almirante Don Cristobal! Tierra! Tierra! Santa Virgen Santissima! Habemos Tierra! Vengan esos Diez mil maravedis" (Sir admiral Christopher, land! A darn Shoreline ahead! For our Holly Mother of Christ, we finally found it! I won my 10,000 maravedis )
After reaching "Guanaham" or San Salvador for the Spaniards, Columbus did begin to change at the very second he set foot on Caribbean shores. His two sons were in his mind as we see through his eyes. Of course also the woman he never married, Beatriz Enríquez de Arana.
We know he was disgruntled with the Crown for the last four years of his life. But why America was named after Amerigo Vespucci and not our Columbus? Why Columbus allowed slavery and heavy taxation among the Indians that welcomed him on the very first day of that epic October the 12th?
History books were written to praise his name. And we do not blame these Scholars. We know that by the end of his third voyage, Columbus was physically and mentally exhausted: his body was wracked by arthritis and his eyes by ophthalmic illness. He was a weak soul trying to live up to his glory
By October of 1499, he sent two ships to Spain, asking the Court of Spain to appoint a royal commissioner to help him govern. By then, accusations of tyranny and incompetence reached King Ferdinand's ears.
Christopher Columbus was the explorer, colonizer, and navigator. But becoming Governor of almost 200,000 feverish souls, that was another story. He was not King Solomon or Charlemagne. His father Domenico Colombo, was a middle-class wool weaver, and mother Sussana Fontanarossa was a housekeeper and a wife. We faced the discoverer of America as human as any of us, who was someone like... Neil Armstrong on July 20th,1969. But he was short of becoming another Abraham Lincoln of that tumultuous XV Century. One thing he did for sure, he changed our lives forever.
The Perfect Song for a Requiem...
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