October 08, 2007

DNA To Shed Light On Columbus?

DNA tests may finally answer that question for us.

When schoolchildren turn to the chapter on Christopher Columbusís 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 Columbusís 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, Columbusís 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 Columbusís 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.

Why the questions?

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 Columbusís 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.

Intriguing issues, each of which contributes a bit of mystery to this complex man wh "discovered" America -- if one can ever truly be said to have discovered a land already inhabited by others.

In the end, though, one has to wonder what the significance of this debate really is? Yes, as a historian I would like to know the answer to these questions, but are the man's origins really more important than his explorations? Is this game of historical identity politics -- the same sort of issues that get raised when discussing Barack Obama and Tiger Woods -- really more than a sideshow? Whether Genoese or Jew, rebel knight or royal bastard, his voyages and their later impact must always be seen as outweighing his origins.

OPEN TRACKBACKING AT Outside the Beltway, Perri Nelson's Website, Rosemary's Thoughts, Right Truth, Big Dog's Weblog, The Populist, Shadowscope, Leaning Straight Up, The Bullwinkle Blog, The Amboy Times, Pet Haven Blog, Conservative Cat, Nuke's, third world county, Faultline USA, DragonLady's World, The World According to Carl, Pirate's Cove, Blue Star Chronicles, Republican National Convention Blog, High Desert Wanderer, and Right Voices, thanks to Linkfest Haven Deluxe.

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Comments on DNA To Shed Light On Columbus?

Open Letter to NY Times Reporter Amy Harmon:

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

you recall you contacted me requesting my assistance because Prof. Josť
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, the only to have proven Columbus could
not marry without the Portuguese King's authorization 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 (with His Royal Highness the Duke of
BraganÁa and His Lordship the Count of Ribeira Grande but not linked to
my name and to my investigation with Prof. Josť Lorente nor to my book,
being I the reason they are involved in this DNA study in the first

I found it hard to believe that you even quote Peter Dickson,
who is not involved with any DNA studies, but did not mention me, 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.

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 proving Columbus was uncle to one Marquis and two Counts in
Portugal. 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
Pico, Azores, Protugal

|| Posted by M. Rosa, October 15, 2007 06:36 AM ||
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