Christopher Colombowicz: America's discoverer Polish not Portuguese, claim historians
Last updated at 9:43 AM on 29th November 2010
He is celebrated as the humble Italian weaver who ended up discovering the Americas.
But the conventional wisdom relating to Christopher Columbus is under threat after academics concluded the explorer was actually a Polish immigrant.
An international team of distinguished professors have completed 20 years of painstaking research into his beginnings.
The fresh evidence about Columbus’ background is revealed in a new book by Manuel Rosa, an academic at Duke University in the United States.
He says the voyager was not from a family of humble Italian craftsmen as previously thought - but the son of Vladislav III, an exiled King of Poland.
‘The sheer weight of the evidence presented makes the old tale of a Genoese wool-weaver so obviously unbelievable that only a fool would continue to insist on it,’ Rosa said.
The academic argues that the only way Columbus persuaded the King of Spain to fund his journey across the Atlantic Ocean was because he was royalty himself.
For some reason he hid the true identity of his Polish biological father from most people during his lifetime, and history books have been none the wiser.
‘Another nutty conspiracy theory! That’s what I first supposed as I started to read... I now believe that Columbus is guilty of huge fraud carried out over two decades against his patrons,’ said US historian Prof. James T. McDonough.
Other historians first doubted Columbus’ Polish roots, but Rosa’s findings have been steadily gaining followers as the evidence comes to light.
‘This book will forever change the way we view our history,’ said Portuguese historian Prof. Jose Carlos Calazans. National Geographic is reportedly interested in making a documentary.
Until now, it was believed that Columbus, who was born in the Italian city of Genoa in 1451, was the son of Domenico Columbo, who was a weaver and had a cheese stall in a market in the city.
At the age of 22 Columbus started working for Genoese merchants trading throughout the Mediterranean, and three years later took part in a special trading expedition to northern Europe, docking at Bristol before continuing to Ireland and Iceland.
Throughout the 1480s, when Columbus was in his 30s, he traded along the African coast.
Historians say it is a myth that navigators thought the world was flat before Columbus sailed west – they had been using the stars at night as a primitive navigation system that assumed the earth was a sphere.
What sailors including Columbus didn’t know is how big the earth was, and how long it would take to sail round it.
When he persuaded financiers to back his voyage west in 1492, he had completely miscalculated the distances and thought that Asia would be where America is: he arrived in the Bahamas, thinking he was somewhere off the coast of China.
Columbus undertook three more return journeys across the Atlantic Ocean, each time hoping that he had found another part of Asia.
He set up Spanish colonies and became governor of the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, but was later put on trial in Spain for alleged abuse of power.
After Columbus’ death in 1506, European explorers continued to set up colonies and eventually empires in north and south America.
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