Skip to comments.Christophoros Columbus: A Byzantine Prince from Chios, Greece
Posted on 08/05/2004 5:48:37 PM PDT by Destro
Christophoros Columbus: A Byzantine Prince from Chios, Greece, by Ruth G. Durlacher-Wolper
Cover of the book by Ruth G. Durlacher-Wolper.
Over 500 years ago, Admiral Christophoros Columbus stepped upon the soil of San Salvador Island, Bahamas, in the New World, with the banner of the Royal Standard of Spain flying in all its glory. The captains of La Nina and La Pinta followed him off the La Santa Maria, carrying the banners of the Green Cross. Behind them came the weary crew -- men whose faith had weakened during the hard journey, but who had had their faith revived time and again by their dauntless leader, Christophoros Columbus: the Byzantine prince from Chios Island, Greece.
Directed by wind and star and compass, across the unfathomable depths of uncharted waters, the courageous spirit of Columbus never failed. This historic landing -- the culmination of a vision that inspired the perseverance which characterized Columbus' efforts over 16 years, during which time he was scoffed at by the doubters, and denied patronage by the kings of Portugal, England, France, and Spain -- became a reality on 12 October 1492.
Who was Columbus? Many theories have been expressed concerning the obscurity of his identity. Not wishing to deprive the countries that have claimed Columbus as their own, the author's new theory unveils the obscurity that has clouded the mystery of Columbus' early life before 1476. Her book answers the questions that have been asked for 500 years and more, and will provide -- it is hoped -- the inspiration for other investigators to continue to unravel the true facts concerning Columbus' identity.
The reliance on two principle sources (though many others are also cited), written by persons who had actually seen Columbus' original Journal, are the main basis of the author's thesis. One is Columbus' second son Ferdinand -- who had sailed with his father -- whose life work was collecting books about Columbus for his extensive library, and who wrote The Fourth Voyage of Columbus, as well as The Life Of The Admiral, Christopher Columbus. The other was the famous Historia De Las Indies, by Bishop de las Casas -- who had also sailed with Columbus. These two sources, according to the author, are the most reliable because their authors had sailed with the great mariner, and knew him well. Columbus' son, Ferdinand, was known to have complained repeatedly that there were many lies and falsehoods being written and disseminated about his father. His chosen mission in life was to clear up the many misconceptions, and to let the truth be known. Bishop de las Casas, confirmed that Columbus "was of the Genoese nation," but would never utilize the Genoese language in his writings, and would refer to himself as "Columbus de Terra Rubra," ("Columbus of the Red Earth"). He also wrote that "more precise information as to his actual birthplace [was never forthcoming"], but that he claimed that his ancestors "had always followed the sea." It is worthy of note that Chios Island is known for its red soil, and that Chiotes have -- since time immemorial -- been famous as seafarers and fleet owners.
Samuel Eliot Morison, the eminent historian, confirms Columbus' "ardent enthusiasm for seafaring," and wrote, in his book, Admiral of the Ocean Sea (Little, Brown, & Co., Boston. 1942), that Columbus first took to the sea in the early 1460s, and that he made "many voyages to Chios in the Aegean," where he learned to "hand reef, and steer, to estimate distance by eye, to let go and weigh anchor properly, and all other elements of seamanship." Also, that he was a "ruddy-complexioned redhead, with blue eyes." His son Ferdinand wrote that Columbus gave himself the name "Christophoros" because "... in Greek it means one who bears Christ," and "[my father] had carried Christ over deep waters with great danger to himself ... that the Indian nations might become dwellers in the triumphant Church of Heaven."
Columbus' signature was a combination of Byzantine-Greek and Latin. He signed his name Xpo-Ferens, the first part being Greek and the second Latin. He instructed his heirs to continue to "sign with my signature, which I now employ, which is an X ["CHI"] with an S over it, and an M with an A over it, and over that an S, and then a Greek Y with an S over it, preserving the relation of the lines and points." (Morison p.202.)
Columbus' Byzantine Signature
This would accord with Columbus' desire to keep his identity concealed, as did many Orthodox Christian Greeks who'd migrated to Catholic Italy before and after Constantinople's fall to the Turks in 1453, and who wished to avoid persecution in their new surroundings, or death at the hands of the Turks. Columbus referred to Chios many times in his Journal, and also to the mastic gum which is cultivated only on this island, and which grows in its red soil. Chios was under Genoese rule from 1346 to 1566, and, during Columbus' time, was administered -- though under the sovereignty of Genoa -- by a Genoese chartered company called the "Mahouna." The bank used by this company was the Bank of St. George in Genoa, which was also the bank used by Columbus. Because of this connection, and the fact that he dressed like a Genoese, historians concluded that he was Genoese, even though -- as confirmed by the great authority on Columbus, Lionel Cecil Jane -- "[he] could not speak or write Italian." (Select Documents Illustrating the Four Voyages of Columbus. Hakluyt Society. London, 1930.)
In Chios today, one may see examples of Genoese architecture throughout the island. In the "mastichochori" (the mastic growing region in the southern part of the island), and especially in the county seat of the district, the town of Pyrghi, one sees the Italianate influence everywhere. The houses and buildings of this town are decorated with geometric designs unique to Chios, and more particularly to the mastic growing region where the Genoese had the strongest influence because of their involvement in the mastic trade. Over the doors of some homes in places like Pyrghi and Cimbouri, one can still see the name KOLOMVOS inscribed. A picture of a priest of Pyrghi is shown in the book whose name is "Kolomvos," and who told the author, Ruth Durlacher-Wolper, that his family goes back 600 years on the island, and that the old Greek Byzantine aristocracy had intermarried with the Genoese merchants because "they were bound by the same interests," i.e., the mastic trade.
The connection to royalty is demonstrated by the writings of Ferdinand and Las Casas, who quote Columbus as saying that "[I] sailed with my kinsman, Colon the Younger, the Greek corsair"[pirate]. Who was this "kinsman?" Colon the Younger was a member of one of the most important royal families in the Byzantine world, the Palaeologi. His name was George Palaeologus Disipatos, and was also known as "George le Grec." He turned corsair after the fall of Constantinople, and fought the Turks on the sea after they'd conquered the Byzantine Empire. At this time, according to the author, Columbus also went by the name of Colon, and her research indicates that with the fall of Byzantium he "fled with his kinsman, Colon the Younger, to... France" It is not certain just when he changed his name to Columbus, and, in Ferdinand's book, he quotes a passage from a letter his father wrote to the nurse of Don Juan of Castile: "I am not the first Admiral of my family. Let them call me, then, by what name they will, for after all, David, the wisest of kings, tended sheep and was later made king of Jerusalem, and I am the servant of Him who raised David to that high estate." The Byzantine connection would explain his knowledge of Latin and Greek, and would answer the question as to why he kept his log in these two languages instead of the Italian of Genoa.
Facts Contributing to the Clarification of Columbus' Identity
1) Columbus' signature "Xpo-Ferens" (Christophoros), is Greek-Latin (Byzantine).
2) Columbus spelled Chios with a Greek X -- Xios.
3) Columbus marked the corner of his letters with a Greek X for Xios or Xpo-Ferens, his name.
4) Columbus named Cape Maysi in Cuba by the Greek words "Alpha and Omega."
5) Columbus never asked Italy for ships or aid or food or shelter when he needed help.
6) Columbus never spoke or read Italian.
7) Columbus made markings of Greek words on the margins of his favorite book, Imago Mundi, by
Cardinal Pierre d'Ailly.
8) Columbus was called "Genoese" because he was from Chios, which belonged to Genoa, and he
dressed in the Genoese style.
9) Columbus called himself, and signed documents, "Columbus de Terra Rubra" (Columbus of the Red
Earth), because of the red earth of southern Chios where the mastic tree grows.
10) Columbus banked at St. George Bank in Genoa, along with other Genoese Chiotes, because:
a) Chios was a colony of Genoa.
b) Chios had been Genoese for 300 years (since 1346).
11) Columbus concealed his identity because of his well founded fear of being killed by the Turks
after the fall of Constantinople: this prevented him from revealing his Greek lineage.
12) Columbus called himself "Colon," and wrote that he sailed with a royal kinsman who also had that name.
13) Columbus kept "a secret accurate reckoning" and two logs. The author shows that his
"secret reckoning" was in Greek leagues, whereas his "official log" was in Roman leagues.
14) Ferdinand could find no sign of the Christopher Colombo family when he searched for it high and low in
Genoa. These were supposedly the relatives of Christopher Columbus, but Ferdinand wrote that " I
have not been able to find out how or where [they] live."
Plaque on the Columbus home in Pirghi, Chios, funded by the European Union
There is much more in this interesting book that would lend considerable and convincing weight to the argument that Christopher Columbus was indeed "A Byzantine Prince from Chios, Greece."
Christophoros Columbus: A Byzantine Prince from Chios, Greece. by Ruth G. Durlacher-Wolper. Published by The New World Museum, San Salvador, Bahamas. 1982.
airing repeat now - which I did not see.
They pick up figs on moonless nights.
Thanks for the ping. The discussion continues.
that and to raise money to fund a new Crusade to retake Constantinople.
Great find Destro!
Many Greeks came West after the downfall of the Byzantine Empire trippgering the Renaissance.
many Greeks were among the later conquistadors - mostly as hired sailors and blacksmiths.
The first time I saw this claim was in a semi-humorous book, "The Jewish Connection" but it appears also (via a quote of the above quoted page) on a site called "Jew Watch", and one can guess where its interests lie. :'DColumbus's Medinah?As we shall see in a moment, however, there has been some weighty scholarly debate over the possibility that Columbus, though undeniably a devout and zealous Catholic, might also have been the proud descendant of Spanish Jews. Ironically, this view has been championed by some patriotic Spaniards, who would rather have him a Spanish Jew than an Italian gentile.
Calgary Jewish Free Press
Christopher Columbus's Jewish roots
by Jane Frances Amler
find nearest library copy
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The Discovery Channel show indicated that CC's DNA did not show a Jewish connection. But that is all they proved pretty much.
The Mysterious History of Columbus
by John Noble Wilford
"One notarized document in 1479 concerns testimony by Columbus, then a resident of Lisbon, who had been called back to Genoa in connection with litigation over a trip he had made to Madeira for Genoese shipowners; the witness was stated to be 'about twenty-seven years old.' Domenico, the father, was a wool-weaver, as his father, Giovanni, had been. He was a sometime tavern keeper and wader of the Porta dell'Olivella, the eastern gate of Genoa." [p 58]
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Greek....Italian....who worries? Either way, the food is great!
White (Christian) males won't even warrant a mention in history books.
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