Christopher Columbus’ Great Lie…

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1901

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Though a once celebrated figure in American history, he even got a national holiday named in his honor in 1937, Christopher Columbus’ reputation has, of late, suffered greatly as Americans are beginning to realize that the man credited for “discovering” their continent had a lot of baggage.

Following his first voyage, Columbus was appointed Viceroy and Governor of the Indies; however, he was subsequently fired from this post after numerous accusations were leveled that he was both a tyrannical and incompetent ruler.

A commission tasked by the Court with investigating the accusations of brutality made against Columbus published a report that alleged that Columbus regularly used torture and mutilation to govern Hispaniola. The 48-page report, found in 2006 in the state archive in the Spanish city of Valladolid, contains testimonies from 23 people, including both enemies and supporters of Columbus, about the treatment of colonial subjects by Columbus and his brothers during his seven-year rule.

According to the report, Columbus once punished a hungry man found guilty of stealing corn by having his ears and nose cut off and then selling him into slavery. Testimony recorded in the report also claimed that Columbus congratulated his brother Bartolomeo on “defending the family” when the latter ordered a woman paraded naked through the streets and then had her tongue cut out for suggesting that Columbus was of lowly birth.

The document also describes how Columbus put down native unrest and revolt; he first ordered a brutal crackdown in which many natives were killed and then paraded their dismembered bodies through the streets in an attempt to discourage further rebellion.

“Columbus’s government was characterized by a form of tyranny,” Consuelo Varela, a Spanish historian who has seen the document, told journalists. “Even those who loved him had to admit the atrocities that had taken place.”

This pattern of behavior seems to support the claim made by a 23-year-old lookout who served aboard Columbus’ ship La Pinta during the historic voyage of 1492.

Prior to setting sail on their world changing adventure, Ferdinand and Isabella promised a lifetime pension to the first person aboard the ships to sight land.

A Spanish sailor named Rodrigo de Triana was serving the first watch in the opening hours of October 12, 1492.

Sometime around 2 a.m., Triana’s voice echoed from the wooden planks of the ship, “¡Tierra! ¡Tierra!” (Land! Land!).

With his cries ringing through the darkness, the decks of all the three ships in Columbus’ fleet were crowded with sailors within a matter of seconds.  Triana had become the first European since the Vikings to have laid eyes upon the Americas.

Unfortunately, for Triana, once back in Europe, Columbus maintained that he himself had already spotted the islands a few hours earlier, thereby claiming for himself the lifetime pension, in addition to the other riches guaranteed to him by his discovery.

Historians say Triana was so devastated by the words of Columbus, an openly and devoutly religious Catholic, that he moved to Africa and converted to Islam.

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1 COMMENT

  1. “Some of the debunkers, however, have become overenthusiastic, even slanderous, in their attempts to demythologize Columbus. Their approach often serves to bolster a political cause rather than promote a search for truth. Such activity is counterproductive, not because it tears down the heroic myth, but because it merely sets another myth in its place—the equally false myth of Columbus as a villain.”

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