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Old 10-17-2020, 10:05 PM
9,546 posts, read 7,990,295 times
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Originally Posted by NJGOAT View Post
I did some googling and stumbled across this book which seems to tie-in strongly to what you are talking about. The relevant part is Chapter 10 - Was Christopher Columbus Catalan?


Thankfully the full text is on google books and then you can search from there. Essentially the theory is that Columbus was actually a man named Joan Colom who was a Catalan nobleman with claims to the throne of Catalan. He was also much older than previously assumed and had been a very well established sea-farer before the trip.

It is an interesting theory and has a lof of research behind it:

Christopher Columbus writings prove he was Spanish, claims study - Telegraph

The DNA testing seems to have resulted at a bit of a deadend as the Colom's of Catalan and the Colombo's of Genoa are genetically very similar.

Suffice to say the idea of Colombus being no one and then becoming someone and getting access to the royal courts is hard to believe. However, there is a possible explanation...

According to the official story Columbus and his brother (who was based in Portugal) were both employed as agents by the Centurione, a powerful Genoese merchant family. This family had noble origins and royal ties. This group placed Columbus on an armed trading expedition to Northern Europe that included stops in England, Ireland and maybe even Iceland. This gave him his early sailing experience. They also could have provided him the necessary connections to get an audience to have his ideas heard, especially via his brother he was based in Portugal. All it takes is the friend of a friend...

When it comes to the actual cost of financing the trip, there really wasn't much involved. The ships were leased as was the custom of the time. The port of Pals provided the supplies. The crew was hired and mainly from Pals and the surrounding area. I have seen estimates online that the cost of the voyage was rather nominal with most of the cost going to purchase insurance against the possible loss of the ships. Columbus himself through various financial backers paid about a quarter of the cost. The royal treasury floated about half and the remainder was paid for by the port of Pals under order from the king and queen. Heck, it's almost like Columbus was going on a 15th century version of Shark Tank.
The Genoese should have just finance the New World trips themselves. Sailing is what they already do.
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Old 10-17-2020, 10:14 PM
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Originally Posted by SunGrins View Post
Columbus worked as a chart maker in Lisbon and Madeira for a while, as did his brother. These chart making centers were the first places (along with Majorca) to collect information from returning seafarers. The Portuguese at Madeira and Lisbon were secretive... these were state secrets. Portugal's Prince Henry (the Navigator) was sending ships further along the African coast every year and eventually they made it around the cape and later to India. Madeira, being well out in the Atlantic and west of Morroco, would have had first dibs on seafarers' reports. Columbus' first (only?) wife was born on the islands and was the daughter of a sea captain, possibly a knight, and well connected with Prince Henry. We know that Portuguese ships were fishing near the mouth of the St. Lawrence River (Canada) very early. They knew about the Grand Banks by 1472, twenty years before Columbus set sail. The chart makers collected all of this incoming information. So, Columbus was in the position to gain valuable information from returning sea captains but surely not in a position to send sea voyages out on his own scouting expeditions. His wife died (mother of Diego) and his new mistress (mother of Ferdinand) had some minor Spanish family connections but Columbus was already trying to get support from the King and Queen.
I have heard of Basques fishing the Grand Banks before, but I believe even that is after the Columbus's trips. Never heard of Portuguese fishing near St Lawrence. Where they using the Greenland settlements as a way station? If they really fishing the Grand Banks, then is unlikely, they not stumble upon the New World. They can observe birds and follow where they fly to. Birds need landfall as much as boats do.
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Old Yesterday, 06:11 PM
Location: The High Desert
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The Grand Banks were on the charts a couple decades before Columbus made his trip. The Portuguese (and maybe Basques) were fishing up there and I recall that they had seasonal fish camps but that landfall might be later than Columbus. If I find a really good fishing hole I will keep it to myself and I suspect they did too. I suppose the Greenlanders might have known about it.
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Old Today, 12:01 AM
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Originally Posted by NJ Brazen_3133 View Post
Maybe Columbus sent those expeditions to Iceland, and Greenland. The Euros living there told him, there is a gigantic landmass further west.
NJ, hi.. there's no evidence (or speculation, to my knowledge) that Columbus was sending/underwriting expeditions to the Northwest.. but Columbus himself was going northwest as a rank & file sailor in his 20s. An event not typically prominent in his life story, but that may have had a deep, psychological effect.. while stopping in Ireland (c. late 1470s), Columbus reported (in a handwritten margin note in one of his books) on a pair of frozen bodies that washed ashore 'on two tree trunks'. Based on their "extraordinary" physical features, Columbus interpreted them as being voyagers from a not too distant China (Cathay). I guess the modern insight is that they were Indians who left North America, island hopping thru the North Atlantic & got lost/then deceased at sea (?) But their arrival signalled to Columbus that Asia was closer in the West than believed.. Obviously (now) Columbus' assumption about Asia was incorrect, but his fundamental deduction about proximity of Western coasts may have been valuable to Columbus confidence & later attempt.
As far as Portuguese & Danes traveling thru the North Atlantic to North America, shortly before Columbus.. that is possible (although surprisingly thinly researched).. Knowledge of their journey, could have further solidified confidence in his theory about sailing west to Asia.
This is a cool thread, I'm interested in the mysteries of Columbus' life story.
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