Historical Events  People
Christopher Columbus

The nationality of Columbus?

MMDE: Christopher Columbus was probably Italian 

Current: Christopher Columbus was probably Portuguese 

Cristoforo Colombo, or as he's better known, Christopher Columbus landed in the Bahamas in 1492 and claimed it for Spain. So right off the bat you'd have thought that's his nationality confirmed, because why otherwise would he claim a new territory for any other country than his own? The answer is the usual - money. It turns out his famous voyage had to be paid for somehow, and it was the King and Queen of Castille, or what we now now of as Spain, who sponsored it, with the obvious catch that all he acquired belonged to them. Columbus was known to be living with his Spanish mistress and his child in Spain at the time.

So it's known he wasn't Spanish, but what nationality was he? Everyone is taught he was Italian, but that's in doubt now. Why? His remains have been DNA tested.

Whilst this isn't being talked about as a Mandela Effect, it is an MMDE because of it's widespread misbelief. And it's still not certain, so we're only talking probabilities.

Obscure early life

Whilst the early life of Columbus is largely unknown, a University of Lisbon professor of civil engineering, Fernando Branco, first proposed the idea in his 2012. The theory has been subsequently published in 2007 by Manuel Luciano da Silva. Evidence comes from the DNA testing of two skeletons, one of which is suspected of being the cousin of Columbus. 

Historical records

Much of what we know about the life of Columbus today comes from the records of his son, Ferdinand. It's openly admitted some deception was used by his father in order to boost his status amongst the higher ranking citizens of the day. Columbus claimed to be of Italian aristocracy - a descendant of a Count Columbo of the Castle Cuccaro, who was in turn said to be descended from a Roman General Colonius. This deception enabled him to become accepted in the inner circles of the Spanish nobility, which ultimately led to the commission of the the voyage which they thought discovered America, but were actually 500 years too late.

Columbus also deceived his own crew on the actual voyages. He did this in order not to panic them, because they had in fact travelled much farther than anyone had before, yet told them they weren't even half way there. There was still superstition amongst the crew, ranging from sea monsters to sailing off the edge of the world, so this was his way of keeping things in order. Did this deception extend to his own nationality?

It's now a matter of historic pride whether Columbus was Italian or Portuguese, since there's hardly anything anyone can do about it now. Yet, he is considered the man who began globalism, and the four trips he took across the Atlantic to be among the most important events that shaped world history.