Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Columbus in The Canary Islands

Christopher Columbus illustration from Grand voyages (1596) by Theodor de Bry (1528-1598)

Christopher Columbus may have been born, in 1451, in the Italian port city of Genoa (which is also where many of Tenerife's early settlers hailed from), but his real origins remain a mystery. What is known is that on August 3, 1492, Columbus left from Palos, Spain and first sailed to the Canary Islands, where he re provisioned and made repairs (in Gran Canaria). He would also have seen Mount Teide on Tenerife erupt in 1492 on his way past the, at that time, as yet, unconquered island. On September 6, 1492 he started the five week voyage across the Atlantic Ocean - from the island of La Gomera, where the date is a fiesta.

Christopher Columbus accidentally discovered the Western Hemisphere on October 12, 1492, although he continued to believe he had reached Asia until his death in 1506. He also believed the peaks of Cuba to be the Himalayas, which gives one a sense of just how lost he was. He never reached the United States where "Columbus Day" is celebrated. The holiday has also been celebrated here in Spain since 1958, as Día de la Hispanidad.

Controversy and Concubines

Columbus' later lover and mother of his second son Ferdinand, Beatriz Enriquez, should not be confused with the infamous Beatriz de Bobadilla - the widow of Hernán Peraza, Governor of La Gomera - who later married Alonso Fernández de Lugo, the conqueror of Tenerife, although popular legend, speculation and contemporary report suggest that Columbus may have been in love (well, lust anyway) with this Beatriz too.

"Although La Gomera's most famous association is with Christopher Columbus, its most infamous is with the aristocratic Beatriz de Bobadilla, by reputation a vicious medieval nymphomaniac, and by all accounts - including a portrait in the Parador Nacional - a great beauty. Rumours of a liaison grew and on subsequent trips Columbus would add to the circumstantial evidence, interrupting both his 1493 and 1498 journeys on the island. In 1498 he was disappointed to find that Beatriz had married Alonso Fernández de Lugo, the conqueror of Tenerife, so that on his final 1502 voyage Columbus didn't even bother to weigh anchor in San Sebastián."

References:
  1. Christopher Columbus From Wikipedia
  2. Columbus Day Historical Perspectives
  3. Christopher Columbus NNDB
  4. Beatriz de Bobadilla on Destination Guides - La Gomera
  5. Columbus’ Rendezvous in La Gomera
  6. Columbus Links Page
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