Posthumous portrait of Christopher Columbus by Sebastiano del Piombo, 1519.

Two New Theories on the Hotly Debated Origins of Christopher Columbus

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During the last few years two new and very interesting theories (supported with scientific research) have appeared about Columbus. They suggest that the history of the man who “discovered” America, may be more fascinating than was once believed.

According to the official history, Christopher Columbus (Colon) was born in Genoa and died on May 20, 1506 in Valladolid. He was an explorer, navigator, and colonizer, famous of his voyages across the Atlantic Ocean and “finding” the New World. Nevertheless, the official story actually seems to be based more on legend than facts. The most questioned part of the biography of Columbus is his origins.

The Tale of a Polish King

Manuel Rosa is a researcher who comes from Azores, Portugal. In his theory, Columbus was a son of the Polish King Wladyslaw III, who escaped from the battlefield in Varna and hid on the island of Madeira. Rosa believes that the former Polish king lived on Madeira under the name of Henrique Alemão, and had a wife named Senhorinha Annes, a Portuguese noblewoman. Rosa says that their son was the famous future traveler known as Columbus.

Following Rosa’s hypothesis, Columbus was trained as a pilot in Portugal, and lived in Madeira. He married Filipa Moniz, a Portuguese noblewoman and daughter of Bartolomeo Perestrello, a Knight of the household of Prince Henry the Navigator, Captain and Governor of Porto Santo. 

In his book Columbus: The Untold Story , Rosa presents several arguments about his hypothesis which are worth considering. However, Polish historians believe that it is impossible that king Wladyslaw escaped from the battle in Varna. They ignore the most important proof for it – a note from monks who traveled from Poland to Madeira. These men noted that they met the king, alive and well, on the island. He apparently told them that he would not go back to Poland…but was he Columbus’ father? To confirm it, DNA tests are necessary. Unfortunately, most of the Polish people do not want to exhume the family of Wladyslaw, so it is impossible to check if the theory by Manuel Rosa true.

Wladyslaw III at the Battle of Varna, by Jan Matejko.

Wladyslaw III at the Battle of Varna, by Jan Matejko. ( Public Domain )

At the same time, several researchers in Spain are attempting to prove that their theory about the origins of Columbus are true.

The Galician Madruga

According to some experts from the University of Santiago de Compostela, there's no doubt that the theory about a Galician origin of Christopher Columbus is the correct one. The researcher and writer Guillermo Garcia de la Riega, great-grandson of the historian Celso Garcia de la Riega (the first promoter of the hypothesis that Columbus was Galician), believes that the evidence is so obvious that history would not allow for so many coincidences. According to the documents studied by these experts, Columbus was born in the town Poio in Pontevedra, Galicia.

The researchers are convinced that the names Columbus gave to the places he traveled to are related to the names of places he knew from Galicia (Punta Lanzada, San Salvador) or that they have allusions to Galician origins: Port of San Nicholas, Cabo San Miguel, or the Catalina and San Juan Bautista islands. It is believed that around 200 names are related to Galicia. Many of them could be known only by a person who spent lots of time in this part of Spain.

Map of San Salvador.

Map of San Salvador. (CC BY-SA 3.0 )

Manuel Rosa believes that the first language of Columbus was Portuguese, but Galician researchers suggest that in documents he wrote he used numerous Galician words.

Several writers, like Aquilino Fariñas Godoy, believe that the history of Columbus is even more surprising than his adventures. In his book, he explains that Christopher Columbus was Pedro Madruga, a Galician man who changed his identity several times.

This point of view is shared by Modesto Manuel Doval, a researcher who published the results of a calligraphic study. According to more than 80 experts, Christopher Columbus and Pedro Madruga are the same person. Their analysis shows also that Columbus didn't use Portuguese, but Galician - which has many similarities. Madruga apparently had to disappear, when he started to have problems and created many enemies for himself.

Christopher Columbus at the gates of the monastery of Santa María de la Rábida with his son Diego, by Benet Mercadé.

Christopher Columbus at the gates of the monastery of Santa María de la Rábida with his son Diego, by Benet Mercadé. ( Public Domain )


Manuel Rosa's book "COLUMBUS-The Untold Story" now in English language in a Limited Edition - get yours before it is sold out

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