Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

New information on Columbus discovered

Expand Messages
  • Greg Cannon
    http://hnn.us/roundup/entries/28513.html Columbus exposed as cruel tyrant who tortured his slaves Source: The Independent (7-21-06) Christopher Columbus was a
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 26, 2006
    • 0 Attachment
      http://hnn.us/roundup/entries/28513.html

      Columbus exposed as cruel tyrant who tortured his
      slaves

      Source: The Independent (7-21-06)

      Christopher Columbus was a despot who ruled his
      subjects with an iron fist, according to documents
      that have emerged 500 years after his death. The man
      who discovered America for Europe routinely tortured
      slaves and starved his subjects in colonies on the
      Caribbean island of Hispaniola.

      Columbus was known to have mistreated native people
      when he was viceroy in Santo Domingo, the capital of
      today's Dominican Republic, at the end of the 15th
      century. But until now it had been put down to his
      lack of political sensitivity. The documents suggest a
      hidden face to the man who, after arriving in the
      Caribbean in 1492, fell from grace eight years later
      because of his conduct in Santo Domingo. In 1500,
      Columbus was brought back from the city as a prisoner
      on the orders of the Spanish monarchs, Ferdinand and
      Isabella, to stand trial.

      Statements from 23 witnesses at his trial were
      uncovered at the archive of Simanacas, near
      Valladolid, by an archivist, Isabel Aguirre, who spent
      a year transcribing them.

      Consuelo Varela, a historian in Seville, has studied
      the documents and believes it is the most important
      discovery about Columbus's life for a century. Her
      research, which appears in La Caida de Cristobal Colon
      (The Fall of Christopher Columbus), reveals the brutal
      life in the first colony which Columbus set up.

      Ms Varela told ElPais: "Life in the colony in these
      first seven years was hard and terrible: a great deal
      of hunger, envy, rancour and rumours of all sorts. It
      was a primitive, insular life, like what we see in
      Western films." She said people, including white
      Spanish slaves, were auctioned in the main square of
      Santo Domingo. "We hear of a poor boy who was caught
      stealing wheat grain. They cut off his ears and nose
      and put shackles on him and made him a slave. Columbus
      ran the colony with an iron fist.

      "One woman happened to say that Columbus came from a
      working-class family and that his father had been a
      weaver. Columbus's brother Bartholme had her tongue
      cut out, after parading her naked through the streets
      on a donkey. Christopher congratulated his brother on
      defending the family honour."

      There were many attempts at mutiny in the colony, she
      said.

      The 46-page document shows Columbus and his brothers
      Bar-tolme and Diego as tyrants who ruled through
      summary justice. They also forbade natives from
      baptism so they could used as slaves. Ms Varela said
      the documents showed Columbus's "immense greed". He
      was eventually arrested, tried and dismissed as
      viceroy of Santo Domingo and governor of the Indies.

      "Now we know why he was removed from office and the
      good reasons for it," she said. "Nobody likes to air
      dirty laundry, but this is what the document shows."

      The exposure has already provoked an angry reaction.
      Critics say some of the accounts may have come from
      enemies of Columbus, who were out to damage his
      reputation. But other accounts come from members of
      his own close group, even trusted friends.

      "Even they told of the atrocities that happened," said
      Ms Varela. "Columbus's government was tyrannical, with
      no trials or anything similar."

      The revelations come as the world marks the 500th
      anniversary of Columbus' death in 1506. DNA
      investigations on his descendants are under way in
      several countries finally to pinpoint the explorer's
      birthplace, usually attributed to Genoa in Italy. A
      result is expected later this year.

      Posted on Friday, July 21, 2006 at 5:07 PM
    Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.