In 1506, at the age of 55, the explorer Christopher Columbus died in in the northwestern Spanish city of Valladolid. But death was not the end of his adventures - his body continued to travel in a centuries-long shell game. Keep your eyes on the body:
Immediately after his death, Columbus was buried in Valladolid. Then in 1509, on the wishes of his son Diego, the body was moved to the Monasterio de la Cartuja, a monastery on a river island near Seville that can still be visited today.
Christopher Columbus (Italian: Cristoforo Colombo; Spanish: Cristóbal Colón; Portuguese: Cristóvão Colombo; born between 31 October 1450 and 30 October 1451, died 20 May 1506) was an Italian explorer, navigator, and colonizer, citizen of the Republic of Genoa. Under the auspices of the Catholic Monarchs of Spain, he completed four voyages across the Atlantic Ocean. Those voyages, and his efforts to establish permanent settlements on the island of Hispaniola, initiated the Spanish colonization of the New World.
In the context of emerging western imperialism and economic competition between European
TinEye Alert You can find this photo on TinEye.com, but the quiz will be a lot more fun if you solve the puzzle on your own.
Comments from Our Readers
This one I know from personal experience. I have a photo of the tomb which I took on a visit to Seville in 2003. The DNA study had not been completed at that time, but our tour guide related the story of the controversy about his actual burial places. Several places claim to have his remains. One theory is that his bones may have been divided and that he actually is buried at more than one site.
It did call my attention that the picture looked extremely old and nothing similar had appeared on searches, now we know why. I'd like to know how you got ahold of it. Also wonder why there's no Wikipedia page in English Floyd such an intriguing story. Columbus's character nowadays is a total paradox, he seems to be way more known and important in Latin America than in the US, yet we've never called October 12th "Columbus Day" but"race day"or "America's Discovery Day" (when I was a kid).
The figures looked like they were wearing crowns, so I started by image-googling "royal reburial tomb" to no avail. From somewhere in my subconscious the word "catafalque" bubbled up, and adding that to the query in place of "tomb" resulted in finding the place in question.
I never found your specific photo (which is apparently copied or scanned from a half-tone illustration in a book or magazine).
Stumbled on this answer accidentally; googled "tomb casket held by 4 statues" [not at ALL the correct description] and it showed up as a photo essay at a site called "Big Think".
Apparently from the article there is still some doubt as to whether he is really buried in this tomb, as there was a box discovered in the Dominican with an inscription of "Don Colon". Interesting history that I never knew anything about.
I eventually googled "catafalque tomb", which led to the page www.lubin-king.com/jdl/spain/1030/1030.html, which contains an image of "Columbus" tomb" and a very brief description. The image looked like it matched, so googling "Columbus tomb" led me to the URL above, which contains some better resolution photos of the place.
I found this link - en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christopher_Columbus with information about the illness and death of Christopher Columbus. This makes me think about what you have written about the health issues of Abraham Lincoln. Any DNA available for Christopher Columbus?
Grace Hertz and Mary Turner The Fabulous Fletchers
I noticed the difference in backgrounds also, but the picture was so grainy I attributed it to that.
I think [Carol Stansell] is right too! I was flip flopping between Havana and Spain regarding the photo, and finally settled on Spain and didn't give it a second thought after that. I was confused but figured it was just me. Seems like my natural state these days. LOL
Don't worry, I won't fire you [formissing last week's quiz]......never been good at firing people plus you don't deserve it! You do a great job and I love your quizzes. ;) I really don't know how you find the time to do this every week with everything else you've got on your docket.
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Search for "tomb with four pallbearers" was sufficient to identify who it was.
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1. Christopher Columbus. He is buried in Seville, Spain. However, the tomb pictured is a rare photograph taken when it was still located in Havana, Cuba.
2. His remains have been moved several times: from Valladolid, Spain, to the Monastery of Cartuja, to Santo Domingo, to Havana to Seville, Spain.
3. The mitochondrial DNA of the remains were matched to that of Diego Columbus, Christopher's brother.
MADRID, Spain — Spanish researchers said Friday that they have resolved a century- old mystery surrounding Christopher Columbus's burial place, which both Spain and the Dominican Republic claim to be watching over. Their verdict: Spain's got the right bones. A forensic team led by Spanish geneticist Jose Antonio Lorente compared DNA from bone fragments that Spain says are from the explorer — and are buried in a cathedral in Seville — with DNA extracted from reains known to be from Columbus' brother Diego, who is also buried in the southern Spanish city.
kingdoms through the establishment of trade routes and colonies, Columbus' proposal to reach the East Indies by sailing westward, eventually received the support of the Spanish Crown, which saw in it a chance to enter the spice trade with Asia through a new westward route. During his first voyage in 1492, instead of reaching Japan as he had intended, Columbus landed in a New World, landing in the Bahamas archipelago, on an island he named San Salvador. Over the course of three more voyages, Columbus visited the Greater and Lesser Antilles, as well as the Caribbean coast of Venezuela and Central America, claiming them for the Spanish Empire.
Though Columbus was not the first European explorer to reach the Americas (having been preceded by the Norse expedition led by Leif Ericson in the 11th century), his voyages led to the first lasting European contact with the Americas, inaugurating a period of European exploration, conquest, and colonization that lasted for several centuries. They had, therefore, an enormous impact in the historical development of the modern Western world. Columbus himself saw his accomplishments primarily in the light of spreading the Christian religion.
Just inside the Cathedral door of Seville’s massive cathedral stands a monument to Christopher Columbus. His tomb is held aloft by four allegorical figures representing the four kingdoms of Spain during Columbus’ life, Castille, Aragon, Navara and Leon.
Most of our readers responded that Christopher Columbus is buried in Seville. While this is true, the photo of his catafalque is a rare version taken in Havana before his remains were removed, with the catafalque, to Spain. The background structure in the quiz photo (left) differs from a more recent version of the tomb (right).
High marks to Carol Stansell, Tynan Peterson, Grace Hertz and others who noticed this.
Faro a Colon Exterior Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Meanwhile, Diego headed back to the Dominican Republic to begin construction of a cathedral to hold his father's remains, in accordance with his final wishes.
Unfortunately, Diego died in 1526 before he could make that happen, and he was, in turn, interred in Seville next to his father. Both Columbuses stayed there for another 16 years, but when the Cathedral of Santa Maria (Catedral de Primada de America) was completed in the Dominican Republic, Diego's widow Maria de Rojas y Toledo, put the wheels in motion to have both bodies moved there. In 1542 the remains sailed the ocean blue again, and joined the body of Christopher's brother, Bartholomew, who had died in Santo Domingo the year before.
There they remained for more than 250 years, but when Spain ceded Hispanola (a region
encompassing the Dominican Republic and Haiti) to France in 1795, they took the explorer's body with them to the other Spanish stronghold in the Caribbean: Havana, Cuba.
Back in the Dominican Republic, nearly a century later in 1877, a construction worker working on the cathedral renovation uncovered a lead box - unimpressive, save for the inscription on the inside of the lid: "The illustrious and excellent man, Don Colon, Admiral of the Ocean Sea."
At first pass, it seemed obvious that the Spanish must have, in their haste, taken the wrong box. But there's a catch - both father, Christopher, and son, Diego, were known as "Don Colon" in their lifetimes, and both held the same title "Admiral of the Ocean Sea".
By 1898, when the Spanish were pushed out of Cuba by the Americans during the Spanish American War, both
the Spaniards and Dominicans had decided firmly that the remains in their own possession were the authentic item, and that the other must be holding onto the son. Therefore, in Seville an elaborate cathedral tomb was prepared for the explorer's return to his homeland, while in his adopted home another "official" tomb was planned.
It took the Dominicans somewhat longer to get their design act together. It was not until 1931 that a design competition was held, won by a Scottish architect who proposed the 688 foot long cruciform memorial complex that now stands. The building was barely ready by the 1992 500th anniversary of Columbus' arrival, when the remains were finally interred.
In 2003, the controversy was tackled by DNA science, and the remains in Seville tested against known remains of Columbus' brother Diego and son Fernando. Although promising, the results were not conclusive.
There has been some clarification in recent years, however, thanks to advances in DNA
testing. In 2006, according to the Associated Press, Spanish researchers took DNA from bones in Seville that are purported to be Columbus’s and compared it with DNA from the bones known to be those of his brother, Diego, also located in Seville. The samples turned out to be a match, though researchers pointed out that this strong evidence does not completely rule out the possibility of the bones in Santo Domingo also belonging to the explorer.
Equally murky is the matter of Columbus’ s nationality. Theories vary as to whether
Columbus' Cafalque Seville Cathedral
the voyager was Italian, Spanish, French, Polish, Portuguese… the list goes on. Another 2006 study, carried out by some of the same geneticists who looked into Columbus’s death, sought to use DNA once more to solve this second mystery. The bulk of historical evidence points to Columbus being either Spanish or Italian, so the researchers started there. Since the name Columbus is actually “Colon” in Spanish and “Colombo” in Italian, they gathered DNA samples from hundreds of men with these last names – because both their surnames and their Y chromosomes would be passed down from their fathers.
Unfortunately, the results were inconclusive. But another researcher, this time an American linguistics professor, took on the task of examining Columbus’s origins using a completely different approach. Estelle Irizarry scrutinized the man’s writings -- in letters and other documents -- in an attempt to figure out what his native language truly was. Her assessment was that although Columbus wrote in Spanish (the majority Spanish dialect), it was not his first language. Instead, she believes his grammar and sentence construction indicate that Catalan was his native language, and he would have been from what was then the Kingdom of Aragon in northeastern Spain.
Still, Italians who believe they share heritage with Columbus would argue that language does not tell the whole tale. Indeed, even with a mix of historic, scientific and linguistic research, the story of the explorer’s personal geography may never find completion. It is an unsolved puzzle that adds even more intrigue to an already controversial figure in history, inspiring travellers to delve deeper into his life in both Europe and the Americas.
Following his first voyage, Columbus was appointed Viceroy and Governor of the Indies under the terms of the Capitulations of Santa Fe. In practice, this primarily entailed the administration of the colonies in the island of Hispaniola, whose capital was established in Santo Domingo.
By the end of his third voyage, Columbus was physically and mentally exhausted: his body was wracked by arthritis and his eyes by ophthalmia. In October 1499, he sent two ships to Spain, asking the Court of Spain to appoint a royal commissioner to help him govern.
Never admitting that he had reached a continent previously unknown to Europeans, rather than the East Indies he had set out for, Columbus called the inhabitants of the lands he visited indios (Spanish for "Indians"). Columbus' strained relationship with the Spanish crown and its appointed colonial administrators in America led to his arrest and dismissal as governor of the settlements on the island of Hispaniola in 1500, and later to protracted litigation
12 October 1492 – Christopher Columbus discovers The Americas for Spain, painting by John Vanderlyn.
over the benefits which Columbus and his heirs claimed were owed to them by the crown.
Four Voyages to the New World
Between 1492 and 1503, Columbus completed four round-trip voyages between Spain and the Americas, all of them under the sponsorship of the Crown of Castile. These voyages marked the beginning of the European exploration and colonization of the American continents, and are thus of enormous significance in Western history.
Columbus always insisted, in the face of mounting evidence to the contrary, that the lands that he visited during those voyages were part of the Asian continent, as previously described by Marco Polo and other European travelers. Columbus' refusal to accept that the lands he had visited and claimed for Spain were not part of Asia might explain, in part, why the American continent was named after the Florentine explorer Amerigo Vespucci and not after Columbus
The return of Christopher Columbus; his audience before King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. Painting by Eugène Delacroix
By this time, accusations of tyranny and incompetence on the part of Columbus had also reached the Court. Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand responded by removing Columbus from power and replacing him with Francisco de Bobadilla, a member of the Order of Calatrava.
In his later years, Columbus demanded that the Spanish Crown give him 10% of all profits made in the new lands, as stipulated in the Capitulations of Santa Fe. Because he had been relieved of his duties as governor, the crown did not feel bound by that contract and his demands were rejected. After his death, his heirs sued the Crown for a part of the profits from trade with America, as well as other rewards. This led to a protracted series of legal disputes known as the pleitos colombinos ("Columbian lawsuits").
Illness and death
During a violent storm on his first return voyage, Columbus, then approximately 41, suffered an attack of what was believed at the time to be gout. In subsequent years, he was plagued with what was thought to be influenza and other fevers, bleeding from the eyes, and prolonged attacks of gout. The suspected attacks increased in duration and severity, sometimes leaving Columbus bedridden for months at
a time, and culminated in his death fourteen years later.
Based on Columbus' lifestyle and the described symptoms, modern doctors suspect that he suffered from Reiter's syndrome, rather than gout. Reiter's syndrome is a common presentation of reactive arthritis, a joint inflammation caused by intestinal bacterial infections or after acquiring certain sexually transmitted diseases (primarily chlamydia or gonorrhea). Reiter's syndrome has been described as a precursor of other joint conditions, to include Ankylosing Spondylitis. "It seems likely that [Columbus] acquired reactive arthritis from food poisoning on one of his ocean voyages because of poor sanitation and improper food preparation," writes Dr. Frank C. Arnett, a rheumatologist and professor of internal medicine, pathology and laboratory medicine the University of Texas Medical School at Houston.
Replica of the Santa María, Columbus' flagship during his first voyage, at his Valladolid house.
"There is absolute matchup between the mitochondrial DNA we have studied from Columbus' brother and Christopher Columbus," said Marcial Castro, a Seville-area historian and high school teacher who is the mastermind behind the project, which began in 2002. Mitochondria are cell components rich in DNA.
He spoke a day before the 500th anniversary Saturday of Columbus' death in the northern Spanish city of Valladolid.
Castro and his research colleagues have been trying in vain for years to convince the Dominican Republic to open up an ornate lighthouse monument in the capital, Santo Domingo, that the Dominicans say holds the remains of the explorer.
Dominicans dismiss findings
Juan Bautista Mieses, the director of the Columbus Lighthouse — a cross-shaped building several blocks long — dismissed the researchers' findings and insisted Friday that Columbus was indeed buried in the Dominican Republic.
"The remains have never left Dominican territory," Bautista said. Advertise
The goal of opening the lighthouse tomb was to compare those remains to the ones from Diego in Seville and determine which country had buried the man who arrived in the New World in 1492, landing at the island of Hispaniola, which today comprises the Dominican Republic and Haiti.
Castro stressed in an interview that, although his team is convinced the bones in Seville are from Columbus, this does not necessarily mean the ones in Santo Domingo are not. Columbus' body was moved several times after his death, and the tomb in Santo Domingo might conceivably also hold part of the right body. "We don't know what is in there," Castro said. Castro said that in light of the DNA evidence from Spain, the objective of opening the Santo Domingo tomb would be to determine who, if not Columbus, is buried there. "Now, studying the remains in the Dominican Republic is more necessary and exciting than ever," he said.
However, Bautista said he would not allow the remains to be tested. “We Christians believe that one does not bother the dead,” he said.
A little history
Columbus died and was buried in Valladolid on May 20, 1506. He had asked to be buried in the Americas, but no church of sufficient stature existed there.
Three years later, his remains were moved to a monastery on La Cartuja, a river island next to Seville. In 1537, Maria de Rojas y Toledo, widow of one of Columbus' sons, Diego, sent the bones of her husband and his father to the cathedral in Santo Domingo for burial.
There they lay until 1795, when Spain ceded Hispaniola to France and decided Columbus' remains should not fall into the hands of foreigners. A set of remains that the Spaniards believed were Columbus' was first shipped to Havana, Cuba, and then back to Seville when the Spanish- American War broke out in 1898.
In 1877, however, workers digging in the Santo Domingo cathedral unearthed a leaden box containing bones and bearing the inscription, "Illustrious and distinguished male, don Cristobal Colon." That's the Spanish way of saying Christopher Columbus.
The Dominicans say that these were the genuine remains and that the Spaniards took the wrong body back in 1795.
Another mystery awaits
Lorente is the director of the Laboratory of Genetic Identification at the University of Granada. He usually works on criminal cases but has also helped identify people killed under military regimes in Latin America. His lab works regularly with the FBI.
Castro says the team is now focusing their DNA tools on another Columbus mystery: his country of origin. Traditional theory says he was from Genoa, Italy, but another line of argument says Columbus was actually from the Catalonia region of northeast Spain.
One piece of evidence supporting this latter idea is that when Columbus wrote back from the New World in Spanish — not Italian — he used words and phrases that reflected influence from the Catalan language, Castro said.
The new team has now collected DNA samples from more than 350 men in Catalonia whose last name is Colom — the Catalan way of saying Columbus — and from 80 in Italy whose last name is Colombo. The material is obtained by wiping the underside of their tongues with a cotton swab.
Checking the Y chromosome
The idea is to compare the genetic material with DNA from another authenticated Columbus relative, his son Hernando, who is buried in Seville. In this case, the analysis focuses on another kind of DNA: genetic markers from the Y chromosome, which men receive only from their fathers.
DNA from Y chromosomes is much more scarce than the mitochondrial kind and deteriorates more rapidly. The team is using Hernando's because that of his purported father is in bad shape.
Lorente and company want to see if the DNA pattern in Columbus' Y chromosome still shows up in men in either Catalonia or Italy, which would suggest he is from one place or the other, Castro said. It is not known when the results of this second study will be available, because the data from Italy is still scant.
"The people whose last name is Colombo are cooperating less than the Coloms in Spain," he said.
Columbus' coat of arms, as depicted in his Book of Privileges (1502)
How Ida Solved the Puzzle
Several searches with tomb, display, moved, museum and all those combos did not give me any answers, kept sending me to Ben Stiller's movie, the terracota warriors and King Tut's.
So, I decided to use the fact that it was held by 4 men, but not remembering the word 'coffin' in English (it happens), I switched to Spanish. First search '4 monks are holding the coffin' - didn't give anything, but then I typed 'el fretro lo sostienen 4' (the coffin is held by 4) and that immediately gave me the Spanish wikipedia page for the tomb (non existent in English). That provided answers 1 and 2. Switching back to English, I googled 'Christopher Columbus tomb authentication' and several articles about the DNA tests performed appeared.
last additions to the cathedral, installed in 1899. It was designed by the sculptor Arturo Melida, and was originally installed in Havana before being moved to Seville after Spain lost control of Cuba.
Columbus’ body began its final rest in Valladolid, Spain where he died in 1506, and was moved shortly thereafter to Seville, by orders of his son, Diego. In 1542, the remains were again moved, this time to Colonial Santo Domingo, in what is now the Dominican Republic, where they were installed in the newly completed Cathedral of Santa Maria. There they remained for a couple of centuries.
Then, in 1795 when Spain lost control of the Dominican Republic, they were moved again to Havana, Cuba. 100 years later, they made their final voyage back home to Seville, and placed in the cathedral where you can visit him today.
Unfortunately, after all that effort, in 1877 a very suspicious box was discovered back in Santo Domingo inscribed with the words "The illustrious and excellent man, Don Colon, Admiral of the Ocean Sea.”
That box is now contained in the massive “Faro a Colon” Lighthouse in Santo Domingo. Despite examinations and a recent DNA test of the remains in Seville, the question remains somewhat unsolved, or completely resolved, depending on whom you ask.
Seville Cathedral was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1987.