Who really sailed the ocean blue in 1492?
Spanish scholars are on a mission to demystify Christopher Columbus's life, long shrouded in a veil of mythic heroism.
By Lisa Abend and Geoff Pingree | Correspondents of The Christian Science Monitor
MADRID – Genovese nobleman or Catalan pirate? Adventurous explorer or greedy tyrant? What if the Italian gentleman who discovered America was in fact a brutal torturer and slave owner? And what if he wasn't even Italian?
Schoolchildren may learn about a daring hero who proved the Earth wasn't flat, but because his biography is pocked with holes, Christopher Columbus is a figure around whom elaborate theories and enigmatic rumors have long circulated. This year, the 500th anniversary of his death, two Spanish scholars are working to clear up some of the mysteries.
José Antonio Lorente, a geneticist at the University of Granada, is attempting to resolve one of the greatest enigmas - the question of Columbus's origins. In 1927, Peruvian historian Luis Ulloa Cisneros claimed Columbus was from Catalonia - in what is today northwestern Spain - rather than from the Italian port city of Genoa.