Monday is Columbus Day, which has pretty much turned into Italian Heritage Day in the United States.
But, was Columbus Italian?
I will not question where Columbus was born, although there are theories out there that he was born in Portugal, Spain, Greece or Poland.
I will go with the majority and for this post focus on Genoa.
His birth name would have been Christoffa Corombo in the local Genoese dialect of the Ligurian language.
At the time of his birth the Genoa Republic consisted of the island of Corsica and an area along the coast of the Ligurian Sea. They also had colonies on the islands of Lesbos, Chios and Samos along the coast of modern day Turkey and another colony on the north coast of the Black Sea.
What is even more interesting is that the Genoa Republic was under the control of France.
From Savona Columbus began his sea voyages as a business agent. There is evidence that he made voyages to the island of Chios. He also went to Bristol, England and Galway, Ireland. He may have also gone to Iceland during this time period.
In 1485 Columbus started to look for support for his voyages. He first approached the Portuguese and then went to Genoa and Venice. He even sent his brother to the English court without success. He finally approached the Spanish court of Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella of Castile and finally received his financing. Of course we all know when the first journey was made:
In 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue.
So now, back to the question.
One of the reasons that I ask this question is because when I wrote this back in 2014 I had just finished reading Vanished Kingdoms: The Rise and Fall of States and Nations by Norman Davies.
One of the chapters in the book covered the history of several of the nations and states that later came together to form the Kingdom of Italy.
During the lifetime of Columbus, Genoa was controlled by France. In the 1520’s the area was conquered by Spain and the Republic of Genoa regained their independence.
In the late 1790’s Genoa again came under the control of the French when they were occupied by the army of Napoleon Bonaparte. Genoa then passed through control of the Ligurian Republic and the Kingdom of Sardinia before finally being incorporated into the Kingdom of Italy in 1860.
I find it interesting that the first time that Italian Americans celebrated Columbus Day was in 1866 shortly after Genoa became part of Italy.
So was Columbus Italian?
Originally written back in 2014. Small changes have been made for this re-post.