Identikit portrait of Christopher Columbus.

            The portrait was painted by Carlos Genicio, an artist living in San Antonio, Ibiza. It is an oil painting and measures 72 x 53 cm. The information was obtained from descriptions left to us by the historians Fray Bartolomé de las Casas, Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo and Hernando Colón, the Admiral’s son. The painting shows Columbus on the island of Guanahani (Sant Salvador) on October 12th 1492 when he was 56 years old , a fact that we know because his friend and counsellor, Andrés Bernáldez “el Cura de los Palacios” (the priest from Los Palacios [a village near Seville]) tells us that he was born in 1436. There is documentary proof that he was wearing a cloak and his head was covered with a blue and crimson cap, as we can also see in the map drawn by Juan de la Cosa in 1500. It is reasonable to assume that Columbus would have felt satisfied and happy on the day he first set foot in the New World, and this is reflected by the artist who, incidentally, has collaborated on several occasions with the Spanish Police Scientific Department.

            The meeting between Spaniards and natives is described by Las Casas as follows: “The Indians stared at the Christians in astonishment, terrified by their beards, white skin and clothes: they approached the bearded men, especially the Admiral, since they obviously regarded him as the leader because of his air of distinction and authority and also as he was dressed in scarlet. They even touched the newcomer’s beards in wonder, as they themselves were beardless”.The identikit portrait hangs in Nito Verdera’s library.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Columbus’s Egg

            The Monument al Descobriment d’Amèrica (Monument to the discovery of América), popularly known as “Columbus’s Egg” was unveiled in San Antonio (Ibiza) on October 12th 1992, while Antoni Marí Tur was Mayor, and it owes its existence to three men: Antoni Hormigo, whose idea it originary was, based on the hypothesis of an “Ibizan Columbus”; Julio Bauza, the architect and project designer; and Julio Ojeda, who made the original models. It is built of reinforced concrete and is 6 metres tall. In the middle there is an iron replica of the ship Santa María, the work of Julio Bauza, which is 2.8 metres in length and 650 kilos in weight. The prow points westward, towards America. There is probably no other monument quite like it anywhere else in the world and every year it is photographed by hundreds of thousands of tourists who have come to spend their holidays on the island of Ibiza.

            The legend of “Columbus’s egg” is recorded by Martin Fernández de Navarrete [Colección de Viajes y descubrimientos, Madrid, 1954] based on a passage written by the historian Bossi, which in its turn was inspired by an engraving made by Teodoro Bry, a bookseller and engraver from Liège who settled in Frankfurt in 1570. It goes as follows:

“Among the festivities organised in Columbus’s honour by the court grandees on his return after his first voyage, there was a banquet offered by Cardinal Pedro González de Mendoza. The Admiral was the guest of honour and during the course of the meal one of the grandees said that if Columbus had not discovered the New World, there would have been many other talented men ready and able to do the very same thing. Then Columbus picked up an egg and asked if any of those present was capable of making it stand on end unsuported. No one was able to do it, but Columbus, by hitting the ends of the egg and flattening them, managed to make it stand on the table without falling over”.

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dalt Vila

            Dalt Vila is the old quarter of the ancient city of Ibiza, located first of all within the Carthaginian walls, then inside the triple Arab wall and finally inside the Renaissance walls, completed by the architect Gio Batista Calvi in 1585. It was on the west side, near the old Convent de Sant Cristòfol and the Carrer dels Jueus (street of the Jews), that we would have found the residence of the Colom family, of which Christopher Columbus and his brothers Bartolomé and Diego were members.

            The most interesting members of the Colom family, I have been able to trace are Pere Colom, an official in the Universitat (Island governing council), according to a letter posted from Perpignan on May 26th 1340; Francesc Colom, a Proctor working for the same organisation, as seen in the Cabrevación (property register) of Archbishop Iñigo de Tarragona (1396-1398) in a document dated February 3rd 1367; and finally there was a certain Joan Colom, who, in 1379, had the monopoly on the movement of captives and slaves to and from Ibiza [Nito Verdera, La verdad de un nacimiento- Colón ibicenco, Madrid, 1988]. The great problem is the lack of documents in the Ibiza archives, which has so far made it impossible to find any further trace of such an ilustrious family, who, according to my research, may well have been forced into exile in the south of France for some political or religious reason.

            The arrow points to the area of Dalt Vila where the Colom family owed property.

Caverio Map of 1505

            It is drawn and written on parchment and consists of ten pieces or panels, which form a rectangle measuring 2.25 x 1.15 metres. It is kept in the Paris National Library. Carlos Sanz [Mapas antiguos del mundo ,XV and XVI centuries, Madrid, 1961] points out that if we compare the outline of this part of the continent – that is the east coast of the United Estates of America- with modern-day maps, we will be struck by its immediately noticeable similarity with the coastline stretching from Florida to the Delaware or Hudson River. “This would appear to be impossible”, he adds, “when we consider the general belief that the Europeans neither saw nor set foot on the beaches in the southern states of the present-day U.S.A. republic before Ponce De León arrived there in 1512 or 1513; Giovanni Verrazzano in 1523; Lucas Vázquez de Ayllón in 1520-1524 or Esteban Gómez in 1525. An explanation must be found”.

            Apart from this, we can also see the Gulf of Mexico drawn on the map of Caverio, indicated by an arrow, at a time when, “officially” it had still not been discovered  by the Spanish. However, if we also take into account that there are 21 placenames written on the American coast, the only possible explanation is that sailors knowledgable in the art of mapmaking had previously navigated  these coasts. It seems that the Portuguese had in fact done just that, and as Humboldt says, the shape and placenames had been taken from an earlier map. Who could have drawn it?

Martin Waldseemüller Map 1507

Discovered in 1901 in the library of Prince Franz Waldburg-Wolfegg, in Wolfegg Castle, Wurtenberg (Germany), this map is made up of twelve sheets, each measuring 45.5 x 62 centrimetres. Joined together they form a monumental work, occupying almost an entire wall in area. The map is now kept in the Geography and Map Division of the Library of Congress in Washington under the care of Dr John Hébert, and has been there since July 2001. The map of the world was acquired for the Library after lengthy negotiations between its owner, Count Waldburg-Wolfegg and the government of the Federal Republic of Germany for the incredible sum of ten million dollars. It is the earliest map of the world to be found with the name of America written on it, a great honour that the cartographers of Saint-Dié (Lorraine, France) paid to Amerigo Vespucci, despite the fact that they were well aware that the new lands had been discovered by Columbus. The map was drawn up by Waldseemüller, Ringmann, Lud, Basin and Pelerin.

The most outstanding feature of the Waldseemüller map is that the hemisphere to be found next to Vespucci in the decorative part and indicated by an arrow, we can see the American continent situated between two great oceanic masses and separated from Japan and Asia. It must be remembered that in 1507 nothing was as yet known of the existence of the Pacific Ocean nor that America lay in between to oceans which in fact surround it. What explanation can be offered? The only possible explanation is that there were people who already knew.

We can also observe that there is a strait drawn across the Panama isthmus, within the circle. During his fourth voyage, Christopher Columbus searched long and hard for a passage, a strait which which would lead him to the Southern Sea, later called the Pacific. In fact, such a strait did exist during the Miocene period, but no geologist knows when this natural passage connecting the Caribbean to the Pacific actually closed up, whether due to volcanic activity or to the movement of tectonic plates. Apparently, sailors in ancient times knew not only of the existence of a channel between the two oceans but also of a continent situated between Europe and Asia, and they reflected this knowledge on at least one map; a map to which both Columbus and Waldseemüller had access. If anyone else can offer a better explanation, then let them do so.

The Johann Schönner globe of the world 1520

            Born in karlstaad in 1477, the German mathematician Johann Schönner published texts by Johann Müller “Regiomontano” and Johan Werner and produced most of the oldest globes, which played their part in the history of the discovery of the New World. Referring to globes of the world, Rafael Candel Vila, Professor of Cosmological Science and engineer at the University of Strasbourg [Enciclopedia Labor, Barcelona, 1979, vol. 4, p. 39] says: “Among the most famous is one made by Johann Schönner in 1515, which figured the Magellan Strait before it was discovered”. Albert Ronsin [Découverte et baptême de l’Amerique, Jarville-La Malgrange, 1992, p. 150] also mentions the subject, an intriguing one in my opinion, that is, to the fact that the Magellan Strait can be found on the globe before its “official discovery”, and he adds that the globe also shows the Antarctic continent, which had not been explored at that date either. Albert Ronsin, honorary curator of the Bibliotèque et de Musée de Saint-Dié des Vosges, says: “Jean Schönner: Globe Terrestre (1520), disciple de Waldseemüller […] et dessine un continent anatarctique nommé Brasilia inférieur séparé de l’Amérique du sud par un détroit alors inconnu puisque le résultat du voyage de Magellan n’est pas encore achevé”. That is, “Johann Schönner: globe of the world (1520), disciple of Waldseemüller […] and draws an Antarctic continent, called lower Brasilia separated from South America by a strait unknown at that time as the results of Magellan’s voyage were still not complete”.

            Amazing facts! We can only come to the conclusion that, long before Christopher Columbus sailed to the New World there were seafarers who had mapped the whole American continent and the Antarctic into the bargain. Does anyone have a better explanation?

Beth and Hei (Baruch Haschem) = Praised be the Lord

            Beth and hei in the top left-hand margin. A signed letter written by Columbus to his son Don Diego in which he tells him that he has received his letters; he offers him another Bill of Exchange which Méndez would take him, together with his report on the voyage: he also asks him to show the Archbishop of Seville the letter for the Pope that he had sent him; he reminds him not to allow any Bishops to be appointed to La Española (Hispaniola) without first consulting him and he makes various other recommendations.

            It is dated 18th January 1505, although the place is not mentioned.      

nitoverdera@arrakis.es