CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS WAS NOT THE PRINCE OF VIANA’S NATURAL SON

            In 1428, Blanche of Navarre and her second husband John, the future John II, the Count-king of Aragon and Catalonia, the son of Ferdinand of Antequera, were sworn in and crowned in Pamplona and their eldest son Charles, born in Peñafiel on 29th May 1421, was proclaimed heir to the Crown of Navarre. The title of Prince of Viana, the equivalent of the Prince of Asturias in Castile and the Duke of Gerona in Catalonia, had been created specially for him for the occasion. Charles married the Duke of Cleves’s doughter, Inés, who died childless in 1448.

            After the death of his mother, Blanche, in 1441, Charles of Viana took over the reins of government in Navarre, as his father’s representative, with John of Beaumont as his chief adviser. Not long after that, in 1444, king John married for the second time, his wife being Juana Enríquez, doughter of the Castilian Admiral, Federico Enríquez. No sooner had the wedding taken place that disputes between father and son commenced.

            Ferdinand the Catholic, the son of John II of Aragon and Juana Enríquez, was born in Sos in 1452 and died in Madrigalejo in 1516. In Sicily and Aragon he was known as Ferran or Ferdinand II and was sworn in as heir to the throne of Aragon on the death of his brother, the Prince of Viana, in 1461. According to some investigators, Charles of Viana was actually Christopher Columbus’s father. However, their research has been carried out with a notable lack of scientific accuracy and goes against the historical facts as we know them and I intend to offer irrefutable proof that this would have been impossible.

            The bad feelings between Charles of Viana and his stepmother forced the Prince to live in exile and to travel in Italy. On the death of Alfonso IV, Charles left for Sicily from Naples on July 15th 1458. Here, he received a very warm welcome and he spent some time in a Benedictine monastry near Messina, engrossed in a study of philosophical, literary and historical works. However, a passion for study was not Charles’s only weakness: his other great passion was for women and he lost none on his enthusiasm for the weaker sex during the time he spent in Sicily. Indeed, while he was living on the island he had a love affair with a woman of great beauty, though of humble birth, by the name of Cappa. She bore him a son, Juan Alfonso of Navarre, who was later to become Abbot of San Juan de la Peña and Bishop of Huesca.

            Charles of Viana sailed from Palermo at the end of July 1459 and landed in Salou on August 11th. On August 17th he left Tarragona for Majorca, arriving there on the 20th. He remained in Majorca until March 1460 when he sailed to Salou, thereby ending his months of exile on the island.

            The Prince of Viana wrote a letter  dated October 29th 1459, now kept in the Arxiu de la Corona d’Aragó in Barcelona, to the then Governor of Majorca. In the letter he says: “Agradecemos vos muy mucho lo que fecho haveys en recomendación de Margarita. La verdad de la cosa mostrará lo que haver sentido de ella ser prenyada”. (We are most grateful to you for all you have done for Margarita. The truth of the matter will show what has been heard about her being pregnang.) As things stand, we are expected to take this letter as definite proof that the alleged son of Margarita and Charles of Viana was in fact the great explorer, Christopher Columbus.

            A fact of paramount importance in discovering the theory that Christopher Columbus was Carlos of Viana’s natural son can be found in the will drawn up by the Prince on the very day he died in Barcelona September 23rd 1461. In this will, he left two thousand florins to his father John II; he left the kingdom of Navarre to his eldest sister Blanche, in obedience to the wishes expressed in the wills of his mother and grandfather, and he shared out the remainder of the inheritance he had received from his mother between his three natural children; his son by Brianda de Vaca, Felipe, Count of Beaufort, later to become Archbishop of Palermo and Grand Master of Montesa, who died during the wars of Granada; Ana, the daughter of María de Armendariz; and Juan Alfonso, the son of a beautiful Sicilian of humble birth called Cappa. The three children were so young that, at the time of their father’s death, the eldest was scarcely five years old.

            These are the facts. Charles of Viana had only three natural children and both they and their mothers are well known and well documented. As for the son he was alleged to have had with the Majorcan Margarita, I do not dispute the authenticity of the above mentioned letter from the Barcelona archives, but the Prince’s will leaves no room for doubt: there were only three natural children. So what could have happened? Did Margarita lose the baby or did it die at some later date? The truth of the matter will probably never be known for sure, but what is certain is that the natural son that Charles of Viana is alleged to have had with his Majorcan lover, and whom some people would have us believe was none other than Christopher Columbus, is a huge historical fraud.

            Let us also examine other crucial documents that would seem to offer conclusive proof that Margarita’s alleged son, if he ever in fact existed, could not possibly have been Christopher Columbus. Let us recall that Charles of Viana arrived in Majorca on August 20th 1459. So, if he did have a son, the child would have to have been born in 1460. However, Admiral Christopher Columbus died on May 20th 1506 at the age of seventy, in senectute bona (well advanced in years), and on this basis, we can calculate that he was actually born in 1436, as recorded by his friend Andrés Bernáldez, the priest of the village of Los Palacios, Seville, in his “Memorias del reinado de los Reyes Católicos”. If, however, Columbus had been the alleged son of Charles of Viana and Margarita who died in 1506, he would only have been 46 years old at the time of his death. So, between Columbus and Charles of Viana’s alleged son, there was an inexplicable twenty-four year age difference.

            Of course, “Vianistas” would argue as indeed they do, that there are other documents which question the fact that Columbus was born in 1436, and which make him out to be much younger, knowing as they do that the age difference between the two men represents a fatal blow for their “romantic” theory. It is, however, an undeniable and indesputable fact that in 1506 Columbus was an elderly man. In fact, there is a royal order registered in the Simancas Archives “concediendo a Don Cristóbal Colón licencia para andar en mula ensillada por cualquier partes de estos reinos”, (authorising Don Christopher Columbus to ride a saddled mule anywhere within these realms), signed by Ferdinand the Catholic on 23rd February 1505 (Columbus died in May, 1506). The order states textually: El Rey: Por Cuanto yo soy informado que vos el almirante don Cristóbal Colón estáis indispuesto de vuestra persona a causa de ciertas enfermedades que habéis tenido o tenéis, e que no podéis andar a caballo sin mucho daño de vuestra salud: por ende: acatando lo susodicho a vuestra ancianidad, por la presente vos doy licencia…” (The king: Having been informed that you, Don Christopher Columbus are in ill health as a result of illnesses you have suffered or are suffering and that you are unable to travel on horseback without causing further harm to your health, therefore, considering the above facts and your advanced years, I hereby grant you the right …).

            I think, or rather I am totally convinced, that the order of the Catholic king is sufficient to show that in 1506 Columbus was an elderly man, something that could not be said of the imaginary personage born in 1460. We also have the Prince of Viana’s will (see Pròsper Bofarull, Los Condes de Barcelona vindicados) in which he leaves property to his three natural children. So that arguments are left to the Vianistas? After all this has taken into consideration; absolutely none.

nitoverdera@arrakis.es