Christopher Columbus: Secretly Jewish?
Explorer was seeking homeland for his people: Spanish scholars
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted May 21, 2012 4:00 PM CDT
Christopher Columbus: seeking a new land for his people?   (Wikimedia Commons)

(Newser) – Christopher Columbus was an Italian explorer from Genoa, right? Not according to a recent round of scholarship, which portrays him as secretly Jewish and seeking a new land for his people during the Spanish Inquisition, CNN reports. Evidence suggests that Columbus was a "Marrano," meaning he secretly practiced Judaism to avoid persecution and a 1492 decree that banished all Jews from Spain. Among the more intriguing points in his last will and testament:

  • Columbus ordered that a tenth of his income be tithed to the poor and given to poor girls as dowries—both part of Jewish customs.
  • He used a signature of triangular letters and dots that resembled inscriptions on Jewish gravestones. He told heirs to use that signature, which would effectively let his sons say Kaddish, a mourning prayer, for him after he died.
  • He left money for crusaders seeking to liberate the Holy Land.
What's more, his famous (or infamous) voyage to the New World was funded by a prominent Jew and two Jewish converts to Catholicism. Read the full article here. (Or read another theory: that his father was a Polish king.)