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Do Columbus' letters reveal that he was a Marrano?

Do Columbus' letters reveal that he was a Marrano?



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In this popular CNN article, the author raises many arguments to prove that Columbus was a Marrano (hidden Jew), I found none to be very compelling besides for the following one:

At the top left-hand corner of all but one of the 13 letters written by Columbus to his son Diego contained the handwritten Hebrew letters bet-hei, meaning b'ezrat Hashem (with God's help). Observant Jews have for centuries customarily added this blessing to their letters. No letters to outsiders bear this mark, and the one letter to Diego in which this was omitted was one meant for King Ferdinand.


While there are some not very widely supported theories out there that postulate some somehow Jewish origin for Columbus (esWP: Cristóbal Colón, Origen, Hipótesis secundarias, enWP: Catalan-Jewish hypothesis) this even if 'true' is not saying much about his beliefs and writing practices.

The claim to investigate here says very explicitly:

At the top left-hand corner of all but one of the 13 letters written by Columbus to his son Diego contained the handwritten Hebrew letters bet-hei, meaning b'ezrat Hashem (with God's help).

And he did mark his letters in a peculiar way:


- Christopher Columbus autograph letter written to his son Diego on 5th February 1505


- to Diego December 1st, 1504


- to Diego December 13, 1504

Most clearly seen in this version (to Diego, 18th January 1505)

- (Beth and hei in the top left-hand margin.) On a site that promotes to see the matter as settled: 'Columbus being from Ibiza'…

Or another take on his handwriting

- Columbus Manuscript: In this manuscript, enscribed Cadiz, Spain, November 20, 1493,

So, in Hebrew the letters supposedly used are Aramaic/quadratic script:
ה ב

and in the letters (many facsimiles in The authentic letters of Columbus, 1895) we see this:

How much this resembles Hebrew lettering?

In cursive handwriting (albeit quite modern)

Wikipedia has a handwriting style for cursive Hebrew letters including in Spain and those dated 1480:

The above may also be compared to Solitreo and Ladino scripts that use these alphabets for perhaps a Judeo-Spanish hand

A modern letter using the acronym at the top of a letter (note that it is top right though):

But the question asks for "see with own eyes"…
Therefore I will refrain from judging the theories of origin for Columbus, here, or whether it is indeed the claimed letter combination. Just that using a certain symbol, even if it should be the claimed one, is not and cannot be the 'final proof that he was a Jew', or somehow of Jewish Origin. At best, this might add a little detail for some circumstantial evidence.


Watch the video: Steven Spielberg Jewish Film Archive - Columbus And The Jews (August 2022).