Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Was Columbus Polish?

"... and again ... and again": I have to wrench myself away from writing about the snow - 20-30cm cleared and -22c in the night. So, something a bit more light hearted.

I read an article originating from MailOnline "Christopher Colombus 'was Polish not Portuguese': Historians claim explorer was son of exiled King Vladislav III". The arguments set out in the article show:

"the only way Columbus persuaded the King of Spain to fund his journey across the Atlantic Ocean was because he was royalty himself. He hid the true identity of his Polish biological father from most people". "Columbus is guilty of huge fraud carried out over two decades against his patrons".

This apparently self-contradictory description - got support because he was royalty, but defrauded his patrons by hiding the fact - rather undermines the story, but I looked at Polish Wikipedia's article on Władysław III Warneńczyk to check his family tree: no children at all. The theory was therefore an interesting development to Władysław's own story. Well, fine, but nothing really to write home about.

I later remembered that at least one Polish king was reputed to be homosexual. Could it have been Władysław? I found confirmation in the Nonsensopedia Polish Encyclopaedia of Humour article on the King. So, if he was the feminine partner of Columbus's father, Domenico Columbo, Władysław could then be described as Columbus's mother. Columbus is then both son of the Polish king, as the new theory claims, whilst Domenico Columbo was his father, as he claimed. Sorted!

I have to credit The Birdcage, a film regularly appearing on MGM (or maybe TCM) TV channel at the moment for this arrant piece of nonsense. Oh dear, I may have committed my standard sin of failing to show the proper respect for Polish historical figures. It's just a bit of silly fun - I'm not serious.

The reference to Władisław's homosexuality is also in the Polish Wikipedia article, although the English version merely suggests he may have been sexually deviant. Maybe homosexuality is thought a bit too strong an imprecation for foreign audiences. Mind you, my quick reading of the quote in Nonsensopedia gave me the impression that Władysław might have been being accused of being a homosexual necrophiliac - something like 'even in the time of war and fear ... completely regardless of his own danger ... he did not abandon his unclean, disgusting pleasures'. Now that's something worth hiding, even in today's more tolerant world.

A much better version of the story is at The proposal to do DNA tests - also mentioned on TV - should give the story a bit more weight. However, "the new claim will also be used by some to disprove theories by some historians that Wladyslaw was a homosexual". Come out of your 19th century closet, you guys. Homosexuals do sometimes have children. I'm not sure about necrophiliacs, though.


Island1 said...

Exhumation. All of Poland's problems can be solved by exhumation.

Chris said...

Interesting theory ;)

Greetings from Chris of Kielbasa Stories

Pan Steeva said...

Hi Chris - good to hear from you - and thanks to Jamie for broadening my area of thought.

All this homosexual implication comes from Polish speculation based, presumably, on Władysław's previously thought lack of children. Ignoring this, however, take 'even in the time of war and fear ... completely regardless of his own danger ... he did not abandon his unclean, disgusting pleasures', the report that he had his head cut off (but not a stake through his heart) with his body disappearing, and his reappearance in the Madeira Islands as a completely different person: will exhumation of his father lead to a few mysterious deaths involving blood loss?