Christophe Colomb et la Corse

Christopher Columbus and Corsica

Christopher Columbus and Corsica. The "possibility of an island"? Publication on December 15, 2021 at Classiques Garnier (Paris) of Nicolas BALUTET's latest work. Based on a great number of sources from the XV;century to the present day, this book traces the explosive controversy between supporters and detractors of the Corsican, more precisely Calvados, origin of the "discoverer" of America, Christopher Columbus.


A plebeian from Genoa

The life of Christopher Columbus is shrouded in many mysteries. In this nebula, the origin, childhood and youth of the navigator constitute the most obscure points, those that have given rise to the most heated debates, the most fanciful and controversial assumptions. Since the end of the nineteenth century and the publication in Italy of voluminous collections of documents supposed to draw up the genealogy of the " discoverer " of America, the official history makes Christopher Columbus a plebeian from Genoa, weaver or merchant.


Many questions

However, the whole thing proves to be very confusing to explain how a young man with no maritime experience could have led in so few years a naval enterprise of such a large scale and previously married a lady of the Portuguese nobility. Moreover, why did he never claim the Republic of Genoa, however flourishing and powerful, as his cradle and homeland? Could it be because of his long years spent in Portugal and Spain, the latter country having adopted him in a way? Or was it because the notion of nationality was still unclear at the turn of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance? By his silence, was the Admiral of the Ocean Sea trying to hide heterodox activities or an unmentionable past? Why are the sources so rare and some documents falsified? Why did the city of Genoa claim its illustrious putative citizen only very late, in the 19th century? These are some of the many questions that, for several centuries, haunt and fascinate researchers.

Solving the mystery?

Over time, the figure of Christopher Columbus, already originally enigmatic, has become more complex. The laudable hypotheses of some authors have been taken by others as proven facts, fables have filled in the blanks, lies have been knowingly uttered in order to establish this or that theory. Thus, far from dispelling the shadows, Colombian historiography has generated a voluminous palimpsest in which, without discernment, the true rubs shoulders with the false, the incontestable with the uncertain. If the navigator, with his silences, is partly responsible for this situation, the fault lies more with all those who, far from using a scientific approach, have often responded to the sirens of a patriotism of bad temper. In addition to the capital of Liguria, about fifteen Italian cities claim (or at one time did so) to be the birthplace of Columbus, as well as Spanish territories such as Galicia, Catalonia and the Balearic Islands, not to mention the Portuguese, Greek, English, Scottish, Norwegian, Croatian... or even Corsican presumptions. The examination of this last hypothesis constitutes the object of the present work. From the case of Calvi, it is to trace the debate that, since the end of the nineteenth century, arouses the most explosive passions between supporters and detractors of the island origin of " discoverer " of America.