Columbus spent his last days poor and embittered. And recent evidence has revealed that Columbus did not die from gout as was always thought but from heart failure.
A Supposedly Renowned Explorer Dies in Embittered, Impoverished Circumstances.
Columbus did not die a happy man, satisfied with his accomplishments as an explorer and navigator. He was increasingly victimized by pain in the joints and suffered from the rather unsexy condition of bleeding from the eyes–conditions which the leech-applying physicians of the day attributed to gout. He spent a good portion of his final years trying to gain from the Spanish crown 10% of the profits generated from the new lands he had discovered. The crown, however, maintained that he had lost his right to those profits after being dismissed from his post as a governor in the New World.
In a final act of bitterness and self-pity, Columbus decreed that after his death he be buried with the same chains that were put on him following his third voyage.
Columbus died on May 20,1506, in Valladolid, Spain. His wishes, presumably made before his death, were that he be reinterred on the island of Hispaniola, known today as the Dominican Republic to the east and Haiti to the west.
Columbus’ Final Resting Place Was Not So Final After All
His final resting place –which did not in fact prove so final with the passing of the years as we shall soon see — was in Santo Domingo. In 1795, while it was still whole and known as Hispaniola, Spain ceded the eastern two-thirds of the island to France under the terms of the Treaty of Basle.
The Danger Behind Columbus’ Remains Falling into French Hands
Naturally enough, it did not seem fitting that the remains of Spain’s national hero should be left in the hands of the French. One did not know what the French might get up to with regard to the body of the revered one. As an example of what could happen, just a few decades later the body of Napoleon would be subjected to the removal of an important male bodily part.
The Spaniards were better off taking no chances in this era of freewheeling when it came to the sanctity of bodies and bodily parts belonging to renowned historical figures.
Another Century Brings Yet Another Posthumous Voyage for Christopher Columbus
After the safe recovery of Admiral Columbus’ body, the Spaniards transported it to Havana, Cuba, and then eventually to Seville, known today to locals as well as discouraged, fast-melting tourists as “the frying pan of Spain” in the summer.
Which of the Many Nasty Medieval Diseases or Illnesses Did Columbus Die From?
As mentioned earlier, Columbus’ contemporaries believed that Columbus died from the gout. In fact, recent evidence from Dr. Antonio Rodriguez Cuartero, a professor at the University of Granada, earlier this year paints a different picture.
After studying Columbus’ family history and Columbus’ diary as well as letters penned by Columbus’ son, Hernando, and Father Bartolome de Las Casas, the professor contends that Columbus did not die of gout as previously thought. According to Cuartero, all signs point to his having died from a heart attack and his having suffered for years from Reiter’s syndrome, which relates to the inflammation of the joints but is not the same as gout.
Columbus, the Money-Making Tourist Attraction
In any case, Columbus’ remains are a source of revenue for any lucky corpse-controlling powers– ironic, since Columbus died in poverty. This is why at least two or three places, including the Cathedral of Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic as well as the Cathedral of Seville claim that they possess the one true body of Columbus.