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Full Online Book HomeNonfictionsThe Life And Voyages Of Christopher Columbus_volume 2 - Appendix - No. 9
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The Life And Voyages Of Christopher Columbus_volume 2 - Appendix - No. 9 Post by :Hotkofi Category :Nonfictions Author :Washington Irving Date :April 2012 Read :1990

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The Life And Voyages Of Christopher Columbus_volume 2 - Appendix - No. 9

Appendix. No. IX.

Capture of the Venetian Galleys, by Colombo the Younger.


As the account of the sea-fight by which Fernando Columbus asserts that his father was first thrown upon the shores of Portugal, has been adopted by various respectable historians, it is proper to give particular reasons for discrediting it.

Fernando expressly says, that it was in an action mentioned by Marco Antonio Sabelico, in the eighth book of his tenth Decade; that the squadron in which Columbus served was commanded by a famous corsair, called Columbus the younger, (Colombo el mozo,) and that an embassy was sent from Venice to thank the king of Portugal for the succor he afforded to the Venetian captains and crews. All this is certainly recorded in Sabellicus, but the battle took place in 1485, after Columbus had _left Portugal. Zurita, in his annals of Aragon, under the date of 1685, mentions this same action. He says, "At this time four Venetian galleys sailed from the island of Cadiz and took the route for Flanders; they were laden with merchandise from the Levant, especially from the island of Sicily, and, passing by Cape St. Vincent, they were attacked by a French corsair, son of captain Colon, (Colombo,) who had seven vessels in his armada; and the galleys were captured the twenty-first of August." (288)

A much fuller account is given in the life of king John II of Portugal, by Garcia de Resende, who likewise records it as happening in 1485. He says the Venetian galleys were taken and robbed by the French, and the captains and crews, wounded, plundered, and maltreated, were turned on shore at Cascoes. Here they were succored by Dona Maria de Meneses, countess of Monsanto.

When king John II heard of the circumstance, being much grieved that such an event should have happened on his coast, and being disposed to show his friendship for the republic of Venice, he ordered that the Venetian captains should be furnished with rich raiment of silks and costly cloths, and provided with horses and mules, that they might make their appearance before him in a style befitting themselves and their country. He received them with great kindness and distinction, expressing himself with princely courtesy, both as to themselves and the republic of Venice; and having heard their account of the battle, and of their destitute situation, he assisted them with a large sum of money to ransom their galleys from the French cruisers. The latter took all the merchandises on board of their ships, but king John prohibited any of the spoil from being purchased within his dominions. Having thus generously relieved and assisted the captains, and administered to the necessities of their crews, he enabled them all to return in their own galleys to Venice.

The dignitaries of the republic were so highly sensible of this munificence, on the part of king John, that they sent a stately embassy to that monarch, with rich presents and warm expressions of gratitude. Geronimo Donate was charged with this mission, a man eminent for learning and eloquence; he was honorably received and entertained by king John, and dismissed with royal presents, among which were jenets, and mules with sumptuous trappings and caparisons, and many negro slaves richly clad. (289)

The following is the account of this action as given by Sabellicus, in his history of Venice: (290)

Erano andate quatro Galee delle quali Bartolommeo Minio era capitano. Queste navigando per l'Iberico mare, Colombo il piu giovane, nipote di quel Colombo famoso corsale, fecesi incontro a' Veniziani di notte, appresso il sacro Promontorio, che chiamasi ora capo di san Vincenzo, con sette navi guernite da combattere. Egli quantunque nel primo incontro avesse seco disposto d'opprimere le navi Veniziane, si ritenne pero del combattere sin al giorno: tuttavia per esser alia battaglia piu acconcio cosi le seguia, che le prode del corsale toccavano le poppe de Veniziani. Venuto il giorno incontanente i Barbari diedero 1' assalto. Sostennero i Veniziani allora 1' empito del nemico, per numero di navi e di combattenti superiore, e duro il conflitto atroce per molte ore. Rare fiate fu combattuto contro simili nemici con tanta uccisione, perche a pena si costuina d'attaccarsi contro di loro, se non per occasione. Affermano alcuni, che vi furono presenti, esser morte deile ciurme Veniziane da trecento uomini. Altri dicono che fu meno: mori in quella zuffa Lorenzo Michele capitano d'una galera e Giovanni Delfino, d'altro capitano fratello. Era durata la zuffa dal fare del giorno fin' ad ore venti, e erano le genti Veneziane mal Initiate. Era gia la nave Delfina in potere de' nemici quando le altre ad una ad una si renderono. Narrano alcuni, che furono di quel aspro conflitto participi, aver numerato nelle loro navi da prode a poppe ottanta valorosi uomini estinti, i quali dal nemico veduti lo mossero a gemere e dire con sdegno, che cosi avevano voluto, i Veniziani. I corpi morti furono gettati nel mare, e i feriti posti nel lido. Quei che rimasero vivi seguirono con le navi il capitano vittorioso sin' a Lisbona e ivi furono tutti licenziati.... Quivi furono i Veniziaui benignamente ricevuti dal Re, gli infermi furono medicati, gli altri ebbero abiti e denari secondo la loro condizione.... Oltre cio vietd in tutto il Regno, che alcuno non comprasse della preda Veniziana, portata dai corsali. La nuova dell' avuta rovina non poco afflisse la citta, erano perduti in quella mercatanzia da ducento mila ducati; ma il danno particolare degldi nomini uccisi diede maggior afflizione. _Marc. Ant. Sabelico, Hist, Venet., decad. iv. lib. iii.

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