- America was not discovered in 1492 by Christopher Columbus,
on behalf of Spain,because he had sailed to the New World seven years earlier
on a secret mission for the Pope, according to scholars.
- Ruggero Marino, a writer and historian, said the 1492
journey was a return visit. He said this emerged from study of an early
16th-century Ottoman map, which showed that Columbus found America in 1485,
during the reign of Pope Innocent VIII.
- Signor Marino said there was corroborative proof in an
inscription on the tomb of Innocent VIII, in St Peter's Basilica, which
reads "Novi orbis suo aevo inventi gloria", meaning that during
his pontificate "the glory of the discovery of the New World"
took place. Innocent VIII died at the end of July 1492, before Columbus
set sail and three months before he landed at the Bahamas. "The inscription
either anticipates Columbus's success or else refers to an earlier journey,"
Signor Marino said.
- The accepted version is that Columbus was dispatched
in 1492 by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, but Signor Marino said that
the venture was originally financed by Innocent VIII and the Medici banking
dynasty to which the Pope was related.
- The aim was to use the gold of the New World to fund
Crusades and to gain souls for Christianity. Innocent VIII's successor,
Alexander VI, the Spanish-born Borgia Pope, "signed over the rights
to the New World" to the Spanish throne. The origins of the New World
venture had been covered up partly because Columbus's writings were manipulated
by his Spanish masters.
- Signor Marino told Oggi magazine that he had drawn on
the work of the late Professor Bausani, head of Islamic Studies at the
University of Venice, who had studied the Piri Reis map, named for Piri
Ibn Hadji Mehmed, admiral of the Ottoman fleet. The map, dated 1513, was
lost for centuries; it is now in the Topkapi Museum in Istanbul.
- Professor Bausani said that the "key to the mystery
of Columbus and the Indies" lies in an annotation of the map, which
refers to the American land mass: "These shores were discovered in
the year 890 of the Arab era by the infidel from Genoa." Genoa was
Columbus's birthplace and 890 corresponds to 1485-86.
- Copyright 2001 Times Newspapers Ltd.
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