Columbus Day and the Jewish high holy days are just behind us. Got me thinking about a note I posted to Facebook last year, and I decided it was worth republishing in my blog this year.
Here it is:
I just finished reading a Da Vinci Code type book about Columbus, Codex 632, by Jose Rodriques Dos Santos, translated from Portuguese. While not a great book and a sometimes tedious read, the book, reviewed in the Post here, posits the theory that Columbus was a Portuguese nobleman with Jewish heritage who was forced to hide his real identity.
But there were some historic facts to learn along the way. Among other things, the book taught me something that I didn't know before ... that Columbus' voyage to America was launched at the same time Jews were expelled from the Iberian peninsula by the Spanish monarchs. His diary of the voyage to discover American begins: "In the same month in which their Majesties [Ferdinand and Isabella] issued the edict that all Jews should be driven out of the kingdom and its territories, in the same month they gave me the order to undertake with sufficient men my expedition of discovery to the Indies."
The Spanish expulsion order of 1492, forced 200,000 Jews to leave the Iberian peninsula or convert (or pretend to convert) to Christianity (hence the term New Christians used to descibe some Jews remaining in Portugal in the 15th century).
Once again it becomes clear that religious intolerance and persecution is not a sometime thing. Nor is it a fault of one religion. So, even bad fiction can open your eyes to new learning that provides additional perspective from which to view current events.