Columbus's Death and Burial, and the movement of his bones over centuries

Columbus' Bones in Seville Cathedral ?

Christopher Columbus died in Valladolid, Spain, on May 20, 1506, at the age of 54. He had suffered through a long terminal illness that first showed symptoms on his third voyage eight years before. His son Fernando records the cause of death as "gout." But in those days, gout was anything that caused joint pain. Recent research by Gerald Weissmann indicates that the most likely cause of death was Reiter's Syndrome, a rare tropical disease.

Following his death, Christopher Columbus perhaps travelled more in death than even in life. His bones moved location in Spain, then went to the Caribbean, mover a number of times there, before being (perhaps) finally repatriated to Spain to rest in Seville Cathedral

After Christopher Columbus' death body underwent excarnation - that is the flesh was removed so that only his bones remained. In his will, Columbus requested his remains to be taken to the Caribbean island of La Espanola. However he was initially buried in the Castilian city of Valladolid, where he died on May 20, 1506. Christopher Columbus, died without the fanfare. He was buried, with only a handful in attendance, in a small monastery at Valladolid, Spain, wearing the habit of the third order of Saint Francis and, according to his wishes, in the chains he wore upon his arrest after his third voyage to the New World. Only three lines of text marked his obituary in the official record

1.Valladolid. He was first first interred in Valladolid. He remained at Valladolid only three years as his bones were disinterred and moved to Seville's Carthusian monastery.

2. The monastery of La Cartuja in Seville. When Columbus' eldest son and heir Diego died in 1526, he was buried beside his father. In 1537, Maria de Rojas y Toledo, widow of one of Columbus' sons, Diego, sent the bones of her husband and his father to the cathedral in Santo Domingo for burial.

His son Diego is the authority for the statement that his remains were buried in the Carthusian Convent of Las Cuevas, Seville, within three years after his death. According to the records of the convent, the remains were given up for transportation to Haiti in 1536, though other documents placed this event in 1537. It is conjectured, however, that the removal did not take place till 1541, when the Cathedral of Santo Domingo was completed, though there are no records of this entombment. The bones certainly were moved to Hispaniola.

And there matters stood for over two centuries.

3. Santiago, Santo Domingo. So the remains of Columbus were moved across the Atlantic, and were buried under the right side of the altar in the cathedral in Santo Domingo. In 1795,the French captured the island of Hispaniola from Spain. By now the Spanish viewed Columbus' remains as a national treasure, and wished to prevent their capture by the French. So, relying on old records, they dug up his remains and removed them to Havana, Cuba.

However the tale is confused by the fact that in 1877, workers restoring the cathedral in Santo Domingo found, under the left side of the altar, a box containing human remains. The box bore the name Columbus. They unearthed an urn containing bones and displaying the inscription: "The illustrious and distinguished male, Don Christopher Columbus." It was thought by some that the "left" and "right" sides of the altar depended upon the direction one is facing. And therefore, some argue, the body that had been moved to Haiti in 1795 was really that of Diego, while the Admiral's remains had been in Santo Domingo all along.

4 Haiti. When, in 1795, Haiti passed under French control, Spanish authorities removed the supposed remains of Columbus to Havana. On the occupation of Cuba by the United States they were once more removed to Seville (1898).

5. Havana. A century later, when Cuba became independent following the Spanish-American War in 1898, his remains were moved back to the Cathedral of Seville

6 Seville Cathedral. They were placed on an elaborate catafalque. Columbus' tomb in the cathedral of Seville is guarded by four statues of kings representing the Kingdoms of Castile, Leon, Aragon, and Navarre.How ever, a lead box bearing an inscription identifying "Don Christopher Columbus" and containing fragments of bone and a bullet was discovered at Santo Domingo in 1877. The DNA tests currently being carried out are to try to determine where Columbus' bones actually are today.

All you need to know about Reiters Syndrome or Reactive Arthritis "A systemic illness characterized by a combination of arthritis (inflammation of the joints), conjunctivitis (inflammation of the conjunctiva, a membrane in the eye), and urethritis (inflammation of the urethra). Reactive arthritis is a type of seronegative spondyloarthropathy, meaning that the rheumatic factor is serologically negative and has a rheumatic effect on the spine. Other diseases in this category include anklyosing spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis, and enteropathic arthritis (Sigal, 2001)."

Christopher Columbus in retirement