Columbus, Diego (c. 1480–1526)

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Columbus, Diego (c. 1480–1526)

Diego Columbus (Diego Colón; b. ca. 1480; d. 1526), eldest son of Christopher Columbus. Following the death in 1485 of his mother, Felipa Perestrello, a Portuguese noblewoman, Diego was left by his father at the Franciscan friary of La Rábida (Spain) for education. In 1494, he began court life, attached to the infante Don Juan, at whose death he became a page to Queen Isabella II, and later a member of her bodyguard. When Isabella died in 1504, Diego continued in crown favor, owing in part to his marriage to María de Toledo, a cousin of the king. At his father's urging, Diego endeavored for years to secure titles and financial rewards for the family, but with little success. In 1505, he sought appointment as governor and viceroy of Hispaniola, but having spent his years as a privileged courtier, and being still a young man who had not seen military action, he was judged too inexperienced to govern the ruffians in the Indies. On his father's death in 1506, Diego inherited the title Admiral of the Indies, and in 1509 the sovereign conferred on him the governorship he sought. In 1511, he was appointed viceroy of the islands as well, but not "of the Indies," as he had hoped. For fifteen years, Diego served as a capable governor of the turbulent islands. Though he continued to press for further honors and compensation for the Columbus family, he died with his hopes unfulfilled.

See alsoColumbus, Christopher; Hispaniola; Spain; Spanish Empire.


Troy Floyd, The Columbus Dynasty in the Caribbean, 1492–1526 (1973), contains many references to Diego. See also Samuel Eliot Morison, Admiral of the Ocean Sea: A Life of Christopher Columbus, 2 vols. (1942).

Additional Bibliography

Alponte, Juan María. Colón: El hombre, el navegante, la leyenda. México, D.F.: Aguilar, 1992.

Davidson, Miles H. Columbus Then and Now: A Life Reexamined. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1997.

Heers, Jacques. Cristóbal Colón. México: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1992.

Yewell, John, Chris Dodge and Jan DeSirey. Confronting Columbus: An Anthology. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co., 1992.

                                William L. Sherman

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Columbus, Diego (c. 1480–1526)