Perestrello-Moniz, Filippa (d. 1483)

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Perestrello-Moniz, Filippa (d. 1483)

Portuguese wife of Christopher Columbus. Name variations: Filippa Columbus or Columbo; Filippa Colón; Felipa Perestrello e Moniz. Died in 1483; daughter of a Portuguese officer (governor of an island near Madeira); married Christopher Columbus (1451–1506, the explorer), also seen as Cristóbal Colón (Spanish) and Cristoforo Columbo (Italian); children: Diego. Christopher Columbus also had an illegitimate son Ferdinand.

When Christopher Columbus was born in Genoa, Italy, in 1451, there was no exact knowledge as to the size of the earth and the width of the ocean off the Continent of Europe. Trade for spices and jewels with Asia (called the Indies) had been carried on by land extending over thousands of miles. But such trade was stopped at about this time by the Mohammedan Turks who took control of Asia Minor and the Balkans.

Columbus first went to sea when he was nine or ten years old, making several Mediterranean voyages. Years later, while on a voyage in 1476, he was wounded in a battle at sea off the coast of Portugal. Though his Genoese ship was sunk, he eventually swam to shore and remained in Portugal for about ten years. He and his brother Bartholomew engaged in chart making. Columbus married Filippa Perestrello-Moniz, the daughter of a Portuguese officer, governor of an island near Madeira. Filippa's father had been successfully engaged in the sea trade, and he passed on much of his knowledge and experience. The marriage was brief, with Filippa dying in 1483.

Two reasons traditionally put forth by historians for Columbus's sudden departure from Lisbon around that year were that he was either out of funds or that he feared that John II, king of Portugal, would steal his plan of finding a new passage to Asia. Research by former CIA intelligence analyst Peter Dickson has led Dickson to challenge these explanations, asserting that it is more likely that Columbus fled because there were close family ties between Filippa Perestrello-Moniz and conspirators seeking to kill or dethrone John. Dickson argues for the possibility that, once the plot was discovered, the king's wrath over the conspirators' connection to Filippa drove Columbus to Castile. Filippa left Columbus with one son, Diego Colón, who assumed the title of Admiral when Columbus died on May 20, 1506. In 1509, Diego was appointed governor of Hispaniola.

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Perestrello-Moniz, Filippa (d. 1483)

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