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COLUMBUS, CHRISTOPHER, AND THE JEWS:

According to his own statement, Columbus had constant intercourse with Jews and Moors, with priests and laymen. He had personal relations with the mathematician Joseph Vecinho, physician-in-ordinary to King João II. of Portugal, and with other learned Jews of Lisbon. Vecinho presented him with his Latin translation of the astronomical tables of Abraham Zacuto, the famous mathematician, which Columbus always carried with him on his voyages of discovery and found most serviceable. He ascribed it principally to this "Jew" Vecinho, whom he mentions twice in his note-books, that the king of Portugal refused to consider his plans of discovery. At Salamanca Columbus became personally acquainted with Zacuto, whose scientific works he praised highly. At Malaga he met the Spanish farmer-in-chief of taxes, Abraham Senior, and also Isaac Abravanel, who was the first one to assist him financially in his undertakings. It is not known whether he had business relations with the Jews during his stay at Lisbon, or whether he borrowed or received aid from them in his financial difficulties there. In his testament he bequeathed half a silver mark to a Jew living by the gate of the Jews' street in Lisbon, or to the one whom a priest might designate ("a un Judio quo moraba a la puerta de la Juderia en Lisboa o à quien mandare un sacerdote el valor de medio marco de plata"). See also America, The Discovery of.

Bibliography:
  • Navarrete, Coleccion de los Viages y Descubrimientos, ii. 313;
  • Kayserling, Christopher Columbus, pp. 12 et seq., New York, 1894.
A. M. K.
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