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Culture

THE LETTER BY CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS WHICH WAS RETURNED TO SPAIN BY USA

After an enigmatic journey with several transatlantic comings and goings, a letter from Christopher Columbus of 1493, which recounted his first experiences in America and which disappeared more than a decade ago, finally returns to the Iberian Peninsula after being returned by the United States to the Spanish Government.

The unlikely story mixes US criminal investigators, university professors, a private collector who pays almost a million dollars for the document, a museum that does not know that one of its bibliographic jewels has been stolen and, of course, Columbus, who also did not know he had arrived in America.

It all started in 2011, when the letter had been out of the National Library of Catalonia in Barcelona for more than six years, and had been bought on at least two occasions.

And it ended almost five years later in Brazil, when a private collector had to recognize that the letter was an imposture and deliver it to the authorities.

In between, a complex “puzzle” of clues, faceless thieves, more fake letters and questions without clear answers.

“We received information that several letters from Columbus had been stolen from various libraries in Europe, including Barcelona”, Mark Olexa, special agent of the US Office of Domestic Security Research, told reporters in the act of formal delivery at the residence of the Spanish ambassador in Washington.

Olexa pointed out institution from Barcelona was unaware that they had stolen original incunabula letter by Columbus, in which he narrates to the Catholic Monarchs, Ferdinand and Isabella, the events that occurred during his first trip to the American continent.

After discovering that two similar letters had been stolen and replaced by forgeries in libraries in Florence and the Vatican, Olexa travelled to Barcelona with a professor at Princeton University to confirm his suspicions that letter, which was in his custody, was no original.

The verdict of the expert was blunt. It was a high quality copy.

“We believe that the theft occurred between 2004 and 2005. The letter then entered the US. two occasions: in November of 2005 and in December of 2009. And in 2014, it was finally transferred to the last possessor, “explained Jamie McCall, District Attorney of Delaware, who together with Alexa carried out the investigations.

Columbus describes in this document the experiences lived from the moment in which the expedition begins from Cabo de Palos, on August 3, 1492, as well as what happened in the seven subsequent months during his search for the Indies.

His narrative, in which he always maintains that he has arrived in the East Indies, ends with his arrival in Lisbon on March 4, 1493.

The Spanish ambassador in Washington, Pedro Morenés, stressed that it is “a cultural asset of enormous historical and documentary value, since only 16 copies of these incunabula letters are kept in various libraries around the world.”

The letters were printed in Rome by Stephan Plannck in 1493, and the one delivered today was part of the collections from the National Library of Catalonia since 1918.

More than 500 years after it crossed the Atlantic again to become almost invisible, the letter of Barcelona now resurfaces and returns from the Americas that are no longer the Indies thought by Columbus but with his news still full of astonishment.

About those responsible for the sophisticated theft, however, remains the unknown.

“There have been no arrests, for now,” McCall said with a half smile. “The investigation continues”. (June 7, 2018, EFE/Practica Español)

News related in video (May 2012):


Comprehension

Lee la noticia y responde las preguntas. (Read and answer the questions)

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Question 1
La noticia trata...  
A
de la devolución de una misiva que fue robada.
B
del descubrimiento de una carta que fue escrita por Colón.
C
de una misiva de Colón que ha sido adquirida por el Gobierno español en subasta.
Question 2
Según el texto, esa carta...  
A
fue escrita por Cristóbal Colón y estaba dirigida a los Reyes Católicos.
B
fue escrita por Cristóbal Colón y estaba dirigida a un marino español.
C
fue escrita por los propios Reyes Católicos y estaba dirigida a Colón.
Question 3
Sobre esta carta se dice que...    
A
Colón narra cómo era la vida en las Indias tras haber estado allí ya una década.
B
Colón relata cómo fueron sus primeras experiencias cuando descubrió las Indias.
C
Colón explica cómo habían llegado hasta la Indias desde la península itálica.
Question 4
En la noticia se dice que...
A
la misiva que fue sustraída de una biblioteca es una falsificación.
B
esa misiva fue sustraída de una biblioteca española.
C
esta es la primera vez que unas cartas de Colón son falsificadas para ser reemplazarlas por las originales.
Question 5
Las autoridades estadounidenses han devuelto esa carta a España.  
A
Para nada.
B
Así es.
C
¡Imposible saberlo!
Question 6
La propia Biblioteca Nacional de Barcelona...    
A
aseveró que no sabía que esa carta había sido robada de su fondo.
B
sabía que esa carta había desaparecido de su fondo.
C
fue la que se dio cuenta de que la carta original había sido reemplazada por una falsificación.
Question 7
Las autoridades estadounidenses revelaron la identidad de los ladrones.  
A
Claro que sí
B
Para nada.
C
No se sabe.
Question 8
En el  vídeo se habla...  
A
de una exposición sobre cómo eran las mujeres nativas de América.
B
de una exposición sobre cómo era la vida cotidiana cuando se descubrió América.
C
de una exposición sobre el papel de las mujeres en el descubrimiento de América.
Question 9
Según el vídeo, todas las mujeres tenían mucha libertad en esa época.  
A
No es verdad.
B
Es verdad.
C
No se sabe.
Question 10
En el vídeo se dice que...  
A
la mayoría de las personas que fueron a América eran mujeres.
B
menos de un tercio de las personas que fueron a América eran mujeres.
C
un tercio de las personas que fueron a América eran mujeres.
Question 11
En el vídeo se dice que...        
A
esas mujeres no solo se ocuparon del hogar sino también del comercio cuando llegaron a América.
B
la mayoría de las mujeres también participaron en las campañas militares en América.
C
esas mujeres solo realizaron labores domésticas cuando llegaron a América.
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