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After the death of Don Diego, his noble-spirited vice-queen, left with a number of young children, endeavored to assert and maintain the rights of the family. Understanding that, according to the privileges accorded to Christopher Columbus, they had a just claim to the viceroyalty of the province of Veragua, as having been discovered by him, she demanded a license from the royal audience of Hispaniola, to recruit men and fit out an armada to colonize that country. This the audience refused, and sent information of the demand to the Emperor. He replied, that the vice-queen should be kept in suspense until the justice of her claim could be ascertained ; as, although he had at various times given commissions to different persons to examine the doubts and objections which had been opposed by the fiscal, no decision had ever been made.” The enterprise thus contemplated by the vice-queen was never carried into effect.
Shortly afterwards she sailed for Spain, to protect the claim of her eldest son, Don Luis, then six years of age. Charles V. was absent, but she was most graciously received by the Empress. The title of Admiral of the Indies was immediately conferred on her son, 1)on Luis, and the Emperor augmented his revenues, and conferred other favors on the family. Charles V. however could never be prevailed on to give Don Luis the title of viceroy, although that diguity had
* Herrera decad iv. 1:b. ii., cap. 5.
been decreed to his father, a few years previous to his death, as an hereditary right.” In 1538, the young admiral, Don Luis, then about eighteen years of age, was at court, having instituted proceedings before the proper tribunals, for the recovery of the viceroyalty. Two years afterwards the suit was settled by arbitration, his uncle Don Fernando and Cardinal Loyasa, president of the Council of the Indies, being umpires. By a compromise Don Luis was declared Captain-General of Hispaniola, but with such limitations that it was little better than a bare title. Don Luis sailed for Hispaniola, but did not remain there long. He found his dignities and privileges mere sources of vexation, and finally entered into a compromise, which relieved himself and gratified the Emperor. He gave up all pretensions to the vice-royalty of the New World, receiving in its stead the titles of Duke of Veragua and Marquis of Jamaica.f He commuted also the claim of the tenth of the produce of the Indies for a pension of one thousand doubloons of gold.: Don Luis did not long enjoy the substitution of a certain, though moderate, revenue for a magnificent but unproductive claim. He died shortly afterwards, 1eaving no other male issue than an illegitimate son, named Christopher. He left two daughters by his wife, Doña Maria de Mosquera, one named Phillippa, and the other Maria, which last became a nun in the convent of St. Quirce, at Valladolid. Don Luis having no legitimate son, was succeeded by his nephew Diego, son to his brother Christopher. A litigation took place between this young heir and his cousin Phillippa, daughter of the late Don Luis. The convent of St. Quirce also put in a claim, on behalf of its inmate, I)ofia Maria, who had taken the veil. Christopher, natural son to Don Luis, likewise became a prosecutor in the suit, but was set aside on account of his illegitimacy. Don Diego and his cousin Phillippa soon thought it better to join claims and persons in wedlock, than to pursue a tedious contest. They were married, and their union was happy, though not fruitful. Diego died without issue in 1578, and with him the legitimate line of Columbus became extinct. One of the most important lawsuits that the world has ever witnessed now arose for the estates and dignities descended from the great discoverer. Don I)iego had two sisters, Francisca and Maria, the former of whom, and the children of the latter, advanced their several claims. To these parties was added Bernard Colombo of Cogoleto, who claimed as lineal descendant from Bartholomew Columbus, the Adelantado, brother to the discoverer. He was, however, pronounced ineligible, as the Adelantado had no acknowledged, and certainly no legitimate offspring. Baldassar, or Balthazar Colombo, of the house of Cuccaro and Conzano, in the dukedom of Montferrat, in Piedmont, was an active and persevering claimant. He came from Italy into Spain, where he devoted himself for many years to the prosecution of this suit. He produced a genealogical tree of his family, in which was contained one Domenico Colombo, Lord of Cuccaro, whom he maintained to be theidentical father of Christopher Columbus, the Admiral. He proved that this Domenico was living at the requisite era, and produced many witnesses who had heard that the navigator was born in the castle of Cuccaro; whence, it was added, he and his two brothers had eloped at an early age, and had never returned.* A monk is also mentioned among the witnesses, who made oath that Christopher and his brothers were born in that castle of Cuccaro. This testimony was afterwards withdrawn by the prosecutor; as it was found that the monk's recollection must have extended back considerably upward of a century.f The claim of Balthazar was negatived. His proofs that Christopher Columbus was a native of Cuccaro were rejected, as only heresay, or traditionary evidence. His ancestor Domenico, it appeared from his own showing, died in 1456; whereas it was established that Domenico, the father of the Admiral, was living upwards of thirty years after that date. The cause was finally decided by the Council of the Indies, on the 2d December, 1608. The male line was declared to be extinct. Don Nuño or Nugno Gelves de Portugallo was put in possession, and became Duke of Veragua. He was grandson to Isabella, third daughter of Don Diego (son of the discoverer) by his vicequeen, Doña Maria de Toledo. The descendants of the two elder sisters of Isabella had a prior claim, but their lines became extinct previous to this decision of the suit. The Isabella just named, had married Don George of Portugal, Count of Gelves. “Thus,” says Charlevoix, “the dignities and wealth of Columbus passed into a branch of the Portuguese house of Braganza, established in Spain, of which the heirs are entitled De Portugallo, Colon, /Puke de Veragua, Marques de la /amaica, y 21/mirante de las Indies.” “ The suit of Balthazar Colombo of Cuccaro was rejected under three different forms, by the Council of the Indies; and his application for an allowance of support under the legacy of Columbus, in favor of poor relations, was also refused; although the other parties had assented to the demand. He died in Spain, where he had resided many years in prosecu
* Charlevoix. Hist. St. Domingo, lib. vi., p. 443. t Idem, tom. i., lib. vi., p. 446. ! Spotorno, Hist. Colom., p. 123.