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October 13, 2016

Newton Frohlich: In 1492 Christopher Columbus Sailed the Ocean Blue

The story begins long before 1492 does: when Rome ruled the world and many Jews went to the western reaches of the Empire we now call Spain.  They helped to build the cities and traded.  Over the next three hundred years, their population was buttressed by an influx of Moslems from the Arab world and, together, this tripod of Jews, Moslems and Christians lived in Spain, prospering, trading and farming in what many call a Golden Age.  Then, a priest decided that Jews must convert to Christianity and if they didn't they should be killed.

Many Jews converted -- they were called Conversos -- but many did not and either remained in Spain or migrated to other parts of Europe or went back to Israel.  But now the tripod was shaky and the instability continued until Isabella and Fernando, the Queen and King of Spain, decided it would be better if all Jews and Moslems were evicted.  In the process, they confiscated their property to finance their war against the Moslems.  The method they chose to accomplish all this was the Inquisition, a largely unused procedure whereby the Catholic Church investigated how authentic a conversation was  The investigation was conducted by torture -- mostly waterboarding -- and culminated in burning at the stake.

Into this nightmare stepped Christopher Columbus whose family fled Spain about 50 years before the Inquisition. He was living in Genoa, Italy, loved the sea, and had sailed down the coast of Africa and discovered that if a sailor then sailed due West he could reach land somewhere out there.  Then, after he reached land, he could sail north, pick up the "trade winds" that blew due East and sail back to Europe.  His only mistake was he thought the voyage would be shorter than it was and the mathematicians who advised the King of Portugal advised against backing him.  So, of all places, Columbus turned to Spain to gain royal backing.  His wife dead from childbirth, he took their son, Diego, with him.

Now, you know the story behind the story.  The rest is in my book, a labor of love that took eight years to research and write, has been translated into Dutch and Spanish and now, appears in a new edition prompted by the recent decision of the governments of Spain and Portugal to right the wrongs they did 525 years ago.

I hope you enjoy 1492 as much as I enjoyed writing it.  If you want to know more about it and other novels I've written or am writing, please browse my website,

Buy 1492 at Amazon

About the Author

Newton Frohlich is the award-winning author of The Shakespeare Mask: A Novel, as well as 1492: A Novel of Christopher Columbus, the Spanish Inquisition & a World at the Turning Point and Making the Best of It: A Common-Sense Guide to Negotiating a Divorce. A former lawyer in Washington, D.C., he devoted eight years to the research and writing of 1492. He has lived in Washington, D.C., the south of France, and Israel and now makes his home on Cape Cod with his wife, Martha, a musicologist.

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