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De Orbe Novo, Volume 1 (of 2) eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 385 pages of information about De Orbe Novo, Volume 1 (of 2).

He was the first to herald the discovery of the new world, and to publish the glory of his unknown compatriot to their countrymen.  To Count Giovanni Borromeo he wrote concerning the return of Columbus from his first voyage:  ..._rediit ab Antipodibus occiduis Christophorus quidam Colonus, vir ligur, qui a meis regibus ad hanc provinciam tria vix impetraverat navigia, quia fabulosa, que dicebat, arbitrabantur; rediit preciosum multarum rerum sed auri precipue, qua suapte natura regiones generant tulit_.  Significant is the introduction of the great navigator:  Christophorus quidam Colonus, vir ligur.  There was nothing more to know or say about the sailor of lowly origin and obscure beginnings, whose great achievement shed glory on his unconscious fatherland and changed the face of the world.

III

In the year 1497 Peter Martyr was designated for a diplomatic mission that gratified his ambition and promised him an opportunity to revisit Rome and Milan.

Ladislas II., King of Bohemia, sought to repudiate his wife Beatrice, daughter of King Ferdinand of Naples, and widow of Matthias Corvinus, King of Hungary.  Being a princess of Aragon, the outraged lady’s appeal in her distress to her powerful kinsman in Spain found Ferdinand of Aragon disposed to intervene in her behalf.  It was to champion her cause that Peter Martyr was chosen to go as ambassador from the Catholic sovereigns to Bohemia, stopping on his way at Rome to lay the case before the Pope.  In the midst of his preparations for the journey the unwelcome and disconcerting intelligence that Pope Alexander VI. leaned rather to the side of King Ladislas reached Spain.  This gave the case a new and unexpected complexion.  The Spanish sovereigns first wavered and then reversed their decision.  The embassy was cancelled and the disappointed ambassador cheated of the distinction and pleasure he already tasted in anticipation.

Four years later circumstances rendered an embassy to the Sultan of Egypt imperative.  Ever since the fall of Granada, which was followed by the expulsion of Moors and Jews from Spain or their forcible conversion to Christianity if they remained in the country, the Mussulman world throughout Northern Africa had been kept in a ferment by the lamentations and complaints of the arriving exiles.  Islam throbbed with sympathy for the vanquished, and thirsted for vengeance on the oppressors.  The Mameluke Sultan of Egypt, aroused to action by the reports of the persecution of his brethren in blood and faith, threatened reprisals, which he was in a position to carry out on the persons and property of the numerous Christian merchants in the Levant, as well as on the pilgrims who annually visited the Holy Land.  The Franciscan friars, guardians of the holy places in Palestine, were especially at his mercy.  Representations had been made in Rome and referred by the Pope to Spain.  King

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