He traveled without guards or retinue, but Bobadilla had made hostile preparations, as if Columbus meant to come with military force. Columbus preferred to show his own loyalty to the crown and to remove suspicion. But no sooner did he arrive in the city than Bobadilla gave orders that he should be put in irons and confined in the fortress. Up to this moment, Bobadilla had been sustained by the popular favor of those around him; but the indignity, of placing chains upon Columbus, seems to have made a change in the fickle impressions of the little town.
Columbus, himself, behaved with magnanimity, and made no complaint. Bobadilla asked him to bid his brother return to San Domingo, and he complied. He begged his brother to submit to the authority of the sovereigns, and Bartholomew immediately did so. On his arrival in San Domingo he was also put in irons, as his brother Diego had been, and was confined on board a caravel. As soon as a set of charges could be made up to send to Spain with Columbus, the vessels, with the prisoners, set sail.
The master of the caravel, Martin, was profoundly grieved by the severe treatment to which the great navigator was subjected. He would gladly have taken off his irons, but Columbus would not consent. “I was commanded by the king and queen,” he said, “to submit to whatever Bobadilla should order in their name. He has put these chains on me by their authority. I will wear them until the king and queen bid me take them off. I will preserve them afterwards as relics and memorials of the reward of my services.” His son, Fernando, who tells this story, says that he did so, that they were always hanging in his cabinet, and that he asked that they might be buried with him when he died.
From this expression of Fernando Columbus, there has arisen, what Mr. Harrisse calls, a “pure legend,” that the chains were placed in the coffin of Columbus. Mr. Harrisse shows good reason for thinking that this was not so. “Although disposed to believe that, in a moment of just indignation, Columbus expressed the wish that these tokens of the ingratitude of which he had been the victim should be buried, with him, I do not believe that they were ever placed in his coffin.”
It will thus be seen that the third voyage added to the knowledge of the civilized world the information which Columbus had gained regarding Paria and the island of Trinidad. For other purposes of discovery, it was fruitless.
CHAPTER XI. — SPAIN, 1500, 1501.
A CORDIAL RECEPTION IN SPAIN—COLUMBUS FAVORABLY RECEIVED AT COURT—NEW INTEREST IN GEOGRAPHICAL DISCOVERY—HIS PLANS FOR THE REDEMPTION OF THE HOLY SEPULCHRE—PREPARATIONS FOR A FOURTH EXPEDITION.
Columbus was right in insisting on wearing his chains. They became rather an ornament than a disgrace. So soon as it was announced in Spain that the great discoverer had been so treated by Bobadilla, a wave of popular indignation swept through the people and reached the court. Ferdinand and Isabella, themselves, had never intended to give such powers to their favorite, that he should disgrace a man so much his superior.