Beatriz Enríquez de Arana

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Beatriz Enríquez de Arana
Born 1467
Santa María de Trassierra
(near Cordoba, Spain)
Died 1536 (aged 68–69)
Santa María de Trassierra
(near Cordoba, Spain)
Nationality Spanish
Partner(s) Mistress of
Christopher Columbus[1]
Children Ferdinand Columbus

Beatriz Enríquez de Arana (1467–1536) was the mistress of Christopher Columbus.[2][3][4][5][6]


Beatriz was born in the small village of Santa Maria of Trassierra (near Cordoba) in a family of peasant farmers and small share holders.[7] She was from a noble family of Cordoba, Spain.[8][9][10] She had two brothers.[11][12]

According to historian Rafael Ramírez de Arellano, her father or stepfather was Pedro de Torquemada of converso origin and her mother was Ana Núñez de Arana. In his history of Cordoba he explains that she and her brother Peter took the name of their maternal aunt Mayor Enríquez de Arana. She was one of the relatives who took them in (with possibly Francisco Enriquez de Arana, a wine maker) when they became orphaned in 1471. The Núñez de Arana families were small landholders of modest means. Beatriz knew how to read and write, an unusual thing at the time. This indicated she had at least some social status. Most historians agreed, though, that the lower social status of Beatriz is the reason why Columbus never married her. He had aspired to come across someone of higher social status to help benefit his ventures.[13][14][15]

Relationship with Columbus

The history of the relationship of Beatriz and Columbus starts with the reason why Christopher Columbus was in Córdoba in 1487 at the Spanish monarchs' Alcazar. In 1479 Columbus had traveled to Lisbon, to see his brother and to conduct trade. There he met his first wife Filipa Moniz and married about 1479 or 1480. They had a son named Diego. Columbus' first wife died in 1484, according to some historians, and he became a widower; other historians say he simply walked out on her and took their child, then around five years old, and moved from Lisbon to Spain.[16][17]

Posthumous portrait of Christopher Columbus by Ridolfo Ghirlandaio

In early 1486, Columbus was living in the court of the Spanish monarchs, King Ferdinand V and Queen Isabella I in Seville, Spain. Columbus was there trying to convince them to finance his "Enterprise of the Indies" — a far-reaching expedition to reach the east by going west. Columbus had knowledge of the Canaries Current and was hoping he could reach the Indias by taking advantage of this ocean phenomenon. The Spanish monarchs were preoccupied at the time trying to unify Spain. They were interested in Columbus's idea but couldn't give it their full attention while the war in Granada was going on against the Moors. Meanwhile, Columbus was given subsistence and allowed to stay at the monarchs' castle in Cordoba since they thought he might have a good idea that would provide future riches and spread Christianity.[18][19]

While waiting for a decision on his enterprise and another meeting with the Spanish monarchs, Columbus patronized a local apothecary shop that was operated by people from Genoa, Italy. Columbus supposedly was from that area in Italy and felt comfortable associating with doctors, physicians, surgeons, astronomers, scientists and others who patronized the Genoese pharmacy. At the pharmacy he became a friend of a young Basque man named Diego de Arana.[20]

Diego had two orphaned cousins in his family's household: Beatriz Enríquez de Arana and her brother Pedro Enríquez de Arana.[20] Their family was originally from Arana as was Diego's, a valley of Álava, Spain. Diego introduced Beatriz, a 20- or 21-year-old woman of Basque origin, to Columbus in 1487.[19][21] Columbus was 35. They became lovers. In August 1488, they had a son named Ferdinand Columbus (aka Hernando Colon).[22] They never married.[20] Diego's family, who adopted Beatriz, had a prosperous wine business. They may have helped Columbus with money for his expeditions.[20]

When Columbus left for his first expedition to the New World, the two children, Diego and Ferdinand, were turned over to Beatriz.[8] She took great care of them and was even congratulated by Queen Isabella I for her outstanding work. Some historians think that the award money intended for the look-out man that would be the first to spot land went instead to Columbus's mistress.[23][24] When Columbus died he left his fortune to her.[25] She never claimed the inheritance.[26]


  1. Patrick, p. 248 Columbus's mistress, Beatriz Enríquez de Arana, bears his second son, Ferdinand
  2. Christopher Columbus Biography Page 2
  3. Brinkbäumer, p. 112 Diego de Arana, cousin to Columbus's mistress, agreed to serve as marshal of the fleet...
  4. Phillips, p. 126 During his time in Cordoba, Columbus established a romantic liaison with a young woman named Beatriz Enríquez de Arana.
  5. Wilford, p. 89 The cousin, a peasant woman of twenty, was Beatriz Enríquez de Arana. She and Columbus became lovers, and in August 1488 she gave birth to their son, Ferdinand.
  6. Thomas, p. 172 Another ship was commanded by Pedro de Arana, a cousin of Beatriz, the Admiral's old mistress in Cordoba.
  7. The World Book Encyclopedia, Vol 4, pp. 858-859
  8. 8.0 8.1 Christopher Columbus Genealogy
  9. New data concerning Beatriz Enriquez de Arana and Arana of Cordova, found by Rafael Ramirez de Arellano
  10. Fiske, p. 401 He had formed a connection with a lady of noble family, Beatriz Enríquez de Arana, who gave birth to his son Ferdinand on 15 August 1488.
  11. Thacher, p. 424
  12. Young, p. 101
  13. History of Cordoba from its foundation to the death of Isabel the Catholic. Ciudad Real: Tipografía del Hospicio Provincial, 1915-1919
  14. Phillips, p. 126 Marriage to a low-born orphan would do nothing to enhance his prestige and would surely impede his search for noble status.
  15. Beatriz Enríquez de Arana, la amante de Cristóbal Colón
  16. Wilford, p. 84 His wife had died earlier that year, according to Hernando (or did he walk out on her, as Henry Harrisse supposes from an interlinear reading of a letter Columbus wrote in 1500?)
  17. Ryan, p. 27 Henry Harrisse, the "great authority", cannot produce facts, but he "thinks" that Columbus's first wife was living when he met Beatriz.
  18. Wilford, pp. 87-89
  19. 19.0 19.1 Brinkbäumer, pp. 87-88
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 20.3 Wilford, p. 89
  21. Christopher Columbus essay
  22. Young, p. 104
  23. Young, p. 264 It is quite of a piece with the character of Columbus that while he was writing a receipt for the look-out man's money and thinking what a pretty gift it would make Beatriz...
  24. Thomas, p. 87 Before he left, Columbus was conceded a pension of 10,000 maravedis a year, deriving from the royal income in Cordoba; and it was there that, in this first year, Columbus's mistress, Beatriz Enriquez de Arana, received the money.
  25. Brinkbäumer, p. 292 for Beatriz Enriquez, mother of Fernando, my son, that she may be able to live honestly, being a person to whom I am under very great obligation....
  26. Cordobapedia - Beatriz Enríquez de Arana


  • Brinkbäumer, Klaus, The voyage of the Vizcaína: the mystery of Christopher Columbus's last ship, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2006, ISBN 0-15-101186-9
  • Fiske, John, The discovery of America: with some account of ancient America and the Spanish conquest, Houghton Mifflin, 1895
  • Patrick, James, Renaissance and Reformation, Marshall Cavendish, 2001, ISBN 0-7614-7651-2
  • Phillips, Carla Rahn, The Worlds of Christopher Columbus, Cambridge University Press, 1993, ISBN 0-521-44652-X
  • Rafael Ramírez de Arellano, History of Cordova from its foundation to the death of Isabel the Catholic. Ciudad Real: Tipografía del Hospicio Provincial, 1915–1919
  • Thacher, John Boyd, Christopher Columbus: his life, his works, his remains: as revealed by original printed and manuscript records, together with an essay on Peter Martyr d'Anghiera and Bartolomé de las Casas, the first historians of America, G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1903
  • The World Book Encyclopedia, World Book Inc., 2007, ISBN 0-7166-0107-9; ISBN 978-0-7166-0107-4
  • Thomas, Hugh, Rivers of gold: the rise of the Spanish Empire, from Columbus to Magellan, Random House, Inc., 2004, ISBN 0-375-50204-1
  • Wilford, John Noble, The Mysterious History of Columbus. An Exploration of the man, the Myth, the Legacy, Alfred A. Knopf (New York) 1991, ISBN 0-679-40476-7
  • Young, Filson, Christopher Columbus and the New World of His Discovery, J.B. Lippincott, 1906

Further reading

  • Curtis, William Eleroy, The relics of Columbus: an illustrated description of the historical collection in the monastery of La Ra, William H. Lowdermilk Company, 1893, p. 117 item 521
  • Davidson, Miles H., Columbus then and now, University of Oklahoma Press, 1997, pp. 152–158, ISBN 0-8061-2934-4
  • Duro, Cesáreo Fernández, Colón Y La Historia Póstuma, BiblioBazaar, LLC, 2008, pp. 184–163, 217, ISBN 0-559-79785-0
  • Foster, Genevieve, The World of Columbus and Sons, Charles Scribner's Sons 1965, pp. 133–145, Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 65-18410
  • Markham, Clements Robert, Life of Christopher Columbus, G. Philip & Son, ltd., 1902, pp. 60–63
  • Ryan, Sara Agnes, Christopher Columbus in Poetry, History and Art, The Mayer and Miller company, 1917, p. 45