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The standard biography of Columbus has many implausabilities, starting with the rags-to-riches, wool carder-to admiral story. Columbus was supposed to have been so embarrassed by his humble origins that he never mentioned them. Yet, he married into one of the most prestigious noble families in Portugal when marriage across class lines was not allowed. He mixed easily with the elites of his day—dukes, ecclesiastics, nobles and kings. Even though he was a foreigner, he was incorporated into the Spanish nobility; he demanded and received the extraordinary offices of admiral and viceroy.


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