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When the sovereigns gave Columbus a coat of arms as a newly created nobleman, they gave him the singular honor of incorporating the royal symbols of Castile and Leon on his coat of arms. They simply would not have done that if he were of humble birth. But in 1493, the sovereigns wrote Columbus a letter confirming his nobility, and giving him the right to use the royal insignia along with “your own arms which you are accustomed to bear.” In other words, Columbus already had his own coat of arms—something no Genoese commoner would have had. Only the nobility had coats of arms.


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