- Christoffa: "Has the world gone so mad that a simple adventurer cannot go but a few weeks without being attacked in the street!"
- Ezio: "Christoffa, you are no simple adventurer."
- ―Christoffa and Ezio soon after the latter saved the former from another Templar attack, 1492[src]
Christoffa Corombo (Italian: Cristoforo Colombo; c. 1451 – 20 May 1506), better known by the anglicized Christopher Columbus, was an Italian navigator, colonizer, and explorer who worked with the nation of Spain. His voyages across the Atlantic Ocean exposed the existence of the Americas to the Europeans and planted the very first seeds of the Spanish Empire, though his original intention was to find a western route to India and China.
For this pivotal role, he was assisted by the Assassins Luis de Santángel and Ezio Auditore da Firenze and hounded after by the Templars, who hoped to prevent his journey so as to be the first to claim the "New World". As an ally of the Assassins, he would be entrusted with an Apple of Eden by Aguilar de Nerha in the aftermath of the Granada War, an artifact he would ultimately carry to his grave at the Seville Cathedral.
A merchant and experienced sailor from the Republic of Genoa, Christoffa harbored ambitions to chart a western trade route to the Orient through the Atlantic Ocean. To that end, he presented his proposal to the court of Queen Isabella I of Castile in 1486, after previously having been rejected by King John II of Portugal. The Castilian government, too, declined to fund his expedition, but the determined Christoffa did not abandon his dream. He had come into the possession of a valuable atlas that illustrated the proper routes for such a journey and was convinced it was, contrary to popular belief, entirely feasible.
Murder attempt by the Borgia
- "I represent a man who has come to Venezia on a foolish errand. I fear his life is in danger, but he refuses to listen to my counsel."
- ―Luis de Santángel requesting help from Antonio de Magianis and Ezio Auditore, 1491[src]
Five years passed, and the Genoese navigator found that his persistent lobbying of European courts was as fruitless as ever despite the assistance of Luis de Santángel, a finance minister to King Ferdinand II of Aragon. It was in 1491 that he was first contacted by a Rodrigo Borgia, Grand Master of the Templar Order, who he knew only as "the Spaniard". The Spaniard offered a long-term business partnership with Christoffa, whereby he would sponsor his voyage. Luis, secretly an Assassin, suspected that the meeting was a trap, but the desperate Christoffa refused to heed his warnings.
Faced with little choice, Luis accompanied Christoffa to Venice, where Christoffa was to meet with his sponsor for the very first time. While Christoffa hurried to the meeting, Luis left for the local Thieves Guild to request its Assassin leader Antonio de Magianis for help in protecting his friend. Luis's intuition proved correct: the meeting was indeed a set-up, and the Assassin Ezio Auditore da Firenze assigned by Antonio to oversee the meeting arrived just in time to save Christoffa from murder; the Spaniard himself never showed.
Once his safety had been secured, Christoffa and Luis attempted to return to their lodgings, only to find that it had been raided by Borgia soldiers. Though their hostel's occupation would have been of little consequence to them, Christoffa's prized atlas was still inside. Its loss would not only jeopardize Christoffa's goal, but as it exposed the existence of the Americas, Luis feared the ramifications should it fall into the hands of the Templars. Without the means to fight the Borgia forces, they awaited Ezio at the Garden District, having asked him to meet them there should the meeting have gone askew. Ezio, unaware that Luis was an Assassin and not wishing to act as a mercenary-for-hire, was ever as reluctant when Christoffa and Luis asked Ezio to help them retrieve the atlas. Even so, he acquiesced due to the mission's possible connection with his archenemy, Rodrigo Borgia.
While the Assassin left to sneak into the hostel, Christoffa and Luis prepared for their departure at the Venetian harbor. As expected, Ezio returned with the atlas after escaping a pursuit by Borgia soldiers through the catacombs and streets of Venice. Although some parts of the atlas were indeed lost in the attack, they were able to retain the most significant maps—those drawn by the famed Turkish cartographer Piri Reis. While Christoffa momentarily left to check on the ships, Ezio advised Luis that he and Christoffa should bring their own protection the next time they come to Italy, to which Luis explained that their failure to do so owed to the Assassins of Spain being wiped out by the Spanish Inquisition, a remark that would prompt Ezio to venture to Aragon to save these Assassin on his own initiative. It was then that Christoffa returned to notify Luis that their ship was waiting on them to depart, and the two set sail back to Spain.
Delayed by the Granada War
- Luis: "Christoffa, don't be foolish. We're close!"
- Christoffa: "We've been close for too long, Luis. It's now or never."
- Luis: "Damn him. It's too soon to go begging for money from a war weary monarch."
- —Luis failing to dissuade Christoffa from his rashness, 1491[src]
In Spain, Christoffa resumed his protracted negotiations with Castile in the hope that they would at some point finally concede to his requests for funds. Nevertheless, the prospect of such a sponsorship was kept perpetually on hold while Castile remained embroiled in their war against the Emirate of Granada, the last Moorish state in Iberia. With their treasury tied up in such a conflict, their was little cause for Queen Isabella to invest in a risky expedition.
Unbeknownst to Christoffa, this setback was orchestrated by the Templars themselves, who had one of their spies routinely provide false counsel to Emir Muhammad XII of Granada to dissuade him from surrender. By deliberately prolonging the war, they hoped to exhaust Castile's treasury and delay Christoffa's voyage, having failed to kill him, providing them with opportunity to journey to the Americas and dominate the continent before its existence became common European knowledge.
Thanks to the intervention of Ezio, however, the Templar plot was ended, with the Assassin freeing Muhammad XII from Templar captivity after they took him hostage in retaliation for their spy's assassination and convincing the emir to at last abdicate the throne. Christoffa was present in Granada itself as it fell to the Spanish forces, meeting with Ezio, Luis, and their friend Raphael Sánchez just as Spanish soldiers entered the city. Despite how little time had passed since the surrender of the city, Christoffa immediately set out to urge Queen Isabella to lend him the funds for his voyage. Luis protested, reminding him that with this victory, they only needed to wait a little while for Castile's finances to recover, notwithstanding that Isabella was at that moment preoccupied with negotiating peace terms with the Emir.
Sponsorship by Castile
- Raphael: "Soon we will be praising you, my friend. For all the wonders you will find and report to the world."
- Luis: "But let all rejoicing wait until we have seen your crosstrees dip below the horizon."
- ―Raphael and Luis after Queen Isabella concedes her support, 1492[src]
Just as Luis warned, Christoffa was rebuffed by Queen Isabella. Depressed, in January 1492 shortly after the formal end to the war, he became an easy target for yet another Templar trap: this time using a fraudulent offer of sponsorship by King Louis XII of France as bait. Christoffa set off on the road to France alone without informing his Assassin friends; in his frustration, he blamed them in part for his misfortunes and resolved to cease dealing with them.
As soon as Luis had been informed by Queen Isabella of Christoffa's departure, he instantly deduced that the supposed offer by Louis XII was a trap and anxiously sent Ezio to save Christoffa's life yet again. To persuade him to return to him, he told Ezio to preemptively tell Christoffa that Queen Isabella had changed her mind, intending to fund half the expedition out of his pocket for his sake. Ezio intercepted Christoffa just moments before he was ambushed by a Templar guard captain, who Ezio slew after a brief fight. While Christoffa was skeptical of Ezio's claim that Louis XII had never actually offered his sponsorship, Ezio assured him that this was a moot point given that Queen Isabella was now open to his proposal. With that, Christoffa returned with Ezio to meet with Queen Isabella, just as she reached an agreement with Luis to sponsor Christoffa's voyage at last—but only because Luis promised to cover half the expenses. Elated, Christoffa rejoiced with his friends, finally acknowledging the many times their prudence had saved his life.
Granted the Apple of Eden
That same year, the Assassin Aguilar de Nerha entrusted Christoffa with an Apple of Eden, tasking him to keep it safe after having wrestled it from Tomás de Torquemada when Grand Inquisitor sought to take it from Muhammad XII. Christoffa kept the artifact until his death, and he was eventually buried with it at the Seville Cathedral. There, it would remain until the Templars, learning of its location from viewing the genetic memories of Aguilar through the Animus, took it from his tomb in 2016.
Christoffa embarked on his expedition, the first of four he would conduct to the Americas, from Palos de la Frontera on 3 August 1492. His voyage sent him to what would later be known as the West Indies, after his mistaken claim that the indigenous peoples he encountered there were Indians. While not the first European to visit the new continent, his journey spread throughout Europe knowledge of its existence for the first time, inaugurating what became known as the Age of Discovery and laying the foundations for the Spanish Empire. This was accomplished through the publications of the letters he wrote to Luis de Santángel and Raphael Sánchez on his return from his first voyage.
While popularly lauded as the "discoverer" of the Americas by the Western world, his exposure of the "New World", as it was called by the Europeans, posed great ill for the indigenous peoples of the Americas, setting the stage for a centuries-long period of European colonization. The conquest of the continent devastated its native populations, driving the Taíno to near extinction among many other ethnic groups. Just as the Templars had expected, it also became a new arena in their war against the Assassins, leading to the establishment of many new branches of their orders, such as the West Indies Brotherhood and the Colonial Rite of the Templar Order. In parallel, European colonists would found innumerable settlements throughout the land that would ultimately evolve into independent nations in their own right, all the while encroaching and seizing upon more and more territory from the indigenous peoples.
Personality and characteristics
- Christoffa: "Oh, I have been waiting for this moment, Luis. Do you feel it, the tide shifting beneath us?"
- Luis: "Patience, Christoffa. It will take some time for Isabella to entertain thoughts of spending money on you."
- Christoffa: "I have been waiting SIX YEARS for an answer from the Queen. If she cannot indulge me now, I will indulge other offers!"
- —Christoffa and Luis arguing about his case during the fall of Granada, 1491[src]
A passionate explorer and adventurer, Christoffa was an ambitious man who was not afraid to broaden his horizons when it came to his dreams. His vision of charting a western trade route to the Orient across the Atlantic Ocean was regarded as dangerous and fanciful by many of his contemporaries. Despite the constant stream of disappointments, failing to obtain support by governments throughout Europe for many years, he was never swayed from his dream. His perseverance in the face of discouragement eventually saw his goals come to fruition.
While his determination effected his successes, his single-minded drive also endangered his life on multiple occasions, to be saved only with the timely aid of his more cautious friends. He had a tendency to be impulsive, a trait that only worsened when he became desperate after years of frustrated failures. Because of his rashness, he failed to heed Luis de Santángel's suspicions that his meeting with Rodrigo Borgia was a trap and would walk right into yet another Templar ambush a few months later. His tactlessness and inability to restrain his impulses virtually dismantled his dream when he rushed to demand Queen Isabella for funds on the very night that Granada finally fell to her forces, a war that had exhausted her treasury from possibly funding his expedition. In the wake of this latest failure to negotiate with the queen, Christoffa nearly cut ties with the Assassins completely, holding them at fault for some of his failures despite the fact their efforts had foiled the Templar plot to prevent his voyage. It was only after they finally succeeded in eliciting the support of Queen Isabella that he came to acknowledge how their caution had saved his life on numerous occasions.
- In English, Christoffa Corombo is best known in real-life by the name Christopher Columbus, an anglicization of his name, while Christoffa Corombo is in the Genoese dialect of Ligurian of that period, his native language. In modern Ligurian, his name is Christoffa Combo, in Italian Cristoforo Colombo, and in Spanish Cristóbal Colón.
- Historically, Christoffa was not aware of the existence of the Americas lying across the Atlantic Ocean from Europe; his lack of support from European governments owed to his grave miscalculation of the circumference of the Earth and the distance from Spain to Japan, which meant that if not for the Americas, his crew would have run out of supplies in the middle of the ocean. In Assassin's Creed II: Discovery, it is suggested that he had known of the Americas all along, given the fact that its existence is illustrated in his atlas, and it may be that his conviction in his dream stems from this foreknowledge. Nevertheless, this is not explicit, as he only describes to Ezio Auditore that the map reveals a route already charted to the Orient.
- Despite being friends with the Assassins, it is unclear whether Christoffa is ever aware of the existence of their Brotherhood or that his main benefactors are Assassins. All explicit mentions in the game of Assassins and their activities occur when he is not present. When Luis first reveals to Ezio that the Spanish Brotherhood was being purged by the Spanish Inquisition, his conversation takes place in the precise window of time when Christoffa has briefly left to check on their ship. Despite this, Ezio openly describes to him that the attempt on his life in Spain is a Templar scheme, and he does not display any confusion as to the mention of that organization.