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01 July

History Questions


I received this email recently and thought I would post on the site in hopes that the readers of the blog/site can help out Mike. Please leave you answers in the comments. Thank you!


I have listened to and enjoyed many of your podcasts. Here are two historical issues I’m curious about.

Why, after WWII, didn’t the Allies occupy Italy as they did Japan and Germany? Fascism began in Italy, after all. Is this because Italy was conquered first, and many Italians then rebelled against Musollini? Was it because the Italians weren’t taken very seriously as a military force?

also, I live in Bogota, Colombia. This country is, obviously, named for Christopher Columbus. But this is a Spanish-speaking region, and in Spanish Columbus is Cristobal Colon. So, why in the world would they have used the English version of the man’s name instead of the Spanish one, which might have given us a nation named ‘Colonia.’ (That, of course, would have been strange, since it’s the word for colony.)

Best and thanks,

Mike C.

Update:  I posted the questions on the Historum forums in hopes of more answers and we got some…

Lucius writes:

Hi historypodcast,

Why is München Munich? Why is Venezia Venice? I guess we just don’t like furriners that much, so we change their names to suit us. Either that or we’re too dumb. Or both.

and HistoryBuff7 says:

Italy surrendered after the allies invaded and Victor Emmanuel III dismissed Mussolini because by 1943 the Italian people lost their faith in Mussolini and were tired of the war.

and Pedro has maybe the best answer about Colombia…

Cristóbal Colón was Italian and his Italian name was Cristoforo Colombo. Yes, just like the detective on TV. The ‘ia’ of course is a common suffix and rules of orthography dictate dropping the ‘o’ and adding ‘ia’.
Why they chose the Italian spelling over the Spanish I can only guess. Tradition? To honor? Sounds better than Colonium or any other Spanish option?


2 Responses to “History Questions”

  1. JCP says:

    Hi. I just wanted to clarify for Mike C. that, while English speakers refer to the man as Christopher Columbus, that form of the last name is actually the Latinized version of Colon, not an English version. (Copernicus did the same thing with his name.) So, while I can’t tell you who named the country Colombia, I think it has more to do with Europe’s fondness for Latin than it has to do with English.

  2. Gianfranco says:

    You should remember that Cristobal Colon was in reality the Italian Cristoforo Colombo, therefore, it is right to name the nation after him Colombia.

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