Contemporary accounts named his birth place as the Italian port of Genoa to a family of wool weavers but over the centuries it has been claimed that he was a native of Greece, Spain, France, Portugal and even Scotland.
Others claimed his origins were hidden because he was Jewish or secretly working as a double agent for the Portuguese royal family.
But the latest theory suggests that the great navigator, who died in 1506 after four voyages to the New World, was in fact of royal blood: the son of King Vladislav III who was supposedly slain in the Battle of Varna in 1444.
In his third book on the subject Manuel Rosa, who has spent 20 years researching the life of Columbus, suggests that Vladislav III survived the battle with the Ottomans, fled to live in exile on the island of Madeira where he was known as "Henry the German" and married a Portuguese noblewoman.
Mr Rosa believes a conspiracy was agreed to hide Columbus' true origins and to protect the identity of his father. "The courts of Europe knew who he was and kept his secret for their own reasons," the researcher at Duke University, North Carolina said.