In January of 1468 his stepbrother -and first-born of the House of Sotomayor- Álvaro Paez de Sotomayor found himself besieged by his enemies and without descendants, he decided to legitimize his half brother Pedro, granting him the rights of succession. For this reason, at the age of 38, Pedro went from the cathedral to the family territory and he fought against the enemies of the Sotomayor.
The revolt took on enormous proportions, a civil war in which as many as 130 noble castles and houses would be assaulted. Among the fortress attacked by the irmandiños was the Tuy fortress, where Álvaro Paez de Sotomayor met his death after having to give his villa to the insurgents.
That traumatic event took place in the winter of 1468 and it led to “Pedro Madruga” replacing his stepbrother in the direction of the clan, participating in the fight against the Holy Brotherhood of Galicia. In spring and summer of 1468 “Pedro Madruga” went to the Cortes of Portugal and Castilla to secure the royal recognition of naturalization and the inheritance received from his brother; he also obtained a military support with which he organized the counterattack of the nobles from the territory and with the aid of Portugal. His army, equipped with well-trained units and with companies of arquebusiers, managed to defeat the irmandiños, capturing their leaders.
Pedro Madruga would gain a reputation for his sagacity and fearlessness. To resolve with the rival clan of the Sarmientos a dispute of the borders that both families had in Ribadavia they reached the agreement that the border should be fixed where both knights met, leaving each of their houses at sunrise. When Sarmiento left his castle he found that Pedro was already at his door; for that reason he told him: “Madruga, Pedro, madurga” (“Wake up early, Pedro, wake up early”). This anecdote made his fortune and divulged the nickname.
It was a strange place to die. And there were other numerous coincidences. It has given rise to a hypothesis that is gaining ground. A growing stream of historiography – Alfonso Philipot, Rodrigo Cota and Fernando Alonso – is promoting the possibility that Christopher Columbus was a name invented by Pedro de Sotomayor to start a new life. He was an outlaw and he could take advantage of his stop at his friend’s house in Alba de Tormes to start a second public life. One of the numerous indications is his writing: a Castilian with numerous Galician words and a single written in bad Italian; the coincidence of the signature of Columbus with the genealogy of Sotomayor.
Text by Ignacio Suárez-Zuloaga and illustrations by Ximena Maier.