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Christopher Columbus

Christopher Columbus

Christopher Columbus was an explorer, navigator, and colonizer.


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Nikita Sidana

Nikita Sidana

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The myths surrounding Columbus make it difficult to put his accomplishments into their proper context. Often he is depicted as a perfect hero in advance of his time who conceived the idea of a spherical earth and had to fight traditional religious beliefs and prejudice before succeeding, and who died poor and alone. None of this is true...

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If there is any explorer who, in the eyes of most Americans, seems to need no introduction, it is Christopher Columbus. Yet few figures in history have been the subject of so much myth. Old-fashioned political correctness maintained that Columbus was a sort of savior for discovering the New World, whereas modern political correctness—manifested particularly in 1992, during the 500th anniversary of his discovery—condemns him as a murderer of Native Americans and destroyer of the environment...

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Fourth Voyage (1502-04)

Columbus was not able to mount another venture until May 1502, when he sailed with four ships from Cádiz. His desire to locate China and its wealth was coupled by a need to restore his reputation. Columbus was denied permission to enter the colony at Hispaniola, where he remained a very unpopular figure. He avoided disaster by riding out a hurricane in a small, sheltered harbor, then resumed his quest. His effort was plagued by further storms and doldrums, making his final voyage the most harrowing of all. Columbus sailed along the coast of Central America, hoping in vain to find an opening that would allow him to reach the shores of the Far East.

In December 1502, Columbus attempted to return to Hispaniola. He was ill, losing his eyesight, and his ships were rotting and on the verge of sinking. His one remaining vessel ran aground off of Jamaica, where the entire crew sought refuge.

Two sailors volunteered to make a perilous journey by canoe to Hispaniola to seek rescue for the marooned party. The crewmembers completed their journey, but wary officials waited almost a year before sending aid to Columbus. The "admiral of the ocean seas" knew he was not welcome on Hispaniola and departed immediately for Spain.

Columbus spent most of his remaining days seeking reinstatement of his titles and riches. However, Isabella's death in 1504, removed his most loyal support. After many attempts, he was granted an interview with Ferdinand, in 1505. A generous financial settlement was granted, but the king refused to reinstate his titles. Columbus died in May 1506, unaware that he had discovered a new world.

The great explorer was not honored with his name given to the areas he discovered. That honor went instead to a relatively obscure fellow Italian, Amerigo Vespucci.

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Columbus left the port of Sanlucar in southern Spain on May 30, 1498 with six ships. Leaving the Canary Islands on June 19, the fleet split into two squadrons: three ships to sail directly for Hispaniola with supplies for the colonists, and the other three to explore further south. The fleet was becalmed in the Doldrums, an area off the coast of equatorial Africa notorious for its lack of winds, for eight days and arrived in the West Indies short of fresh water. After changing course to north by east, the fleet sighted an island in the west at noon that same day. Because the island had three hills, Columbus named it Trinidad, after the Holy Trinity.

The crew became the first Europeans to see the continent of South America as they obtained water on the south coast of Trinidad in the Gulf of Paria. This included the first women colonists, who Columbus had been allowed to recruit at the ratio of one woman for every ten emigrants. Some of his crew went ashore and found natives using colorful handkerchiefs of symmetrically woven cotton in the same style the Moors had brought to Europe from West Africa. They also noted that married women wore cotton panties (bragas), also a likely West African Muslim influence.

Moreover, Columbus modified his belief in a round earth when his navigational readings detected the bulge in the earth at the equator. He proposed that the earth was shaped like a pear with a rise "like a woman's breast" on which rested the "Terrestrial Paradise" or Garden of Eden, to which no man could sail without the permission of God.

After a short time exploring the coast, Columbus set sail for Hispaniola on a northwest by north course. Arrivals in the new City of Santo Domingo on August 19, 1498 found open hostility to Columbus' continued rule. Eventually the dispute was resolved when Ferdinand and Isabela appointed Francisco de Bobadilla as royal commissioner, with powers above those of Columbus himself. Bobadilla first order of business was to send the Admiral and his two brothers Bartolome and Diego back to Spain in shackles in October of 1500.

Article: The 4 Voyages of Columbus
Source: The 4 Voyages of Columbus
Nikita Sidana

Nikita Sidana

30 Knowledge Cards 

This was his 3rd voyage.


TheSecond Voyage (1493-96): Setting sail from Cadiz on September 25, 1493, the second voyage was on a much larger scale; 17 ships and about 1200 colonists accompanied Columbus. Its mission was to return to La Navidad in Hispaniola to relieve the men left behind from the first voyage, settle more colonists on the islands, and conquer other islands to be discovered. This time Columbus carried a mission to bring Christianity to the Indians. To quicken the departure, in case another nation might attempt an expedition, the sovereigns did not hesitate to provide Columbus with whatever supplies he requested. The cargo included horses, cattle, donkeys, sheep, goats, pigs, dogs, cats, chickens, grain, seed, and all the supplies needed for sailing, fighting, building and setting up an administration overseas. The fleet left Cadiz and, as before, stopped at the Canaries to make repairs and to store more meat, wood and water. After leaving the Canary island of Hierro, the fleet took a more southerly route than before, and 21 days later, on the 2 of November, land was sighted. This new group of nd smaller islands (known as the Lesser Antilles) were south and east of the large islands of Cuba and Hispaniola (part of the Greater Antilles). After spending two weeks discovering and naming other beautiful islands, seeing incredible lush tropics, rare sights, and indescribable flora and fauna, the fleet came upon the island of Guadalupe. The Spaniards were shocked by stories of the cruel practices of the Carib (or Caniba) Indians who waged war on the nearby island and ate their captives. The first real battle in the New World with natives came in a skirmish with these “Cannibals” on the island of St. Croix. It should be mentioned that more than a few historians doubt that the practice of cannibalism actually existed as described in the chronicles of the sailors; nevertheless, it was believed by the Spanish explorers. Later in Spanish colonial history, it
was enough to label a native “cannibal” to enslave him.
Discovering the beautiful island of Puerto Rico on his way to Hispaniola, Columbus could sense an increase in the anxiety level, not only his own,but that of the large contingency of potential colonists, as well. Voyagers, eager to get off their ships, wanted to start looking for gold, or at the least, start colonizing. Reaching Hispaniola at the end of November, the Spanish fired a cannon to announce their arrival, but no one returned
the salute. There was response, no flag waving...nothing! An ominous sign. To their horror, they discovered that the entire settlement of La Navidad had been massacred and the site burned to the ground. As they searched for any trace of their compatriots, the newcomers discovered a mass grave in which several Spaniards were buried. They discovered also that the village of Columbus’ good friend, Chief Guacanagarí, was
burned and destroyed. No one will ever know for sure what happened at La Navidad, but the popular theory is that local natives destroyed the settlement out of disgust with the settlers’ greed and avarice.
A new city, Isabella, was built a short distance east of La Navidad. There was reluctance on the part of the settlers who balked at the prospect of doing manual labor. Many were ill and others were more interested in finding gold and other riches than building a settlement. Columbus hesitated
writing to the sovereigns about the destruction of La Navidad and decided on an expedition into the hinterland to search for gold. When gold failed to show up on large quantities, Columbus decided on a policy of forced labor. Enslavement of the natives had not been one of the stated goals of this expedition and it was offensive to the queen; yet Columbus justified Indian enslavement on the grounds that it would be profitable.
Before returning to Spain in 1496, Columbus explored more of Cuba and discovered Jamaica. En route to Cuba he discovered innumerable small islands which he called collectively the Queen's Garden. The Admiral was determined to prove that Cuba belonged to mainland Asia and was part of the empire of the Mongol khans. Although he never completed the circumnavigation of the island, he did force his men to take a solemn oath that the land mass was a promontory of Asia.
Relations began to deteriorate between the Spaniards and the natives of Hispaniola. Instead of searching for provisions while Columbus was off exploring other islands, the men left behind raided native villages in search of riches. With little hope for anything more than poverty and unhappiness, disgruntled settlers began returning home. Many of the men were sick, many died, most were unhappy with the lack of opportunity,
and no one wanted to work in the fields planting crops. Leaving his brother Diego behind as governor of La Isabella contributed to Columbus’ problems with the settlers. Diego was not an administrator, there were repeated demonstrations against his ineffective rule, and besides he was resented for being a foreigner, an Italian. Some of the settlers began sending letters back to relatives and officials in Spain complaining about
the conditions and the leadership. In October of 1495 a Spanish official arrived with a royal commission to investigate Viceroy Columbus and the charges that had been made by the discontented settlers. On March 10, 1496, Columbus had no choice but to return home hoping to preempt any royal inquiries into the complaints of the settlers. Earlier in the year Columbus did find his first real riches on Hispaniola. Taking part in the
expedition into the interior, Columbus and his men forced the inhabitants of the region to gather loose gold. Within a few days they had collected about 10 kg of the precious metal. We know from his own writing that Columbus was impressed with the beauty of the Caribbean, but he did not come looking for that. With incredible single-mindedness, the Admiral was looking for riches and a doorway to Asia, to the land of Marco Polo,
hoping that Hispaniola might be Cipango, and Cuba part of Cathay. In reality, no one knew where in the world they were. The relationship of the Western Hemisphere to the rest of the world would not be know until after the Magellan-El Cano around-the-world-in-three-years trip, 1519-22.

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Finally, it was only in 1492 that Columbus was able to leave Cadiz, Spain with three ships, the Gallega, Pinta and Santa Clara. His mission now was to occupy land, and as a reward, he will stand as the governor of those territories.

On October 12, his ships spotted land and he decided to temporarily land on what is called the Bahamas at the present time, which then was called by the locals as Guanahani. Columbus renamed it as San Salvador, as property of Spain. The most significant thing about this event is that he thought that he was in Asia, in India specifically, and started calling the natives as “Indians.” This mistake eventually became the most important event in the history of geography, for this is when Columbus officially “discovered” the New World.

After staying for a few days, Columbus eventually moved towards Cuba and Hispaniola, reaching the La Navidad as shelter. In there, he was able to come across the Samana Peninsula, which he named as the “Bay of Arrows,” because the hostile Ciguayo tribesmen used their arrows to resist Columbus’ fleet.

Fortunately, Christopher Columbus’ men were able to resist them, and taking about 20 tribesmen as proof to the Spanish Crown, they took off and returned to Palos, Spain on March 15, 1943.

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Nikita Sidana

Nikita Sidana

30 Knowledge Cards 

This was his first voyage.


What happened to Columbus?
Columbus in disgrace
Spain ruled the lands Columbus had found. On his third voyage, Columbus saw South America for the first time. But he came home in disgrace. His enemies said he had ruled Hispaniola to make himself rich. He was sent back to Spain in chains. But the king and queen set him free.

Native Americans made slaves
People from Europe sailed to America to start colonies. Some wanted to make the Native Americans become Christians.

The Europeans began treating the Native Americans badly. They made many of them work as slaves.

Columbus dies
Columbus sailed to America for a fourth time in 1502. He was still hoping to land in China. This time he explored Central America. His ships were too leaky to sail home, so he had to wait a year before being rescued.

When Columbus got back to Spain, he was a sick man. He died in 1506.

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1465 Columbus takes his first sea voyage at age 14. Later he studies navigation in Greece and mapmaking in Portugal, where he lives for nine years in a colony of Genoese businessmen and shippers. He also travels to Africa, Ireland, England and Iceland.
Columbus presents his plan to reach the Orient by sailing west across the Atlantic to the
kings of Portugal, England, France and Spain. Only Spain s King Ferdinand and Queen
Isabella accept his offer, but it takes Columbus six years (1486-1492) to convince them to
underwrite his explorations.
On August 3, Columbus sails from Palos, Spain. On October 12 at two o clock in the
morning, land is sighted -- an island which he names San Salvador (Holy Savior).
Deeply religious, Columbus believes one of his missions is to bring Christianity to the
New World.
Columbus makes his last voyage across the ocean. He crossed the Atlantic four times in
10 years: 1492, 1493, 1498 and 1502.
On his first voyage he lands on Haiti and the Dominican Republic, which he calls Hispaniola, where he founds the first permanent European settlement in the Western Hemisphere. On his third voyage, his political enemies bring him back to Spain in chains, but the Queen absolves him of any blame. On his fourth voyage , he was
shipwrecked for nearly a year on what is today Jamaica.

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15th Century people believed the world was flat, and if you sailed far enough, you would fall off the edge. Columbus thought the world was round, and saw an opportunity to prove his theory by sailing to the Far East by sailing West instead of the usual East. With our modern knowledge, we know that the great land mass of America blocks the way to the Far East. Columbus however had no idea it existed.

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In 1478 or 1479, Columbus married Felipa Moniz, member of a prominent Italian-Portuguese family. Her father and brother were hereditary captains of the island of Porto Santo, and her mother came from a noble family. In 1480 Felipa bore Columbus a son named Diogo (Diego in Spanish), who would later have a bureaucratic career in the lands his father claimed for Spain...

Article: Columbus, Christopher (c....
Source: Encyclopedia of Latin Ame...

Columbus, Christopher (1451–1506), Italian navigator and the discoverer of America. Though Columbus had set out to find a westward route to Asia, his explorations proved to be as important as any alternate way to the riches of Cathay and India.

The archives of Genoa show that the famous discoverer was born Cristoforo Colombo (Spanish, Crist�bal Col�n) there between August and October 1451. His father, Domenico Colombo, followed the weaver's craft, and his mother, Suzanna Fontanarossa, came of equally humble stock...

Article: Columbus, Christopher (14...
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Nikita Sidana

Nikita Sidana

30 Knowledge Cards 

Columbus did not 'discover' America. There were many people already living there. Vikings from Europe had landed in America 500 years before. But Columbus did not know that. His voyage started regular contact between America and Europe.