With his four transatlantic voyages of exploration he initiated the process of Spanish colonizationof America, which foreshadowed general European colonization of the "New World."
His successful voyages were preceded by searching of their financial and theoretical backgrounds.
Columbus's believed the world to be a sphere, but claim that the Earth was much smaller, and that Asia was only a few thousand nautical miles to the west of Europe.
In 1484 Columbus asked John II of Portugal for backing in the proposed voyage. Rejected, Columbus went to Spain with young Diego in 1485. After nearly Spanish monarchs Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castille funded his adventures in exchange for promises of new lands, spices, money and people to convert to Christianity.
First voyage. He sailed with three ships (the Niña, Pinta and Santa Maria), with about 90 men. After 29 days out of sight of land, as recorded in the ship’s log, the crew spotted shore birds flying. At two in the morning of Friday, the 12th of October 1492, Rodrigo de Triana, a sailor aboard the "Niña", announced the appearance of what proved to be the New World.
Columbus called the island he reached San Salvador, also explored the northeast coasts of Cuba (landed on October 28) and Hispaniola, by December 5.
On his second trip (1493-1496), with 17 ships carrying supplies and about 1200 men Columbus returned to the Caribbean. The colonists included priests, farmers, and soldiers.
He discovered many of the islands of the Lesser Antilles, included Antigua, Saint Martin, and the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Cuba and Jamaica. He founded La Isabela (in what is now the Dominican Republic), the first European town in the New World. This voyage also began Spain's effort to promote Christian evangelization.
He installed himself as governor of Hispaniolaand and was hailed as a hero when returned to Spain. He was named "Admiral of the Ocean Seas" by Ferdinand and Isabella.
On his third voyage (1498 – 1500) he reached South America and the Orinoco River delta. On May 30, 1498, Columbus left with six ships, led the fleet to the Portuguese island of Porto Santo and sailed to the Canary Islands and Cape Verde. Columbus landed on the south coast of the island of Trinidad on 31 July. He explored the Gulf of Paria which separates Trinidad from Venezuela and the mainland of South America, including the Orinoco River. He also sailed to the islands of Chacachacare and Margarita Island and sighted and named Tobago (Bella Forma) and Grenada (Concepcion).
His fourth voyage. He left Cadiz, Spain on May 11, 1502 led to the exploration of Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, and much of Central America.
Columbus explorations initiated permanent and widespread contact between the New and Old Worlds, between Europeans and indigenous Americans.
For revisionist historians, however, his voyages symbolize the more brutal aspects of European colonization and represent the beginning of the destruction of Native American peoples and culture.
One point of agreement among all interpretations is that his voyages were one of the turning points in history.
In one of his writings, Columbus claims to have gone to the sea at the age of 10, but some authors claim he became a sailor Columbus made his first considerable voyage to the Aegean island of Chios, and in 1476 he sailed on a Genoese ship through at fourteen.
In 1475 the Strait of Gibraltar. During Columbus's stint as governor and viceroy in Hispaniola, he had been accused of governing tyrannically.
Later allegations of his poor administration led to his arrest. On 1 October 1500, Columbus and his two brothers, likewise in chains, were sent back to Spain. According to testimony of 23 witnesses during his trial, Columbus regularly used barbaric acts of torture to govern Hispaniola.
Columbus and his brothers lingered in jail for six weeks before busy King Ferdinand ordered their release.
In his later years, Columbus demanded that the Spanish Crown give him 10% of all profits made in the new lands, pursuant to earlier agreements. All his demands were rejected. On 20 May 1506, at about age 55, Columbus died in Valladolid.
At his death, he was still convinced that his journeys had been along the east coast of Asia.
Remains: Buried, Seville Cathedral, Seville, Spain.
In 1477 Columbus returned to Portugal, where in 1479 he married Felipa Perestrelo e Monis, daughter of deceased proprietor of the island of Porto Santo. In 1480, his son Diego Columbus was born.
In 1487 Columbus found a mistress in Spain, a 20-year-old orphan named Beatriz Enriquez de Arana. He also had a son Fernando who was born out of wedlock in 1488.