Christopher Columbus – Discoverer of America

Christopher Columbus

Cristoforo Colombo (in Italian),
Cristobal Colon (in Spanish)

(25 August – 31 October 1451, Genoa, Italy  – 20 May 1506, Valladolid, Spain) (aged 54)
Nationality: Italy
Category: Leaders
Occupation: Explorers
Unique distinction: Discoverer of New World, America (October 12, 1492)
Gender: Male

Christopher Columbus Quotes:
1. You can never cross the ocean until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore. 2. Gold is a treasure, and he who possesses it does all he wishes to in this world and succeeds in helping souls into paradise.
3. Riches don’t make a man rich, they only make him busier.
4. Each day we understand better what the Indians say, and they us, so that very often we are intelligible to each other.
5. By prevailing over all obstacles and distractions, one may unfailingly arrive at his chosen goal or destination.
6. Life has more imagination than we carry in our dreams.
7. Thus the eternal God, our Lord, gives victory to those who follow His way over apparent impossibilities.
8. The world is round.

Achievements  and contributions:

Social and professional position: Christopher Columbus was a great Italian explorer, navigator, and colonizer.
The main contribution to (Best known for): Christopher Columbus was a great Italian explorer responsible for the European discovery or rediscovery of America. He was an important historical figure, and outstanding navigator, who crossed the Atlantic Ocean and reached the Americas on October 12-th 1492 under the flag of Castilian Spain. His voyages to establish permanent settlements and the European exploration, and colonization of the New World.
Contributions:  With his four transatlantic voyages of exploration he initiated the process of Spanish colonization of America, which foreshadowed general European colonization of the “New World.”
His successful voyages were preceded by a search for their financial and theoretical backgrounds.
Columbus believed the world to be a sphere, but claimed 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.

The Four Voyages of Christopher Columbus

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, and 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, including 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 Hispaniola 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, which led to the exploration of Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, and much of Central America.
Columbus’s 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.
Major works: Columbus produced a Book of Prophecies

Career and personal life:

Origin:  He was born between 25 August and 31 October 1451 in Genoa, part of modern Italy. Columbus was the eldest son of Domenico Colombo a wool weaver and Suzanna Fontanarossa. Columbus never wrote in his native language, but it may be assumed this was the Genoese variety of Ligurian.
Education: Christopher was sent to the University of Pavia, where he devoted himself to astronomy, geometry and cosmography. He learned Latin, Portuguese, and Castilian. He read widely about astronomy, geography, and history, including the works of Claudius Ptolemy and the travels of Marco Polo.
Career highlights:  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 the 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.
Personal life:  In 1477 Columbus returned to Portugal, wherein in 1479 he married Felipa Perestrelo e Monis, daughter of the 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.
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.
Zest:  Columbus was not the first European mariner to sail to the New World. The Vikings, led by Leif Ericson and Thorfinn Karlsefni set up colonies c.1000 in Greenland and Newfoundland. But only Columbus’s voyages mark the beginning of continuous European efforts to explore and colonize the Americas.
Christopher Columbus never set foot on mainland North America. The closest he got was one of the islands in the present-day Bahamas. On the morning of Friday, the 12th of October 1492 Columbus landed, richly clad, and bearing the royal banner of Spain.
He was accompanied by the brothers Pinzon, bearing banners of the Green Cross (a device of the admirals), and by a great part of the crew.
When they all had “given thanks to God, kneeling upon the shore, and kissed the ground with tears of joy, for the great mercy received”. Strong evidence also suggests that his crew brought syphilis, apparently never reported in Europe before and known to have been endemic in mild form among the Arawaks.
Columbus did not have any women on his first two voyages. In 1498, Columbus recruited one woman for every ten men on his third voyage. Accounts consistently describe Columbus as a large and physically strong man with auburn hair or later white hair of some six feet or more in height.
He attempts to reach the Far East by going westward from Spain. He believed the peaks of Cuba to be the Himalayas. Mistaking the lands he encountered for the East Indies, he referred to the inhabitants as “Indios”. At his death, he was still convinced that his journeys had been along the east coast of Asia.