Christopher Columbus was born in the Italian Genoa in 1451. His father Dominico Colombo was a weaver and a merchant. He had two brothers Bartholomew and Diego. The later discoverer of America loved to read, and from the notes found in his books the favorite figures were Marco Polo and Julius Caesar. He became involved with the sea as a teenager, and at the age of 14, he joined the ship as a ship’s boy. Since the Phoenicians, sailors reluctantly talked about where they were going and what routes they sailed. During this period, Christopher visited such countries as: England, Ireland, Iceland, Greece, and also reached the west coast of Africa.
After many expeditions, he decided to settle in Lisbon. There is a good question – why there? Lisbon was a lighthouse for the world – the city from which the largest sea trips began. The man to whom the Portuguese state owed this honor was Prince Henry the Navigator. During his stay in Portugal, Columbus met with many sailors and scholars. In 1480, he married an Italian girl, Philippa Perestrello de Muniz. She came from a poor family but in dowry she brought her husband numerous documents and maps from her father, Bartholomew Pestrello. This man was an experienced sailor and a trusted right hand of the famous Henry. The future discoverer of America carefully studied the documents rich in sailing knowledge.
After Philippa’s death, Christopher moves to Porto Santo. There was born a project of reaching Asia by sea in west direction. The idea that Aristotle delivered the Earth is a globe was 350 years before Christ. Various biblical interpretations gave the conviction that the Earth is flat. The building of the school and the observatory in Sagres during the times of Prince Henry the Navigator and the observations collected there made it possible to say otherwise.
Columbus wanted to discover a shorter route to the Orient. He was convinced that the sea route to the west was shorter and more profitable. Trade of silk and spices with India and China was very important for the European economy. Trade routes leading to the east were very long. After the conquest of Constantinople by the Turks in 1453, trade routes was practically inaccessible to the western world. The discovery of a shorter and easier route would bring large profits to explorer. After a careful study of maps and ancient works Columbus considered that the road to India is not as dangerous and long as it seems.
The traveler decided to organize a trip to India. He needed ships, proper crew and equipment to sail. In order to raise funds in 1483, he applied with his plan to the Portuguese King John II. Unfortunately for the later discoverer of America, the royal commission of the most eminent geographers and astronomers rejected Columbus’s outline along with its terms, arguing its decision with a small probability of the success of the expedition. The Portuguese had open water research projects flowing south with great achievements, which in comparison with the turbid theory of Columbus prevailed.
However, Italy did not give up and was so fierce and relentless that three years later next his request addressed to the Queen of Spain, Isabella the Catholic. He had to wait for the decision until the end of the Reconquest, that is, the expulsion of Muslims from the Iberian Peninsula in January 1492. After these events, Columbus was more fortunate and was able to get help from the Spanish monarchy – six years after the first audience.
The decision of Queen Isabella was motivated mainly by the economic aspect, but an equally important argument of the future discoverer was the vision of many thousands of new souls of the Christian faith. In addition, Columbus was to become the Admiral, ruler of the lands he would discover, and he would receive ten percent of the profits from the expedition. Requirements have been considerable but have been accepted.
August 3, 1492 is the date of the beginning of one of the most important expeditions in the history of mankind. Columbus, commanding 120 people on three ships, went, he supposed, to India. Santa Maria, Pinta and Nina was three-masted caravels with capacities of 280, 140 and 100 tons. Of course, compared to the modern “sea conquerors” were incomparably smaller. From the port of Palos took the course to the Canary Islands. At this stage of the trip, the expedition met a storm that damaged the ships. On September 6, after making all the necessary repairs, Columbus and his crew headed further west.
It was a long journey and caused frustration and fear among the crew that demanded returning home. The sailors were slowly losing hope of reaching the land. Fear escalated very quickly, especially after sailing to the areas unknown to the sailors. The risk of rebellion was so large that it was likely that Columbus kept two journals in parallel. One for their own use and the other for inspection for the crew, with false data. Some of the sailors guessed that the data given in the evening to the captains of other ships were distorted.
Fortunately, there was no rebellion as such. Columbus to first who sees the land promised a property in Spain and a high prize. It is not true, however, that Columbus first saw the New Land. Early on the morning of October 12 he was spotted by a deck briefcase from “Pinta” by Juan Rodriguez Bermejo. Unfortunately, the Admiral’s later decision negatively affected his crew’s relationship to himself. Lying himself, he told me that he had seen the land much earlier.
Santa Maria, Pinta and Nina nailed to the newly discovered banks of the Bahamas, which took possession of Spain and changed its name from Guanahani to San Salvador. The native, red-skinned islanders were found there, peacefully disposed and curious as children’s view of newcomers and their garments. They were received very hospitably, giving them their property in exchange for ordinary, low-value items. The next stop of Columbus’s trip was Chile, an island where the traveler discovered tobacco and its use.
Next in order was the island of Haiti, which he baptized the name of Hispaniola. It was there that he founded the first Spanish settlement, in which he left almost a third of the crew. It was aimed at establishing closer relations with the inhabitants of the island and collecting valuable raw materials. He also collected spices, plants, animals or precious ores as evidence, and taking several indigenous inhabitants of Columbus. Then he set out on his way back to Spain on the only ship that survived.
The return was as difficult as the way to the west of constant storms. Fortunately storms did not destroy the ship that reached Palos on March 15, 1493. Columbus was greeted like a hero and rewarded with a number of markings. Inhabitants of the discovered areas were called Indians, because the population (and Columbus himself, above all) lived in the belief that the expedition reached the shores of India.
It was not half a year since the return of Christopher Columbus to Spain, when the traveler stood at the head of another expedition, this time colonial, bringing together 17 ships and 1500 people. The fleet set off on the second expedition in September of 1493. Its aim was to discover new lands and reach those discovered by it a year earlier. This time, however, he took with him the raw materials, food and animals needed to develop the areas delayed in development. Another goal of the mission was to convert unbelieving pagans, which is why a number of priests were taken on the expedition. Unlike the previous Columbus, he chose the course more to the south. Thanks to this, he discovered new areas such as: Dominica, Guadeloupe or Portorico.
Arriving in Haiti, he experienced a huge shock, because the entire crew left the previous time was murdered and the fort destroyed. It turned out that the colonizers were eagerly claiming the right to local goods and women. Columbus crossed the island and decided to build another settlement. This time he left 56 people in it, including his brother Diego. Then he reached the coast of Jamaica, but met there with resistance from the inhabitants of the island. Shortly thereafter, he arrived in Cuba, which he had already recognized as part of Asia. As if the previous problems were not enough, Columbus fell ill and was forced to return to Haiti.
However, he found the situation even worse than before. Lack of results in the search for valuable ores, fever, lack of food, exotic diseases and hard work led to a significant cooling (and already so cool) crew relations with Columbus. Even a complaint was sent to Queen Isabella. The deteriorating condition of the commander and increasing problems forced Christopher Columbus to return to Spain on the other two ships and in the company of a small crew. He left the governments in the hands of his brothers – Diego and Bartholomew. On his return, he managed to regain the confidence of the Queen of Spain and persuade the king to agree to the third journey.
On the third journey of Christopher Columbus flows on May 30, 1496. The fleet consisted of six ships that left the port of Sevilla. The crew was supposed to consist of craftsmen and skilled workers, including miners and gold rinsers. However, the unfavorable news of the gentlest members of the second expedition discouraged specialists to proceed to the expedition and the Admiral had to settle for prisoners and derailees who were promised freedom for the service on the ship.
Columbus discovered a well-developed island of Trinidad with such a team. Then they traveled further west and after two days of travel they reached the delta of the Orinoco River and thus to the mainland of South America, where the natives welcomed strangers very kindly. Hispaniola (Haiti) was the next point of the journey, in a certain constant way. Like the last time, things were not going well. The one-man Judge Roldan stood at the head of the rebellion that arose from dissatisfaction with the rule of the Italian brothers.
The rebels even received Indian support. To suppress the rebellion, Columbus decided to agree with Roldan. He also paid Spaniards and let those who wanted it come back home. He appointed the rest to the lands and agreed to use the indigenous people who began to be treated as slaves and servants. In 1500, Francisco Bombadilla arrived at Hispaniola, whose task was to “organize” the island’s relations.
After hearing comments and complaints about the rule of the Colombian brothers, Bombadilla imprisoned Christopher and Diego and sent them back to Spain. When Queen Isabel found out about the incident, she dismissed Bombadilla and immediately released the discoverer of America. However, she deprived him of all privileges and dignity, and he sent another governor to Hispaniola.
Columbus decided on the fourth and final journey when Vasco da Gama had discovered a sea route to India. In May 1502 he set off in a similar direction as in every previous time. Avoiding the already discovered islands, he reached the Yucatan Peninsula and took the course south. Along the way, the travelers raved about the beauty of architecture and the level of development of the inhabitants of Central America. Just before arriving in Veragua, near Honduras, the hurricane damaged ships and the expedition commander was seriously ill.
The situation seemed hopeless – the Indians tried to outrun the invaders, stocks ended and the ships were unusable (eventually lost them most likely in Jamaica). Columbus was then at the mercy of Governor Ovando, whom he got with the help of Mendez, a traveling companion. After a hard expedition, full of diseases and problems, he returned to Spain in 1504. In the end, none of his expeditions brought him greater benefits. Targeted by a sense of injustice, he died alone two years after returning to the city of Valladolid. He was buried there too, although his body was later transferred to Seville, then to San Domingo, then to Havana and finally returned to Seville.
Christopher Columbus was undoubtedly an outstanding but at the same time controversial figure. On the one hand, he was a famous explorer and for centuries he built the position of Spain. On the other hand greed made him a brutal and cruel person. The natives imprisoned and treated as slaves, and in the settlements ruled with an iron hand using the policy of tyranny, he was also accused of genocide. Columbus has been remembered as a black and white figure. One thing is certain – he has done great things in the field of geographical discoveries and became a legend on which he was called for years.
Great Age of exploration starts with improved sailing techniques and progressive development of trade in the Mediterranean Sea and open waters in 15th century. This story shows geographical discoveries and causes and effects on different cultures.Read more