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Native American populations throughout the Western hemisphere would be decimated through colonial occupation by the Spanish, Portuguese, French, and English, largely through epidemic diseases brought by The anniversary of the voyage is observed as Columbus Day throughout the Americas and in Spain. Early life According to the most widely acknowledged biographies, Columbus was born between August and October , in Genoa.
His father was Domenico Colombo, a middle-class wool weaver working between Genoa and Savona. His mother was Susanna Fontanarossa. Bartolomeo, Giovanni Pellegrino, and Giacomo were his brothers. Bartolomeo worked in a cartography workshop in Lisbon for at least part of his adulthood. Christopher Columbus conjectural image by Sebastiano del Piombo.
He spoke a Genoese dialect. In one of his writings, Columbus claims to have gone to the sea at the age of In , the Columbus family moved to Savona, where Domenico took over a tavern. In , Columbus began his apprenticeship as business agent for the important Centurione, Di Negro, and Spinola families of Genoa. Later, he allegedly made a trip to Chios, in the Aegean Sea.
In May , he took part in an armed convoy sent by Genoa to carry a valuable cargo to northern Europe. He docked in Bristol, Galway, in Ireland and very likely, in , he was in Iceland. In , Columbus reached his brother Bartolomeo in Lisbon, keeping on trading for the Centurione family. In , his son, Diego was born. No authentic contemporary portrait of Christopher Columbus exists. Over the years historians have presented many images that reconstruct his appearance from written descriptions.
They depict him variously with long or short hair, heavy or thin, bearded or clean-shaven, stern or at ease. Columbus is described as having reddish hair which turned to white early-on in life and a reddish face typically resulting from a lighter skinned person receiving too much sun exposure. It is probable that he made the same outrageous demands for himself in Portugal that he later made in Spain, where he went next.
He tried to get backing from the monarchs Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile, who, by marrying, had united the largest kingdoms of Spain and were ruling them together. After seven years of lobbying at the Spanish court, where he was kept on a salary to prevent him from taking his ideas elsewhere, he was finally successful in Isabel finally turned Columbus down on the advice of her confessor, and he was leaving town in despair, when Fernando intervened.
Christopher Columbus - New World Encyclopedia
Isabel then sent a royal guard to fetch him and Ferdinand later rightfully claimed credit for being "the principal cause why those islands were discovered. Financially broken from the Granada campaign, the monarchs left it to the royal treasurer to shift funds among various royal accounts on behalf of the enterprise.
According to the contract that Columbus made with King and Queen, if Columbus discovered any new islands or mainland, he would: Be given the rank of Admiral of the Ocean Sea Atlantic Ocean Be appointed Viceroy and Governor of all the new lands Have the right to nominate three persons, from whom the sovereigns would choose one, for any office in the new lands Be entitled to 10 percent of all the revenues from the new lands in perpetuity; this part was denied to him in the contract, although it was one of his demands Have the option of buying one-eighth interest in any commercial venture with the new lands and receive one-eighth of the profits The terms were extraordinary, but as his own son later wrote, the monarchs did not really expect him to return.
In response to Muslim domination on land, Portugal sought an eastward sea route to the Indies, and promoted the establishment of trading posts and later colonies along the African coast. Columbus had a different idea. By the s, he had developed a plan to travel to the Indies then construed roughly as all of south and east Asia by instead sailing directly west across the "Ocean Sea" the Atlantic.
It is sometimes claimed that the reason Columbus had difficulty obtaining support for his plan was that Europeans believed that the earth was flat. Columbus sits among the flowers and trees of Belgrave Square, London. Finally, he read maps as if the distances were calculated in Italian miles meters or feet.
Columbus did not realize that Alfraganus used the much longer Arabic mile of about meters. He was not alone in "wishing" the earth smaller, however. A stunning image of the virtual Earth inside his mind survives to this day in a globe finished in , by Martin Behaim of Nuremberg, Germany, "the Earthapple.
The true circumference of the Earth is some 40, km 24, statute miles of feet each , and the distance from the Canary Islands to Japan is some 10, nautical miles 19, km.
No ship in the fifteenth century could carry enough food or sail fast enough from the Canary Islands to Japan.
Those experts were right, of course, but Spain, tenuously unified through the marriage of Ferdinand and Isabella, then suddenly unified in faith after an eight century struggle with the Muslims—followed by the expulsion of the Jews that same eventful year of —was in a messianic fever and desperate for a competitive edge over Portugal.
The Portuguese had managed to circumnavigate Africa and were poised to establish trade with "the East Indies" all of Asia.
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The Canaries, the Azores and the Madeira island groups had all been discovered within the past century. Columbus was incorrect about the circumference of the Earth and the distance from the Canary Islands to Japan, but Europeans were mistaken in assuming that the aquatic expanse between Europe and Asia was uninterrupted by anything more than the mythical islands of medieval tradition.
Columbus died believing he had opened up a direct nautical route to Asia. Voyages Your Highnesses, as Catholic Christians, and princes who love and promote the holy Christian faith, and are enemies of the doctrine of Mahomet, and of all idolatry and heresy, determined to send me, Christopher Columbus, to the above-mentioned countries of India, to see the said princes, people, and territories, and to learn their disposition and the proper method of converting them to our holy faith; and furthermore directed that I should not proceed by land to the East, as is customary, but by a Westerly route, in which direction we have hitherto no certain evidence that anyone has gone Christopher Columbus, journals on his voyage of Markham, p.
He first sailed to the Canary Islands, fortunately owned by Castile, where he re-provisioned and made repairs, and on September 6, started what turned out to be a five-week voyage across the ocean. A legend is that the crew grew so homesick and fearful that they threatened to sail back to Spain. A later comparison of dates and migratory patterns leads to the conclusion that the birds were Eskimo curlews and American golden plovers.
A depiction of Columbus claiming possession of the New World in a chromolithograph made by the Prang Education Company in Land was sighted at 2 a. Columbus called the island in what is now The Bahamas "San Salvador," although the natives called it Guanahani.
Slavery existed everywhere in the world, including the Americas, and Columbus would defend the Taino against the slave-raids of the Caribs. In general, however, his administrative abilities would prove to be poor. He was a merchant seafarer, not a conquistador or a crusader on the Spanish model.
They willingly traded everything they owned…. They were well-built, with good bodies and handsome features…. They do not bear arms, and do not know them, for I showed them a sword, they took it by the edge and cut themselves out of ignorance. They have no iron. Their spears are made of cane…. They would make fine servants…. With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want. On this first voyage, Columbus also explored the northeast coast of Cuba landed on October 28 and the northern coast of Hispaniola, by December 5.
Here, the Santa Maria ran aground on Christmas morning , and had to be abandoned. He was received by the native cacique Guacanagari, who gave him permission to leave some of his men behind. Columbus founded the settlement La Navidad and left 39 men. On January 15, , he set sail for home by way of the Azores. He wrestled his ship against the wind and ran into a fierce storm.
Some have speculated that his landing in Portugal was intentional. Relations between Portugal and Castile were poor at the time. After spending more than one week in Portugal, he set sail for Spain. Word of his finding new lands rapidly spread throughout Europe. He did not reach Spain until March He was received as a hero in Spain. This was his moment in the sun.
He did not bring any of the coveted East Indies spices, such as the exceedingly expensive black pepper, ginger, or cloves. It was a strategic military move on behalf of Spain, which was seeking colonies.
On October 13, the ships left the Canary Islands, following a more southerly course than on the first voyage. On November 3, , Columbus sighted a rugged island that he named Dominica. On November 22, he returned to Hispaniola , where he found his colonists had fallen into dispute with natives in the interior and had been killed.
He established a new settlement at Isabella, on the north coast of Hispaniola where gold had first been found, but it was a poor location, and the settlement was also short-lived. He spent some time exploring the interior of the island for gold, and did find some, establishing a small fort in the interior. He explored the south coast of Cuba, which he believed to be a peninsula rather than an island, and several nearby islands, including the Isle of Youth La Evangelista , before returning to Hispaniola on August Before he left Spain for his second voyage, he had been directed by Ferdinand and Isabella to maintain friendly, even loving relations with the natives.
However, during his second voyage he sent a letter to the monarchs proposing to enslave some of the native peoples, specifically the Caribs, on the grounds of their aggressiveness. However, it seemed as if he had other intentions, as he previously had used Taino slaves for prostitution.
Although his petition was refused by the Crown, in February , Columbus took Arawak a different tribe, who were hunted by the Carib as slaves. He shipped of them as slaves to Spain; died en route, probably of disease, and of the remainder, half were ill when they arrived. After legal proceedings, the survivors were released and ordered to be shipped home.
A remaining captives, for whom Columbus had no use, were released. They fled into the hills, making, according to Columbus, prospects for their future capture dim. Rounding up the slaves led to the first major battle between the Spanish and the natives in the New World. To further this goal, he imposed a system on the natives in Cicao on Haiti , whereby all those above 14 years of age had to find a certain quota of gold, to be signified by a token placed around their necks.
Those who failed to reach their quota would have their hands chopped off. Despite such extreme measures, Columbus did not manage to obtain much gold. One of the primary reasons for this was the fact that natives became infected with various diseases carried by the Europeans.
In his letters to the Spanish King and Queen, Columbus repeatedly suggested slavery as a way to profit from the new colonies, but these suggestions were rejected by the monarchs, who preferred to view the natives as future members of Christendom. From Haiti, he returned to Spain. Columbus landed on the south coast of the island of Trinidad on July He explored the mainland of South America, including the Orinoco River.