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Christopher Columbus

Christopher Columbus

Christopher Columbus

b. 1451 Genoa d. 1506 Valladolid, Spain


The son of a Genoa wool weaver, young Columbus loved the sea and eventually settled in Portugal, a country that enjoyed ruling the sea. He went sailing in the service of a Genoese bank and in his spare time studied Viking sagas (long stories about their history) and Marco Polo's writings, he became convinced that the world was a small sphere and that Asia  was not far to the west. In 1479, on a trip to Madeira to buy sugar, he married one of the daughters of Henry the Navigator's captain. She gave Columbus her father's charts, which fired up  his drive to reach Asia by sailing west.

Columbus' goals were to get riches (materials of great worth) from trade, spread Christianity, and get quickly and safely to India, Japan and China. Columbus spent years seeking sponsorship (someone to give him money for his trip) until, desperate and worn out, he took another crack at Spain, which, this time, gave him three ships: the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria. On August 3, 1492, with the fragile weight of hope, the expedition set sail. After only 10 weeks (2 1/2 months) at sea the crew grew restless: the winds were steadily blowing them west, so how would they ever get home?
When they did finally land, it was probably on what is now called Watlings Island in the Bahamas. Columbus named San Salvador  and, thinking he was on an island off the Coast of India, called the natives, "Indians". Next, he explored Cuba and the island that Columbus named Espanola (Now Hispaniola, shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic).  In January, they returned to the Old World and reported that they had reached the Far East (which was not true, but he did not know that).
Columbus made three more trips to the New World, during which he founded a colony on Espanola and explored the Caribbean, the Gulf of Mexico, parts of Central America, and the northeast coast of South America, all the while convinced that he was in areas of the Orient (the Far East).
Though he was far from the first European to make his way to the Americas (The Vikings, among others had already been there), he can honestly be counted their discoverer because he carefully, and with great detail, recorded his expeditions showing a New World with unlimited resources.



Below are links and sites for more information on Christopher Columbus


Columbus Navigation Homepage

1492 Christopher Columbus Exhibit at the Library of Congress

The Explorations of Christopher Columbus

Columbus's Lost Ships

The Ships of Columbus


This site was last  updated 08/04/2004 08:08 PM -0400