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Contrary to popular belief Christopher Columbus did not land on the mainland of North America during any of his 4 voyages to The Americas.
Cristoforo Colombo (Italian Spelling) was born in the Italian port of Genoa in 1451, the son of a wool merchant Domenico Colombo from a respectable but impoverished family. His mother was Susanna Fontanarossa, the daughter of a woollens merchant. Cristoforo had three younger brothers, Bartolomeo, Giovanni Pellegrino, and Giacomo, and a sister, Bianchinetta. He had a limited Education due to lack of money in the family.
In 1470, the Colombo family moved to another port city, Savona, Italy. It was there Cristoforo became a pirate, or Privateer and travelled the seas attacking ships belonging to the Moors with whom Spain was at war.
In 1473, Cristoforo began his apprenticeship as business agent for the important Centurione, Di Negro and Spinola families of Genoa. Later he made a trip to Chios, a Genoese colony in the Aegean Sea.
In May 1476, Cristoforo took part in an armed convoy sent by Genoa to carry a valuable cargo to northern Europe. He docked in Bristol, England; Galway, Ireland and was in Iceland in 1477. Christopher’s ship is sunk in a battle off Portugal, but he swims ashore.
In 1477 Cristoforo joined his brother Bartholomew in Lisbon (Portugal’s capital) who worked as a cartographer (from the Greek chartis; a maker of maps).
In 1479 He married Felipa Perestrello Moniz, a daughter from a wealthy noble Portuguese family, Felipa’s father was Bartolomeu Perestrello an explorer who had been involved with the discovery of the Madeira Islands (Bartolomeu died when Felipa was a young girl). Felipa gave Cristoforo her father’s charts of the winds and currents of the Portuguese possessions in the Atlantic.
In 1480 Cristoforo and Felipa had a son who they named Diego Colon.
In 1484 Cristoforo failed to get the King of Portugal to back his plan to search for a fast trade route to the Indies.
In 1485 Cristoforo’s wife Felipa dies of consumption (old name for TB [tuberculosis]). He then moved to Cadiz in Spain opening a shop supplying maps and charts.
In 1486 Christopher Columbus (Spanish/English Spelling) begins a relationship with Dona Beatriz Enriquez de Arana, a lady of a noble family from Cordova in Spain. He also first petitions his plans to find for a fast trade route to the Indies to the Spanish court; but is refused.
In 1487 Christopher was in the service of the Duke of Medina Celi, Don Luis de la Cerda and submits his plans to King Henry VII of England and King Charles VIII of France but they both decline his proposals.
In 1488 His second and favourite son Ferdinand (better known as Fernando 1488 - 1539) was born to his wife Dona.
In 1491 Christopher again appealed to King Ferdinand taking his son Diego with him but he was again refused. A priest called Father Perez interceded on behalf of Columbus and pleaded with Queen Isabella (who was a devote catholic) to fund Columbus who because if he succeed would be able to convert heathen races to Christianity.
In 1492 King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain finally give Christopher the money and ships. Both the sons of Christopher’s served as pages to Prince Juan, the son of the Ferdinand and Isabella. In August of that year Christopher leaves Palos, Spain in search of the Indies in his ship the Santa Maria. It was completely decked and carried the flag of Columbus as admiral. His son, Fernando accompanied Columbus. The other two ships, the Pinta, and the Nina, were undecked caravels with cabins and forecastles. Martin Alonso Pinzon commanded the Pinta and his brother, Vicente Yanez Pinzon commanded the Nina. The three ships carried 120 men.
On September 15th 1492 the ships touched at the Canarie Islands the conditions were favourable. On September 20th in the Sargasso Sea - the conditions change. Christopher kept two log books to deceive the crew as to the real length of the voyage. The crew members start to become disgruntled on September 23rd and on October 7th a False landfall is spotted not helping the situation of the mood of the crew. (In those days most sailors thought the Earth was flat and if you went too far you would fall off.) On October 11th there is nearly a Mutiny from the crew.
On October 12th 1942 land was seen plainly by one of the Pinta’s crew. Columbus lands on an island (in what is now The Bahamas), West Indies and named the island San Salvador; the natives called it Guanahani. He believes that he has reached the passage to India and China. The indigenous people he encountered, the Lucayan, Taíno or Arawak, were peaceful and friendly.
Columbus landed at Cuba on October 28th where he also explored the northeast coast of the island and the northern coast of Hispaniola (Jamaica), by December 5th. The Santa Maria ran aground here on Christmas morning 1492 and had to be abandoned.
On the 13th of January 1493 Columbus made his last stop in the New World. He landed on the Samaná Peninsula where he met the hostile Ciguayos who presented him with his only violent resistance during his first voyage to the Americas. Because of this, and the Ciguayos’ use of arrows, he called the inlet where he met them the Bay of Arrows (or Gulf of Arrows). Today the place is called the Bay of Rincon, in Samaná, the Dominican Republic. Columbus kidnapped about 20 natives to take them back with him (about 8 of the native Indians arrived in Spain alive, but they made quite an impression on Seville).
Columbus headed back for Spain, but another storm forced him into Lisbon. He anchored next to the King’s harbor patrol ship on the 4th March 1493 in Portugal. After spending more than one week in Portugal, he set sail for Spain. He crossed the bar of Saltes and entered the harbor of Palos on 15 March 1493. Word of his finding new lands rapidly spread throughout Europe.
In 1493 on the 24th September the Second voyage of Christopher Columbus left Cadiz to find new territories, with 17 ships carrying supplies, and about 1,200 men to colonize the region. The colonists included priests, farmers, and soldiers. This was part of a new policy not just exploitation but settlement and conversion of the natives to Christianity.
On October 13th the ships left the Canary Islands as they had on the first voyage, following a more southerly course.
On the 3rd November 1493, Columbus sighted a rugged island that he named Dominica (Latin for Sunday); after sailing past Les Saintes (Los Santos, The Saints), he arrived at Guadeloupe Santa María de Guadalupe de Extremadura, after the image of the Virgin Mary venerated at the Spanish monastery of Villuercas, in Guadalupe (Spain), which he explored between the 4th November and 10th November 1493.
Michele da Cuneo, Columbus’s childhood friend from Savona, sailed with Columbus during the second voyage and wrote: “In my opinion, since Genoa was Genoa, there was never born a man so well equipped and expert in the art of navigation as the said lord Admiral.” Columbus named the small island of ‘Saona ... to honour Michele da Cuneo, his friend from Savona’.
Columbus continued his voyage through the Lesser Antilles to the Greater Antilles and on November 19th landed at Puerto Rico (originally San Juan Bautista, in honour of Saint John the Baptist, a name that was later supplanted by Puerto Rico (English: Rich Port) while the capital retained the name, San Juan). One of the first skirmishes between native Americans and Europeans since the time of the Vikings took place when Columbus’s men rescued two boys who had just been castrated by their captors.
On the 22nd November Columbus returned to Hispaniola, where he intended to visit Fuerte de la Navidad (Christmas Fort), built during his first voyage, and located on the northern coast of Haiti. Columbus found Fuerte de la Navidad in ruins, destroyed by the native Taino people.
Among the ruins were the corpses of 11 of the first 39 Spanish to have attempted New World colonization. Columbus then required from the Taino that each adult over 14 years of age was expected to deliver a hawk’s bell full of gold every three months, or when this was lacking, twenty five pounds of spun cotton. If this tribute was not observed, the Taínos had their hands cut off and were left to bleed to death. Columbus then moved more than 100 kilometres eastwards, establishing a new settlement, which he called La Isabela, likewise on the northern coast of Hispaniola, in the present-day Dominican Republic. However, La Isabela proved to be a poorly chosen location and the settlement was short-lived.
He left Hispaniola on the 24th April 1494, arrived at Cuba (naming it Juana) on April 30th. He explored the southern coast of Cuba, which he believed to be a peninsula rather than an island, and several nearby islands, including the Isle of Pines (Isla de las Pinas, later known as La Evangelista, The Evangelist). He reached Jamaica on May 5th. He retraced his route to Hispaniola arriving on August 20th, before he finally returned to Spain.
On September 29th 1494, Columbus returns to Spain.
On the 30th May 1498, Columbus left with six ships from Sanlúcar, Spain, for his third trip to the New World.
Columbus led the fleet to the Portuguese island of Porto Santo, his wife’s native land. He then sailed to Madeira and spent some time there with the Portuguese captain João Gonçalves da Camara before sailing to the Canary Islands and Cape Verde. Columbus landed on the south coast of the island of Trinidad on the 31th July. From the 4th August through to the 12th August he explored the Gulf of Paria which separates Trinidad from Venezuela. He explored 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).
Columbus returned to Hispaniola on the 19th August only to find that many of the Spanish settlers of the new colony were discontented, having been misled by Columbus about the supposedly bountiful riches of the new world. An entry in his journal from September 1498 reads, “From here one might send, in the name of the Holy Trinity, as many slaves as could be sold...” Since Columbus supported the enslavement of the Hispaniola natives for economic reasons, he ultimately refused to baptize them, as Catholic law forbade the enslavement of Christians.
He had some of his crew hanged for disobeying him. A number of returning settlers and sailors lobbied against Columbus at the Spanish court, accusing him and his brothers of gross mismanagement. On his return he was arrested for a period.
Before leaving for his fourth voyage, Columbus wrote a letter to the Governors of the Bank of St. George, Genoa, dated at Seville, 2nd April 1502. He wrote “Although my body is here my heart is always near you.”
Columbus made a fourth voyage nominally in search of the Strait of Malacca to the Indian Ocean. Accompanied by his brother Bartolomeo and his 13 year old son Fernando, he left Cadiz, (modern Spain), on the 11th May 1502, with the ships Capitana, Gallega, Vizcaína and Santiago de Palos. He sailed to Arzila on the Moroccan coast to rescue Portuguese soldiers whom he had heard were under siege by the Moors. On the 15th June they landed at Carbet on the island of Martinique (Martinica). A hurricane was brewing, so he continued on, hoping to find shelter on Hispaniola. He arrived at Santo Domingo on the 29th June but was denied port, and the new governor refused to listen to his storm prediction.
Instead, while Columbus’s ships sheltered at the mouth of the Rio Jaina, the first Spanish treasure fleet sailed into the hurricane. Columbus’s ships survived with only minor damage, while 29 of the 30 ships in the governor’s fleet were lost to the July 1th storm. In addition to the ships, 500 lives (including that of the governor, Francisco de Bobadilla) and an immense cargo of gold were surrendered to the sea.
After a brief stop at Jamaica, Columbus sailed to Central America, arriving at Guanaja (Isla de Pinos) in the Bay Islands off the coast of Honduras on July 30th. Here Bartolomeo found native merchants and a large canoe, which was described as ‘long as a galley’ and was filled with cargo.
On August 14th he landed on the continental mainland at Puerto Castilla, near Trujillo, Honduras. He spent two months exploring the coasts of Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica, before arriving in Almirante Bay, Panama on October 16th.
While Columbus had always given the conversion of non-believers as one reason for his explorations, he grew increasingly religious in his later years. Probably with the assistance of his son Diego and his friend the Carthusian monk Gaspar Gorricio, Columbus produced two books during his later years: a Book of Privileges (1502), detailing and documenting the rewards from the Spanish Crown to which he believed he and his heirs were entitled, and a Book of Prophecies (1505), in which passages from the Bible were used to place his achievements as an explorer in the context of Christian eschatology.
In his later years, Columbus demanded that the Spanish Crown give him 10% of all profits made in the new lands, as stipulated in the Capitulations of Santa Fe. Because he had been relieved of his duties as governor, the crown did not feel bound by that contract and his demands were rejected. After his death, his heirs sued the Crown for a part of the profits from trade with America, as well as other rewards. This led to a protracted series of legal disputes known as the pleitos colombinos (‘Columbian lawsuits’).
At age 55, on May 20th 1506,Columbus died in Valladolid, fairly wealthy from the gold his men had accumulated in Hispaniola.
Famous for discovering the New World, yet he died thinking that his journeys had been along the east coast of Asia.
A man called Regiomontanus was famous as a Medieval Scientist, Mathematician and Astronomer. His book Ephemerides was used by Christopher Columbus and Amerigo Vespucci to measure longitudes in their explorations of the New World.
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