Who was the great Christopher Columbus?

Although there are many explorers who are famous for redefining history while there are very few of them who have influenced certain countries establishments. One of such historical explorer is Christopher Columbus who changed the European countries perception of the American continents.

Throughout his journey, he explored many lands, established a different society and developed Spanish colonies. But his most significant discovery was his voyage to discover Asia for its condiments and spices.

This article should give you information about some of the common questions about Christopher Columbus. From his Birth in 1451 to his discoveries in the Atlantic ocean in 1492.

Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus

Where was Christopher Columbus born?

Christopher Columbus (1451-1506) was an Italian explorer born in the Republic of Genoa. In his early life when around 20 years, he moved to Lisbon, then Portugal and finally settled himself in Spain. Spain remained his base home for the rest of his life.

How was the Early Life of Christopher Columbus?

Christopher Columbus was born into a middle-class family. His father Domenico Colombo was a wool weaver by profession. His mother was Susanna Fontanarossa. He had three brothers and a sister.

Christopher knew many languages and was well educated. He even had great knowledge of classical literature and took a deep interest in the study of the works of Marinus, Ptolemy, and many others.

Christopher first sailed at the age of 14 years and then continued sailing for the rest of his life. He also went to many trading trips in the 1470s that took him to the Aegean Sea in Northern Europe. Columbus took a job as a novice in 1473 and later was an agent in business for some Genoa families. He also went to many Genoese colonies.

Columbus married Filipa Moniz Perestrello and had a son in the year 1480. They stayed in Lisbon till 1485. His wife died in the same year and then he moved to Spain after which his voyages started.

 Columbus sailed across the Atlantic Ocean in 1492, hoping to find a route to India (in order to trade for spices). He made a total of four trips to the Caribbean and South America during the years 1492-1504.

During these years, he pleaded to the Spanish kings and Portuguese to allow him to sail to explore western trading routes. Later when Moors were banished in 1492 from Spain  King Ferdinand II and Queen Isabella of Spain considered his request and gave his permission to sail. He promised to bring with him spices, gold, and silk in return to be made as an admiral of seas as well as the governor of the land he discovered.

Christopher Columbus Voyage Preparations prior to 1492

Prior to 1492 and Christopher Columbus’ voyage to the Americas, Spain’s only possession outside Europe were the Canary Islands. By the mid-sixteenth century, Spain would control much of the Caribbean, large portions of the Americas and parts of Africa.

This rapid acquisition of overseas possessions was accompanied and aided by the establishment and merger of hegemony in Europe. This happened through a series of political marriages.

Voyage of Christopher Columbus
Voyage of Christopher Columbus

Having convinced the King and Queen of Spain to finance his first voyage. Christopher Columbus departed mainland Spain on August 3, 1492, with his three ships: the Pinta, the Niña, and the Santa María along with 104 men.

Columbus spent the early months of 1492 getting ready for the voyage. His three ships were set to sail from Palos, Spain. Columbus captained Santa Maria. The captains of the other two ships were brothers, Martin Pinzon (Pinta)and Vicente Pinzon (Nina)

He quickly made port in the Canary Islands for a final restocking and left there on September 6 to set out for the Atlantic. This voyage was about five weeks and during this many of his men got ill, many died of hunger, disease, and thirst.

The 1492 Columbus Discovery

On October 12, at 2 a.m they saw land. Columbus and the crew landed at Asian Island San Salvador, which is now called the Bahamas. They did not find any wealth or riches here to take back so they continued to sail to search China.

 Columbus met friendly natives at the island and then sailed on to Cuba and to Hispaniola. There, the Santa Maria was wrecked. Columbus got his men ashore and onboard the Nina.  There was limited space in the ship and so he has to leave his 40 men at the fort which was then named Navidad.

He then arrived in Spain on March 15, 1493, after finishing his first journey successfully.

First European flags

Christopher Columbus wrote in his logbook that on October 12th, 1492 he picked the Royal Flag and his captains two flags which the Admiral carried in all the ships as Ensign.

Each flag had a white with a green cross for couped addorsed by old Gothic letters ‘F’ and ‘Y’. Both green and crowned with golden, open royal crowns, for Fernando and Ysabel. With these three flags, he took possession of Guanahani island (nowadays San Salvador).

These were the first European flags to fly over America – provided the Vikings did not display one earlier.

 Christopher Columbus sailed west into the unknown waters of the Atlantic Ocean in 1492. Not trying to prove that the earth is round. Scholars already were aware of this fact. Nor was he trying to discover a New World.

Few Europeans dreamed that such a world existed. Columbus, like many people of his time, dreamed of finding a sea route to Asia. Such a route would lead to a wealth of gold, jewels, and spices. Columbus was convinced that he could reach Asia by sailing west.

 Second Voyage

After finding the Bahamas, Columbus started his sail towards West again on 23rd of September in 1493 along with 1200 men and 17 ships. His main aim was to find riches, find the well belong of the crew at Navidad and develop the Spanish colonies.

Although he and his crew were successful in finding three other islands which they named as Guadeloupe, Jamaica, and Dominica, they did not find any riches here. Later they sailed to Hispaniola to find that the Navidad fort was destroyed and their crew was killed.

There Columbus established Santo Domingo colony and after a battle, he also conquered the Hispaniola island. From there he sailed for Spain in 1496.

Third and Fourth Voyage

He started his third voyage on 30th May 1498 and sailed more towards the southern part in search of China. But he founded Tobago, Trinidad, Margarita, and Grenada. He then reached South America. Columbus was arrested when an inquiry was set to find the root of the problem that occurred in 1500. He was released with honor in October.

His last voyage was to Hispaniola that started on May 9, 1502. Columbus was restricted to enter the colony so he searched the nearby areas.  He sailed again on 4th July and discovered Central  America.

Christopher continued to sail and reached Panama in January 1503. He also discovered some amount of gold but was not allowed to take it from there by locals. He then journeyed to Spain in 1504 and settled there permanently with his son.

Death

Columbus suffered from illness and remained in the condition until a year starting from 1505. He then died on 20th May in 1506.

More info on- Ships of Christopher Columbus, Accomplishments of Christopher Columbus, Books about Christopher Columbus