Voyages of Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus got the grant for his expedition in 1492 from Queen Isabella of Spain. Columbus wanted to find the new sea route to the Indies island. In 1485, he had tried convincing King John of Portugal to sanction financial aid for his expedition. His proposal was however refused. Christopher Columbus was and continues to be popular for the four voyages that he undertook to find the new sea route to reach the Indies island. In all, Columbus undertook four voyages between 1492- 1502.
Christopher's First Voyage-
Christopher undertook his first voyage in 1492 to find the new route to the West. He took three ships with him- Santa Maria, Nina and Pinta. These ships were owned by Juan de la Cosa, Martín Alonso Pinzón and Vicente Yáńez Pinzón. Columbus stopped at Canary Islands to refill the crew's supplies for the voyage and repair the ships.
After leaving Canary Islands, Christopher and his crew set out to carry on their west bound journey. It took them five weeks to sail across the sea, something Columbus had not anticipated. Within a few days of sailing, Pinta, broke down and was abandoned. The ship was soon repaired and joined the expedition.
Columbus's compass had stopped working when they were at sea. After traveling for endless days and nights, one of the crew members, Rodrigo de Triana saw land. Christopher named the island San Salvador and even befriended the indigenous people living there. On the coast of Hispaniola, Santa Maria ran aground and was abandoned. The crew of Santa Maria was left behind at La Navidad. It is said that Columbus discovered large quantities of gold at Hispaniola.
During his expedition Columbus faced a lot of hardships. On their way back to Spain, the crew members of Nina and Pinta struggled to sail past the strong winds and storm. The vessels got separated from each other but reached Spain individually. The first ambitious voyage of Columbus was completed in 1493.
The news of his achievements spread in Spain in like wild fire. He came to be hailed as a hero in Spain. He explained what all he saw and the gold he discovered. Columbus had given a detailed description of his exciting voyage to the royal court in Madrid.
Columbus's Second Voyage-
Christopher undertook his second voyage in 1493, one year after the first expedition. This time he took with him around 17 vessels (15 caravels and 2 naos) and more than a 1000 men. The idea behind this voyage was to set up Spanish colonies. Even on his second voyage, he was keen on discovering new routes and treasure. During their time at sea, Columbus and his men found land and discovered new islands.
These were Jamaica, Dominica and Guadeloupe. Columbus reached Hispaniola and learnt that his crew was killed as they had outraged the indigenous. In 1495, a battle was fought between Columbus and the locals. In the battle, Columbus achieved victory. He colonized the island and returned to Spain in 1496.
The practice of slavery was a common phenomenon during that time as there was lot of scope to earn money. Columbus on this expedition took back with him men belonging to the Arawak tribe to Spain to work as slaves. Queen Isabella was never in favor of encouraging bonded labour. The result of the oppression was that the slaves revolted and a war was fought between the slaves and the Spanish.
As for Columbus, he looked at slavery as an opportunity to payback his creditors Columbus was also known for his ruthlessness. It is said that in order to ensure that he gets funds to the creditors, he came up with a solution. He asked the slaves to find gold within a certain time limit. However, Columbus was unable to obtain the amount of gold he had expected. Ultimately, the slaves were freed and allowed to go back to their native land.
Columbus's Third Voyage-
He set out on his third voyage in May 1498. This time had he taken six ships with him. This expedition was a more south bound journey than the prior voyages undertaken by Christopher. In the third expedition, Columbus had set out with the mission to find China. Columbus sailed from the Porto Santo Island to the island of Madeira. Columbus and crew arrived on the island of Trinidad in July 1498.
It was on his third voyage that Christopher arrived at the mainland of South America. He even came across several islands like Margarita, Grenada and Tobago whilst attempting to discover China. On his way back, Columbus halted at Hispaniola. On reaching there he discovered that the settlement was in absolute disaster. Columbus was arrested after a government official visited the site. Columbus was taken back to Spain. Christopher was able to prove that he had not meted out bad treatment to the crew or the locals in Hispaniola.
Christopher's Fourth and Final Voyage-
The voyage began in 1502 to find out a west bound route to reach the Indian Ocean. He took with him some ships. He first sailed on the Moroccan coast where it is said that saved the lives of Portuguese soldiers who were under attack from the Moors. On his trip, he visited Hispaniola and reached Santa Domingo. However, he was not allowed to enter the colony. He carried out his quest for finding the new sea route. This time, on his sea expedition, Columbus discovered Central America. Columbus had reached the Bay Islands near Honduras. At Honduras, Columbus's brother, Bartholomew found a large canoe stashed with cargo. Columbus explored coastal areas of Honduras, Costa Rica and Nicaragua for around two months. He soon arrived at Panama, where he unearthed some gold.
However, like Hispaniola, he was driven out of the area by the locals. The last voyage was anything but smooth and stress-free. For more than a year, Columbus was forced to take shelter in Jamaica as his vessels posed several difficulties after being damaged by a heavy storm. Some of the locals took canoes and left to get help from Hispaniola. Rescue was finally in sight in 1504 and Columbus and his crew finally set sailing to return to Spain.