A historical explorer who was famous for redefining history and establishing certain countries was Christopher Columbus. Columbus left to discover the New World for the Europeans for trading goods that started the centuries of transatlantic colonization.
Interesting Facts About Christopher Columbus
Here are some of the most interesting facts about his journey, his life and family:
1) His Real Name Was Not Christopher Columbus
Columbus was born in 1451 in the Republic of Genoa, Italy. In his 20’s He moved to different countries like Lisbon, Portugal and he finally settled his home in Spain to spent his rest of life.
His real name was Cristoforo Columbus, his birth name in Genoa. Christopher is the Anglicization of his real name. In other languages, his name is changed. As for example. In Spanish, he is called as Cristobal Colon, in Swedish he is Kristoffer Kolumbus.
2) Columbus Family, Wife, and Children.
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. At an early age, he learned the art of weaving to help his father. Christopher Columbus was only 14 years old when he sailed for the first time.
Columbus married Dona Felipa Perestrello in 1479 and they had a son, Diego, born in 1480. Columbus fathered another son, Fernando outside his marriage. His wife Dona Perestrello died in 1485.
3)Half of the Voyage of Columbus were a Disaster.
Columbus undertook 4 voyages to the New World. During his first voyage, Christopher took three ships with him- Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria. Santa Maria was the largest of the vessels and could accommodate around 40 men on board. Santa Maria, however, ran aground and it had to be abandoned. Christopher left the crew of this ship at La Navidad.
He was then to return to Spain with spices, treasures, riches and most importantly with the knowledge of the new route for trading, But he returned empty-handed also abandoning his three best ships that were given to him.
Even on his fourth voyage, his ship was rotted out from him and he had to spend a year on the island of Jamaica with his men.
4)Never Got Successful in Making Historic Journey that Columbus Thought
Columbus was very sure about the possibility of reaching Asia by Sailing West, but it was hard for him to arrange funds from Europe. He tried to get support from many sources but failed many times. Christopher had first approached King John of Portugal to finance his expeditions but he was turned down considering him a crackpot.
Then Columbus in 1485 traveled to Spain to convinced Queen of Spain, Isabella to grant aid. He also tried to convince King Ferdinand to finance his journey. He almost gave up and was heading to France in 1492 when He was finally granted financial aid in 1492 for his voyage.
5) Columbus was a Scrooge
On his famous voyage of 1942, Columbus gave his word to reward the person with gold whoever saw the land first. One of his sailor called Rodrigo de Traina was the first one to see the land on October 12, 1492, which was a small land named San Salvador by Columbus in the present day island in the Bahamas.
But Columbus was so cheapskate that he never rewarded Rodrigo and kept it to himself. He also said to everyone that Rodrigo has gone crazy and saw a hazy sort of light the previous night and because of the indistinct light Rodrigo didn’t speak about it. Although Rodrigo was not praised at that time, there is a statue of him in the Seville park.
6) Columbus Proved to be an Awful Governor
As Columbus was successful in finding new lands, the king and queen of Spain were too impressed with him and rewarded him by appointing him as the governor of the newly established Santo Domingo.
Although being a very good explorer, he was a lousy governor. He along with his brother tried to rule over the settlements of the kings by capturing most of the profits for themselves and antagonizing the other settlers. It turned out to be worst for him that Spanish rulers ordered to arrest Columbus and sent him back to Spain in Chains. He was replaced with a new governor.
7) Columbus Never Set Foot on North America
Columbus set sail to discover new lands of Asia and he discovered America in his voyage of 1942. He is popular even today for discovering America. He had however never stepped on American soil. The parts of the New world what he saw were the Caribbean island, Central America and South America.
8) Christopher was an Extremely Religious Man.
He believed in God and also trusted in him that God had sent him for his voyages of discovery. The name of the island and lands he discovered were also religious ones. In his afterlife, instead of looking like a wealthy aristocrat, he chooses to wear a plain Franciscan habit that made him look like a monk.
On his third voyage, he believed that he has found the Garden of Eden when he saw the Orinoco river getting emptied in the Atlantic Ocean of northern South America.
9) He was also Known for Being a Slave Trader.
Columbus was supposed to find riches, gold and treasures and other valuables on his voyages, but he was greatly disappointed in finding nothing in the land he discovered. He then decided that the native people there could be a valuable resource for him and started to capture them as their slaves. In fact, on many of his voyages, he had brought back some natives to work as slaves.
He used to make the natives above the age of 13 years to bring him some specified amount of gold every three months. Those who failed to bring in time had their hands amputated and were left to bleed.
He was in shock when Queen Isabella announce that the natives of these New worlds were hers and cannot be enslaved by anyone. The natives were enslaved by the Spanish during the colonial era.
10) Remains of Columbus after his Death is a Mystery
Columbus died in 1506 in Spain bearing to some illness. However, the place of his remains is unknown. First, his remains were kept in Spain for a long time and then sent to Santo Domingo in 1537. They were kept there until 1795 and later sent to Havana. His remains were supposed to be sent back to Spain by 1898.
However, in 1877, a box full of bones that had his name was found in Santo Domingo. Since that time, three cities Seville, Santo Domingo and Spain claim to bear his remains. In all of these three cities, the bones that were discovered are placed in elaborated museums.
As an exercise for children, why not research the internet and make your own fact sheet?