Christopher Columbus



In 1451, a boy named Christopher Columbus (See Appendix A), who was born in Genoa, became a sailor and discoverer of a new continent. He spoke Castilian with a little Portuguese. Although he received little education, he worked with his father, who was a weaver and had a wine shop. During Columbus' youth, he sailed in between his looming duties, shipping and receiving wool and wine for his father. When Columbus was in his twenties, he joined other exporting fleets, traveling around Spain, to England, Portugal, the Mediterranean Sea, and to West Africa (see Appendix B). In his youth he wanted to find easier ways to trade. Columbus thought of reaching Asia by sailing West. He worked with a map maker, and "Became obsessed with the idea of reaching the Spice Islands via Western route", (Sources of the West, 187). This is a goal he hoped to accomplish when he became a sailor. During his youthful sailing days, his ship was sunk by pirates on a trip to Portugal (Parry, 344)!

. He took refuge in Portugal where he was left poor. After his youth days had ended, it was time to find his profession as a man.

In the 15th Century Spain, trade was a primary source of their economy. The Turks conquered Constantinople and the Eastern Mediterranean. Land routes were restricted from Europe to Asia. Spaniards knew that the Earth was round, and scientists backed the idea. Spain was in need of new sources of wealth. With 98% of Spain poor peasant (Zinn, 2), the idea of finding a western sea trade route was not improbable. It would open up a new trade route, and bring wealth to the suffering country.

When Columbus was in Portugal, he decided to propose his idea of sailing West to monarchs. He brought his ideas to Portugal first. They rejected his idea because of his underestimates of the size of the ocean. Columbus thought it was 25% smaller than what it really was. Next, Columbus brought his ideas to Spain. Here they turned him down for seven years because ships were already rounding Africa. Finally, in April, 1492, he was contracted by Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain (see Appendix C). The idea seemed logical. They already knew the Earth was round. There was no thought of a continent in-between, and the winds and currents all flowed West. His purpose (see Appendix D) was to find the legendary Isle Antilla, and find a western route to Cipangno and Cathay(China, Japan). Columbus demanded to be knighted, become Admiral of the Ocean Sea, be viceroy of new lands, and receive ten percent of the wealth (see Appendix E).

In August 3, 1492, at the port of Palos, Columbus started his first voyage (see Appendix F). The fleet of three ships (see Appendix G), sailed West under 35* North halfway, then they shifted Southwest. On October 12, 1492, they landed on Guanahaní, which Spaniards latter named San Salvador(Our Savior), (see Appendix H). He later went to Cuba, Juana, and Hispañiola (see Appendix H and I). Columbus believed it could have been a chain of islands off the coast of China or Japan. They established a colony off the coast of Hispañiola (see Appendix J). Columbus did not, however, find Asia, or what they hoped, the Spice Island Trade ports. They did come in contact with inhabitants of the islands, whom they brought back to Spain, proving they found Indians from Asia.

Columbus' purpose was to find a trade route to Asia, he did not achieve this. In the following three voyages, he failed to achieve the purpose. Although there were some benefits, most factors of the voyages were failures. The Western expeditions were failures.

The purpose of Columbus' voyages was to find a western route to the Spice Islands of what we call Japan and China, he did not accomplish this. They landed on what the Spaniards named San Salvador. Columbus knew, however, that this was an island, only he thought it was part of Japan. He also discovered Hispañiola which he thought was an Island off China. Columbus was convinced that there was a mainland somewhere (see Appendix I). He traveled ten days in search of Cuba, but had to turn back because one of the ships grounded. They were forced to