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Christopher Columbus * lij, Cristoffa C(or)ombo * es, Cristóbal Colón * pt, Cristóvão Colombo * ca, Cristòfor (or ) * la, Christophorus Columbus. (; born between 25 August and 31 October 1451, died 20 May 1506) was an Italian explorer and navigator who completed four voyages across the Atlantic Ocean, opening the way for the widespread European
exploration Exploration is the act of searching for the purpose of discovery Discovery may refer to: * Discovery (observation) Discovery is the act of detecting something new, or something previously unrecognized as meaningful. With reference to scien ...
and
colonization of the Americas Although the Norse had explored and colonized northeastern North America c. 1000 CE, a later and more well known wave of European colonization of the Americas took place in the Americas between about 1500 CE and 1800 CE, during the Age of Exp ...
. His expeditions, sponsored by the
Catholic Monarchs of Spain The term Catholic Monarchs refers to Queen Isabella I of Castile and King Ferdinand II of Aragon Aragon ( or , Spanish and an, Aragón , ca, Aragó ) is an autonomous community in Spain , * gl, Reino de España, * oc, Reiaume ...
, were the first European contact with the Caribbean, Central America, and
South America South America is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven geographical regions are commonly regarded as continent ...

South America
. The name ''Christopher Columbus'' is the
Anglicisation Linguistic anglicisation (or anglicization, occasionally anglification, anglifying, or Englishing) is the practice of modifying foreign words, names, and phrases to make them easier to spell, pronounce, or understand in English English usually ...
of the Latin . Scholars generally agree that Columbus was born in the
Republic of Genoa The Republic of Genoa ( lij, Repúbrica de Zêna ; it, Repubblica di Genova; la, Res Publica Ianuensis) was a medieval and early modern maritime republic The maritime republics ( it, repubbliche marinare), also called merchant republics ( it ...
and spoke a dialect of Ligurian as his first language. He went to sea at a young age and travelled widely, as far north as the British Isles and as far south as what is now
Ghana Ghana (), officially the Republic of Ghana, is a country in West Africa West Africa or Western Africa is the westernmost region of . The defines Western Africa as the 17 countries of , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , and as well as .Paul R. ...

Ghana
. He married Portuguese noblewoman
Filipa Moniz Perestrelo ''Capela da Piedade'' (Chapel of Piety) at Carmo, Lisbon where Filipa was buried. Filipa Moniz Perestrelo (c. 1455 – between 1478 and 1484) was a Portuguese people, Portuguese noblewoman from Porto Santo Island, in Madeira, Portugal. She was ...
and was based in Lisbon for several years, but later took a Castilian mistress; he had one son with each woman. Largely self-educated, Columbus was widely read in geography, astronomy, and history. He formulated a plan to seek a western sea passage to the
East Indies 300px, The East Indies (or simply the Indies), is a term used in historical narratives of the Age of Discovery The Age of Discovery, or the Age of Exploration (sometimes also, particularly regionally, Age of Contact or Contact Period), ...
, hoping to profit from the lucrative
spice trade The spice trade involved historical civilizations in Asia Asia () is a landmass variously described as part of Eurasia Eurasia () is the largest continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified b ...
. Following Columbus's persistent lobbying to multiple kingdoms, Catholic Monarchs Queen Isabella I and King Ferdinand II agreed to sponsor a journey west. Columbus left Castile in August 1492 with three ships and made landfall in the Americas on 12 October (ending the period of human habitation in the Americas now referred to as the
pre-Columbian era In the history of the Americas, the pre-Columbian era spans from the original settlement of North and South America in the Upper Paleolithic The Upper Paleolithic (or Upper Palaeolithic) also called the Late Stone Age The Later Stone Age (LS ...
). His landing place was an island in
the Bahamas The Bahamas (), known officially as The Commonwealth of The Bahamas, is a sovereign country within the of the in the . It takes up 97% of the Lucayan Archipelago's land area and is home to 88% of the archipelago's population. The consists ...
, known by its native inhabitants as
Guanahani Guanahaní is an island in the Bahamas The Bahamas (), known officially as the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, is a country within the Lucayan Archipelago of the West Indies The West Indies are a subregion of North America, surrounded by ...
. Columbus subsequently visited the islands now known as
Cuba Cuba ( , ), officially the Republic of Cuba ( es, República de Cuba, links=no ), is a country comprising the island of Cuba, as well as Isla de la Juventud Isla de la Juventud (; en, Isle of Youth) is the second-largest Cuban islan ...

Cuba
and
Hispaniola Hispaniola (, also ; es, La Española; Latin and french: Hispaniola; ht, Ispayola; tnq, Ayiti) is an island in the Caribbean that is part of the Greater Antilles. Hispaniola is the most populous island in the West Indies, and the region's se ...
, establishing
a colony ''A Colony'' (french: Une colonie) is a Canadian drama film from Quebec, directed by Geneviève Dulude-De Celles and released in 2018. The film centres on Mylia (Émilie Bierre), a young girl starting high school who is torn between her new friendsh ...

a colony
in what is now Haiti. Columbus returned to Castile in early 1493, bringing a number of captured natives with him. Word of his voyages soon spread throughout Europe. Columbus made three further voyages to the Americas, exploring the
Lesser Antilles The Lesser Antilles ( es, link=no, Antillas Menores; french: link=no, Petites Antilles; pap, Antias Menor; nl, Kleine Antillen) are a group of islands in the Caribbean Sea The Caribbean Sea ( es, Mar Caribe; french: Mer des Caraïbes; ht, ...
in 1493,
Trinidad Trinidad is the larger and more populous of the two major islands of Trinidad and Tobago Trinidad and Tobago (, ), officially the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, is the southernmost island country in the Caribbean The Caribbean ( ...

Trinidad
and the northern coast of South America in 1498, and the eastern coast of Central America in 1502. Many of the names he gave to geographical features—particularly islands—are still in use. He also gave the name ''indios'' ("Indians") to the
indigenous peoples Indigenous peoples, also referred to as first peoples, first nations, aboriginal peoples, native peoples (with these terms often capitalized when referred to relating to specific countries), or autochthonous peoples, are culturally distinct e ...
he encountered. The extent to which he was aware that the Americas were a wholly separate landmass is uncertain; he never clearly renounced his belief that he had reached the Far East. As a colonial governor, Columbus was accused by his contemporaries of significant brutality and was soon removed from the post. Columbus's strained relationship with the
Crown of Castile The Crown of Castile was a medieval polity in the Iberian Peninsula that formed in 1230 as a result of the third and definitive union of the crowns and, some decades later, the parliaments of the kingdoms of Kingdom of Castile, Castile and Kin ...

Crown of Castile
and its appointed colonial administrators in America led to his arrest and removal from Hispaniola in 1500, and later to protracted litigation over the benefits that he and his heirs claimed were owed to them by the crown. Columbus's expeditions inaugurated a period of exploration, conquest, and colonization that lasted for centuries, helping create the modern
Western world The Western world, also known as the West, refers to various regions, nations and state (polity), states, depending on the context, most often consisting of the majority of Europe, Northern America, and Australasia.
. The transfers between the
Old World The Old World consists of Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous , after in both cases. At about 30.3 million km2 (11.7 million square miles) including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of 's total su ...
and
New World The "New World" is a term for the majority of Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbour and support life. 29.2% of Earth's surface is land consisting of continents and islands. The re ...
that followed his first voyage are known as the
Columbian exchange#REDIRECT Columbian exchange native plants. Clockwise, from top left: 1. Citrus (Rutaceae); 2. Apple An apple is an edible fruit produced by an apple tree (''Malus domestica''). Apple fruit tree, trees are agriculture, cultivated worldwid ...
. Columbus was widely venerated in the centuries after his death, but public perception has fractured in recent decades as scholars have given greater attention to the harms committed under his governance, particularly the beginning of the depopulation of Hispaniola's indigenous
Taíno The Taíno were an indigenous people of the Caribbean. At the time of European contact in the late fifteenth century, they were the principal inhabitants of most of Cuba Cuba ( , ), officially the Republic of Cuba ( es, República de Cub ...
s from mistreatment and European diseases, as well as their enslavement. Proponents of the Black Legend theory of history claim that Columbus has been unfairly maligned as part of a wider anti-Catholic sentiment. Many
places Place may refer to: Geography * Place (United States Census Bureau) The United States Census Bureau defines a place as a concentration of population which has a name, is locally recognized, and is not part of any other place. A place typically h ...
in the Western Hemisphere bear his name, including the country of
Colombia Colombia ( , ; ), officially the Republic of Colombia, is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identified by conv ...

Colombia
, the
District of Columbia ) , image_skyline = , image_caption = Clockwise from top left: the Washington Monument The Washington Monument is an obelisk within the National Mall The National Mall is a Landscape architecture, landscape ...

District of Columbia
, and
British Columbia ( en, Splendour without diminishment) , image_map = British Columbia in Canada 2.svg , Label_map = yes , coordinates = , official_lang = None , Slogan = Beautiful British C ...

British Columbia
.


Early life

Columbus's early life is obscure, but scholars believe he was born in the
Republic of Genoa The Republic of Genoa ( lij, Repúbrica de Zêna ; it, Repubblica di Genova; la, Res Publica Ianuensis) was a medieval and early modern maritime republic The maritime republics ( it, repubbliche marinare), also called merchant republics ( it ...
between 25 August and 31 October 1451. His father was
Domenico Colombo Domenico Colombo ( en, Dominic Columbus; lij, label= Genoese, Domenego Corombo; 1 March 14181496) was a weaver, the father of navigator Christopher Columbus Christopher Columbus * lij, Cristoffa C(or)ombo * es, Cristóbal Colón * pt, ...
, a wool weaver who worked both in Genoa and
Savona Savona (; local lij, Sann-a , lij, label=Genoese Genoese may refer to: * a person from Genoa * Genoese dialect, a dialect of the Ligurian language * Republic of Genoa (–1805), a former state in Liguria See also * Genovese, a surname * ...

Savona
and who also owned a cheese stand at which young Christopher worked as a helper. His mother was
Susanna Fontanarossa Susanna of Fontanarossa (1435–1489) was the mother of navigator and explorer Christopher Columbus Christopher Columbus * lij, Cristoffa C(or)ombo * es, Cristóbal Colón * pt, Cristóvão Colombo * ca, Cristòfor (or Cristòfol) Col ...
. He had three brothers—
Bartolomeo
Bartolomeo
, Giovanni Pellegrino, and Giacomo (also called Diego), as well as a sister named Bianchinetta. His brother Bartolomeo worked in a
cartography Cartography (; from χάρτης ''chartēs'', "papyrus, sheet of paper, map"; and γράφειν ''graphein'', "write") is the study and practice of making and using s. Combining , , and technique, cartography builds on the premise that rea ...
workshop in
Lisbon Lisbon (; pt, Lisboa ) is the capital and the largest city of Portugal, with an estimated population of 544,851 within its administrative limits in an area of 100.05 km2. Grande Lisboa, Lisbon's urban area extends beyond the city's admin ...

Lisbon
for at least part of his adulthood.Encyclopædia Britannica, 1993 ed., Vol. 16, pp. 605ff / Morison, ''Christopher Columbus'', 1955 ed., pp. 14ff His native language is presumed to have been a
Genoese dialect Genoese, locally called Zeneize, is the main Ligurian dialect, spoken in and around the Italian city of Genoa Genoa ( ; it, Genova ; lij, Zêna ; English, historically, and la, Genua) is the capital of the Italian region of Liguria and the ...
although Columbus never wrote in that language. His name in the 16th-century Genoese language would have been ''Cristoffa Corombo'' (). His name in
Italian Italian may refer to: * Anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Italy ** Italians, an ethnic group or simply a citizen of the Italian Republic ** Italian language, a Romance language *** Regional Italian, regional variants of the ...

Italian
is ''Cristoforo Colombo'', and in
Spanish Spanish may refer to: * Items from or related to Spain: **Spaniards, a nation and ethnic group indigenous to Spain **Spanish language **Spanish cuisine Other places * Spanish, Ontario, Canada * Spanish River (disambiguation), the name of several ...

Spanish
''Cristóbal Colón''. In one of his writings, he says he went to sea at the age of 10. In 1470, the Columbus family moved to
Savona Savona (; local lij, Sann-a , lij, label=Genoese Genoese may refer to: * a person from Genoa * Genoese dialect, a dialect of the Ligurian language * Republic of Genoa (–1805), a former state in Liguria See also * Genovese, a surname * ...

Savona
, where Domenico took over a tavern. In the same year, Christopher was on a Genoese ship hired in the service of
René of Anjou René of Anjou ( oc, Rainièr; ca, Renat; it, Renato; 1409–1480) was Duke of Anjou and Count of Provence from 1434 to 1480, who also reigned as King of Naples The following is a list of rulers of the Kingdom of Naples, from its first Sicilia ...

René of Anjou
to support his attempt to conquer the
Kingdom of Naples The Kingdom of Naples ( la, Regnum Neapolitanum; it, Regno di Napoli; nap, Regno 'e Napule), also known as the Kingdom of Sicily, was a state that ruled the part of the Italian Peninsula The Italian Peninsula (Italian Italian may refer ...

Kingdom of Naples
. Some modern authors have argued that he was not from Genoa but, instead, from the
Aragon Aragon ( or , Spanish and an, Aragón , ca, Aragó ) is an autonomous community In Spain, an autonomous community ( es, comunidad autónoma) is a first-level political divisions of Spain, political and administrative division, created in acc ...

Aragon
region of
Spain , image_flag = Bandera de España.svg , image_coat = Escudo de España (mazonado).svg , national_motto = , national_anthem = , image_map = , map_caption = , image_map2 ...

Spain
or from
Portugal Portugal, officially the Portuguese Republic ( pt, República Portuguesa, links=yes ), is a country A country is a distinct territorial body or political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who ...

Portugal
. These competing hypotheses have generally been discounted by mainstream scholars. In 1473, Columbus began his apprenticeship as business agent for the wealthy
SpinolaSpinola is a surname. Notable people with the surname include: * Agostino Spinola (d. 1537), Italian cardinal * Alberto Spinola (born 1943), Italian water polo player * Ambrogio Spinola, 1st Marquis of the Balbases (1569–1630), Genoese banker and ...
, Centurione, and Di Negro families of Genoa. Later, he made a trip to
Chios Chios (; el, Χίος, Khíos ) is the fifth largest of the Greece, Greek list of islands of Greece, islands, situated in the northern Aegean Sea. The island is separated from Turkey by the Chios Strait. Chios is notable for its exports of Mast ...

Chios
, an
Aegean Aegean may refer to: *Aegean Sea *Aegean Islands *Aegean Region (geographical), Turkey *Aegean Region (statistical), Turkey *Aegean civilizations *Aegean languages, a group of ancient languages and proposed language family *Aegean Sea (theme), a n ...

Aegean
island then ruled by Genoa. In May 1476, he took part in an armed convoy sent by Genoa to carry valuable cargo to northern Europe. He probably docked in
Bristol Bristol () is a city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia''. 2nd edition. London: Routle ...

Bristol
, England, and
Galway Galway ( ; ga, Gaillimh, ) is a in the , in the of . It is the of , which is named after it. It lies on the between and , and is the on the island of Ireland and the , with a population at the 2016 Census of 79,934. Located near an ...

Galway
,
Ireland Ireland ( ; ga, Éire ; Ulster Scots dialect, Ulster-Scots: ) is an island in the Atlantic Ocean, North Atlantic. It is separated from Great Britain to its east by the North Channel (Great Britain and Ireland), North Channel, the Irish Sea ...

Ireland
. He may have also gone to
Iceland Iceland ( is, Ísland; ) is a Nordic Nordic most commonly refers to: * Nordic countries, written in plural as Nordics, the northwestern European countries, including Scandinavia, Fennoscandia and the List of islands in the Atlantic Ocean#N ...

Iceland
in 1477. It is known that in the autumn of 1477, he sailed on a Portuguese ship from Galway to Lisbon, where he found his brother Bartolomeo, and they continued trading for the Centurione family. Columbus based himself in Lisbon from 1477 to 1485. He married
Filipa Moniz Perestrelo ''Capela da Piedade'' (Chapel of Piety) at Carmo, Lisbon where Filipa was buried. Filipa Moniz Perestrelo (c. 1455 – between 1478 and 1484) was a Portuguese people, Portuguese noblewoman from Porto Santo Island, in Madeira, Portugal. She was ...
, daughter of the
Porto Santo Porto Santo Island () is a Portuguese island northeast of Madeira Island in the North Atlantic Ocean; it is the northernmost and easternmost island of the archipelago of Madeira Madeira ( , also , ), officially the Autonomous Region of Mad ...

Porto Santo
governor and Portuguese nobleman of
Lombard The term Lombard refers to members of or things related to Lombardy (man) it, Lombarda (woman) lmo, Lombard (man) lmo, Lombarda (woman) , population_note = , population_blank1_title = , population_blank1 ...
origin
Bartolomeu Perestrello Bartolomeu Perestrello (, in Italian language, Italian ''Bartolomeo Perestrello''), 1st Captain-major, Capitão Donatário, Lord and Governor of the Island of Porto Santo ( 1395 – 1457) was a Portugal, Portuguese navigator and explorer that is cl ...
. In 1479 or 1480, Columbus's son
Diego Diego is a Spanish Spanish may refer to: * Items from or related to Spain: **Spaniards, a nation and ethnic group indigenous to Spain **Spanish language **Spanish cuisine Other places * Spanish, Ontario, Canada * Spanish River (disambiguati ...
was born. Between 1482 and 1485, Columbus traded along the coasts of
West Africa West Africa or Western Africa is the westernmost region of Africa. The United Nations defines Western Africa as the 17 countries of Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania ...

West Africa
, reaching the Portuguese trading post of
Elmina Elmina, also known as Edina by the local Fante, is a town and the capital of the Komenda/Edina/Eguafo/Abirem District on the south coast of Ghana Ghana (), officially the Republic of Ghana, is a country in West Africa West Africa ...
at the
Guinea coast Guinea is a traditional name for the region of the African coast of West Africa which lies along the Gulf of Guinea. It is a naturally moist tropical forest or savanna that stretches along the coast and borders the Sahel belt in the north. Etym ...
(in present-day
Ghana Ghana (), officially the Republic of Ghana, is a country in West Africa West Africa or Western Africa is the westernmost region of . The defines Western Africa as the 17 countries of , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , and as well as .Paul R. ...

Ghana
).Christopher Columbus (Italian explorer)
. Encyclopædia Britannica Online.
Before 1484, Columbus returned to Porto Santo to find that his wife had died. He returned to Portugal to settle her estate and take his son Diego with him. He left Portugal for Castile in 1485, where he found a mistress in 1487, a 20-year-old orphan named Beatriz Enríquez de Arana. It is likely that Beatriz met Columbus when he was in Córdoba, a gathering site of many Genoese merchants and where the court of the
Catholic Monarchs The term Catholic Monarchs refers to Queen Isabella I of Castile and King Ferdinand II of Aragon Aragon ( or , Spanish and an, Aragón , ca, Aragó ) is an autonomous communities of Spain, autonomous community in Spain, coextensive with th ...
was located at intervals. Beatriz, unmarried at the time, gave birth to Columbus's
natural son Legitimacy, in traditional Western common law, is the status of a child Biologically, a child (plural children) is a human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populous and widespread species of primates, characterized by bipedalit ...
,
Fernando Columbus Ferdinand Columbus Spanish: ''Fernando Colón'' also ''Hernando'', Portuguese: ''Fernando Colombo'', Italian Italian may refer to: * Anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Italy ** Italians, an ethnic group or simply a citizen ...
in July 1488, named for the monarch of Aragon. Columbus recognized the boy as his offspring. Columbus entrusted his older, legitimate son Diego to take care of Beatriz and pay the pension set aside for her following his death, but Diego was negligent in his duties. Ambitious, Columbus eventually learned Latin,
Portuguese Portuguese may refer to: * anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Portugal ** Portuguese cuisine, traditional foods ** Portuguese language, a Romance language *** Portuguese dialects, variants of the Portuguese language ** Portug ...

Portuguese
, and Castilian. He read widely about astronomy, geography, and history, including the works of
Claudius Ptolemy Claudius Ptolemy (; grc-koi, Κλαύδιος Πτολεμαῖος, ''Klaúdios Ptolemaîos'' ; la, Claudius Ptolemaeus; AD) was a mathematician A mathematician is someone who uses an extensive knowledge of mathematics Mathematics ...
, Pierre Cardinal d'Ailly's ''Imago Mundi'', the and
Sir John Mandeville Sir John Mandeville is the supposed author of ''The Travels of Sir John Mandeville'', a travel memoir which first circulated between 1357 and 1371. The earliest surviving text is in French. By aid of translations into many other languages, the w ...
,
Pliny Pliny may refer to: People from antiquity * Pliny the Elder (AD 23–79), ancient Roman nobleman, scientist, historian, and author of ''Naturalis Historia'' (''Pliny's Natural History'') * Pliny the Younger (died 113), ancient Roman statesman, ...

Pliny
's ''
Natural History Natural history is a domain of inquiry involving organisms, including animals, fungus, fungi, and plants, in their natural environment, leaning more towards observational than experimental methods of study. A person who studies natural history ...
'', and
Pope Pius II Pope Pius II ( la, Pius PP. II, it, Pio II), born Enea Silvio Bartolomeo Piccolomini ( la, Aeneas Silvius Bartholomeus; 18 October 1405 – 14 August 1464), was head of the Catholic Church The Catholic Church, often referred to as the R ...

Pope Pius II
's '' Historia Rerum Ubique Gestarum''. According to historian Edmund Morgan,
Columbus was not a scholarly man. Yet he studied these books, made hundreds of marginal notations in them and came out with ideas about the world that were characteristically simple and strong and sometimes wrong ...


Quest for Asia


Background

Under the
Mongol Empire The Mongol Empire of the 13th and 14th centuries was the List of largest empires, largest contiguous land empire in history and the second largest empire by landmass, second only to the British Empire. Originating in Mongolia in East Asia, the ...
's hegemony over Asia and the ''
Pax Mongolica The ''Pax Mongolica'' (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to b ...
'', Europeans had long enjoyed a safe land passage, the
Silk Road The Silk Road () was and is a network of trade routes connecting the Eastern world, East and Western culture, West, from the 2nd century BCE to the 18th century CE. It was central to the economic, cultural, political, and religious interactions ...

Silk Road
, to
Maritime Southeast Asia Maritime Southeast Asia comprises the countries of Brunei Brunei ( ; ), officially the Nation of Brunei, the Abode of Peace ( ms, Negara Brunei Darussalam, Jawi alphabet, Jawi: ), is a sovereign state, country located on the north co ...
, parts of
East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia, which is defined in both Geography, geographical and culture, ethno-cultural terms. The modern State (polity), states of East Asia include China, Japan, Mongolia, North Korea, South Korea, and Taiwan. ...

East Asia
, and
China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere ...

China
, which were sources of valuable goods. With the
fall of Constantinople The fall of Constantinople ( grc-x-byzant, Ἅλωσις τῆς Κωνσταντινουπόλεως , translit=Hálōsis tē̂s Kōnstantīnoupóleōs ; tr, İstanbul'un Fethi, lit=Conquest of Istanbul ) was the capture of the capital Cap ...
to the
Ottoman Empire The Ottoman Empire (; ', ; or '; )info page on bookat Martin Luther University) // CITED: p. 36 (PDF p. 38/338). was an empire that controlled much of Southeastern Europe, Western Asia, and North Africa, Northern Africa between the 14th ...
in 1453, the Silk Road was closed to Christian traders. In 1470, the Florentine astronomer suggested to King
Afonso V of Portugal Afonso VRendered as Affonso in Archaic Portuguese () (15 January 1432 – 28 August 1481), known by the sobriquet the African (), was a King of Portugal. His sobriquet refers to his military conquests in Northern Africa. As of 1471, Afonso V was ...
that sailing west across the Atlantic would be a quicker way to reach the (Spice) Islands, China, and Japan than the route around Africa, but Afonso rejected his proposal. In the 1480s, the Columbus brothers proposed a plan to reach the East Indies by sailing west. By 1481, Toscanelli had sent Columbus a map implying that a westward route to Asia was possible. Columbus's plans were complicated by the opening of the
Cape Route File:Battle of Japan Sea (Route of Baltic Fleet) NT.PNG, Since the Suez Canal opened, the Cape Route has been used when passage through Suez is refused, or by Capesize ships. In the 1904-05 Russo-Japanese War, the Dogger Bank incident forced the ...
to Asia around Africa in 1488. Carol Delaney and others have argued that Columbus was a and apocalypticist and that these beliefs motivated his quest for Asia in a variety of ways. Columbus often wrote about seeking gold in the diaries of his voyages and writes about acquiring the precious metal "in such quantity that the sovereigns... will undertake and prepare to go conquer the Holy Sepulcher" in a fulfillment of
Biblical prophecy Bible prophecy or biblical prophecy comprises the passages of the Bible The Bible (from Koine Greek τὰ βιβλία, ''tà biblía'', "the books") is a collection of religious texts or scriptures sacred to Christians, Jews, Samaritans, ...
. Columbus also often wrote about converting all races to Christianity. Abbas Hamandi argues that Columbus was motivated by the hope of " eliveringJerusalem from Muslim hands" by "using the resources of newly discovered lands".


Geographical considerations

Despite a popular misconception to the contrary, nearly all educated Westerners understood that the Earth is spherical, a successful theory rooted in
antiquity Antiquity or Antiquities may refer to Historical objects or periods Artifacts * Antiquities, objects or artifacts surviving from ancient cultures Eras Any period before the European Middle Ages In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages ...
. By Columbus's time, the techniques of
celestial navigation Celestial navigation, also known as astronavigation, is the ancient and modern practice of position fixing that enables a navigator to transition through a space without having to rely on estimated calculations, or dead reckoning, to know their p ...

celestial navigation
, which use the position of the Sun and the stars in the sky, had long been in use by astronomers and were beginning to be implemented by mariners. As far back as the 3rd century BC,
Eratosthenes Eratosthenes of Cyrene (; grc-gre, Ἐρατοσθένης ;  – ) was a Greek polymath A polymath ( el, πολυμαθής, , "having learned much"; la, homo universalis, "universal human") is an individual whose knowledge spans a ...

Eratosthenes
had correctly computed the circumference of the Earth by using simple geometry and studying the shadows cast by objects at two remote locations. In the 1st century BC,
Posidonius Posidonius (; grc-gre, Ποσειδώνιος , "of Poseidon Poseidon (; grc-gre, Ποσειδῶν, ) was one of the Twelve Olympians upright=1.8, Fragment of a relief Relief is a sculptural technique where the sculpted eleme ...
confirmed Eratosthenes's results by comparing stellar observations at two separate locations. These measurements were widely known among scholars, but Ptolemy's use of the smaller, old-fashioned units of distance led Columbus to underestimate the size of the Earth by about a third. From
Pierre d'Ailly 200px, Pierre d'Ailly. Pierre d'Ailly (; Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Thro ...

Pierre d'Ailly
's ''Imago Mundi'' (1410), Columbus learned of
Alfraganus Abū al-ʿAbbās Aḥmad ibn Muḥammad ibn Kathīr al-Farghānī ( ar, أبو العبّاس أحمد بن محمد بن كثير الفرغاني; 800/805–870), also known as Alfraganus in the West, was an astronomer in the Abbasid court in Ba ...
's estimate that a degree of
latitude In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena of the Earth and planets. The first person to use the ...

latitude
(or a degree of
longitude Longitude (, ) is a geographic coordinate A geographic coordinate system (GCS) is a coordinate system associated with position (geometry), positions on Earth (geographic position). A GCS can give positions: *as Geodetic coordinates, ...

longitude
along the equator) spanned 56 Arabic miles (equivalent to ), but he did not realize that this was expressed in the
Arabic mile The Arab, Arabic, or Arabian mile ( ar, الميل, ''al-mīl'') was a historical Arabic unit of units of length, length. Its precise length is disputed, lying between 1.8 and 2.0 km. It was used by medieval Arab geographers and Astronomy in th ...
(about 1,830 meters) rather than the shorter
Roman mile The mile, sometimes the international mile or statute mile to distinguish it from other miles, is a British imperial unit and US customary unit United States customary units (U.S. customary units) are a system of measurements commonly u ...
(about 1,480 meters) with which he was familiar. Columbus therefore estimated the size of the Earth to be about 75% of Eratosthenes's calculation, and the distance from the
Canary Islands The Canary Islands (; es, Islas Canarias, ), also known informally as ''the Canaries'', is a Spanish archipelago An archipelago ( ), sometimes called an island group or island chain, is a chain, cluster or collection of island ...
to Japan as 2,400 nautical miles (about 23% of the real figure). Furthermore, most scholars accepted Ptolemy's estimate that
Eurasia Eurasia () is the largest continent A continent is any of several large landmass A landmass, or land mass, is a large region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a ...

Eurasia
spanned 180° longitude, rather than the actual 130° (to the Chinese mainland) or 150° (to Japan at the latitude of Spain). Columbus, for his part, believed an even higher estimate, leaving a smaller percentage for water. In d'Ailly's ''Imago Mundi'', Columbus read
Marinus of Tyre Marinus of Tyre ( grc-gre, Μαρῖνος ὁ Τύριος, ''Marînos ho Týrios'';  70–130) was a Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Rep ...
's estimate that the longitudinal span of Eurasia was 225°. Some have suggested he followed the statement in
2 Esdras 2 Esdras (also called 4 Esdras, Latin Esdras, or Latin Ezra) is the name of an apocalyptic book in some English translations of the Bible, English versions of the Bible. Tradition ascribes it to Ezra, a sofer, scribe and kohen, priest of the , b ...
( 6:42) that "six parts f the globeare habitable and the seventh is covered with water." He was also aware of Marco Polo's claim that Japan (which he called "Cipangu") was some to the east of China ("Cathay"), and closer to the equator than it is. He was influenced by Toscanelli's idea that there were inhabited islands even farther to the east than Japan, including the mythical
Antillia Antillia (or Antilia) is a phantom island that was reputed, during the 15th-century age of exploration, to lie in the Atlantic Ocean, far to the west of Portugal and Spain. The island also went by the name of Isle of Seven Cities (''Ilha das Sete ...
, which he thought might lie not much farther to the west than the
Azores The Azores ( , also ; pt, Açores ), officially the Autonomous Region of the Azores (), is one of the two autonomous regions of Portugal The two Autonomous Regions of Portugal ( pt, Regiões Autónomas de Portugal) are the Azores (''Região ...

Azores
. Columbus therefore would have estimated the distance from the Canary Islands west to Japan to be about or , depending on which estimate he used for Eurasia's longitudinal span. The true figure is now known to be vastly larger: about . No ship in the 15th century could have carried enough food and fresh water for such a long voyage, and the dangers involved in navigating through the uncharted ocean would have been formidable. Most European navigators reasonably concluded that a westward voyage from Europe to Asia was unfeasible. The Catholic Monarchs, however, having completed the ''
Reconquista The ' (Portuguese Portuguese may refer to: * anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Portugal ** Portuguese cuisine, traditional foods ** Portuguese language, a Romance language *** Portuguese dialects, variants of the Portug ...

Reconquista
'', an expensive war in the
Iberian Peninsula The Iberian Peninsula , ** * Aragonese Aragonese or Aragones may refer to: * Something related to Aragon, an autonomous community and former kingdom in Spain * the Aragonese people, those originating from or living in the historical region ...

Iberian Peninsula
, were eager to obtain a competitive edge over other European countries in the quest for trade with the Indies. Columbus's project, though far-fetched, held the promise of such an advantage.


Nautical considerations

Though Columbus was wrong about the number of degrees of longitude that separated Europe from the Far East and about the distance that each degree represented, he did utilize the
trade winds The trade winds or easterlies are the permanent east-to-west prevailing winds that flow in the Earth's equatorial region. The trade winds blow mainly from the northeast in the Northern Hemisphere The Northern Hemisphere is the half of E ...
, which would prove to be the key to his successful navigation of the Atlantic Ocean. He planned to first sail to the Canary Islands before continuing west by utilizing the northeast trade wind. Part of the return to Spain would require traveling against the wind using an arduous sailing technique called beating, during which almost no progress can be made. To effectively make the return voyage, Columbus would need to follow the curving trade winds northeastward to the middle latitudes of the North Atlantic, where he would be able to catch the "
westerlies The westerlies, anti-trades, or prevailing westerlies, are prevailing winds from the west toward the east in the middle latitudes between 30 and 60 degrees latitude. They originate from the high-pressure areas in the horse latitudes and trend tow ...
" that blow eastward to the coast of Western Europe. The navigational technique for travel in the Atlantic appears to have been exploited first by the Portuguese, who referred to it as the ''
volta do mar ''Volta do mar'', ''volta do mar largo'', or ''volta do largo'' (the phrase in Portuguese means literally ''turn of the sea'' but also ''return from the sea'') is a navigational technique perfected by Portuguese navigators during the Age of Di ...
'' ('turn of the sea'). Columbus's knowledge of the Atlantic wind patterns was imperfect at the time of his first voyage. By sailing due west from the Canary Islands during hurricane season, skirting the so-called
horse latitudes The horse latitudes are the latitude In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena of the Earth ...
of the mid-Atlantic, Columbus risked both being becalmed and running into a
tropical cyclone A tropical cyclone is a rapidly rotating storm system characterized by a low-pressure center, a closed low-level atmospheric circulation Atmospheric circulation is the large-scale movement of Atmosphere of Earth, air and together with oc ...
, both of which he avoided by chance.


Quest for financial support for a voyage

By about 1484, Columbus proposed his planned voyage to King
John II of Portugal John II ( pt, João II; ; 3 March 1455 – 25 October 1495), called the Perfect Prince ( pt, o Príncipe Perfeito, link=no), was King of Portugal from 1481 until his death in 1495, and also for a brief time in 1477. He is known for re-establishi ...

John II of Portugal
. The king submitted Columbus's proposal to his experts, who rejected it on the correct belief that Columbus's estimate for a voyage of 2,400 nautical miles was only a quarter of what it should have been. In 1488, Columbus again appealed to the court of Portugal, resulting in John II again inviting him for an audience. That meeting also proved unsuccessful, in part because not long afterwards
Bartolomeu Dias Bartolomeu Dias (; ; Anglicized: Bartholomew Diaz; c. 1450 – 29 May 1500), a nobleman of the Portuguese royal household, was a Portuguese explorer. He sailed around the southernmost tip of Africa in 1488, the first European to do so, s ...

Bartolomeu Dias
returned to Portugal with news of his successful rounding of the southern tip of Africa (near the
Cape of Good Hope A cape is a sleeveless outer garment, which drapes the wearer's back, arms, and chest, and connects at the neck. History Capes were common in medieval Europe, especially when combined with a Hood (headgear), hood in the Chaperon (headgear), ...

Cape of Good Hope
). Columbus sought an audience from the monarchs
Ferdinand II of Aragon Ferdinand II of Aragon ( an, Ferrando; ca, Ferran; eu, Errando; es, Fernando; 10 March 1452 – 23 January 1516), also called ''Ferdinand the Catholic'', was King of Aragon from 1479, King of Sicily (as Ferdinand II) from 1469, List of monar ...
and
Isabella I of Castile Isabella I ( es, Isabel I, 22 April 1451 – 26 November 1504) was Queen of Castile This is a list of kings and queens of the Kingdom and Crown of Castile The Crown of Castile was a medieval polity in the Iberian Peninsula that fo ...
, who had united several kingdoms in the Iberian Peninsula by marrying and were ruling together. On 1 May 1486, permission having been granted, Columbus presented his plans to Queen Isabella, who, in turn, referred it to a committee. The savants of Spain, like their counterparts in Portugal, replied that Columbus had grossly underestimated the distance to Asia. They pronounced the idea impractical and advised the Catholic Monarchs to pass on the proposed venture. To keep Columbus from taking his ideas elsewhere, and perhaps to keep their options open, the sovereigns gave him an allowance, totaling about 14,000 '' maravedis'' for the year, or about the annual salary of a sailor. In May 1489, the queen sent him another 10,000 ''maravedis'', and the same year the monarchs furnished him with a letter ordering all cities and towns under their domain to provide him food and lodging at no cost. Columbus also dispatched his brother
Bartholomew Bartholomew (Aramaic Aramaic ( Classical Syriac: ''Arāmāyā''; Old Aramaic: ; Imperial Aramaic: ; square script ) is a language that originated among the Arameans The Arameans (Old Aramaic language, Old Aramaic: 𐤀𐤓𐤌𐤉𐤀 ...

Bartholomew
to the court of
Henry VII of England Henry VII ( cy, Harri Tudur; 28 January 1457 – 21 April 1509) was King of England This list of kings and queens of the begins with , who initially ruled , one of the which later made up modern England. Alfred styled himself King of ...
to inquire whether the English crown might sponsor his expedition, but he was captured by pirates in the process, and only arrived in early 1491. By that time, Columbus had retreated to La Rábida Friary, where the Spanish crown sent him 20,000 ''maravedis'' to buy new clothes and instructions to return to the Spanish court for renewed discussions.


Agreement with the Spanish crown

Columbus waited at King Ferdinand's camp until Ferdinand and Isabella conquered
Granada Granada ( , ,, DIN 31635, DIN: ; grc, Ἐλιβύργη, Elibýrgē; la, Illiberis or . ) is the capital city of the province of Granada, in the autonomous communities of Spain, autonomous community of Andalusia, Spain. Granada is located at the ...

Granada
, the on the Iberian Peninsula, in January 1492. A council led by Isabella's confessor,
Hernando de Talavera Hernando de Talavera (c. 1430 – 14 May 1507) was a Spanish clergyman and councilor to Queen Isabel of Castile. He began his career as a monk A monk (, from el, μοναχός, ''monachos'', "single, solitary" via Latin Latin (, or ...

Hernando de Talavera
, found Columbus's proposal to reach the Indies implausible. Columbus had left for France when Ferdinand intervened, first sending Talavera and Bishop
Diego Deza Diego de Deza (1444 – 9 June 1523) was a theologian Theology is the systematic study of the nature of the divine Divinity or the divine are things that are either related to, devoted to, or proceeding from a deity.
to appeal to the queen. Isabella was finally convinced by the king's clerk
Luis de Santángel Luis de Santángel (died 1498) was a third generation ''converso'' in Spain during the late fifteenth century. Santángel worked as ''escribano de racion'' to Ferdinand II of Aragon, King Ferdinand II and Isabella I of Castile, Queen Isabella I of ...

Luis de Santángel
, who argued that Columbus would bring his ideas elsewhere, and offered to help arrange the funding. Isabella then sent a royal guard to fetch Columbus, who had travelled several kilometers toward Córdoba. In the April 1492 "
Capitulations of Santa Fe The Capitulations of Santa Fe between Christopher Columbus Christopher Columbus * lij, Cristoffa C(or)ombo * es, Cristóbal Colón * pt, Cristóvão Colombo * ca, Cristòfor (or Cristòfol) Colom * la, Christophorus Columbus (; born ...
", King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella promised Columbus that if he succeeded he would be given the rank of Admiral of the Ocean Sea and appointed Viceroy and Governor of all the new lands he could claim for Spain. He had the right to nominate three persons, from whom the sovereigns would choose one, for any office in the new lands. He would be entitled to 10 percent of all the revenues from the new lands in perpetuity. Additionally, he would also have the option of buying one-eighth interest in any commercial venture with the new lands and receive one-eighth of the profits. In 1500, during his third voyage to the Americas, Columbus was arrested and dismissed from his posts. He and his sons, Diego and Fernando, then conducted a lengthy series of court cases against the , known as the '' pleitos colombinos'', alleging that the Crown had illegally reneged on its contractual obligations to Columbus and his heirs. The Columbus family had some success in their first litigation, as a judgment of 1511 confirmed Diego's position as viceroy but reduced his powers. Diego resumed litigation in 1512, which lasted until 1536, and further disputes continued until 1790.


Voyages

Between 1492 and 1504, Columbus completed four round-trip voyages between Spain and the
Americas The Americas (also collectively called America) is a landmass comprising the totality of North America, North and South America. The Americas make up most of the land in Earth's Western Hemisphere and comprise the New World. Along with th ...

Americas
, each voyage being sponsored by the Crown of Castile. On his first voyage he independently discovered the Americas, initiating the beginning of the European
exploration Exploration is the act of searching for the purpose of discovery Discovery may refer to: * Discovery (observation) Discovery is the act of detecting something new, or something previously unrecognized as meaningful. With reference to scien ...
and
colonization of the Americas Although the Norse had explored and colonized northeastern North America c. 1000 CE, a later and more well known wave of European colonization of the Americas took place in the Americas between about 1500 CE and 1800 CE, during the Age of Exp ...
, as well as the
Columbian exchange#REDIRECT Columbian exchange native plants. Clockwise, from top left: 1. Citrus (Rutaceae); 2. Apple An apple is an edible fruit produced by an apple tree (''Malus domestica''). Apple fruit tree, trees are agriculture, cultivated worldwid ...
, and are thus important to the
Age of Discovery The Age of Discovery, or the Age of Exploration (sometimes also, particularly regionally, Age of Contact or Contact Period), is an informal and loosely defined term for the early modern period The early modern period of modern history ...
, Western history, and
human history Human history, or world history, is the narrative of humanity Humanity most commonly refers to: * Human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populous and widespread species of primates, characterized by bipedality, opposable thumbs, ...
writ large. Columbus always insisted, in the face of mounting evidence to the contrary, that the lands that he visited during those voyages were part of the
Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere, Eastern and Northern Hemisphere, Northern Hemisphere of the Earth, Hemispheres. It shares the continental landmass of Eurasia with the cont ...

Asia
n continent, as previously described by
Marco Polo Marco Polo (, , ; September 15, 1254January 8, 1324) was a merchant, explorer, and writer who travelled through Asia along the between 1271 and 1295. His travels are recorded in ' (also known as ''Book of the Marvels of the World '' and '' ...

Marco Polo
and other European travelers. Columbus's refusal to acknowledge that the lands he had visited and claimed for Spain were not part of Asia might explain, in part, why the American continent was named after the
Florentine Florentine most commonly refers to: * a person or thing from Florence, a city in Italy * the Florentine dialect Florentine may also refer to: Places * Florentin, Tel Aviv, a neighborhood in the southern part of Tel Aviv, Israel * Leone, Floren ...

Florentine
explorer
Amerigo Vespucci Amerigo Vespucci (; ; 9 March 1451 – 22 February 1512) was an Italian-born merchant, explorer, and navigator from the Republic of Florence, from whose name the term " America" is derived. He became a Castillian citizen in 1505. Between 1 ...

Amerigo Vespucci
—who received credit for recognizing it as a "
New World The "New World" is a term for the majority of Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbour and support life. 29.2% of Earth's surface is land consisting of continents and islands. The re ...
"—and not after Columbus.


First voyage (1492–1493)

On the evening of 3 August 1492, Columbus departed from
Palos de la Frontera Palos de la Frontera () is a town and municipality A municipality is usually a single administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, ...

Palos de la Frontera
with three ships. The largest was a
carrack 300px, The large carrack, thought to be the '' Santa Catarina do Monte Sinai'', and other Portuguese carracks of various sizes. From painting, attributed to either Gregório Lopes or Cornelis Antoniszoon, showing voyage of the marriage party of ...
, the '' Santa María'', owned and captained by
Juan de la Cosa Juan de la Cosa (c. 1450 – 28 February 1510) was a Castilian navigator and cartographer, known for designing the earliest European world map that incorporated the territories of the Americas that were discovered in the 15th century. De la C ...
, and under Columbus's direct command. The other two were smaller
caravel The caravel (Portuguese Portuguese may refer to: * anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Portugal ** Portuguese cuisine, traditional foods ** Portuguese language, a Romance language *** Portuguese dialects, variants of the ...
s, the '' Pinta'' and the ''
Niña ''La Niña'' (Spanish language, Spanish for ''The Girl'') was one of the three Spain, Spanish ships used by Genoa, Genoan explorer Christopher Columbus in his first voyage to the West Indies in 1492. As was tradition for Spanish ships of the day, ...
'', piloted by the
Pinzón brothers The Pinzón brothers were Spanish sailors, pirates, explorers and fishermen, natives of Palos de la Frontera, Province of Huelva, Huelva, Spain. Martín Alonso Pinzón, Martín Alonso, Francisco Martín and Vicente Yáñez Pinzón, Vicente Yáñez ...
. Columbus first sailed to the Canary Islands. There he restocked provisions and made repairs then departed from on 6 September, for what turned out to be a five-week voyage across the ocean. On 7 October, the crew spotted " mense flocks of birds". On 11 October, Columbus changed the fleet's course to due west, and sailed through the night, believing land was soon to be found. At around 02:00 the following morning, a lookout on the ''Pinta'',
Rodrigo de Triana Rodrigo de Triana (born 1469 in Lepe, Huelva, Spain) was a Spanish sailor, believed to be the first European to have seen the Americas. Born as Juan Rodríguez Bermejo, Triana was the son of Hidalgo (nobility), hidalgo and pottery, potter Vicente ...

Rodrigo de Triana
, spotted land. The captain of the ''Pinta'',
Martín Alonso Pinzón Martín Alonso Pinzón, (; Palos de la Frontera, Huelva; c. 1441 – c. 1493) was a Spain, Spanish mariner, shipbuilder, navigator and exploration, explorer, oldest of the Pinzón brothers. He sailed with Christopher Columbus on his Voyages of Chr ...

Martín Alonso Pinzón
, verified the sight of land and alerted Columbus. Columbus later maintained that he had already seen a light on the land a few hours earlier, thereby claiming for himself the lifetime pension promised by Ferdinand and Isabella to the first person to sight land. Columbus called this island (in what is now the Bahamas) ''San Salvador'' (meaning "Holy Savior"); the natives called it
Guanahani Guanahaní is an island in the Bahamas The Bahamas (), known officially as the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, is a country within the Lucayan Archipelago of the West Indies The West Indies are a subregion of North America, surrounded by ...
. Christopher Columbus's journal entry of 12 October 1492 states:
Many of the men I have seen have scars on their bodies, and when I made signs to them to find out how this happened, they indicated that people from other nearby islands come to San Salvador to capture them; they defend themselves the best they can. I believe that people from the mainland come here to take them as slaves. They ought to make good and skilled servants, for they repeat very quickly whatever we say to them. I think they can very easily be made Christians, for they seem to have no religion. If it pleases our Lord, I will take six of them to Your Highnesses when I depart, in order that they may learn our language.Robert H. Fuson, ed., ''The Log of Christopher Columbus'', Tab Books, 1992, International Marine Publishing, .
Columbus called the inhabitants of the lands that he visited ''Los Indios'' (Spanish for "Indians"). He initially encountered the Lucayan,
Taíno The Taíno were an indigenous people of the Caribbean. At the time of European contact in the late fifteenth century, they were the principal inhabitants of most of Cuba Cuba ( , ), officially the Republic of Cuba ( es, República de Cub ...
, and
Arawak The Arawak are a group of indigenous peoples Indigenous peoples, also referred to as First people, Aboriginal people, Native people, or autochthonous people, are culturally distinct ethnic groups who are native to a particular place. The t ...

Arawak
peoples. Noting their gold ear ornaments, Columbus took some of the Arawaks prisoner and insisted that they guide him to the source of the gold. Columbus noted that their primitive weapons and military tactics made the natives susceptible to easy conquest, writing, "these people are very simple in war-like matters ... I could conquer the whole of them with 50 men, and govern them as I pleased." Columbus also explored the northeast coast of
Cuba Cuba ( , ), officially the Republic of Cuba ( es, República de Cuba, links=no ), is a country comprising the island of Cuba, as well as Isla de la Juventud Isla de la Juventud (; en, Isle of Youth) is the second-largest Cuban islan ...

Cuba
, where he landed on 28 October. On 22 November, Martín Alonso Pinzón took the ''Pinta'' on an unauthorized expedition in search of an island called "Babeque" or "Baneque", which the natives had told him was rich in gold. Columbus, for his part, continued to the northern coast of
Hispaniola Hispaniola (, also ; es, La Española; Latin and french: Hispaniola; ht, Ispayola; tnq, Ayiti) is an island in the Caribbean that is part of the Greater Antilles. Hispaniola is the most populous island in the West Indies, and the region's se ...
, where he landed on 5 December. There, the ''Santa María'' ran aground on Christmas Day 1492 and had to be abandoned. The wreck was used as a target for cannon fire to impress the native peoples. Columbus was received by the native ''
cacique A ''cacique'' (Iberian ; Latin American ; ; feminine form: ''cacica'') translates to "king" or "prince" of an indigenous group, derived from the Taíno language, Taíno word ''kasike'' for the pre-Columbian tribal chiefs in the Bahamas, the Gre ...

cacique
'' Guacanagari, who gave him permission to leave some of his men behind. Columbus left 39 men, including the interpreter
Luis de Torres Luis de Torres (died 1493) was Christopher Columbus Christopher Columbus * lij, Cristoffa C(or)ombo * es, Cristóbal Colón * pt, Cristóvão Colombo * ca, Cristòfor (or Cristòfol) Colom * la, Christophorus Columbus (; born between ...
, and founded the settlement of
La Navidad La Navidad ("The Nativity", i.e. Christmas) was a settlement that Christopher Columbus Christopher Columbus * lij, Cristoffa C(or)ombo * es, Cristóbal Colón * pt, Cristóvão Colombo * ca, Cristòfor (or Cristòfol) Colom * la, Chr ...

La Navidad
, in present-day
Haiti Haiti (; ht, Ayiti ; french: Haïti ), officially the Republic of Haiti (; ), and formerly known as Hayti, is a country located on the island of Hispaniola in the Greater Antilles archipelago of the Caribbean Sea, to the east of Cuba and J ...

Haiti
. Columbus took more natives prisoner and continued his exploration. He kept sailing along the northern coast of Hispaniola with a single ship, until he encountered Pinzón and the ''Pinta'' on 6 January. On 13 January 1493, Columbus made his last stop of this voyage in the Americas, in the Bay of Rincón in northeast Hispaniola. There he encountered the Ciguayos, the only natives who offered violent resistance during this voyage. The Ciguayos refused to trade the amount of bows and arrows that Columbus desired; in the ensuing clash one Ciguayo was stabbed in the buttocks and another wounded with an arrow in his chest. Because of these events, Columbus called the inlet the Bay of Arrows. Columbus headed for Spain on the ''Niña'', but a storm separated him from the ''Pinta,'' and forced the ''Niña'' to stop at the island of Santa Maria in the Azores. Half of his crew went ashore to say prayers in a chapel to give thanks for having survived the storm. But while praying, they were imprisoned by the governor of the island, ostensibly on suspicion of being pirates. After a two-day standoff, the prisoners were released, and Columbus again set sail for Spain. Another storm forced Columbus into the port at
Lisbon Lisbon (; pt, Lisboa ) is the capital and the largest city of Portugal, with an estimated population of 544,851 within its administrative limits in an area of 100.05 km2. Grande Lisboa, Lisbon's urban area extends beyond the city's admin ...

Lisbon
. From there he went to ''Vale do Paraíso'' north of Lisbon to meet King John II of Portugal, who told Columbus that he believed the voyage to be in violation of the 1479
Treaty of Alcáçovas The Treaty of Alcáçovas (also known as Treaty or Peace of Alcáçovas-Toledo) was signed on 4 September 1479 between the Catholic Monarchs of Crown of Castile, Castile and Crown of Aragon, Aragon on one side and Afonso V of Portugal, Afonso V and ...
. After spending more than a week in Portugal, Columbus set sail for Spain. Returning on 15 March 1493, he was given a warm welcome by the monarchs.
Columbus's letter on the first voyage Columbus's letter on the first voyage is the first known document announcing the results of the Voyages of Christopher Columbus#First voyage, first voyage of Christopher Columbus that set out in 1492 and reached the Americas. The letter was osten ...
, was instrumental in spreading the news throughout Europe about his voyage. Almost immediately after his arrival in Spain, printed versions began to appear. Word of his voyage rapidly spread throughout Europe. Most people initially believed that he had reached Asia. The
Bulls of Donation 350px, The Spanish (red) and Portuguese (blue) empires about 1600, not showing the unsettled areas claimed by Spain The Bulls of Donation, also called the Alexandrine Bulls, are three papal bulls of Pope Alexander VI delivered in 1493 which purport ...
, three papal bulls of
Pope Alexander VI Pope Alexander VI (born Rodrigo de Borja; ca-valencia, Roderic Llançol i de Borja ; es, Rodrigo Lanzol y de Borja, lang ; 1 January 1431 – 18 August 1503) was head of the Catholic Church The Catholic Church, also known as th ...

Pope Alexander VI
delivered in 1493 purported to grant overseas territories to
Portugal Portugal, officially the Portuguese Republic ( pt, República Portuguesa, links=yes ), is a country A country is a distinct territorial body or political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who ...

Portugal
and the Catholic Monarchs of Spain. They were replaced by the
Treaty of Tordesillas The Treaty of Tordesillas, ; pt, Tratado de Tordesilhas . signed in Tordesillas, Spain on June 7, 1494, and authenticated in Setúbal, Portugal, divided the newly-discovered lands outside Europe between the Portuguese Empire The Portuguese ...

Treaty of Tordesillas
of 1494.


Second voyage (1493–1496)

On 24 September 1493, Columbus sailed from
Cádiz Cádiz (, also , ; see more Cádiz#Name, below) is a city and port in southwestern Spain. It is the capital of the Province of Cádiz, one of eight that make up the Autonomous communities of Spain, autonomous community of Andalusia. Cádiz, on ...

Cádiz
with 17 ships, and supplies to establish permanent colonies in the Americas. He sailed with 1,200 men, including priests, farmers, and soldiers. The fleet stopped at the Canary Islands, continuing three weeks later on a more southerly course than on the first voyage. On 3 November, they arrived in the
Windward Islands french: Îles du Vent , image_name = , image_caption = ''Political'' Windward Islands. Clockwise: Dominica Dominica ( or ; Kalinago : ; french: Dominique; Dominican Creole French Dominican Creole French is a French-based creole, which ...
and landed at
Marie-Galante Marie-Galante ( gcf, label=Antillean Creole Antillean Creole (Antillean French Creole, Kreyol, Kwéyòl, Patois) is a French-based creole, which is primarily spoken in the Lesser Antilles The Lesser Antilles ( es, link=no, Pequeñas Antill ...

Marie-Galante
, now part of
Guadeloupe Guadeloupe (; ; gcf, label=Antillean Creole, Gwadloup, ) is an archipelago and Overseas departments and regions of France, overseas department and region of France in the Caribbean. It consists of six inhabited islands—Basse-Terre Island, Bas ...
. These islands were named by Columbus on this voyage, as well as
Montserrat Montserrat ( ) is a British Overseas Territory The British Overseas Territories (BOTs), also known as United Kingdom Overseas Territories (UKOTs), are fourteen dependent territory, territories all with a constitutional and historical lin ...

Montserrat
,
Antigua Antigua ( ), also known as Waladli or Wadadli by the native population, is an island in the Lesser Antilles The Lesser Antilles ( es, link=no, Antillas Menores; french: link=no, Petites Antilles; pap, Antias Menor; nl, Kleine Antillen ...

Antigua
,
Saint MartinSaint Martin may refer to: People * Saint Martin of Tours (c. 316–397), Bishop of Tours, France * Saint Martin of Braga (c. 520–580), archbishop of Bracara Augusta in Gallaecia (now Braga in Portugal) * Pope Martin I (598–655) * Saint Martin ...
, the
Virgin Islands The Virgin Islands ( es, Islas Vírgenes) are an archipelago An archipelago ( ), sometimes called an island group or island chain, is a chain, cluster or collection of island An island (or isle) is an isolated piece of habita ...
, and many others. On 22 November, Columbus returned to Hispaniola to visit La Navidad, where 39 Spaniards had been left during the first voyage. Columbus found the fort in ruins, destroyed by the Taínos after some of the Spaniards had formed a murderous gang in pursuit of gold and women. Columbus then established a poorly located and short-lived settlement,
La Isabela La Isabela in Puerto Plata Province, Dominican Republic was the first Spanish town in the Americas. The site is 42 km west of the city of Puerto Plata (city), Puerto Plata, adjacent to the village of El Castillo. The area now forms a Natio ...

La Isabela
, in the present-day
Dominican Republic The Dominican Republic ( ; es, República Dominicana, ) is a country located on the island of Hispaniola in the Greater Antilles archipelago of the Caribbean region. It occupies the eastern five-eighths of the island, which it shares with ...

Dominican Republic
. From April to August 1494, Columbus explored Cuba and Jamaica, then returned to Hispaniola. By the end of 1494, disease and famine had killed two-thirds of the Spanish settlers. Columbus implemented ''
encomienda The ''encomienda'' () was a Spanish labor system that rewarded conquerors with the labor of particular groups of conquered non-Christian people. The laborers, in theory, were provided with benefits by the conquerors for whom they labored, the ...
'', a Spanish labor system that rewarded conquerors with the labor of conquered non-Christian people. Columbus executed Spanish colonists for minor crimes, and used
dismemberment Dismemberment refers, in general terms, to the act of cutting, tearing, pulling, wrenching or otherwise relieving the limbs from a living thing. It has been practiced upon human beings as a form of capital punishment, especially in connection w ...
as punishment. Columbus and the colonists enslaved the indigenous people, including children. Natives were beaten, raped, and tortured for the location of imagined gold. Thousands committed suicide rather than face the oppression. In February 1495, Columbus took over 1,500 Arawaks, some of whom had rebelled. About 500 of them were shipped to Spain as slaves, with about 40% dying en route. In June 1495, the Spanish crown sent ships and supplies to Hispaniola. In October, Florentine merchant Gianotto Berardi received almost 40,000 ''maravedís'' worth of slaves. On 10 March 1496, having been away about 30 months, the fleet departed La Isabela, landing in Portugal on 8 June.


Third voyage (1498–1500)

On 30 May 1498, Columbus left with six ships from Sanlúcar, Spain. Three of the ships headed directly for Hispaniola with much-needed supplies. Columbus took the other three to continue the search for a passage to continental Asia. On 31 July they sighted
Trinidad Trinidad is the larger and more populous of the two major islands of Trinidad and Tobago Trinidad and Tobago (, ), officially the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, is the southernmost island country in the Caribbean The Caribbean ( ...

Trinidad
. On 1 August, they arrived near the mouth of
South America South America is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven geographical regions are commonly regarded as continent ...

South America
's
Orinoco The Orinoco () is one of the longest rivers in South America at . Its drainage basin, sometimes known as the Orinoquia, covers , with 76.3 percent of it in Venezuela and the remainder in Colombia. It is the List of rivers by discharge, fourt ...

Orinoco
river. Columbus recognized that it must be the continent's mainland. On 5 August, they landed on the mainland of South America at the
Paria Peninsula The Paria Peninsula, (), is a large peninsula A peninsula ( la, paeninsula from ' "almost" and ' "island") is a landform surrounded by water on most of its border while being connected to a mainland from which it extends. The surrounding wate ...
. They then sailed to the islands of
Chacachacare Chacachacare is an island in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago Trinidad and Tobago (, ), officially the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, is the southernmost island country in the Caribbean and is known for its fossil-fuel wealth. Consistin ...
and
Margarita A margarita is a cocktail A cocktail is an alcoholic beverage, alcoholic mixed drink. Most commonly, cocktails are either a combination of liquor, spirits, or one or more spirits mixed with other ingredients such as fruit juice, flavored syr ...
(reaching the latter on 14 August), and sighted
Tobago Tobago () is an island An island (or isle) is an isolated piece of habitat that is surrounded by a dramatically different habitat, such as water. Very small islands such as emergent land features on atoll An atoll (), sometime ...

Tobago
and
Grenada Grenada ( ; Grenadian Creole French: ) is an island country in the West Indies The West Indies are a subregion A subregion is a part of a larger region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "ea ...

Grenada
. On 19 August, Columbus returned to Hispaniola. There he found settlers in rebellion against his rule, and his promises of riches. Columbus had some of the Europeans tried for their disobedience; at least one rebel leader was hanged. In October 1499, Columbus sent two ships to Spain, asking the Court of Spain to appoint a royal commissioner to help him govern. By this time, accusations of tyranny and incompetence on the part of Columbus had also reached the Court. The sovereigns replaced Columbus with
Francisco de Bobadilla Francisco Fernández de Bobadilla (c. 1448 – 11 July 1502) was an official under the Crown of Castile The Crown of Castile was a medieval polity in the Iberian Peninsula that formed in 1230 as a result of the third and definitive union of ...

Francisco de Bobadilla
, a member of the
Order of Calatrava The Order of Calatrava ( es, Orden de Calatrava, pt, Ordem de Calatrava) was one of the Spanish military orders, four Spanish military orders and the first Military order (society), military order founded in Kingdom of Castile, Castile, but the se ...
, who was tasked with investigating the accusations of brutality made against Columbus. Arriving in Santo Domingo while Columbus was away, Bobadilla was immediately met with complaints about all three Columbus brothers. Bobadilla reported to Spain that Columbus regularly used
torture Torture is the deliberate infliction of severe pain or suffering Suffering, or pain in a broad sense, may be an experience of unpleasantness and aversion associated with the perception of harm or threat of harm in an individual. Suffering i ...

torture
and
mutilation Mutilation or maiming (from the Latin: ''mutilus'') is cutting off or causing injury to a body part of a person so that the part of the body is permanently damaged, detached or disfigured. Terminology In 2019, Dr. Michael H. Stone, Dr. Gary Br ...
to govern Hispaniola. According to the report, Columbus once punished a man found guilty of stealing corn by having his ears and nose cut off and then selling him into slavery. Testimony recorded in the report stated that Columbus congratulated his brother Bartolomeo on "defending the family" when the latter ordered a woman paraded naked through the streets and then had her tongue cut out for suggesting that Columbus was of lowly birth. The document also describes how Columbus put down native unrest and revolt: he first ordered a brutal crackdown in which many natives were killed, and then paraded their dismembered bodies through the streets in an attempt to discourage further rebellion. In early October 1500, Columbus and Diego presented themselves to Bobadilla, and were put in chains aboard ''La Gorda'', Columbus's own ship. They were returned to Spain, and lingered in jail for six weeks before King Ferdinand ordered their release. Not long after, the king and queen summoned the Columbus brothers to the
Alhambra The Alhambra (, ; ar, الْحَمْرَاء, Al-Ḥamrāʾ, , ) is a palace and fortress complex located in Granada Granada ( , ,, DIN 31635, DIN: ; grc, Ἐλιβύργη, Elibýrgē; la, Illiberis or . ) is the capital city of the provi ...

Alhambra
palace in
Granada Granada ( , ,, DIN 31635, DIN: ; grc, Ἐλιβύργη, Elibýrgē; la, Illiberis or . ) is the capital city of the province of Granada, in the autonomous communities of Spain, autonomous community of Andalusia, Spain. Granada is located at the ...

Granada
. There, the royal couple heard the brothers' pleas; restored their freedom and wealth; and, after much persuasion, agreed to fund Columbus's fourth voyage. However,
Nicolás de Ovando ''Frey'' Nicolás de Ovando y Cáceres (1460 – 29 May 1511) was a Spanish soldier from a noble family and a Knight of the Order of Alcántara, a military order of Spain. He was Governor of the Indies (Hispaniola) from 1502 until 1509, sent by t ...

Nicolás de Ovando
was to be the new governor of the
West Indies The West Indies are a subregion A subregion is a part of a larger region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of the lands, features, in ...
.Noble, David Cook. "Nicolás de Ovando" in ''Encyclopedia of Latin American History and Culture'', vol.4, p. 254. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons 1996.


Fourth voyage (1502–1504)

On 11 May 1502 Columbus, with his brother and son, left Cadiz with his flagship ''Santa María'' and three other vessels. He sailed to
Arzila Asilah (; ar, أزيلا or أصيلة; pt, Arzila) is a fortified town on the northwest tip of the Atlantic coast of Morocco ) , image_map = Morocco (orthographic projection, WS claimed).svg , map_caption = Loc ...
on the Moroccan coast to rescue Portuguese soldiers said to be besieged by the
Moors '' of Alfonso X, c. 1285 The term Moor is an Endonym and exonym, exonym first used by Christian Europeans to designate the Muslims, Muslim inhabitants of the Maghreb, the Iberian Peninsula, Sicily and Malta during the Middle Ages. The Moors init ...

Moors
. On 15 June, they arrived at
Martinique Martinique ( , ; gcf, label=Martinican Creole Antillean Creole (Antillean French Creole, Kreyol, Kwéyòl, Patois) is a French-based creole languages, French-based creole, which is primarily spoken in the Lesser Antilles. Its grammar and ...

Martinique
. A
hurricane A tropical cyclone is a rapidly rotating storm system characterized by a low-pressure center, a closed low-level atmospheric circulation Atmospheric circulation is the large-scale movement of Atmosphere of Earth, air and together with oc ...

hurricane
was brewing, so he continued on, hoping to find shelter on Hispaniola. He arrived at
Santo Domingo , total_type = Total , population_density_km2 = auto , timezone = Atlantic Standard Time, AST , area_code_type = Area codes , area_code = 809, 829, 849 , postal_code_type = Postal codes , postal_code = 10100–10699 (Distrito Nacion ...

Santo Domingo
on 29 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 The Spanish treasure fleet, or West Indies Fleet es, Flota de Indias (also called silver fleet or plate fleet; from the es, label=Spanish, plata meaning "silver"), was a convoy system of sea routes organized by the Spanish Empire from 1566 to 17 ...
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 along with 500 lives (including that of Francisco de Bobadilla) and over US$10 million of Columbus's gold. A fragile ship carrying Columbus's personal belongings was the sole vessel to reach Spain. After a brief stop at
Jamaica Jamaica (; ) is an island country An island country or an island nation is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is often referred to as the land of an individual's birth, residence or ...

Jamaica
, Columbus sailed to Central America, arriving at the coast of
Honduras Honduras, officially the Republic of Honduras, is a country in Central America. The republic of Honduras is bordered to the west by Guatemala, to the southwest by El Salvador, to the southeast by Nicaragua, to the south by the Pacific Ocean ...

Honduras
on 30 July. Here Bartolomeo found native merchants and a large canoe. On 14 August, he landed on the continental mainland at Puerto Castilla, Honduras. He spent two months exploring the coasts of Honduras,
Nicaragua Nicaragua (; ), officially the Republic of Nicaragua (), is the largest Sovereign state, country in the Central American isthmus, bordered by Honduras to the northwest, the Caribbean Sea, Caribbean to the east, Costa Rica to the south, and th ...

Nicaragua
, and
Costa Rica Costa Rica (, ; ; literally "Rich Coast"), officially the Republic of Costa Rica ( es, República de Costa Rica), is a country in Central America Central America ( es, América Central, , ''Centroamérica'' ) is a region of the Amer ...

Costa Rica
, before arriving in
Almirante, Bocas del Toro Almirante is a city in Bocas del Toro Province in the Republic of Panama. Its name is Spanish for admiral. Demographics Almirante has a land area of and had a population of 12,731 as of 2010, giving it a population density of . Its population as o ...
in
Panama Panama ( , ; es, link=no, Panamá ), officially the Republic of Panama ( es, República de Panamá), is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several ...

Panama
on 16 October. In Panama, Columbus learned from the Ngobe of gold and a strait to another ocean. In January 1503, he established a
garrison Garrison (from the French ''garnison'', itself from the verb ''garnir'', "to equip") is the collective term for any body of troop A troop is a military sub-subunit Sub-subunit or sub-sub-unit is a subordinated element below platoon lev ...

garrison
at the mouth of the Belén River. Columbus left for Hispaniola on 16 April. On 10 May he sighted the
Cayman Islands The Cayman Islands () is a self-governing British overseas territories, British Overseas Territory, the largest by population, in the western Caribbean Sea. The territory comprises the three islands of Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Caym ...

Cayman Islands
, naming them "''Las Tortugas''" after the numerous
sea turtle Sea turtles (superfamily Chelonioidea), sometimes called marine turtles, are reptiles of the order Testudines Turtles are reptile Reptiles are tetrapod Tetrapods (; from Greek 'four' and 'foot') are four-limbed animals constitut ...

sea turtle
s there. His ships sustained damage in a storm off the coast of Cuba. Unable to travel farther, on 25 June 1503 they were beached in
Saint Ann Parish, Jamaica Saint Ann is the largest parish A parish is a territorial entity in many Christianity, Christian denominations, constituting a division within a diocese. A parish is under the pastoral care and clerical jurisdiction of a priest#Christianity, p ...
. For one year Columbus and his men remained stranded on Jamaica. A Spaniard, Diego Méndez, and some natives paddled a canoe to get help from Hispaniola. The governor,
Nicolás de Ovando y Cáceres Nicolas or Nicolás may refer to: People * Nicolas (given name) * Nicolas (footballer, born 1999), Brazilian footballer * Nicolas (footballer, born 2000), Brazilian footballer * Adolfo Nicolás (1936–2020), Superior General of the Society of Jes ...

Nicolás de Ovando y Cáceres
, detested Columbus and obstructed all efforts to rescue him and his men. In the meantime Columbus, in a desperate effort to induce the natives to continue provisioning him and his hungry men, won their favor by predicting a lunar eclipse for 29 February 1504, using
Abraham Zacuto Abraham Zacuto ( he, , translit=Avraham ben Shmuel Zacut, pt, Abraão ben Samuel Zacuto; 12 August 1452 – ) was a Spanish astronomer An astronomer is a scientist in the field of astronomy who focuses their studies on a specific question or ...

Abraham Zacuto
's astronomical charts. Help finally arrived, no thanks to the governor, on 29 June 1504, and Columbus and his men arrived in Sanlúcar, Spain, on 7 November.


Later life, illness, and death

Columbus had always claimed the conversion of non-believers as one reason for his explorations, but he grew increasingly religious in his later years. Probably with the assistance of his son Diego and his friend the
Carthusian The Carthusians, also known as the Order of Carthusians ( la, Ordo Cartusiensis), are an enclosed religious order Enclosed religious orders or ''cloistered clergy'' are religious orders whose members strictly separate themselves from the affai ...
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 Christian eschatology, a major branch of study within Christian theology, deals with "last things". Such eschatology – the word derives from two Greek roots meaning "last" (ἔσχατος) and "study" (-λογία) – involves the study of ...
. In his later years, Columbus demanded that the Spanish Crown give him 10 percent of all profits made in the new lands, as stipulated in the
Capitulations of Santa Fe The Capitulations of Santa Fe between Christopher Columbus Christopher Columbus * lij, Cristoffa C(or)ombo * es, Cristóbal Colón * pt, Cristóvão Colombo * ca, Cristòfor (or Cristòfol) Colom * la, Christophorus Columbus (; born ...
. 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"). During a violent storm on his first return voyage, Columbus, then 41, suffered an attack of what was believed at the time to be
gout Gout is a form of inflammatory arthritisInflammatory arthritis is a group of diseases which includes: rheumatoid arthritis Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a long-term autoimmune disorder that primarily affects joints. It typically results i ...

gout
. In subsequent years, he was plagued with what was thought to be
influenza Influenza, commonly known as "the flu", is an infectious disease An infection is the invasion of an organism's body Tissue (biology), tissues by Pathogen, disease-causing agents, their multiplication, and the reaction of host (biology), ...

influenza
and other fevers, bleeding from the eyes, temporary blindness and prolonged attacks of gout. The attacks increased in duration and severity, sometimes leaving Columbus bedridden for months at a time, and culminated in his death 14 years later. Based on Columbus's lifestyle and the described symptoms, modern doctors suspect that he suffered from
reactive arthritis Reactive arthritis, formerly known as Reiter's syndrome, is a form of inflammatory Inflammatory may refer to: * Inflammation, a biological response to harmful stimuli * The word ''inflammatory'' is also used to refer literally to fire and flammabil ...
, rather than gout. Reactive arthritis is a joint inflammation caused by intestinal bacterial infections or after acquiring certain sexually transmitted diseases (primarily
chlamydia Chlamydia, or more specifically a chlamydia infection, is a sexually transmitted infection caused by the bacterium '' Chlamydia trachomatis''. Most people who are infected have no symptoms. When symptoms do appear it can be several weeks after ...
or
gonorrhea Gonorrhea, colloquially known as the clap, is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by the bacterium ''Neisseria gonorrhoeae''. Infection may involve the genitals, mouth, or rectum. Infected men may experience Dysuria, pain or burning ...
). "It seems likely that olumbusacquired reactive arthritis from food poisoning on one of his ocean voyages because of poor sanitation and improper food preparation," writes Dr. Frank C. Arnett, a
rheumatologist Rheumatology (Greek ''ῥεῦμα'', ''rheûma'', flowing current) is a branch of medicine devoted to the medical diagnosis, diagnosis and therapy of rheumatism, rheumatic diseases. Physicians who have undergone formal training in rheumatology a ...
and professor of internal medicine, pathology and laboratory medicine at the University of Texas Medical School at Houston. On 20 May 1506, aged 54, Columbus died in
Valladolid Valladolid (, ) is a city in Spain and the primary seat of government of the Autonomous communities of Spain, autonomous community of Castile and León. It has a population of 309,714 people (2013 est.), Population figures from 1 January 2013. ma ...

Valladolid
, Spain.


Location of remains

Columbus's remains were first buried at a convent in Valladolid, then moved to the monastery of
La Cartuja ''Isla de la Cartuja'' (Island of the Carthusians) is an island in the Guadalquivir River at Seville, Spain. The island's name derives from the cloistered monastery (Cartuja) located on the site, the ''Monastery of Santa Maria de las Cuevas, Monas ...
in
Seville Seville (; es, Sevilla, Castilian Spanish , Andalusian Spanish (with yeísmo) ) is the capital and largest city of the Spain, Spanish autonomous communities of Spain, autonomous community of Andalusia and the province of Seville. It is situate ...

Seville
(southern Spain) by the will of his son Diego. They may have been exhumed in 1513 and interred at the
Cathedral of Seville The Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See ( es, Catedral de Santa María de la Sede), better known as Seville Cathedral, is a Roman Catholic cathedral in Seville, Andalusia, Spain. It was registered in 1987 by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, along w ...
. In about 1536, the remains of both Columbus and his son Diego were moved to a cathedral in Colonial Santo Domingo, in the present-day
Dominican Republic The Dominican Republic ( ; es, República Dominicana, ) is a country located on the island of Hispaniola in the Greater Antilles archipelago of the Caribbean region. It occupies the eastern five-eighths of the island, which it shares with ...

Dominican Republic
. By some accounts, around 1796, when France took over the entire island of Hispaniola, Columbus's remains were moved to
Havana Havana (; Spanish Spanish may refer to: * Items from or related to Spain: **Spaniards, a nation and ethnic group indigenous to Spain **Spanish language **Spanish cuisine Other places * Spanish, Ontario, Canada * Spanish River (disambiguati ...

Havana
, Cuba. After Cuba became independent following the
Spanish–American War The Spanish–American War (April 21 – August 13, 1898, es, Guerra hispano-estadounidense or ; fil, Digmaang Espanyol-Amerikano) was an armed conflict War is an intense armed conflict between State (polity), states, governments, S ...
in 1898, the remains were moved back to the Cathedral of Seville, Spain, where they were placed on an elaborate
catafalque A catafalque is a raised bier lying in state on his funeral bier at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus , image_map = Map of comu ...
. In June 2003,
DNA Deoxyribonucleic acid (; DNA) is a molecule File:Pentacene on Ni(111) STM.jpg, A scanning tunneling microscopy image of pentacene molecules, which consist of linear chains of five carbon rings. A molecule is an electrically neutral gro ...

DNA
samples were taken from these remains as well as those of Columbus's brother Diego and younger son Fernando. Initial observations suggested that the bones did not appear to match Columbus's physique or age at death. DNA extraction proved difficult; only short fragments of
mitochondrial DNA Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA or mDNA) is the DNA Deoxyribonucleic acid (; DNA) is a molecule File:Pentacene on Ni(111) STM.jpg, A scanning tunneling microscopy image of pentacene molecules, which consist of linear chains of five car ...

mitochondrial DNA
could be isolated. These matched corresponding DNA from Columbus's brother, supporting that both individuals had shared the same mother. Such evidence, together with anthropologic and historic analyses, led the researchers to conclude that the remains belonged to Christopher Columbus. In 1877, a priest discovered a lead box at Santo Domingo inscribed: "Discoverer of America, First Admiral". Inscriptions found the next year read "Last of the remains of the first admiral, Sire Christopher Columbus, discoverer." The box contained bones of an arm and a leg, as well as a bullet. These remains were considered legitimate by physician and U.S. Assistant Secretary of State John Eugene Osborne, who suggested in 1913 that they travel through the
Panama Canal The Panama Canal ( es, Canal de Panamá, link=no) is an artificial waterway in Panama Panama ( , ; es, link=no, Panamá ), officially the Republic of Panama ( es, República de Panamá), is a List of transcontinental countries#Nor ...

Panama Canal
as a part of its opening ceremony. These remains were kept at the
Basilica Cathedral of Santa María la Menor The Cathedral of Santa María la Menor in the Ciudad Colonial (Santo Domingo), Colonial City of Santo Domingo is dedicated to St. Mary of the Incarnation. It is the oldest still standing cathedral in the Americas, begun in 1514 and completed in 154 ...
before being moved to the (inaugurated in 1992). The authorities in Santo Domingo have never allowed these remains to be exhumed, so it is unconfirmed whether they are from Columbus's body as well.


Commemoration

Veneration of Columbus in the U.S. dates back to colonial times. The use of Columbus as a founding figure of New World nations spread rapidly after the American Revolution. This was out of a desire to develop a national history and
founding myth An origin myth is a myth Myth is a folklore genre consisting of narratives that play a fundamental role in a society, such as foundational tales or origin myths. The main characters in myths are usually gods, demigods, or supernatural humans. ...
with fewer ties to Britain. In the U.S., his name was given to the federal capital (
District of Columbia ) , image_skyline = , image_caption = Clockwise from top left: the Washington Monument The Washington Monument is an obelisk within the National Mall The National Mall is a Landscape architecture, landscape ...

District of Columbia
), the capitals of two U.S. states (
Ohio Ohio () is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper in Co ...

Ohio
and
South Carolina South Carolina () is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspap ...

South Carolina
), the
Columbia River The Columbia River (Upper Chinook Upper Chinook, endonym Kiksht, also known as Columbia Chinook, and Wasco-Wishram after its last surviving dialect, is a recently extinct language of the US Pacific Northwest. It had 69 speakers in 1990, of w ...

Columbia River
, and monuments like
Columbus Circle Columbus Circle is a traffic circle A roundabout is a type of circular intersection The line (purple) in two points (red). The disk (yellow) intersects the line in the line segment between the two red points. In mathematics, the ...

Columbus Circle
. Columbus's name was given to the
Republic of Colombia Colombia ( , ; ), officially the Republic of Colombia, is a List of transcontinental countries, transcontinental country spanning South America and an Insular region of Colombia, insular region in North America. It is bordered by the Carib ...
. Towns, streets, and plazas throughout Latin America and Spain have been named after him. To commemorate the 400th anniversary of the landing of Columbus, the 1893
World's Fair A world's fair is a large international exhibition designed to showcase achievements of nations. These exhibitions vary in character and are held in different parts of the world at a specific site for a period of time, ranging usually from ...
in Chicago was named the
World's Columbian Exposition The World's Columbian Exposition (the official shortened name for the World's Fair: Columbian Exposition, also known as the Chicago World's Fair) was a world's fair held in Chicago in 1893 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columb ...
. The U.S. Postal Service issued the first U.S.
commemorative stamp A commemorative stamp is a postage stamp, often issued on a significant date such as an anniversary, to honor or commemorate a place, event, person, or object. The ''subject'' of the commemorative stamp is usually spelled out in print, unlike de ...
s, the
Columbian Issue The Columbian Issue, often known as simply the Columbians, is a set of 16 postage stamp A postage stamp is a small piece of paper issued by a post office, postal administration, or other authorized vendors to customers who pay postage (the co ...
depicting Columbus, Queen Isabella and others in various stages of his several voyages. For the Columbus Quincentenary in 1992, a second Columbian issue was released jointly with Italy, Portugal, and Spain. Columbus was celebrated at
Seville Expo '92 The Seville Expo '92 was a universal exposition that took place from Monday, April 20 to Monday, October 12, 1992 on La Isla de La Cartuja (Charterhouse Island), Seville, Spain, Seville, Spain. The theme for the Expo was "The Age of Discovery", ce ...
, and
Genoa Expo '92 L'Esposizione Internazionale Specializzata Genova '92 - Colombo '92 (in English ''International Exhibition Genoa '92 - Colombo '92'') or more informally Expo 1992, was held in Genoa, Italy from 15 May to 15 August 1992. The theme was "Christopher ...
. In 1909, descendants of Columbus dismantled and moved the Columbus family chapel in Spain to Boalsburg near
State College, Pennsylvania State College is a Home Rule Municipality (Pennsylvania), home rule municipality in Centre County, Pennsylvania, Centre County in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. It is a college town, dominated economically and demographically by the presence ...

State College, Pennsylvania
, where it may be visited by the public. In many countries of the Americas, as well as Spain and Italy,
Columbus Day Columbus Day is a national holiday in many countries of the Americas and elsewhere which officially celebrates the anniversary of Christopher Columbus Christopher Columbus * lij, Cristoffa C(or)ombo * es, Cristóbal Colón * pt, Cris ...
celebrates the anniversary of Columbus's arrival in the Americas on 12 October 1492.


Legacy

The voyages of Columbus are considered a turning point in human history, marking the beginning of
globalization Globalization, or globalisation (Commonwealth English The use of the English language English is a of the , originally spoken by the inhabitants of . It is named after the , one of the ancient that migrated from , a peninsu ...

globalization
and accompanying demographic, commercial, economic, social, and political changes. His explorations resulted in permanent contact between the two hemispheres, and the term " pre-Columbian" is used to refer to the culture of the Americas before the arrival of Columbus and his European successors. The ensuing Columbian exchange saw the massive exchange of animals, plants, fungi, diseases, technologies, mineral wealth and ideas. Until the 1990s, Columbus was portrayed as a heroic explorer. More recently, however, the narrative has featured the negative effects of the conquest on native populations. Exposed to
Old World The Old World consists of Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous , after in both cases. At about 30.3 million km2 (11.7 million square miles) including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of 's total su ...
diseases, the indigenous populations of the New World collapsed and were largely replaced by Europeans and Africans who brought with them new methods of farming, business, governance, and religious worship.


Originality of discovery of America

Though Christopher Columbus came to be considered the European discoverer of America in Western popular culture, his historical legacy is more nuanced. The Norse had colonized North America around 500 years before Columbus, with some degree of contact with Europe being maintained until about 1410. The 1960s discovery at
L'Anse aux Meadows L'Anse aux Meadows () is an archaeological site An archaeological site is a place (or group of physical sites) in which evidence of past activity is preserved (either prehistoric Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the peri ...

L'Anse aux Meadows
put Columbus's role in Western popular culture into question, as it partially corroborates accounts within the
Icelandic sagas The sagas of Icelanders ( is, Íslendingasögur), also known as family sagas, are one genre of Icelandic sagas. They are prose narratives mostly based on historical events that mostly took place in Iceland Iceland ( is, Ísland; ) is a N ...
of
Erik the Red Erik Thorvaldsson ( 950 – 1003), known as Erik the Red, was a Viking, Norse explorer, described in medieval and Icelandic saga sources as having founded the first colonization, settlement in Greenland. He most likely earned the epithet "the ...
's colonization of Greenland and his son
Leif Erikson Leif Erikson, Leiv Eiriksson or Leif Ericson; Icelandic: ''Leifur Eiríksson''; Norwegian Norwegian, Norwayan, or Norsk may refer to: *Something of, from, or related to Norway, a country in northwestern Europe *Norwegians, both a nation an ...
's exploration of
Vinland Vinland, Vineland or Winland ( non, Vínland) was an area of coastal North America North America is a continent entirely within the Northern Hemisphere and almost all within the Western Hemisphere. It can also be described as the no ...
around the turn of the 11th century.


America as a distinct land

Historians have traditionally argued that Columbus remained convinced until his death that his journeys had been along the east coast of Asia as he originally intended. On his third voyage he briefly referred to South America as a "hitherto unknown" continent, while also rationalizing that it was the "Earthly Paradise" located "at the end of the Orient". Columbus continued to claim in his later writings that he had reached Asia; in a 1502 letter to
Pope Alexander VI Pope Alexander VI (born Rodrigo de Borja; ca-valencia, Roderic Llançol i de Borja ; es, Rodrigo Lanzol y de Borja, lang ; 1 January 1431 – 18 August 1503) was head of the Catholic Church The Catholic Church, also known as th ...

Pope Alexander VI
, he asserts that Cuba is the east coast of Asia. On the other hand, in a document in the ''Book of Privileges'' (1502), Columbus refers to the New World as the ''Indias Occidentales'' ('West Indies'), which he says "were unknown to all the world".


Flat Earth mythology

Washington Irving Washington Irving (April 3, 1783 – November 28, 1859) was an American short-story writer, essayist, biographer, historian, and diplomat of the early 19th century. He is best known for his short stories " Rip Van Winkle" (1819) and " The Lege ...

Washington Irving
's 1828 biography of Columbus popularized the idea that Columbus had difficulty obtaining support for his plan because many Catholic theologians insisted that the , but this is a popular misconception which can be traced back to 17th-century Protestants campaigning against Catholicism. In fact, the spherical shape of the Earth had been known to scholars since antiquity, and was common knowledge among sailors, including Columbus. Coincidentally, the oldest surviving globe of the Earth, the
Erdapfel The Erdapfel (german: Erdapfel, lit=earth apple ) is a terrestrial globe A globe is a spherical physical model, model of Earth, of some other astronomical object, celestial body, or of the celestial sphere. Globes serve purposes similar to so ...

Erdapfel
, was made in 1492, just before Columbus's return to Europe. As such it contains no sign of the Americas and yet demonstrates the common belief in a spherical Earth.


Criticism and defense

Columbus is criticized both for his brutality and for initiating the depopulation of the indigenous Americans, whether by disease or intentional genocide. Some defend his actions or allege the worst of them are not based in fact. Tinker and Freedman write that Columbus was responsible for creating a cycle of "murder, violence, and slavery" to maximize exploitation of the Caribbean islands' resources, and that Native deaths on the genocidal scale at which they occurred would not have happened by the introduction of new diseases alone. Further, they assert that the proposition that disease caused these deaths and not the invaders is an "American holocaust denial". Some commentators defend his actions or allege that the worst of them are not based in fact. As a result of the protests and riots that followed the
murder of George Floyd On May 25, 2020, George Floyd George Perry Floyd Jr. (October 14, 1973 – May 25, 2020) was an African Americans, African-American man Killing of George Floyd, killed during an arrest after a store clerk alleged he had passed a c ...
in 2020, many public .


Brutality

Some historians have criticized Columbus for initiating colonization and for abusing natives. On St. Croix, Columbus' friend Michele da Cuneo—according to his own account—kept an indigenous woman he captured, whom Columbus "gave to , then brutally raped her. The punishment for an indigenous person, aged 14 and older, failing to pay a hawk's bell of gold dust (based on
Bartolomé de las Casas Bartolomé de las Casas ( ; ; 11 November 1484 – 18 July 1566) was a 16th-century Spanish Empire, Spanish landowner, friar, priest, and bishop, famed as a historian and social reformer. He arrived in Hispaniola as a layman then became a Dominic ...

Bartolomé de las Casas
' account, about $400 in 2021 currency) every three months was cutting off the hands of those without tokens, often leaving them to bleed to death. Columbus had an economic interest in the enslavement of the Hispaniola natives and for that reason was not eager to baptize them, which attracted criticism from some churchmen. Consuelo Varela, a Spanish historian who has seen the report, states that "Columbus's government was characterised by a form of tyranny. Even those who loved him had to admit the atrocities that had taken place." Kris Lane disputes whether it is appropriate to use the term "genocide" when the atrocities were not Columbus' intent, but resulted from his decrees, family business goals, and negligence. Other historians have argued that some of the accounts of the brutality of Columbus and his brothers have been exaggerated as part of the Black Legend, a historical tendency towards anti-Spanish sentiment in historical sources dating as far back as the 16th century, which they speculate may continue to taint scholarship into the present day. Historian William J. Connell has argued that, while Columbus "brought the entrepreneurial form of slavery to the New World," this "was a phenomenon of the times," further arguing that "we have to be very careful about applying 20th-century understandings of morality to the morality of the 15th century." In a less popular defense of colonization, Spanish ambassador María Jesús Figa López-Palop has argued, "Normally we melded with the cultures in America, we stayed there, we spread our language and culture and religion." British historian
Basil Davidson Basil Risbridger Davidson (9 November 1914 – 9 July 2010) was a British journalist and historian who wrote more than 30 books on African history and African politics, politics. According to two modern writers, "Davidson, a campaigning jou ...
has dubbed Columbus the "father of the
slave trade Slavery and enslavement are both the state and the condition of being a slave, who is someone forbidden to quit their service for an enslaver, and who is treated by the enslaver as their property Property is a system of rights that give ...
", citing the fact that the first license to ship African slaves to the Caribbean was issued by the Catholic Monarchs in 1501.


Depopulation

Around the turn of the 21st century, estimates for the population of Hispaniola ranged between 250,000 and two million,Keegan, William F., "Destruction of the Taino" in ''Archaeology''. January/February 1992, pp. 51–56. but
genetic analysis Genetic analysis is the overall process of studying and research Research is "creativity, creative and systematic work undertaken to increase the stock of knowledge". It involves the collection, organization, and analysis of information t ...
published in late 2020 suggests that smaller figures are more likely, perhaps as low as 10,000–50,000 for Hispaniola and Puerto Rico combined. Based on the previous figures of a few hundred thousand, some have estimated that a third or more of the natives in Haiti were dead within the first two years of Columbus's governorship. Contributors to depopulation included disease, warfare, and harsh enslavement. Indirect evidence suggests that some serious illness may have arrived with the 1,500 colonists who accompanied Columbus' second expedition in 1493. writes that "It was as if the suffering these diseases had caused in
Eurasia Eurasia () is the largest continent A continent is any of several large landmass A landmass, or land mass, is a large region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a ...

Eurasia
over the past millennia were concentrated into the span of decades." A third of the natives forced to work in gold and silver mines died every six months. Within three to six decades, the surviving Arawak population numbered only in the hundreds. The indigenous population of the Americas overall is thought to have been reduced by about 90% in the century after Columbus's arrival. Within indigenous circles, Columbus is often viewed as a key agent of genocide.
Samuel Eliot Morison Samuel Eliot Morison (July 9, 1887 – May 15, 1976) was an American historian noted for his works of maritime history and American history that were both authoritative and popular. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1912, and taug ...
, a
Harvard Harvard University is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, British singer Dusty Springfield, after an absence of nearly t ...

Harvard
historian and author of a multivolume biography on Columbus, writes, "The cruel policy initiated by Columbus and pursued by his successors resulted in complete genocide." According to Noble David Cook, "There were too few Spaniards to have killed the millions who were reported to have died in the first century after Old and New World contact." He instead estimates that the death toll was caused by
smallpox Smallpox was an infectious disease An infection is the invasion of an organism's body Tissue (biology), tissues by Pathogen, disease-causing agents, their multiplication, and the reaction of host (biology), host tissues to the infectious ...

smallpox
, which may have only caused a pandemic after the arrival of
Hernán Cortés Hernán Cortés de Monroy y Pizarro Altamirano, 1st Marquess of the Valley of Oaxaca (; ; 1485 – December 2, 1547) was a Spanish ''Conquistador'' who led an expedition that caused the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire, fall of the Aztec ...

Hernán Cortés
in 1519. According to some estimates, smallpox had an 80–90% fatality rate in Native American populations. The natives had no
acquired immunity The adaptive immune system, also referred as the acquired immune system, is a subsystem of the immune system The immune system is a network of biological processes that protects an organism In biology, an organism (from Ancient Greek, G ...
to these new diseases and suffered high fatalities. There is also evidence that they had poor diets and were overworked. Historian Andrés Reséndez of
University of California, Davis The University of California, Davis (UC Davis, UCD, or Davis) is a Public university, public Land-grant university, land-grant research university near Davis, California. Named a Public Ivy, it is the northernmost of the ten campuses of the Uni ...
, says the available evidence suggests "slavery has emerged as major killer" of the indigenous populations of the Caribbean between 1492 and 1550 more so than diseases such as smallpox, influenza and malaria. He says that indigenous populations did not experience a rebound like European populations did following the
Black Death The Black Death (also known as the Pestilence, the Great Mortality or the Plague) was a bubonic plague Bubonic plague is one of three types of plague caused by the plague bacterium Bacteria (; common noun bacteria, singular bact ...

Black Death
because unlike the latter, a large portion of the former were subjected to deadly forced labour in the mines. Historian David Stannard says that their destruction "was neither inadvertent nor inevitable," but the result of microbial pestilence and purposeful genocide working in tandem. The diseases that devastated the Native Americans came in multiple waves at different times, sometimes as much as centuries apart, which would mean that survivors of one disease may have been killed by others, preventing the population from recovering.


Navigational expertise

Biographers and historians have a wide range of opinions over Columbus's expertise and experience navigating and captaining ships. One scholar lists some European works ranging from the 1890s to 1980s that support Columbus's experience and skill as among the best in Genoa, while listing some American works over a similar timeframe that portray the explorer as an untrained entrepreneur, having only minor crew or passenger experience prior to his noted journeys. According to Morison, Columbus's success in utilizing the trade winds might owe significantly to luck.


Physical appearance

Contemporary descriptions of Columbus, including those by his son Fernando and Bartolomé de las Casas, describe him as taller than average, with light skin (which was often sunburnt), blue or hazel eyes, high cheekbones and freckled face, an
aquiline nose An aquiline nose (also called a Roman nose or hook nose) is a human nose with a prominent Nasal bridge, bridge, giving it the appearance of being curved or slightly bent. The word ''aquiline'' comes from the Latin word ''aquilinus'' ("eagle-like" ...
, and blond to reddish hair and beard (until about the age of 30, when it began to whiten). Although an abundance of artwork depicts Christopher Columbus, no authentic contemporary portrait is known. The most iconic image of Columbus is a portrait by
Sebastiano del Piombo Sebastiano del Piombo (; c. 1485 – 21 June 1547) was an Italian painter of the High Renaissance and early Mannerism, Mannerist periods famous as the only major artist of the period to combine the colouring of the Venetian School (art), Venetian ...

Sebastiano del Piombo
, which has been reproduced in many textbooks. It agrees with descriptions of Columbus in that it shows a large man with auburn hair, but the painting dates from 1519 and cannot, therefore, have been painted from life. Furthermore, the inscription identifying the subject as Columbus was probably added later, and the face shown differs from other images."Portrait of a Man, Said to be Christopher Columbus (born about 1446, died 1506)"
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Sometime between 1531 and 1536,
Alejo Fernández' portrait (detail of ''The Virgin of the Navigators''), painted by Alejo Fernández between 1531 and 1536 Image:Alejo fernández anunciación.jpg, 240px, ''Annunciation''. Alejo Fernández (c. 1475 – c. 1545) was a Spain, Spanish Painting, painter ...
painted an altarpiece, ''
The Virgin of the Navigators ''The Virgin of the Navigators'' ( es, La Virgen de los Navegantes) is a painting by Spanish artist Alejo Fernández, created as the central panel of an altarpiece An altarpiece is an artwork such as a painting, sculpture Sculpture is the ...
'', that includes a depiction of Columbus. The painting was commissioned for a chapel in Seville's
Casa de Contratación Image:Cathedral and Archivo de Indias - Seville.jpg, 300px, Although the Casa de Contratación was not located in a specific building, its documents can now be seen in the General_Archive_of_the_Indies, ''Archive of the Indies'' in Seville. The '' ...
(House of Trade) and remains there, as the earliest known painting about the voyages of Columbus. At the World's Columbian Exposition in 1893, 71 alleged portraits of Columbus were displayed; most did not match contemporary descriptions.


See also

* Christopher Columbus in fiction *
Egg of Columbus An egg of Columbus or Columbus' egg ( it, uovo di Colombo ) refers to a brilliant idea or discovery that seems simple or easy after the fact. The expression refers to an apocryphal story, dating from at least the 16th century, in which it is said t ...


Notes


References


Sources

* * * * * * in * Crosby, A.W. (1987) ''The Columbian Voyages: the Columbian Exchange, and their Historians.'' Washington, DC: American Historical Association. * * * * Fuson, Robert H. (1992) ''The Log of Christopher Columbus''. International Marine Publishing * * * * * * *


Further reading

* * * Wey, Gómez Nicolás (2008)
The tropics of empire: Why Columbus sailed south to the Indies
Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. * Wilford, John Noble (1991), ''The Mysterious History of Columbus: An Exploration of the Man, the Myth, the Legacy'', New York: Alfred A. Knopf. *


External links

* * *



* ttp://columbus.vanderkrogt.net/ Columbus Monuments Pages (overview of monuments for Columbus all over the world)
"But for Columbus There Would Be No America", Tiziano Thomas Dossena, ''Bridgepugliausa.it'', 2012
{{DEFAULTSORT:Columbus, Christopher 1451 births 1506 deaths 1490s in Cuba 1490s in the Caribbean 1492 in North America 15th-century apocalypticists 15th-century explorers 15th-century Genoese people 16th-century Genoese people 15th-century Roman Catholics Spanish exploration in the Age of Discovery Burials at Seville Cathedral Colonial governors of Santo Domingo Columbus family, Christopher Explorers of Central America History of Hispaniola History of the Caribbean Italian expatriates in Spain Italian explorers of North America Italian explorers of South America Italian Roman Catholics Explorers from the Republic of Genoa 16th-century diarists