Columbus by Mike McDougall
Christopher Columbus as born
in 1451 and died in May 1506. He was a famous explorer and trader whose
most significant voyage was crossing the Atlantic Ocean and landing in
the Americas on October 12, 1492.
Although his actual nationality
is a question of debate, this most famous voyage was done sailing under
the flag of Castilian Spain. Columbus is the man most often believed as
to having 'discovered' America, although there is evidence that other explorers
had made the crossing before him. It was after Columbus' crossing that
marked the start of the Spanish and Portuguese colonisation of South America.
many of the educated people of the period, Columbus believed that the earth
was spherical in shape. He argued that he would be able to reach the Far
East plotting a westward course. His main opposition to his notions was
not that others believed the earth to be flat, but that nobody knew if
it was possible to sail around the world without running out of food or
running into windless areas.
Columbus ' early career started
in 1474, nearly 20 years before reaching America. He spent a year on a
Genoese backed ship bound for the island of Khios, in the Aegean Sea and
it was while he was there, he began to recruit sailors of his own.
Two years later, Columbus
embarked on his first foray into the Atlantic Ocean, which, sadly ended
off the Cape of St. Vincent in Portugal, when his fleet came under attack
from French Privateers, who burned his ship and Columbus was forced to
swim six miles back to shore.
After this, he settled in
Lisbon, in Portugal, which had become a hive of maritime activity with
ships setting sail to destinations across Europe and Africa. Columbus worked
for some time with his brother as a draftsman, but soon returned to the
sea, joining a Portuguese fleet bound for Iceland, Ireland and also West
There are two sides to Columbus
- some view him as a man who, through his explorations, encouraged a Western
expansion. Others, however, see him as being responsible for the deaths
of many indigenous people, through the European exploitation of the continent
and the West Indian slave trade.
One of Columbus' conditions
with the Spanish monarchs before his voyages was that he claimed governorship
of the new territories. Columbus was an excellent navigator, but his administrative
skills were poor and he was soon stripped of his governorship in 1500.
Christopher Columbus was
always a very religious man, and he would often give 'the conversion of
non-believers' as one of the reasons for his explorations. In later life
Columbus grew even more religious and took to wearing a Franciscan habit.
He would claim to hear divine voices and even lobbied for a new crusade
to capture Jerusalem.
Christopher Columbus died
in Valladolid on May 20, 1506. He was quite a rich man thanks to all the
gold he had gathered in his earlier years.
After his death, his body
underwent excarnation - where the skin is removed so only bone is left.
He was first interred in Valladolid and was then moved to a monastery in
Seville . At the behest of his son, Columbus' remains were then moved to
Santa Domingo. When the French took over 200 years later, he was moved
to Havana, and then in 1898 after Cuba's independence, they were finally
moved to the cathedral in Seville.