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CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS

People List

BORN

GENOA/ITALY

LIVED

1451 - 1506


In 638, Moslems who followed the teachings of Mohammed, defeated the Romans in battle at Yarmock. They went on to take control of Palestine, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Egypt, and North Africa. By 651, they had taken control of all Persia. This upset the Christians and Jews who felt the Holy Land should belong only to them. In 1095, the Pope called the Christians to fight the Muslims, this resulting in a 200 year war referred to as the Crusades.

During the Crusades, Europeans traveled to the Far East lands of India and China, lands they named the Indies. After discovering spices, silks, jewels, and perfumes in the new land, they returned home with tales of these amazing items. Trade at that time was almost nonexistent as travel between Europe and the Indies was extremely dangerous.

After the Italian named Marco Polo traveled through the Indies in the 1200s, he wrote a book about his experiences, this creating more interest in trade with the Indies.

The Mongol Empire, created by Genghis Khan in 1227, saw them eventually take control of land from the borders of Poland to the Sea of Japan, and from the Siberian forests to the Persian Gulf. In a deal between the Europeans and Mongols that lasted until the demise of the Mongol Empire in the 1360s, Europeans were free to travel by land to trade with the Indies.

Sea routes to the Far East had not been discovered at that time as no one had managed to round the southern coast of Africa. There was also no knowledge of what lay west across the ocean as seamen at the time rarely strayed out of sight of land.

Columbus was born in the Italian port city of Genoa in 1451. His father, Domenico Colombo, was a woolens merchant, his mother, Susanna Fontanarossa, was the daughter of a woolens merchant.

Christopher had three younger brothers, Bartolomeo, Giovanni Pellegrino, and Giacomo, also a sister, Bianchinetta.

Christopher Columbus image

Christopher Columbus


The family moved to Savona in 1470. During that period, he studied map making with his brother Bartolomeo. In 1474, Columbus joined his first ship in a voyage to the Aegean Sea. In 1477, Columbus and his brother Bartolomeo moved to Lisbon as Portugal had become a center for maritime activity. As his brother concentrated on work as a map maker in Lisbon, Columbus became a merchant sailor with the Portuguese fleet, sailing to Iceland via Ireland in 1477, to Madeira in 1478, and along the coasts of West Africa between 1482 and 1485.

With the land route from Europe to India and China being blockaded by the Muslims since the end of the Mongol Empire, Portugal began looking for an eastward sea route to the Indies. By the 1480s, Columbus had developed a plan to travel to the Indies by sailing west across the Ocean. Although by that time most people agreed the world was round, many thought a voyage west was too far for ships to travel, as they would not be able to carry enough supplies for the voyage. They believed there was no land between Portugal and the east coast of Asia.

With Columbus unable to get financial backing in Portugal for his expedition, he turned to Spain where the marriage of Ferdinand and Isabella had just unified that country. They had managed to expel the Muslims and Jews from the south of Spain and christianize the remaining population. Ferdinand and Isabella were then looking to build an empire so they could create great wealth for Spain. Columbus convinced them he could deliver both.

Columbus was to be made Admiral of the Ocean Sea and granted governorship to the new territories he would reach, as well as receive a portion of all profits. On the evening of August 3rd 1492, Columbus departed the port of Palos with three ships, the Santa Maria, Nina and Pinta. He first sailed to the Canary Islands where he re provisioned and made repairs. On September 6, he set out on what he had calculated would be a five week voyage across the ocean.

After 29 days out of sight of land, on October 7th 1492, the crew spotted shore birds flying west and changed direction to make their landfall. Land was sighted at 2am October 12th by a sailor aboard Pinta named Rodrigo de Triana. Columbus named the island he reached San Salvador. Columbus had found islands in the Caribbean, islands he thought were on the east coast of Asia. The expedition set sail for home January 4th 1493 arriving in Spain March 15th.

Columbus made another three trips to what he believed was the East Indies. He explored and named islands such as Antigua, Cuba, Dominica, Guadaloupe, Haiti, Hispaniola, Jamaica, Montserrat, Nevis, Redonda , Saba, Saint Kitts, Saint Martin, Sint Eustatius, Trinidad, Virgin Islands and carried out expeditions to parts of South America in search of gold.

Painting of Columbus landings

Painting of Columbus landing


Columbus had regularly to deal with rebellious Spanish settlers and Indians, having some of his crew hanged for disobeying him. After a number of settlers and friars that returned to Spain lobbied against Columbus at the Spanish court, the king and queen had Columbus and his brothers shipped home in shackles. Although Columbus regained his freedom, he lost his governorship.

Another blow for Columbus came in September 1499 when the Portuguese announced Vasco da Gama had returned from a trip to India, having sailed east around Africa, a route Columbus had thought impossible.

On May 20th 1506, Columbus died in Valladolid (original capitol of Spain), still convinced his journeys had been to the East Coast of Asia. Although he hadn't found the Indies, he had allowed Spain to expand their empire an create great wealth in the process.

His remains were first interred in Valladolid, then later moved to the monastery of La Cartja in Seville. By the will of his son Diego, who had been governor of Hispaniola, his remains were again transferred in 1542, that time to Santo Domingo. After the French took over Santo Domingo in 1795, his remains were moved to Havana. After the war of 1898 that saw Cuba become independent, Columbus' remains were moved back to the cathedral of Seville.

A lead coffin with the inscription, Don Christopher Columbus, was discovered at Santo Domingo in 1877, this seeing a debate over whether or not the wrong remains were transferred from Santo Domingo to Havana in 1795.

With the Dominican Government refusing to allow their remains to be tested for DNA, the Spanish began looking at other ways to solve the mystery.

They took DNA from the bones at Seville in 2005 so it could be compared to that of DNA taken from the remains of Columbus' son Hernando and brother Diego.

The results of those tests seem to show the final resting place of Columbus is Seville.

Columbus Monument in Barcelona

Columbus Monument/Barcelona


en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christopher_Columbus People List