Friday, September 26, 2014
Discovery of the New World
One of the most well known explorers in the world, Christopher Columbus was born in Genoa, Italy in 1451. Columbus grew up helping his father at his cheese stand. In 1470 the family moved to Savona and later that same year he became a seaman in the Portuguese merchant marine. In 1492 Columbus was sponsored by King Ferdinand II and Queen Isabella I of Spain to try to reach Asia by a westward route. He departed from Palos, Spain on August 3, 1492 with three ships, The Santa Maria, The Nina and The Pinta. He made his way to the Castile owned Canary Islands, where he restocked his ships and continued for five weeks across the Atlantic Ocean. They sighted land at 2am on October 12, 1492. When they reached the island Columbus named it San Salvador (they were in the Bahamas although it is not known exactly which island it was). He explored Cuba and Hispaniola (Haiti and the Dominican Republic) where he founded the settlement of La Navidad. During his expedition he encountered Lucayan, Taino and Arawak Indians. When he returned to Spain, he kidnapped 10-25 Indians to bring with him (only seven or eight survived). He arrived in Palos on March 15, 1493 and was named Admiral of the Ocean Sea and Governor General of all the lands he had discovered and would discover in the future. Columbus would make another three journeys to the New World, filling in more and more of what we now call the Caribbean.
The land that Columbus discovered was so foreign to the Western world at the time that no one could have possibly guided him to it. However, Columbus wasn’t looking for America, he was looking for Asia. He would have used The Travels of Marco Polo, Pierre d’Ailly’s Imago Mundi, and Ptolemy’s estimation of the circumference of the earth as guides.