Christopher Columbus Essay also known in Italian as Cristoforo Colombo and in
Spanish as Critobal Colon was born in Genoa, Italy in 1451 and died
sometime in 1506. Considerably one of the greatest and most mentioned
figure in American history. Why? One can simply say because his voyages
mark the beginning of continuous European efforts to explore and colonize
the “Americas”. Although most of Columbus’ life to this day is unknown
historians do know one that is for sure; his voyages were major turning
points in history.
Columbus spent most of his “Early Years” at his father’s trade of weaving
and later became a sailor on the Mediterranean.
During 1476 Columbus had
been shipwrecked near the Portuguese coast. Columbus had then made his way
to Lisbon where his younger brother, Bartholomew, an expert chart maker,
lived. Historians say that Columbus had been inspired by his brother to
become an expert chart maker and mariner in the Portuguese merchant
service. It was in Lisbon where historians believe that Columbus had
married his wife Donna Filipa Perestrello e Moiz in 1479. By the time
Columbus was 31 or 32 he had become a master mariner in the Portuguese
merchant service. With his experience as a mariner Columbus believed that
one could reach Asia faster by sailing west.
With this in mind Columbus
then traveled seeking support for his plan. Columbus for eight had been
denied for support by John II of Portugal and then at the court of Ferdinad
and Isabella of Spain. But finally after eight years the Spanish monarchs,
having conquered Granada, decided to risk the enterprise and lend the
required supplies to Columbus to sail west. It was then where Columbus set
sail for his first expedition in 1492 with three small ships, the Santa
Maria, commanded by Columbus himself, the Pinta commanded by Martin Pinzon,
and the Nina commanded by Vicente Yanez Pinzon.
On October the 12th he landed on a small island, San Salvador, in the
Bahamas group. He took possession of it for Spain.
He then discovered other
islands in the neighborhood. Later on, on October the 27th he sighted Cuba
and on December the 5th he reached Hispaniola. But on Christmas Eve tragedy
struck when the Santa Maria was wrecked on the north coast of Hispaniola.
With this occurring Columbus sailed back to Spain on the Nina to seek help.
Later on in October 1493 Columbus sailed again to mark his second
expedition. Only this time 17 ships accompanied him, with 1,500 colonists
His landfall this time was in the Lesser Antilles. During his
second expedition Columbus’ discoveries included the Leeward Islands,
Puerto Rico, and Jamaica. Like his first expedition this one was cut off
short because his attempts to enforce strict discipline led some to seize
vessels and return to Spain to complain of his administration, therefore
Columbus returned to Spain in 1496 to defend himself against the
accusations of his men.
On his third expedition, in 1498, Columbus was forced to transport convicts
as colonists, because of the bad reports on conditions in Hispaniola and
because of the novelty of the New World was wearing off. He sailed still
farther south and made his landfall on Trinidad. He sailed across the mouth
of the Orinoco River and realized that he saw a continent but without
further exploration he hurried back to Hispaniola to administer his colony.
In 1500 an independent governor arrived, sent by Isabella and Ferdinand as
the result of reports on the wretched conditions in the colony, and he sent
Columbus back to Spain in chains. Columbus was immediately released, but
his favor was on the wane; other navigators, including Amerigo Vespucci had
been in the New World and established much of the coastline of North East
During 1502 Columbus had gathered four ships for a fourth and final
expedition. His plan for his fourth expedition was to sail past the islands
and far enough west hoping to find lands answering to the description of
Asia or Japan. He struck the coast of Honduras in Central America and
coasted southward along an inhospitable shore, suffering terrible
hardships, until he reached the Gulf of Darien. Attempting to return to
Hispaniola, he was stranded on Jamaica.
After his rescue, he was forced to
abandon his hopes and return to Spain, where he then later died in 1506.
Although most of the information about Christopher Columbus and his voyages
are ambiguous and controversial to this day one point of agreement among
all historians is that his voyages were one of the turning points in