Christopher Columbus was an Italian navigator who sailed west across the Atlantic Ocean in search for the all-water route to Asia, but instead achieved fame for making landfall in the Caribbean Sea. Columbus was born in Genoa, Italy. His father was a weaver, and it is believed that Columbus entered this trade as a young man. In the mid-1470s he made his first trading voyage to the island of Khios, in the Aegean Sea. Settling in Lisbon, where his brother Bartholomew was working as a cartographer, he was married in 1479 to the daughter of the governor of the island of Porto Santo.
In December, the Santa Maria was wrecked off the coast of Espanola.The Nina, with Columbus in command, and the Pinta began the homeward voyage in January 1493. After storms drove the ships first to the Azores and then to Lisbon, Columbus arrived in Palos, Spain, in March. He was enthusiastically received by the Spanish Monarchs.
Columbus planned immediately for a second expedition, with about 1500 men, which left Spain in September 1493. They landed on the island of Dominica, Gaudeloupe. His stop at Puerto Rico is the closest he came to setting foot on land that would later form part of the United States, the main foundation for the claim that Columbus discovered America.
When Columbus returned to Isabella on September 29, he found that serious dissension had developed among the colonists, a number of whom were already on the route to Spain to press their grievances. One of the major problems confronting Columbus was the hostility of the natives, whose initial friendliness had been alienated by the brutality of the Europeans. Columbus defeated the natives in battle in March 1495 and shipped a large number of them to Spain to sell as slaves. Queen Isabella objected, however, and the survivors were returned. A royal investigating commission arrived at Isabella in October 1495. Because this group was consistently critical of his policies, Columbus established a new capital named Santo Domingo, and sailed for Spain leaving Bartholomew in command. He reported directly to Ferdinand and Isabella, who dismissed the critical charges. The sovereigns promised to subsidize a new fleet, but since enthusiasm for the unproductive enterprise had waned, nearly two years elapsed before eight vessels were sent out.
Columbus set sail on his third voyage on May 30,1498. His first landing, made on July 31, was the three-peaked island of Trinidad, named in honor of the Holy Trinity. He then sighted what is now Venezuela. After cruising along the coast he sailed into the Gulf of Paria. At the mouth of the Orinoco River he led a party ashore. In his logbook he wrote that he had found a New World, unknown as yet to Europeans. Columbus set sail again, encountering several additional islands, including Margarita, and then laid a course for Espanola.3
Although Columbus obtained royal support for a fourth voyage to continue his search for a westward passage to Asia, only four worm-eaten caravels were put at his disposal and he was forbidden to stop at Espanola. The expedition sailed from Cadiz in May 1502. The ships were in desperate need of repair by the end of the speedy 21-day crossing. Columbus anchored off Santo Domingo, but he was denied permission to enter the harbor despite an approaching hurricane. The storm annihilated a homeward-bound fleet carrying his enemies, including Bobadilla. Only the ship with Columbus s gold on board arrived safely.
After completing makeshift repairs on his vessels, Columbus sailed the waters off Honduras, and then cruised south along the coast of Central America for nearly six months in search of the elusive westward passage. In January 1503 he landed in Panama and established a settlement there, but mutiny in the crew and trouble with the Natives led to its abandonment. The expedition, reduced to two caravels, sailed for Espanola, but the rotten ships foundered near Jamaica on June 23, 1503. Columbus sent to Espanola for help, meanwhile forcing the natives to provide food for his men. Relief arrived after a lapse of nearly a year. The stranded party embarked on June 28, 1504, for Santo Domingo, and then sailed for Spain, reaching Sanlucar de Barrameda on November 7. Columbus would never sail again.
The final months of his life were marked by illness and vain attempts to secure restitution from King Ferdinand of all his privileges, even though by then Columbus was quite wealthy. He died on May 20, 1506, at Valladlid. His remains were later interred in Seville, then transferred to Santo Domingo, moved to Havana, Cuba, and finally returned to Seville in 1899.Some of the Historians think that the bones that were removed from Santo Domingo were not the bones of Christopher Columbus, so the Historians think his bones are still there. Wherever Columbus rests, modern research has considerably diminished the heroic reputation he gained by the 19th century, although his skills continue to be celebrated.