Voyages of Christopher Columbus

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Voyages of Christopher Columbus
Part of the Age of Discovery
Viajes de colon en.svg
The four voyages of Columbus (conjectural)[a]
Date1492, 1493, 1498, 1502
LocationThe Americas
ParticipantsChristopher Columbus and Castilian crew (among others)
OutcomeEuropean rediscovery and colonization of the Americas

In 1492, a Spanish-based transatlantic maritime expedition led by Italian explorer Christopher Columbus encountered the Americas, continents which were virtually unknown to and outside of the Old World political and economic system. The four voyages of Columbus led to the widespread knowledge that a continent existed west of Europe and east of Asia. This breakthrough in geographical knowledge inaugurated a period of exploration, conquest, colonization, biological exchange, and trans-Atlantic trade, the effects and consequences of which persist to the present, and are sometimes cited as the beginning of the modern era.[1]

Columbus was an Italian-born navigator sailing for the Crown of Castile (Spain) in search of a westward route to the Indies, the vaguely rumored East Asian sources of spices and other precious oriental goods obtainable only through arduous overland routes. Although he did not realize it, this search failed when he encountered the New World between Europe and Asia. Columbus made a total of four voyages to the Americas between 1492 and 1502.

At the time of Columbus' voyages, the Americas were inhabited by Indigenous Americans, descendants of Paleo-Indians who crossed Beringia from Asia to settle in North America beginning around 20,000 years ago.[2] Soon after first contact, Eurasian diseases such as smallpox began to devastate the indigenous populations, which had no immunity to them. The intercontinental epidemiological transfer was accompanied by transoceanic transfers of crops, livestock, pests, and wildlife.

In 1513, the search for a westward route to Asia continued when Vasco Nuñez de Balboa crossed the narrow Isthmus of Panama to become the first European to sight the Pacific Ocean from the shores of the New World. The search was completed in 1521, when the Castilian (Spanish) Magellan expedition sailed across the Pacific and reached Southeast Asia, returning to Europe after sailing further West and achieving the first circumnavigation of the world.


The Virgin of the Navigators by Alejo Fernández, dating to between 1531 and 1536, depicts Columbus and others of importance in the first years of Spanish exploration.[3]

Portugal was the main European power interested in pursuing trade routes overseas, with the neighboring country of Castile (predecessor of Spain) having been somewhat slower to begin exploring the Atlantic because of the land area it had to reconquer from the Moors (the Reconquista). This remained unchanged until the late 15th century, following the dynastic union by marriage of Queen Isabella I of Castile and King Ferdinand II of Aragon (together known as the Catholic Monarchs of Spain) in 1469, and the completion of the Reconquista in 1492, when the joint rulers conquered the Moorish kingdom of Granada, which had been providing Castile with African goods through tribute. Columbus had previously failed to convince multiple monarchs, including King John II of Portugal and the Catholic Monarchs of Spain, to fund his exploration of a western route to Asia. The sovereigns of the reconquered Spain decided to fund Columbus's expedition in hopes of finding new trade routes and colonies overseas, thereby circumventing Portugal's lock on Africa and the Indian Ocean.[4]

Funding campaign

He proposed the king equip three sturdy ships and grant Columbus one year's time to sail out west into the Atlantic, search for a western route to India, and return. Columbus also requested he be made "Great Admiral of the Ocean Sea" (the Atlantic Ocean), appointed governor of any and all lands he discovered, and be given one-tenth of all revenue from those lands. The king submitted the proposal to his experts, who rejected it after several years. It was their considered opinion that Columbus's estimation of a travel distance of 2,400 miles (3,900 km) was far too short.[5]

In 1488 Columbus appealed to the court of Portugal, receiving a new invitation for an audience with King John II. This also proved unsuccessful, in part because not long afterwards Bartolomeu Dias returned to Portugal following a successful rounding of the southern tip of Africa. With an eastern sea route now under its control, Portugal was no longer interested in trailblazing a western trade route to Asia crossing unknown seas.[6] Columbus traveled to Castile to convince the Catholic Monarchs of Spain to finance the expedition.

Spanish procurement

In 1486, Columbus was granted an audience with the Catholic Monarchs, and he presented his plans to Isabella. She referred these to a committee, which determined that Columbus had grossly underestimated the distance to Asia. Pronouncing the idea impractical, they advised the monarchs not to support the proposed venture. To keep Columbus from taking his ideas elsewhere, and perhaps to keep their options open, the Catholic monarchs gave him an allowance, totaling about 14,000 maravedís for the year, or about the annual salary of a sailor.[7] In May 1489, the queen sent him another 10,000 maravedis, and the same year the monarchs furnished him with a letter ordering all cities and towns under their domain to provide him food and lodging at no cost.[8]

Columbus and Queen Isabella. Detail of the Columbus monument in Madrid (1885).

After continually lobbying to multiple kingdoms, Columbus was summoned to the Spanish court for renewed discussions.[9] Queen Isabella's forces had just conquered the Moorish Emirate of Granada for Castile. Columbus waited at King Ferdinand's camp until January 1492, when Ferdinand and Isabella conquered Granada, the last Muslim stronghold on the Iberian Peninsula. A council led by Isabella's confessor, Hernando de Talavera, found Columbus's proposal to reach the Indies implausible. Columbus had left for France when Ferdinand intervened,[b] first sending Talavera and Bishop Diego Deza to appeal to the queen.[10] Isabella was finally convinced by the king's clerk Luis de Santángel, who argued that Columbus would bring his ideas elsewhere, and offered to help arrange the funding.[c] Isabella then sent a royal guard to fetch Columbus, who had travelled several kilometers toward Córdoba.[10]

In the April 1492 "Capitulations of Santa Fe", Columbus was promised he would be given the title "Admiral of the Ocean Sea" and appointed viceroy and governor of the newly claimed and colonised for the Crown; he would also receive ten percent of all the revenues from the new lands in perpetuity if he was successful.[12] He had the right to nominate three people, from whom the sovereigns would choose one, for any office in the new lands. The terms were unusually generous but, as his son later wrote, the monarchs were not confident of his return.

Navigation plans

Europe had long enjoyed a safe land passage to China and India—sources of valued goods such as silk, spices, and opiates—under the hegemony of the Mongol Empire (the Pax Mongolica, or Mongol peace). With the Fall of Constantinople to the Turkish Ottoman Empire in 1453, the land route to Asia became more difficult. In response to this Cristopher and his brother Bartholomew had, by the 1480s, developed a plan to travel to the Indies, then construed roughly as all of southern and eastern Asia, by sailing directly west across what was believed to be the singular "Ocean Sea," the Atlantic Ocean.

A popular misconception that Columbus had difficulty obtaining support for his plan because Europeans thought the Earth was flat can be traced back to a 17th-century campaign of Protestants against Catholicism,[13] and was popularized in works such as Washington Irving's 1828 biography of Columbus.[14] In fact, the knowledge that the Earth is spherical was widespread, having been the general opinion of Ancient Greek science, and gaining support throughout the Middle Ages (for example, Bede mentions it in The Reckoning of Time). The primitive maritime navigation of Columbus's time relied on both the stars and the curvature of the Earth.[15]

Diameter of Earth and travel distance estimates

Columbus's geographical conceptions

Eratosthenes had measured the diameter of the Earth with good precision in the 2nd century BC,[16] and the means of calculating its diameter using an astrolabe was known to both scholars and navigators.[15] Where Columbus differed from the generally accepted view of his time was in his incorrect assumption of a significantly smaller diameter for the Earth, claiming that Asia could be easily reached by sailing west across the Atlantic. Most scholars accepted Ptolemy's correct assessment that the terrestrial landmass (for Europeans of the time, comprising Eurasia and Africa) occupied 180 degrees of the terrestrial sphere, and dismissed Columbus's claim that the Earth was much smaller, and that Asia was only a few thousand nautical miles to the west of Europe. Columbus's error was attributed to his insufficient experience in navigation at sea.[5]

The "Columbus map" was drawn circa 1490 in the workshop of Bartolomeo and Christopher Columbus in Lisbon.[17]
Handwritten notes by Christopher Columbus on the Latin edition of Marco Polo's Le livre des merveilles

Columbus believed the incorrect calculations of Marinus of Tyre,[18] putting the landmass at 225 degrees, leaving only 135 degrees of water.[19] Moreover, Columbus believed that one degree represented a shorter distance on the Earth's surface than was actually the case – he read maps as if the distances were calculated in Italian miles (about 1,480 meters). Accepting the length of a degree to be 56⅔ miles, from the writings of Alfraganus, he therefore calculated the circumference of the Earth as 25,255 km (13,637 nautical miles; 15,693 miles) at most, and the distance from the Canary Islands to Japan as 3,000 Italian miles (3,700 km [2,000 nautical miles; 2,300 miles]). Columbus did not realize Alfraganus used the much longer Arabic mile (about 1,830 m).[18]

The true circumference of the Earth is about 40,000 km (22,000 nautical miles; 25,000 miles), a figure first established approximately by Eratosthenes in the 2nd century BC,[16] and the distance from the Canary Islands to Japan 19,600 km (10,600 nautical miles; 12,200 miles). No ship that was readily available in the 15th century could carry enough food and fresh water for such a journey. Most European sailors and navigators concluded, probably correctly, that sailors undertaking a westward voyage from Europe to Asia non-stop would die of thirst, scurvy or starvation long before reaching their destination. Spain, however, having just completed the expensive Reconquista, was desperate for a competitive edge over other European countries in trade with the East Indies. Columbus promised such an advantage.

Europeans generally assumed that the aquatic expanse between Europe and Asia was uninterrupted. While hints of North America, as Vinland, were already surfacing in Europe,[d] historians agree that Columbus calculated too short a distance from the Canary Islands to Japan by the standards of his peers.[citation needed]

Trade winds

There was a further element of key importance in the plans of Columbus, a closely held fact discovered by or otherwise learned by Columbus: the trade winds. A brisk westward wind from the east, commonly called an "easterly", propelled the ships of the first voyage for five weeks from the Canary Islands off Africa. To return to Spain eastward against this prevailing wind would have required several months of an arduous sailing technique upwind, called beating, during which food and drinkable water would have been utterly exhausted. Columbus returned home by following prevailing winds northeastward from the southern zone of the North Atlantic to the middle latitudes of the North Atlantic, where prevailing winds are eastward (westerly) to the coastlines of Western Europe, where the winds curve southward towards the Iberian Peninsula. So he used the North Atlantic's great circular wind pattern, clockwise in direction, in both legs of his voyage.[21][22]

Voyages and related events

First voyage (1492–1493)

On the evenings of August 3, 1492, Columbus departed from Spain from Carolina Palos de la Frontera (on the Rio Saltes, at the confluence of the rivers Rio Tinto and Rio Odiel).[23] Columbus and his crew embarked on a voyage to find a shorter route to India and the Orient with three medium-sized ships, the largest of which was a carrack (Spanish: nao), Juan de la Cosa's Santa María, always referred to by Columbus as La Capitana ('The Captain'). The other two were smaller caravels; the name of one is lost, but is known by the Castilian nickname Pinta ('painted one'). The Santa Clara was nicknamed the Niña ('little one'), in reference to her owner, Juan Niño of Moguer.[24] The Pinta and the Niña were piloted by the Pinzón brothers (Martín Alonso and Vicente Yáñez).[25] The monarchs forced the inhabitants of Palos de la Frontera to contribute to the expedition.

Christopher Columbus depicted on his ship by Carl von Piloty

Three days into the journey, on August 6, 1492, the rudder of the Pinta broke.[26] The owners of the ship, Martín Alonso and Vicente Yáñez Pinzón, were suspected of sabotage, as they and their ship had been pressed into service against their will.[27] The crew was able to secure the rudder with ropes until they could reach the Canary Islands, where they arrived on August 9.[28] Here the Pinta was repaired and the Niña's lateen sails were re-rigged to standard square sails. While securing provisions from the island of La Gomera, Columbus received word that three Portuguese caravels had been seen hovering near the island of El Hierro with the supposed intention of capturing him.[29] However, on September 6, 1492 the westward voyage began without incident.[30] The ships departed San Sebastián de La Gomera for what turned out to be a six-week-long voyage across the Atlantic.

As described in the abstract of his journal made by Bartolomé de las Casas, on the outward bound voyage Columbus recorded two sets of distances. Las Casas originally interpreted that he reported the shorter distances to his crew so they would not worry about sailing too far from Spain. However, according to Oliver Dunn and James Kelley,[31][32] this was a misunderstanding by Las Casas. Columbus did report two distances each day but one was in measurements he normally used, the other in the Portuguese maritime leagues used by his crew.

On September 13, 1492, Columbus observed that the needle of his compass no longer pointed to the North Star. It was once believed that Columbus had discovered magnetic declination, but it was later shown that the phenomenon was already known, both in Europe and in China.[33][e]

Rediscovery of the Americas

First voyage (conjectural).[a] Modern place names in black, Columbus's place names in blue

After twenty-nine days out of sight of land, on October 7, 1492, the crew spotted "[i]mmense flocks of birds", some of which his sailors trapped and determined to be "field" birds (probably Eskimo curlews and American golden plovers). Columbus changed course to follow their flight.[37]

On 11 October, Columbus changed the fleet's course to due west, and sailed through the night, believing land was soon to be found. At around 10:00 in the evening, Columbus thought he saw a light "like a little wax candle rising and falling".[38][f] Four hours later, land was sighted by a sailor named Rodrigo de Triana (also known as Juan Rodríguez Bermejo) aboard La Pinta.[39][g] Triana immediately alerted the rest of the crew with a shout, and the ship's captain, Martín Alonso Pinzón, verified the land sighting and alerted Columbus by firing a lombard.[40][h] Columbus would later assert that he had first seen land, thus earning the promised annual reward of 10,000 maravedís.[41][42]

Columbus called this island San Salvador, in the present-day Bahamas or Turks and Caicos; the indigenous residents had named it Guanahani.[43] According to Samuel Eliot Morison, San Salvador Island[i] is the only island fitting the position indicated by Columbus's journal.[36][j] Columbus wrote of the natives he first encountered in his journal entry of October 12, 1492:

Many of the men I have seen have scars on their bodies, and when I made signs to them to find out how this happened, they indicated that people from other nearby islands come to San Salvador to capture them; they defend themselves the best they can. I believe that people from the mainland come here to take them as slaves. They ought to make good and skilled servants, for they repeat very quickly whatever we say to them. I think they can very easily be made Christians, for they seem to have no religion. If it pleases our Lord, I will take six of them to Your Highnesses when I depart, in order that they may learn our language.[45]

A depiction of Columbus claiming possession of the New World in caravels, the Niña and the Pinta

Columbus called the indigenous Americans indios (Spanish for "Indians")[46][47][48] in the delusion that he had reached the East Indies; the islands of the Caribbean are termed the West Indies after this error. Columbus initially encountered the Lucayan, Taíno, and Arawak peoples.[k] Noting their gold ear ornaments, Columbus took some of the Arawaks prisoner and insisted that they guide him to the source of the gold.[50] Columbus noted that their primitive weapons and military tactics made the natives susceptible to easy conquest.[l]

Columbus proceeded to observe the people and their cultural lifestyle. He also explored the northeast coast of Cuba, landing on October 28, 1492, and the north-western coast of Hispaniola, present day Haiti, by December 5, 1492. Here, the Santa Maria ran aground on Christmas Day, December 25, 1492, and had to be abandoned. Columbus was received by the native cacique Guacanagari, who gave him permission to leave some of his men behind. Columbus left 39 men, including the interpreter Luis de Torres,[51][m] and founded the settlement of La Navidad.[52] He kept sailing along the northern coast of Hispaniola with a single ship, until he encountered Pinzón and the Pinta on 6 January.

On January 13, 1493, Columbus made his last stop of this voyage in the New World, in the Bay of Rincón at the eastern end of the Samaná Peninsula in northeast Hispaniola.[53] There he encountered the warlike Ciguayos, the only natives who offered violent resistance during his first voyage to the Americas.[54] The Ciguayos refused to trade the amount of bows and arrows that Columbus desired; in the ensuing clash one Ciguayo was stabbed in the buttocks and another wounded with an arrow in his chest.[55] Because of this and because of the Ciguayos' use of arrows, he called the inlet where he met them the Bay of Arrows (or Gulf of Arrows).[56] On January 16, 1493, the homeward journey was begun.[57]

Four natives who boarded the Niña at Samaná Peninsula told Columbus of what was interpreted as the Isla de Carib (probably Puerto Rico), which was supposed to be populated by cannibal Caribs, as well as Matinino, an island populated only by women, which Columbus associated with an island in the Indian Ocean that Marco Polo had described.[58]

First return

While returning to Spain, the Niña and Pinta encountered the roughest storm of their journey, and, on the night of February 13, lost contact with each other. All hands on the Niña vowed, if they were spared, to make a pilgrimage to the nearest church of Our Lady wherever they first made land. On the morning of February 15, land was spotted. Columbus believed they were approaching the Azore Islands, but other members of the crew felt that they were considerably north of the islands. Columbus turned out to be right. On the night of February 17, the Niña laid anchor at Santa Maria Island, but the cable broke on sharp rocks, forcing Columbus to stay offshore until the morning, when a safer location was found to drop anchor nearby. A few sailors took a boat to the island, where they were told by several islanders of a still safer place to land, so the Niña moved once again. At this spot, Columbus took on board several islanders who had gathered onshore with food, and told them that his crew wished to come ashore to fulfill their vow. The islanders told him that a small shrine dedicated to Our Lady was nearby.[59]

Columbus sent half of the crew members to the island to fulfill their vow, but he and the rest of the crew stayed on the Niña, planning to send the other half to the island upon the return of the first crew members. While the first crew members were saying their prayers at the shrine, they were taken prisoner by the islanders, under orders from the island's captain, João de Castanheira, ostensibly out of fear that the men were pirates. The boat that the crew members had taken to the island was then commandeered by Castanheira, which he took with several armed men to the Niña, in an attempt to arrest Columbus. During a verbal battle across the bows of both craft, during which Columbus did not grant permission for him to come aboard, Castanheira announced that he did not believe or care who Columbus said that he was, especially if he was indeed from Spain. Castanheira returned to the island. However, after another two days, Castanheira released the prisoners, having been unable to get confessions from them, and having been unable to capture his real target, Columbus. There are later claims that Columbus was also captured, but this is not backed up by Columbus's log book.[59]

Leaving the island of Santa Maria in the Azores on February 23, Columbus headed for Castilian Spain, but another storm forced him into Lisbon. He anchored next to the king's harbor patrol ship on March 4, 1493, where he was told a fleet of 100 caravels had been lost in the storm. Astoundingly, both the Niña and the Pinta had been spared. Not finding King John II of Portugal in Lisbon, Columbus wrote a letter to him and waited for the king's reply. After receiving the letter, the king agreed to meet with Columbus in Vale do Paraíso despite poor relations between Portugal and Castile at the time. Upon learning of Columbus's discoveries, the Portuguese king informed him that he believed the voyage to be in violation of the 1479 Treaty of Alcáçovas. After spending more than a week in Portugal, Columbus set sail for Spain. Word of his finding new lands rapidly spread throughout Europe. After the voyage, Columbus met with Spanish monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella in Barcelona on March 15, 1493, to report his findings.[n]

Columbus and his remaining crew came home to a hero's welcome when they returned to Spain. He showed off what he had brought back from his voyage to the monarchs, including a few small samples of gold, pearls, gold jewelry stolen from natives, a few natives he had kidnapped, flowers, and a hammock. He gave the monarchs a few of the gold nuggets, gold jewelry, and pearls, as well as the previously unknown tobacco plant, the pineapple fruit, the turkey, and the hammock. The monarchs invited Columbus to dine with them. A taster even tasted the food from each of his dishes before he ate to "make sure it was not poisoned". He was given his own footmen to open doors for him and to serve him at the table. Columbus was even rewarded with his own coat of arms. He did not bring any of the coveted East Indies spices, such as the exceedingly expensive black pepper, ginger or cloves. In his log, he wrote "there is also plenty of 'ají', which is their pepper, which is more valuable than black pepper, and all the people eat nothing else, it being very wholesome".[60] The word "ají" is still used in South American Spanish for chili peppers.

Columbus's letter on the first voyage to the royal court in Madrid was extravagant. He insisted he had reached Asia (it was Cuba) and an island off the coast of China (Hispaniola). His descriptions were part fact, part fiction: "Hispaniola is a miracle. Mountains and hills, plains and pastures, are both fertile and beautiful ... the harbors are unbelievably good and there are many wide rivers of which the majority contain gold. ... There are many spices, and great mines of gold and other metals..."[61]

After Columbus's return, Pope Alexander VI issued four bulls (the first three of which are collectively known as the Bulls of Donation), to determine how Spain and Portugal would colonize and divide the spoils of the New World. Inter caetera, issued May 4, 1493, divided the world outside Europe between Spain and Portugal along a north–south meridian 100 leagues west of either the Azores or Cape Verde Islands in the mid-Atlantic, thus granting Spain all the land discovered by Columbus.[62] The 1494 Treaty of Tordesillas, ratified the next decade by Pope Julius II, moved the dividing line 370 leagues of the aforementioned islands.[63]

Second voyage (1493–1496)

Columbus's second voyage

Before he left Spain on his second voyage, Columbus was directed by Ferdinand and Isabella to maintain friendly, even loving, relations with the natives.[citation needed] He set sail from Cádiz, Spain, on September 25, 1493.[64]

The fleet for the second voyage was much larger: two naos and 15 caravels. The two naos were the flagship Marigalante ("Gallant Mary")[o] and the Gallega; the caravels were the Fraila ("The Nun"), San Juan, Colina ("The Hill"),[p] Gallarda ("The Gallant"),[q] Gutierre,[r] Bonial,[s] Rodriga,[t] Triana,[u] Vieja ("The Old"), Prieta ("The Brown"),[v] Gorda ("The Fat"), Cardera,[w] and Quintera.[65] The Niña returned for this expedition, which also included a ship named Pinta probably identical to that from the first expedition. In addition, the expedition saw the construction of the first ship in the Americas, the Santa Cruz or India.[66]

Caribbean exploration

On November 3, 1493, Christopher Columbus landed on a rugged shore on an island that he named Dominica. On the same day, he landed at Marie-Galante, which he named Santa María la Galante. After sailing past Les Saintes (Todos los Santos), he arrived at Guadeloupe (Santa María de Guadalupe), which he explored between November 4 and November 10, 1493. The exact course of his voyage through the Lesser Antilles is debated, but it seems likely that he turned north, sighting and naming many islands including Santa María de Montserrat (Montserrat), Santa María la Antigua (Antigua), Santa María la Redonda (Saint Martin), and Santa Cruz (Saint Croix). He also sighted and named the island chain of the Santa Úrsula y las Once Mil Vírgenes (the Virgin Islands), and named the islands of Virgen Gorda.

On Santa Cruz, the Europeans saw a canoe with a few Carib men and two women. They had two male captives, and had recently castrated them. The Europeans pursued them, and were met with arrows, fatally wounding at least one man. The Europeans either killed or captured all of the canoe's inhabitants, putting one to death by beheading.[x] Columbus's childhood friend Michele da Cuneo, who had participated in the skirmish, wrote that Columbus gave him one of the women, and Cuneo subsequently beat and raped her.[67][y]

The fleet continued to the Greater Antilles, and landed on the island of San Juan Bautista, present day Puerto Rico, on November 19, 1493. Diego Álvarez Chanca recounts that on this island, the Europeans rescued some women that the local Caribs had been keeping as concubines. The women were kept prisoner, and the male captives eaten. The male offspring of the captured women were castrated and served the Caribs until they were old enough to be eaten. The Europeans rescued three of these castrated boys.[69]

Hispaniola and Jamaica

On November 22, he returned to Hispaniola, where he found his men at La Navidad had fallen into dispute with natives in the interior and had been killed, but he did not accuse Chief Guacanagari, his ally, of any wrongdoing. Another Chief, named Caonabo in Maguana, was charged. Columbus established a new settlement at La Isabela, on the north coast of Hispaniola, where gold had first been found, but it was a poor location and the settlement was short-lived. He spent some time exploring the interior of the island for gold. Finding some, he established a small fort in the interior.

He left Hispaniola on April 24, 1494, and arrived at the island of Juana (Cuba) (which he had discovered and named during his first voyage) on April 30 and Discovery Bay, Jamaica on May 5. He explored the south coast of Juana, which he believed to be a peninsula of China rather than an island, and several nearby islands including La Evangelista (the Isle of Youth), before returning to Hispaniola on August 20. After staying for a time on the western end of present-day Haiti he finally returned to Spain.

Slavery, settlers, and tribute

Columbus had planned for Queen Isabella to set up trading posts with the cities of the Far East made famous by Marco Polo, but whose Silk Road and eastern maritime routes had been blockaded to her crown's trade. However, Columbus would never find Cathay (China) or Zipangu (Japan), and there was no longer any Great Khan for trade treaties.

Slavery was practiced widely at that time amongst many peoples of the world, including some Native Americans. Columbus sent a letter to the monarchs proposing to enslave some of the Americas' people,[l] specifically from the Carib tribe, on the grounds of their independence-minded aggressiveness and their status as enemies of the Taíno tribe. Although his petition was refused by the Crown, in February 1495, Columbus disobeyed the Queen and took 1,600 people from the Arawak tribe who were then taken by the Carib as captives and slaves. No room was available for about 400 of the kidnapped Arawak leading to their release.[70] For the Portuguese—from whom Columbus received most of his maritime training—the profits from enslaving people had resulted in the first "financial return" on a 75-year investment in Africa.

Columbus enslaved 560 people in February 1495.[71] The slaves were shipped to Spain; 200 died during the route back to Spain, and half of the remainder were ill when they arrived. After legal proceedings in the Spanish courts, some survivors were ordered released and to be returned to their homeland, whereas others were used by Queen Isabella as galley slaves. Columbus, desperate to repay his investors, failed to realize that Isabella and Ferdinand did not plan to follow or allow Portuguese slavery policy[which?] in this respect.

Columbus was eager to pay back dividends to those who had invested in his promise to fill his ships with gold. And since so many of the slaves died in captivity, he developed a plan while in the Province of Cibao on Hispaniola. Columbus imposed a tribute system, similar to that of the still-unknown Aztec Empire tribute on the mainland. All Cibaoan indigenous residents above 14 years of age were required to find and deliver a specific quota of gold every three months. Upon their doing so, they would receive copper tokens that they wore around their necks. Any Indian found without a copper token had their hands cut off and subsequently bled to death.[61] Since there were no gold mines on the island, the Indians had no chance of meeting Columbus' quota and thousands are reported to have committed suicide.[72]

Despite or because of such extreme enforcement, Columbus did not obtain much gold, and many new foreign "settlers" were unhappy with the climate and disillusioned about their chances of getting rich quickly. A classic gold rush had been set off that would have tragic consequences for the Caribbean's indigenous people and cultures. Anthropologists have shown there was more intermarriage and assimilation than previously believed. Columbus allowed settlers to return to their homeland with any Indian women with whom they had started families, or to Queen Isabella's fury, had kidnapped and owned as slaves.

Third voyage (1498–1500)

Third voyage
Location of Sanlúcar de Barrameda, the starting point for Columbus's third journey.

According to the abstract of Columbus's journal made by Bartolomé de Las Casas, the objective of the third voyage was to verify the existence of a continent that King John II of Portugal suggested was located to the southwest of the Cape Verde Islands. King John reportedly knew of the existence of such a mainland because "canoes had been found which set out from the coast of Guinea [West Africa] and sailed to the west with merchandise."[73][74]

On 30 May 1498, Columbus left with six ships from Sanlúcar, Spain, for his third trip to the New World. Three of the ships headed directly for Hispaniola with much-needed supplies, while Columbus took the other three in an exploration of what might lie to the south of the Caribbean islands he had already visited, including a hoped-for passage to continental Asia.[75] Columbus led his fleet to the Portuguese island of Porto Santo, his wife's native land. He then sailed to Madeira and spent some time there with the Portuguese captain João Gonçalves da Camara, before sailing to the Canary Islands and Cape Verde.

On July 13, Columbus's fleet entered the doldrums of the mid-Atlantic, where they were becalmed for several days, the heat doing damage to their ships, food, and water supply.[76] An easterly wind finally propelled them westwards, which was maintained until July 22, when birds flying from southwest to northeast were sighted, and the fleet turned north in the direction of Dominica.[77] The men sighted the land of Trinidad on 31 July, approaching from the southeast.[78] The fleet sailed along the southern coast and entered Dragon's Mouth, anchoring near Soldado Rock (west of Icacos Point, Trinidad's southwesternmost point) where they made contact with a group of Amerindians in canoes.[79][z] On 1 August, Columbus and his men arrived at a landmass near the mouth of South America's Orinoco river, in the region of modern day Venezuela. Columbus recognized from the topography that it must be the continent's mainland, but still believed it to be Asia—and perhaps an Earthly Paradise.[80] On 2 August, they landed at Icacos Point (which Columbus named Punta de Arenal), narrowly avoiding a violent encounter with the natives.[81] Early on 4 August, a tsunami nearly capsized Columbus's ship.[82] The men sailed across the Gulf of Paria, and on 5 August, landed on the mainland of South America at the Paria Peninsula.[83] Columbus, suffering from a monthlong bout of insomnia and impaired vision from his bloodshot eyes, authorized the other fleet captains to go ashore first: one planted a cross, and the other recorded that Columbus subsequently landed to formally take the province for Spain. They sailed further west, where the sight of pearls compelled Columbus to send men to obtain some, if not gold. The natives provided nourishment including a maize wine, new to Columbus. Compelled to reach Hispaniola before the food aboard his ship spoiled, Columbus was disappointed to discover that they had sailed into a gulf, and while they had obtained fresh water, they had to go back east to reach open waters again.[84]

At sea, Columbus observed that the North Star is not fixed, then, making observations with a quadrant, "regularly saw the plumb line fall to the same point," instead of moving respectively to his ship. He divined that he had discovered the entrance to Heaven, from which Earth's waters extend, the planet forming a pear shape with the insurmountable "stalk" portion of the pear pointing towards Heaven.[85][aa] He then sailed to the islands of Chacachacare and Margarita (reaching the latter on 14 August),[87] and sighted Tobago (which he named "Bella Forma") and Grenada (which he named "Concepción").[88]

In poor health, Columbus returned to Hispaniola on 19 August, only to find that many of the Spanish settlers of the new colony were in rebellion against his rule, claiming that Columbus had misled them about the supposedly bountiful riches of the New World. A number of returning settlers and sailors lobbied against Columbus at the Spanish court, accusing him and his brothers of gross mismanagement. Columbus had some of his crew hanged for disobedience. He had an economic interest in the enslavement of the Hispaniola natives and for that reason was not eager to baptize them, which attracted criticism from some churchmen.[89] An entry in his journal from September 1498 reads: "From here one might send, in the name of the Holy Trinity, as many slaves as could be sold ..."[90]

Columbus was eventually forced to make peace with the rebellious colonists on humiliating terms.[91] In 1500, the Crown had him removed as governor, arrested, and transported in chains to Spain. He was eventually freed and allowed to return to the New World, but not as governor.[92] As an added insult, the Portuguese had won the race to the East Indies: Vasco da Gama returned in September 1499 from a trip to India, having sailed east around Africa.

Governorship issues

Colonist rebellions

After his second journey, Columbus had requested that 330 people be sent to stay permanently (though voluntarily) on Hispaniola, all on the King's pay. Specifically, he asked for 100 men to work as wood men soldiers and laborers, 50 farmers, 40 squires, 30 sailors, 30 cabin boys, 20 goldsmiths, 10 gardeners, 20 handymen, and 30 women. In addition to this, plans were made to maintain friars and clergymen, a physician, a pharmacist, an herbalist, and musicians for entertaining the colonists. Fearing that the King was going to restrict money allotted for wages, Columbus suggested that Spanish criminals be pardoned in exchange for a few years unpaid service in Hispaniola, and the King agreed to this. A pardon for the death penalty would require two years of service, and one year of service was required for lesser crimes. They also instructed that those who had been sentenced to exile would also be redirected to be exiled in Hispaniola.[93]

These new colonists were sent directly to Hispaniola in three ships with supplies, while Columbus was taking an alternate route with the other three ships to explore. As these new Colonists arrived on Hispaniola, a rebellion was brewing under Francisco Roldán (a man Columbus had left as chief mayor, under his brothers Diego and Bartolomew). By the time Columbus arrived on Hispaniola, Roldán held the territory of Xaraguá, and some of the new colonists had joined his rebellion. Over months, Columbus tried negotiating with the rebels. At some point in these negotiations Columbus ordered Adrián de Mújica, Roldán's partner in rebellion, to be hanged. Eventually, though, he capitulated to much of the Roldán's demands. Several other revolts broke out after that, but Roldán, now restored as mayor, took part in putting them down, and tried and hanged one of the ringleaders, Adrián de Mújica.[94]

During Columbus's term as viceroy and governor of the Indies, he had been accused of governing tyrannically, called "the tyrant of the Caribbean". Columbus was physically and mentally exhausted; his body was wracked by arthritis and his eyes by ophthalmia. In October 1499, he sent two ships to Spain, asking the Court of Castile to appoint a royal commissioner to help him govern. On February 3, 1500, he returned to Santo Domingo with plans to sail back to Spain to defend himself from the accounts of the rebels.[95]

Bobadilla's inquiry

The sovereigns gave Francisco de Bobadilla, a member of the Order of Calatrava, complete control as governor in the New World. Bobadilla arrived in Santo Domingo in August 1500, where Diego was overseeing the execution of rebels, while Columbus was suppressing a revolt at Grenada.[96][ab] Bobadilla immediately received many serious complaints about all three Columbus brothers, including that "seven Spanish men had been hanged that week," with another five awaiting execution.[97][ac] Bobadilla had orders to find out "which persons were the ones who rose up against the admiral and our justice and for what cause and reason, and what ... damage they have done," then "detain those whom you find guilty ... and confiscate their goods."[99] His command regarding Columbus dictated that the admiral must relinquish all control of the New World, keeping only his personal wealth.[99]

Bobadilla used force to prevent the execution of several prisoners, and subsequently took charge of the admiral's possessions, including papers which Columbus would have used to defend himself in Spain.[100] Bobadilla suspended the tribute system for a twenty-year period, then summoned Columbus. In early October 1500, Columbus and Diego presented themselves to Bobadilla, and were put in chains aboard La Gorda, Columbus's own ship.[101] Only the ship's cook was willing to put Columbus in chains.[102] Bobadilla took much of Columbus's gold and other treasures.[101] Ferdinand Columbus recorded that the governor took "testimony from their open enemies, the rebels, and even showing open favor," and auctioned off some of his father's possessions "for one third of their value."[103]

Bobadilla's inquiry produced testimony that Columbus forced priests not to baptize natives without his express permission, so he could first decide whether or not they should be sold into slavery. He allegedly captured a tribe of 300 under Roldán's protection to be sold into slavery, and informed other Christians that half of the indigenous servants should be yielded to him.[104] Further, he allegedly ordered at least 12 Spaniards to be whipped and tied by the neck and feet for trading gold for something to eat without his permission. Other allegations include that he: ordered a woman to be whipped naked on the back of a donkey for lying that she was pregnant, had a woman's tongue cut out for seeming to insult him and his brothers, cut a Spaniard's throat for being homosexual, ordered Christians to be hung for stealing bread, ordered a cabin boy's hand cut off and posted publicly for using a trap to catch a fish, and ordered for a man to have his nose and ears cut off, as well as to be whipped, shackled, and banished. Multiple culprits were given a potentially fatal 100 lashes, sometimes while naked. Some fifty men starved to death on La Isabela because of tight control over the ship's rations, despite there being an abundance.[105]

Trial in Spain

A number of returned settlers and friars lobbied against Columbus at the Spanish court, accusing him of mismanagement. By his own request, Columbus remained in chains during the entire voyage home.[102][ad] Once in Cádiz, a grieving Columbus wrote to a friend at court:

It is now seventeen years since I came to serve these princes with the Enterprise of the Indies. They made me pass eight of them in discussion, and at the end rejected it as a thing of jest. Nevertheless I persisted therein... Over there I have placed under their sovereignty more land than there is in Africa and Europe, and more than 1,700 islands... In seven years I, by the divine will, made that conquest. At a time when I was entitled to expect rewards and retirement, I was incontinently arrested and sent home loaded with chains... The accusation was brought out of malice on the basis of charges made by civilians who had revolted and wished to take possession on the land... I beg your graces, with the zeal of faithful Christians in whom their Highnesses have confidence, to read all my papers, and to consider how I, who came from so far to serve these princes... now at the end of my days have been despoiled of my honor and my property without cause, wherein is neither justice nor mercy.[106]

Columbus Before the Queen[107] by Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze, 1843 (Brooklyn Museum of Art)

Columbus and his brothers were jailed for six weeks before the busy King Ferdinand ordered them released. On December 12, 1500, the king and queen summoned the Columbus brothers to their presence at the Alhambra palace in Granada. With his chains at last removed, Columbus wore shortened sleeves so the marks on his skin would be visible.[102] At the palace, the royal couple heard the brothers' pleas; Columbus was brought to tears as he admitted his faults and begged for forgiveness. Their freedom was restored. On September 3, 1501, the door was firmly shut on Columbus's role as governor. From that point forward, Nicolás de Ovando y Cáceres was to be the new governor of the Indies, although Columbus retained the titles of admiral and viceroy. A royal mandate dated September 27 ordered Bobadilla to return Columbus's possessions.[108][ae]

Fourth voyage (1502–1504)

Columbus's fourth voyage

After much persuasion, the sovereigns agreed to fund Columbus's fourth voyage. It would be his final chance to prove himself and become the first man ever to circumnavigate the world. Columbus's goal was to find the Strait of Malacca to the Indian Ocean.[109] On March 14, 1502, Columbus started his fourth voyage with 147 men and with strict orders from the king and queen which instructed him not to stop at Hispaniola, but only to search for a westward passage to the Indian Ocean mainland. Before he left, Columbus wrote a letter to the Governors of the Bank of Saint George, Genoa, dated at Seville, 2 April 1502.[110] He wrote "Although my body is here my heart is always near you."[111] Accompanied by his stepbrother Bartolomeo, Diego Mendez, and his 13-year-old son Ferdinand, he left Cádiz on May 9, 1502, with his flagship, Capitana, as well as the Gallega, Vizcaína, and Santiago de Palos.[112] They first sailed to Arzila on the Moroccan coast to rescue the Portuguese soldiers who he heard were under siege by the Moors.[113]

After using the trade winds to cross the Atlantic in a brisk twenty days, on June 15, they landed at Carbet on the island of Martinique (Martinica).[113] Columbus anticipated that a hurricane was brewing and had a ship that needed to be replaced, so he headed to Hispaniola, despite being forbidden to land there. He arrived at Santo Domingo on June 29, but was denied port, and the new governor refused to listen to his warning of a storm. While Columbus's ships sheltered at the mouth of the Haina River, Governor Bobadilla departed, with Roldán and over USD $10 million of Columbus's gold aboard his ship, accompanied by a convoy of 30 other vessels. Columbus's personal gold and other belongings were put on the fragile Aguya, considered the fleet's least seaworthy vessel. The onset of a hurricane drove some ships ashore, with some sinking in the harbor of Santo Domingo; Bobadilla's ship is thought to have reached the eastern end of Hispaniola before sinking. About 20 other vessels sunk in the Atlantic, with a total of some 500 people drowning. Three damaged ships made it back to Santo Domingo; one of these had Juan de la Cosa and Rodrigo de Bastidas on board. Only the Aguya made it Spain, causing some of Columbus's enemies to accuse him of conjuring the storm.[114][115][116]

After the hurricane, Columbus regrouped with his men, and after a brief stop at Jamaica and off the coast of Cuba to replenish, he sailed to modern Central America, arriving at Guanaja[117] (Isla de los Pinos) in the Bay Islands off the coast of Honduras on July 30, 1502. Here Bartolomeo found native merchants—most likely Mayan[af]—and a large canoe, which was described as "long as a galley" and was filled with cargo.[118] The Mayans introduced Columbus and his entourage to cacao.[119] Columbus spoke with an elder, and thought he described having seen people with swords and horses (possibly the Spaniards), and that they were "only ten days' journey to the river Ganges".[120] On August 14, Columbus landed on the mainland of the Americas at Puerto Castilla, near Trujillo, Honduras. He spent two months exploring the coasts of Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica looking for the passage, before arriving in Almirante Bay, Panama, on October 16.

On December 5, 1502, Columbus and his crew found themselves in a storm unlike any they had ever experienced. In his journal Columbus writes,

For nine days I was as one lost, without hope of life. Eyes never beheld the sea so angry, so high, so covered with foam. The wind not only prevented our progress, but offered no opportunity to run behind any headland for shelter; hence we were forced to keep out in this bloody ocean, seething like a pot on a hot fire. Never did the sky look more terrible; for one whole day and night it blazed like a furnace, and the lightning broke with such violence that each time I wondered if it had carried off my spars and sails; the flashes came with such fury and frightfulness that we all thought that the ship would be blasted. All this time the water never ceased to fall from the sky; I do not say it rained, for it was like another deluge. The men were so worn out that they longed for death to end their dreadful suffering.[121]

In Panamá, he learned from the Ngobe of gold and a strait to another ocean. After some exploration, he established a garrison at the mouth of Belén River in January 1503. By April 6, the garrison he had established captured the local tribe leader El Quibían, who had demanded they not go down[dubious ] the Belén River. El Quibían escaped, and returned with an army to attack and repel the Spanish, damaging some of the ships so that one vessel had to be abandoned. Columbus left for Hispaniola on April 16; on May 10, he sighted the Cayman Islands, naming them "Las Tortugas" after the numerous sea turtles there.[122] His ships next sustained more damage in a storm off the coast of Cuba.[122] Unable to travel any farther, the ships were beached in St. Ann's Bay, Jamaica, on June 25.[123]

Columbus fills the natives with fear and awe by predicting the lunar eclipse

For a year Columbus and his men remained stranded on Jamaica. A Spaniard, Diego Mendez, and some natives paddled a canoe to get help from Hispaniola. The island's governor, Nicolás de Ovando y Cáceres, detested Columbus and obstructed all efforts to rescue him and his men. In the meantime, Columbus had to mesmerize the natives in order to prevent being attacked by them and gain their goodwill. He did so by correctly predicting a lunar eclipse for February 29, 1504, using the Ephemeris of the German astronomer Regiomontanus.[124][125]

In May 1504 a battle took place between men loyal to Columbus and those loyal to the Porras brothers, in which there was a sword fight between Bartolomé Colón and Francisco de Porras. Bartholomew Columbus won against Francisco but he spared his life. In this way, the mutiny ended. Help finally arrived from the governor Ovando, on June 29, when a caravel sent by Diego Méndez finally appeared on the island. At this time there were 110 members of the expedition alive out of the 147 that sailed from Spain with Columbus. Due to the strong winds, the caravel had to stop by the road, taking 45 days to reach La Hispaniola. Previously this was a trip that Diego Méndez had made in four days in a canoe.

About 38 of the 110 men that survived decided not to board again and stayed in Hispaniola instead of returning to Spain. On September 11, 1504, Christopher Columbus and his son Hernando embarked in a caravel to travel from Hispaniola to Spain, paying their corresponding tickets. They arrived in Sanlúcar de Barrameda on November 7 and from there they traveled to Seville, where Colón denounced to the authorities that the gold that came in the caravel for the Crown had been adulterated and claimed for himself a part for having made the accusation.


The success of Columbus's first voyage touched off a series of westward explorations by European seafaring states. These states sought to exploit the New World's riches; build trade networks and colonies; and built the Indian reductions (settlements) to relocate, use the labor of, and attempt Christian conversions of the native people. Columbus's second voyage saw the first major skirmish between Europeans and Native Americans for five centuries, when the Vikings had come to the Americas.[67] One of the women was captured in the battle and given by Columbus to a friend who had participated; this man subsequently beat and raped her.[67][y]

With the Age of Discovery starting in the 15th century, Europeans explored the world by ocean, searching for particular trade goods, humans to enslave, and trading locations and ports. The most desired trading goods were gold, silver and spices. Columbus did not reach Asia but rather found what was to the Europeans a New World, the Americas. For the Catholic monarchies of Spain and Portugal, a division of influence became necessary to avoid conflict. This was resolved by Papal intervention in 1494 when the Treaty of Tordesillas purported to divide the world between the two powers. The Portuguese were to receive everything outside of Europe east of a line that ran 270 leagues west of the Cape Verde Islands, thought to include the continents of Africa and Asia, but none of the New World. The Spanish received everything west of this line, territory that was still almost completely unknown, and proved to be primarily the vast majority of the continents of the Americas and the Islands of the Pacific Ocean. This arrangement was somewhat subverted in 1500, when the Portuguese navigator Pedro Álvares Cabral arrived at a point on the eastern coast of South America, and realized that it was on the Portuguese side of the dividing line between the two empires. This would lead to the Portuguese colonization of what is now Brazil.

Columbus died in Valladolid, Spain, on May 20, 1506, at the age of 54[5]—probably due to the effects of chronic reactive arthritis.[126][127] After his death, Columbus's sons, Diego and Fernando, took legal action to enforce their father's contract. Many of the allegations against Columbus and his tyrannical governorship were initiated by the Crown during these lengthy court cases, known as the Pleitos Colombinos. The family had some success in their first litigation, as a judgment of 1511 confirmed Diego's position as Viceroy, but reduced his powers. Diego resumed litigation in 1512 lasting until 1536, and further disputes continued until 1790.[128]

The Spanish conquistador Vasco Núñez de Balboa, exploring overland, became the first European to encounter the Pacific Ocean from the shores of the Americas on September 25, 1513, calling it the "South Sea". Later, on October 29, 1520, Magellan's circumnavigation expedition discovered the first maritime passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific, at the southern end of what is now Chile (Strait of Magellan), and his fleet ended up sailing around the whole Earth. Almost a century later, another, wider passage to the Pacific would be discovered farther to the south, bordering Cape Horn.

It was not until the mainland of the Americas was explored that Spain found the wealth it had sought in the form of abundant gold. In the Americas the Spanish found a number of empires that were as large and populous as those in Europe. Small bodies of Spanish conquistadors, with large armies of indigenous groups, managed to conquer these states. The most notable amongst the conquered states were the Aztec Empire in modern Mexico (conquered in 1521) and the Inca Empire in modern Peru (conquered in 1532). During this time, pandemics of European disease such as smallpox devastated the indigenous populations. Once Spanish sovereignty was established, the Spanish focused on the extraction and export of gold and silver.

See also


  1. ^ a b This map is based on the premise that Columbus first landed at Plana Cays.[35] The island considered by Samuel Eliot Morison to be the most likely location of first contact[36] is the easternmost land touching the top edge of this image.
  2. ^ Ferdinand later claimed credit for being "the principal cause why those islands were discovered."[10]
  3. ^ Some have argued that Santángel, a Jew who had converted to Catholicism to avoid Spanish persecution, aimed to open a channel to a safer place for fellow Jews to reside.[11]
  4. ^ In 1420, Inuit captives were taken to Scandinavia. Their kayaks were put on display in the Tromsø Cathedral.[20]
  5. ^ Shen Kuo discovered 400 years earlier, in Asia, the concept of true north in terms of magnetic declination towards the north pole, with experimentation of suspended magnetic needles and "the improved meridian determined by Shen's [astronomical] measurement of the distance between the polestar and true north".[34]
  6. ^ Two others thought they saw this light, one independently from Columbus. The strong winds and the fact that they were some 56 kilometres (35 mi) from land indicate that this was unlikely from a native inhabitant fishing.[38]
  7. ^ According to Samuel Eliot Morison, Triana saw "something like a white sand cliff gleaming in the moonlight on the western horizon, then another, and a dark line of sand connecting them."[40]
  8. ^ Columbus is said to have responded to Pinzón, "I give you five thousand maravedis as a present!"[40]
  9. ^ Renamed from Watling's Island in 1925 in the belief that it was Columbus's San Salvador[44]
  10. ^ Other candidates are the Grand Turk, Cat Island, Rum Cay, Samana Cay, or Mayaguana.[36]
  11. ^ At the time, three major indigenous peoples populated the islands. The Taíno occupied the Greater Antilles, the Bahamas, and the Leeward Islands; they can be subdivided into Classic Taínos, who occupied Hispaniola and Puerto Rico; Western Taínos, who occupied Cuba, Jamaica, and the Bahamian archipelago; and the Eastern Taínos, who occupied the Leeward Islands.[49] The other two peoples are the Island Caribs (Kalina) and Galibi in the Windward Islands and Guadeloupe, and the Ciboney (a Taíno people) and Guanahatabey of central and western Cuba, respectively.
  12. ^ a b "... these people are very simple as regards the use of arms, as your Highnesses will see from the seven that I have caused to be taken ... unless your Highnesses should order them all to be brought to Castille, or to be kept as captives on the same island; for with fifty men they can all be subjugated and made to do what is required of them." (Columbus & Toscanelli 2010, p. 41)
  13. ^ Torres spoke Hebrew and some Arabic; the latter was then believed to be the mother tongue of all languages.[51]
  14. ^ The Monument a Colom in that city commemorates the event.
  15. ^ Officially known as the Santa María after the ship lost on the first voyage and also known as Capitana ("Flagship") for its role in the expedition. It was owned by Antonio Torres, brother of the nurse to Don Juan.
  16. ^ Named for its owner Bartolomé Colin and also called la carabela de Bartolomé Colin
  17. ^ Named for its owner Juan Gallardo and also called la carabela de Juan Gallardo
  18. ^ Named for its owner Alfonso Gutiérrez and also called la carabela de Alfonso Gutiérrez
  19. ^ Or the Bonuela. Named for its owner Antón Boniel and also called la carabela de Antón Boniel.
  20. ^ Named for its owner Rodrigo Muñoz or Rodrigo Martínez
  21. ^ Named for its owner Juan de Triana and also called la carabela de Juan de Triana
  22. ^ Named for its owner Juan Fernández Prieto and also called la carabela de Juan Fernández Prieto
  23. ^ Sometimes given as Caldera ("The Cauldron"), but named for its captain Juan Rodriguez Cardero
  24. ^ This was the first major battle between Europeans and Native Americans for five centuries, when the Vikings had come to the Americas.[67]
  25. ^ a b Tony Horwitz notes that this is the first recorded instance of sexuality between a European and Native American.[68]
  26. ^ Trinidad was inhabited by both Carib-speaking and Arawak-speaking groups.
  27. ^ In fact, Earth ever so slightly is pear-shaped, with the "stalk" pointing North.[86]
  28. ^ According to Las Casas, Christopher and Diego Columbus went about arresting rebels with a priest at hand so they could be forced to convert to Christianity before their execution.[96]
  29. ^ Bobadilla's 48-page report, derived from the testimonies of 23 people who had seen or heard about the treatment meted out by Columbus and his brothers—had originally been lost for centuries, but was rediscovered in 2005 in the Spanish archives in Valladolid. It contained an account of Columbus's seven-year reign as the first governor of the Indies. Consuelo Varela, a Spanish historian, states: "Even those who loved him [Columbus] had to admit the atrocities that had taken place."[98]
  30. ^ Ferdinand Columbus later wrote, "I always saw those irons in his bedroom, which he demanded be buried with his bones."[102]
  31. ^ Columbus in his Book of Privileges listed all that which he believed was still owed to him.[108]
  32. ^ Most of Central America was part of the Mesoamerican civilization. The Amerindian societies of Mesoamerica occupied the land ranging from central Mexico in the north to Costa Rica in the south. The cultures of Panama traded with both Mesoamerica and South America and can be considered transitional between those two cultural areas.


  1. ^ Mills, Keneth and Taylor, William B., Colonial Spanish America: A Documentary History, p. 36, SR Books, 1998, ISBN 0-8420-2573-1
  2. ^ Dillehay, Tom D.; Ocampo, Carlos; Saavedra, José; Sawakuchi, Andre Oliveira; Vega, Rodrigo M.; Pino, Mario; Collins, Michael B.; Cummings, Linda Scott; Arregui, Iván (November 18, 2015). "New Archaeological Evidence for an Early Human Presence at Monte Verde, Chile". PLOS ONE. 10 (11): e0141923. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0141923. ISSN 1932-6203. PMC 4651426. PMID 26580202.
  3. ^ Rahn, Phillips Carla. "Visualizing Imperium: The Virgin of the Seafarers and Spain's Self-Image in the Early Sixteenth Century *". Renaissance Quarterly. 58 (3): 815–856. doi:10.1353/ren.2008.0864. ISSN 0034-4338.
  4. ^ Jensen, De Ladickmar (1992), Renaissance Europe 2nd ed. p. 341
  5. ^ a b c Morison 1991.
  6. ^ Murphy & Coye 2013, pp. 34, 38.
  7. ^ Dyson 1991, p. 84.
  8. ^ Durant, Will; Durant, Ariel (1957). The Story of Civilization Vol. VI, The Reformation. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-671-61050-3. p. 260.
  9. ^ Dyson 1991, p. 92.
  10. ^ a b c Phillips, Jr & Phillips 1992, pp. 131–32.
  11. ^ 1941-, Kritzler, Edward (2008). Jewish Pirates of the Caribbean: How a Generation of Swashbuckling Jews Carved Out an Empire in the New World in Their Quest for Treasure, Religious Freedom—and Revenge (First ed.). New York. pp. 13–16. ISBN 9780385513982. OCLC 191922741.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  12. ^ Stuart, Isabella of Castile: The First Renaissance Queen, 2004, p. 295.
  13. ^ Hannam, James (May 18, 2010). "Science Versus Christianity?". Retrieved September 5, 2020.
  14. ^ Boller, Paul F (1995). Not So!:Popular Myths about America from Columbus to Clinton. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-509186-1.
  15. ^ a b Russell, Jeffrey Burton (1991). Inventing the Flat Earth. Columbus and modern historians, Praeger, New York, Westport, London 1991;
    Zinn, Howard (2001) [1980] . A People's History of the United States, HarperCollins. p. 2
  16. ^ a b Sagan, Carl. Cosmos; the mean circumference of the Earth is 40,041 km.
  17. ^ "Marco Polo et le Livre des Merveilles", ISBN 978-2-35404-007-9 p. 37
  18. ^ a b "Christopher Columbus (Italian explorer)". Encyclopædia Britannica (Encyclopædia Britannica Online ed.). Encyclopædia Britannica Inc. 2013. Retrieved September 12, 2013.
  19. ^ Dyson 1991, pp. 67–68.
  20. ^ Weaver, Jace (2011). The red atlantic. American Indian Quarterly. pp. 418–463, 477.
  21. ^ "The First Voyage Log". Archived from the original on October 14, 2009. Retrieved April 18, 2008.
  22. ^ "Christopher Columbus and the Spanish Empire". Retrieved April 18, 2008.
  23. ^ Tharoor, Shashi (December 8, 2014). "Trying to discover India". Outlook India. Retrieved October 25, 2016.
  24. ^ "The Original Niña". The Niña & Pinta. British Virgin Islands: The Columbus Foundation. Archived from the original on May 26, 2015. Retrieved October 12, 2013.
  25. ^ Murphy & Coye 2013, p. 25.
  26. ^ Markham, p. 19
  27. ^ Irving, p. 121
  28. ^ Markham, p. 20
  29. ^ Markham, pp. 21–22
  30. ^ Markham, p. 22
  31. ^ Review by Carla Rahn Phillips, Renaissance Quarterly, Vol. 44, No. 3. (Autumn, 1991), pp. 572–574.The Diario of Christopher Columbus's First Voyage to America 1492–93, Abstracted by Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas. by Oliver Dunn; James E. Kelley, Jr.
  32. ^ The Navigational Mysteries and Fraudulent Longitudes of Christopher Columbus A Lecture given to the Society for the History of Discoveries and the Haklyut Society, August 1997 by Keith A. Pickering
  33. ^ Peter J. Smith & Joseph Needham, "Magnetic Declination in Mediaeval China", Nature 214, 1213–1214 (17 June 1967); doi:10.1038/2141213b0.
  34. ^ Sivin, Nathan (1984). "Why the Scientific Revolution Did Not Take Place in China – Or Didn't It?" in Transformation and Tradition in the Sciences: Essays in Honor of I. Bernard Cohen, 531–555, ed. Everett Mendelsohn. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-52485-7. Vol. III, p. 22.
  35. ^ Pickering, Keith A. (August 1994). "Columbus's Plana landfall: Evidence for the Plana Cays as Columbus's 'San Salvador'" (PDF). DIO – The International Journal of Scientific History. 4 (1): 13–32. Retrieved 16 March 2009.
  36. ^ a b c Morison 1991, p. 228.
  37. ^ Nicholls, Steve (2009). Paradise Found: Nature in America at the Time of Discovery. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. pp. 103–104. ISBN 978-0-226-58340-2.
  38. ^ a b Morison 1991, pp. 223–225.
  39. ^ Markham, p. 35
  40. ^ a b c Morison 1991, p. 226.
  41. ^ Markham, p. 36
  42. ^ Clements R. Markham, ed.,A People's History Of The United States 1492-Present, HarperCollins, 2001, p. 2.
  43. ^ Bergreen 2011, p. 99.
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