Voyages of Christopher Columbus

In 1492, a Spanish-based transatlantic maritime expedition led by Italian explorer Christopher Columbus encountered the Americas, continents which were completely unknown in Europe, Asia and Africa and were outside the Old World political and economic system. The four voyages of Columbus began the Spanish colonization of the Americas.

For a long time it was generally believed that Columbus and his crew had been the first Europeans to make landfall in the Americas. In fact they were not the first explorers from Europe to reach the Americas, having been preceded by the Viking expedition led by Leif Erikson in the 11th century;[1][2] however, Columbus's voyages were the ones that led to ongoing European contact with the Americas, inaugurating a period of exploration, conquest, and colonization whose effects and consequences persist to the present.

Columbus was an Italian-born navigator sailing for the Crown of Castile (Spain) in search of a westward route to Asia, to access the sources of spices and other oriental goods. This 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, setting the stage for the European exploration and colonization of the Americas, ultimately leading to the Columbian Exchange.

At the time of the Columbus voyages, the Americas were inhabited by the Indigenous Americans, the descendants of Paleo-Indians who crossed Beringia from Asia to North America beginning around 20,000 years ago.[3] Columbus's voyages led to the widespread knowledge that a continent existed west of Europe and east of Asia. This breakthrough in geographical science led to the exploration and colonization of the New World by Spain and other European sea powers, and is sometimes cited as the start of the modern era.[4]

Spain, Portugal, and other European kingdoms sent expeditions and established colonies throughout the New World, converted the native inhabitants to Christianity, and built large trade networks across the Atlantic, which introduced new plants, animals, and food crops to both continents. The search for a westward route to Asia continued in 1513 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, retourning to Europe after sailing further West and achieving the first circumnavigation of the world.

Voyages of Christopher Columbus
Viajes de colon en
The four voyages of Columbus
Date1492, 1493, 1498, 1502
LocationThe Americas
ParticipantsChristopher Columbus and Castilian crew (among others)
OutcomeEuropean re-discovery and colonization of the Americas

Background to the voyages

Fernandez-Virgin of the Navigators (proper inversion)
The Virgin of the Navigators by Alejo Fernández dating to between 1531 and 1536 and depicting Columbus and others of importance in the first years of Spanish exploration.[5]

Portugal had been the main European power interested in pursuing trade routes overseas. Their next-door neighbors, Castile (predecessor of Spain) had been somewhat slower to begin exploring the Atlantic because of the bigger land area it had to re-conquer (the Reconquista) from the Moors. It was not until the late 15th century, following the dynastic union of the Crowns of Castile and Aragon and the completion of the Reconquista, that the unified crowns of what would become Spain (although countries still legally existing) emerged and became fully committed to looking for new trade routes and colonies overseas. In 1492 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 King John II of Portugal to fund his exploration of a western route, but the new king and queen of the re-conquered Spain decided to fund Columbus's expedition in hopes of bypassing Portugal's lock on Africa and the Indian Ocean, reaching Asia by traveling west.[6]

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" (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, in fact, far too short.[7]

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. Columbus traveled from Portugal to Castile to convince the Catholic Monarchs of Castile and Aragon to finance the expedition.

Spanish procurement

King Ferdinand II of Aragon married Queen Isabella I of Castile in 1469, uniting the two largest kingdoms into what would later be the Spanish Crown. They were known jointly as the Catholic Monarchs, and ruled their kingdoms independently, but had common internal and foreign policies.

Columbus was granted an audience with them; on May 1, 1489, he presented his plans to Queen Isabella, who referred them to a committee. They pronounced the idea impractical, and advised the monarchs not to support the proposed venture.

However, to expand the Spanish empire and Catholicism in the name of Spanish Kings, and to assure a better market position in trading, the Queen gave Columbus an annual allowance of 12,000 maravedis and part of the newly conquered lands.[8]

Monumento a Colón (Madrid) 02b
Columbus and Queen Isabella. Detail of the Columbus monument in Madrid (1885).

After continually lobbying at the royal court and enduring two years of negotiations, Columbus finally succeeded in January 1492. Queen Isabella's forces had just conquered the Moorish Emirate of Granada, the last Muslim stronghold of Al-Andalus on the Iberian peninsula, for Castile. Isabella and Ferdinand received Columbus in the Alcázar (castle) in Córdoba to support his plans.

The monarchs left it to the royal treasurer to shift funds among various royal accounts on behalf of the enterprise. Columbus was to be made "Admiral of the Seas" and would receive a portion of all profits. The terms were unusually generous but, as his son later wrote, the monarchs were not confident of his return.

According to Columbus's contract made for the expedition commission by Queen Isabella for Castile, if Columbus claimed any new islands or mainland for the Crown, he would receive many high rewards. In terms of power, he would be given the rank of Admiral of the Ocean Sea and appointed Viceroy and Governor of the newly colonised lands. He had the right to nominate three people, from whom the sovereigns would choose one, for any office in the new lands. He would be entitled to ten per cent of all the revenues from the new lands in perpetuity.[9]

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 the Columbus brothers 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.

Washington Irving's 1828 biography of Columbus popularized the idea that Columbus had difficulty obtaining support for his plan because Europeans thought the Earth was flat.[10] In fact, the primitive maritime navigation of the time relied on the stars and the curvature of the spherical Earth. The knowledge that the Earth was spherical was widespread, and the means of calculating its diameter using an astrolabe was known to both scholars and navigators.[11]

Diameter of Earth and travel distance estimates

Conceptions Colomb map-en
Columbus's geographical conceptions

A spherical Earth had been the general opinion of Ancient Greek science, and this view continued through the Middle Ages (for example, Bede mentions it in The Reckoning of Time). In fact Eratosthenes had measured the diameter of the Earth with good precision in the 2nd century BC.[12] Where Columbus did differ from the generally accepted view of his time was in his incorrect arguments that assumed 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.[7]

The "Columbus map" was drawn circa 1490 in the workshop of Bartolomeo and Christopher Columbus in Lisbon.[13]
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,[14] putting the landmass at 225 degrees, leaving only 135 degrees of water.[15] 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).[14]

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,[12] 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, Vinland, were already surfacing in Europe, historians agree that Columbus calculated too short a distance from the Canary Islands to Japan by the standards of his peers.

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 Santa María, La Niña, and La Pinta 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.[16][17]

Voyages and events

First voyage

At 8:00 on the morning of August 3, 1492, Columbus departed from Carolina Palos de la Frontera (on the river Saltes, at the confluence of the rivers Rio Tinto and Rio Odiel).[18] Columbus and his crew embarked on a voyage to find a shorter route to India and the Orient with three medium-sized ships, the Niña (real name Santa Clara), the Pinta, and the Santa Maria. The ships were the property of Juan de la Cosa and the Pinzón brothers (Martín Alonso Pinzón and Vicente Yáñez Pinzón), but the monarchs forced the Palos de la Frontera inhabitants to contribute to the expedition as well.

Niña replica - Morro Bay CA

A conjectural replica of the Niña


A replica of the Pinta in Palos de la Frontera

Christopher Columbus by Carl von Piloty
Christopher Columbus depicted on his ship by Carl von Piloty

Three days into the journey, on 6 August 1492, the rudder of the Pinta broke.[20] The owners of the ship, Gomez Rascon and Christoval Quintero, were suspected of sabotage, as they and their ship had been pressed into service against their will.[21] The crew was able to secure the rudder with ropes until they could reach the Canary Islands, where they arrived on 9 August 1492.[22] 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.[23] However, on September 6, 1492 the westward voyage began without incident.[24] 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 log made by Bartolome 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,[25][26] 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.

Magnetic declination

On 13 September 1492, Columbus observed that the needle of his compass no longer pointed to the North Star.[27] The needle instead had varied a half point to the northwest, and continued to vary further as the journey progressed. Columbus at first made no mention of this, knowing his crew to be prone to panic with their destination unknown, but after several days his pilots took notice with much anxiety. Allegedly the crew grew so homesick and fearful that they threatened to sail back to Spain. Columbus reasoned that the needle did not point to the North Star, but to some invisible point on the Earth. His reputation as an astronomer held weight with the crew, and his theory alleviated their alarm. 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.[28]

European discovery and exploration

Columbus first voyage
First voyage. Modern place names in black, Columbus's place names in blue

After twenty-nine days out of sight of land, on 7 October 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.[29]

Land was first sighted at 2 a.m. on October 12, 1492, by a sailor named Rodrigo de Triana (also known as Juan Rodriguez Bermejo) aboard La Pinta.[30] Columbus would later assert that he had first seen the land and, thus, earned the reward of 10,000 maravedís.[31][32] Columbus called the island San Salvador, in the present-day Bahamas or Turks and Caicos; the indigenous residents had named it Guanahani. Exactly which island in the Bahamas or Turks and Caicos this corresponds to is an unresolved topic; prime candidates are Samana Cay, Plana Cays, Grand Turk, Cat Island or San Salvador Island (Watlings Island named San Salvador in 1925 in the belief that it was Columbus's San Salvador).

Landing of Columbus (2)
A depiction of Columbus claiming possession of the New World in caravels, the Niña and the Pinta.

The indigenous people he encountered in their homelands were peaceful and friendly. At the time of the European discovery of most of the islands of the Caribbean, three major indigenous peoples lived on the islands: the Taíno in the Greater Antilles, the Bahamas, and the Leeward Islands; 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. The Taínos are 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.[33] Trinidad was inhabited by both Carib-speaking and Arawak-speaking groups. Most of modern 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.

Columbus proceeded to observe the people and their cultural lifestyle. He also explored the northeast coast of Cuba, landing on 28 October 1492, and the north-western coast of Hispaniola, present day Haiti, by 5 December 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 founded the settlement, La Navidad, leaving behind 39 men.

On 15 January 1493, he set sail for home aboard the Niña.

First return

While returning to Spain, the Niña and Pinta encountered the roughest storm of their journey, and, on the night of 13 February, 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. 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.[34]

Leaving the island of Santa Maria in the Azores on 23 February, 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 15 March 1493 to report his findings. The Monument a Colom in that city commemorates the event.

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".[35] 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..."[36]

Papal decree

After Columbus's return, Pope Alexander VI issued a bull which divided the "newly discovered" lands outside Europe between Spain and Portugal along a north–south meridian 958 leagues west of the Cape Verde islands (off the coast of Africa in the mid-Atlantic), thus granting Spain all land discovered by Columbus. This division was never accepted by the rulers of England or France. (See also the Treaty of Tordesillas that followed the papal decree.)

Second voyage

Columbus second voyage
Columbus's second voyage

Before he left Spain on his second voyage, Columbus had been directed by Ferdinand and Isabella to maintain friendly, even loving, relations with the natives. He set sail from Cádiz, Spain, on September 24, 1493.[37]

The fleet for the second voyage was much larger: two naos and 15 caravels. The two naos were the flagship Marigalante[38] and the Gallega; the caravels were the Fraila,[39] San Juan, Colina,[40] Gallarda,[41] Gutierre,[42] Bonial,[43] Rodriga,[44] Triana,[45] Vieja,[46] Prieta,[47] Gorda,[48] Cardera,[49] and Quintera.[50] 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.[51]

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. He continued to the Greater Antilles, and landed on the island of San Juan Bautista, present day Puerto Rico, on November 19, 1493. His men rescued two boys who had just been castrated by their captors.[52]

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 Jaragua, 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

During the second voyage, Columbus sent a letter to the monarchs proposing to enslave some of the Americas' people, 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. The long-term consequence for the Arawaks of contact with Europeans was that thousands of people were almost entirely exterminated by disease, infighting and economic despair.[53]

The many voyages of discovery did not pay for themselves, and there was no funding for pure science in the Renaissance. 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. Of course, 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. 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 five hundred and sixty people.[54] 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 Cortes, some survivors were ordered released and to be returned to their las Americas 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 in this respect. Rounding up the slaves led to the first major battle between the Spanish and the native peoples in their homeland, called by Europeans "the New World".

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 Cicao on Hispaniola. Columbus imposed a tribute system, similar to that of the still-unknown Aztec Empire tribute on the mainland. All Cicaoan 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.[36] 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.[55]

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 (see the Black Legend). 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

Columbus third voyage
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."[56][57]

On May 30, 1498, Columbus left the port of Sanlúcar, Spain with a fleet of six ships,[51] sending three directly to the West Indies while leading the other three: the Santa María de Guía, the Vaqueños, and the Correo[58] – to the Portuguese Porto Santo Island, his wife's native homeland. He then sailed to the island of Madeira and spent some time there with the Portuguese captain João Gonçalves da Câmara before sailing to the Canary Islands and Cape Verde. The ships found King John's hypothesized continent, which is South America, when they sighted the land of Trinidad on 31 July approaching from the southeast.[59] The fleet sailed along the southern coast and entered Dragon's Mouth, anchoring near Soldado Rock where they made contact with a group of native Amerindians in canoes.[60] Columbus then landed on Trinidad at Icacos Point (which he named Punta de Arenal) on 2 August.[61]

From August 4 through August 12, 1498, he explored the Gulf of Paria which separates Trinidad from mainland Venezuela. He then explored the mainland of South America, including the Orinoco River. He also sailed to the islands of Chacachacare and Margarita Island and sighted and named islands Bella Forma (Tobago) and Concepcion (Grenada). He described the new lands as belonging to a previously unknown new continent, but he pictured it hanging from China, bulging out to make the earth pear-shaped.

Governorship issues

Governor Bobadilla

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 Cortes Generales of Castile to appoint a royal commissioner to help him govern.

The Cortes appointed Francisco de Bobadilla, a member of the Order of Calatrava; however, his authority stretched far beyond what Columbus had requested. Bobadilla was given complete control as governor from 1500 until he was killed in a hurricane in 1502. Arriving in Santo Domingo while Columbus was away, Bobadilla immediately received many serious complaints about all three Columbus brothers: Christopher, Bartolomé, and Diego. 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."[62][63]

As a result of these testimonies and without being allowed a word in his own defense, Columbus upon his return, had manacles placed on his wrists and chains placed on his ankles and was cast into prison to await return to Spain. He was 49 years old.

Arrest of Governor Columbus

Columbus was arrested in 1500 and supplanted from his posts. A number of returned settlers and friars lobbied against Columbus at the Spanish court, accusing him of mismanagement. Francisco de Bobadilla arrived on August 23, 1500 and detained Columbus and his brothers and had them shipped home. On October 1, 1500, Columbus and his two brothers, likewise in chains, were sent back to Spanish Aragon. 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.[64]

Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze - Columbus Before the Queen
Columbus Before the Queen[65] 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. Not long thereafter, the king and queen summoned the Columbus brothers to their presence at the Alhambra palace in Granada. There the royal couple heard the brothers' pleas; restored their freedom and their wealth; and, after much persuasion, agreed to fund Columbus's fourth voyage. But the door was firmly shut on Christopher Columbus's role as governor. From that point forward, Nicolás de Ovando y Cáceres was to be the new Governor of the Indies.

Although he regained his freedom, he did not regain his prestige and lost all his titles including the governorship. 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.

Fourth voyage

Columbus fourth voyage
Columbus's fourth voyage

On March 14, 1502 Columbus made a fourth voyage 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. Accompanied by his stepbrother Bartolomeo, Diego Mendez, and his son Fernando, he left Cádiz, Spain on May 12, 1502, with his flagship, Capitana, as well as the Gallega, Vizcaína, and Santiago de Palos. He sailed to Arzila on the Moroccan coast to rescue the Portuguese soldiers who he heard were under siege by the Moors. On June 15, 1502, they landed at Carbet on the island of Martinique (Martinica). A hurricane was brewing, so he continued on, hoping to find shelter on Hispaniola. He arrived at Santo Domingo on June 29, 1502, but was denied port, and the new governor refused to listen to his storm prediction. Instead, while Columbus's ships sheltered at the mouth of the Jaina River, the first Spanish treasure fleet sailed into the hurricane. The only ship to reach Spain had Columbus's money and belongings on it, and all of his former enemies (and a few friends) had drowned, including Francisco de Bobadilla, who had sent Columbus back to Spain in chains two years earlier.

After a brief stop at Jamaica, he sailed to Central America, arriving at Guanaja (Isla de Pinos) in the Bay Islands off the coast of Honduras on July 30, 1502. Here Bartolomeo found native merchants and a large canoe, which was described as "long as a galley" and was filled with cargo. On August 14, 1502, he 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, before arriving in Almirante Bay, Panama on October 16, 1502.

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 leader El Quibían, who had demanded they not go down 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, but sustained more damage in a storm off the coast of Cuba. Unable to travel any farther, the ships were beached in St. Ann's Bay, Jamaica, on June 25, 1503.

Eclipse Christophe Colomb
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 mesmerized the natives by correctly predicting a lunar eclipse for February 29, 1504, using the Ephemeris of the German astronomer Regiomontanus.[66]

Help finally arrived, from the governor, on June 29, 1504, and Columbus and his men arrived in Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Castile, on November 7, 1504. Columbus died in Valladolid, Spain, on May 20, 1506, at around the age of 54, probably of the effects of chronic reactive arthritis perhaps acquired secondarily to food poisoning.


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.[67]


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.

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 and other Iberian explorers were initially disappointed with their discoveries—unlike Africa or Asia, the Caribbean islanders had little to trade with the Castillo ships. The islands thus became the focus of colonization efforts. It was not until the continent itself 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. However, 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


General information
  • Clements R. Markham, ed., The Journal of Christopher Columbus (during His First Voyage, 1492–93), London: The Hakluyt Society, 1893.
    • Joseph, Edward Lanzar (1838). History of Trinidad. A. K. Newman & Co.
  • Washington Irving, A History of the Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus, G. & C. Carvill, 1828.
  1. ^ "History – Leif Erikson (11th century)". BBC. Retrieved October 12, 2015.
  2. ^ "Why Do We Celebrate Columbus Day and Not Leif Erikson Day?". National Geographic. October 11, 2015. Retrieved October 12, 2015.
  3. ^ 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.
  4. ^ Mills, Keneth and Taylor, William B., [1], p. 36, SR Books, 1998, ISBN 0-8420-2573-1
  5. ^ Rahn, Phillips Carla (NaN). "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. Retrieved 14 February 2019. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  6. ^ Jensen, De Ladickmar (1992), Renaissance Europe 2nd ed. p. 341
  7. ^ a b Morison, Samuel Eliot, Admiral of the Ocean Sea: The Life of Christopher Columbus Boston, 1942
  8. ^ Durant, Will "The Story of Civilization" Vol. VI, "The Reformation". New York: Simon & Schuster, 1957. ISBN 0-671-61050-3. p. 260.
  9. ^ Stuart, Isabella of Castile: the first Renaissance queen, 2004, p. 295.
  10. ^ 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.
  11. ^ Russell, Jeffrey Burton 1991. Inventing the Flat Earth. Columbus and modern historians, Praeger, New York, Westport, London 1991;
    Zinn, Howard 1980. A People's History of the United States, HarperCollins 2001. p.2
  12. ^ a b Sagan, Carl. Cosmos; the mean circumference of the Earth is 40,041.47 km.
  13. ^ "Marco Polo et le Livre des Merveilles", ISBN 978-2-35404-007-9 p. 37
  14. ^ a b "Christopher Columbus (Italian explorer)". Encyclopædia Britannica (Encyclopædia Britannica Online ed.). Encyclopædia Britannica Inc. 2013. Retrieved September 12, 2013.
  15. ^ [2]
  16. ^ "The First Voyage Log". Archived from the original on October 14, 2009. Retrieved April 18, 2008.
  17. ^ "Christopher Columbus and the Spanish Empire". Retrieved April 18, 2008.
  18. ^ Tharoor, Shashi (December 8, 2014). "Trying to discover India". Outlook India. Retrieved October 25, 2016.
  19. ^ "The original Niña". The Columbus Foundation. Archived from the original on March 30, 2013. Retrieved April 8, 2013.
  20. ^ Markham, p. 19
  21. ^ Irving, p. 121
  22. ^ Markham, p. 20
  23. ^ Markham, pp. 21–22
  24. ^ Markham, p. 22
  25. ^ 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.
  26. ^ 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
  27. ^ 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". For more see 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.
  28. ^ Peter J. Smith & Joseph Needham, "Magnetic Declination in Mediaeval China", Nature 214, 1213–1214 (17 June 1967); doi:10.1038/2141213b0.
  29. ^ Nicholls, Steve (2009). Paradise Found: Nature in America at the Time of Discovery. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. pp. 103–104. ISBN 0-226-58340-6.
  30. ^ Markham, p. 35
  31. ^ Markham, p. 36
  32. ^ Clements R. Markham, ed.,A People's History Of The United States 1492-Present, HarperCollins, 2001, p. 2.
  33. ^ Rouse, Irving (1992). The Taínos : Rise and Decline of the People Who Greeted Columbus. Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-05696-6.
  34. ^ Catz, Rebecca (January 1, 1990). "Columbus in the Azores". Portuguese Studies. 6: 17–23. JSTOR 41104900.
  35. ^ Turner, 2004, p. 11
  36. ^ a b Zinn, Howard (2009). A People's History of the United States: 1492 to Present. New York, NY: Harper Collins. p. 3. ISBN 9780061989834.
  37. ^
  38. ^ lit. "Gallant Mary", 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.
  39. ^ lit. "The Nun".
  40. ^ lit. "The Hill", but named for its owner Bartolomé Colin and also called la carabela de Bartolomé Colin.
  41. ^ lit. "The Gallant", but named for its owner Juan Gallardo and also called la carabela de Juan Gallardo.
  42. ^ Named for its owner Alfonso Gutiérrez and also called la carabela de Alfonso Gutiérrez.
  43. ^ Or the Bonuela. Named for its owner Antón Boniel and also called la carabela de Antón Boniel.
  44. ^ Named for its owner Rodrigo Muñoz or Rodrigo Martínez.
  45. ^ Named for its owner Juan de Triana and also called la carabela de Juan de Triana.
  46. ^ lit. "The Old"
  47. ^ lit."The Brown", but named for its owner Juan Fernández Prieto and also called la carabela de Juan Fernández Prieto.
  48. ^ lit. "The Fat".
  49. ^ Sometimes given as Caldera ("The Cauldron"), but named for its captain Juan Rodriguez Cardero.
  50. ^ M.ª Montserrat León Guerrero. "Pasajeros del Segundo Viaje de Cristóbal Colón Archived 2013-05-13 at the Wayback Machine" ["Passengers of the Second Voyage of Christopher Columbus"]. (in Spanish)
  51. ^ a b Pickering, Keith A. "Columbus's Ships". 1997. Accessed 21 May 2012.
  52. ^ Philips and Philips, The Worlds of Christopher Columbus
  53. ^ Montague, Peter. "Celebrating Columbus Day". Ecologist. Dec. 1999: 468–470. SIRS Issues Researcher. Web. 22 Feb. 2016.
  54. ^
  55. ^ Koning, Hans. Columbus, His Enterprise: Exploding the Myth. New York: Monthly Review Press, 1976: 83-83.
  56. ^ Morison, Samuel Eliot (1963). Journals & Other Documents on the Life & Voyages of Christopher Columbus. New York: The Heritage Press. p. 262.
  57. ^ Thacher, John Boyd (1903). Christopher Columbus: his life, his work, his remains, as revealed by original printed and manuscript records, together with an essay on Peter Martyr of Anghera and Bartolomé De Las Casas, the first Historians of America. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons. p. 379.
  58. ^ "Columbus's Third Voyage" (in Spanish). El Rincón del Vago.
  59. ^ Joseph 1838, p. 124
  60. ^ Joseph 1838, p. 125
  61. ^ Joseph 1838, p. 126
  62. ^ Giles Tremlett (August 7, 2006). "Lost document reveals Columbus as tyrant of the Caribbean". The Guardian. Retrieved October 10, 2006.
  63. ^ 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.
  64. ^ Samuel Eliot Morison, Admiral of the Ocean Sea: A Life of Christopher Columbus, p. 576.
  65. ^ The Brooklyn Museum catalogue notes that the most likely source for Leutze's trio of Columbus paintings is Washington Irving's best-selling Life and Voyages of Columbus (1828).
  66. ^ Samuel Eliot Morison, Admiral of the Ocean Sea: A Life of Christopher Columbus, 1942, pp. 653–654. Samuel Eliot Morison, Christopher Columbus, Mariner, 1955, pp. 184–192.
  67. ^ Mark McDonald (2005). Ferdinand Columbus, Renaissance Collector (1488–1539). British Museum Press. ISBN 978-0-7141-2644-9.

Further reading

External links

1828 in literature

This article presents lists of the literary events and publications in 1828.

A History of the Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus

A History of the Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus is a biographical account of Christopher Columbus written by Washington Irving in 1828. It was published in four volumes in Britain and in three volumes in the United States. The work was the most popular biographical account of Columbus in the English-speaking world until the publication of Samuel Eliot Morison's biography Admiral of the Ocean Sea in 1942. It is one of the first examples of American historical fiction and one of several attempts at national myth-making undertaken by American writers and poets of the 19th century.

Bay of Arrows

Golfo de Las Flechas or Bay of Arrows refers to a bay on the northeastern side of the island of Hispaniola in the present day Dominican Republic where there was a small skirmish between Christopher Columbus’ crew and the Cigüayos that lived there during Columbus' first voyage. It lies around 69 degrees west and 19 degrees north. The Bay of Arrows underwent a name change after being discovered by Christopher Columbus in January 1493. There is a current debate surrounding its location where some argue it is the present-day Samaná Bay while others claim it is the present-day Bay of Rincón.

Decades of the New World

Decades of the New World (De orbe novo decades) by Peter Martyr's is a series of letters and reports of the early explorations of Central and South America that was published beginning 1511 and later anthologized. Being among the earliest such reports, Decades are of great value in the history of geography and discovery and describe the early contacts of Europeans and Native Americans derived from the narrative of the voyages of Christopher Columbus in the Caribbean and the reports from Hernán Cortés's Mexican expedition.

The Decades consisted of eight reports, two of which Martyr had previously sent as letters describing the voyages of Columbus, to Cardinal Ascanius Sforza in 1493 and 1494. In 1501 Martyr, as requested by the Cardinal of Aragon, added eight chapters on the voyage of Columbus and the exploits of Martin Alonzo Pinzón. In 1511 he added a supplement giving an account of events from 1501 to 1511. By 1516 he had finished two other Decades:

The first was devoted to the exploits of Alonso de Ojeda, Diego de Nicuesa, and Vasco Núñez de Balboa. It was first published against his consent in a Venetian-Italian summary in Venice in 1504, reprinted in 1507, and published in a Latin translation in 1508. The original Latin text was published in 1511.

The second gave an account of Balboa's discovery of the Pacific Ocean, Columbus' fourth voyage, and the expeditions of Pedrarias Dávila.

The first three appeared together at Alcalá de Henares in 1516 under the title: De orbe novo decades cum Legatione Babylonica.

The Enchiridion de nuper sub D. Carolo repertis insulis (Basle, 1521) was printed as the fourth Decade, describing the voyages of Francisco Hernández de Córdoba, Juan de Grijalva, and Hernán Cortés.

The fifth Decade (1523) dealt with the conquest of Mexico and the circumnavigation of the world by Ferdinand Magellan.

The sixth Decade (1524) gave an account of Dávila's discoveries on the west coast of America.

The seventh Decade (1525) had collected descriptions of the customs of the natives in present-day South Carolina, including the "Testimony of Francisco de Chicora", a Native American taken captive there; as well as those of natives in Florida, Haiti, Cuba, and Darién.

The eighth Decade (1525) told the story of the march of Cortés against Olit.In 1530 the eight Decades were published together for the first time at Alcalá. Later editions of single or of all the Decades appeared at Basel (1533), Cologne (1574), Paris (1587), and Madrid (1892). A German translation was published in Basle in 1582; a French one by Gaffarel in Recueil de voyages et de documents pour servir à l'histoire de la Geographie (Paris, 1907).

The first three decades were translated into English by Richard Eden and published in 1555 (found in Arber's The first three English books on America Birmingham, 1885), thus beginning the genre of English discovery travel writing, which stimulated English exploration of the New World. Eden's translations were reprinted with supplementary materials in 1577 by Richard Willes under the new title, The historie of travayle into the West and east Indies. Richard Hakluyt had the remaining five decades translated into English by Michael Lok and published in London in 1612.

Early modern Europe

Early modern Europe is the period of European history between the end of the Middle Ages and the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, roughly the late 15th century to the late 18th century. Historians variously mark the beginning of the early modern period with the invention of moveable type printing in the 1450s, the Fall of Constantinople in 1453, the end of the Wars of the Roses in 1487, the beginning of the High Renaissance in Italy in the 1490s, the end of the Reconquista and subsequent voyages of Christopher Columbus to the Americas in 1492, or the start of the Protestant Reformation in 1517. The precise dates of its end point also vary and are usually linked with either the start of the French Revolution in 1789 or with the more vaguely defined beginning of the Industrial Revolution in late 18th century England.

Some of the more notable trends and events of the early modern period included the Reformation and the religious conflicts it provoked (including the French Wars of Religion and the Thirty Years' War), the rise of capitalism and modern nation states, widespread witch hunts and European colonization of the Americas.

Exploration of the Americas

The exploration of the Americas includes:

Exploration of North America

Colonization of the Americas

Voyages of Christopher Columbus


Guacanagaríx (alternate transcriptions: Guacanacaríc, Guacanagarí) was one of the five Taíno caciques of the Caribbean island of Hispaniola; at the date of its European discovery in 1492, by the first of the Voyages of Christopher Columbus for Spain.He was the chief of the cacicazgo of Marién, which occupied northwest of the island.

Guacanagaríx received Christopher Columbus after the Santa María was wrecked during his first voyage to the New World. He allowed Columbus to establish the settlement of La Navidad near his village. The Spanish that remained there were killed by a rival tribe before Columbus returned on his second voyage.Guacanagaríx refused to ally himself with other caciques, who were trying to expel the Spanish from the Colony of Santo Domingo and many times served as an informant and spy for the Spanish.

History of North America

History of North America encompasses the past developments of people populating the continent of North America. While it was widely believed that continent first became a human habitat when people migrated across the Bering Sea 40,000 to 17,000 years ago, recent discoveries may have pushed those estimates back at least another 90,000 years. Regardless, migrants settled in many locations on the continent, from the Inuit of the far north to the Mayans and Aztecs of the south. These isolated communities each developed their own unique ways of life and cultures, and their interaction with one another was limited in comparison to the extensive trade and conflict of civilizations across the Atlantic in Europe and Asia.

Records of European travel to North America begin with the Norse in the tenth century CE. In 985, they founded a settlement on Greenland (an often-overlooked part of North America) that persisted until the early 1400s. They also explored the east coast of Canada, but their settlements there were much smaller and shorter-lived. With the Age of Exploration and the voyages of Christopher Columbus (starting 1492), Europeans began to arrive in the Americas in large numbers and to develop colonial ambitions for both North and South America. Columbus' "discovery" of America is a contested idea because the Americas were already heavily populated by the indigenous Native American peoples, who had developed distinctive civilizations in their own right. After Columbus, influxes of Europeans soon followed and overwhelmed the native population. North America became a staging ground for ongoing European rivalries. The continent was divided by three prominent European powers: England, France, and Spain. The influences of colonization by these states on North American cultures are still apparent today.

Conflict over resources on North America ensued in various wars between these powers, but, gradually, the new European colonies developed desires for independence. Revolutions, such as the American Revolution and Mexican War of Independence, created new, independent states that came to dominate North America. The Canadian Confederation formed in 1867, creating the modern political landscape of North America.

From the 19th to 21st centuries, North American states have developed increasingly deeper connections with each other. Although some conflicts have occurred, the continent has for the most part enjoyed peace and general cooperation between its states, as well as open commerce and trade between them. Modern developments include the opening of free trade agreements, extensive immigration from Mexico and Latin America, and drug trafficking concerns in these regions.

History of the Americas

The prehistory of the Americas (North, South, and Central America, and the Caribbean) begins with people migrating to these areas from Asia during the height of an Ice Age. These groups are generally believed to have been isolated from the people of the "Old World" until the coming of Europeans in the 10th century from Iceland led by Leif Erikson and with the voyages of Christopher Columbus in 1492.

The ancestors of today's American Indigenous peoples were the Paleo-Indians; they were hunter-gatherers who migrated into North America. The most popular theory asserts that migrants came to the Americas via Beringia, the land mass now covered by the ocean waters of the Bering Strait. Small lithic stage peoples followed megafauna like bison, mammoth (now extinct), and caribou, thus gaining the modern nickname "big-game hunters." Groups of people may also have traveled into North America on shelf or sheet ice along the northern Pacific coast.

Cultural traits brought by the first immigrants later evolved and spawned such cultures as Iroquois on North America and Pirahã of South America. These cultures later developed into civilizations. In many cases, these cultures expanded at a later date than their Old World counterparts. Cultures that may be considered advanced or civilized include Norte Chico, Cahokia, Zapotec, Toltec, Olmec, Maya, Aztec, Chimor, Mixtec, Moche, Mississippian, Puebloan, Totonac, Teotihuacan, Huastec people, Purépecha, Izapa, Mazatec, Muisca, and the Inca.After the voyages of Christopher Columbus in 1492, Spanish and later Portuguese, English, French and Dutch colonial expeditions arrived in the New World, conquering and settling the discovered lands, which led to a transformation of the cultural and physical landscape in the Americas. Spain colonized most of the Americas from present-day Southwestern United States, Florida and the Caribbean to the southern tip of South America. Portugal settled in what is mostly present-day Brazil while England established colonies on the Eastern coast of the United States, as well as the North Pacific coast and in most of Canada. France settled in Quebec and other parts of Eastern Canada and claimed an area in what is today the central United States. The Netherlands settled New Netherland (administrative centre New Amsterdam - now New York), some Caribbean islands and parts of Northern South America.

European colonization of the Americas led to the rise of new cultures, civilizations and eventually states, which resulted from the fusion of Native American and European traditions, peoples and institutions. The transformation of American cultures through colonization is evident in architecture, religion, gastronomy, the arts and particularly languages, the most widespread being Spanish (376 million speakers), English (348 million) and Portuguese (201 million). The colonial period lasted approximately three centuries, from the early 16th to the early 19th centuries, when Brazil and the larger Hispanic American nations declared independence. The United States obtained independence from England much earlier, in 1776, while Canada formed a federal dominion in 1867. Others remained attached to their European parent state until the end of the 19th century, such as Cuba and Puerto Rico which were linked to Spain until 1898. Smaller territories such as Guyana obtained independence in the mid-20th century, while certain Caribbean islands and French Guiana remain part of a European power to this day.

King of the Indies

King of the Indies (Rex Indiarum) was a title used by Charles V since 1521 to reflect the conquest of the Aztec and Inca empires by the castilian conquistadores. Isabella of Castile had already become queen of the West Indies following the Voyages of Christopher Columbus. As Charles inherited the crown of Castile and ratified the conquest of the Aztecs and Incas by the conquistadores, the title of "King of the West Indies" became "King of the Indies" to reflect the expansion from the West Indies into the mainland. Charles V also ratified the establishment of Klein-Venedig and appointed figures such as Mercurino Gattinara as "Grand Chancellors of the Indies".The title of "King of the Indies" was inherited by Philip II of Spain who also styled himself as "King of the Western and Eastern Indies". Under Philip II, the term "West Indies" came to include both the insular territories and the Spanish Main in order to distinguish these possessions from the new colony of the Spanish East Indies (the Philippines). The term "King of the Indies" continued to be used by Spanish monarchs in the 17th and 18th century. Nowadays, West Indies only refer to the original area of the Spanish West Indies and the term "Indies" refers to the East Indies.

Lugares colombinos

The Lugares colombinos ("Columbian places") is a tourist route in the Spanish province Huelva, which includes several places that have special relevance to the preparation and realization of the first voyage of Cristopher Columbus. That voyage is widely considered to constitute the discovery of the Americas by Europeans. It was declared a conjunto histórico artístico ("historic/artistic grouping") by a Spanish law of 1967.There are two localities so honored: Palos de la Frontera (both the old center and the La Rábida Monastery 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) distant), and Moguer. Columbus visited each of these places several times, and people associated with each played roles in his voyage. He received help and collaboration for his projected voyage from the brothers of the La Rábida Monastery, the Pinzón Brothers of Palos de la Frontera, the Niño Brothers of Moguer and other prestigious families of mariners in the area who were further distinguished by their participation in the voyage of discovery.

In the years following Columbus's voyage this area of Spain, especially Palos, suffered a great economic decline, owing in part to emigration to the newly discovered territories overseas. The recuperation of the historical importance of this region with respect to the Spanish discovery and conquest of the Americas (and the interest in preserving and restoring the buildings associated with Columbus) began, in part, with the nineteenth-century writer Washington Irving, from the United States, whose travels in Spain included this area. His diary entries for 12–14 August 1828 deal with the Lugares colombinos; that same year he would publish A History of the Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus; he also published a short essay about Palos as an appendix to Voyages and Discoveries of the Companions of Columbus.

The Lugares colombinos remain a strong reminder of the history linking Spain to Latin America, and are the most noted historical and cultural sites in the province of Huelva.

Map of Juan de la Cosa

The map or chart of Juan de la Cosa is a mappa mundi painted on parchment, 93 cm high and 183 cm wide. Since the nineteenth century it has formed part of the collections of the Naval Museum of Madrid (Spain). A line of text on the map says it was made by the Cantabrian cartographer and sailor Juan de la Cosa in 1500 in the Andalusian port city of El Puerto de Santa María. Its rich decoration hints that it was ordered by some powerful member of the court of the Catholic Monarchs, who ruled the kingdoms of Castile and Aragon at that time.

This map is the earliest undisputed representation of the Americas. The map contains a body of water to the north of Cuba which is within a landmass, a hint of the undiscovered Gulf of Mexico. Some historians have claimed that some of the Antilles appear on earlier maps such as the Pizzigano map of 1424 but there is no consensus about it. Furthermore, the Vinland map shows part of North America but it is most probably fake. The La Cosa map shows the lands discovered up to the end of the 15th century by Castilian, Portuguese and English expeditions to America. It also depicts a large fraction of the Old World, according to the style of medieval portolan charts and including news of the arrival of Vasco de Gama to India in 1498.The map of Juan de la Cosa is the only cartographic work made by an eyewitness of the first voyages of Christopher Columbus to the Indies that has been preserved. Possibly as an allusion to Columbus, it contains a large image of Saint Christopher that covers the region where Central America should have appeared. On the other hand, Cuba is drawn as an island, which contradicts Columbus' opinion that it was a peninsula of Asia.

Novelty Glass Company

Novelty Glass Company of Fostoria was one of over 70 glass manufacturing companies that operated in northwest Ohio during the region's brief Gas Boom in the late 19th Century. The company made drinking glasses, bar goods, and novelties. Organization of the firm began late in 1890, with banker Rawson Crocker as president and veteran glass man Henry Crimmel as plant manager. Production started in February 1891. The plant was built on the site of the former Buttler Art Glass Company, which had been destroyed by fire in 1889.

During the early 1890s, many manufacturers were producing novelties that honored the 400th anniversary of the voyages of Christopher Columbus. Novelty Glass Company's contribution included commemorative punch bowl sets and salt shakers. Some of this glassware displayed Columbus with a beard—which was rarely done. This commemorative work has subsequently become valuable to collectors.

Like many companies during northwest Ohio’s brief Gas Boom, the Novelty Glass Company was short-lived. The plant was shut down in January 1892, with a restart planned for April. The April restart did not happen, and plant manager Henry Crimmel left the firm for the Sneath Glass Company in Tiffin, Ohio. In October of the same year, the Novelty plant was leased to the United States Glass Company, who also purchased the company's inventory of molds and related equipment. Production began again, and the Novelty works became known as Factory T in the United States Glass Company conglomerate. Approximately 100 people were employed making drinking glasses and stemware. The restart did not last long, however. The plant was destroyed by fire in April 1893.

Old World (disambiguation)

The Old World is a historic reference to those parts of Earth known to Europeans before the voyages of Christopher Columbus; it includes Europe, Asia and Africa.

Old World may also refer to:

Old World (Warhammer)

Old World ROM

World order (also Old World Order), the current operating system of the world as opposed to the New World Order conspiracy theory.

Paul Chiasson

Paul Chiasson is a Canadian architect (M.Arch. Yale '81) author, who has written pseudohistories about the settlement of North America.In his first book, The Island of Seven Cities: Where the Chinese Settled When They Discovered America, Chiasson explains his belief that Chinese voyagers settled in the Cape Dauphin area of Nova Scotia almost a century before the voyages of Christopher Columbus. He suggests that the indigenous Mi'kmaq culture was influenced by these people in the form of possible archaeological remains, customs, costumes, art and even written language.

His theory has been rejected by mainstream historians. Provincial archaeologists and a geologist have said that some of Chiasson's physical evidence of a Chinese settlement—a road up the side of Cape Dauphin and the stone remains of a wall surrounding the site —were actually built in 1952 by a volunteer fire company fighting a forest fire and again in the 1990s by a gravel company attempting to dig gravel on the cape. Chiasson challenges these statements in his second book, Written in the Ruins: Cape Breton Island's Second Pre-Columbian Chinese Settlement.In December 2010, several years after the reports of the Nova Scotian archeologists, History Television aired a one-hour documentary entitled "Mysterious Ruins: Cape Breton". The documentary explored Chiasson's theory and included interviews with an archeologist and a geologist from the area who viewed the site that Chiasson posits was the location of a pre-Columbian Chinese community. Geologist Sandra Barr of Acadia University and archaeologist Steve Davis of St. Mary's University stated that they found no evidence of any human settlement on the site. Acadia University reported that "their explanations are mostly ignored in the film." The documentary also included interviews with several Chinese architectural historians. Dr. Zhu Guangya, Professor of Architectural History at Southeast University, Nanjing stated (translation), "I believe the site is a ruin from a human settlement. Further study is required to confirm what kind of settlement it is." Professor Fang Yong said that "“I feel that what he has found is not yet enough to prove that it is ruins of a Chinese settlement, but it is possible.”

Spanish Golden Age

The Spanish Golden Age (Spanish: Siglo de Oro [ˈsiɣlo ðe ˈoɾo], "Golden Century") is a period of flourishing in arts and literature in Spain, coinciding with the rise of the Spanish Habsburg dynasty. Politically, El Siglo de Oro lasted from the accession to the throne of Philip II of Spain in 1556 to the Treaty of the Pyrenees in 1659. When no precise dating is used, the period begins no earlier than 1492 (with the end of the Reconquista, the sea voyages of Christopher Columbus to the New World, and the publication of Antonio de Nebrija's Grammar of the Castilian Language) and ends no later than 1681 with the death of the Pedro Calderón de la Barca, the last great writer of the age.

The Habsburgs, both in Spain and Austria, were great patrons of art in their countries. El Escorial, the great royal monastery built by King Philip II, invited the attention of some of Europe's greatest architects and painters. Diego Velázquez, regarded as one of the most influential painters of European history and a greatly respected artist in his own time, cultivated a relationship with King Philip IV and his chief minister, the Count-Duke of Olivares, leaving us several portraits that demonstrate his style and skill. El Greco, another respected artist from the period, infused Spanish art with the styles of the Italian renaissance and helped create a uniquely Spanish style of painting. Some of Spain's greatest music is regarded as having been written in the period. Such composers as Tomás Luis de Victoria, Cristóbal de Morales, Francisco Guerrero, Luis de Milán and Alonso Lobo helped to shape Renaissance music and the styles of counterpoint and polychoral music, and their influence lasted far into the Baroque period which resulted in a revolution of music. Spanish literature blossomed as well, most famously demonstrated in the work of Miguel de Cervantes, the author of Don Quixote de la Mancha. Spain's most prolific playwright, Lope de Vega, wrote possibly as many as one thousand plays during his lifetime, of which over four hundred survive to the present day.

Tales of a Traveller

Tales of a Traveller, by Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. (1824) is a collection of essays and short stories composed by Washington Irving while he was living in Europe, primarily in Germany and Paris. The collection was published using Irving's pseudonym, Geoffrey Crayon.

Transatlantic crossing

Transatlantic crossings are passages of passengers and cargo across the Atlantic Ocean between Europe or Africa and the Americas. The majority of passenger traffic is across the North Atlantic between Western Europe and North America. Centuries after the dwindling of sporadic Viking trade with Markland, a regular and lasting transatlantic trade route was established in 1566 with the Spanish West Indies fleets, following the Voyages of Christopher Columbus.


Vinland, Vineland or Winland (Old Norse: Vínland) is the area of coastal North America explored by Norse Vikings, where Leif Erikson first landed in ca. 1000, approximately five centuries prior to the voyages of Christopher Columbus and John Cabot. Vinland was the name given to North America as far as it was explored by the Norse, presumably including both Newfoundland and the Gulf of Saint Lawrence as far as northeastern New Brunswick (where the eponymous grapevines are found).

In 1960, archaeological evidence of the only known Norse site in North America (outside Greenland) was found at L'Anse aux Meadows on the northern tip of the island of Newfoundland. Before the discovery of archaeological evidence, Vinland was known only from Old Norse sagas and medieval historiography. The 1960 discovery proved the pre-Columbian Norse exploration of mainland North America. L'Anse aux Meadows may correspond to the camp Straumfjörð mentioned in the Saga of Erik the Red.

Exploration and explorers by nation or region
Explorers by country
Explorers by type
Exploration by region
Exploration timelines

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.