"In all parts of the Old World, as well as of the New, it was evident that Columbus had kindled a fire in every mariner's heart. That fire was the harbinger of a new era, for it was not to be extinguished." ― Charles Kendall Adams
In the year 1451, Christopher Columbus, a.k.a. Cristoforo Colombo, was born to Domenico Colombo and Susanna Fontanarossa in Genoa. Columbus's father was a wool weaver and cheese vendor, and for several years Columbus worked as an assistant at his store. Accounts suggest that Columbus started his career as a seafarer when he was as young as fourteen. Though not highly educated, Columbus loved learning, was fluent in Latin, Castilian, and Portuguese, and was an avid reader of books on astronomy, history, and geography. In this article, we will try and put forward some of the most interesting things about his life and times.
Interesting Facts about Christopher Columbus
- Despite the amount of information we possess about the many voyages of Christopher Columbus, there is absolutely no authentic information about his physical appearance. Most of his portraits suggest that he had light eyes and reddish hair, but all these paintings were commissioned after his death, and hence cannot be authenticated.
- In the year 1480, Columbus, along with his brothers, chalked out a plan for travel to south and east Asia, and more specifically, what was known then as the Indies. In the plans that were made by them, they considered the Earth's circumference to measure only about 15,700 miles, which is nowhere near the actual circumference of the planet. Columbus also believed that Asia was placed across the Atlantic, and that Japan was only 2,700 miles away. These calculations were far from the actual truth.
- Christopher Columbus was an excellent seafarer and captain, but despite this, he had to struggle a lot to get the funding he needed for his voyages. He approached the King John II of Portugal repeatedly, but was always declined support. He then made a trip to Spain and approached Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand of Spain to be his patrons. It was only in 1492 that he was finally granted the funds he needed to make the voyages to discover the sea route to the Indies.
- The first of Christopher Columbus's voyages was made up of a party of three ships and ninety sailors. The ship in which he traveled was the Santa Maria. The other two ships were the Pinta, which had Martin Pinzon at the helm, and the Nina, which was captained by Vincente Pinzon.
- The journey began from the town of Palos on the third of August and made its way across the Atlantic, which was then known as the Ocean Sea back then. The journey went on for as long as two months and nine days. It was after many false alarms that they finally saw land on the twelfth of October. The land that they discovered was the Watling's Island, which is located in present-day Bahamas. He believe that this was India. Records tell us that he sailed on, reaching Cuba. While tragedy struck with the sinking of the Santa Maria, Columbus survived and established a Spanish settlement in the New World.
- In 1493, Columbus made a trip back to Spain, spreading news about the New World he and his team of sailors had discovered. He then made a second voyage the same year, with a bigger fleet and crew. This fleet was attacked by natives on reaching Hispaniola (Jamaica). Columbus returned to Spain after setting up a settlement in modern-day Haiti.
- His third voyage began in 1498. He managed to reach the modern-day Cape Verde, and then crossed over to mainland America. Due to problems at these Spanish settlements, Columbus came under a lot of criticism. Historical evidence suggests that he undertook a fourth voyage, but was in ill health during this period. He was stranded at Hispaniola and was rescued the year after, in 1503. Three years later, Christopher Columbus passed away in Spain.