Cristoforo Colombo

By | Oct 12, 2017

Christopher Columbus is thought to have been born between August and October 1451 in Genoa, Italy. Little is known about his youth, although it is thought that he had a brother, Bartolomeo who may have worked in a cartography workshop in Lisbon. He did claim that he began his life at sea at the age of 10.

Columbus never sat for an authentic portrait. Writings have described him as having reddish hair, which turned to white early in his life. He was a lighter skinned person and with too much sun exposure his face had turned red.

At the time of his 1492 voyage it was a common belief, especially of seagoing men, that the earth was a sphere. Europe had begun trade with China, but the overland route was rough and the sea route around the southern tip of Africa was long. Columbus held a theory, that the earth’s circumference was 25,255 kilometers. The accepted theory at the time was that the earth’s circumference was greater, which in actuality is correct.

In 1485, Columbus presented to the King John of Portugal a proposal that the king should equip three sturdy ships to Columbus and in one year’s time he would sail out into the Atlantic, search for a western route to Orient, and then return home. Columbus also requested he be made “Great Admiral of the Ocean”, be granted governor of any and all lands he discovered, and given one-tenth of all revenue from those lands discovered. The king submitted the proposal to his experts. They who rejected it with an opinion that Columbus’ proposed route of 2,400 miles was far too short.

After being rejected by Portugal he presented the same plan to the newly married Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile, who ruled the combined lands of Spain. Even though they had similar reports as Portugal about Columbus’s estimates being too short, they didn’t want him to take his plan elsewhere. They gave him a gave him an annual annuity of 12,000 maravedis ($840) and in 1489 furnished him with a letter ordering all Spanish cities and towns to provide him food and lodging at no cost. Finally in 1492 the cash starved Ferdinand and Isabella agreed to fund 1/2 of his expedition. He had already lined up the the other half from private investors.

On the evening of August 3, 1492, Columbus departed from Palos with three ships; the larger of the ships was the Santa María, nicknamed Gallega and two smaller caravels, Pinta and Santa Clara, nicknamed Niña . Columbus first sailed to the Canary Islands, , where he restocked the provisions and made repairs, and on September 6, started what turned out to be a five-week voyage across the ocean. Land was sighted at 2 a.m. on October 12, 1492, Columbus called the island (in what is now The Bahamas) San Salvador.


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