“In 1492 Columbus Sailed the Ocean Blue”
Now what if I told you that was all a giant conspiracy to keep the people of the world from finding out the true nature of this man and where he really was?
No! Columbus was a bit of an idiot and did actually wind up in America! Luckily for him, the uncharted Americas saved his bacon from the Spanish Royalty….for now!
The Real Story
Explorer and navigator Columbus was born in 1451, in the Republic of Genoa (Italy) to the son of a weaver. Columbus first went to sea as a teenager, participating in several trading voyages in the Mediterranean and Aegean seas. One such voyage, to the island of Khios, in modern day Greece, brought him the closest he would come to Asia.
One of the first things we should know about these post-Renaissance people is that there was a debate about the shape of the world!
Forget those myths told by everyone from Washington to Bugs Bunny. There was no need for Columbus to debunk the flat-earthers—the ancient Greeks had already done so. As early as the sixth century B.C., the Greek mathematician Pythagoras figured out the world was round, and two centuries later Aristotle backed him up with astronomical observations. By 1492 most educated people knew the planet was not shaped like a pancake!
Why Did Columbus Travel West?
Columbus read the works of Ptolemy (Greek) and Marco Polo (Venetian, Italy) which led him to believe there was land West of “Europe”. Since he believed the world was round, he said sailing West should lead him to Cathay (China) or Cipango (Japan).
Columbus worked out the distance as 4,500 Km, when it really was THREE TIMES that length!!
So why be so harsh on him with inaccuracy?? Consider these 3 things:
- He would be responsible for the welfare of his men if travelling
- Eratosthenes of Cyrene. Born around 276 B.C. in Cyrene, Libya, Eratosthenes soon became one of the most famous mathematicians of his time. He is best known for making the first recorded measurement of the Earth’s circumference, which was also remarkably accurate. (And, yes, people at that point had known for some time that the world wasn’t flat, contrary to popular belief.)
- 827 AD – Iraq – Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi – Using basic equipment – Algebra and Algorithim – he found the earth’s circumference to be 23,200 Miles – so why wasn’t Columbus listening when people were telling him for thousands of years that the Earth was bigger than he thought?!
Yeah, cos it happens all the time Kevin!!
Well that’s all for now folks! Be sure to check out blogs 2 and 3 of Christopher Columbus as this is a 3-series blog! For more things historical, you can check out other blogs here at The Áed