Christopher Columbus (2 of 3)

So from what we seem to know about Columbus already, he was an Italian who refused to listen to 2,000 years of logic and managed to inaccurately calculate the distance it would take him to get to Asia by about 9,000 Km!

So what else should we know about this Genius? How about the fact that before his travels, for nearly a decade, Columbus lobbied European monarchies to bankroll his quest to discover a western sea route to Asia. In Portugal, England and France, the response was the same: No!!

Spain Agrees

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King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain agreed to sponsor Columbus’ voyage – even though their advisers suggested also that his calculations were wrong! The Spanish had just defeated the Muslims in Spain and they looked to increase the Spanish Empire! They said that Columbus would be Governor of whatever lands that he conquered and that he would be given title of Admiral of the Ocean Sea.

Columbus Sails

On August 3 1492, Columbus set sail in 3 caravels: The Niña, Pinta and Santa Maria from the port of Palos in Spain. The Santa Maria was the flagship. There were about 90 crewmen including a surgeon, cooks and servants. It was however a NO WOMEN OR PRIESTS CLUB!

The men were attracted by the chance of discovering riches! Most of them were experienced crew but some were convicts who Ferdinand would pardon if they completed the journey. The crew were fed 1 hot meal per day which was cooked in a firebox on deck. They also drank wine and water.

The ships carried gunpowder and cannonballs, as well as mirrors, bread and pins that could be used for trading.

Across the Atlantic

columbus map

Columbus stopped in the Canary Islands for repairs and to stock up on food. Columbus then sailed into the unknown waters of the Atlantic. Luckily he was aided by following winds today known as the trade winds. The crew were nervous that they were in danger of not finding their way home. To calm the crew, Columbus recorded his findings into 2 logbooks: 

  1. The Real One – logging the actual distance traveled
  2. The Fake One – logging the shorter distance traveled

Columbus persuaded the crew that the sighting of birds was a sign of nearby land. The crew were getting restless and eventually Columbus had to promise his men that he would turn around if they did no see land in a few days.


“Stingy” Columbus Lands in San Salvador

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On the morning of 12 October 1492, the Pinta fired a cannon shot – a signal of land sighted. Columbus and his crew landed on San Salvador in the Bahama Islands.

The Admiral went ashore in the ship’s boat with the royal flag displayed…Having given thanks to Our Lord, keeling on the ground…the Admiral arose and gave the island the name of San Salvador

Why so stingy? Before the discovery Columbus had promised a reward of gold to whoever saw land first. A sailor named Rodrigo de Triana was the first to see land but poor Rodrigo never got the reward! Columbus kept it for himself, telling everyone he had seen a hazy sort of light the night before.

rod cart

He had not spoken up because the light was indistinct. Rodrigo may have gotten hosed, but there is a nice statue of him sighting land in a park in Seville (Not much good to him now!)

rod triana
Rodrigo de Triana

So there you have it! Columbus landed in the island of San Salvador with a pretty disgruntled crew! Lucky for him they got there before there was handbags on the boat between crew and Captain!

So Columbus has now discovered “Asia”…in the most “clickbait” sounding way….WHAT HE DID NEXT WILL SHOCK YOU!!

So be sure to keep reading The Áed!

For more on Columbus make sure to check out blogs 1 and 3 of this 3 series blog!


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