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The era of great geographical discoveries completely changed the European thoughts of the world. It contributed to the appearance of new continents, islands, and channels on the maps. It was the time when Christopher Columbus discovered America. However, this event is still controversial. There are a lot of speculations and even myths about this historical fact. Nevertheless, because of the discoveries Europe got a lot of new products, spices, jewelry, fabrics, and great sailors were glorified and awarded with ranks and important positions. Thus, this paper will discuss all interesting facts about Christopher Columbus and his discoveries.
Christopher Columbus is undoubtedly one of those people who had a tremendous impact on the history of all mankind. However, it is necessary to note the fact that there is no accurate information on the location and the date of his birth. Edward Hale (2006) wrote: it seems probable that Christopher was born in the year 1436, though some writers have said that he was older than this, and some that he was younger (p. 14). The facts about his early childhood are also very controversial. Tirado (2002) stated that though biographical facts on Columbus vary from author to author, there is general agreement among most scholars that Cristopher Colombo was born in Genoa between August 25 and October 31, 1451. His father, Domenico Colombo, was a wool weaver and very active local politician. His mother, Suzanna Fontanarossa, was a daughter of a wool weaver (Tirado, 2002). Thus, it is almost impossible to give the accurate information about his life.
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For some time Christopher Columbus had been living in Portugal, where he married the daughter of Bartolomeo Pereshtrelu, the Portuguese researcher, whose works made Columbus interested in the possibility of the discovery of new lands (Lester, 2006). Though, Columbus himself was well-versed in maps, studying the works of Paolo Toscanelli, and a well-known cartographer. Columbus believed that the theory of Toscanelli about the possibility of the sea route to India across the Atlantic was quite reasonable. Joao II, the Portuguese King, was the first whom Columbus had addressed a proposal to organize an expedition. Cummins stated that the Dulmo-Estreito expedition may have been intended as an economical first stage of the Portuguese Crowns attempt to find a westward route to the orient, and that the stimulus came from Columbuss presentation of his project to King Joao II in 1484 (n. d.). The King was interested in the project and committed the special Council to study it. However, he refused to help Columbus with his proposal. It is believed that Columbus demanded various material goods and it was the main reason for the Kings decision.
Christopher Columbus was frustrated because of the refusal. That is why he decided to address to Spanish rulers. However, they also reacted unwillingly to his proposal. Such a reaction was expectable because of the money costs of the war. After several years, Columbus was able to convince the Spanish royal couple to endorse his expedition. Obviously, he chose a very good moment to re-contact with his proposal, when Spain was in a difficult position. A prior contract with Portugal forbade the Spanish to sail the west coast of Africa, thus, eliminating the possibility to reach the shores of India by skirting the African continent. The state treasury was exhausted, and the opportunity of establishing profitable trade with India was very useful. The Spanish church was also a supporter of the opening of new lands in order to spread the religion further.
However, it is still unknown why Columbus wanted to discover new lands and what interests he had. It should be noted that at that time, Columbus, the Spanish king, and queen signed the Treaty of Santa Fe, which gave Columbus the opportunity to get a knighthood and the title of an Admiral of the seas, a Viceroy and a Governor of the new land, and a very substantial part of the potential profits (Tirado, 2002). Unfortunately, the expedition funds were only enough for three old ships, whose state was not ideal, and the team consisted of people who were in conflict with the law and participated in the expedition because of the future freedom.
The first journey was made by Christopher Columbus, a cartographer, explorer, and discoverer of America, to the shores of a new continent in 1492 with three ships, the Santa Maria, the Nina, and the Pinta (Christopher Columbus facts & information, n. d.). The team and a great navigator had been suffering privations for more than two months. The Sargasso Sea was a new geographical object. This sea struck Columbus and his companions with the unseen mass of green algae. When Santa Maria, Pinta, and Ni?a berthed to the shores of America, Christopher Columbus and other travelers were confident that they finally reached India, because it was the aim of the expedition. In fact, the Spaniards touched the San Salvador Island. However, this significant day is officially considered the date of the discovery of America. Stepping ashore, Christopher Columbus perched a Castilian banner on an unknown piece of land and immediately declared himself a pioneer and the formal owner of the island. They even drew up a notarial deed. Columbus was convinced that he was in the environs of China, Japan, and India, in short in Asia. That is why the cartographers named the Bahamian archipelago as the West Indies. Local natives took the Spanish explorers for the gods. Then Columbus was stubbornly moving to the south, skirting the coast of South America. Christopher Columbus marked new islands on the map, namely Cuba and Haiti. The grand expedition to the unknown shores, which resulted in the discovery of America, came to an end. The natives, whom the sailors had taken with them, together with Columbus arrived in Europe and were named as Indians. They brought potatoes, corn, tobacco, and unprecedented products from another continent to Spain. But the discovery of Columbus was not ended.
During the second expedition, a great explorer of the era of geographical discoveries led the fleet in the rank of admiral. He was granted the post of viceroy of America, more precisely the lands which he was able to open during the first voyage. Thus, he began the second expedition with a big team and a great number of vessels sailing from the Spanish coasts (Tirado, 2002). During this voyage, Columbus discovered Guadeloupe, the Dominica Island, Jamaica, Antigua, and Puerto Rico (Tirado, 2002).
It is necessary to note that the third expedition of the famous explorer was not so great. He managed to open the Trinidad and Margarita Islands, found the mouth of the Orinoco River and the Paria Peninsula (Tirado, 2002). According to the historians, Columbus sailed farther south, to Trinidad and Venezuela (including the mouth of the Orinoco River) (Christopher Columbus: Explorer, 2000). Then, he continued his searches.
He succeeded in the royal couple permission to organize another expedition to the mysterious continent. The fourth expedition turned out to be the last in Columbus life. The voyage to the shores of America had been lasting for two years. The great navigator sailed with four ships, and in the course of the campaign reached Mexico, Honduras, Panama, and Santiago (Jamaica) (Christopher Columbus: Explorer, 2000). After returning, he was sick, exhausted, and almost poor. He spent all his savings on a rescue mission equipment for the crew of one of his caravels. Heather (2011) wrote that famous explorer Christopher Columbus, whom the U.S. celebrates today with Columbus Day, died at age 54 in 1506 after battling reactive arthritis, an illness which is now treatable (para. 1). However, the public found out about his death only 27 years later.
It is believed that Christopher Columbus discovered America on the 12th of October. In fact, at that time he landed in the Bahamas, but he reached the continent a month later. Only during the second expedition, he was able to discover America in 1493, when the crew reached the shore of a new land of Columbia, which bears the name of the navigator. Most countries of the American continent celebrate this date, but in the United States of America, this holiday is on the second Monday of October. The main festivities take place in New York, where the grand parade is organized every year. There are also special services, parades, and large ceremonies in other cities. People remember about this discovery because Columbus introduced a lot of products to Europe and livestock to America. As a result, it changed the European and American cooking. This fact led to rising of import and export. His voyage made Spain richer and more powerful thanks to new resources. However, in the United States, some cities meet the personality and historical Columbus role with a mixed reception. It is determined by the fact that the arrival of European settlers meant the beginning of mass colonization, slavery, and extermination of indigenous peoples. Therefore, in the USA people celebrate the Columbus Day not only with parades but also with protest demonstrations organized by American indigenous peoples and human rights organizations, which usually carry portraits of the medieval navigator. According to some historians, though he did not really discover the New World millions of people already lived there his journeys marked the beginning of centuries of trans-Atlantic conquest and colonization (Christopher Columbus, 2017). Thus, Columbus discovery spread slavery forcing hundreds of indigenous people to work. Also, it is necessary to note that people suffered from different diseases because of the slave trade.
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Thus, Christopher Columbus unexpectedly discovered America in the attempt to find the way from the West to the East Europe. As the result of this discovery, he had such a great impact on the world history that he had never expected. His journey, making a start of the era of geographical discoveries and colonization of the New World, was one of the major turning points in history. He discovered two new continents that helped to accommodate steadily growing population of Europe and ensure it with minerals and raw materials, which made possible to change the European economy. At the same time, Columbus expedition led to the destruction of the Native American civilization. Over time, it contributed to the formation of a new family of peoples in the Western Hemisphere. The great merit of Columbus was a complete journey that his contemporaries considered fantastic and unreal. Being convinced in the roundness of the earth, Columbus knew that if he went in the opposite direction, he could achieve the same destination. His journeys showed the possibility of sailing on the ships of that time across the ocean. Thus, the era of coastal navigation was changed to the one of ocean navigation, which allowed during a short period to learn and master a significant part of the Earth.