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Famed Italian explorer Christopher Columbus discovered the "New World" of the Americas on an expedition sponsored by King Ferdinand of Spain in 1492.
492 years before Columbus in Polynesia, ancient voyagers may have reached North and South America in their travels.
962 years before Columbus, St. Brendan the Navigator had a vision of paradise which legend has it was America.
Legendary explorer Christopher Columbus was born in 1451 in a sea town in Italy and began sailing as a teenager. Columbus believed that sailing west would be a faster way to get to India. In August of 1492, Columbus set sail.
While many say that Columbus discovered America, Indians had in fact lived there for thousands of years. Columbus and his crew wasted very little time enslaving these natives.
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Explorer and navigator Christopher Columbus was born in 1451 in the Republic of Genoa, Italy. His first voyage into the Atlantic Ocean in 1476 nearly cost him his life. Columbus participated in several other expeditions to Africa. 1492, Columbus left Spain in the Santa Maria, with the Pinta and the Niña along side. He has been credited for opening up the Americas to European colonization.
"I went to sea from the most tender age and have continued in a sea life to this day. Whoever gives himself up to this art wants to know the secrets of Nature here below. It is more than forty years that I have been thus engaged. Wherever any one has sailed, there I have sailed."
“Speaking of myself, little profit had I won from twenty years of service, during which I have served with so great labors and perils, for today I have no roof over my head in Castile; if I wish to sleep or eat, I have no place to which to go, save an inn or tavern, and most often I lack the wherewithal to pay the score.”
“They say that there is in that land an infinite amount of gold, and that the people wear corals on their heads and very large bracelets of coral on their feet and arms; and that with coral they adorn and inlay chairs and chests and tables.”
“This island and all the others are very fertile to a limitless degree, and this island is extremely so. In it there are many harbors on the coast of the sea, beyond comparison with others that I know in Christendom, and many rivers, good and large, which is marvellous.”
“Our Almighty God has shown me the highest favor, which, since David, he has not shown to anybody.”
“Already the road is opened to gold and pearls, and it may surely be hoped that precious stones, spices, and a thousand other things, will also be found.”
“I have now seen so much irregularity, that I have come to another conclusion respecting the earth, namely, that it is not round as they describe, but of the form of a pear.”
“In all the countries visited by your Highnesses' ships, I have caused a high cross to be fixed upon every headland, and have proclaimed, to every nation that I have discovered, the lofty estate of your Highnesses, and of your court in Spain.”
“Thus the story of Christopher Columbus reminds us that all fruitful exploration and discovery begins with a willingness to set one's sails higher, to seek new horizons, and to follow wherever one's imagination and experience might lead. It also reminds us that industry and labor are the foundation of learning and progress.” (George H.W. Bush)
“I ought to be judged as a captain sent from Spain to the Indies, to conquer a nation numerous and warlike, with customs and religions altogether different to ours.”
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.
His first voyage into the Atlantic Ocean in 1476 nearly cost him his life as the commercial fleet he was sailing with was attacked by French privateers off the coast of Portugal. His ship was burned and Columbus had to swim to the Portuguese shore and make his way to Lisbon, Portugal, where he eventually settled and married Felipa Perestrello. The couple had one son, Diego in about 1480. His wife died soon after and Columbus moved to Spain. He had a second son Fernando who was born out of wedlock in 1488 with Beatriz Enriquez de Arana.
Columbus participated in several other expeditions to Africa gaining knowledge of the Atlantic currents flowing east and west from the Canary Islands. Muslim domination of the trade routes through the Middle East makes travel to India and China difficult. Believing a route sailing west across the Atlantic would be quicker and safer, Columbus devised a plan to sail west to get reach the East. He estimated the earth to be a sphere approximately 63% its actual size and the distance between the Canary Islands and Japan to be about 2,300 miles. Many contemporary nautical experts disagreed, adhering to the second century BC estimate of the earth's circumference at 25,000 miles. This made the distance between the Canary Islands and Japan about 12,200 statute miles. While experts disagreed with Columbus on matters of distance, they concurred that a westward voyage from Europe would be an uninterrupted water route.
Rejected by the Portuguese king for a three-ship voyage of discovery, Columbus took his plan first to Genoa and then to Venice but was rejected there too. He then went to the Spanish monarchy of Isabella of Castille and Ferdinand of Aragon, in 1486. Their nautical experts too were skeptical and initially, Columbus was rejected. The idea however, must have intrigued the monarchs, for they kept Columbus on a retainer. But their focus was on a war with the Muslims and Columbus would have to wait.
Columbus continued to lobby the royal court and soon after the Spanish army captured the last Muslim stronghold in Granada in January of 1492, the monarchs agreed to finance his expedition. In August of 1492, Columbus left Spain in the Santa Maria, with the Pinta and the Niña along side.
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Throughout the centuries, brave explorers have fearlessly traveled the globe and beyond to discover new lands, people, animal species, riches and glory. Ferdinand Magellan of Portugal proved the world is round with his mission to sail around the world. His fellow countryman Vasco da Gama commanded the first European ship around the southern tip of Africa to reach India by sea. Norseman Leif Eriksson is regarded as the first European to reach North America, nearly 500 years before Christopher Columbus, who is credited with discovering the “New World” of the Americas. Juan Ponce de León scoured Puerto Rico and Florida in his quest for the fountain of youth. Meriwether Lewis and William Clark blazed new trails during their Corps of Discovery Expedition across the western half of the United States. Traveling to new heights of discovery were mountain climber Sir Edmund Hillary, the first man to reach the peak of Mount Everest, and U.S. astronaut Neil Armstrong, the first human to walk on the moon. These intrepid explorers and more have made an indelible mark on human history. See all Explorers.
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