Christopher Columbus was a very mysterious man, and he’s now one of the most well known explorers in the history. His real name was Cristobal Colombus. Columbus was born in Genova, Italy, between August 26 and October 31 in the year 1451. He grew up as a poor boy. His father, Domenico Columbo, worked as a woolens merchant. His mother, Susanna Fontanarossa, was the daughter of a woolens merchant, too. Christopher had three younger brothers, Bartolomeo, Giovanni Pellegrino and Giacomo, and a sister named Bianchinetta.
When Columbus was 24 years old, he left Genova with a merchant ship. He came to Lisboa and stayed there. Bartolomeo, his brother, lived there too. He got Columbus connected with real sailors, which was the start of Columbus’ discovering of America. Later he married a Portuguese woman. When his father-in-law died, he inherited valuable, geographical work. At that time the Portugeses were the most clever people when it came to knowledge about shipbuilding, discovering and geographical and nautical questions. With no doubt, it was this which supported Columbus’ essential work.
He knew his goal now; to find the seaway to India. India had a lot of valuable treasures, like spice and gold. And it was probably the most popular place to go for the merchants. The idea was to sail westwards to India, which was alleged to be the shortest way. The other choice was to sail eastwards, but that was probably longer.
But it was hard to get help and support to such an advanced trip. From the beginning of 1480, Colombus worked energeticly to make his dreams come true. First he tried to get support from the Portuguese King, Johan II, but it didn’t work. Then, after a long while, he finally got support. That came from Spain. If Colombus really succeeded to find a new country, he would be the viceroy and governor of the area with a lot of benefits.
Many years of fight and drudgery had finally turned up to something good. He got a chance to be one of the most wealthy men in Spain.
The voyage to America
Christopher Colombus left with three small ships on august 3. in 1492. He boarded Santa Maria. The others were named Niña and Pina. The direction was set to the Canari Islands, where they stayed for a couple of days. Then they sailed to the Atlantic Ocean. Colombus told the sailors to stay close to some specific islands of which they had knowledge.
They sailed for many weeks, day and night. Colombus boarded his ship almost all the time. He didn’t sleep much. The mood at the ship began to get bad and the sailors were scared. What if they never would come home again? The sailors began to look for any sign of land. Alga and seagrass, a whale or a seabird. Anything would help them. During the voyage it seemed like they saw an island. They were happy and Colombus thanked God, but after a while they saw it was only some clouds. The happiness turned out to anger and the sailors almost started a mutiny.
On the 12. of October the expedition finally saw land. The Spanish came to an island which belonged to the Bahamas-islands.
The meeting with the Indians
The history says that a crowd of natives began to accumulate around the Spanish. The natives were friendly, and the Spanish gave gifts to the natives. They gave them necklaces made of beads and other things which were worth nothing for the Spanish. The natives were enthusiastic about the gifts and gave things back, like javelins, cotton, parrots and more.
The people there were also very poor and that worried Columbus because he was looking for gold. But when they sailed further on, they met some other Indians. They were pierced in the nose with gold rings. They explained with signs that they had a king who owned the gold. But they couldn’t give any information of where Columbus could find this king.
The Spanish didn’t treat the Indians well. The chase after gold was like an obsession, which was necessary if they ever again should dream of a voyage like this. What Spain wanted was wealthiness, and gold was absolutley the best thing to show when they arrived home.
Columbus made his first Spanish colony, in The New World, on an island named Española, current Haiti.
After a while Columbus decided to return to Spain. He came home with less gold. But he came with the tobacco plant, and learned the Spanish to smoke. The voyage home took seven months, and he returned to Palos’ harbor on the 15. of march, 1493.