Christopher Columbus


Born: before Oct 31, 1451 in Genoa, Republic of Genoa, in present-day Italy
Died: May 20, 1506 (at age c.54) in Valladolid, Crown of Castile, in present-day Spain
Nationality: Italian
Occupation: Maritime explorer
Famous For: Traveling the American continents

Christopher Columbus was a famous explorer who is often mistakenly credited for discovering America. Although he was not the first, the voyages of Christopher Columbus to America did prove to be a major part in history. In addition to his explorations, historians have also recognized the navigational skills of Columbus, as he found the best routes across the oceans to America.

Early Life

Christopher Columbus was born in Genoe, now known as Italy, in 1451. His father, Domenico Colombo, was a poor weaver. Columbus had three brothers and one sister. Although, very little is known about Columbus’ childhood, it is apparent that he was well-educated as he was able to speak several languages and had knowledge in classical literature.

Columbus’s birth place of Genoe was a thriving seaport. He learned much about the tales of sailors and their voyages, and he went to sea at an early age of 14. Though, he only made short fishing trips in the beginning, during 1470’s, he went on numerous trading trips to the Northern Europe, the Aegean Sea, and possibly Iceland.

Columbus started living in Portugal in 1476, which was Europe’s greatest seafaring center at that time. During this period, Columbus’s desire for discovering unknown lands increased and he mastered his navigation skills. He was also inspired by Marco Polo’s writings, an explorer who had travelled to lands as far away as Asia.

Columbus proposed his exploration plans to Spanish and Portuguese kings, but each time he was turned down. Finally in 1492, his request was reconsidered by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella.

First Voyage

Columbus set sail on August 3rd, 1942, after getting sufficient funding from the Spanish monarchs with three ships: the Santa Maria, the Nina, and the Pinta. 104 men were also gathered to be in his crew. The ship set across the Atlantic and the journey took five weeks. During the trip many of his men died from hunger, thirst and diseases.

Finally, on October 12th, 1942, Columbus found a land which he believed to be Asia and named it San Salvador. He continued his journey to what he thought would be China in search of riches, but ended up landing Hispania and Cuba. By this time the Pinta’s crew had left to explore on its own and the Santa Maria had been shipwrecked. Hence, Columbus sailed on the Nina to Spain after completing his first voyage on March 15th, 1493.

Second Voyage

Columbus set sail again to the west in September of 1493 with 1,200 men in 17 ships. On November 3rd, he explored 3 more islands: Jamaica, Guadeloupe and Dominica. All of which Columbus thought were islands off of Japan. In search of riches, he set sail again, arriving in Hispaniola. Here some of his crew set up a settlement. He then returned home in March, 1496.

Third Voyage

Columbus’ third voyage took more of a southern route, as he was looking for China. He came across Trinidad and Tobago, Margarita, and Grenada in July 31st, 1498. He then sailed back to Hispaniola only to find that his colony was in shambles. In 1500, Columbus was arrested and sent back to Spain where he was able to defend himself against the charges of treating Spaniards and locals poorly.

Fourth Voyage

In 1502, Columbus started his fourth voyage and reached Hispaniola. He and his crew were turned down when they asked to dock there. He continued his journey and on July 4th he sailed to present day Central America. He and his men were later stranded at St. Ann’s Bay in Jamaica when their ship took on too much damage. They remained stuck on the island for approximately one year. He returned back to Spain on November 7th, 1504 when they were found and rescued.

Final Years

After arriving in Spain, Columbus settled with his son and wrote two books. One of which, entitled Book of Prophecies used Bible passages to mark his accomplishments as an explorer in alignment with Christian eschatology. Columbus later died on May 20th, 1506 at the approximate age of 54.