An Italian explorer in the service of the Spanish CrownChristopher Columbus, the traveler and sailor, was very passionate about sea voyages. The opportunity to explore the distant, unknown world was the guiding principle of his life and he devoted himself to it. Guided mainly by intuition, he made significant discoveries, and although it is believed that he was not aware of these achievements, his diaries prove otherwise.
1.Christopher Columbus was an Italian sailor, voyager, and navigator. He was also a member of the Third Order of Saint Francis.
A Franciscan Tertiary is a member of the Secular Franciscan Order, a Catholic international public association whose members participate in the spirit of the Franciscan Order. They live an apostolic life and strive for Christian perfection under the guidance of the order. St. Francis of Assisi is considered the inspirer and founder of this order.
2.He was probably born in Genoa in the year 1451.
There is no unanimity among historians about the origin of Columbus - several theories about it have been made. The most probable one gives Genoa as his birthplace, where he was born between August 25 and October 31, 1451. He was the son of a Genoese weaver and small merchant, Domenico Colombo. As a young man, he began to work in the banking house of the Centurioni and, in connection with his profession, began to sail for trade.
3.In 1476 he took part in an expedition of Genoese merchant ships to Lisbon and Flanders.
During this expedition, near Cape St. Vincent, a fleet of Franco-Portuguese attacked a Genoese convoy and wrecked it. Columbus miraculously survived and as a castaway landed near Lagos, from where he traveled to Lisbon a few weeks later. There he began working in the Lisbon branch of the Centurioni Bank.
4.As part of his work duties, he began his first oceanic trading voyages to England, Madeira and Guinea.
Soon he married Felipa Perestrello de Moniz, the daughter of the former governor of Porto Santo, an island near Madeira. A year later, their son, Diego Colon was born. Unfortunately, Felipa died five years later.
5.As a widower, Columbus met Beatriz Enriquez in Spain, whom he never married but left her a large portion of his fortune.
They formed a good relationship, Beatriz treated Diego as her own son and soon after, in 1488, she bore Columbus a second son - Ferdinand. Both sons were very supportive of Columbus when his reputation as an explorer was damaged - they helped to rebuild it.
6.While acquiring a maritime practice, Columbus simultaneously educated himself by reading the writings of ancient and classical writers Strabo, Seneca, and Aristotle, as well as his humanist contemporaries.
Imago Mundi by Pierre d'Ailly's and famous map of the Florentine astronomer Toscanelli had a great influence on shaping Columbus' view of the world. He was impressed by the stories of the distant sea voyages of Portuguese and Basque sailors who reached the fishing grounds of Newfoundland and even the shores of North America.
7.Based on the information he gathered, Columbus was convinced that by traveling west, one could reach Asia.
However, the geographical knowledge of the time was not very extensive, and he was confident that it would only take a few days to reach distant lands - he had no real idea of the size of the globe.
8.Columbus tried to convince King John II of Portugal to his ideas, but he sent him back to his advisors, who rejected his plan.
Confronted with this, Columbus moved to Spain in 1485, where his ideas were heard by the royal court. They could not be implemented until Spain dealt with the Reconquista (the struggle of the Christians to expel the Moors from the Iberian Peninsula) in 1492.
9.Isabella I of Castile allowed Columbus to organize an expedition to sail under the flag of the Spanish crown.
The expedition was financed partly by the court and partly by the Pinzon merchant family. Columbus was promised the hereditary title of Grand Admiral, viceroy of the discovered lands, and a tenth of the profits.
10.In May 1492, Columbus arrived at the port of Palos in Andalusia, where the town provided him with two caravels: Niña and Pinta, and leased a larger ship, the caravel "Santa Maria," as his flagship.
On August 3, 1492, the three ships set sail with a crew of about 90 men and, after a brief stopover at Las Palmas in the Canary Islands, set course westward. Columbus' first expedition had begun.