Born sometime between August 25 and October 31 in 1451, Christopher Columbus was born in Genoa, which is part of modern day Italy. He was born in a middle class family to his father Domenico Colombo and Susanna Fontanarossa. Columbus also had three brothers. In 1473, at the age of 22, young Columbus began his apprenticeship as a business agent for several important families in Genoa. During this time he made trips to Bristol, England, Galaway, Ireland, and possibly Iceland. Then in 1479 Columbus married Filipa Moniz Perestrelo, the daughter of the Porto Santo Governor and Portuguese nobleman Bartolomeo Perestrelo. Columbus then had a son Diego Columbus either in 1479 or 1480.
Between 1482 and 1485 Columbus traded along the West Coast of Africa reaching as far south as Elimna. Columbus was very intelligent, he learned Latin, Portuguese, and Castilian, on top of his native language. In 1485, Columbus presented his plan to reach Asia,, by traveling west through the ocean to The King of Portugal, John II. He said he needed just three well equipped ships and a year to travel west, through the Atlantic, to Asia and the West Indies. He also stated that he wish to be made Governor of all the lands he found and that he was to receive one-tenth of any revenue from those lands. His proposal was rejected, so in 1488 he again tried the proposal however a route around Africa to Asia had already been found, making Columbus’ route unneeded by the Portuguese.
Columbus then ventured to Genoa and Venice with his idea only to be shot down there as well. But his luck finally came when he went before Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain in 1492. The monarchs were broke therefore half of the funds for the expedition had to come from private Italian investors. Columbus was to be made Admiral of The Sea and given a portion of all funds, a generous offer, probably because they didn’t expect him to make it back.
So it began, on August 3rd, 1492, Columbus sailed off from Palos, de la Frontera with three ships; The Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria. Then at 2 in the morning, on October 12Th, 1492, land was sighted. The island they found( what is now known as the Bahamas) was named San Salvador. The natives he encountered were friendly and peaceful. Columbus noted how they did not seem to have any religion and that their weaponry was far behind that of Europeans.
From here Columbus went on to explore the northeast coast of Cuba, and the northern coast of Hispaniola. Here the Santa Marina ran aground and was forced to be abandoned. Columbus left 39 men and founded the settlement of La Navidad, and headed back to Europe with about 10 natives.
Columbus then set out on a second voyage in September of 1493. This time with 17 ships and about 1,2000 men including priests, soldiers, farmers, and slaves. They were meant to set up permanent cities in the “New World.” During this trip Columbus returned to La Navidad to find it in ruins after the natives had destroyed it.
Christopher Columbus then set off on a third journey this time bringing with him six ships. on this trip he explored the mainland of South America, Margarita Island, and Tobago and Grenada. He also visited the many settlements he had created to find the settlers very unhappy. Many came back with him and complained to the Spanish court and had him thrown in jail for awhile.
On his fourth journey Columbus planned to find a passage to the Indian Ocean he explored off the coast of Honduras before actually landing and exploring Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and finally Panama. While sailing his ships became very damaged and destroyed by numerous storms and native attacks. Unable to go any farther Columbus became stranded on the Island now know as Jamaica for a year before he and his men were rescued. He then traveled back to Europe.
Columbus never again went to the New World, on May 20Th, 1506, at the age of 55 Columbus died in Valladolid, Spain, of a heart attack. He died thinking that he had explored and helped colonized much of East Asia. When in fact he found something much larger and greater than anyone could have expected.
Social Studies For Kids
Associated Content – Greg Seltz