Christopher Columbus

Christopher Columbus was born in Genoa in 1451, to parents Domenico Colombo and Susanna Fontanarossa.  His education involved the training of classical literature and speaking of several languages.

Aged fourteen, he took to the sea, and in 1479 met his brother; Bartolomeo in Lisbon who was a cartographer.  He remained in Lisbon, and married Filipa Moniz Perestrello, and in 1480 his son Diego was born.  His wife died in 1485. 

Colombus and Diego moved to Spain, in an effort to raise funds for an exploration of Western Trade routes.  He was granted the funding by the Spanish Monarchs: King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, and they set sail on the 3rd August 1492.  They had three ships; Pinta, Nina and Santa Maria with a crew of 104 men.

They crossed from Spain to the Canary Islands, to resupply the ships and undertake minor repairs, then headed out across the Atlantic Ocean, a voyage of some five weeks.  Many died from diseases, hunger and thirst.

Rodrigo de Triana sighted land, which Columbus believed to be an Asian Island, which he named San Salvador, which we know as the Bahamas.  Sailing onwards, looking for riches he ended up in Cuba and Hispaniola.  On the 21st November 1492, the Pinta went to explore on its own.  On the 25th December 1492, the Santa Maria was wrecked off the Hispaniola coast, and Columbus had no choice but to leave forty men at the Navidad Fort, promising to return.  Columbus arrived back in Spain on the 15th March 1493.

After the success of discovering land on his first voyage, Columbus set sail, heading west on the 23rd September 1493, with 17 ships and 1200 men, to establish colonies in the name of Spain.

On the 3rd November, they sighted Dominica, Guadeloupe and Jamaica, but no riches were found.

From their they headed back to Hispaniola and the forty men left on their previous voyage at the Navidad Fort, only to find it destroyed, for the crew had mistreated the local population.

For the attack on the people of Spain he demanded these Taino people who had destroyed the fort and taken Spanish lives, had a price to pay.  Everyone over 14 years of age, delivered a hawk’s bell full of gold powder or twenty five pounds of spun cotton, every three months. Failure to do so:  Their hands would be cut off, and they would be left to bleed to death.

He established the Colony of Santo Domingo, and in 1495 conquered the entire Island of Hispaniola in the name of Spain. In March of 1496, he set sail for Spain, arriving in Cadiz on the 31st July.

On the 30th May 1498, Columbus took a southerly route, in the hope of finding China; this he did not find, but found Trinidad, Tobago, Grenada, Margarita and the lands of South America.

On the 31st August landed at Hispaniola and discovered the colony of Santo Domingo was disorganised.

In 1500, Columbus was arrested and returned to Spain, on the charges of mis-treatment of Spaniards and the locals, according to government officials who visited Hispaniola.  He successfully defended himself against these charges, but lost the right as Governor of Hispaniola.

On the 9th May Columbus left Spain arriving at Hispaniola in June.  On the 4th July set sail and discovered Central America.  In January 1503, reached Panama.  On the 7th November 1504 Columbus set sail for Spain and retirement.

Queen Isabella died on the 26th November 1504, and Columbus made a petition in 1505 to the King to regain his Governorship of Hispaniola, then in 1506 he became ill and died on the 20th May 1506.