Christopher Columbus Short Biography

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  1. Christopher Columbus 
    1. The Mediterranean
    2. The trip to Castilla
    3. The Catholic kings
    4. The second part of the document:
    5. The Canary Islands
    6. The cry of Earth !!!!!
    7. The arrival in Barcelona
    8. Los Cabos
    9. The return
    10. Honduras
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Christopher Columbus 

Christopher Columbus, it was born towards the year 1451 in territory of the Republic of Genoa (today part of Italy), although the exact location is still in dispute.

Christopher Columbus

Some historians argue that it was not from Genoa, locating its origin in Aragon, Spain; others say that he was born in Portugal.

Son of Doménico Colombo, weaver of wool, and of Susanna Fontanarossa. He had four brothers Bartolomé, Giacomo, Giovanni Pellegrino and Bianchinetta.

Bartolomé worked as a cartographer in a workshop in Lisbon and like Cristóbal he always had a vocation for the sea.

Cristóbal also dedicated himself to the sale of maps and letters when he was very young. He was a sailor since he was 15 years old and with command by boat since he was 20 or 22 years old.

In one of his writings, Colón claims to have gone out to sea at the age of 10 years. In 1470, the family moved to Savona, where his father took over a tavern.

The Mediterranean

Between 1470 and 1476 he toured all the important trade routes of the Mediterranean. From Chios, in the Aegean, to the Iberian Peninsula, at the service of the most important Genoese firms.

He participated in the clash between Renato de Anjou and the King of Aragon, Juan II, for the succession to the Crown of Naples.

In 1474, aged 23, he was hired as a sailor on a ship bound for the island of Khíos in the Aegean Sea. After spending a year on the island, he returned to Italy financially independent.

It seems that he arrived at the coasts of the south of Portugal (Lagos), near Sagres, after a naval battle that took place near the Cape of San Vicente, on August 13, 1476.

His ship was burned, he saved his life by grabbing an oar and swimming to the shore. He lived in Portugal for almost ten years.

Of the Portuguese, he learned to know the ocean and to frequent the commercial routes that went from Iceland to Madeira.

In 1477 he traveled to England and Iceland, and in 1478 he traveled from Lisbon to the Madeira archipelago with shipments of sugar.


It seems that he married in 1479 with Felipa Perestrello e Monis, daughter of a rich Portuguese family. From this marriage, he was born around 1482 on the island of Porto Santo, of the archipelago of Madeira, his successor Diego Colón.

His wife died of tuberculosis only six years after getting married. In 1487 he took Beatriz Enríquez de Arana, 20, as his lover in Spain, and with whom he had his son Hernando Colón, on August 15, 1488.

The trip to Castilla

Towards 1483 or 1484 he defended his project of circumnavigation before the Portuguese, who rejected it. At the end of 1484 or the beginning of 1485, he left Portugal secretly and traveled to Castile.

After arriving with his son Diego to a port in the Gulf of Cádiz, perhaps Palos de la Frontera, he visited the Franciscan monastery of Santa María de La Rábida, where he received material assistance.

On January 20, 1486, the Catholic Monarchs received Columbus for the first time in Alcalá de Henares (Madrid) and then appointed a board of experts to evaluate the Colombian project.

Although many did not believe what he promised, he never lacked protectors. Some of the most constant were friars with influence before the Kings, as the unconditional, good astrologer and understood in navigation, Fray Antonio de Marchena.

Another influential religious, teacher of Prince Don Juan, and always favorable to Columbus was Fray Diego de Deza. A third religious, decisive in 1491 and 1492, was the friar of La Rábida, Juan Pérez.

In addition, he had the support of some distinguished courtiers, as was the case of Luis de Santángel, Juan Cabrero or Gabriel Sánchez.

To cope with his needs, he worked with his hands painting maps of marear or portulanos and traded with picture books.

The Catholic kings

The Catholic Kings decided to back their plan. On April 17, 1492, the Santa Fe Capitulations or document-contract were signed, stipulating the conditions under which Christopher Columbus would make the discovering voyage.

The document has two parts, a preamble that reads as follows: "Your Highnesses give and grant to Mr. Christopher Columbus in some satisfaction that he has discovered in the Oceans Seas and of the journey that he has made, with the help of God he has to do for them in service to Your Highnesses, they are the ones that follow ".

That "has discovered" is, for the supporters of the theory of Predescubrimiento, the decisive documentary evidence, since Columbus is attributed, before 1492, discoveries in the ocean that now transfers to the Catholic Kings, by virtue of which these they correspond giving it a series of privileges.

The second part of the document:

1º) The office of Admiral of the Ocean Sea, for life and hereditary, in everything you discover or win, and according to the model of the Admiral of Castile.

2nd) The offices of viceroy and governor in everything he discovers or wins. There is no mention of heredity. To cover the charges in the Indies, you can propose three to the kings for them to choose.

3º) The tenth part of all the gains that are obtained in his Admiralty.

4º) That all the lawsuits related to the new lands can be resolved by him or his justices. This point was never fulfilled because it was conditioned to the Castilian precedents.

5º) The right to participate with the eighth part of the expenses of any army, receiving in return the eighth part of the benefits.

this capital document and other grants, he went to the town of Palos to prepare the discovering fleet. Three boats, Pinta, Niña and Santa María; a budget of about two million maravedis.

Around 90 men, recruited with the invaluable help of the brothers Martín Alonso and Vicente Yáñez Pinzón, formed the most transcendental discovery fleet in history.

The Canary Islands

On August 2, 1492, Christopher Columbus ordered all his people to board, and the next day, before sunrise, he left the port of Palos.

The first stop was the Canaries, where they had to fix the rudder of the Pinta. He took two accounts on the distances traveled: a secret or true (only for him), and another public or false, which would countless.

On September 13, he discovered the magnetic declination of the earth; and on the 16th they reached the Sargasso Sea.

As of October 1, he realizes that something is wrong. On the 6th, they have already exceeded 800 leagues and there are no signs of land.

During the night of October 6 to 7, the first riot took place among the sailors of Santa María.

The cry of Earth !!!!!

The Pinzón brothers supported Columbus and suffocated him. However, on the night of October 9-10, the discomfort spread to everyone, including Pinzón himself. They agreed to sail three more days and after that time if they did not find land they would return.

It was not necessary: on the night of October 11 to 12 the sailor Rodrigo de Triana shouted: "Earth!".

The next day they landed on the island of Guanahani (which they baptized as San Salvador), the current island of Watling, in the archipelago of the Bahamas, and took possession of the new land in the name of the Catholic Monarchs.

On October 28, they arrived in Cuba, and on November 21, they left the Martín Alonso Pinzón fleet.

On December 6 they arrived at the island of Hispaniola; and on the 24th Santa María ran aground, with whose remains and the help of the local chieftain, Guacanagarí, built the fort of Christmas.

After leaving 39 Spaniards there, they followed the coast, found Martín Alonso Pinzón (January 6), and sailed to the coast of Samaná.

From this area, on January 16, 1493, the admiral gave the order to return to Spain.

The trip was calm until arriving at the Azores, where a strong storm (12-15 February) came and forced the Pinta to separate from the admiral and arrive at Bayonne (Pontevedra).

Another storm near Lisbon (March 4) forced the discoverer to land in Portugal. On March 15, Don Cristóbal, commanding the Niña, entered triumphantly into Palos.

Martín Alonso did it with the caravel Pinta a few hours later. He was very sick, and a few days later he died.

The arrival in Barcelona

After the discovering success, Cristóbal informed the Kings, who were in Barcelona, he went to their meeting and was received by them with all the honors.

On September 25, 1493, the admiral sailed from Cádiz to command 17 ships and about 1,200 men, carrying the first seeds and livestock.

When leaving the Canary Islands, Columbus set course more to the south than in the first trip to arrive at the place that he named the entrance of the Indies, in the small Antilles.
After discovering the island of Puerto Rico, he arrived at the Christmas fort and found that it had been destroyed and the Spaniards were dead.

He founded the first city in America, the Isabela. He traveled the south coast of Cuba, arrived in Jamaica, and at the end of 1494, he discovered South America (Cumaná), although he hid it until the third trip. On June 11, 1496, he arrived in Cadiz dressed in a Franciscan friar's sackcloth.

Los Cabos

It cost a lot to organize the third Colombian fleet. The Indies no longer attracted so much and crew members were missing. Eight ships and 226 crew members made up the fleet, which left Sanlúcar de Barrameda between February and May 30, 1498.

From the Canary Islands, he followed Cape Verde and a latitude farther south than previous navigations, which caused him to suffer a zone of calm.

He discovered the island of Trinidad. Camino de La Española saw the island Margarita, where the pearls were fished, to arrive on August 20 to the new capital of the Indies, Santo Domingo.

The majority of the Spaniards, led by Francisco Roldan, had rebelled against the authority of the Colons.

The arrival of the viceroy did not solve the problem. The complaints against the Colón family, aggravated by some other doubtful procedure of the Admiral, such as hiding the pearl farm of Margarita and Cubagua, reached the court and the kings decided to dismiss him.

The return

On August 23, 1500, Francisco de Bobadilla entered the port of Santo Domingo to replace the viceroy and governor.

There was some resistance on the part of the Columbus, which explains somewhat the hardness of Bobadilla.

At the beginning of October of 1500, Cristóbal, Bartolomé, and Diego Colón returned to Spain loaded with chains accused of carrying out a despotic management in the colony of Haiti.

The monarchs did not replace him in his lost trades. They promised that they would do it, while they ordered the fourth trip.

With four ships and 150 men departed from Cádiz on May 11, 1502. The objective was to find a way to reach the Speciera since Columbus still believed that the Antillean area was the antechamber of Asia.


To cross the ocean, he followed a route similar to the second trip. He was ordered not to stop in Santo Domingo.

It crossed the Caribbean to the Cape of Honduras; He continued to Gracias a Dios and toured the coast of Panama.

He found neither step, nor gold, nor spices, suffered the loss of two ships. On May 1, 1503, he set sail for La Española but was forced to land in Jamaica, in the bay of Santa Ana, where he had to run aground the two ships and wait.

The feat of Diego Méndez and Bartolomé Fiesco managing to arrive in two canoes from Jamaica to La Española managed to save them. On June 28, 1504, they left Jamaica and on September 12, on two ships, they went to Spain.

After arriving at Sanlúcar de Barrameda on November 7, 1504, unsuccessful and ill, he continued to the court and unsuccessfully claimed his rights. In his last years, he became extremely religious.

Christopher Columbus died of Reiter's syndrome (also known as reactive arthritis) on May 20, 1506, in Valladolid. His last words were: "In your hands, Lord, I entrust my spirit."

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