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Describing the character of the man christopher columbus

Journal of Caribbean Archaeology Christopher Columbus. Admiral of the Ocean Sea. Renown as the champion of the belief that the earth was round. The man who sought the riches of the Far East by sailing to the west, and who happened instead upon a New World. The man who discovered America.

How accurate is the portrait of Columbus that is painted today? Theories and sites abound. For 32 days after leaving Gomera in the Canary Islands on September 9th, the diario makes repeated reference to signs of land. Scholars agree that Guanahani is in the Bahama archipelago, but that is where agreement ends. To date, ten different islands have been identified as the first landfall; a truly remarkable number when you consider that only 20 islands in the entire archipelago are even remotely possible candidates.

In addition, more than 25 routes have been proposed to take Columbus to the three other Lucayan islands he visited before departing for Cuba. Represented on a single map these routes describing the character of the man christopher columbus like someone gone mad playing connect the dots. Cat Island, in 1625, was the first to be proposed as the landfall island. Cat went unopposed until Watling Island was suggested in 1793.

Grand Turk was next, followed by Mayaguana, and Samana Cay in time for the 400th anniversary in 1892. The case was settled by the Bahamas legislature in favor of Watling. None, that is, until 1986 when National Geographic magazine told 40 million readers that Samana Cay was the place. But why the debate? The answers lay in the quality of the evidence.

Columbus presented the original to Queen Isabel who had a copy made for Columbus.

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The whereabouts of the original are unknown, and all trace of the copy disappeared in 1545. The ambiguities, errors, and omissions in this manuscript have been compounded in modern-language translations. Putting such problems aside for the moment, what of that account might be used to identify Guanahani? Such minutia are beyond the scope of this brief article, instead let us consider four general categories: When a team from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution substituted average for prevailing winds and currents, their simulated crossing ended in sight of San Salvador without need to adjust for distance.

However, not satisfied with that solution, this same team plugged new numbers into their computer and put Columbus near Grand Turk! However, Robert Power, armed with maps of the day, has shown that the Americas are consistently displaced northerward on these maps and that in sixteenth-century cartography the line from Ferro crosses Grand Turk. In this way both northern and southern Bahamas landfalls have been supported. The situation does not improve when you move to descriptions of the islands themselves.

If we cannot be certain what he was describing, then we should at least be able to retrace how he got there. Yet the record of directions and distances has been used to defend more than 25 different routes. Between the night of October 17th and the morning of the 19th one route has describing the character of the man christopher columbus fleet sail fewer than 20 miles, while another has them cover more than 300.

The first claims that bad weather prevented them from sailing on the 18th while the latter claims that storm winds propelled the three ships at breakneck speed. Lastly, Columbus visited four native villages and spent three days trying to reach the village of a chief.

Others, however, believe that there were so many Lucayans living in the Bahamas that virtually every route will find archaeological sites in the places where Columbus observed villages.

Only more archaeology will tell. In my opinion it is known today by the name Columbus gave it. Sailing into History Small and feeble, the ships of Columbus opened a route to an unknown world. Columbus was aboard La Gallega, the largest of the three vessels. The others were also known by nicknames: The crews were not the faint-hearted landlubbers and criminals of legend who became frightened during a long expedition and who threatened mutiny until calmed by Columbus.

There was no mutiny.

These were men with years of shared experience, knowledge of the sea, and confidence in their abilities. Moreover, she was an uncomfortable vessel; a slow, tubby, ship-rigged cargo carrier on which Columbus had the only private space — a 10 by 20 foot room under the poop deck in the back of the ship, which had small windows on either side and a door in front.

Luxurious accommodations on a ship whose deck space, roughly the size describing the character of the man christopher columbus a modern tennis court, was shared by a 40 man crew. Caravels had one deck, no forward structure, and only a modest raised poop deck and transom stern. With only one cabin below the poop deck, the crew spent most of the voyage exposed to the elements. At night they had the option of sleeping on deck or below deck on the ballast pile where cargo, the main anchor, and heavy armaments were stowed.

The favorite place to sleep was the hatch covers, the only level spots on the ship. The adoption of hammocks from the native peoples of the West Indies revolutionized sleeping aboard ship. Cooking was done on deck in large copper kettles over a fire in a sandbox kindled with vineshoots and fed with olivewood. Because there is little mention of weapons in the earliest chronicles, most naval historians have concluded that the ships were not well armed. The work of Donald Keith, Director of Ships of Discovery, and other nautical archaeologists, has challenged that view.

Keith reports that the earliest Caribbean shipwrecks have well-formed batteries of armament. These weapons show a sophisticated appreciation of guns and range of shot. Even though we cannot specify their effects, they were a key element in the conquest of the Americas. These were not, however, warships. The warships of the day were galleys, long, sleek vessels driven to sea by an oversize lateen sail and then propelled into battle by scores of oarsmen.

Their bows were constructed as battlefields with a battering ram leading the way below an artillery platform, from which large caliber cannons fired scrap metal, and a boarding platform from which archers, musketeers, and swivel gunners attacked the enemy from close range.

  • For example, the pastor of the Pilgrim colony, John Robinson, thus advised his parishioners how to deal with their children;
  • This was the beginning of the system of repartimientos or encomiendas later extended to other areas of Spanish occupation;
  • But in 1492 to Columbus there was probably nothing very complicated about it.

The ships of exploration were general-purpose cargo vessels investors were reluctant to risk first class ships. They were uncomfortable and were not made for the business of discovery, yet their maneuverability, their flexibility of rigging, their ability to travel more than 100 miles per day under favorable conditions, and to sail in shallow water gave them a major role in voyages of exploration.


In the words of Dr. El cocinero laboraba sobre la cubierta usando grandes ollas de cobre. Removed from Hispaniola in chains in 1500 and wrongly persecuted in his later years.

His story typifies that of a tragic heroic figure. Yet how accurate is the portrait of Columbus that is painted today? How much of what we know comes from the deification of a long-dead hero whose personal attributes have been shaped to reflect the greatness of his discoveries?

Columbus’ Confusion About the New World

And how much of what we are being told today is simply a revisionist backlash that demands attention by attacking dead heros? A century ago Columbus was a hero who was feted in the Columbian world expositions as a man whose single-minded pursuit of his goals was to be emulated.

Today he is being reviled as a symbol of European expansionism, the forbearer of institutionalized racism and genocide who bears ultimate responsibility for everything from the destruction of rainforests to the depletion of the ozone layer. Impressive accomplishments for someone who died five centuries ago. When one peels back the shroud of myth that today surrounds him we find that his portrait embodies a period of history more than an individual man. Professor Robert Fuson, a Columbus admirer, described him as a man of the Renaissance, whose sensibilities were still firmly rooted in the Middle Ages.

An example of the Columbus mythology illustrates those points. Columbus is often credited with being the first to accept that the earth was round. Yet this fact was first proved by the Greek mathematician Pythagoras in the 6th century B. Moreover, when Columbus obtained contradictory navigational readings off the coast of South America during his third voyage in 1498, he quickly abandoned his round earth. To his detractors, such beliefs are those of a mentally unbalanced religious fanatic; to his promoters, they are remarkably prescient the earth does in fact bulge along the equator and they illustrate his steadfast and consuming faith in God.

Beyond historical attributes, his personal characteristics and life history add to the intrigue.

Who Was Christopher Columbus?

What was his real name? Kirkpatrick Sale notes the following possibilities: His place and date of birth are also uncertain. He was a Virgo or Libra he was versed in Astrologyborn between August 25th and October 31st, 1435 to 1460, with 1451 the most frequently given year. He claims to have been born in Genoa, although Chios a Greek island that was a Geonoese colonyMajorca, Galicia, and other places in Spain have also been suggested.

The second and third voyages

Wherever his place of birth, he seems to have thought of himself as a Castilian, the language in which he wrote.

His son Fernando described him as having a reddish complexion, blonde hair white after age 30blue eyes, an exceptionally keen sense of smell, excellent eyesight, and perfect hearing.

A man of relatively advanced age in 1492 at least forty years old the description of him as having been in perfect physical condition must be an exaggeration. He was also reported to be moderate in drink, food, and dress and never swore!! He was of the Catholic faith, although some claim a Jewish background on one side of his family. He is said to have gone to sea at age 14. On the Atlantic coast to the north he made at least one voyage to England and possibly one to Iceland, while to the south he sailed as far as the Gold Coast of Africa.

He is reputed to have been involved in a naval engagement between Franco-Portuguese and Genoese fleets in 1476.

He made four voyages to the New World. Until recently, anything about Columbus character, except his skills as a mariner, was open to criticism. Recently, revisionist historians are unwilling to grant even that.

Christopher Columbus

Kirkpatrick Sale claims that Columbus never commanded anything larger than a rowboat prior to the first transatlantic crossing. Yet it remains a fact that he succeeded in crossing the Atlantic Ocean and, more important, he returned safely. A second son, Fernando, was born to Beatriz in 1488. While Governor of Hispaniola, he was assisted by his younger or older brother or uncle Bartholomew Columbus.