In 1451, a boy named Christopher Columbus (See Appendix A), who was born in Genoa, became a sailor and discoverer of a new continent. He spoke Castilian with a little Portuguese. Although he received little education, he worked with his father, who was a weaver and had a wine shop. During Columbus’ youth, he sailed in between his looming duties, shipping and receiving wool and wine for his father. When Columbus was in his twenties, he joined other exporting fleets, traveling around Spain, to England, Portugal, the Mediterranean Sea, and to West Africa (see Appendix B). In his youth he wanted to find easier ways to trade. Columbus thought of reaching Asia by sailing West. He worked with a map maker, and “Became obsessed with the idea of reaching the Spice Islands via Western route”, (Sources of the West, 187). This is a goal he hoped to accomplish when he became a sailor. During his youthful sailing days, his ship was sunk by pirates on a trip to Portugal (Parry, 344)!
. He took refuge in Portugal where he was left poor. After his youth days had ended, it was time to find his profession as a man.
In the 15th Century Spain, trade was a primary source of their economy. The Turks conquered Constantinople and the Eastern Mediterranean. Land routes were restricted from Europe to Asia. Spaniards knew that the Earth was round, and scientists backed the idea. Spain was in need of new sources of wealth. With 98% of Spain poor peasant (Zinn, 2), the idea of finding a western sea trade route was not improbable. It would open up a new trade route, and bring wealth to the suffering country.
When Columbus was in Portugal, he decided to propose his idea of sailing West to monarchs. He brought his ideas to Portugal first. They rejected his idea because of his underestimates of the size of the ocean. Columbus thought it was 25% smaller than what it really was. Next, Columbus brought his ideas to Spain. Here they turned him down for seven years because ships were already rounding Africa. Finally, in April, 1492, he was contracted by Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain (see Appendix C). The idea seemed logical. They already knew the Earth was round. There was no thought of a continent in-between, and the winds and currents all flowed West. His purpose (see Appendix D) was to find the legendary Isle Antilla, and find a western route to Cipangno and Cathay(China, Japan). Columbus demanded to be knighted, become Admiral of the Ocean Sea, be viceroy of new lands, and receive ten percent of the wealth (see Appendix E).
In August 3, 1492, at the port of Palos, Columbus started his first voyage (see Appendix F). The fleet of three ships (see Appendix G), sailed West under 35* North halfway, then they shifted Southwest. On October 12, 1492, they landed on Guanahan, which Spaniards latter named San Salvador(Our Savior), (see Appendix H). He later went to Cuba, Juana, and Hispaiola (see Appendix H and I). Columbus believed it could have been a chain of islands off the coast of China or Japan. They established a colony off the coast of Hispaiola (see Appendix J). Columbus did not, however, find Asia, or what they hoped, the Spice Island Trade ports. They did come in contact with inhabitants of the islands, whom they brought back to Spain, proving they found Indians from Asia.
Columbus’ purpose was to find a trade route to Asia, he did not achieve this. In the following three voyages, he failed to achieve the purpose. Although there were some benefits, most factors of the voyages were failures. The Western expeditions were failures.
The purpose of Columbus’ voyages was to find a western route to the Spice Islands of what we call Japan and China, he did not accomplish this. They landed on what the Spaniards named San Salvador. Columbus knew, however, that this was an island, only he thought it was part of Japan. He also discovered Hispaiola which he thought was an Island off China. Columbus was convinced that there was a mainland somewhere (see Appendix I). He traveled ten days in search of Cuba, but had to turn back because one of the ships grounded. They were forced to return to Spain.Columbus returned to Spain with seized natives to prove that he reached Asia, he called them Indians. Columbus returned to the Indies, with a purpose of founding a colony that would also serve as a base for future exploration in search of the China, Japan, and India, which Columbus did not find. They voyaged ten days past San Salvador expecting to find mainland. However, a landing on Cuba was made of which Columbus d!
eclared was a peninsula of mainland Asia . He still had not found the real Mainland on this voyage. Again, Columbus returned looking for the Spice Island Trade ports. He found what he was looking for, the Mainland, only it was of South America! The again found additional islands which they stopped at. Hispaiola, originally discovered from the first voyage, had the benefit of serving as a base for future exploration. The islands from the second, third, and fourth voyages had no benefits of being discovered. Columbus claimed they were Asia, but he also knew that there were no benefits of traveling there. They did not find a Western sea trade route leading to the Asian Mainland.
Economic failures of the voyages started when Columbus landed on the islands, because even though finding gold for Spain was the goal, Columbus became greedy. Even when they first sighted land on October 12, 1492 on the first voyage, Columbus took the credit of sighting land and receiving 10,000 maravidas per year from Juan Rodriguez Bermejo who discovered it from the crows nest (Zinn, 2). The Spaniards greed began when they killed some Tanos natives because they refused to trade as many bows and arrows as they wanted. Columbus took native prisoners to guide them to source of gold (see Appendix K). The goal of the Spaniards was to find as much gold as they could. If the inhabitants hid gold, they were tortured.Columbus ordered fourteen year-olds and older natives to collect a certain amount of gold every three months. When the natives did, they received a token to wear around their necks. If the Spaniards caught a native without a token, they would cut the hands off of !
that person as a punishment. Columbus also took the inhabitants into slavery. “They would make fine servants,” Columbus first thought about them(Zinn, 1). The Spaniards took 1,500 men, women, and children. Five hundred were taken to Spain as slaves. Unfortunately, two hundred died en route. The remaining slaves were sold to work on nobles’ estates. The selling of slaves brought little profit to the debt that the trip caused. Columbus attempted to create a wealthy empire for Spain, repay the costs of the trips, and receive riches for himself. Spain hoped to receive wealth from the trade route Columbus was expected to find. They did not find the trade route so Columbus wanted to get wealth from creating a gold mine on the islands, and by selling slaves. Only a small amount of gold was remitted to Spain, and didn’t repay much. The slave trade drew little wealth, nor support from the monarchs and citizens of Spain. The attempt to bring wealth to Spain was not accomplished. The!
entire expedition made by Columbus was an economic failure which put a hole in Spain’s poor economy which was made up of 98% poor peasants.
Columbus established colonies in the islands which would be settled, and be founded as a mining and farming colonies that would produce their own food and create a profit by remitting gold to Spain. These colonies failed. “In selecting as the site for his second settlement the unprotected, unhealthy shore that he named Isabella, Columbus made his first serious blunder. Isabella never prospered, and Columbus paid it little attention,” (Parry, 349). In Columbus’s second voyage, he returned to his colony of La Navidad on November 27, 1493. The fort was completely destroyed, and all men were killed. The settlers fought among themselves about local women. They were also killed by the Tanos because the Spaniards stole, took some as slaves, and raped their women.The climate was a drastic change to the Spaniards, which created an unhealthy environment. Everyone got sick, and there was nothing to eat. They complained of only tapioca, corn, fish, and yams to eat (Information Finder!
, Lunenfeld, 2). The Spaniards started dying of malnutrition and their own created diseases, which the natives also got (see Appendix L). There was a revolt against the governor, Bartholomew, with whom the settlers were angered. The settlers were demoralized and wanted to leave. There was nothing to eat, disease spread, and fighting and dying was a common sight. “Columbus brought disappointment and political obscurity to his final years,” (1492 Exhibit, Internet). The established colonies failed.
Social problems between the inhabitants of the discovered islands and the Spaniards created a new long term problem. When the natives first saw the Spaniards, they ran to greet them, brought food, water, and gifts. The inhabitants did not bear arms or had iron, but they carried spears. They also became a little scared of the Spaniards, they believed they were gods from heaven. As the Spaniards began their hunt for gold, they also began to treat the inhabitants worse by taking advantage of them and their disadvantages. The Tanos people were no longer peaceful after they were mistreated harshly by the Spaniards. The Spaniards now took complete control of the inhabitants. They were now their prisoners and slaves, working to bring the Spaniards the gold they wanted. The Tanos suffered and died from disease and abuse of the Spaniards. As they used the inhabitants for gold mining, they also sold some away to Europe as slaves. “Let us in the name of the Holy Trinity go on sending!
all slaves that can be sold,” Columbus (Zinn, 4). They natives were basically helpless against the Spaniards. 250,000 were killed from suicide, murder, mutilation, and killing of babies to save them from the Spaniards. From 1494 to 1508 over 3 million inhabitants died (Zinn, 3). Columbus purpose was to trade with the inhabitants he came in contact with. He went in, took complete control, conquered the island, took what slaves and gold he could, destroyed and killed all inhabitants. He had to motive for this. It was not his purpose, and destroying a nation had no benefit.
A purpose of establishing colonies was to spread Catholicism. Passengers, starting from the second voyage, were sent to spread Catholicism to the inhabitants of the islands, and to bring reverence to the colonies. Columbus wanted to go to the mainland and neighboring islands to train and have the inhabitants practice Catholicism. “To make them Christians…and conversion of great numbers to our holy faith, with acquisition of great lordships and rides and all their inhabitants for Spain,” Columbus, journal dated November 12, 1493 (Rethinking Columbus, 81). However, the colonies did not work, so spreading Catholicism went down with them. The priests could not spread Catholicism to the inhabitants. They did not want to switch their religions. The settlers also failed to bring the religion to the inhabitants. The attempt at spreading Catholicism to the lands in the West was ineffectual.
Columbus failed to achieve the purpose of each of the four voyages. Although there were several benefits, most factors of the trips were failures. Spain initially wanted to find a Western sea trade route to the Spice Islands of China and Japan. It would bring wealth from trading. Columbus found no such route. As the voyages went on, colonization was key. Several colonies were established, but all had problems and were failures. An important part of Spanish life was Catholicism. They wanted to spread the religion to the inhabitants of the islands Columbus came in contact with. This idea did not work. The natives did not convert as the Spaniards desired. Catholicism went down along with the colonies. The relations between the natives and Spaniards turned into a Spanish conquest of the islands, they took control, gold, and slaves. The voyages did not result in wealth as expected in the first proposals. They did not acquire a trade route, and the gold mines did not have enough gol!
d content. The amount of gold mined was a small amount compared to how much money was invested in the voyages. Slaves had neither wealth nor lasting value from lack of support. The voyages failed the hopes and expectations of Columbus, his crew, the Spanish monarchs, and Europeans.
Columbus is the most famous explorer in the world of history. Everybody knows who he is, but not exactly what he did. In elementary schools across the globe, kids are taught that Columbus discovered America, and was the founder of the two American continents. They think of him as a visionary genius, a national hero. However, this is an false description, Columbus was a failed administrator, naive entrepreneur, and an greedy imperialist. This is not an opinion, it’s a fact. In Columbus’ third voyage, he and his brother were arrested and sent back to Spain by commissioner Francisco de Bobadilla for his maladministration (see Appendix M).It has been proven by primary sources, and mine and others’ research. The colonies, and what happened between the Spaniards and the inhabitants, are perfect examples of his failures. This is related to how everybody thinks of him as the discoverer of a continent that he never reached. Look in children’s books, find a heroic discoverer. Look in!
the inside sources, find a cruel, maladministrating conqueror. He is not what people learn. This research shows proof of his failures and tells people what to think of this man.