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what is the best biography of christopher columbus

The 5 Best Books on Christopher Columbus

Essential books on christopher columbus.

christopher columbus books

There are countless books on Christopher Columbus, and it comes with good reason, he was an Italian explorer and navigator who completed four voyages across the Atlantic Ocean, opening the way for the widespread European exploration and colonization of the Americas.

“By prevailing over all obstacles and distractions, one may unfailingly arrive at his chosen goal or destination,” he remarked.

In order to get to the bottom of what inspired one of history’s most consequential figures to explore the treacherous unknown, we’ve compiled a list of the 5 best books on Christopher Columbus.

Admiral of the Ocean Sea by Samuel Eliot Morison

what is the best biography of christopher columbus

Winner of the 1943 Pulitzer Prize for Biography, Admiral of the Ocean Sea is Samuel Eliot Morison’s classic biography of the greatest sailor of them all, Christopher Columbus. It is written with the insight, energy, and authority that only someone who had himself sailed in Columbus’s path to the New World could muster. Morison undertook this expedition in a 147-foot schooner and a 47-foot ketch, the dimensions of these craft roughly matching those of Columbus’s Santa Maria and Nina. The result is this vivid and definitive biography that accurately details the voyages that, for better or worse, changed the world.

Samuel Eliot Morison, Rear Admiral, United States Naval Reserve (1887-1976), was an American historian noted for his works of history, especially maritime history, that were both authoritative and highly readable.

The Last Voyage of Columbus by Martin Dugard

christopher columbus books

The Year is 1500. Christopher Columbus, stripped of his title Admiral of the Ocean Seas, waits in chains in a Caribbean prison built under his orders, looking out at the colony that he founded, nurtured, and ruled for eight years. Less than a decade after discovering the New World, he has fallen into disgrace, accused by the royal court of being a liar, a secret Jew, and a foreigner who sought to steal the riches of the New World for himself.

The tall, freckled explorer with the aquiline nose, whose flaming red hair long ago turned gray, passes his days in prayer and rumination, trying to ignore the waterfront gallows that are all too visible from his cell. And he plots for one great escape, one last voyage to the ends of the earth, one final chance to prove himself. What follows is one of history’s most epic – and forgotten – adventures. Columbus himself would later claim that his fourth voyage was his greatest. It was without doubt his most treacherous. Of the four ships he led into the unknown, none returned. Columbus would face the worst storms a European explorer had ever encountered. He would battle to survive amid mutiny, war, and a shipwreck that left him stranded on a desert isle for almost a year.

On his tail were his enemies, sent from Europe to track him down. In front of him: the unknown. Martin Dugard’s thrilling account of this final voyage brings Columbus to life as never before – adventurer, businessman, father, lover, tyrant, and hero.

Columbus: The Four Voyages by Larence Bergreen

what is the best biography of christopher columbus

Christopher Columbus’s 1492 voyage across the Atlantic Ocean in search of a trading route to China, and his unexpected landfall in the Americas, is a watershed event in world history. Yet Columbus made three more voyages within the span of only a decade, each designed to demonstrate that he could sail to China within a matter of weeks and convert those he found there to Christianity.

These later voyages were even more adventurous, violent, and ambiguous, but they revealed Columbus’s uncanny sense of the sea, his mingled brilliance and delusion, and his superb navigational skills. In all these exploits he almost never lost a sailor. By their conclusion, however, Columbus was broken in body and spirit. If the first voyage illustrates the rewards of exploration, the latter voyages illustrate the tragic costs – political, moral, and economic. In rich detail, Laurence Bergreen re-creates each of these adventures as well as the historical background of Columbus’s celebrated, controversial career.

Christopher Columbus: A Man Among Gentiles by Clark B. Hinckley

christopher columbus books

Over the centuries, the story of Christopher Columbus has become so enshrouded in myth that his life has remained largely a mystery to all but a handful of scholars. Yet the prophet Nephi suggests that Columbus stands out among historical figures as “a man among the Gentiles.” In fact, Lehi and Nephi identify only two specific individuals in their prophecy of the latter-day Restoration: Christopher Columbus and Joseph Smith.

In a sense, these two men stand as bookends to the Restoration one at the beginning and one at the end. Columbus himself wrote that he was inspired by the Holy Ghost to undertake his voyage, a claim that some historians struggle to accept. This candid and revealing gem among books on Christopher Columbus uncovers a man with two great dreams, who understood his prophetic mission and his place in history.

The Race to the New World by Douglas Hunter

what is the best biography of christopher columbus

Every schoolchild knows that “in 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue” – but what they don’t teach you in history class is that he wasn’t the only one. In The   Race to the New World , Douglas Hunter tells for the first time the fascinating tale of how Christopher Columbus was embroiled in a high-stakes race with Venetian John Cabot to find a shortcut to the East – and how they found a New World that neither was looking for. Employing fresh research and new translations of critical documents, Hunter reveals the surprisingly intertwined lives of the fabled explorer and his forgotten rival, and provides a fresh perspective on the first years of the European discovery of the New World.

If you enjoyed this guide to essential books on Christopher Columbus, check out our list of The 5 Best Books on Neil Armstrong !

what is the best biography of christopher columbus

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Admiral of the Ocean Sea: A Life of Christopher Columbus

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Admiral of the Ocean Sea: A Life of Christopher Columbus Paperback – October 12, 1991

what is the best biography of christopher columbus

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Christopher Columbus

By: History.com Editors

Updated: August 11, 2023 | Original: November 9, 2009

Christopher Columbus

The explorer Christopher Columbus made four trips across the Atlantic Ocean from Spain: in 1492, 1493, 1498 and 1502. He was determined to find a direct water route west from Europe to Asia, but he never did. Instead, he stumbled upon the Americas. Though he did not “discover” the so-called New World—millions of people already lived there—his journeys marked the beginning of centuries of exploration and colonization of North and South America.

Christopher Columbus and the Age of Discovery

During the 15th and 16th centuries, leaders of several European nations sponsored expeditions abroad in the hope that explorers would find great wealth and vast undiscovered lands. The Portuguese were the earliest participants in this “ Age of Discovery ,” also known as “ Age of Exploration .”

Starting in about 1420, small Portuguese ships known as caravels zipped along the African coast, carrying spices, gold and other goods as well as enslaved people from Asia and Africa to Europe.

Did you know? Christopher Columbus was not the first person to propose that a person could reach Asia by sailing west from Europe. In fact, scholars argue that the idea is almost as old as the idea that the Earth is round. (That is, it dates back to early Rome.)

Other European nations, particularly Spain, were eager to share in the seemingly limitless riches of the “Far East.” By the end of the 15th century, Spain’s “ Reconquista ”—the expulsion of Jews and Muslims out of the kingdom after centuries of war—was complete, and the nation turned its attention to exploration and conquest in other areas of the world.

Early Life and Nationality 

Christopher Columbus, the son of a wool merchant, is believed to have been born in Genoa, Italy, in 1451. When he was still a teenager, he got a job on a merchant ship. He remained at sea until 1476, when pirates attacked his ship as it sailed north along the Portuguese coast.

The boat sank, but the young Columbus floated to shore on a scrap of wood and made his way to Lisbon, where he eventually studied mathematics, astronomy, cartography and navigation. He also began to hatch the plan that would change the world forever.

Christopher Columbus' First Voyage

At the end of the 15th century, it was nearly impossible to reach Asia from Europe by land. The route was long and arduous, and encounters with hostile armies were difficult to avoid. Portuguese explorers solved this problem by taking to the sea: They sailed south along the West African coast and around the Cape of Good Hope.

But Columbus had a different idea: Why not sail west across the Atlantic instead of around the massive African continent? The young navigator’s logic was sound, but his math was faulty. He argued (incorrectly) that the circumference of the Earth was much smaller than his contemporaries believed it was; accordingly, he believed that the journey by boat from Europe to Asia should be not only possible, but comparatively easy via an as-yet undiscovered Northwest Passage . 

He presented his plan to officials in Portugal and England, but it was not until 1492 that he found a sympathetic audience: the Spanish monarchs Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile .

Columbus wanted fame and fortune. Ferdinand and Isabella wanted the same, along with the opportunity to export Catholicism to lands across the globe. (Columbus, a devout Catholic, was equally enthusiastic about this possibility.)

Columbus’ contract with the Spanish rulers promised that he could keep 10 percent of whatever riches he found, along with a noble title and the governorship of any lands he should encounter.

Where Did Columbus' Ships, Niña, Pinta and Santa Maria, Land?

On August 3, 1492, Columbus and his crew set sail from Spain in three ships: the Niña , the Pinta and the Santa Maria . On October 12, the ships made landfall—not in the East Indies, as Columbus assumed, but on one of the Bahamian islands, likely San Salvador.

For months, Columbus sailed from island to island in what we now know as the Caribbean, looking for the “pearls, precious stones, gold, silver, spices, and other objects and merchandise whatsoever” that he had promised to his Spanish patrons, but he did not find much. In January 1493, leaving several dozen men behind in a makeshift settlement on Hispaniola (present-day Haiti and the Dominican Republic), he left for Spain.

He kept a detailed diary during his first voyage. Christopher Columbus’s journal was written between August 3, 1492, and November 6, 1492 and mentions everything from the wildlife he encountered, like dolphins and birds, to the weather to the moods of his crew. More troublingly, it also recorded his initial impressions of the local people and his argument for why they should be enslaved.

“They… brought us parrots and balls of cotton and spears and many other things, which they exchanged for the glass beads and hawks’ bells," he wrote. "They willingly traded everything they owned… They were well-built, with good bodies and handsome features… They do not bear arms, and do not know them, for I showed them a sword, they took it by the edge and cut themselves out of ignorance. They have no iron… They would make fine servants… With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want.”

Columbus gifted the journal to Isabella upon his return.

Christopher Columbus's Later Voyages

About six months later, in September 1493, Columbus returned to the Americas. He found the Hispaniola settlement destroyed and left his brothers Bartolomeo and Diego Columbus behind to rebuild, along with part of his ships’ crew and hundreds of enslaved indigenous people.

Then he headed west to continue his mostly fruitless search for gold and other goods. His group now included a large number of indigenous people the Europeans had enslaved. In lieu of the material riches he had promised the Spanish monarchs, he sent some 500 enslaved people to Queen Isabella. The queen was horrified—she believed that any people Columbus “discovered” were Spanish subjects who could not be enslaved—and she promptly and sternly returned the explorer’s gift.

In May 1498, Columbus sailed west across the Atlantic for the third time. He visited Trinidad and the South American mainland before returning to the ill-fated Hispaniola settlement, where the colonists had staged a bloody revolt against the Columbus brothers’ mismanagement and brutality. Conditions were so bad that Spanish authorities had to send a new governor to take over.

Meanwhile, the native Taino population, forced to search for gold and to work on plantations, was decimated (within 60 years after Columbus landed, only a few hundred of what may have been 250,000 Taino were left on their island). Christopher Columbus was arrested and returned to Spain in chains.

In 1502, cleared of the most serious charges but stripped of his noble titles, the aging Columbus persuaded the Spanish crown to pay for one last trip across the Atlantic. This time, Columbus made it all the way to Panama—just miles from the Pacific Ocean—where he had to abandon two of his four ships after damage from storms and hostile natives. Empty-handed, the explorer returned to Spain, where he died in 1506.

Legacy of Christopher Columbus

Christopher Columbus did not “discover” the Americas, nor was he even the first European to visit the “New World.” (Viking explorer Leif Erikson had sailed to Greenland and Newfoundland in the 11th century.)

However, his journey kicked off centuries of exploration and exploitation on the American continents. The Columbian Exchange transferred people, animals, food and disease across cultures. Old World wheat became an American food staple. African coffee and Asian sugar cane became cash crops for Latin America, while American foods like corn, tomatoes and potatoes were introduced into European diets. 

Today, Columbus has a controversial legacy —he is remembered as a daring and path-breaking explorer who transformed the New World, yet his actions also unleashed changes that would eventually devastate the native populations he and his fellow explorers encountered.

what is the best biography of christopher columbus

HISTORY Vault: Columbus the Lost Voyage

Ten years after his 1492 voyage, Columbus, awaiting the gallows on criminal charges in a Caribbean prison, plotted a treacherous final voyage to restore his reputation.

what is the best biography of christopher columbus

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The Less Than Heroic Christopher Columbus

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By Ian W. Toll

  • Sept. 23, 2011

In 5,000 years of recorded history, scarcely another figure has ignited as much controversy. Each second Monday in October, the familiar arguments flare up. Christopher Columbus , rediscoverer of America, was a visionary explorer. He was a harbinger of genocide. He was a Christianizing messiah. He was a pitiless slave master. He was a lionhearted seaman, a rapacious plunderer, a masterly navigator, a Janus-faced schemer, a liberator of oppressed tribes, a delusional megalomaniac. In “Columbus,” Laurence Bergreen, the author of several biographies, allows scope for all these judgments. But Christopher Columbus was in the first place a terribly interesting man — brilliant, audacious, volatile, paranoid, narcissistic, ruthless and (in the end) deeply unhappy.

Born in Genoa, bred to the sea, Columbus won Spanish royal support for an exploratory voyage in hopes of finding a western passage to Asia. On Oct. 12, 1492, he landed on the Bahamian island of San Salvador, and then took his three ships south to trace the northern coasts of Cuba and Hispaniola. Persuaded that he had found outlying territories of East Asia, Columbus returned in triumph to Spain, where the sovereigns Ferdinand and Isabella named him “Admiral of the Ocean Sea” and granted him sweeping powers over the territories he had claimed. Columbus led three more voyages across the Atlantic, in 1493-96, 1498-1500 and 1502-4. Along the way, he alternately befriended and did battle with the native peoples he called “Indians,” was twice shipwrecked and contended with a rogue’s gallery of Spanish rebels and mutineers.

Columbus emerges in these pages as an immensely courageous but less than heroic figure. In his dealings with the Spanish throne, he was an inveterate exaggerator and prevaricator. In his attitude toward the Indians, no coherent pattern emerges. At first Columbus found them sweet-­tempered, curious, generous and tractable. But treachery was a recurring theme, among both the Europeans and the Indians — even when relations seemed amicable, outbursts of savage violence were a chronic risk. The most feared people in the Antilles were the “Caribs,” by Bergreen’s account sadistic cannibals who traveled in dugout canoes from island to island in search of fresh meat. “They eat human flesh and children and castrated men whom they keep and fatten like capons,” one European wrote. “They are called cannibals.” Let it never be said that pre-­Columbian Americans were strangers to oppression and insensate cruelty.

The Europeans were motivated by their lust for glory, for conquest, for women and above all for gold. When the Indians had gold they were compelled to part with it; when they had none they were compelled to hunt for it. Among the Taino people of Hispaniola, Columbus decreed a system of tribute, requiring each adult to submit a specified quantity of gold, on pain of death. But he was also fervently determined to spread the Christian faith. Christianize or exploit? Convert or enslave? The two goals were plainly antithetical. For a time, Columbus hoped to resolve the quandary by enslaving the diabolical Caribs and converting the more benign peoples. But what did conversion even mean? A priest wrote that “force and craft” were required to impose Christianity on the Indians, but there was little hope that they would observe the rites after their overlords had left.

what is the best biography of christopher columbus

In 1499, troubled by reports they had received from the faraway colonies, the Spanish monarchs empowered a judicial investigator to bring Columbus to account. The inquiry produced testimony that Columbus had forbidden the Christian baptism of Indians except by his express permission, in order to ensure an adequate supply of slaves. The admiral was said to have imposed a reign of terror on the Spanish colonists of Hispaniola, who were flogged, disfigured or executed without trial for minor infractions. Some of the allegations may have been trumped up or exaggerated by Columbus’s enemies — but after being arrested and transported back to Spain in chains, Columbus tearfully admitted to Ferdinand and Isabella that many of the charges were true. He won their forgiveness, but was never again appointed governor of the lands he had discovered.

Historical relativists would urge us to keep these offenses in perspective. It was another era, they remind us, when men were governed by different moral and ethical codes. That’s a bit too facile. In 1493, Ferdinand and Isabella had directed Columbus to “endeavor to win over the inhabitants” and to “treat the Indians very well and lovingly and abstain from doing them any injury.” His conduct would make a mockery of those instructions. Columbus was roundly condemned by his own contemporaries, most damningly by Bartolomé de Las Casas, a priest who arrived in the Antilles in 1502 and later wrote a hard-hitting jeremiad entitled “A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies.” Las Casas denounced the false promises and unbridled greed of Columbus and his colonialist followers, and recounted the near-total annihilation of the native population of Hispaniola within 50 years of the Europeans’ arrival.

In his fourth and final voyage, an adventure as Homeric as any found in the pages of history, Columbus explored the coasts of Central America, discovered the Mayan civilization, battled mutineers within his own ranks, piloted his ships through powerful gales, was marooned on a Jamaican beach for an entire year and cowed a group of menacing Indians by correctly predicting a lunar eclipse. Returning to Spain in 1504, he declined quickly. He was gloomy, frustrated and resentful. He struck a pose as a martyr and haggled unsuccessfully with King Ferdinand for the wealth and titles he believed he had been unjustly denied. Weakened by gout, rheumatoid arthritis and possibly malaria, he died in 1506, at the age of 54.

If Christopher Columbus had never lived, the Old and New Worlds were still destined to collide sooner or later — and if we accept the thesis of Jared Diamond’s “Guns, Germs, and Steel,” that collision was always going to be cataclysmic for the native peoples of the Americas. But it was Columbus who first established a permanent link between the two worlds, and for that reason alone he was a figure of immense historical importance. “Before him,” Bergreen writes, “the Old World and the New remained separate and distinct continents, ecosystems and societies; ever since, their fates have been bound together, for better or worse.”

What emerges in this biography, a worthy addition to the literature on Columbus, is a surprising and revealing portrait of a man who might have been the title character in a Shakespearean tragedy. He was a brilliant and courageous seafarer who put everything on the line in pursuit of a fantastic vision — “but as the voyages grew in complexity,” Bergreen persuasively concludes, “he became progressively less rational and more extreme, until it seemed as if he lived more in his glorious illusions than in the grueling reality his voyages laid bare.” Columbus was not the enlightened rationalist of legend; he was a self-appointed messiah who called himself “Columbus, the Christ-bearer,” and believed with utter conviction that he was an instrument of divine will. But if Columbus was a Christian, he might have paused to consider the rhetorical question posed in Mark 8:36 (slightly altered to fit the circumstance): “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain a New World, and lose his own soul?”

The Four Voyages

By Laurence Bergreen

Illustrated. 423 pp. Viking. $35.

Ian W. Toll is the author of the forthcoming “Pacific Crucible: War at Sea in the Pacific, 1941-1942.”

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Christopher Columbus by William D. Phillips LAST REVIEWED: 18 August 2021 LAST MODIFIED: 10 May 2010 DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195399301-0029

Christopher Columbus and his voyages captured the imagination of contemporaries and have continued to fascinate admirers through the centuries as well as a growing number of detractors. The extensive sources and studies give a privileged view into his life and times, especially his post-1492 experiences. The publication dates indicate the high points of activity as editors and authors tended to concentrate their efforts. There was a peak around 1892, the 400th anniversary of Columbus’s first voyage. In 1942 Samuel Eliot Morison published Admiral of the Ocean Sea (see Classic Studies ), a biography that constructed an image of Columbus that became standard in the United States for a half century. Most of the recent contributions of scholarship and edited sources appeared in the years immediately before and after the quincentenary of 1992 with an additional flurry around 2006, the 500th anniversary of Columbus’s death. The United States, Spain, and Italy have been the countries where most of the publications have appeared; each of them had major initiatives to support Columbian scholarship in the period around 1992.

Numerous books on Columbus are available, varying from the scholarly to the poorly informed and the polemical. His life and times have been studied for several centuries now. This section lists some of the most scholarly and well documented works. Complete coverage of Columbus and his times can be found in Taviani 1991 , stressing the Italian background, Fernández-Armesto 1991 , emphasizing the intellectual background and navigation, and Phillips and Phillips 1992 , placing Columbus and his actions in the context of world history. The personal life of the admiral is fully treated in Varela 1992 . Henige 1991 provides analyses of the sources for the first voyage, whereas Davidson 1997 examines the available sources and offers biting critiques of previous scholars. Varela 2006 is a recent collection of articles by some of the most noted scholars of the Columbian period.

Davidson, Miles H. Columbus Then and Now: A Life Reexamined . Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1997.

Davidson hews to the documents in this account of Columbus, in the course of which he excoriates earlier writers who deviated from the sources and who tried to place the Columbian story in seamless narratives.

Fernández-Armesto, Felipe. Columbus . Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991.

An erudite narrative of Columbus and his actions.

Henige, David P. In Search of Columbus: The Sources for the First Voyage . Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1991.

Henige was influential in showing how previous writers on Columbus had misused the original sources to fit into often preconceived notions. He was especially concerned about demonstrating that the logbook of the first voyage, because the sailing directions and distances in it were paraphrased by the nonmariner Bartolomé de Las Casas, could not be used to establish a definite place of first landfall in the Americas.

Phillips, William D., Jr., and Carla Rahn Phillips. The Worlds of Christopher Columbus . Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1992.

A book placing Columbus in his documented contemporary contexts and in the contexts of world history.

Taviani, Paolo Emilio. Christopher Columbus: The Grand Design . Novara, Italy: Istituto Geografico de Agostini, 1985.

Taviani was Italy’s premier expert on Columbus. Examines the genesis of Columbus’s proposal to reach Asia by an Atlantic trajectory.

Taviani, Paolo Emilio. Columbus, the Great Adventure: His Life, His Times, and His Voyages . New York: Orion, 1991.

Provides a well-informed overview of Columbus and his four voyages. Stresses the incompletely documented Genoese background. Taviani was heavily involved in the Nuova Raccolta Colombiana (cited under Recent Source Collections ).

Varela, Consuelo. Cristóbal Colón: Retrato de un hombre . Madrid: Alianza Editorial, 1992.

Varela and her husband Juan Gil are the leading Spanish experts on Columbus. Here she examines Columbus the man, investigating his life, his loves, his family, and his ailments.

Varela, Consuelo, ed. Cristóbal Colón, 1506–2006: Historia y Leyenda . Palos de la Frontera, Spain: Universidad Internacional de Andalucía, Sede Iberoamericana Santa María de La Rábida, 2006.

A collection of articles delivered at a conference in 2006 commemorating the 500th anniversary of Columbus’s death.

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Biography Online


Christopher Columbus Biography

what is the best biography of christopher columbus

“You can never cross the ocean unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.”

– Christopher Columbus

Short bio Christopher Columbus (1451–1506)

christopher columbus

Christopher Columbus was a believer in the spherical nature of the world (some Christians still held the view that the world was flat). An ambitious man, Christopher Columbus hoped to find a Western trade route to the lucrative spice markets in Asia. Rather than sailing east, he hoped that sailing west would lead to countries like Japan and China.

To gain the necessary funding and support for his journeys, he approached the Catholic Monarchs of Spain. As part of his offer, he said that he hoped to be able to spread Christianity to ‘heathen lands’ in the east. The Spanish monarchs agreed to fund Columbus, partly on the Christian missionary efforts, but also hoping to gain an upper hand in the lucrative trade markets. One advantage of the westward exploration is that it avoided conflict with the growing power of the Ottomans in the east.

“I should not proceed by land to the East, as is customary, but by a Westerly route, in which direction we have hitherto no certain evidence that any one has gone.” Journal of the First Voyage – 3 August 1492 diary entry

Voyages to the Americas


A map from 1474, with the perceived geography of the world in yellow (superimposed on actual land)

Columbus’ first voyage was completed in 1492. He had intended to sail to Japan but ended up in the Bahamas, which he named San Salvador.


Landing of Columbus (12 October 1492), painting by John Vanderlyn

Columbus made a total of four journeys, where he sailed extensively around the Caribbean islands of Cuba, Jamaica, the Bahamas and also to the mainland, to places such as Panama.

Columbus was not the first person to reach America. Previous successful voyages included a Norse expedition led by Leif Ericson. However, Columbus was the first to travel to America and establish permanent settlements. Columbus’ voyages and reports, over the next 400 years encouraged all the major European powers to seek to colonise parts of America.

Columbus was a skilled navigator with tremendous faith in the possibilities of exploration. He claimed in his diary entries, his steely will held the crew together when they feared they would never reach land.

“Here the men lost all patience, and complained of the length of the voyage, but the Admiral encouraged them in the best manner he could, representing the profits they were about to acquire, and adding that it was to no purpose to complain, having come so far, they had nothing to do but continue on to the Indies, till with the help of our Lord, they should arrive there.” Diary entry, 10 October 1492

However, his autocratic style created friction on the boats that he guided. Columbus was deeply religious and his tendency to be sanctimonious and judgemental of personal failings was not popular with sailors who took a more earthy and realistic approach to life. Yet, whilst he was pious in some regards, he also shared the view, common at the time, that European Christians had a moral superiority due to their following the one true faith. Although Columbus held back some of the worst excesses of his sailors, he took back human slaves and looted property from the indigenous people.

As part of the deal, the Spanish monarchy appointed Columbus Viceroy and Governor of the Indies in the island of Hispaniola. He also delegated the governorship to his brothers. However, in 1500, on the orders of the Spanish monarchy, Columbus was arrested and placed in chains. There were allegations of incompetence, misrule and barbaric practices in the governorship of the new colonies. After several weeks in jail, Columbus and his brothers were released, but Columbus was not allowed to be governor of Hispaniola anymore.

Towards the end of his life, Columbus became increasingly religious. In particular, he became fascinated with Biblical prophecies and wrote his own ‘Book of Prophecies’ (1505). He was also frustrated with his lack of public recognition and seeming demotion in the eyes of the Spanish monarchs. In 1503, he wrote a letter to the monarchs laying out his sense of unappreciated sacrifice

“I came to serve you at the age of 28 and now I have not a hair on me that is not white, and my body is infirm and exhausted. All that was left to me and my brothers has been taken away and sold, even to the cloak that I wore, without hearing or trial, to my great dishonor.” – Lettera Rarissima to the Sovereigns, Fourth Voyage (7 July 1503)

Columbus died in 1506, aged 54 from a heart attack related to reactive arthritis. Undoubtedly, the rigours of travelling across the seas weighed upon Columbus’ health. Towards the end of his life, he was frequently in physical pain from his journeys.

Columbus is venerated by many European Americans as the man who helped put America on the map. Columbus Day is observed on 12 October in Spain and across the Americas. Others take a more critical view of Columbus, arguing that his “discovery” was not really a discovery – because the land was already populated and that through his actions the ensuing European colonisations led to the mistreatment and genocide of the Native American people who already lived there.

Citation: Pettinger, Tejvan . “Biography of Christopher Columbus”, Oxford, UK.  www.biographyonline.net , 13th May. 2009. Updated 22 January 2020.

Who was Christopher Columbus?


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3 books about Christopher Columbus

Christopher Columbus may be the most famous sailor ever, but, as with all great men, much of his life is shrouded in myth. These books will clear up his story.

1. Columbus: The Four Voyages , by Laurence Bergreen (Viking, $35). Everyone knows that in 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue, but did you know he made three more voyages to the New World? There might be a reason you didn't. The first voyage was the only one that led to any good, to wit, the New World. After that discovery, Columbus never met expectations. Eventually, he lost royal backing and died destitute. After you're done reading about the three voyages you'd never heard of, you might conclude that Columbus is the most overrated dunce in history. He was a poor, indecisive leader, prone to confusion, who never discerned that he had discovered a new continent, even though evidence abounded.

2. The Race to the New World: Christopher Columbus, John Cabot, and a Lost History of Discovery , by Douglas Hunter (Palgrave Macmillan, $27). After Columbus returned from the New World, an avaricious, corrupt Venetian bridge builder named John Cabot sniffed possibility. Maybe he could raise an armada himself and obtain what Columbus hadn't: gold, spices, glory and wealth. He fled his Spanish creditors to England, where he convinced King Henry VII to sponsor an Atlantic expedition. Never mind that Cabot had no seafaring experience to speak of. Why England sponsored him at all is a fascinating story of political desperation and artful salesmanship amid a European struggle for wealth and power.

3. Columbus and the Quest for Jerusalem , by Carol Delaney (Free Press, $26). It's common knowledge that Columbus set sail to enrich the Spanish royal purse with Asian gold and spices. What is little known, Stanford University professor emerita Carol Delaney argues, is what that money was intended for: financing another crusade against the Muslim occupiers of the Holy Land. Intent on securing Jerusalem before the Second Coming of Christ, Columbus pushed on despite mutinous crews, deplorable sea conditions and unhappy sovereigns. Delaney frames a dramatic story with repercussions that could reach the heavens.

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what is the best biography of christopher columbus

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The Ages of Exploration

Christopher columbus, age of discovery.

Quick Facts:

He is credited for discovering the Americas in 1492, although we know today people were there long before him; his real achievement was that he opened the door for more exploration to a New World.

Name : Christopher Columbus [Kri-stə-fər] [Kə-luhm-bəs]

Birth/Death : 1451 - 1506

Nationality : Italian

Birthplace : Genoa, Italy

Christopher Columbus aboard the "Santa Maria" leaving Palos, Spain on his first voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. The Mariners' Museum 1933.0746.000001

Christopher Columbus leaving Palos, Spain

Christopher Columbus aboard the "Santa Maria" leaving Palos, Spain on his first voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. The Mariners' Museum 1933.0746.000001

Introduction We know that In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue. But what did he actually discover? Christopher Columbus (also known as (Cristoforo Colombo [Italian]; Cristóbal Colón [Spanish]) was an Italian explorer credited with the “discovery” of the America’s. The purpose for his voyages was to find a passage to Asia by sailing west. Never actually accomplishing this mission, his explorations mostly included the Caribbean and parts of Central and South America, all of which were already inhabited by Native groups.

Biography Early Life Christopher Columbus was born in Genoa, part of present-day Italy, in 1451. His parents’ names were Dominico Colombo and Susanna Fontanarossa. He had three brothers: Bartholomew, Giovanni, and Giacomo; and a sister named Bianchinetta. Christopher became an apprentice in his father’s wool weaving business, but he also studied mapmaking and sailing as well. He eventually left his father’s business to join the Genoese fleet and sail on the Mediterranean Sea. 1 After one of his ships wrecked off the coast of Portugal, he decided to remain there with his younger brother Bartholomew where he worked as a cartographer (mapmaker) and bookseller. Here, he married Doña Felipa Perestrello e Moniz and had two sons Diego and Fernando.

Christopher Columbus owned a copy of Marco Polo’s famous book, and it gave him a love for exploration. In the mid 15th century, Portugal was desperately trying to find a faster trade route to Asia. Exotic goods such as spices, ivory, silk, and gems were popular items of trade. However, Europeans often had to travel through the Middle East to reach Asia. At this time, Muslim nations imposed high taxes on European travels crossing through. 2 This made it both difficult and expensive to reach Asia. There were rumors from other sailors that Asia could be reached by sailing west. Hearing this, Christopher Columbus decided to try and make this revolutionary journey himself. First, he needed ships and supplies, which required money that he did not have. He went to King John of Portugal who turned him down. He then went to the rulers of England, and France. Each declined his request for funding. After seven years of trying, he was finally sponsored by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain.

Voyages Principal Voyage Columbus’ voyage departed in August of 1492 with 87 men sailing on three ships: the Niña, the Pinta, and the Santa María. Columbus commanded the Santa María, while the Niña was led by Vicente Yanez Pinzon and the Pinta by Martin Pinzon. 3 This was the first of his four trips. He headed west from Spain across the Atlantic Ocean. On October 12 land was sighted. He gave the first island he landed on the name San Salvador, although the native population called it Guanahani. 4 Columbus believed that he was in Asia, but was actually in the Caribbean. He even proposed that the island of Cuba was a part of China. Since he thought he was in the Indies, he called the native people “Indians.” In several letters he wrote back to Spain, he described the landscape and his encounters with the natives. He continued sailing throughout the Caribbean and named many islands he encountered after his ship, king, and queen: La Isla de Santa María de Concepción, Fernandina, and Isabella.

It is hard to determine specifically which islands Columbus visited on this voyage. His descriptions of the native peoples, geography, and plant life do give us some clues though. One place we do know he stopped was in present-day Haiti. He named the island Hispaniola. Hispaniola today includes both Haiti and the Dominican Republic. In January of 1493, Columbus sailed back to Europe to report what he found. Due to rough seas, he was forced to land in Portugal, an unfortunate event for Columbus. With relations between Spain and Portugal strained during this time, Ferdinand and Isabella suspected that Columbus was taking valuable information or maybe goods to Portugal, the country he had lived in for several years. Those who stood against Columbus would later use this as an argument against him. Eventually, Columbus was allowed to return to Spain bringing with him tobacco, turkey, and some new spices. He also brought with him several natives of the islands, of whom Queen Isabella grew very fond.

Subsequent Voyages Columbus took three other similar trips to this region. His second voyage in 1493 carried a large fleet with the intention of conquering the native populations and establishing colonies. At one point, the natives attacked and killed the settlers left at Fort Navidad. Over time the colonists enslaved many of the natives, sending some to Europe and using many to mine gold for the Spanish settlers in the Caribbean. The third trip was to explore more of the islands and mainland South America further. Columbus was appointed the governor of Hispaniola, but the colonists, upset with Columbus’ leadership appealed to the rulers of Spain, who sent a new governor: Francisco de Bobadilla. Columbus was taken prisoner on board a ship and sent back to Spain.

On his fourth and final journey west in 1502 Columbus’s goal was to find the “Strait of Malacca,” to try to find India. But a hurricane, then being denied entrance to Hispaniola, and then another storm made this an unfortunate trip. His ship was so badly damaged that he and his crew were stranded on Jamaica for two years until help from Hispaniola finally arrived. In 1504, Columbus and his men were taken back to Spain .

Later Years and Death Columbus reached Spain in November 1504. He was not in good health. He spent much of the last of his life writing letters to obtain the percentage of wealth overdue to be paid to him, and trying to re-attain his governorship status, but was continually denied both. Columbus died at Valladolid on May 20, 1506, due to illness and old age. Even until death, he still firmly believing that he had traveled to the eastern part of Asia.

Legacy Columbus never made it to Asia, nor did he truly discover America. His “re-discovery,” however, inspired a new era of exploration of the American continents by Europeans. Perhaps his greatest contribution was that his voyages opened an exchange of goods between Europe and the Americas both during and long after his journeys. 5 Despite modern criticism of his treatment of the native peoples there is no denying that his expeditions changed both Europe and America. Columbus day was made a federal holiday in 1971. It is recognized on the second Monday of October.

  • Fergus Fleming, Off the Map: Tales of Endurance and Exploration (New York: Grove Press, 2004), 30.
  • Fleming, Off the Map, 30
  • William D. Phillips and Carla Rahn Phillips, The Worlds of Christopher Columbus (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1993), 142-143.
  • Phillips and Phillips, The Worlds of Christopher Columbus, 155.
  • Robin S. Doak, Christopher Columbus: Explorer of the New World (Minneapolis: Compass Point Books, 2005), 92.


Doak, Robin. Christopher Columbus: Explorer of the New World. Minneapolis: Compass Point Books, 2005.

Fleming, Fergus. Off the Map: Tales of Endurance and Exploration. New York: Grove Press, 2004.

Phillips, William D., and Carla Rahn Phillips. The Worlds of Christopher Columbus. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1993.

Christopher Columbus at the Court of Queen Isabella II of Spain who funded his New World journey. The Mariners' Museum 1950.0315.000001

Map of Voyages

Click below to view an example of the explorer’s voyages. Use the tabs on the left to view either 1 or multiple journeys at a time, and click on the icons to learn more about the stops, sites, and activities along the way.

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Christopher Columbus

By michele debczak | mar 20, 2020.

what is the best biography of christopher columbus


Most people who went to elementary school in the United States know the name Christopher Columbus. Born Cristoforo Colombo, he's one of history's most famous explorers, but his accomplishments and legacy are hotly disputed today. Christopher Columbus may not have discovered America, but he did take several voyages to the continent that helped ignite Europe’s Age of Exploration. And while he's celebrated for his achievements in some circles, he's vilified in others, due to his mistreatment of indigenous populations and even his own crew. Find out more about the complicated life of Christopher Columbus.

1. Most historians believe Christopher Columbus was born in Genoa, Italy.

The Casa de Colón (Columbus House) in Las Palmas. It's said that Christopher Columbus stayed here while awaiting ship repairs in 1492.

According to the consensus among historians, Christopher Columbus was born in the Republic of Genoa (or Genova) in what would later become Italy. The exact date of his birth is unknown, but it’s estimated he was born sometime in 1451. It’s possible that his mother was Susanna Fontanarossa and his father was a wool merchant named Domenico Colombo.

2. There's also the theory that Christopher Columbus was from Portugal.

Despite his global recognition now, questions remain about Christopher Columbus's life.

Italians have long claimed Christopher Columbus as one of their own, but not everyone is in agreement about the explorer’s birthplace. In 2012 , University of Lisbon professor Fernando Branco published a book proposing that Columbus was actually born in Portugal. The theory states that Columbus was really a man named Pedro Ataíde and his more famous identity was a cover. Pedro Ataíde allegedly died during a naval battle in 1476, but Branco postulates that he survived and washed up on the shores of the Algarve in Southern Portugal. One of the first historical records of Columbus describes him swimming away from a shipwreck. Much of the evidence Branco presents can be chalked up to coincidence, but the theory does highlight the fact that many details are missing from historical records of Columbus’s early life.

3. Christopher Columbus's voyage to America started from Spain, not Italy.

An illustration of Christopher Columbus at the court of Queen Isabella I and King Ferdinand II.

To make the question of his ethnicity even more confusing, Christopher Columbus didn’t take his famous voyage under the flags of Italy or Portugal. In the late 15th century, Columbus hatched a plan to chart a passage to the East Indies by sailing West instead of East. If his trip was successful, the profits he’d gain through an alternative spice trading route could make him rich—but he still needed funds to get a ship out of the dock. Queen Isabella I of Castile and King Ferdinand II of Aragon ultimately agreed to sponsor his journey, and in August 1492, he led the Pinta , the Niña , and the Santa Maria out of the port of Palos in Spain and into the New World.

4. The ships Christopher Columbus used to sail to America were a nightmare.

The column of the Christopher Columbus monument in Barcelona, Spain, is almost 200 feet high.

The two smaller boats that made up Christopher Columbus's fleet—the Niña and the Pinta (which were nicknames , not official names)—were state-of-the-art caravels . These vessels were known for their aerodynamic sails and lightweight build that made them fast and easy to navigate. They were also famously uncomfortable. The one cabin at the back of the ship was reserved for its captain, and the rest of the 20 to 30 crew members had to sleep on the cramped deck—that is, if they could ever stop working long enough to actually rest for a moment. The situation was slightly better on the larger Santa Maria, where there were cabins for both Columbus and his crew. Even so, the sailors were close to mutiny by the time the fleet reached the Bahamas following roughly two months at sea.

5. Christopher Columbus wasn’t the first European to discover North America.

A Norse settlement discovered in Newfoundland, Canada, points to European journeys in North America that predate Christopher Columbus.

For centuries, Christopher Columbus has been erroneously credited with discovering North America—a continent where human civilization had already been flourishing for thousands of years . But even his title as the first European to travel to the Americas is inaccurate. Viking explorer Leif Erikson beat Columbus by about 500 years , likely landing in Newfoundland, Canada, around 1000 CE. Some legends even suggest that Irish monks traveled to Canada by the North Sea before either explorer set sail.

6. Christopher Columbus’s voyage in 1492 wasn’t his only trip to North America.

An illustration of Christopher Columbus interacting with Indigenous people.

Following his initial contact with the Americas in 1492, Columbus made a few return trips. He was back in Spain for less than a year when he boarded a ship in September 1493 and crossed the Atlantic a second time. There was a five-year gap between this trip and his third journey to North America in 1498, which eventually involved him being arrested for his mismanagement and cruelty during the whole fiasco.

His fourth and final voyage to the Caribbean took place in 1502. Columbus never found China or India or the gold he was looking for, but he did manage to terrorize and enslave native islanders, turn his crews against him ( feeding them worm-infested biscuits will do that), and get stranded in Jamaica for a year after wrecking a four-boat fleet. Christopher Columbus would die on May 20, 1506.

7. Columbus Day became a federal holiday in 1937—but not everyone is a fan.

A statue of Leif Erikson, the first known European to step foot onto the continent of North America.

In 1937, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt declared October 12 as Columbus Day, a federal day of observance that became a reality thanks to the influence of a Catholic group called the Knights of Columbus. In 1971 , President Richard Nixon created the modern version of Columbus Day by declaring that it be observed on the second Monday of every October. This was in an attempt to make  uniform holidays that took place on Mondays to create more three-day weekends for Americans.

That doesn't mean everyone is a fan of the holiday. Due to Columbus's malicious treatment of Native Americans and other indigenous people, many states and cities refuse to recognize Columbus Day, instead opting for Indigenous Peoples' Day, while others celebrate Leif Erikson Day to honor the traveling Norseman.

Where does the love and hate for Christopher Columbus come from?

Christopher Columbus kneeling and holding a flag and sword as he made landfall on the island he would rename San Salvador in October 1492. The Age of Exploration was driven by religious doctrine that presented Christianity as a "civilising" force.

In 2020, a year after Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador demanded that Spain apologise for the abuses of the Conquest of America, the statue of Christopher Columbus was dismantled from the Paseo de la Reforma in Mexico City.

It was a kind of preface to a wave of monument removals in honour of the Italian-born navigator which exploded with the Black Lives Matter movement.

This year, Spain celebrates its National Day on October 12. At the centre of the controversy – and object of many of the reactions – is the figure of the Italian sailor, who led the first great European expedition that set foot on American soil for the first time on October 12, 1492.

In the last decade, capitals such as Bogota in Colombia, La Paz in Bolivia and Argentina's Buenos Aires have gotten rid of their Columbus effigies; many of these countries celebrate October 12 as Columbus Day. In the United States (with more than 40 statues removed since 2018) it has been renamed Indigenous Peoples Solidarity Day and in many states no longer equates to a holiday. In Caracas, Venezuela, the statue of Columbus was pulled down in 2004 as a symbol of genocide.

Today obtaining certainties about the figure of the explorer has become an odyssey. History has long said Columbus ‘discovered’ the New World for Spain – and in so doing set in motion a chain of events that led to the brutal suppression of indigenous peoples across the Americas. Terms such as ‘presentism’, cancel culture and the so-called woke generation are making historical revisionism, with all its challenges, the norm. What certainties do we have left?

‘Presentism has always existed‘

Presentism is the phenomenon that explains the vandalised statue of slaveholder Edward Colston in Bristol, or the dismantling of the monument to secessionist General Lee in Richmond in Virginia, U.S., to cite just two examples. Understood as the analysis of past events from the moral rules of the present, presentism “is nothing new” according to Richard Kagan, Professor Emeritus of history at John Hopkins University, U.S., since, for centuries, historians have selected their topics according to contemporary issues and concerns. “In light of  the importance the current news cycle accords to issues relating to race, climate, gender, social and economic inequalities on a global scale,” Kagan says, “many of today’s historians seek to offer new perspectives on these issues in the past, whether recent or remote.”

Isabella of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon, who were married for 35 years, joined forces ...

Isabella of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon, who were married for 35 years, joined forces and founded the Hispanic Monarchy that was the dominant power of the 15th and 16th centuries. They subdued the last Muslim stronghold in Western Europe, culminating the religious unification of the Peninsula and laying the foundations of what centuries later would become Spain. They also initiated the age of exploration by backing Christopher Columbus, which laid the foundations of what is known in history as the Spanish Empire.

It is a fact that, outside Spain, the public image of Columbus has been degraded over the years. Also in the Spanish educational system, the subject recently caused controversy when a high school philosophy textbook asked students whether “the Spanish State should assume responsibility for colonialism”. One might ask: Has Columbus always been studied as a conquering hero?

One has to go back to the biography of Christopher Columbus published in 1828 by Washington Irving to find the first foundations that shaped the halo of heroism around Columbus. “He was presented as a progressive and forward-looking individual determined to overcome the obscurantism and backwardness represented by the professors of Salamanca who questioned – rightly, as it turned out – his calculations about the size of the globe”, notes Kagan. It was only in the second half of the 20th century that historians used a variety of new archival sources to begin to pay attention to other facets of Columbus's trajectory, “thus chipping away at the heroic image Irving did so much to create,” Kagan concludes.

Kagan believes that preserving the statues teaches students the reasons why they were erected in the first place (“it's impossible to erase the past, it's better to learn from it”), and suggests that, in California, attacks and acts of vandalism on the statues of Juan de Oñate in Albuquerque and San Junipero Serra in California “have gone too far.” It is “better to use these statues teaching as tools to learn about the past and especially about societies whose values, ideas about race and religion, and women as well, were markedly different from those of today."

Somewhere between the two extreme points of view, Israel Alvarez Moctezuma, Professor of Medieval Studies at the Faculty of Philosophy and Letters of the UNAM (Mexico) believes that “cancelling the past is an exercise in collective amnesia where we still do not know what consequences it will have; the statues of Columbus and the English slavers should not be in the public space, but in a museum, because they are undeniably part of our history, however painful it may be.” 

For Fernando Cervantes, Mexican historian and professor of Modern Age studies at the University of Bristol, branding Columbus as a hero means “uncritically accepting the postulates of the theory of progress... according to which Columbus was part of the rationalist and empirical trajectory that laid the foundations of the scientific revolution and the Enlightenment”.

Cervantes strikes down as a “blatant myth” the idea that Columbus was a character ahead of his time and fighting against obscurantist and superstitious views of the world, as well as the idea (“still widely accepted”) that Columbus's contemporaries opposed his plans because they thought the world was flat.

Deadly impact

Despite the fact that Columbus never set foot in North America, in July 2020, the speaker of the California Assembly ordered the removal of the monument erected in 1883 to Christopher Columbus and Isabella the Catholic arguing that it was “a deeply polarising historical figure given the deadly impact his arrival in this hemisphere [the West] had on indigenous populations.” Is historical revisionism more topical than ever or has it always been present in one form or another?

For Matthew Restall, ethnohistorian and professor of Latin American history and anthropology at the Pennsylvania State University (USA), the nuance is very subtle. “Historical writing has always been revisionist, especially the best historical scholarship. However, the  awareness  of History's revisionist nature waxes and wanes, and I do agree that today there is more awareness of it. The key to understanding the real Columbus is to separate him from the many Columbuses that were invented after his death, and continue to be invented. Hero and villain are just two of those inventions,” Restall says via e-mail.

“The more Columbus is made a symbol of momentous historical events, the more he is going to attract passionate defenders and detractors... Thus, the battles over statues, monuments, and day names are not really about Columbus, but about myriad other issues.”

In the late 1990s, moved by the accumulation of misunderstandings he found in the beliefs of his students, Restall wrote the book Seven Myths of the Spanish Conquest : “I realised that most of them had picked up misconceptions about the larger topic, from Columbus to the Aztecs and conquistadors to the larger history of European imperialism in the Americas, and that those misconceptions – or myths as I came to call them – were rooted in what historians had written during the previous century, which was in turn rooted in what Spaniards and other Europeans had written during the imperial centuries [16th to 19th]”. In his work, Restall elaborates on the idea that the villain is not the person, but the concept: “the idea, embraced by millions of people, that it is justifiable for one group of people to invade, massacre, exploit and enslave another group.”

He also sheds light on the (at the time) non-existent Spanish nationality, the belief that the conquest was executed under the orders of Ferdinand II of Aragon, the fundamental help of indigenous allies in the expansion of the empire – and the fact that there were territories that were never conquered, amongst other topics. “The more Columbus is made a symbol of momentous historical events, the more he is going to attract passionate defenders and detractors. Thus, the battles over statues, monuments, and day names – Columbus vs Indigenous Peoples – are not really about Columbus, but about myriad other issues”, he states.

Using history as a weapon

Restall puts the spotlight on the fine line that, once crossed, turns historical revisionism (“which strictly follows the rules of evidence”), into distorted manipulation of the historical method in the service of presentist political objectives: “Although there are many others, the most egregious example is Holocaust denial.”

Historical revisionism “is not only positive, but also necessary,” says Emilio Redondo, professor of American History at the Complutense University of Madrid. “There is no definitive historical truth, it is always provisional”, says Redondo, also stressing the importance of nuance: “The fact that there is now a greater sensitivity to unedifying behaviours that a century ago were overlooked in great historical figures should not be censured or disqualified as mere presentism. Just as they should not be exposed to public scorn or thrown into the sink of oblivion”.

Christopher Columbus set sail in 1492 from the port of Palos de la Frontera (Huelva) with ...

Christopher Columbus set sail in 1492 from the port of Palos de la Frontera (Huelva) with a fleet of three caravels: the Pinta, the Niña and the Santa María. Although he sought a western passage to Asia, Columbus made landfall in the Americas, initiating an era of European exploration and colonisation.

Redondo highlights how in Spain the concept of historical revisionism has been tainted with certain pejorative connotations, especially in the biased study of the Second Republic, the Civil War and Francoism.

In this sense, Redondo places the discovery of America (and the “publishing boom related to the Hispanic imperial past”) as another example of instrumentalised narratives: “It is very significant that here the revisionist phenomenon has been produced in a double aspect: on the one hand, the uncritical glorification of that imperial past; on the other, its unmitigated condemnation from a presentist vision. It is in this scheme where the game between imperiophilias and imperiophobias that we suffer today fits, and that generally does not start from the honest will to understand the past, but from the justification of ideological positions in the present”.

Proof of this is, for example, the existence of symposiums organised by dozens of researchers who claim that Columbus was in fact Catalan or at least spoke it – according to Estelle Irizarry, a researcher at Georgetown University, U.S.

“Responsible historical revisionism would be that which seeks to tell the story and the experience of the greatest possible number of people, groups and collectives, offering a plurality of perspectives on a given moment in our past, without giving preeminence to any of them”

Although the role of the Internet and social networks in the pursuit of freedom of expression is unquestionable, Redondo highlights the “paradox that these same social networks that have opened up public debate are the ones that provoke censorship or – at the very least, vituperation of different opinions – under the protection of anonymity and gregariousness that characterise these digital mass media”.

Cancel culture and the woke generation

According to the Oxford English Dictionary (which added the term into its 2017 edition), the adjective ‘woke’ alludes to a person who is ‘alert to racial or social discrimination and injustice.’ The word, paradoxically, came with the inclusion of another no less sensitive term: post-truth.

Used pejoratively by, among others, former U.S. President Donald Trump (to mock the captain of the U.S. women's soccer team), the word woke has become a weapon of choice for conservatism or a title to be proud of. It was coined by The New York Times in 1962, and in recent times we have seen it associated with the outbreak of social movements related to race, gender and sexual orientation, among other issues.

Pilar García Jordán, professor of Modern and Contemporary History at the University of Barcelona, believes that historical revisionism is more present in today's society “due to the spread of the woke culture in Europe and, with it, the progressive imposition of a uniform and unique thought.”

Garcia Jordán adds the matrix of this thought is “found in North American society; a culture that has built a theoretical framework, alien to European culture, which has been imported by some sectors of a certain [political] left”. García Jordán believes that, by assigning a political configuration based on people's identities, "the class struggle is becoming a struggle of identities".

The professor claims that the woke culture has fostered the so-called cancel culture, which “based on a supposed idea of the common good, promotes not only the suppression of the individual or the need for individual actors, representatives of public and private institutions to ask forgiveness for events and processes that took place hundreds of years ago,” she says, adding: “but also, in the name of the so-called political correctness, is intended to annul dissenting voices that are subjected to scorn and harassment.” She cites as an example  the British philosopher Kathleen Stock who, after being accused of transphobia, left teaching at the University of Sussex in 2021.

For Dr. Kelly Elizabeth Wright, experimental sociolinguist in Language Sciences at Virginia Tech, U.S., change is innate to people, language and life (“there will never be a world with certainties”) and the only thing we can do is “take actions that tend towards kindness”, and then make it clear that “leaving statues of individuals known to have caused discrete harm to communities seeking relief from that harm is not something that tends towards kindness”. Wright is convinced that nothing is immutable and draws a parallel between the evolution of language and its use to explain realities.

Wright asserts that all so-called non-normative individuals, whether LGBTQ, disabled or homeless, have been kept out of all official meaning-making processes for the entire history of print until about 200 years ago: “White people named the heavens. They named all the parts of the body. They named all the places and the things and the stuff in their own image and not that of the people's necks they stood upon, whose lands they spoiled (…) Historical revisionism is almost all there has ever been. When you ask me why are we seeing people pulling statues down and refusing to celebrate those who slaughter, if these acts are coherent? I must ask you: what are you called to do when you learn that you have been lied to?”

A child sits on a monument dedicated to Christopher Columbus. The building commemorates the landing of ...

A child sits on a monument dedicated to Christopher Columbus. The building commemorates the landing of this sailor in the coastal town of Aquadilla, Puerto Rico.

So, are we condemned to live a perpetual revision of past events to help us better understand the present? Have we entered a revisionist spiral that will feed back on itself until the end of time?

Alejandro de la Fuente, Professor of Latin American History and Economics at Harvard University in the U.S. believes that such a spiral has always existed, and that the current situation, both in academia and in the media, is that realities “have to compete with other narratives that also circulate in the public space; there are more opportunities to think about history from other experiences and from other political projects”.

In the opinion of Olivia Muñoz-Rojas, PhD in Sociology from the London School of Economics (United Kingdom), “responsible historical revisionism would be that which seeks to tell the story and the experience of the greatest possible number of people, groups and collectives, offering a plurality of perspectives on a given moment in our past, without giving preeminence to any of them”.

According to the researcher, human beings tend to develop “a feeling of exceptionality” according to which each generation tends to overestimate the importance of its historical moment and to see it to some extent as a culmination of the past.

Columbus' voyages and the subsequent European conquest and colonisation of America is one of the historical processes that most changed the history of mankind. “The process that Columbus initiated in America was plagued by a brand of violence that has been perpetuated over time, reaching our days in the form of structural racism and inequality suffered by millions of people in American countries,” explains Muñoz-Rojas. What we are witnessing “is a vindication of the vanquished, the oppressed, the silenced.”

But, he points out, not all the conquests of the past have these consequences in the present: “I don't see many groups demanding recognition of the crimes of Pharaonic Egypt, for example, or the Roman Empire – because their consequences are less palpable in the present”.

This story was originally published in Spanish on nationalgeographic.es

Biography of Christopher Columbus, Italian Explorer

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  • M.A., Geography, California State University - East Bay
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Christopher Columbus (c. October 31, 1451–May 20, 1506) was an Italian explorer who led voyages to the Caribbean, Central America, and South America. His exploration of these areas paved the way for European colonization. Since his death, Columbus has been criticized for the crimes he committed against Indigenous peoples in the New World.

Fast Facts: Christopher Columbus

  • Known For : Columbus completed four voyages to the New World on behalf of Spain, preparing the way for European colonization.
  • Born : October 31, 1451 in Genoa, Italy
  • Died : May 20, 1506 in Castile, Spain

Christopher Columbus was born in Genoa (now Italy) in 1451 to Domenico Colombo, a middle-class wool weaver, and Susanna Fontanarossa. Though little is known about his childhood, it is assumed that he was well-educated because he was able to speak several languages as an adult and had considerable knowledge of classical literature. He is known to have studied the works of Ptolemy and Marinus, among others.

Columbus first took to the sea when he was 14 years old, and he continued to sail throughout the rest of his youth. During the 1470s, he went on numerous trading trips that took him to the Aegean Sea, Northern Europe, and possibly Iceland. In 1479, he met his brother Bartolomeo, a mapmaker, in Lisbon. He later married Filipa Moniz Perestrello, and in 1480 his son Diego was born.

The family stayed in Lisbon until 1485, when Columbus' wife Filipa died. From there, Columbus and Diego moved to Spain, where Columbus began trying to obtain a grant to explore western trade routes. He believed that because the earth was a sphere, a ship could reach the Far East and set up trading routes in Asia by sailing west.

For years, Columbus proposed his plans to the Portuguese and Spanish kings, but he was turned down each time. Finally, after the Moors were expelled from Spain in 1492, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella reconsidered his requests. Columbus promised to bring back gold, spices, and silk from Asia, to spread Christianity, and to explore China. In return, he asked to be made admiral of the seas and governor of discovered lands.

First Voyage

After receiving significant funding from the Spanish monarchs, Columbus set sail on August 3, 1492, with three ships—the Pinta, Nina, and Santa Maria—and 104 men. After a short stop at the Canary Islands to resupply and make minor repairs, the ships set out across the Atlantic. This voyage took five weeks—longer than Columbus had expected, as he believed the world was much smaller than it is. During this time, many of the crew members became ill and some died from diseases, hunger, and thirst.

Finally, at 2 a.m. on October 12, 1492, sailor Rodrigo de Triana sighted land in the area of what is now the Bahamas. When Columbus reached the land, he believed it was an Asian island and named it San Salvador. Because he did not find any riches here, Columbus decided to continue sailing in search of China. Instead, he ended up visiting Cuba and Hispaniola.

On November 21, 1492, the Pinta and its crew left to explore on its own. On Christmas Day, the Santa Maria wrecked off the coast of Hispaniola. Because there was limited space on the lone Nina, Columbus had to leave about 40 men behind at a fort they named Navidad. Soon after, Columbus set sail for Spain, where he arrived on March 15, 1493, completing his first voyage west.

Second Voyage

After the success of finding this new land, Columbus set sail west again on September 23, 1493, with 17 ships and 1,200 men. The purpose of this second journey was to establish colonies in the name of Spain, check on the crew at Navidad, and continue the search for riches in what Columbus still thought was the Far East.

On November 3, the crew members sighted land and found three more islands: Dominica, Guadeloupe, and Jamaica, which Columbus thought were islands off of Japan. Because there were still no riches to be found, the crew went on to Hispaniola, only to discover that the fort of Navidad had been destroyed and the crew killed after they mistreated the Indigenous population.

At the site of the fort, Columbus established the colony of Santo Domingo, and after a battle in 1495 he conquered the entire island of Hispaniola. He then set sail for Spain in March 1496 and arrived in Cadiz on July 31.

Third Voyage

Columbus’s third voyage began on May 30, 1498, and took a more southern route than the previous two. Still searching for China, Columbus found Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada, and Margarita on July 31. He also reached the mainland of South America. On August 31, he returned to Hispaniola and found the colony of Santo Domingo there in shambles. After a government representative was sent to investigate the problems in 1500, Columbus was arrested and sent back to Spain. He arrived in October and was able to successfully defend himself against the charges of treating both the locals and the Spaniards poorly.

Fourth and Final Voyage

Columbus' final voyage began on May 9, 1502, and he arrived in Hispaniola in June. He was forbidden from entering the colony, so he continued to explore areas nearby. On July 4, he set sail again and later found Central America. In January 1503, he reached Panama and found a small amount of gold but was forced out of the area by those who lived there. After encountering numerous problems, Columbus set sail for Spain on November 7, 1504. After he arrived there, he settled with his son in Seville.

After Queen Isabella died on November 26, 1504, Columbus tried to regain his governorship of Hispaniola. In 1505, the king allowed him to petition but did nothing. One year later, Columbus became ill, and he died on May 20, 1506.

Because of his discoveries, Columbus is often venerated, notably in the Americas where places such as the District of Columbia bear his name and where many people celebrate Columbus Day . Despite this fame, however, Columbus was not the first to visit the Americas. Long before Columbus, various Indigenous peoples had settled and explored different areas of the Americas. In addition, Norse explorers had already visited portions of North America. Leif Ericson is believed to have been the first European to visit the area and set up a settlement in the northern portion of Canada's Newfoundland some 500 years before the arrival of Columbus.

Columbus's major contribution to geography is that he was the first to visit and settle in these new lands, effectively bringing a new area of the world to the forefront of the popular imagination.

  • Morison, Samuel Eliot. "The Great Explorers: the European Discovery of America." Oxford University Press, 1986.
  • Phillips, William D., and Carla Rahn Phillips. "The Worlds of Christopher Columbus." Cambridge University Press, 2002.
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Christopher Columbus: The Explorer Who Changed the Course of History

Are you curious about the life and adventures of Christopher Columbus ? In this beginner’s guide, we will delve into the fascinating world of the renowned explorer, covering everything from his early life to his historical significance and personal achievements.

Christopher Columbus Early Life

Let’s begin our journey by exploring the early life of Christopher Columbus . Born in Genoa, Italy, in 1451, Columbus was the son of a wool merchant. His early years were marked by a passion for exploration and a desire to chart new territories. Despite facing financial constraints, his determination led him to pursue a life at sea.

Columbus learned the ropes of navigation and mapmaking during his youth, which would later prove essential in his voyages to the unknown. His upbringing laid the foundation for his future endeavors.

Christopher Columbus Voyage Details

Now, let’s set sail into the heart of Columbus’s voyages. One of his most famous expeditions was the 1492 journey, funded by Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand of Spain. Columbus set out with three ships: the Santa Maria, the Pinta, and the Niña.

On October 12, 1492, land was sighted, marking Columbus’s arrival in the Bahamas. This event was a pivotal moment in world history, as it initiated the age of exploration and opened the door to the New World.

Christopher Columbus Exploration Timeline

To get a better understanding of Columbus’s exploration timeline, we’ll outline some key dates:

  • 1492: Discovery of the Bahamas.
  • 1493-1496: Second voyage to the Caribbean and Hispaniola.
  • 1498: Third voyage to South America.
  • 1502-1504: Fourth and final voyage, exploring Central America.

These expeditions were filled with challenges, discoveries, and interactions with indigenous peoples. Columbus’s determination to explore the unknown shaped the course of history.

Christopher Columbus Historical Significance

Christopher Columbus holds a significant place in history due to his voyages and their far-reaching consequences. His arrival in the Americas marked the beginning of European exploration and the Columbian Exchange, which facilitated the exchange of goods, cultures, and ideas between the Old World and the New World.

While his expeditions opened up new opportunities for trade and expansion, they also brought about complex consequences, including the colonization of indigenous lands and cultures.

Christopher Columbus Personal Achievements

Finally, let’s acknowledge some of Columbus’s personal achievements. His tenacity and vision for exploration led to his discovery of new lands, expanding the known world at the time. Columbus’s voyages paved the way for future explorers and transformed the way we understand geography.

Despite controversy surrounding his actions and their impact on indigenous populations, Christopher Columbus remains an enduring figure in history, celebrated for his determination and the age of exploration he initiated.

In conclusion, this beginner’s guide has given you a glimpse into the life and legacy of Christopher Columbus. From his early years in Italy to his historic voyages and their lasting impact, Columbus’s biography is a testament to the human spirit of adventure and discovery. As you delve deeper into his story, you’ll uncover even more layers of intrigue and significance surrounding this remarkable explorer.

  • Christopher Columbus was an Italian explorer born in Genoa, Italy, in 1451.
  • Columbus was born into a family of wool merchants and learned navigation and mapmaking during his youth.
  • Columbus is most famous for his 1492 voyage to the Americas, but he also had three subsequent journeys in 1493, 1498, and 1502.
  • Columbus’s initial goal was to find a western route to Asia, but he stumbled upon the islands of the Caribbean and parts of the Americas instead.
  • Columbus’s voyages marked the beginning of European exploration in the Americas, leading to the Columbian Exchange and the eventual colonization of the New World.
  • Columbus and his crew encountered numerous challenges, including harsh weather, navigational difficulties, and conflicts with indigenous populations.
  • Christopher Columbus is celebrated for his role in expanding European knowledge of the world and initiating the Age of Exploration, but his legacy is also controversial due to the impact on indigenous peoples.
  • Columbus’s personal achievements include discovering new lands, mapping uncharted territories, and opening up opportunities for trade and exploration.
  • You can explore books, documentaries, historical websites, and museums dedicated to Christopher Columbus to gain a deeper understanding of his life and impact.
  • Controversies surrounding Columbus include his treatment of indigenous populations and the question of whether he was the first European to reach the Americas. It’s important to explore various perspectives on these topics.

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vintage color illustration of christopher columbus standing on a ship deck with one hand on a large globe and the other on his hip holding a paper scroll, he wears a hat, dark jacket, long sleeve shirts, dark pants and leggings, several people surround him on the deck many with their hands out toward him

Was Christopher Columbus a Hero or Villain?

Columbus Day churns up a stormy sea of controversy every year: Was Christopher Columbus a gifted navigator or reckless adventurer?

Columbus never discovered America but his voyage was no less courageous

Even if you were to overlook the not-so-minor fact that millions of people were already living in the Americas in 1492, the fact is that Columbus never set foot on the shores of North America. In fact, October 12 marks the day of his arrival to the Bahamas. While he did reach the coasts of what today are Cuba, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic, as well as explore the Central and South American coasts, he never unfurled a Spanish flag in North America. ( Leif Eriksson is the first European believed to have sailed to North America, having reached Canada 500 years before Columbus set sail to the west.)

He didn’t reached Asia as planned, but you can’t discount the sheer will required to make his journey. Beginning at the age of 41, he defied naysayers across Europe and led four voyages across an uncharted ocean in wooden sailing ships that weren’t designed to take on the punishing waters of the Atlantic.

Many already believed the world was round

By 1492, most educated Europeans already believed the earth was round. In fact, it was an idea that had been established by the ancient Greeks in the 5 th century BCE. Contrary to the popular myth, Columbus didn’t set out to prove that the world was round, but rather that it was possible to sail around it, a voyage the explorer drastically underestimated.

He had struck a lucrative deal with the Spanish

Columbus stood to gain significant wealth and power from his voyage, terms he negotiated with King Ferdinand II and Queen Isabella of Spain. His contract with the monarchs, called The Capitulations of Santa Fe, named Columbus the admiral, viceroy, and governor of any land he discovered. It also stated that Columbus could keep 10 percent of any “merchandise, whether pearls, precious stones, gold, silver, spices, and other objects” that he “acquired” within the new territory. Columbus might indeed have had noble intentions when he sailed west, but his agreement with Spain suggests his intentions were far from selfless.

He enslaved and mutilated Indigenous peoples

When Columbus first set foot on Hispaniola (what is now Haiti and the Dominican Republic), he encountered a population of Indigenous peoples called the Taino. A friendly group, they willingly traded jewelry, animals, and supplies with the sailors. “They were very well built, with very handsome bodies and very good faces,” Columbus wrote in his diary. “They do not carry arms or know them... They should be good servants.” The Indigenous peoples were soon forced into slavery and punished with the loss of a limb or death if they didn’t collect enough gold. Between the European’s brutal treatment and their infectious diseases, within decades, the Taino population was decimated.

He was arrested by the Spanish Government

In 1499, the Spanish monarchs got wind of the mistreatment of Spanish colonists in Hispaniola, including the flogging and executions without trial. Columbus, who was governor of the territory, was arrested, chained up, and brought back to Spain. Although some of the charges might have been manufactured by his political enemies, Columbus admitted to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella that many of the accusations were true. Columbus was stripped of his title as governor.

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Several european countries had rejected columbus.

For nearly a decade, Columbus lobbied European monarchs to bankroll his expensive quest to discover a western sea route to Asia. In 1484, he tried unsuccessfully to get support from King John II of Portugal, whose experts believed Columbus had underestimated how far he would need to sail. Three years later, he appealed to King Henry VII of England and King Charles VIII of France but was once again turned down. He was even initially rejected by Spain in 1486, but the Spanish monarchs changed their mind and eventually agreed to fund his trip.

Good or bad, Columbus created a bridge between the old and new world

In what has become known as the Columbian Exchange, Columbus’ voyages enabled the exchange of plants, animals, cultures, ideas, and, yes, disease between the Western and Eastern Hemispheres. Once the Europeans were able to reach nearly all parts of the globe, a new modern age would begin, transforming the world forever.

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  1. The 5 Best Books on Christopher Columbus

    Christopher Columbus: A Man Among Gentiles by Clark B. Hinckley. Over the centuries, the story of Christopher Columbus has become so enshrouded in myth that his life has remained largely a mystery to all but a handful of scholars. Yet the prophet Nephi suggests that Columbus stands out among historical figures as "a man among the Gentiles.".

  2. Christopher Columbus: Biography, Explorer and Navigator, Holiday

    Christopher Columbus was an Italian explorer and navigator. In 1492, he sailed across the Atlantic Ocean from Spain in the Santa Maria, with the Pinta and the Niña ships alongside, hoping to find ...

  3. Christopher Columbus

    Christopher Columbus. Christopher Columbus (born between August 26 and October 31?, 1451, Genoa [Italy]—died May 20, 1506, Valladolid, Spain) master navigator and admiral whose four transatlantic voyages (1492-93, 1493-96, 1498-1500, and 1502-04) opened the way for European exploration, exploitation, and colonization of the Americas.

  4. Admiral of the Ocean Sea: A Life of Christopher Columbus

    Telling the story of the greatest sailor of them all, "Admiral of the Ocean Sea" is a vivid and definitive biography of Columbus that details all of his voyages that, for better or worse, changed the world. 50 drawings, maps & charts; 4 fold-outs.

  5. Christopher Columbus

    Christopher Columbus House in Genoa, Italy, an 18th-century reconstruction of the house in which Columbus grew up.The original was likely destroyed during the 1684 bombardment of Genoa.. Columbus's early life is obscure, but scholars believe he was born in the Republic of Genoa between 25 August and 31 October 1451. His father was Domenico Colombo, a wool weaver who worked in Genoa and Savona ...

  6. Christopher Columbus

    The explorer Christopher Columbus made four voyages across the Atlantic Ocean from Spain: in 1492, 1493, 1498 and 1502. His most famous was his first voyage, commanding the ships the Nina, the ...

  7. Christopher Columbus

    Christopher Columbus (l. 1451-1506 CE, also known as Cristoffa Corombo in Ligurian and Cristoforo Colombo in Italian) was a Genoese explorer (identified as Italian) who became famous in his own time as the man who discovered the New World and, since the 19th century CE, is credited with the discovery of North America, specifically the region comprising the United States.

  8. The Less Than Heroic Christopher Columbus

    In "Columbus," Laurence Bergreen, the author of several biographies, allows scope for all these judgments. But Christopher Columbus was in the first place a terribly interesting man ...

  9. Biography of Christopher Columbus

    Christopher Columbus (1451-1506) was a Genoese navigator and explorer. In the late 15th century, Columbus believed that it would be possible to reach the lucrative markets of eastern Asia by heading west, instead of the traditional route which went east around Africa. He convinced Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand of Spain to support him, and ...

  10. Christopher Columbus

    Christopher Columbus and his voyages captured the imagination of contemporaries and have continued to fascinate admirers through the centuries as well as a growing number of detractors. The extensive sources and studies give a privileged view into his life and times, especially his post-1492 experiences. The publication dates indicate the high ...

  11. Christopher Columbus Biography

    Christopher Columbus Biography. Christopher Columbus (1451-1506) was an Italian explorer, colonizer, and navigator. He is remembered as the principal European discoverer of the Americas and he helped bring the Americas to the forefront of the western consciousness. His discoveries and travels laid the framework for the later European ...

  12. 3 books about Christopher Columbus

    The Race to the New World: Christopher Columbus, John Cabot, and a Lost History of Discovery, by Douglas Hunter (Palgrave Macmillan, $27). After Columbus returned from the New World, an avaricious ...

  13. Early career and voyages of Christopher Columbus

    Christopher Columbus, Italian Cristoforo Colombo Spanish Cristóbal Colón, (born between Aug. 26 and Oct. 31?, 1451, Genoa—died May 20, 1506, Valladolid, Spain), Genoese navigator and explorer whose transatlantic voyages opened the way for European exploration, exploitation, and colonization of the Americas.He began his career as a young seaman in the Portuguese merchant marine.

  14. Christopher Columbus

    Christopher Columbus - Explorer, Voyages, Discoveries: The debate about Columbus's character and achievements began at least as early as the first rebellion of the Taino Indians and continued with Roldán, Bobadilla, and Ovando. It has been revived periodically (notably by Las Casas and Jean-Jacques Rousseau) ever since. The Columbus quincentenary of 1992 rekindled the intensity of this ...

  15. The most recommended books about Christopher Columbus

    The voyages of Christopher Columbus opened a period of European exploration and empire building that breached the boundaries of those isolated worlds and changed the course of human history. This book describes the life and times of Christopher Columbus on the 500th aniversary of his first voyage across the Atlantic Ocean in 1492.

  16. Christopher Columbus

    Biography Early Life Christopher Columbus was born in Genoa, part of present-day Italy, in 1451. His parents' names were Dominico Colombo and Susanna Fontanarossa. He had three brothers: Bartholomew, Giovanni, and Giacomo; and a sister named Bianchinetta. Christopher became an apprentice in his father's wool weaving business, but he also ...

  17. Christopher Columbus Biography & Facts: Birth, Death, and Voyages

    The exact date of his birth is unknown, but it's estimated he was born sometime in 1451. It's possible that his mother was Susanna Fontanarossa and his father was a wool merchant named ...

  18. Where does the love and hate for Christopher Columbus come from

    By Anthony Coyle. Published 12 Oct 2022, 12:06 BST. In 2020, a year after Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador demanded that Spain apologise for the abuses of the Conquest of America, the statue of Christopher Columbus was dismantled from the Paseo de la Reforma in Mexico City. It was a kind of preface to a wave of monument removals in ...

  19. Biography of Christopher Columbus, Italian Explorer

    Christopher Columbus (c. October 31, 1451-May 20, 1506) was an Italian explorer who led voyages to the Caribbean, Central America, and South America. His exploration of these areas paved the way for European colonization. Since his death, Columbus has been criticized for the crimes he committed against Indigenous peoples in the New World.

  20. Christopher Columbus: The Explorer Who Changed the Course of History

    Columbus set out with three ships: the Santa Maria, the Pinta, and the Niña. On October 12, 1492, land was sighted, marking Columbus's arrival in the Bahamas. This event was a pivotal moment in world history, as it initiated the age of exploration and opened the door to the New World. Christopher Columbus Exploration Timeline

  21. Christopher Columbus Facts: Was He a Hero or Villain?

    Columbus never discovered America but his voyage was no less courageous. Even if you were to overlook the not-so-minor fact that millions of people were already living in the Americas in 1492, the ...

  22. Books by Christopher Columbus (Author of The Four Voyages)

    1 of 5 stars 2 of 5 stars 3 of 5 stars 4 of 5 stars 5 of 5 stars. The Diario of Christopher Columbus's First Voyage to America, 1492-1493 (Volume 70) (American Exploration and Travel Series) by. Christopher Columbus, Fray Bartolome De La Casas, James E. Kelley (Translation) 3.56 avg rating — 25 ratings — published 1989 — 5 editions.

  23. Christopher Columbus

    Christopher Columbus - Explorer, Voyages, New World: The ships for the first voyage—the Niña, Pinta, and Santa María—were fitted out at Palos, on the Tinto River in Spain. Consortia put together by a royal treasury official and composed mainly of Genoese and Florentine bankers in Sevilla (Seville) provided at least 1,140,000 maravedis to outfit the expedition, and Columbus supplied more ...