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Christopher Columbus

Christopher Columbus Biography

Christopher Columbus was a Spanish-Italian navigator who initiated European exploration and colonization of the American continents.

Explorer and navigator, Christopher Columbus was allegedly born in 1451 in the Republic of Genoa; modern day Italy. As a teen, the young man experienced his first sailing expeditions in the Mediterranean and Aegean seas. Columbus would also be part of a sailing exercise that brought him to the island of Khios, modern day Greece. This would be the closest Christopher Columbus would ever get to India or Asia.

During Columbus´s first voyage on the Atlantic, 1476, the commercial fleet he was with was attacked by French sailors off of the coast of Portugal. His ship was burned and Columbus was forced to swim ashore. The sailor settled in Lisbon and married Felipa Perestrello, the two had one son, Diego, in 1480.

Columbus would eventually move to Spain after the death of his first wife. With Beatriz Enriquez de Arana in 1488 Columbus had his second son, Fernando, out of wedlock.

By the late 1400s Columbus began lobbying for finance to take men and ships to discover a route to India and Asia via an un-interrupted eastward passage. Columbus argued the circumference of the Earth to be effectively shorter, 63% the actual size. Contemporaries of Columbus however argued the circumference to be 25,000mi, while the actual circumference is 24, 901.55mi and a bit shorter at the poles, 24,859.82mi.

Columbus was first rejected for funding for a 3-ship fleet by Portugal, then again by Genoa and Venice. Finally, the explorer arrived on the doorstep of the Spanish monarchy of Isabella of Castille and Ferdinand of Aragon in 1486. However during this period of Spain´s history (711-1492) the Muslims dominated the attention and finances of Spain´s government for the re-conquest. Columbus would have to wait until monies were freed up or the war came to an end.

A solution came to Columbus in January 1492 when the last Muslim stronghold in Granada was captured. With the momentum of victory, the royal court decided to finance Columbus. He was outfitted with the Santa Maria, the Pinta, and the Niña. In August of 1492 Columbus set sail from Spain´s coast and was at sea for 36 days until landing on a Bahamian island in the Caribbean Ocean, claiming it for Spain.

Columbus would travel between Spain and the Americas several more times to try and fulfill King Ferdinand with the gold and riches he promised. Columbus did bring back potatoes, tomatoes, and corn to Europe which became staples and helped increase European populations. Likewise, coffee from Africa and sugar cane from Asia became booming cash crops in Latin America.

Columbus's legacy is a mixed one due to the illness and disease that spread to the New World via ship rats, i.e., small pox. However, as a result of the Spanish influence in Central and Latin America, Spanish evolved to become the dominant language of the hemisphere. Spain´s Modern Age and subsequent Golden Age are also considered to have begun from the momentum of exploration of Spain that started with Columbus.

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