Christopher Columbus Facts
- Birthday: Between October 31 1450 and October 30 1451
- Birthplace: Genoa, Republic of Genoa
- Death: May 20 1506 in Valladolid, Crown of Castile
- Occupation: Maritime explorer
- Official Title: Admiral of the Ocean Sea, Viceroy and Governor of the Indies
- Accomplishments: Four journeys across the Atlantic and discovery of the New World
- Celebration: Christopher Columbus Day on second Monday in October in the US
- Children: 2 (Diego and Fernando)
- Spouse: Filipa Moniz Perestrelo
- Memory: Asteroid 327 Columbia is named in Columbus’ honour
- Name: Christopher Columbus’ Name Was Not Really Christopher Columbus
- Youth: Christopher Columbus First Went to Sea at the Age of 10
- Money: Christopher Columbus Had Lots of Problems Getting Sponsors to Fund His Voyages
- Beginnings: Columbus’ First Journey into the Atlantic Almost Cost Him His Life
- First Voyage: Christopher Columbus’ First Voyage Took Him to the Bahamas, Cuba and Hispaniola
- First Voyage: The Santa Maria Was Wrecked on Columbus’ First Voyage
- Second Voyage: The Second Voyage Took Columbus to Lesser Antilles, Jamaica and Hispaniola
- Third Voyage: On His Third Voyage, Columbus Discovered South America
- Third Voyage: Columbus Returned to Spain in Chains after His Third Voyage
- Fourth Voyage: Columbus Had to Be Rescued from His Fourth Voyage
- Columbus’ Death Was the Result of 14 Years of Illness
- Columbus Was a Tall and Pale Man – Not Exactly What You Would Expect in a Mariner
- Columbus Never Confessed That He Discovered a New Continent
- Columbus May Not Have Been the First One to Discover America
- Horses Were Brought to America from Europe, and Syphilis to Europe from America
- Because of Columbus, the Native People of America Are Still Called Indians
- Columbus May Have Been Given Secret Information on Where to Find the Americas
- Apart from Discovering New Continents, Columbus Also Wrote Books
- Columbus’ Heritage Was Fought Over at Courts for Hundreds of Years after His Death
- Columbus Sailed the Atlantic Even after His Death
Christopher Columbus’ Name Was Not Really Christopher Columbus
Even though the whole world knows him as Christopher Columbus, Christopher Columbus facts show that this wasn’t really his name. Christopher Columbus is an Anglicisation of the mariner’s real name. The name that was given to him at birth was actually Cristoforo Colombo. But English is not the only language that changed his name: the Spanish called him Cristóbal Colón, the Swedes named him Kristoffer Kolumbus and, in Latin, Columbus’ name is Christophorus Columbus.
Christopher Columbus First Went to Sea at the Age of 10
Christopher Columbus was born somewhere in the Republic of Genoa (the area is now part of modern Italy); however, the exact location remains unknown. His father, a middle-class wool weaver, worked in both Genoa and Savona, which gave the young Christopher Columbus easy access to the sea. According to his notes, he went to the sea as early as at the age of 10. In 1470, when the Columbus family moved to Savona, Columbus took his first long voyage to the island of Chios in the Aegean Sea. At the time, he was only 19 years of age. It was on this trip that he learned to navigate and steer ships on open waters, which came in handy when he set out to sail the Atlantic Ocean a couple of years later.
Christopher Columbus Had Lots of Problems Getting Sponsors to Fund His Voyages
Christopher Columbus’ journeys took a lot more effort than it seems at first glance; Christopher Columbus facts reveal that three countries refused to financially back his first voyage and that it took him almost a decade to find someone to fund his expeditions. The quest was planned as a search for a western sea route to Asia, and Portugal, England and France all had the same response to Columbus’ requests for funding: no. Even Spain, who eventually said yes and funded the journey, took years of convincing.
The main reason why his expedition was not very popular was the fact that many experts believed that Columbus’ calculations to sail to Asia were wrong, and that the voyage would take much longer than planned. As it turned out, they had been absolutely right – Columbus significantly miscalculated his route, but he did find America on the way.
Columbus’ First Journey into the Atlantic Almost Cost Him His Life
Christopher Columbus facts show that long before he ever set out to find Asia and discovered America on the way, his first voyage into the Atlantic Ocean nearly ended his life. In 1476, he was attacked by French privateers off the coast of Portugal. The ship he was on was burned, so Christopher Columbus had to swim all the way back to the Portuguese shore.
Christopher Columbus’ First Voyage Took Him to the Bahamas, Cuba and Hispaniola
Christopher Columbus’ first voyage started in a minor port of Palos on August 3 1492. He had command over the ship Santa María and was joined in command by two brothers. The first one, Martín Alonso Pinzón, received command of the ship Pinta, and the second one, Vicente Yáñez Pinzón, took command of the third ship, Niña.
The first expedition made landfall on the morning of October 12 1492 on an island in the Bahamas. Columbus named the place San Salvador and historians later identified it as Watling Island. They were met by Arawak, a friendly local tribe. Later on, the expedition sailed to Cuba and to Hispaniola.
The Santa Maria Was Wrecked on Columbus’ First Voyage
During Christmas of 1492, the Santa María was wrecked near Cap-Haïtien. Columbus and his men made it to land, where they were met by seemingly friendly Indians. Thirty-nine of Columbus’ men stayed with them in the settlement of La Navidad, while Columbus returned to Spain on one of the other ships in the expedition, the Niña, which reached land in Lisbon in March 1493. When Columbus returned to La Navidad in the fall of 1493, none of the members of the crew he left there were alive.
The Second Voyage Took Columbus to Lesser Antilles, Jamaica and Hispaniola
Columbus’ second voyage, also funded by Spain, left Cádiz on September 25 1493. This expedition was much bigger; it featured 17 ships and almost 1,500 men. The ships made landfall on November 3 1493 near Dominica among the Lesser Antilles. The ships sailed around the Lesser Antilles, past Puerto Rico, and reached the site of the destroyed encampment La Navidad in late November of 1493. They set up a new colony, Isabela, around 70 miles from La Navidad.
Columbus left Isabela in April 1494 to explore Cuba and Jamaica. He returned to govern Isabela after five months, but did not do a very good job. He left his brother Bartolomé in charge of the settlement that was to become Santo Domingo, and returned to Europe, reaching Cádiz in June 1496.
On His Third Voyage, Columbus Discovered South America
After much difficulty with receiving authorisation and recruiting crew, Columbus finally left for his third voyage into the New World in May 1498. He departed from Spain with six ships and made landfall on Trinidad on July 31 1498. A day later, he reached the mainland and set foot on South America for the first time. The expedition then sailed across the Caribbean Ocean and reached the settlement of Santo Domingo, where he was met with complete chaos and the revolt of the colonists.
Columbus Returned to Spain in Chains after His Third Voyage
After unsuccessful and extremely brutal attempts at governing the Santo Domingo settlement, the Columbus brothers were removed from the government and sent back to Spain in chains. Their approach to managing the colony was horrific: native islanders who were collecting gold and did not manage to get enough of it had their hands cut off.
Spanish colonists made complaints about mismanagement, and those who changed sides and became rebels were executed at the gallows. The monarchy eventually decided that things had gone too far, so a royal commissioner was dispatched to Hispaniola in 1500 to arrest Columbus and bring him back to Spain.
Columbus Had to Be Rescued from His Fourth Voyage
Even though he had been brought back from his latest voyage in chains, Columbus did not suffer much consequence. He was stripped of his governorship, but King Ferdinand granted him his freedom and even subsidised a fourth voyage. The fourth expedition left Spain in May 1502 and made landfall at Martinique before sailing on to Santo Domingo.
As soon as he arrived there, Columbus was denied permission to land. His ships encountered a hurricane but managed to weather it, and then sailed to Guanaja Island and Honduras. After that, Columbus tried to return to Santo Domingo once again, but his vessels were rotted by shipworm and were abandoned in Jamaica. He was forced to stay there for about a year before he was rescued, and finally reached Spain in November 1504.
Columbus’ Death Was the Result of 14 Years of Illness
Christopher Columbus facts show that he died after a long and painful disease that had already started on his first voyage. He was approximately 41 years old at that time, and he suffered an attack of gout. In the years that followed, he had continuous attacks of influenza and other fevers, combined with symptoms such as bleeding from the eyes and prolonged periods of gout attacks. The attacks became more intense and more frequent, which caused Columbus to be bedridden for longer periods of time and eventually led to his death 14 years later. However, modern doctors suspect that Columbus did not really suffer from gout as it was believed at the time, but from a disease called Reiter’s syndrome. This syndrome is basically a presentation of reactive arthritis, an inflammation of joints, which is caused either by intestinal bacterial infections or after acquiring certain STDs.
Columbus died on May 20 1506 at the age of 55 in Valladolid, Spain. Even though he is widely known today, his death went almost unnoticed at the time. Even the official court registry did not record his death until 10 days later.
Columbus Was a Tall and Pale Man – Not Exactly What You Would Expect in a Mariner
If your idea of a mariner is someone with a strong body and sun-tanned skin, then Christopher Columbus could not be farther from this image. As a young man, Columbus was surprisingly tall and had pale skin that was very sensitive to the sun and burned easily. He also had pale blue eyes and light, red-blond hair.
Columbus Never Confessed That He Discovered a New Continent
Even though Christopher Columbus facts suggest that he did not find a new passage to Asia but discovered a new continent instead, he denied this until his very last breath. He was convinced that the land he found was Asia, and refused to accept any other explanation. By the time of his death, he was the laughing stock of the whole Europe, because he was simply too stubborn to give up on his theories and accept the obvious.
Columbus May Not Have Been the First One to Discover America
Even though Christopher Columbus facts show that he is widely known as the person who discovered the Americas, this is not completely accurate. The very first person who stumbled upon this continent was a Norse Viking, Leif Eriksson, who is believed to have crossed the Atlantic Ocean and landed in present-day Newfoundland around 1000 A.D.; almost five centuries before Columbus even set sail. Some historical sources claim that there were others even before Eriksson, such as Ireland’s Saint Brendan or other Celtic people, who managed to cross the Atlantic. However, neither of them truly discovered America. Humans had been living there for at least 20,000 years by the time Columbus arrived, so “discovery” may not really be the right word for what he did.
Horses Were Brought to America from Europe, and Syphilis to Europe from America
Once the New World was discovered, many goods were brought from America to Europe, and vice versa. Some of them were useful, some not so much, and some we would have been better off without. One of the most notable goods that was imported to the Americas was the horse; they were previously unknown in the New World. However, the Americas returned the favour in a strange way: Christopher Columbus facts show that syphilis was most likely brought to Europe by Columbus and his crew. It was one of the first global diseases known to men and it devastated Europe.
Because of Columbus, the Native People of America Are Still Called Indians
Have you ever wondered why Native Americans are often known as Indians? Columbus is the one responsible for that: since he believed that he had landed in the Indies, he called them Indians. And, even though over 500 years have passed since Columbus’ voyage, the Native Americans are still commonly referred to as Indians.
Columbus May Have Been Given Secret Information on Where to Find the Americas
Even though all evidence suggests that Columbus was absolutely certain that he had found a new passage to Asia, one of the strangest Christopher Columbus facts suggest that he knew exactly where he was going. Some sources speculate that Columbus may have received secret information about a land that lay far west across the ocean. This information was supposed to have been given to Columbus by a close friend of his, a sailor known by the name “Unknown Pilot”. However, there is no conclusive evidence that confirms whether this is true or not, and this fact is only mentioned in some of the earlier Columbus biographies.
Apart from Discovering New Continents, Columbus Also Wrote Books
Columbus was not only an explorer, mariner, navigator and coloniser, but was also a writer. In the years nearing the end of his life, Columbus wrote a book titled “Book of Privileges”. The text listed all the promises that the Spanish crown had given him over the years of his expeditions, and the ways in which they had not honoured their promises. Even later, Columbus started working on a bizarre book called “Book of Prophecies”, in which he wrote about his idea that all his voyages had been divine missions directed by God.
Columbus’ Heritage Was Fought Over at Courts for Hundreds of Years after His Death
Even though Christopher Columbus’ death went by pretty much unnoticed, the aftermath was quite interesting. His heirs and the Spanish monarchy spent many years in litigation, which only ended in 1790. Columbus’ heirs claimed that the monarchy short-changed them on money and profits that were due to the explorer. Most of the lawsuits were resolved in the first 30 years that followed Columbus’ death; however, some of the legal proceedings lasted nearly up until the 300th anniversary of Columbus’ first voyage.
Columbus Sailed the Atlantic Even after His Death
Columbus was so in love with sailing the Atlantic that he could not give it up – not even after his death. Even though he was initially buried in Valladolid, Spain, and then moved to Seville, his body was later shipped across the Atlantic to Hispaniola and interred in a Santo Domingo cathedral at the request of his daughter-in-law. However, once the French captured the island in 1795, his remains were dug up and moved first to Cuba, and then back to Seville. Years later, evidence of Columbus’ remains were found both in Santo Domingo cathedral and in Seville, so it is very possible that Columbus stayed both in the New World and the Old World.
Christopher Columbus Facts – Facts about Christopher Columbus Summary
Christopher Columbus was born between October 31 1450 and October 30 1451 in Genoa, Republic of Genoa, which lies in today’s Italy. He died at the age of 55 on May 20 1506 in Valladolid, Crown of Castile. Columbus is most famous for his four journeys across the Atlantic Ocean, on which he discovered the New World (America) and initiated the process of Spanish colonisation of this continent. Even though Columbus died forgotten and alone, he is today famous for his voyages, and the US celebrate Columbus Day every year on the second Monday of October.