Week 25

Christopher Columbus (October 1451 – 20 May 1506) was an explorer, colonizer, and navigator, born in the Republic of Genoa, in what is today northwestern Italy. Under the auspices of the Catholic Monarchs of Spain, he completed four voyages across the Atlantic Ocean that led to general European awareness of the American continents in the Western Hemisphere. Those voyages, and his efforts to establish permanent settlements in the island of Hispaniola, initiated the process of Spanish colonization, which foreshadowed the general European colonization of the "New World". In the context of emerging western imperialism and economic competition between European kingdoms seeking wealth through the establishment of trade routes and colonies, Columbus' far-fetched proposal to reach the East Indies by sailing westward received the support of the Spanish crown, which saw in it a promise, however remote, of gaining the upper hand over rival powers in the contest for the lucrative spice trade with Asia. During his first voyage in 1492, instead of reaching Japan as he had intended, Columbus landed in the Bahamas archipelago, at a locale he named San Salvador. Over the course of three more voyages, Columbus visited the Greater and Lesser Antilles, as well as the Caribbean coast of Colombia, Venezuela and Central America, claiming them for the Spanish Empire. Though Columbus was not the first European explorer to reach the Americas (having been preceded by the Norse expedition led by Leif Ericson) , Columbus' voyages led to the first lasting European contact with America, inaugurating a period of European exploration and colonization of foreign lands that lasted for several centuries. They had, therefore, an enormous impact in the historical development of the modern Western world. Columbus himself saw his accomplishments primarily in the light of the spreading of the Christian religion. Never admitting that he had reached a continent previously unknown to Europeans, rather than the East Indies he had set out for, Columbus called the inhabitants of the lands he visited indios (Spanish for "Indians"). Columbus' strained relationship with the Spanish crown and its appointed colonial administrators in America led to his arrest and dismissal as governor of the settlements in Hispaniola in 1500, and later to protracted litigation over the benefits which Columbus and his heirs claimed were owed to them by the crown. (Wikipedia)


Read the "Introduction" and the First Voyage

Christopher Columbus,

The Four Voyages: Being His Own Log-Book, Letters and Dispatches with Connecting Narratives,

Penguin Classic,

ISBN 0140442170


Laurence Bergreen,

Columbus: The Four Voyages, 1492-1504,

Penguin Books,

ISBN 014312210X

Institute Library Call Number: 970.015 Ber COL

A spellbinding epic that's simultaneiously a profoundly private portrait of the most complex, compelling, controversial creature ever to board a  boat. This scrupulously researched, unbiased account of four death-defying journeys to the New World reveals the admiral's paradoxical personality." —USA Today

"In this scrupulously fair and often thrilling account of his four voyages to the New World, Bergreen reveals Columbus as brilliant, brave, adventurous, and deeply flawed . . . A superb re-examination of the character and career of a still controversial historical agent." —Booklist

John Cummins,

Voyage of Christopher Columbus,

Trafalgar Square,

ISBN 0297812335

Institute Library Call Number: 970.015 Cum VOY

Columbus' own journal of discovery as newly restored and translated by John Cummins. This work has been selected by scholars as being culturally important and is part of the knowledge base of civilization as we know it. Reproduced from the original artifact, and remains as true to the original work as possible.