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Christopher Columbus

spain explored king voyage

Columbus, Christopher (Cristoforo Colombo; 1451–1506), commonly credited as the discoverer of America. Born in Genoa, Italy, he was the son of a wool weaver. An experienced sailor and student of navigation, Columbus was convinced that he could pioneer a new route to the treasures of the Far East by sailing West across the Atlantic. In 1484 he tried to win financial support for his plans from King John II of Portugal, but the king's advisers estimated the distance (surprisingly accurately) at 10,000 nautical miles, which would require a sailing time of 1 year, considered impossible. Columbus presented his plan to Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand of Spain, who, after years of negotiations, agreed to finance his voyage. Three small ships, the Niña, the Pinta, and the Santa María, were equipped with provisions for 1 year. With a crew of 90 men they set sail from Palos on Aug. 3, 1492. On Oct. 12, 1492, when the crew was on the verge of mutiny, Columbus landed on the east coast of one of the Bahama Islands, now called Watling Island. He spent the next 3 months sailing from one Caribbean island to another in search of the eastern Grand Khan, to whom he had a letter of introduction. He wrecked the Santa Maria and left 39 men in Hispaniola (now the Dominican Republic). On March 15, 1493, he returned to Spain and was welcomed with honors. In Sept. 1493 Columbus left again for the Caribbean with a fleet of 17 ships, this time intending to set up trading posts and colonies, still believing he had discovered India. He explored Puerto Rico. The men he had left in Hispaniola had been wiped out, so he established a colony further east, named it Isabela, left his brother Bartholomew in charge, and set off in search of the mainland of India. He explored Jamaica and a number of the Lesser Antilles and explored the coast of Cuba, which he thought was an extension of the mainland. He wanted to take 500 natives back to Spain as slaves, but 200 died during the voyage. In 1498 he embarked on a third voyage. He sailed farther south this time, explored Trinidad and reached the South American mainland at the mouth of the Orinoco River, mistaking it for a new continent south of India. When he reached Santo Domingo, he found that there had been bloody uprisings because the colonists had established free towns and divided much of the best land among themselves, and he was forced to make compromises in order to prevent a full-scale rebellion. The disorders continued, however, and Francisco de Bobadilla was sent by Spain to take over the government of the colony. He deposed the Columbus brothers, put them in chains, and shipped them back to Spain, where they were immediately released but remained in disgrace. In 1502, after promising King Ferdinand not to enslave the natives, Columbus set out on his fourth voyage. He sailed to Central America,explored Honduras, and coasted along Nicaragua and Costa Rica to Panama. His ships were worm-eaten and in such poor condition that he had to stop at Jamaica, where he and his crew were stranded for more than a year. Finally, he chartered a ship to bring him back to Spain, where he arrived a few days before the death of Queen Isabella in 1504. King Ferdinand refused to grant him the reinstatement as viceroy and governor. Rich, honored, but ill and cripple he died on May 20,1506

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