Christopher Columbus: A Hero Or A Villain
Christopher Columbus was a Italian explorer. He was born between August 26 and October 31. He was born in Genoa, Italy and was known for his exploring across the Atlantic. People also believe that he is the first person to find the Americas. Throughout his whole life, he took 4 big voyages and a lot more that were smaller and not as important. He was determined to find a direct water path from Europe to Asia. He didn’t achieve that goal but this is when people believe he stumbled across the Americas.
Christopher Columbus started his exploring at an early age. He was the son of a wool merchant. When he was just a teenager, he got a job on a merchant ship. He was sailing until 1470, when French privateers attacked his ship and continued north along the Portuguese coast. The boat sank but Christopher got back to shore on a small plank of wood. This is where he began studying and finding out what he would do for his future. He was in Lisbon, and this is when he began studying mathematics, astronomy, cartography and navigation. This is where he would meet his wife and have his kids.
While Columbus was in Lisbon he met his wife, Filipa Moniz Perestrelo. She was a Portuguese noblewomen from Porto Santo Island, in Madeira Portugal. The two of them got married in 1479 and they would soon have a kid. Diego Columbus was their child and he was a navigator just like his father. Again just like his father, he was very successful in life as he was the 2nd Admiral of the Indies, 2nd Viceroy of the Indies and 4th Governor of the Indies as a vassal to the Kings of Castile and Aragon.
At the end of the 15th century, it was very near impossible to reach Asia from Europe by land. If you tried to take this trip, you would encounter a lot of hostile armies that were hard to get around. The Portuguese explorers found that it would be quite easy to do this by sailing. They sailed along the West African coast and around the Cape of Good Hope. Columbus didn’t agree with this. He felt like it would be easier to sail down across the Atlantic instead of going around the African continent. His thought was very logical but his math was off by a lot. He thought that the earth’s circumference was much smaller than what it actually was. He not only thought that this trip would be possible but ratherly quite easy.
He showed his plan to the Portugal and English officials and it wasn’t until 1491 when he finally got an audience and recognition. Columbus wanted to be famous for the thing he loved and he wanted to get rich while doing it. He wanted to spread Catholicism around the world. Columbus had a contract with the Spanish officials and it was promising that he could keep ten percent of whatever he found. Also gets noble titles and governorship of any land he encounters.
On August 3, 1492, him and his crew set sail in three ships; the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria and on October 12, they made it to land. He wasn’t on Asia as he assumed but he was on one of the Bahamian Islands. For months, he sailed from island to island looking for things that were worth good money. He promised the Spanish patrons that he would return with something worth value. He didn’t find much. In March of 1493, he left behind 40 of his men behind in a makeshift settlement in Hispaniola which is present day Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
After waiting only a few months, Columbus took sail for the second time. He went and explored most of the Caribbean Islands. When he arrived at Hispaniola, him and his crew discovered that the Navidad settlement was destroyed and with all of his sailors killed. The queen didn’t like idea of slavery but Columbus found a way around it and made a forced labor policy to help rebuild the settlement and help find golds and other things worth money. The labor only led him to find a small amount of gold and only make things worse between him and the native population. Before going back to Spain, Columbus left his two brothers behind, Diego and Bartholomew, to govern and watch over Hispaniola. As he was sailing back to Asia, he went around the Caribbean Islands and this made him think that he had went around the outer islands of China.
In his third voyage, he finally reached the mainland of South America. He explored the Orinoco River which is in present day Venezuela. The conditions in Hispaniola were becoming really bad to the point near mutiny. Settlers claiming that they have been misled by Columbus claims and riches and complaining about the poor management of his brothers. A Spanish Crown sent a officer to go and arrest Columbus. The officer stripped him of his authority. Columbus returned to Spain in chains to face royal court. Later his charges were dropped but he lost his ability to govern the Indies and most of the money he earned during his voyages.
On his fourth and final voyage Columbus convinced King Ferdinand to let him take this voyage and promised that he would return with a lot of riches. This all took place in 1502. He travelled across the eastern coast of Central America in an unsuccessful search for the Indian Ocean. A storm wrecked one of his ships leaving the captain and the sailors stranded in Cuba. During this time, the local islanders were tired of Spaniards, poor treatment, and the obsession for gold, they refused to give the captain and his crew food. Columbus then got an idea, he was going to design a punishment for the islanders. He was planning to take away the moon from them. On February 29, 1504, a lunar eclipse alarmed the islanders enough to re-establish trade with the Spaniards. A rescue party finally arrived, sent by the royal governor of Hispaniola in July, and Columbus and his crew returned to Spain in November of 1504.
A quick recap on all of Christopher’s voyages, there were a lot of events that happened that made his future turn out the way it did. During his first voyage he went down into the Atlantic instead of going around the African continent. If he would’ve went around Africa then there was a small chance that he would have been caught and could’ve lost his life early. On his second voyage, when he discovered that Hispaniola was destroyed; if he never got the labor policy up and running then he could’ve lost profit and maybe get in trouble by the queen for leaving the place a mess. In his third voyage he had a chance of getting killed by the people in South America. This would’ve ended his legacy early and he probably wouldn’t be as popular has he is now. And in his final voyage, when the islanders refused to give him and his crew food could’ve ended his life early as well. So after all of his voyages he made it out alive but if it wasn’t for some of the events that took place, his life and legacy could’ve been a lot different.
Columbus had a crazy life leaving him with a more crazy legacy. He is credited for finding the Americas and showing them to the European people. He was sadly credited with destroying the native people when he explored their islands. To complete the sum up, he actually never met his goal of finding a ocean route to Asia and coming back with riches. Known as the Columbian Exchange, during all of his voyages, he spread a lot of his people, plants, animals, and diseases that affect the world that we live in now. Columbus brought over horses, which had a huge affect on the Native Americans. This allowed the tribes that were living in the Great Plains of North America to shift from a moving nomadic lifestyle to a staying still hunting style. Wheat from the Old World got moved to North America and would soon become one of their biggest food sources. There were a lot more things following the Columbian Exchange.
Fast forward to May of 2014, Columbus made the news again. A group of archeologists claimed they found the Santa Maria off the coast of Haiti. The leader of the group told the head of the newspaper all geographical, underwater topography archaeological evidence strongly suggest this wreck is Columbus’ famous flagship, the Santa Maria(Clifford). After further investigation, the U.N. agency UNESCO, it was determined to be too far off the coast to be the Santa Maria.
Now time to discuss if Columbus was a hero or a villain. There are many key points for each side. I will discuss the things that made him a hero rather than a villain. He brought things around the world that wouldn’t have ever been possible to get if he didnt do this. He gave the Natives many things; he gave them their transportation, food, and shelter when he had them doing labor work. Columbus also found many different places for the Europeans to expand to. He opened up a whole new door of possibilities. He discovered parts of South America, some of the Caribbean Islands, more places in Europe and Africa. This allowed people of his kind to expand out for their life and live in different areas. He was a great father and trained his son to be exactly like him, which is a leader. Some people say his son almost had as great as a legacy as his father did.
Now for the things that made him a villain. Columbus was known for doing things that he had to do to get what he wanted. Columbus killed a lot of the Native Americans and took their land. While he was doing all of that, he even made them his slaves to help him succeed in his life. If it wasn’t for the Native Americans, he wouldn’t have ever had as much riches as he did. Hispaniola would have stayed a mess and he would’ve got in trouble for that. Columbus was known for rapping women and beating them. He did all of this to his wife. People believe we are celebrating Columbus day because he found the Americas. But did he really? We are supporting a villain, a rapist, a perpetrator of genocide, and a murderer of millions.
Now I will state my opinion on if I think he was a hero or a villain. In my eyes I see Christopher Columbus as a hero. My back up on this would be that he did more good things than bad. Columbus did what he had to do to achieve his dream. Even though he never actually found a sea route from Europe to Asia he still found more places for people to expand and start new life there. Without Columbus there could have been places that we still never knew about. He influenced many other people to follow his path and become an explorer. He trained his son to be a hero to many. At the end of it all, he was a hero too.
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