New World

The Stubbornness of Christopher Columbus paved the way for history to produce one of the most greatest nations on Earth.

Many may not know as history records this feat, that a previously unknown crew of a square rigged sailing ship lay piously across the open Atlantic – the great and terrifying unknown.

Only the Captain was undismayed. He ordered his men to sail due west day and night for 700 leagues, and in case land was not sighted by then, he kept a false second log to show his crew. In it he deliberately underestimated the distance sailed.

By four days later the compass needle began to veer west off north. The crew were confused and asked questions about the route. The captain was as unsure as they, but the covered his doubts by saying that the Pole Star was causing the needle to fluctuate.

The Earth’s magnetic variations were then unknown so it was much more easier for him to remain confident not knowing that the compass was indeed working perfectly.

The ship sailed on with its two attendant vessels – to reach, inadvertently the New World.

The name of the ship was called Santa Maria and its Captain was Christopher Columbus.

Many days passed and the crew increasingly dissastisfied and distraught about their future. Sometimes they were becalmed for days at a time. On other occasions storms and high waves battered the wooden hulls. But Columbus, sailed onwards, despite threats of mutiny.

Thirty three days after setting sail from Palos in Spain on Friday August 3, 1492, the lookout spotted some driftwood and a few birds. It was a sure sign that land was not far away. On october 12 the small fleet arrived on an island, called Guanahani by its dark skinned natives, Columbus named it San Salvador, or ‘Holy Saviour’, and claimed this Bahamian Island for Spain.

To the end of his days Columbus firmly believed that the Islands he found were off the Eastern Coast of Asia. But he remains in history as the man who, against great odds and with little support, opened the New World to European adventurers.

Most of the so called facts popularly accepted by Columbus are untrue, such as the fact that he was not the only one of his day who believed that the Earth was round and not flat. Many men of science and scholars also shared this view in his time.

Nor was it the belief that the world was flat that at first made King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain refuse to back the Genoa born Sailor’s project of finding a new route to the Indies.

Spain had been fighting constant wars with the moors when Columbus asked for royal patronage, and they were not anxious to spend more money on a purely speculative venture.

In 1491, Columbus made another approach after he had been rejected by John II of Portugal – it was his audacious and extravagant demands that made Queen Isabella reject him.

Columbus had asked to be made Admiral of the Ocean Sea and Viceroy of all lands he discovered, with the right of 10 percent he might find on the voyage.

It was only the jealous rivalry for discovery between Spain and Portugal that prompted the Queen to change her mind and give him all he asked.

So, with 87 men, including 3 doctors and a man to record any treasure found, the Santa Maria and her attendant ships, the Pinta and Nina, set sail on the world’s most famous discovery, heading westwards.  

On reaching the New World, Columbus spent three months sailing among the beautiful Carribean Islands, giving the ones he landed Spanish names in honour of his sponsor.

He made three more voyages to the New World – on the fourth he steered along the coast of Central America, although he never landed.

Eventually through ambition and arrogance, he fell out of royal favour, and eventually became racked with athritis which eventually led to his death on May 20,1506, an almost forgotten and a very disappointed man.

Ironically, the huge continent he had discovered was named after his friend, Amerigo Vespucci, a little known Italian merchant adventurer, the year after Columbus died.



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