Explorer

Christopher Columbus

Christopher Columbus

Christopher Columbus - Explorer (1451 - 1506)

Famous for his expedition to the New World in 1492, Christopher Columbus made three more visits. Sailing under the Spanish flag, he visited several of the islands in the Caribbean and started a few Settlements. His fortunes in the Caribbean were varied. He rose to the heights of being a Governor, and sank to the lows of being a castaway.

This page details facts about Christopher Columbus's life and the events that shaped his history.

Christopher Columbus the Explorer - Fun Facts for Kids !

1: Christopher Columbus was born in 1451 in the port of Genoa, Italy. He had a sister, Bianchinetta, and three younger brothers, Bartolomeo, Giovanni Pellegrino and Giacomo. His father, Domenico, was a wool weaver and merchant; his mother, Susanna Fontanarossa, was the daughter of a woollen merchant.

2: Little is known of his early life, although it is suspected that his education was limited. Christopher Columbus went to sea as a teenager and, in 1470, his family moved to Savona.

3: Following a battle in 1476, Christopher Columbus was shipwrecked off the coast of Portugal. He swam ashore and joined his brother Bartolomeo, who was working in Lisbon as a Cartographer.

4: Christopher Columbus sailed to Iceland in 1477 and by 1478 was working as a merchant for the Genoese firm Centurioni.

5: In 1479 Christopher Columbus married Felipa Perestrello Moniz, a member of a noble Portuguese family. She was the daughter of Bartolomeu Perestrello, an explorer who had played a part in the discovery of Madeira. In 1480 they had a son Diego.

6: Christopher Columbus spent the years between 1482 and 1485 trading along the West African Coast. In 1484 he made an unsuccessful attempt to gain royal patronage, from King John II of Portugal, for his plan to find a quicker trade route to the Indies by crossing the Atlantic.

7: Christopher Columbus wife, Felipa Perestrello Moniz, died of consumption (a wasting disease also known as pulmonary tuberculosis) in 1485, and Christopher Columbus moved to Cadiz in Spain. A year later he was introduced to Dona Beatriz Enriquez de Arana, an orphan who was from a noble Spanish family in Cordoba. He began a relationship with her and in 1488 his second son, Ferdinand, was born.

8: Christopher Columbus continued to seek support for his plans to cross the Atlantic but had his proposals declined by King Ferdinand of Spain, King Charles VIII of France and King Henry VII of England. Following intercession by Juan Perez, a priest who had acted as confessor to Queen Isabella of Spain, King Ferdinand finally agreed to finance and supply ships for the expedition.

9: Three ships were supplied to Christopher Columbus for the expedition, the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria. The Santa Maria was a Carrack which displayed the flag of the Admiral, Christopher Columbus. The Nina and Pinta were both caravels. The Nina was commanded by Vicente Yanez Pinzon, the Pinta was commanded by his brother Martin Alonso Pinzon.

10: Christopher Columbus and his small fleet left Palos, Spain on 3rd August 1492 and headed for the Canary Islands. After restocking and making repairs, he set off from San Sebastian de la Gomera on 6th September 1492, heading into the Atlantic Ocean.

11: Christopher Columbus and his fleet had been at sea five weeks when the crew became agitated that they hadn’t reached land. They were worried that their lack of provisions would prevent them from returning home. He managed to calm the situation and on October 12th 1492 land was eventually sighted by a lookout on the Pinta.

12: On October 12th 1492, Christopher Columbus landed on Watlings Island, in what is now known as the Bahamas, and named it San Salvador. He believed that he’d reached the passage to India and China.

13: Christopher Columbus then sailed on to Cuba, where he landed on 28th October 1492, before heading southeast to, what we now as, Haiti and which he named Hispaniola. On December 25th, Christmas Day, the Santa Maria ran aground on Hispaniola and was wrecked.

14: Christopher Columbus established a small settlement on the north coast of Hispaniola which he called La Navidad. It consisted of 39 men that he had left behind and a fort made by utilising timber and provisions from the wrecked Santa Maria.

15: On 16th January 1493 Christopher Columbus headed back to Spain aboard the Nina. The Nina and the Pinta were separated during a storm and, following a stop at the Azores, Columbus sailed into Lisbon. He finally arrived back in Palos, Spain on 23rd March 1493, bringing news of the new world to Europe.

16: On 25th September 1493 Christopher Columbus embarked on his second voyage to the new world. His fleet consisted of a minimum of 16 ships and approximately 1500 men, one of whom was Juan Ponce de Leon. The purpose of this expedition was to colonise the area as well as bring home whatever riches they could find.

17: After stopping, once again, in the Canary Islands, Christopher Columbus set off into the Atlantic. On this occasion he followed a more southerly route than before and arrived at an island in the Lesser Antilles on 3rd November 1493. He named the island Dominica.

18: Christopher Columbus arrived back at Hispaniola on 23rd November and continued on to La Navidad. On arrival, he found the fort had been destroyed and the men killed. On 2nd January 1494 Christopher Columbus founded a new settlement, in modern day Dominican Republic, which he named La Isabela after the Spanish Queen.

19: On 2nd February Christopher Columbus sent a fleet of 12 ships, laden with cargoes including gold, slaves and spices, back to Spain. The fleet led by Antonio de Torres, also carried news of the demise of La Navidad. Meanwhile he took a few ships and explored the coast of Cuba and, on 5th May 1494, landed on the island of Jamaica. After unsuccessful searches for gold, and clashes with the Carib and Arawak natives, Christopher Columbus decided that Hispaniola held the best spoils.

20: On 10th March 1496 Christopher Columbus left two of his brothers in charge and left La Isabela. He set sail for Spain, arriving in Cadiz on 11th June. He began petitioning King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella for a third voyage almost immediately.

21: On 30th May 1498, once again backed by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, Christopher Columbus set off from Sanlucar de Barrameda on his third voyage to the new world. His small fleet consisted of six ships, three of which were loaded with supplies for the settlement in Hispaniola.

22: On 21st June 1498, after a brief stop at the Canary Islands, Christopher Columbus sent the supply ships on to Hispaniola while he took the three remaining ships to the Cape Verde Islands.

23: Christopher Columbus left the Cape Verde Islands on 4th July and headed across the Atlantic. He arrived at Trinidad before moving on to the mainland of South America where he landed in what is now known as Venezuela. It was on this journey that he discovered the existence of a variation between geographic north and magnetic north.

24: Noting the huge amount of fresh water that flowed from the Orinoco River into the Atlantic, Christopher Columbus realised that he had discovered a new continent.

25: Christopher Columbus headed back to Hispaniola where he found the settlers had rebelled as they were not happy with the way he and his family were managing the settlements. Columbus attempted to stem the rebellion in a heavy handed manner which included hangings.

26: News of the problems reached Spain and Francisco de Bobadilla was despatched to investigate. He decided that Christopher Columbus and his family were at fault and had them chained and sent back to Spain. They arrived in Cadiz aboard the La Gorda in October 1500.

27: King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella ordered their release, however they decided that Christopher Columbus was an unsuitable Governor and appointed Nicolas de Ovando as the new Governor of the West Indies. Columbus was permitted to make a fourth voyage to the new world, and in October 1501 headed to Seville to make the necessary preparations.

28: In early May 1502 Christopher Columbus, accompanied by his brother Bartolomeo and son Ferdinand, left Cadiz with a small fleet of four ships. On 15th June, following the fastest crossing to date, he landed on Martinique. He sailed on to Hispaniola, only to be denied entrance to Santo Domingo by the new Governor Ovando.

29: Continually searching for the strait that would lead him to the Indies, Christopher Columbus resumed his exploration of the Caribbean taking in Jamaica, Cuba, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica.

30: Christopher Columbus explored the Panama area and attempted to set up a fort at the entrance of the Belen River. His plan was thwarted by Indian resistance and the condition of his ships which were damaged and suffering from woodworm. Reduced to only two ships, Christopher Columbus headed for Hispaniola, however his damaged ships only managed to get to Jamaica where, in June 1503, Christopher Columbus found himself a castaway.

31: In July 1503 two of the castaways, Diego Mendez and Bartolomeo, set off for Hispaniola in a canoe. They successfully negotiated the open sea and tried to gain assistance for Christopher Columbus. Unfortunately Ovando, who had little respect for Christopher Columbus, was in no hurry to help. It was June 1504 before assistance finally arrived. Christopher Columbus reached Hispaniola on August 13 before sailing for Spain and arriving at Sanlucar on 7th November 1504.

32: During his final years Christopher Columbus became disillusioned, believing that he had been badly used and poorly rewarded. He made many attempts to have this rectified by King Ferdinand without success.

33: On May 20th 1506 Christopher Columbus died in Valladolid. His remains were initially kept at a Franciscan friary in Valladolid, before being moved on to a monastery in Seville. They were moved to Santo Domingo on Hispaniola in 1542 and to Havana, Cuba in 1795. They were eventually returned to Seville and placed in the Cathedral.

34: Another set of remains attributed to Christopher Columbus is held in the Columbus Lighthouse in Santo Domingo, now part of the Dominican Republic. DNA testing of the remains in Seville has concluded that they are genuine, however exhumation of the Santo Domingo remains has never been allowed which has made verification impossible.

35: Columbus Day is a public holiday, in the United States of America, in commemoration of Columbus's 1492 voyage to the Americas. In 2016, Columbus day is October 10.

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