Christopher Columbus (1451-1506)
It has been over 500 years since Columbus sailed to America. He made four voyages to America. Columbus was born in Genoa, Italy. His real name was Cristoforo Colombo. His parents were Domencio Colombo and Suzanna Fontanarossa. His family had manufactured wool for three generations. He had three brothers and a sister. In his teens he started to become a skilled sailor. In 1479 he married Felipa Perestrelo de Moniz from Portugal. Shortly after giving birth to her son Diego, she died.
On his way back from the Portuguese trading fortress, Sao Jorge da Mina, he began to form his "great idea." It would be faster and easier to travel to Asia by sea. He could sail west across the Atlantic Ocean instead of sailing around the tip of Africa and across the Indian Ocean. He called his plan "The Enterprise of the Indies." Columbus was not the first to think of this idea, but sailing across the Atlantic would not be easy. It would be a dangerous and risky voyage, but with success came fame and glory.
| In the fifteenth century
all educated people in Europe knew the earth was round, not flat like the
stories told by many. They thought the earth was smaller than it
really was. They thought it was closer to one third of its actual
size. Columbus guessed the distance between continents. He
thought the continents were closer than they really were. He also
thought that Asia was much wider than it is, but this was understandable.
In Columbus's day people thought that the continents were all connected
and surrounded by water.
Columbus tried to persuade many kings and queens to lend him money for his plan. First he tried to persuade Joano II, the Portuguese king, to loan him money for his expedition. His request was rejected. Next he went to visit the king and queen of Spain, but he was unable to see them. When he was able to speak with them, Queen Isabella said that she would consider it. The plan was rejected again. Two years later he approached them again with his plan. This time they agreed to finance his expedition.
Columbus made four voyages
to the New World. When he died, he still believed that he had found
Asia. Further research proved that it was not Asia but America.