Christopher Columbus: The Journey to the New World

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Columbus got the idea of sailing west to get to Asia in 1474 from a letter that Paolo Toscanelli, a Florentine scientist that advised the Portuguese to take this route since it was shorter than the one from Guinea. Columbus first came to John II to offer him to make the journey, but he turned Columbus down. Then he went to the Spanish and after a lot of negotiation they agreed to support the enterprise. On August 3, 1492, Columbus sailed from Palos with three small ships, the Pinta, the Niña and the Santa Maria. The journey was prosperous but toward the end the crew grew anxious as they didn’t know if they would find land. Eventually on October 12, they made landfall in San Salvador. Still thinking that he had arrived in Asia, he sent an embassy to find the Great Khan once they were in Cuba. After he had discovered present-day Dominican Republic and Haiti or La Hispaniola, he returned to Spain to report on his supposed discovery of the Indies route. In 1494, the Treaty of Tordesillas was signed between Portugal and Spain. This treaty, mediated by Pope Alexander VI, divided the newly discovered lands outside Europe between Portugal and Spain. Columbus returned to La Hispaniola in 1493 and founded Isabella on the north coast. He sailed down the coast of Cuba and concluded that this was the mainland of Asia. He then returned to Spain in 1496. The first two voyages had not paid their way, but the Sovereigns still had faith in Columbus and outfitted a third fleet in 1498. After landing in Trinidad, he returned to La Hispaniola to find chaos. The people that had settled there were revolting; they were disappointed because they didn’t make the quick fortunes that they hoped for. Columbus granted lands and native slaves to appease the rebels. An agent of the Spanish called Francisco de Bobadilla came to La Hispaniola to investigate what was happening with Columbus. He was sent in chains back to Spain because of Francisco, but was immediately set free by Isabella. After this incident, Columbus could not exercise the functions of viceroy and governor in the New World. He made one last journey to find a passage to the Indies in 1502. He tried to find a strait that would lead him into the Indian Ocean. From La Hispaniola, he crossed the Caribbean to the coast of Central America and followed it south to the Isthmus of Panama. He finally departed to La Hispaniola with his two remaining ships but was forced to beach the crafts on Jamaica, where he and his men were marooned for a year awaiting the arrival of a relief ship. In November 1504, he returned to Europe, broken in health. He died in 1506.

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