How many times did Christopher Columbus visit North America?

Christopher Columbus

The first conjecture about the number of workers engaged in building Khufu’s pyramid has been given by the Greek scholar Herodotus. He said that about 100,000 workmen had toiled to build Khufu’s pyramid around 2500 BC.

Herodotus was a historian and not an engineer, but his estimate was not questioned – not without reason. If the Taj Mahal, which is considerably small in size when compared to the pyramid, required 22,000 workers to build it in 22 years, the pyramid could have easily needed 100,000 men.

However, this estimate appears to have been greatly exaggerated. The latest estimate mentions 12,000 only, while the findings of the Denver Museum of Natural History claim that in the beginning 12,800 would have been required and towards the completion of construction 621 could have been more than sufficient!

If we would take into account the three distinct geographical divisions of North, Central, and South America, Christopher Columbus never actually set foot or visited North America in his four historic voyages that led to the discovery of the New World.

In the latter part of the 15th century, it was nearly impossible to travel to Asia from Europe by land. Doing so would mean taking a longer route and exposing yourself to hostile Muslim armies that were too hard to avoid. With that, the Portuguese took the matter to the sea. They sailed East along the coast of West Africa and the Cape of Good Hope.

Columbus had a different theory, though. He believed that Earth’s circumference was smaller than what most people thought at that time and said that traveling West is not only possible but also a more accessible and quicker route to Asia.

He first proposed his idea to the officials of Portugal and England, but both declined. It was only in 1492 when he found support for this theory, from the Spanish royalties of Isabella of Castile and Ferdinand Aragon.

Both three personalities yearned for fame and fortune, and such an expedition would grant them so. Columbus, being a devoted Catholic, however, also has deeper plans, wanting to bring his faith across the world.

With that, the Spanish monarchs provided Columbus assistance. But, it was under a contract that the explorer could keep a tenth of all the riches he may find and the governorship of any land he could conquer.

Columbus’s first voyage commenced on August 3, 1492, accompanied by three ships: Niña, Pinta, and Santa Maria. He and his crew first set foot not in the East Indies as he assumed but on the Caribbean Islands.

For the following months, Columbus traveled island to island. He looked for spices, pearls, and precious stones he swore he would bring back to the Spanish monarchs, but there wasn’t much.

He and his crew continued to sail and reached Cuba and the Island of Hispaniola. Columbus founded a settlement on the latter and named it La Navidad. In January 1493, Christopher Columbus went back to Spain.

While on his first voyage, Columbus kept a journal to document all the things he encountered, such as birds, dolphins, and the weather. However, what’s thrilling is that his journal also cited his view of the local people and why they would make fine slaves or servants.

Christopher Columbus gave the journal to Isabella of Castile as a gift.

Six months later, Christopher Columbus went on his second voyage. However, the Hispaniola settlement he built on his last expedition was destroyed. So, Columbus left his two brothers, Bartolomeo and Diego, and a part of his crew to rebuild.

Columbus continued his fruitless search for gold, spices, and other goods. He and his crew explored the Caribbean Islands, thinking it was China. In place of the riches he promised to bring to the Spanish royalties, he sent around 500 slaves to Isabella. Instead of being amused, the latter was horrified and returned Columbus’ gift.

On May 30, 1948, Columbus left Spain for his third voyage. Columbus surveyed La Trinidad, Cuba, and part of South America. However, there was still no sign of any passage to Asia or the spices and gold it was believed it was blessed with.

Four years later, the aging Columbus was able to persuade the Spanish monarchs to support him for one final trip across the Atlantic. This time, he made it to Central America, specifically in Panama. Still, Columbus never found a passage to Asia, nor was he able to find the material riches it boasts. Empty-handed, Columbus returned to Spain after his final voyage.

None of these four historic voyages was Christopher Columbus able to set foot in North America as we know it today. Nevertheless, it doesn’t affect the fact that Christopher Columbus was the discoverer of the New World.

More Readings:
Christopher Columbus (Wikipedia)

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