Christopher Columbus

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Columbus was born in the large Italian port of Genoa in Northern Italy in 1451. He was an experienced sailor who went on many voyages. In 1476, he was shipwrecked off the coast of Portugal. He swam ashore and made his home there . He continued to sail on voyages to the Atlantic, including Ireland! Columbus liked to study old maps and believed that by sailing westwards from Europe one could reach Asia and the Spice Islands. This area was called the East Indies at the time so he called his proposal The Enterprise of the Indies. Columbus had completely miscalculated the distance and didn't know an undiscovered continent stood in his way.       He needed a ruler to support his voyage. He explained his idea to the king of Portugal who refused to pay for the journey. The portuguese were more interested in finding a route through the coast of Africa. Columbus moved to Spain and put forward his idea to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, who ( after a long delay ) agreed to pay for the journey. They hoped this would allow them to beat Portugal in the race for the wealth of the East. They also wanted to spread Christianity.       Columbus set sail from the port of Palos on the 3 August 1492 (1492 columbus sailed the ocean blue) with three ships; the Pinta, the Nina and the one he travelled on, the Santa Maria. There were about 90 men on the 3 ships. At first they sailed to the Canary Islands where they took on supplies and carried out repairs to the ships. On September 6th 1492 Columbus left the Canaries on his risky voyage, ships rarely left sight of land unless they knew where they were going. Columbus was the first sailor to keep a detailed record or log of his voyage.        On October 12 land was sighted from the Pinta, Columbus went ashore and claimed the land for Spain, he named the island San Salvador. Because he thought he was in Asia he named the natives Indians. He continued his voyage to the East and reached Cuba by the end of the month. From Cuba he sailed to the island of Hispaniola, which is now Haiti and the Dominican Republic.There, on Christmas Day the Santa Maria hit a rock and had to be abandoned. Columbus returned home on the Nina. After many terrible storms he arrived in Portugal in March 1493 and went home to Spain where he received a heros welcome. He brought some kidnapped Indians with him and a little gold.He also brought back items that had not been in Europe before such as the pineapple, tobacco and turkey. King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella were delighted at the idea of the riches on the newly discovered land and agreed to a second voyage, they wanted to conquer this undiscovered land for Spain.   Portugal and Spain agreed to divide the unknown world between them, a line was drawn down the world and the land on the west side went to Spain and to the East went to Portugal, this was called The Treaty Of Tordesillas.      Columbus sailed on 3 further voyages, he explored Central and South America, but he never reached North America. He discovered Puerto Rico, Trinidad, Jamaica, Panama and the mouth of the Orinoco River.           However, no matter how hard Columbus searched for a new route to the East, he never reached china. He died in 1506 at Valladolid, believing he had discovered a new route to Asia. Many people began to believe that he had discover what they called a New World, the name given at the time to the land he discovered- present day North and South America.          

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