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Today we're going to learn about the famous explorer, Christopher Columbus.
Christopher Columbus, most famous for his historic voyages across the Atlantic Ocean,
was born in 1451 in Genoa, Italy. The son of a weaver, Columbus began sailing as a young
teen. He sailed to many places - Greece, England, Ireland, Iceland, Portugal, West Africa, and
Spain.
In 1476 Columbus was shipwrecked off the coast of Portugal. He swam to shore and settled
in Lisbon. It was there that he was first married, and his first son, Diego, was born.
In 1485 his wife died, and Columbus moved to Spain. A few years later, his second son,
Fernando, was born.
It was about this time that Christopher Columbus began to be fascinated by the idea that it
might be possible to sail West from Europe to reach Asia. Trade of spices and silk with
India and China was incredibly important - and incredibly profitable - but the journey, whether
overland or by sea, was long and dangerous. If Columbus could succeed in sailing directly
from Europe to Asia by going west, he could make a lot of money and become very wealthy.
It is a misperception that most people back then thought that the world was flat. In fact,
most people knew that the world was round, but nautical experts thought that Columbus
had estimated the distance from Europe to Asia to be much too small. They thought that
he would only make it halfway there before running out of food and supplies. Because
of this, he could not convince anyone to give him the money he needed for the voyage.
His idea was rejected in Portugal, Genoa, and Venice. Then he went to Spain in 1486
and tried to persuade King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella to finance his expedition, but they
were at war and did not have time or money for exploration.
Six years later in 1492, the war ended and the King and Queen agreed to give Columbus
the money he needed. On August 3, 1492, Christopher Columbus sailed west from Spain with three
ships: the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria.
Two months later, on October 12, they reached the Bahamas, landing on an island that Columbus
named San Salvador. Columbus was convinced that he had reached the Indies, a series of
islands in southeast asia, and so he called the people that he met there 'Indians.' He
didn't find very much gold on San Salvador, and so he sailed around exploring other islands.
On Christmas day the largest ship, the Santa Maria, ran aground and had to be abandoned,
so Columbus left 39 crewmen in what is now Haiti to start a settlement and hopefully,
find more gold. Columbus took some of the native people with him and returned to Spain
in March of 1493. Besides the people and a little gold, Columbus brought back things
like pineapples, turkeys, parrots, and tobacco to prove that there were riches to be found
across the ocean. He was rewarded by being named Admiral of the Ocean Sea and was appointed
Viceroy and Governor of the new lands.
Word of his discovery spread quickly through Europe, and before the year was out, Columbus
set sail leading a second, much larger expedition. With 17 ships and more than 1,000 men, they
were ready to begin colonizing the islands Columbus had found. When they arrived, they
found that the original settlement had been destroyed and everyone left behind had been
killed by the native people. They established a new settlement and began to search for gold,
but when little was found Columbus enslaved the native people and forced them to help
search for more riches.
On his third voyage, Columbus finally reached the continental mainland when he landed in
Venezuela. Unfortunately, conditions at the settlement were very bad and the settlers
blamed Columbus. In 1500 he was arrested and forced to return to Spain.
He was eventually freed, but he lost his titles and much of his money. In 1502 he made a fourth
and final voyage to the new world, stil searching for a passage to India or China. He returned
to Spain in 1504, and on May 20th, 1506, at the age of 54, Christopher Columbus died,
probably still believing that he had successfully sailed to Asia.
It is true that Christopher Columbus was not the first person to discover the Americas
- that would be the ancestors of the native inhabitants - and he wasn't even the first
European to reach the New World (a voyage by Leif Erikson about 500 years earlier succeeded
in reaching Canada). However, the voyages of Christopher Columbus had a huge impact
in the history of the world because he brought back word of these new lands to Europe
and began a new period of trade and colonization. Plants, animals, people and diseases went
back and forth across the ocean and had a lasting impact on almost every culture on
the planet.
Because of this, we commemorate Columbus's first landing every October - on Columbus
Day.
I hope you enjoyed learning about Christopher Columbus today. Goodbye till next time!
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Biography of Christopher Columbus for Children: Famous Explorers for Kids - FreeSchool

50 Folder Collection
hexiecollege published on June 7, 2019
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