Nowadays, due to the development of modern technologies, people can travel around the world, visit their friends in other countries, and enjoy cultural exchange without any considerable problems. However, back in the fifteenth century, traveling to distant lands was extraordinarily challenging and dangerous, as it could take years for travelers to reach destinations. Moreover, they could face unexpected difficulties in their ways, such as diseases, pirate raids, or troubles with the locals. Therefore, only courageous individuals could travel because they understood that there was a possibility never to return home. One of these people was Christopher Columbus, a traveler, and navigator from Italy, who lived from 1451 until 1506. Columbus explored the world and contributed to the development of people’s knowledge about our planet. In this essay, the information about Christopher Columbus’ biography, his discoveries, and his contribution to society will be presented. In addition, the meaning of this historical figure will be discussed.
Summary of Christopher Columbus Biography
Christopher Columbus was born in the Republic of Genoa in the middle of the 15th century. Columbus started traveling to the sea at a young age, visiting many places, including the British Isles and Africa. When he was about twenty years old, he moved to Portugal, where he settled down and married a woman named Felipa Perestrello. Soon his wife died, and Christopher decided to leave Portugal for Spain with his son, Diego. In Spain, he married another woman, Beatriz Enriquez de Arana, who gave birth to the second son of Christopher, Fernando.
Columbus is a famous person who is known for his life-long passion for traveling and exploring the world. Thus, during his life, he participated in expeditions to Africa, the Canary Islands, the Asian Islands, India, and Europe. In 1492, at the age of 41, Columbus left Spain and led an expedition aimed to cross the Atlantic Ocean. Together with his crew, Christopher visited the Bahamas, Cuba, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic. It was the first time when America was discovered, which made Columbus one of the most famous travelers. After returning to Spain, the King of the country sent him to the Caribbean Islands a few more times to continue its exploration. In 1502, Columbus made his last trip trying to find a way to the Indian Ocean. He returned to Spain in 1504, where he died a couple of years later.
Discoveries and Contribution to Society
Discoveries of Christopher Columbus
As it was mentioned above, Christopher Columbus visited many places in the world. Still, his most famous accomplishment was the discovery of America in 1492, during his First Voyage sailing from Spain. He was sure that he reached India when, in reality, he was in the Caribbean Islands. His Second Voyage resulted in the discovering of Jamaica, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. At the time of the Third Voyage, Columbus reached the lands of Latin America, exploring Venezuela and the Orinoco River. Christopher attempted to find a route to the Indian Ocean during his Fourth Voyage, which was unsuccessful. Unfortunately, in a couple of years after his last tour, the explorer died because of arthritis he was suffering from for quite a long time. However, during the short period of his life, he managed to open the New World, which was previously unknown for residents of Europe.
Contribution to Society
Even though at first sight, it might seem that there are not many benefits of Columbus’ discoveries for the society, in fact, it resulted in bringing many changes for people. For example, the King of Spain, Ferdinand II, and Queen Isabella of Castile sponsored Columbus’ voyages, because they wanted to find wealthy people on the other side of the world. Moreover, they were attempting to foster the spread of Christianity among people from America. Indeed, the native population of the discovered islands was open for economic partnership, selling goods to Europeans. The process of goods exchange between the Spanish and native inhabitants of the islands was described in one of the works written by Columbus (Keegan, 2015). It led to the development of market relationships and the emergence of new items in Europe.
In addition, Christopher contributed to the building of people’s knowledge about the planet where we live. Back in the 15th century, the explorers did not even know where their route would lead them next time. For example, thinking that he was in Asia, Columbus managed to reach America. However, nowadays, everyone has a world map at home and can easily say where the location of Asia or Africa is. Moreover, the discovery of America initiated a celebration of Columbus Day on October 10. Every year the population of America has a day off and enjoy their time with family and friends.
Evaluation of the Meaning of Christopher Columbus
It is impossible to overemphasize the meaning of Columbus’ work. Risking his life, Christopher initiated a number of voyages that made a significant contribution to the development of knowledge on geography. The disease, he was suffering from for many years, did not prevent him from coming to distant lands and continuing his work. Moreover, it is proved that during their trip, Columbus and his crew suffered from lack of food and vitamins, which resulted in poor health conditions of explorers (Tiesler, Coppa, Zabala, & Cucina, 2014). However, today, “historical assessments of him have become more critical.” (Symcox & Sullivan, 2016, p. 2). Some people may even assert that he did not really discover America because, at the time when he reached it, there already were a lot of people inhabited that land. Thus, Guzauskyte claims that the discovered territories “might already have names, even though they were unknown to Europeans at that time” (2014, p. 4).
Nevertheless, he is the first person who managed to connect the European World with the “New World” of America. His discovery enabled people from different parts of the world to communicate with each other, have trade relationships, import and export goods that are scarce in local places, and travel the world. Through his work, human beings now can easily reach Europe, Middle East, or America.
Therefore, it can be concluded that Christopher Columbus is an important figure in history. He discovered America, contributed to the development of people’s knowledge about geography, and connected Europe with the “New World.” Being a very active and brave person, Christopher continued his work even when he was ill and experienced severe pain in his body. Unfortunately, his disease did not allow him to explore the world further and continue establishing economic relationships between people of different backgrounds and beliefs. If he lived longer, he would definitely bring more benefits to the world community exploring new places of our planet.
Guzauskyte, E. (2014). Christopher Columbus’ naming in the diarios of the Four Voyages (1492-1504): A discourse of negotiation. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
Keegan, W. (2015). Mobility and disdain: Columbus and cannibals in the land of cotton. Ethnohistory, 62(1). doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00141801-2821644
Symcox, G., & Sullivan, B. (2016). Christopher Columbus’ and the enterprise of the Indies: A brief history with documents (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Springer.
Tiesler, V., Coppa, A., Zabala, P. & Cucina, A. (2014). Scurvy-related morbidity and death among Christopher Columbus’ Crew at la Isabela, the First European Town in the New World (1494-1498): An assessment of the skeletal and historical information. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology, 26(2). doi: https://doi.org/10.1002/oa.2406