Christopher Columbus is known as ‘the man who discovered America’, when he set sail from Europe trying to find a westward sea passage to the Orient. He instead landed in the Caribbean Sea dubbed The New World in 1492. Today is the anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ arrival in the Americas, which occurred on October 12, 1492 in the Julian calendar and October 21, 1492 in the modern Gregorian calendar.
Christopher Columbus was born in Genoa in 1451. His father was a weaver and small-time merchant, and Columbus had two more sib
lings. As a teenager, Christopher started his sea voyages traveling extensively. Columbus eventually made Portugal his base. It was from here, in Portugal that he attempted to gain royal patronage for a westward voyage to the Orient - his ‘Enterprise of the Indies’. No king or royal kingdom was ready to fund his project. He tried to convince them, but failed everywhere, except for the Spanish King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella who saw some promise in his proposal. Finally, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella agreed to sponsor this historic sailing expedition, and on 3 August 1492, Columbus and his fleet of three ships, the Santa Maria, the Pinta and the Niña, set sail across the Atlantic. Some two and a half months later, they sighted land.
On 12 October, Columbus and a group of his men set foot on an island’s soil, what later became famously known as the Bahamas. However, Columbus thought that he had reached the Indies, so the sailors started calling the natives of that island as ‘Indians’. In all, Columbus made 4 voyages to the west, till his health degraded badly and he was unable to sail further. He died of arthritis and malaria. The anniversary of Columbus's 1492 landing in the Americas is observed as Columbus Day on October 12 in Spain and throughout the Americas, except that in the United States it is observed on the second Monday in October.
With his four voyages of exploration and several attempts at establishing a settlement on the island of Hispanila (Dominican Republic and Haiti), all funded by Isabella I of Castile. Columbus initiated the process of Spanish colonization, which foreshadowed general European colonization of the "New World."
Funding for Christopher Columbus expedition to The New World
Columbus sought financing from all the European Monarchs at the end of the 15th cent
ury. On 1 May 1486 Columbus presented his plans to Queen Isabella, who, in turn, referred it to a committee. Althought the committee rejected the plan, to keep Columbus from taking his ideas elsewhere, and perhaps to keep their options open, Ferdinand and Isabella, known as the Catholic Monarchs, gave him an annual allowance of 12,000 maravedia and in 1489 furnished him with a letter ordering all cities and towns under the the domain of Ferdinand and Isabella to provide him food and lodging at no cost.
After continually lobbying at the Spanish court and two years of negotiations, he finally had success in 1492. Ferdinand and Isabella had just conquered Granada, the last Muslim stronghold on the Iberian peninsula, and they received Columbus in Cordoba, in the Alcazar castle. Isabella turned Columbus down on the advice of her confessor, and he was leaving town by mule in despair, when Ferdinand intervened. Isabella then sent a royal guard to fetch him and Ferdinand later claimed credit for being "the principal cause why those islands were discovered".
About half of the financing was to come from private Italian investors, whom Columbus had already lined up. Financially broke after the Granada campaign, the monarchs left it to the royal treasurer to shift funds among various royal accounts on behalf of the enterprise. Columbus was to be made "Admiral of the Seas" and would receive a portion of all profits. The terms were unusually generous, but as his son later wrote, the monarchs did not really expect him to return.
According to the contract that Columbus made with King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, if Columbus discovered any new islands or mainland, he would receive many high rewards.
In terms of power, he would be given the rank of Admiral of the Ocean Sea and appointed Viceroy and Governor of all the new lands. He had the right to nominate three persons, fro
m whom the sovereigns would choose one, for any office in the new lands. He would be entitled to 10% of all the revenues from the new lands in perpetuity; this part was denied to him in the contract, although it was one of his demands. Additionally, he would also have the option of buying one-eighth interest in any commercial venture with the new lands and receive one-eighth of the profits.
Columbus was later arrested in 1500 and supplanted from these posts. After his death, Columbus's sons, Diego and Fernando, took legal action to enforce their father's contract. Many of the smears against Columbus were initiated by the Castilian crown during these lengthy court cases, known as the pleitos colombinos. The family had some success in their first litigation, as a judgment of 1511 confirmed Diego's position as Viceroy, but reduced his powers. Diego resumed litigation in 1512, which lasted until 1536, and further disputes continued until 1790.