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Christopher Columbus Essay

1613 words - 6 pages

Christopher Columbus

Although nearly every phase of any exploration had its good and bad outcomes the benefits of Columbus' discovery of the New World far outweigh the negative results of that enterprise; because his discovery stimulated further development of both Europe and the New World. His voyage was an epochal and magnificent discovery in that it confirmed the roundness of the earth and gave new validity to science, expanded trade and opened new markets and led to the industrialization of Europe, and opening the doors to a new world because the Old World was overcrowded and torn by strife. Columbus' did not just discover land and resources rather he discovered the New World. A New World that offered hope, freedom, and a new opportunity. Even before Columbus was born, astronomers and mathematicians knew that the world was round. However the common misconception was that the world was square. It would be a myth to say that Columbus set out on the ocean blue with everybody thinking he would fall off the end of the world. Many knew in theory that the world was round, but in actuality there was no real evidence to confirm the roundness of the earth. Even though the theory of the world being round was not thoroughly verified until Magellan's crew sailed completely around the world in 1519-1522, Columbus dared to achieve the unthinkable, and confirmed, to an extent, that the world was round. "Scholars have frequently described the European discoveries as a manifestation of Renaissance curiosity about the physical universe – the desire to know more about the geography and people of the world" (McKay, 507). People have always been curious about what lies beyond their apparent reach. The Renaissance initiated a period of questioning that didn't die down for a long time. Even though the well-educated people knew the theoretical truth about the spherical shape of the earth, they still wanted to believe it in actuality.

As an explorer, Columbus not only confirmed the world was round, but he decoded the Atlantic wind system, discovered the magnetic variation in the Western hemisphere and, among other things, contributed to the mapping of the Atlantic and the New World (Fernández-Armesto, 182). Columbus' great skill in navigation paved the way for later explorers to come to the New World. Before he had set out in pursuit of the East Indies, he studied charts, maps, and journals from earlier explorers and was certain that he could reach the Far East by sailing westward. His calculations were beyond correct and he never quite realized the fact that he was nowhere near the Far East, but in reality was on a whole other continent. "The task he set for himself – to cross the Ocean Sea was literally beyond the capacity of any vessel of his day. The task he performed – to cross from Europe to a New World – was beyond the conception of many of his contemporaries" (Fernández-Armesto, 183). Nobody thought that Columbus could reach the Far East...

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