Christopher Columbus was an Italian navigator who sailed west across the Atlantic Ocean in search for the all-water route to Asia, but instead achieved fame for making landfall in the Caribbean Sea. Columbus was born in Genoa, Italy. His father was a weaver, and it is believed that Columbus entered this trade as a young man. In the mid-1470s he made his first trading voyage to the island of Khios, in the Aegean Sea. Settling in Lisbon, where his brother Bartholomew was working as a cartographer, he was married in 1479 to the daughter of the governor of the island of Porto Santo.
In December, the Santa Maria was wrecked off the coast of Espanola.The Nina, with Columbus in command, and the Pinta began the homeward voyage in January 1493. After storms drove the ships first to the Azores and then to Lisbon, Columbus arrived in Palos, Spain, in March. He was enthusiastically received by the Spanish Monarchs.
Columbus planned immediately for a second expedition, with about 1500 men, which left Spain in September 1493. They landed on the island of Dominica, Gaudeloupe. His stop at Puerto Rico is the closest he came to setting foot on land that would later form part of the United States, the main foundation for the claim that Columbus “discovered America.”
When Columbus returned to Isabella on September 29, he found that serious dissension had developed among the colonists, a number of whom were already on the route to Spain to press their grievances. One of the major problems confronting Columbus was the hostility of the natives, whose initial friendliness had been alienated by the brutality of the Europeans. Columbus defeated the natives in battle in March 1495 and shipped a large number of them to Spain to sell as slaves. Queen Isabella objected, however, and the survivors were returned. A royal investigating commission arrived at Isabella in October 1495. Because this group was consistently critical of his policies, Columbus established a new capital named Santo Domingo, and sailed for Spain leaving Bartholomew in command.
He reported directly to Ferdinand and Isabella, who dismissed the critical charges. The sovereigns promised to subsidize a new fleet, but since enthusiasm for the unproductive enterprise had waned, nearly two years elapsed before eight vessels were sent out.
Columbus set sail on his third voyage on May 30,1498. His first landing, made on July 31, was the three-peaked island of Trinidad, named in honor of the Holy Trinity. He...