(25 August – 31 October, 1451, Genoa, Italy – 20 May, 1506, Valladolid, Spain) (aged 54).
Occupation: Explorer, navigator, colonizer
Specification: Discoverer of New World, America (October 12, 1492)
Religion: Roman Catholic
Zest: Columbus was not the first European mariner to sail to the New World. The Vikings, led by Leif Ericson and Thorfinn Karlsefni set up colonies c.1000 in Greenland and Newfoundland. But only Columbus’s voyages mark the beginning of continuous European efforts to explore and colonize the Americas.
Christopher Columbus never set foot on mainland North America. The closest he got was one of the islands in the present day Bahamas.
In the morning of Friday, the 12th of October 1492 Columbus landed, richly clad, and bearing the royal banner of Spain. He was accompanied by the brothers Pinzon, bearing banners of the Green Cross (a device of the admirals), and by great part of the crew. When they all had “given thanks to God, kneeling upon the shore, and kissed the ground with tears of joy, for the great mercy received”.
Strong evidence also suggests that his crew brought syphilis, apparently never reported in Europe before and known to have been endemic in mild form among the Arawaks.
Columbus did not have any women on his first two voyages. In 1498, Columbus recruited one woman for every ten men on his third voyage.
Accounts consistently describe Columbus as a large and physically strong man with auburn hair or later white hair of some six feet or more in height.
He attempt to reach the Far East by going westward from Spain. He believed the peaks of Cuba to be the Himalayas. Mistaking the lands he encountered for the East Indies, he referred to the inhabitants as “indios”. At his death, he was still convinced that his journeys had been along the east coast of Asia.