*Includes maps of Columbus's voyages and pictures depicting Columbus and important people, places, and events in his life.
*Includes a Table of Contents.
“At two o'clock in the morning the land was discovered…As I saw that they were very friendly to us, and perceived that they could be much more easily converted to our holy faith by gentle means than by force, I presented them with some red caps, and strings of beads to wear upon the neck, and many other trifles of small value, wherewith they were much delighted, and became wonderfully attached to us.” – Christopher Columbus’s diary, October 11-12, 1492
A lot of ink has been spilled covering the lives of history’s most influential figures, but how much of the forest is lost for the trees? The Age of Exploration and the explorers who set out on their history-making expeditions left many legacies and profoundly influenced history around the world. The voyages of men like Columbus and the conquests of men like Cortes escalated tensions between the European nations, initiated imperialistic empires on a global scale, helped birth the United States, and ensured that the wars in the 20th century were truly world wars. In Charles River Editors’ Legendary Explorers series, readers can get caught up to speed on the lives of the most important explorers of history in the time it takes to finish a commute, while learning interesting facts long forgotten or never known.
The most seminal event of the last millennium might also be its most controversial. As schoolchildren have been taught for over 500 years, “In 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue.” In October of that year, the Italian Christopher Columbus immortalized himself by landing in the New World and beginning the process of European settlement in the Americas for Spain, bringing the Age of Exploration to a new hemisphere with him. Ironically, the Italian had led a Spanish expedition, in part because the Portugese rejected his offers in the belief that sailing west to Asia would take too long.
Columbus had better luck with the Spanish royalty, successfully persuading Queen Isabella to commission his expedition. In August 1492, Columbus set west for India at the helm of the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria. After a harrowing trip that nearly left his crew mutinous, on October 7, 1492, the three ships spotted flocks of birds, suggesting land was nearby, so Columbus followed the direction in which the birds flew. On the night of October 11, the expedition sighted land, and when Columbus came ashore the following day in the Bahamas, he thought he was in Japan, but the natives he came into contact with belied the descriptions of the people and lands of Asia as wealthy and resourceful. Instead, the bewildered Columbus would note in his journal that the natives painted their bodies, wore no clothes and had primitive weapons, leading him to the conclusion they would be easily converted to Catholicism. When he set sail for home in January 1493, he brought several imprisoned natives back to Spain with him.
Everyone agrees that Columbus’s discovery of the New World was one of the turning points in history, but agreements over his legacy end there. Columbus became such a towering figure in Western history that the United States’ capital was named after George Washington and him. Conversely, among the Native Americans and indigenous tribes who suffered epidemics and enslavement at the hands of the European settlers, Columbus is widely portrayed as an archvillain.
Legendary Explorers: The Life and Legacy of Christopher Columbus chronicles Columbus’s life and his historic voyages, but it also examines the aftermath of his expeditions and analyzes the controversy surrounding his legacy. Along with maps and pictures, you will learn about Columbus like you never have before, in no time at all.