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Christopher Columbus

 

Today we live in a world where people ‘commute’ from continent to continent in a matter of hours or at the most two days . The idea of travel is no more laborious as in those far off days when aeroplanes did not figure even in the imagination of men.But even in those  far off days there were people who dreamed of crossing the sea and finding far off unknown lands. We owe our modern civilization to those adventurous men who risked their lives and went forth in their ships in search of new lands.

Christopher Columbus was such a man who made his life into success through his daring and vision.Born in 1457 in Genoa, Italy, Dominick Colombo (which name was later changed by the English to Christopher Columbus) was greatly attracted to the sea. He learned sailing and became an expert and ambitious navigator and sailor. He made voyages in the Mediterranean Sea and dreamed of discovering a sea-route to the spice Islands. Columbus approached the king of Italy hoping that he would sponsor the voyage but it did not happen. He sailed to Portugal and managed to reach Lisbon. He settled down there for some time, marrying a Portugal women. He learned several languages including Portuguese,castilian and those of Latin countries. Columbus had plans to sail West to India. But his expectation of help from the King of Portugal also did not work out. So he turned to Spain where he got help from Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand. The historic voyage started on August 3, 1492 with three ships- flagship Santa Maria carrying 52 sailors and the other two, the Nina and The Pinta with 18 men each. They reached the Canary Islands and from there sailed to the Bahamas Islands. He took possession of the Island in the name of the Spanish King and Queen. He mislook the place for Indies. He sailed further south to the north coast of Cuba and named the island Juana. He then reached Hispaniola on January 16, 1493 he set out on his return journey. He reached Spain on March 15, 1493. The King and Queen were happy to see him and honoured him. His fame as an explorer spread far and wide. The title of Admiral of the Ocean Sea was bestowed on him.

Columbus made his second voyage between 1493 and 1496 with 1200 men, lools, seeds, and animals, all set to colonise the island he would come upon. Towards the last part of the voyage dire misfortunes fell upon Columbus and his men.All his ships were destroyed in a hurricane. 1200 of his men died of disease. He managed to reach back to Spain with the remaining of his men in two ships patched together. This time he did not get a hero’s welcome. However two more voyages were made with which he paved the way for the permanent European colonization of the Americas, a continent hitherto unknown to the old world.

Columbus thought what he had discovered was a route to the far East but it was the Americas that he and his men opened for conquest and settlement by the Europeans.

Columbus’s expeditions inaugurated a period of exploration,conquest and colonization that lasted for centuries,helping to create the modern Western world. His adventures had been risky, full of danger from natural elements, from the indigineous people who inhabited the lands he reached ,antipathy on the part of his own men who gave him all serts of problems,fighting among themselves,acting hysterical and turning against Columbus himself.

Today, Columbus has a contraversial legacy he is remembered as a daring and path breaking explorer who transformed the new world, yet his actions caused  negative impacts also. Native populations were made extinct, the cruel practice of slavery was brought back, and also people who were colonised were subjected to brutal exploitation. And yet, Columbus figures tall in history as a daring man, a visionary who braved the challenges before him.

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