On this day in 1492, Christopher Columbus trailblazed European exploration
On August 3, 1492, Christopher Columbus set sail from Spain in search of an all-water route to Asia, trailblazing the European path of exploration and a long history of colonisation.
Columbus started his voyage in search of spice lands from Palos in Spain with three ships. Two ships – the Nina and the Pinta were small with triangular sails and the third Santa Maria was a large one.
The voyager was financed by two Spanish rulers, King Ferdinand of Aragon and Queen Isabella of Castile.
Columbus became the first European to lay eyes upon the Bahamas archipelago and the island was later named Hispaniola. It was later split into Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
Although the discoverer on his subsequent voyages reached South and Central America, historians say he wasn’t able to get close to the present-day United States.
Born in 1451 in the Italian seaport of Genoa, Columbus was an experienced sailor.
After a journey of 10 weeks, it is said that Columbus landed on a small island in the Bahamas, which he named San Salvador. Columbus called the inhabitants of the island ‘Indians’ thinking that he had reached India.
On his way back to Spain, he left 39 crew members of Santa Maria on the island. He wanted them to start a settlement there.
The discoverer carried back riches and spices he found on the island back home. Back in Spain, he received accolades for his discovery.
Columbus made three more voyages across the Atlantic to the Caribbean. While he was sure he had reached Cipangu (Japan), his destination was Cuba in reality.
It is believed that Columbus suffered from chronic influenza and other fevers. In 1506, at the age of 54 he took his last breath in Spain.