Friday, June 14, 2013

Strange But True Facts About Christopher Columbus

1. Born in Genoa, Italy, his real name was  Cristoforo Colombo.

2.  Christopher Columbus thought Asia was 2,400 miles west. In fact, 10,000 nautical miles lay between Europe and Asia.  He was actually trying to find a passage to Japan.

3. Most European rulers thought Columbus was nuts.  It took him 6 years to convince Spain's Queen Isabella to finance his exploration.  His asking price IF he reached the Indies was a title, a coat or arms and 1/10 of all profits for Spain. Spain agreed to the small percentage of profit because they never expected him to return alive.

4. Since most thought the Earth was flat, it was hard to Columbus to find a crew.  In fact, Spain offered to pardon any criminal who would agree to go on the voyage. Four took the offer and signed on with Columbus.

5. Columbus' voyage with the 3 ships, Nina, Pinta and the Santa Maria began on August 3, 1492. On October 12, 1492  they discovered land.

6. Instead of The Indies, Columbus actually discovered the island of San Salvador, 375 miles off of the coast of Florida.

7. Columbus made 3 voyages to "The New World" but never actually set foot on the mainland of North America.  On his 4th voyage, his ship rotted out under him and he was stranded in Jamaica for a year.

8. In exchange for his discovery, Spain made Columbus the Governor of Santa Domingo, but he was such a bad Governor, they later had him arrested and brought back to Spain in chains.

9. Following Columbus' discovery, because of capturing slaves and European diseases (small pox). Hispaniola's population went from 600,000 down to about 500.

10. He didn't find any gold, but one thing Columbus brought back to Europe following his first voyage was syphilis, which over time killed as many as 5 million Europeans.

11. To his dying day, Columbus continued to insist he had NOT discovered a New World, but instead had discovered the passage to Asia.  He stuck to his story, even as evidence mounted otherwise, and he became known as a crackpot.

12. Actually, the first European to discover North America was Norse Viking Leif Eriksson, who landed in Newfoundland, almost 500 years BEFORE Columbus' voyage.

Kinda makes you wonder why we celebrate Columbus Day!

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