While it is well known that Christopher Columbus was the man who discovered America, there are many more interesting facts to learn about this fascinating Italian man. Here are just fifteen things that you might not know about Christopher Columbus.
- There is some uncertainty surrounding the birth of Columbus. He was born at some time in either 1450 and 1451. Likewise, he was born in the Republic of Genoa, but the exact location is unknown.
- Columbus was the eldest of five children. His sister was called Bianchinetta. His three brothers were Bartolomeo, Giovanni, and Pellegrino.
- Columbus embarked on his first long voyage in 1470 at the age of just 19. He traveled to the island of Chios in the Aegean Sea on one of his employer’s ships.
- Columbus fathered two sons and they had different mothers. Diego was born in 1480 and died in 1526. His half-brother, Fernando lived between 1488 and 1539.
- Columbus was blamed for disrupting the economy of three separate continents. This was partially due to the dominance of African slavery as a commodity and Columbus is believed to have instigated the slave trade. The other reason was because of the spread of disease following his travels to the New World. It is estimated that up to five million people died from what was referred to as Post-Columbian diseases. One such disease was syphilis and skeletal evidence showed Columbus suffered from this himself.
- Although Columbus is credited as the first European to sail across the Atlantic Ocean, this is not true. Leif Eriksson, a Norse Viking, is believed to have arrived in Newfoundland in A.D. 1000. According to historians, there is also evidence to suggest that Saint Bernard and other Celts may have sailed this voyage even earlier.
- On his arrival in the New World, Columbus was confused about his whereabouts. He believed he had arrived in the Indies and that the Native Americans were Indians. It is for this reason that Native Americans are often still referred to as American Indians today.
- In his later life, Columbus constantly wore a Franciscan habit. His reasons for doing so are unknown
- Although he is famous for being an admiral and the governor of the New World, he was formerly a pirate who would attack merchant trips.
- Christopher Columbus was very religious and tried to spread the word of Christianity throughout Europe.
- In his later years, Columbus became an author. The first was a book called ‘Book of Privileges’. This strange book listed all the promises Columbus believed the Spanish government had made and how they had not delivered on their promises. The second book was even more bizarre. Entitled ‘Book of Prophecies’, the book claimed that all Columbus’ missions were missions set by God.
- Columbus never believed he had found a New World. He simply believed he had found an alternative route to India. This belief stayed with him to his death.
- It is widely claimed that Columbus ‘discovered’ America. In fact, he did not discover it as people had lived in this area of the world for over 20,000 years.
- Horses were introduced to the New World by Christopher Columbus. These became important to the Native Americans.
- Christopher Columbus died on 20th May 1506 at the age of 55. His death was not officially recorded and his passing went largely unnoticed. It was some years after his death before he gained fame and glory.
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