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Christopher Columbus - Three Caravels On The Road To India

Christopher Columbus

On October 14, 1492, Christopher Columbus docked on the shores of America. Without knowing it and probably thinking that he had just reached India, he has just proved that the Earth is round. This is the classic version taught in history classes at school. In fact, the story of this great character that is Christopher Columbus is a little more complex.

From the age of 14, Columbus made very long trips across the ocean, traveling from Africa to Iceland and crossing on his way pirate ships, crowned heads and renowned scientists. He is gaining navigational experience and the idea of ​​traveling to a new continent is beginning to germinate in his head.

How did Christopher Columbus get the necessary funding from the Spanish royal family for such a risky expedition? Recent accounts show links with Pope Innocent VIII, also from the city of Genoa. Would the Pope be the originator of the sponsor obtained by Colombus? This hypothesis is reinforced by the fact that many of the financiers of Christopher Columbus were very close to Innoncent VIII. The version according to which Queen Isabella would have sold her jewels to finance the trip would be a simple legend, since Spain would have played a political role, more than economic.

On the way to India?

The victory of the Spanish army over the Moors, which made it possible to recapture the city of Granada in January 1492, is undoubtedly a turning point in history. Only three months later, Columbus reached an agreement with the King of Spain. The famous navigator is named grand admiral of the seas and viceroy of lands and islands eventually discovered. The descendants of Christopher Columbus must also inherit these privileges except for the right to collect one tenth of the income inherent in these discoveries. The three caravels with which Columbus undertakes his transatlantic crossing, the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria, have on board a crew of barely a hundred and fifty men.

The expedition officially aims for commercial purposes and must reach the rich countries of East Asia. But the economic reasons are not the only motivations of the great crossing, there are also motivations of religious order. Christopher Columbus, firm believer and bound to the Franciscans and Dominicans, plants a cross on all lands where his ships dock. Some argue that the Columbus Expedition must be a prerequisite for a new crusade to liberate Jerusalem and the Holy Sepulcher. The riches discovered on the new lands will be used to finance this crusade made possible by the recent defeat of the Moors in Granada. It is largely for these reasons that Christopher Columbus receives the support of Pope Innocent VIII, which unblocks the funds necessary for the crossing and which passes the Queen of Spain Isabelle the Catholic to posterity.

The caravel

The caravels were light and small ships, able to navigate the wind and easy to steer. Columbus did not believe in the popular belief that the sea was the realm of fantastic monsters, and he knew exactly where his journey would take him.

Behind the scenes

Christopher Columbus called himself "the one who bears Christ" and signed with a cryptogram that has not been fully deciphered. The meaning of this signature is a mystery that has lasted for nearly five hundred years. Christopher Columbus spent long hours studying nautical charts and books as well as ancient writings of great mathematicians and astronomers of the time as Florentin Toscanelli. At that time, adventurers and navigators were numerous and one of the most mysterious maps is that of a Turkish admiral who traces the contours of lands not yet discovered. Did Columbus knew that the Earth's dimensions are far superior to what was believed at the time? Did he think he could reach unknown lands before arriving in India by heading west? Some say that seven years earlier, Christopher Columbus would have made an exploratory trip. If this story is true, America would rather have been discovered in 1485. The Spaniards would have organized the journey with the assurance that at the other end of the ocean, Columbus would find people to convert and wealth necessary to their crusade in the Holy Land. Christopher Columbus was therefore more of a missionary than a navigator with a spirit of adventure.

The official expedition

In the early morning of August 3, 1492, Columbus and the crews of the three caravels officially leave the port of Porto Palos in direction of the Canaries to load the last necessary provisions before undertaking the crossing. On September 6, the Genoese admiral sets sail for the unknown. The caravels are pushed by the trade winds for a month when, on October 7, Columbus abruptly decides to change course after seeing birds heading south-west. He chooses to follow them in hope that they will lead him to the mainland and he is right. At two o'clock in the morning, October 12, 1492, Columbus finally sees the shore and at dawn, the Pinta docks on an island in the Bahamas that natives call Guanahani but that he renamed San Salvador. He then hops to Cuba and then Haiti. He returns to Spain five months later with a single caravel and is acclaimed as a hero by the crowd. However, great changes have taken place meanwhile in Rome and Alexander VI Borgia, new pope, tries to replace the policy of his predecessor, Innocent VIII. Columbus nonetheless managed to organize other expeditions until the death of his protector Isabella of Spain, in 1504. Columbus died in general indifference in 1506, leaving behind many years of glory and celebrity. Christopher Columbus and his children will not receive any reward and will not see a dime of the wealth that was to be used to finance the crusade in the Holy Land.