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Columbus Sailed West February 15, 2014

Posted by anagasto in history, Spain.
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He had three ships. His flagship was called Santa Maria and was the largest, but it was clumsy and did not last long.

It carried a crew of about 40 men. The Nina and the Pinta were smaller and together carried another 50 men.

The ships were lightly armed.

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santa maria 2

Columbus was probably of Jewish origin, which would add a singular twist to the story of his discoveries.

According to most records, Columbus left Spain on August 3, 1492, the day after all Jews had to leave Spain or turn Christian. So he may have been fleeing from the Inquisition to look for a safer place for himself and his people.

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tn Santa Maria 24-03-2007 16-10-40

Columbus was born in 1451 and was trained as a weaver in his father’s business, but he taught himself Portuguese, Spanish, and Latin.

As a young man he went to sea as a soldier and later took part in long trips as an agent working for  the traders of Genoa, Italy.

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According to Wikipedia, this map may have been drawn by Christopher Columbus and his brother Bartolomé. Now it is in public domain with a larger version published at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:ColombusMap.jpg.

They drew it to figure out how to navigate around the globe.

They had studied the Bible and other books, expensive to obtain at the time — and forbidden in many places — and they wrote their observations in the margins:

Notes by Columbus on a text by Marco Polo in public domain according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:ColombusNotesToMarcoPolo.jpg

The ships that were built for Columbus to cross the Ocean are lost, but exact replicas have been made, and the photo shows them sailing past Cape Canaveral spaceflight center.

The photo is free for non-commercial use from NASA at http://mix.msfc.nasa.gov/IMAGES/HIGH/9265044.jpg

That was about 520 years ago.

The replicas are on display in Seville, Spain, and you see them and think none is much larger than your living room — so how could these 100 men plus food plus water ( water !!! ) live and sleep in them for two months ?

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tn columbus and isabella

In long negotiations with the King and Queen of Spain he received the three ships fully equipped, a large share in the trade, the governorship of any lands he might discover, the title of admiral and noble rank.

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DSCN5352 edited

The Vikings had reached America long before, but Columbus’ expeditions were a new beginning in history, because from then on people from all over moved to the New World.

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Christopher Columbus portrait

Columbus died at the age of 55.

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The Santa María, the Nina, and the Pinta.

In Madrid there is a central Columbus square called Plaza de Colón, and there are large concrete blocks that represent those three ships.

On the blocks, those inscriptions,  are the names of  the men who traveled in those ships, and there are messages from all the Latin American countries.

The picture is from the GPS Madrid photo collection at http://webdax.homepage.t-online.de/GPSGuideMadrid/.

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See http://tinyurl.com/7dodpx6
Quoted from

What Columbus knew for sure

1. The Earth is an oblate spheroid (roughly). The spheroid shape of the Earth was known to the Alexandrian Greeks at least by the third century before the Common Era.

2. Which way the trade winds blew, obtained from early journeys around the West Coast of Africa by Portugese sailors.

3. The existence of islands in the Atlantic even west of the Canaries, obtained from the Norse sailors, among the bravest and best seamen ever.

We can safely say Columbus knew he was not going to fall off the edge of  the Earth. —  He did not know but might have guessed from stray stories about Leif Erricson,  there was a continent or large island West of Greenland.

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Desgraciado Almirante!
¡Pluguiera a Dios las aguas antes intactas
no reflejaran nunca las blancas velas;
ni vieran las estrellas estupefactas
arribar a la orilla tus carabelas!
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You hapless Admiral!
If only the virgin sea had never had to mirror those white sails!  and if only the stars, speechless with wonder, had never seen those caravels land on your shores!

Ruben Dario
The complete poem is very long. See
http://www.yoyita.com/AColon.htm

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The Replica that can be visited now

It is only 18 meters long, and yet 40 men crossed the ocean in it. It is docked at the Rábida monastery in Seville, Spain.

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On display in Seville, Spain:  In such a small ship all across the Ocean!

How did they even have enough water?
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Comments»

1. nikolaykotev - July 8, 2009

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2. J.R.S. - October 12, 2009

Where did you get the idea that Columbus may have been Jewish? I have never heard that yet.

3. cantueso - October 13, 2009

It is often mentioned.

I heard it first in something about Madariaga, a Spanish historian. All kinds of reasons are given by him and others: the name, the family background and business, polyglot upbringing, knowledge of the Bible, when Bible reading was more or less prohibited, and, finally, the date of the voyage: he left on the day (or maybe a day after) Jews had to leave Spain or accept getting baptized or risked getting jailed and waterboarded by the Holy Inquisition. —

I also read the story of Saint Teresa’s life written by a modern Catholic nun. Teresa was a Catholic of Jewish origin, and it seems that at the time the Christians considered it ignoble to be in any cash generating business. So to get financing for the many convents that she founded, Teresa had to ask her Jewish connections. I read that Columbus, too, had access to Jewish businessmen to finance his plans.
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