|Columbus and Queen Isabella|
Capitol Building, Sacramento, CA
Our historical view of Christopher Columbus is conditioned by two competing mythologies.
According to the first myth, Columbus was a heroic Italian explorer who sailed the ocean blue in 1492 and discovered America. His first voyage to the New World was funded by the jewelry of Queen Isabella of Spain. This bold captain, the first European to reach America, dared to sail off the edge of a world thought to be flat.
Yet this myth is easily busted.
The Greek philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras posited a spherical earth in the sixth century BC—a theory later confirmed by Hellenistic astronomers. By the eleventh century, the Persian astronomer al-Biruni had calculated a measurement of the earth’s radius that was only 10.4 miles off the accurate modern reckoning of 3,959 miles. The major challenge faced by Columbus was not the fear of sailing off the edge of the world, but rather the incapacity of ships of his era to travel the entire distance from Europe to China over, presumably, blue ocean. They simply could not contain sufficient fresh water and supplies to provide for the crew.
Columbus’s voyages were not financed by Queen Isabella’s jewels but rather by loans from mainly Italian bankers. And Leif Erikson, another bold European captain, apparently established a Norse settlement in Newfoundland about five hundred years before Columbus.
|Columbus Coit Tower, SF, CA|
Yet this myth does not really hold up either.
Columbus’s date of birth, or even year of birth (1450 or 1451?), has not been conclusively proven. Overwhelming evidence, however, suggests that he was the son of Domenico Colombo and his wife Susanna Fontanarossa, who were both from the Republic of Genoa in what is today Italy. His father worked as a weaver in the wool trade.
Columbus’s diary is filled with references to God and gold; he was Catholic and he sought a tangible return on behalf of his speculative investors. Columbus was comfortable with religion and the institution of slavery, but no more so than the majority of his contemporaries.
When we strip away these two Columbus myths and try to approach the historic Columbus in the context of his times, we are left with a more complex and more fascinating figure, who was neither an angel nor a demon. At the end of the day, Christopher Columbus was one of a handful of global historic individuals who changed our world for good, for ill, and forever.
|No Columbus = No Chocolate!|
Those living in what became known as the Americas received horses, pigs, the lowly earthworm, and Christian missionaries. Lacking immunities, they also received new diseases, such as the smallpox that eventually ravaged the indigenous population of two continents.
Not all exchanges are fair.
It is the historic Columbus that we should remember and even celebrate this Columbus Day.
Happy Columbus Day to all!
Thanks South Coast Today...http://www.southcoasttoday.com/article/20151004/OPINION/151009801
Thanks Charleston Daily Mail...http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20151012/DM04/151019900/1279
Thanks Pueblo Chieftain...http://www.chieftain.com/opinion/3989122-120/columbus-christopher-european-myth
Thanks Herald Dispatch...http://www.herald-dispatch.com/opinion/christopher-kelly-don-t-believe-all-you-ve-heard-about/article_929f8231-07f8-5fc1-b24c-29e8cd3d3ef4.html
Thanks The Ledger...http://www.theledger.com/article/20151012/COLUMNISTS03/151019945/1382/edit?Title=Columbus-Day-Two-myths-debunked-
Thanks Caller Times...http://www.caller.com/opinion/forums/complex-man-sailed-ocean-blue-in-1492-21734c82-b9be-3996-e053-0100007f206e-331832731.html
Thanks Monterey Herald...http://www.montereyherald.com/opinion/20151011/christopher-kelly-columbus-day-two-myths-debunked
Thanks Wisconsin State Journal...http://host.madison.com/wsj/news/opinion/column/guest/christopher-kelly-two-myths-miss-the-real-christopher-columbus/article_ee96fcde-2982-54d6-bcea-bd9e3f5a2c07.html
Thanks Duluth News Tribnue...http://www.duluthnewstribune.com/opinion/national-view/3857578-national-view-columbus-day-two-myths-debunked
Thanks Sauk Valley...http://www.saukvalley.com/2015/10/06/columbus-day-time-to-debunk-competing-myths/a6su1w8/
Thanks times Tribune...http://thetimes-tribune.com/opinion/some-columbus-myths-worthy-of-investigation-1.1955960#
Thanks Taunton Gazette...http://www.tauntongazette.com/article/20151012/OPINION/151005876
Thanks Times and Democrat...http://thetandd.com/news/opinion/editorial/columbus-day-debunking-two-major-myths/article_cbfaddbb-18c9-5af8-ab0b-7bbd0b5706ea.html
Thanks Wicked Local...http://berkley.wickedlocal.com/article/20151012/OPINION/151005876
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