5 Major Figures in Early American History

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  • Topic: Isabella I of Castile, Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, Christopher Columbus
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  • Published : April 21, 2013
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Christopher Columbus

Christopher Columbus is one of the most well known names in the western world because of what he accomplished during his lifetime. He was an explorer, a navigator, and a colonizer and, with his unrelenting determination, he would be the man to “discover” the New World. Although he thought that he found India and a better route to Asia rather than sailing around the southern tip of Africa, he had really stumbled upon the Americas. While he may have had the actual location wrong, his accidental discovery has effectively changed the timeline of human existence greatly, and has helped shape the world as we know it into what it is today. Christopher Columbus was born on a date before October 31st, 1451, in Genoa, which is part of modern day Italy. He had a family that consisted of his mother (Susanna Fontanarossa), his father (Domenico Colombo), three brothers and a sister. It is claimed that Columbus had gotten some early training in the field of boating, stating that he was out at sea by the age of ten. In 1470, he found himself as a hired hand on a ship whose destination and mission was to conquer the Kingdom of Naples. In the year 1473, Christopher Columbus became an apprentice as a business agent for a few important families of Genoa. While in this apprenticeship, Columbus would get the opportunity to travel to many different lands (including England, Ireland, and most likely Iceland.) and learn many different customs and languages. In 1479, Christopher Columbus married his wife, Filipa Moniz Perestrelo, daughter of the Porto Santo Governor and Portuguese nobleman, and soon after had a son named Diego Columbus. Some records claim that Filipa dies in 1485, others argue that Christopher left his wife. Either way, he found himself a 20-year-old mistress in Spain. Throughout his travels across Europe and East Africa in these earlier stages in his career, Christopher learned Portuguese, Latin and Castilian, as well as a good bit about astronomy, history, and geography. Europe had an insatiable appetite for far eastern goods and spices, but had to travel to what was called the Indies to get them (The Indies were consisted of east and south Asia). There was a travel passageway called The Silk Road that was primarily used to transport these goods back and forth, but this path became unstable for merchants making the voyage due to the fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks; merchants began being targeted and robbed for their goods. Christopher wanted to find a better way to get to the goods that lay just a few thousand miles across land and sea, so he brought up the idea to sail from the west side of Europe to East Asia by going straight west across the ocean. After long deliberation and a fair share of rejection, in 1492 the Spanish crown finally granted Columbus the supplies and backup needed for a voyage to commence. Between 1492 and 1503, Christopher Columbus completed four round-trips from Europe to the Americas, mostly visiting Cuba and the northern part of South America. Columbus did not know that he had found America and not Asia (in fact he insisted otherwise), but he also did not know that he was sparking the largest trading infrastructure that the world had ever seen. The impact that Columbus and everyone who helped with his effort effectively altered the path of human existence and, whether good or bad, is “celebrated” for his huge contribution towards what we have created in what was called “The New World.” Columbus spent some time as the governor of the New World, arrested and sent to jail for six weeks, and went on another voyage. Once he was finished exploring, he became more religious and wrote two books involving his beliefs in them. He also continues to get %10 of all money earned in the New World. Christopher Columbus died on May 20th, 1506, most likely around the age of 54, leaving behind a big nasty can of worms and, perhaps, some blessings in...
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