Columbus was commissioned by the king and queen of Spain to find a route to the Indies. However, he sailed the opposite direction of his intended goal by crossing the Atlantic and landing in the Americas, resulting in the discovery of the New World for Spain. This discovery was a major point in not only European history, but world history. From this, Christopher Columbus gained status as somewhat of a hero to his people during one of the darkest times in Europe’s history. He lived during a time when Europe was in great turmoil caused by disease, famine, and religious persecution. It was also the beginning of an era when finding a direct trade route to the Indies was important. The misconception behind the goal of Columbus’ voyages is that he was not out to achieve wealth alone, but to begin the final expansion of the Gospel that would bring in the end of time. Columbus believed in the Bible and that it was his duty to spread Christianity to the Indians. Until very recently, every schoolchild was taught that Christopher Columbus discovered the New World. Columbus was depicted as a brave and determined sailor who singlehandedly convinced Queen Isabella of Spain to fund his voyage. In history books, Columbus was portrayed as a true hero; a man who made it possible for millions of European immigrants to start fresh in a new land. Now, this image of Christopher Columbus is being challenged. Many historians and others claim that Columbus did not “discover” anything. Before he arrived, the New World already had been discovered by others, Leif Ericksson among them. In addition, the New World was already populated by over five hundred Native American tribes. To call Columbus’s voyage a “discovery” would be like taking a hundred people, landing in Italy, and saying that these people discovered Italy. Christopher Columbus may have “encountered” or “collided with” the New World, but he did not “discover” it. Many historians argue though that whether Columbus’s voyages are called a discovery, an encounter, or a collision does not matter. No one can deny that Columbus made Europe aware of the New World, and that this awareness had a great impact. It was Columbus who started this new awareness. It is Columbus who should be credited with it. They believe that celebrating Columbus’s voyages is to celebrate the beginning of the new world as we know it today.
1) Summerhill, Stephen J., and John Alexander Williams. Sinking Columbus: Contested History, Cultural Politics, and Mythmaking during the Quincentenary. Gainesville: University of Florida, 2000. Print. 2) Bradford, Ernle. Christopher Columbus. New York, NY: Viking, 1973. Print. 3) Szumski, Bonnie, and JoAnne Buggey. Christopher Columbus: Recognizing Stereotypes. San Diego, CA: Greenhaven, 1992. Print.
4) "Christopher Columbus". Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2012. Web. 27 Nov. 2012