Biography of Explorer Christopher Columbus

About the famous explorer Christopher Columbus, biography and history of the man who discovered the new world.


CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS (1451-1506), "Admiral of the Mosquitoes" and Renaissance Discoverer of the Americas

Using a plank for a life preserver, a 25-year-old Genoese sailor named Christopher Columbus swam the 6 mi. from his sinking ship to the shores of Portugal. In the next few years, in Lisbon and in Spain, he educated himself and became convinced that the fabulously rich Indies could be reached by sailing west across the Atlantic. From his reading--his marginal notes are still there to be seen in old books--he reached a "big Asia, narrow Atlantic" conclusion and computed the distance from the Canary Islands to "Cipango" (Japan) at only 2,500 nautical mi. The actual distance is more than 10,000 mi. The advisers of Queen Isabella of Spain were right when they told her not to invest in Columbus's venture because his goal was "uncertain and impossible to any educated person." They said, correctly, that the ocean was far too big, although they, and most other educated people, had no quarrel with the theory that the world was round. If Columbus and his crew had not been lucky enough to stumble on the unexpected Americas, they probably would have died of thirst on a seemingly endless sea.

That Columbus was able to obtain financing for and accomplish his "enterprise of the Indies" is attributable to fantastic luck, fanatic persistence, and fortuitous errors. By a chain of events, he was introduced to Queen Isabella, who took an instant liking to him, perhaps because he was a fellow redhead. But she didn't agree to finance him right away, and Columbus single-mindedly trekked from court to court throughout Europe for six years looking for backing before she gave in.

Though he found time to marry an aristocrat, by whom he had his son Diego, and after his wife's death to take a mistress, mother of his son Ferdinand, he thought of very little except doing what he had set out to do--sail west to the Indies. Once he was on his way, he proved to be very good at managing a fleet. He was a genius at dead reckoning, though not at celestial navigation (he did upon occasion "shoot" the wrong star), and his crew, whom he treated well, adored him.

Despite the 475 years since his death, he stands out as startlingly real and human. His feelings as a father are revealed in a diary entry written after a stormy passage at sea: "What gripped me most were the sufferings of my son [Ferdinand]; to think that so young a lad, only 13, should go through so much. But Our Lord lent him such courage that he even heartened the rest, and he worked as though he had been to sea all of a long life. That comforted me."

You Are Here: Trivia-Library Home » Biography of Christopher Columbus » Biography of Explorer Christopher Columbus
DISCLAIMER: PLEASE READ - By printing, downloading, or using you agree to our full terms. Review the full terms at the following URL: /disclaimer.htm