History of Christopher Columbus's Fourth Voyage to the Americas

About the history of Christopher Columbus's fourth voyage to the Americas in 1502.



He failed to achieve his goal--finding a strait between Cuba (still considered mainland) and South America to the Indian Ocean--but did explore a large part of the Central American coast. Incidents of the voyage:

* Feeling a hurricane in his bones, the old mariner asked for refuge at Santo Domingo, but Governor Nicolas de Ovando, laughing at the badweather prediction, refused to let him enter the harbor. Columbus wrote: "What man ever born, not excepting Job, would not have died of despair when in such weather, seeking safety . . . we were forbidden the land and harbor that I, by God's will and sweating blood, won for Spain." However, Columbus rode out the hurricane unscathed, and Ovando got his just deserts: 25 of his ships, with a cargo in gold, sank.

* Trade with the Guaymis of Costa Rica was profitable. For example, three hawk's bells worth 1 cent each bought a gold amulet worth $25.

* Hostile Indians at Santa Maria de Belen, a trading post set up by Columbus on the Isthmus of Panama, were only temporarily diverted from attack by watching ship's captain Diego Mendez having his hair cut. Later Columbus, trapped on board ship, climbed to the maintop to shout to the men to return to safety. Delirious from malaria, he heard the voice of God, urging him to have faith.

* In June, 1503, the crew of 116 was marooned in Jamaica. The last of their leaky ships had given out. Mendez set off in a dugout canoe to find help. When the Indians on the island refused to give the Spanish food, Columbus warned them that God would evidence his displeasure on Feb. 28,1504, which he knew was the date of an eclipse of the moon. The trick worked. Terrified by the darkness, which came as predicted, the Indians once again supplied food to the Spanish.

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