Christopher Columbus was a Genoese navigator and explorer, whose voyages across the Atlantic Ocean opened the doors of the American continents to the European colonizers. He believed that it was possible to reach lucrative markets in Asia, by going westwards, instead of using the traditional route around Africa.
Christopher Columbus (1451-1506)
1451: Christopher Columbus was born to Domenico Colombo, a wool merchant, and Susanna Fontanarossa, in Genoa, Italy. He had three brothers; Bartolomeo, Giovanni Pellegrino and Giacomo; and a sister, Bianchinetta.
1470: After his family moved to Savona, Liguria, in Italy, Christopher started to travel the seas as a pirate, looting the ships belonging to moors.
1476: He swam ashore after his ship sunk during a battle off the Portugal coast.
1477: Columbus went to Lisbon, Portugal and started working with his brother, Bartolomeo, as a cartographer.
1479: He married Felipa Perestrello Moniz, the daughter of an explorer named Bartolomeu Perestrello, who was involved in the discovery of Madeira Islands, in the Mid-Atlantic ocean. After their marriage, Felipa handed over her father's charts of the winds and currents to Columbus.
1480: Felipa gave birth to their first son, Diego Colon.
1485: After the death of his wife, Felipa, Columbus moved to Cadiz, Spain. Here, he started a business of supplying charts and maps.
1486: He married Dona Beatriz Enriquez de Arana of Cordova, Spain. The same year, he filed a request of patronage to embark on a voyage to search for the trade routes to Indies. His request was rejected.
1487: Columbus started working for Don Luis de la Cerda, the Duke of Medinaceli. Later that year, he submitted another request to search for trade routes, this time to King Charles VIII of France and King Henry VII of England. Both were rejected.
1488: His second wife, Dona, gave birth to a son, called Ferdinand.
1491: His second request to seek patronage from King Ferdinand of Spain was rejected.
1492: On the intervention of a priest, Father Perez, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella agreed to grant him the patronage, and provide him with ships and money. In August, Columbus left Spain in search of the Indies, in a ship called 'Santa Maria'. He was accompanied by his son, Ferdinand. The other ships involved in this mission were the 'Pinta', commanded by Martin Alonso Pinzon, and the 'Nina', commanded by Vicente Yanez Pinzon. After continuous sailing for days, on 12th of October, the crew on the 'Pinta' caught the first glimpse of land. This was Watling's Island in the Bahamas, West Indies. He named the island San Salvador. Columbus assumed that he had reached the passage to India. Sailing further, they reached Cuba on 28th October. On 5th December, the 'Santa Maria' sank off the Hispaniola coast, but he did manage to establish the first Spanish settlement in the New World.
1493: On 5th March, Christopher Columbus arrived back in Spain, with the news of the New World discovered by him. Later, in September, he embarked on his second voyage, with a fleet of 16 ships and a crew of about 1500 men. When they reached Hispaniola, modern-day Jamaica, the crew was attacked by native Indians. Columbus was, however, successful in establishing a Spanish settlement in Haiti.
1494: He returned to Spain on 29th September.
1498: On 30th of May, he set sail for his third Voyage from Spain, with a fleet of 6 ships. They reached the Cape Verde Islands on 31st of July, and crossed over to the mainland. In the same year, some problems arose in the Spanish settlements, and Columbus was criticized for his inept handling of the situation.
1500: The visita, led by Francisco de Bobadilla, reached Santo Domingo, and arrested Columbus and his brothers, and took them back to Spain.
1502: He left for his fourth voyage. He reached Hispaniola just before a major hurricane. He was stranded in Hispaniola, and was rescued about a year later.
1506: Christopher Columbus died at Valladolid city in Spain.
For a long time, it was believed that Columbus discovered America. But according to modern historians the Nordics were the first people to reach the American continent, about a hundred years before Columbus did.