Christopher Columbus departed Spain on August 3, 1492 for his first voyage. He stopped at the Canary Islands for a final restocking and left there on September 6. He was in command of three ships known as the Pinta, the Nina, and the Santa Maria. On October 12, they first sighted land which turned out to be a small island in present-day Bahamas (Minster, 2012a). There are various factors which influenced Christopher Columbus to undertake this voyage. He had a personal interest and determination to find a faster more efficient route to the East Indies.
King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella financed his voyage because they were interested in material wealth and converts for Spain. The time period in which Columbus lived also had a great influence since the Renaissance period was a time of exploration and finding new meanings for existence. Christopher Columbus examined mostly southward voyages of the Portuguese into the Atlantic and Africa and thought that one could also sail westward and ultimately reach India.
This belief was also influenced by accounts he read from the travel accounts of writer Marco Polo. Columbus may have conceived this idea of sailing west to reach Asia as early as 1481 in a correspondence which he sent to Italian Scholar, Paolo del Pozzo Toscaneli. Apart from proving his theory of traveling westward, Columbus also had a personal interest on the voyage. When King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella approved his voyage, Columbus would become viceroy of all the lands located and he would keep a tenth of all values found (“Thinkquest,” 2013).
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When Columbus sighted land, he believed he had reached the Asian islands as is evident in his self-promoted letter which he sent to the King and Queen of Spain. When Columbus developed his theory of sailing westward across the Atlantic in search of a shorter route to Asia, he first submitted his proposal in 1484 to John II, King of Portugal. He wanted the Portuguese to finance his expedition across the Atlantic. The King passed on the petition to the Royal Maritime Commission who rejected Columbus since other ships were already traveling to Africa (“Ucalgary,” 1997).
Columbus then moved to Spain where he petitioned Queen Isabella. The Royal Commission first rejected his plan but he tried once more in 1492 when it was approved. Spain had its own interest in the voyage since it had a desire to spread Christianity and claim new land to expand its empire. They were also interested in the Northwest Passage which Columbus claimed since it would allow them to gather new sources of wealth such as spices, silk and gold. Christopher Columbus was born in 1451 which was the period of the Renaissance.
It was a time marked by renewed interest in art, culture and exploration. As mentioned before, countries such as Spain and Portugal wanted to expand their empires and spread Christianity to new lands. This was the perfect period for Columbus to explore new lands since people began to chase secular pursuits and there was greater emphasis on human potential and human progress (Tammy, n. d. ). Knowledge became the key to understanding the world that surrounded human beings and Columbus’ voyage would directly help in increasing this thirst for knowledge.
During this period there was increased trade and commercial activity, growth of cities and towns and the expansion of learning all aided in fueling Columbus desire to initiate his voyage. After landing on the island which he named San Salvador on his first voyage, Columbus sailed to other islands including Cuba and Hipiola. Columbus returned to Spain in March of 1493 and although his first voyage was almost a failure, he lost his biggest ship and did not find the promised route to the west, the Spanish Monarchs were very intrigued with his discoveries.
Spain financed three more voyages for him with the aim of establishing permanent colonies (Minster, 2012b). As can be seen there are various factors which contributed to Columbus’ voyage, including his personal interests, Spain’s interest of expanding its empire and religion and the time period in which his voyage took place. Today, Columbus is remembered for both the ‘good and the bad’ since he discovered the Americas but also opened the doors for exploitation, subjugation and slavery.
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