In keeping with the politically incorrect observation of Christopher Columbus’ discovering the Americas this month, I thought it might be interesting to point out some interesting (and not well-known) facts about him:
*Columbus was deeply religious, and would have prayers continually recited on his ships every six hours.
*If you read modern accounts of his life, you might get the impression that Columbus just woke up one day and suddenly decided to take up sailing and get some money raised to sail west. In fact, he could well have been the most accomplished sailor and sea captain of his time, having already sailed down the coast of Africa numerous times, and sailing as far north as Greenland on other expeditions. Sailors from all over Europe, even as far away as England, were on his voyage to the New World in 1492.
*Columbus carefully investigated whether heading straight west would lead him to Asia. On the westernmost islands in the Atlantic, he found vegetation and other objects washed on the shores that could not other be accounted for, correctly theorizing that they were from land due west. He also carefully investigated reports of other such sightings, and journals by other explorers about land they found in the west.
*Historians generally agree that Columbus was seeking a westward trade route to Asia, due to the Muslim armies closing the land route by overthrowing Constantinople. What is less well known (but nonetheless recorded in his journals and correspondence) was his desire to use money from the new trade route to finance a new Crusade to retake Jerusalem from the Muslims.
*Columbus is also the first person to figure out the trade winds in the Atlantic, a major discovery for navigation.
These and other facts about Columbus can be found in The Last Crusader: The Untold Story of Christopher Columbus by George Grant.