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CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS

(1451-1506)

Early Life :

Christopher Columbus was born in Genoa in 1451. He was the eldest of five children. His next brother, Bartholomew planned the great voyage with him and became his right-hand man in all his enterprises.

His father was a wool-weaver and his mother was the daughter of a wool-weaver. Columbus helped his father but at the age of twenty he decided to become a sailor.

Columbus believed that the earth was round. He thought he could reach the Indies by sailing west. Many people did not agree with him. Some still thought that the earth was flat. Others said that the earth and the Atlantic Ocean were too big,that ships would not be able to sail to the Indies and return safely.

Nobody in Europe knew that America existed. Columbus did not have ships or money. He asked many rich people for help but all refused. Finally, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain gave him three ships called The pinta The Nina and The Santa Maria. They also gave him money to pay sailors. But many sailors feared the Atlantic Ocean and refused to go with him. Columbus had to give very high wages to get crews for his ships. The ships left Spain on August 3rd 1492. First they sailed south to the Canary Islands. There they loaded the ships with extra food and drink. In September Columbus sailed westwards across the Atlantic. After a while the sailors became frightened because it was the longest time they had ever been out of sight of land. They thought they would all die. After about two nights they saw a white sandy beach ahead. They all went rushing to see if they had reached the Indies.

Columbus planted the Spanish flag to claim the Island for the King and Queen of Spain. Columbus called the natives Indians because he thought he had arrived in India but he was wrong. He had discovered a new world. He had sailed to a group of Islands near America. On one Island the natives were smoking cigars. This was the first time anyone from Europe had ever seen tobacco.

On Christmas Eve The Santa Maria was blown against the rocks. The local Indies helped save the sailors and their cargo.

Columbus left forty sailors on the Island to search for gold and told them that he would return the following year and take them back home. Columbus set sail for Spain on The Nina and The Pinta. He captured some natives which he brought with him to prove to the people that he had reached a New World.

On the way back home The Nina and The Pinta sailed into storms. During one storm the two ships were separated. From that time on each ship sailed alone. On March 15th 1493 Columbus sailed into his home port on board The Nina. A few hours later The Pinta sailed into the same port. Columbus was treated like royalty all over Spain. The King and Queen of Spain were proud of him. In the years that followed Columbus made three more voyages to the New World.

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