Christopher Columbus (Dictionary of World Biography: Renaissance)
Article abstract: Columbus’ discovery of America was the first recorded transatlantic voyage. It led directly to Europe’s colonial settlement and exploitation of the New World, and it altered the course of history.
Christopher Columbus’ father, Domenico, was a wool weaver and gatekeeper in Genoa. In 1470, he moved his family to nearby Savona, where he worked as an innkeeper. Christopher Columbus (in Spanish, Cristóbal Colón) was the eldest of five children, of whom Bartolomé and Diego played a large part in his life. Christopher had little formal education, having become an apprentice at sea at about age ten, not entirely surprising in the great port city of Genoa. His knowledge of mathematics, astronomy, and Latin came with experience.
Columbus’ early days at sea brought him as far as Tunis and Chios, a Greek island that was then a Genoese possession. He next traveled to Ireland, Iceland, and Madeira, where, in 1478, he married Felipa Perestrello e Moniz of a noble Portuguese family with a hereditary title to govern Porto Santo, one of the Madeira islands. They had a son, Diego, and Columbus resided in Porto Santo for perhaps three years and worked as a seaman or merchant.
In the early 1480’s, having sailed in either capacity to São Jorge da Mina on Africa’s Gold Coast, then the southernmost point in the known world, Columbus gained experience of the south Atlantic. By...
(The entire section is 2329 words.)
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