What are Columbus's thoughts about his journey and mission?

Expert Answers
samson98 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The prevailing theory about Columbus' motivation in journeying west into unknown territory is that he desired to gain wealth and glory for himself and Spain. However, as we know, he reached America, not Asia as he intended. It did not take long before other Europeans realized America and Asia were separate continents. Nevertheless, Columbus remained resolute in his assertion that he had reached India, or at least someplace nearby.

Many people find Columbus' resistance to the "New World" concept puzzling; as an explorer, for instance, he could have received far more glory for finding an entirely new continent than for finding a new route to Asia. 

However, an alternative theory about Columbus' motivations might help explain this. According to some recent historians, Christopher Columbus believed God had called him to lead a religious crusade against the Muslims, who had recently (1453) conquered the previously Christian stronghold of Constantinople. To finance this crusade, he sought a sea-route to India and the gold mines of Asia.

Assuming that Columbus' personal mission was religious in nature--to reclaim Christendom for the Christian Europeans--helps explain why he continued to believe he had reached Asia. Recognizing America as a new continent would have required him to doubt the divine blessing of his crusade (or at least cause him to rethink its specific nature).