Christopher Columbus was an Italian explorer who was determined to find a water passage westward from Europe to Asia. Although he never did, he landed in the Americas. It’s often taught that he discovered this "new world," but millions of people already lived there. He did four trips across the Atlantic Ocean, from Spain to the Americas; these trips occurred in 1492, 1493, 1498, and 1502. Below are some interesting facts about this explorer.
- His birth name was Cristoforo Colombo.
- Of the four voyages he went on, one ended with a sunken ship, and another ended with a ship rotting out on the bottom.
- He never actually walked on the North American mainland.
- He and his men destroyed native species by introducing new ones, such as wheat and sugarcane, which took over the island. They also brought new deadly diseases and African slaves.
- He was not trying to prove that the Earth was round. Pythagoras and Aristotle already taught this with astronomical observations in Ancient times. By 1492, most educated people knew the Earth was round.
- He was saved by a lunar eclipse. In 1504, Columbus was stranded in Jamaica. Half of his crew abandoned him, and the native islanders refused to give him food. He knew that a lunar eclipse was about to happen and told the islanders that they have angered his God and that the moon would “rise inflamed with wrath.” When the lunar eclipse happened, the moon became red, and the islanders became afraid. They gave Columbus food and spared his life.
- He continued traveling after death, and it’s not clear where his final remains are. After his death in 1506, Columbus was buried in Valladolid, and then his body was moved to Seville, both in Spain. His daughter-in-law requested the body to be moved to Santo Domingo cathedral in the Dominican Republic, so his body was shipped across the Atlantic. In 1795, the French captured the island, so his body was dug up by the Spanish and moved to Cuba before being returned back to Spain. It’s also interesting to note that a box of human remains with his name on it was found in 1877 in Santo Domingo. The Dominican Republic did not allow DNA tests to be performed, but testing on his remains in Spain proved to be Columbus. Both countries claim to have parts of his remains.