Chapter II
voyages of CHRISTOPHER columbus



1451 Born in Genoa, the son of a wool merchant and weaver.
1476 Swims ashore when his ship is sunk in a battle off Portugal.
1476 Joins his brother Bartholomew, a cartographer, in Lisbon.
1477-1482   Makes merchant voyages as far as Iceland and Guinea.
1484 Conceives of "The Enterprise of the Indies." Fails to convince King
       John of Portugal to back the plan.
1485 Moves to Spain.
1492/1/2  Ferdinand & Isabella capture Granada, the last Moorish city in Spain.

1492–1499  1st Governor of the Indies Appointed by Isabella I of Castile

Columbus set out to go to the land of India and China finding his way travelling by the sea towards the west instead of towards the East passing through the gulf controlled by the Middle East Muslims known as the Spice Route and the Silk Route. This he proposed as very feasible since the earth is a globe. He has to get the permission and financial backing of the Spanish Royalty if he has to make it.  This is how he presented his petition for it the Royal throne.

In the letter that prefaces his journal of the first voyage, Columbus quotes the letter he wrote to the King:  

”…and I saw the Moorish king come out of the gates of the city and kiss the royal hands of Your Highnesses…and Your Highnesses, as Catholic Christians…took thought to send me, Christopher Columbus, to the said parts of India, to see those princes and peoples and lands…and the manner which should be used to bring about their conversion to our holy faith, and ordained that I should not go by land to the eastward, by which way it was the custom to go, but by way of the west, by which down to this day we do not know certainly that anyone has passed; therefore, having driven out all the Jews from your realms and lordships in the same month of January, Your Highnesses commanded me that, with a sufficient fleet, I should go to the said parts of India, and for this accorded me great rewards and ennobled me so that from that time henceforth I might style myself “Don” and be high admiral of the Ocean Sea and viceroy and perpetual Governor of the islands and continent which I should discover…and that my eldest son should succeed to the same position, and so on from generation to generation forever.”



Christopher Columbus requesting support from Isabella I and Ferdinand II of Spain,
 chromolithograph after a painting by Václav Brožík, c. 1884
.Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. (LC-DIG-pga-03133)


The interests in this adventure was, in essence, the attempt to find a route to the rich land of Cathay (China), to India, the fabled gold and spice lands of the East.  Unlike the blocked routes of silk road and spice route by ship Columbus proposed to sail westward and reach the east since the earth is a sphere. Columbus himself clearly hoped to rise from his humble beginnings in this way, to accumulate riches for his family, and to join the ranks of the nobility of Spain. In a similar manner, but at a more exalted level, the Catholic Monarchs hoped that such an enterprise would gain them greater status among the monarchies of Europe. Columbus himself was an Italian and he failed to get his support there.  So he turned to the Portuguese. After failing to convince the Portuguese king to finance his plan, he went to Spain in 1486 and tried to interest Queen Isabella in his plan. It took Columbus three years before Ferdinand and Isabella agreed to support him in 1492 and gave him enough money to outfit three ships, plus the promise of a share in whatever wealth he discovered. Martín Alonso Pinzón and Vicente Yáñez Pinzón were Spanish explorers who accompanied Columbus in their own ship called Pinta and Nina

These voyages were fully supported by the Franciscan brethren who were preparing for the eventual end of the world, as prophesied in the book of Revelation to John.  According to their interpretation of the book of Revelation, the Christendom should recapture Jerusalem from the Muslim infidels and should install a Christian emperor in the Holy Land first. This is a precondition for the second coming of Christ and the eventual defeat of Antichrist. The  Crusade to the Holy Land will be reinforced by, or coordinated with, offensives from the Christian Confederate Priest of the Thomas Christians who was also the Emperor of India, Prester John.  The emperor of Cathay (China)— the Great Khan of the Golden Horde—was himself will support all these also.  Columbus actually carried a letter of friendship addressed to Emperor Khan by the Spanish monarchs. There was however a serious competition.  The Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias has already started his journey to find Cathay and India  by the westward route.  


The First Voyage of Columbus.
(Exploratory Voyage)

He set out to find India and hence wherever he landed the local people were called Indians.On August 3, 1492, Columbus set sail from Spain. He took three ships, The Nina, The Pinta, and the Santa Maria, with about 100 men in the crew. Christopher Columbus was the Captain of Santa Maria; Pinta with Martin Alonso Pinzon as its captain and Nina with Vincente Yanez Pinzon as captain.  

On October 12, more than two months later, Columbus landed on an island in the Bahamas that he called San Salvador; the natives - the Tainos - The Arawak Indians called it Guanahani.



Santa Maria : Replica of the Santa María, Funchal, Madeira Islands. The Flagship of Columbus 





Martin Alonso Pinzon and Vicente Yañez Pinzon were Spanish explorers who accompanied Columbus in two other ships called Pinta and Nina


Columbus’ first voyage

Columbus Landfall Park on the island of San Salvador in the Bahamas. No one knows for sure where he landed in the Bahamas, but this is the most probable place which is marked by a cross. 



Columbus took the land in the name of the Emperor and Queen of Spain and in the name of Christ.

They were received with total love and coutesy as is given to travellers by the Tainos.  They believed that these travellers were angels who came down from heaven to visit them.

The voyage began in Spain in August of 1492 with the famous 3 ships (Santa Maria, Pinta, Niña). Columbus (which means dove), saw two birds while out at sea and followed them assuming correctly they were heading for land. This course lead him first to an island in the Bahamas in October of 1492. The  Taínos called his island Guanahani, and when Columbus landed he took “possession” of it in the name of the King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella and renamed it San Salvador (Saint Savior). Guided by the Bahamian Chief he proceeded to visit other islands. On Christmas Eve 1492 the Santa Maria ran into a coral reef off the coast of Haiti and and was destroyed.  

Santa Maria ran into coral reef and was dismantled with the help of the Tainos.

With the help of the local Indians, Columbus removed supplies, dismantled the ship's timbers and established La Navidad, a colony around two houses donated by the local “Cacique” .  Hence he left behind 39 crewmen, including a carpenter, caulker, physician, gunner, tailor and cooper. He also left water casks and oils jars to collect gold. The men were told to trade with the Indians and collect as much gold as possible and hold it for his return. Columbus then instructed them to build a fort with a moat to impress the Indians and to use in case of danger.  

In early 1493 Columbus returned to Spain on Nina. The Pinta followed. The return trip was quite rough, most of the crew were sick and 4 of the 6 Indians he brought with him to show off his success, died.  Columbus and his small band arrived in Palos de la Frontera on 15 March after stopping in Lisbon for repairs.

Banquets and celebrations were held in his honour. The crown appointed a special committee to acquire provisions and organize men for further expeditions.  

1492/8/2      Departs from Palos, Spain (near Huelva)

1492/9/6      Departs Gomera (Canary Islands) after repair and refit.

1492/10/12    New world sighted at 2:00 a.m. by Rodrigo de Triana.

1492/10/29    Arrives at Cuba.

1492/11/22    Martín Alonso Pinzón, captain of the Pinta, deserts the expedition off Cuba.

1492/12/1     Columbus arrives at Hispaniola. (Little Spain)

1492/12/25    Flagship Santa Maria sinks off Hispaniola. Columbus founds La Navidad.

1493/1/6      Pinzón rejoins Columbus.

1493/1/16     Columbus departs Hispaniola for Spain.

1493/2/15     Sights Santa Maria Island in the Azores.

1493/3/4      Arrives at Lisbon, Portugal.

1493/3/15     Returns to Palos, Spain


Columbus noticed two things about the Tainos:

1. They wore gold jewellery.

2. Their most advanced weapon was the spear.

“With 50 men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want.” wrote Columbus. “They traded with us and gave us everything they had, with good will…they took great delight in pleasing us..They are very gentle and without knowledge of what is evil; nor do they murder or steal…Your highness may believe that in all the world there can be no better people…They love their neighbours as themselves, and they have the sweetest talk in the world, and are gentle and always laughing.”

In October, Christopher Columbus ‘discovered’ the New World, and a year later,May 4, 1493 the Pope Alexander VI issued a Papal Bull that granted the Spanish crown sovereignty over all the lands inhabited by non-Christians that they might continue discovering in the Atlantic. Isabel and Ferdinand’s grandson Charles was the heir to three of European dynasties and by 1519 he ruled over several territories in Central, Western, and Southern Europe, and all the Spanish Colonies in the Caribbean, America and Asia.  



The return of Christopher Columbus; his audience before King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella,
painting by Eugène Delacroix



English Translation of the
Papal Bull Inter Caetera
issued by Pope Alexander VI, May 4, 1493.





Alexander, bishop, servant of the servants of God, to the illustrious sovereigns, our very dear son in Christ, Ferdinand, king, and our very dear daughter in Christ, Isabella, queen of Castile, Leon, Aragon, Sicily, and Granada, health and apostolic benediction.

Among other works well pleasing to the Divine Majesty and cherished of our heart, this assuredly ranks highest, that in our times especially the Catholic faith and the Christian religion be exalted and be everywhere increased and spread, that the health of souls be cared for and that barbarous nations be overthrown and brought to the faith itself.

Wherefore inasmuch as by the favor of divine clemency, we, though of insufficient merits, have been called to this Holy See of Peter, recognizing that as true Catholic kings and princes, such as we have known you always to be, and as your illustrious deeds already known to almost the whole world declare, you not only eagerly desire but with every effort, zeal, and diligence, without regard to hardships, expenses, dangers, with the shedding even of your blood, are laboring to that end; recognizing also that you have long since dedicated to this purpose your whole soul and all your endeavors — as witnessed in these times with so much glory to the Divine Name in your recovery of the kingdom of Granada from the yoke of the Saracens — we therefore are rightly led, and hold it as our duty, to grant you even of our own accord and in your favor those things whereby with effort each day more hearty you may be enabled for the honor of God himself and the spread of the Christian rule to carry forward your holy and praiseworthy purpose so pleasing to immortal God.

We have indeed learned that you, who for a long time had intended to seek out and discover certain islands and mainlands remote and unknown and not hitherto discovered by others, to the end that you might bring to the worship of our Redeemer and the profession of the Catholic faith their residents and inhabitants, having been up to the present time greatly engaged in the siege and recovery of the kingdom itself of Granada were unable to accomplish this holy and praiseworthy purpose; but the said kingdom having at length been regained, as was pleasing to the Lord, you, with the wish to fulfill your desire, chose our beloved son, Christopher Columbus, a man assuredly worthy and of the highest recommendations and fitted for so great an undertaking, whom you furnished with ships and men equipped for like designs, not without the greatest hardships, dangers, and expenses, to make diligent quest for these remote and unknown mainlands and islands through the sea, where hitherto no one had sailed; and they at length, with divine aid and with the utmost diligence sailing in the ocean sea, discovered certain very remote islands and even mainlands that hitherto had not been discovered by others; wherein dwell very many peoples living in peace, and, as reported, going unclothed, and not eating flesh.

Moreover, as your aforesaid envoys are of opinion, these very peoples living in the said islands and countries believe in one God, the Creator in heaven, and seem sufficiently disposed to embrace the Catholic faith and be trained in good morals.

And it is hoped that, were they instructed, the name of the Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ, would easily be introduced into the said countries and islands.

Also, on one of the chief of these aforesaid islands the said Christopher has already caused to be put together and built a fortress fairly equipped, wherein he has stationed as garrison certain Christians, companions of his, who are to make search for other remote and unknown islands and mainlands.

In the islands and countries already discovered are found gold, spices, and very many other precious things of divers kinds and qualities.

Wherefore, as becomes Catholic kings and princes, after earnest consideration of all matters, especially of the rise and spread of the Catholic faith, as was the fashion of your ancestors, kings of renowned memory, you have purposed with the favor of divine clemency to bring under your sway the said mainlands and islands with their residents and inhabitants and to bring them to the Catholic faith.

Hence, heartily commending in the Lord this your holy and praiseworthy purpose, and desirous that it be duly accomplished, and that the name of our Savior be carried into those regions, we exhort you very earnestly in the Lord and by your reception of holy baptism, whereby you are bound to our apostolic commands, and by the bowels of the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, enjoin strictly, that inasmuch as with eager zeal for the true faith you design to equip and despatch this expedition, you purpose also, as is your duty, to lead the peoples dwelling in those islands and countries to embrace the Christian religion; nor at any time let dangers or hardships deter you therefrom, with the stout hope and trust in your hearts that Almighty God will further your undertakings.

And, in order that you may enter upon so great an undertaking with greater readiness and heartiness endowed with the benefit of our apostolic favor, we, of our own accord, not at your instance nor the request of anyone else in your regard, but of our own sole largess and certain knowledge and out of the fullness of our apostolic power, by the authority of Almighty God conferred upon us in blessed Peter and of the vicarship of Jesus Christ, which we hold on earth, do by tenor of these presents, should any of said islands have been found by your envoys and captains, give, grant, and assign to you and your heirs and successors, kings of Castile and Leon, forever, together with all their dominions, cities, camps, places, and villages, and all rights, jurisdictions, and appurtenances, all islands and mainlands found and to be found, discovered and to be discovered towards the west and south, by drawing and establishing a line from the Arctic pole, namely the north, to the Antarctic pole, namely the south, no matter whether the said mainlands and islands are found and to be found in the direction of India or towards any other quarter, the said line to be distant one hundred leagues towards the west and south from any of the islands commonly known as the Azores and Cape Verde.

With this proviso however that none of the islands and mainlands, found and to be found, discovered and to be discovered, beyond that said line towards the west and south, be in the actual possession of any Christian king or prince up to the birthday of our Lord Jesus Christ just past from which the present year one thousand four hundred and ninety-three begins.

And we make, appoint, and depute you and your said heirs and successors lords of them with full and free power, authority, and jurisdiction of every kind; with this proviso however, that by this our gift, grant, and assignment no right acquired by any Christian prince, who may be in actual possession of said islands and mainlands prior to the said birthday of our Lord Jesus Christ, is hereby to be understood to be withdrawn or taken away.

Moreover we command you in virtue of holy obedience that, employing all due diligence in the premises, as you also promise — nor do we doubt your compliance therein in accordance with your loyalty and royal greatness of spirit — you should appoint to the aforesaid mainlands and islands worthy, God-fearing, learned, skilled, and experienced men, in order to instruct the aforesaid inhabitants and residents in the Catholic faith and train them in good morals.

Furthermore, under penalty of excommunication late sententie to be incurred ipso facto, should anyone thus contravene, we strictly forbid all persons of whatsoever rank, even imperial and royal, or of whatsoever estate, degree, order, or condition, to dare, without your special permit or that of your aforesaid heirs and successors, to go for the purpose of trade or any other reason to the islands or mainlands, found and to be found, discovered and to be discovered, towards the west and south, by drawing and establishing a line from the Arctic pole to the Antarctic pole, no matter whether the mainlands and islands, found and to be found, lie in the direction of India or toward any other quarter whatsoever, the said line to be distant one hundred leagues towards the west and south, as is aforesaid, from any of the islands commonly known as the Azores and Cape Verde; apostolic constitutions and ordinances and other decrees whatsoever to the contrary notwithstanding.

We trust in Him from whom empires and governments and all good things proceed, that, should you, with the Lord’s guidance, pursue this holy and praiseworthy undertaking, in a short while your hardships and endeavors will attain the most felicitous result, to the happiness and glory of all Christendom.

But inasmuch as it would be difficult to have these present letters sent to all places where desirable, we wish, and with similar accord and knowledge do decree, that to copies of them, signed by the hand of a public notary commissioned therefor, and sealed with the seal of any ecclesiastical officer or ecclesiastical court, the same respect is to be shown in court and outside as well as anywhere else as would be given to these presents should they thus be exhibited or shown.

Let no one, therefore, infringe, or with rash boldness contravene, this our recommendation, exhortation, requisition, gift, grant, assignment, constitution, deputation, decree, mandate, prohibition, and will.

Should anyone presume to attempt this, be it known to him that he will incur the wrath of Almighty God and of the blessed apostles Peter and Paul.

Given at Rome, at St. Peter’s, in the year of the incarnation of our Lord one thousand four hundred and ninety-three, the fourth of May, and the first year of our pontificate.

Gratis by order of our most holy lord, the pope.

 The Second Voyage of Columbus.
(Conquest of West Indies)

Christopher Columbus set sail on his second voyage to the Americas on September 24, 1493.  If the first voyage was just exploratory.  With the “divine” Papal permission, the second voyage was a naval conquest. Hence this time  Columbus took 17 ships and 1,200 men, with no women on board all eager to find wealth and immense riches.  On November 3, 1493, he landed on an island that he named Dominica. On November 22, he landed on Hispaniola and spent some time exploring the interior of the island for gold. He left Hispaniola on April 24, 1494, and arrived at the island of Juana (Cuba) on April 30 and then onto Jamaica on May 5 .Finally, Columbus arrived at the Hispaniola spot where he had left his men the year before. He found his fort in ruins and his men dead. The Chief Guacanagari told him the massacre had been ordered by the chief from across the mountains in Southern Hispaniola (Caonabo) because these men had mistreated their people violently. They apparently began to exploit the local Taíno Indians by stealing their possessions and raping their women.

Caonabo was the chief of the areas responsible for the killing of his people and Columbus wanted to have revenge. He sent an emissary to visit Caonabo . Columbus lured out of his town with gifts and offers of a safe passage back on horseback. Caonabo was captured and Columbus took him back with him to Spain. Caoban He explored the south coast of Juana before returning to Hispaniola on August 20. After staying for a time on the western end, present-day Haiti, he finally returned to Spain.  . It was in 1496 when he sailed back home. This time he did not receive a hero's welcome.




Second voyage of Columbus, 1493

1493 Sept.     The Grand Fleet of 17 ships departs Cadiz.

1493/10/13     Departs Hierro (Canary Islands), sailing WSW

1493/11/3      The island of Dominica sighted at dawn; Guadeloupe shortly after.

1493/11/22     Arrives at Hispaniola.

1493/11/28     Returns to Navidad, finds fort destroyed.

1493/12/8      Founds new colony of La Isabella.

1494/4/24      Sails from Isabella in search of mainland.

1494/4/30      Arrives at Cuba.

1494/5/5       Arrives at Jamaica.

1494/5/14      Returns to Cuba.

1494/6/13      Starts the return to La Isabella.

1494/8/20      Reaches Hispaniola.

1496/3/10      Departs from La Isabella for Spain.

1496/6/8       Reaches the coast of Portugal.

Columbus sailed home from his second voyage with over a thousand captives bound for slave auctions in Cádiz (many died en route, their bodies tossed overboard). He envisioned a future market for New World gold, spices, cotton, and “as many slaves as Their Majesties order to make, from among those who are idolators,”
Columbus’s emphasis on words like “idolators” were intended to soothen the religious sentiments to make enslavement of Tainos legally permissible.


Third Voyage

In 1498 Columbus left on this 3rd voyage. This time he was given only 6 ships, few volunteers and a bunch of convicts for colonists. Still looking for a passage to India, he discovered the mainland of South America.

The only good news for Columbus came from La Espanola where the Spaniards had found gold nuggets. The mines still weren’t producing enough gold,and men rebelled against his rule, there were many killings of Taíno Indians under his command, and the king and queen were forced to send a new administrator to take over the government. They were so shocked to find what they saw in such disarray that they sent Columbus back to Spain unceremoniously and he was actually jailed. Columbus’ grant of the colony for him and his family was revoked. Nevertheless, he and his brothers were arrested by a royal judge and returned to Spain in 1500, accused of mismanaging their responsibilities as royal governors of the Spanish colonies. The king and queen released Columbus  but they took the complaints of the colonists very seriously and initiated some reforms, stripping Columbus and his brothers of their governing authority.

1498/5/30     Departs from Sanlucar, Spain, with six ships.

1498/6/19     Arrives at Gomera (Canary Islands); splits fleet into two squadrons.

1498/7/4      Departs from the Cape Verde Islands.

1498/7/31     Arrives at Trinidad.

1498/8/13     Leaves the Gulf of Paria, arrives at Margartia.

1498/8/19     Arrives at Hispaniola.

1500 October  Columbus is arrested and sent home in chains.



Third Voyage


Fourth voyage of Columbus, 1503

Discovered Central America and explored the costs of Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama.

Fourth Voyage of Columbus

The monarchs permitted Columbus to make a final voyage in 1502, this time as a private venture without their partnership. They continued to address him as Admiral, but they forbade him to exercise any governing powers on the islands he had brought under their sovereignty.

In 1502 with only 4 ships he left on his last voyage. He coasted along the shores of South America still hoping to find the treasures of India. This voyage was disastrous. Columbus returned to Spain, a beaten man - as distrusted foreigner of faded glory and tarnished reputation.

Columbus died in 1506, crippled by gout and arthritis, still with the illusion of having found India. We can see him sitting by the window of his monastic room, dipping a weevil free sea biscuit in a bowl of Caldo de Perro Gaditano, the Cadiz style fish broth prepared for him by his Franciscan friends, gazing into the line of the horizon, seeing perhaps the distant gold roofs of China

1502/5/11           Departs from Cadiz, Spain, with four ships.

1502/6/29           Arrives at Santo Domingo, Hispaniola.

1502/7/30           Arrives at the Mosquito Coast, modern Nicaragua.

1503/1/9            Establishes garrison at Rio Belen.

1503/4/6            Garrison attacked by Indians and abandoned.

1503/4/16           Leaves Rio Belen for home.

1503/6/25           Ships beached and abandoned at Jamaica, marooning crew.

1504/6/29           Crew rescued from Jamaica.

1504/11/7           Columbus returns to Spain.

1506/5/20           Columbus dies at Valladolid.

Columbus returned to Jamaica during his fourth voyage to the Americas. Columbus sailed through coasts of Jamaica and Cuba and crossed the Caribbean Sea to Central America and explored the coast from Honduras to Panama. . He had been sailing around the Caribbean nearly a year when a storm beached his ships in St. Ann's Bay, Jamaica, on June 25, 1503.

For a year Columbus and his men remained stranded on Jamaica. A Spaniard, Diego Mendez, and some natives paddled a canoe to get help from Hispaniola. The island's governor, Nicolás de Ovando y Cáceres, detested Columbus and obstructed all efforts to rescue him and his men. In the meantime, Columbus allegedly mesmerized the natives by correctly predicting a lunar eclipse for February 29, 1504. Columbus was marooned there for an entire year, living in the stranded ships and on food supplied to him by the local Taíno indians.

Help finally arrived, from the governor, on June 29, 1504, and Columbus and his men arrived in Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Castile, on November 7, 1504.  He returned to spain and died two years later on 1506/5/20


Fourth Voyage

“The Four Voyages” by Christopher Columbus;




How a Total Lunar Eclipse Saved Christopher Columbus

By Joe Rao, Space.com Skywatching Columnist | October 12, 2014 10:44am ET



Columbus discovered from studying the almanac that on the evening of Thursday, Feb. 29, 1504, a total lunar eclipse would occur, beginning around the time of moonrise. 

He requested a meeting for that day with the Cacique, the leader, and told him that God was angry with the local people's treatment of Columbus and his men. Columbus said God would provide a clear sign of displeasure by making the rising full Moon appear "inflamed with wrath"

The lunar eclipse and the red Moon appeared on schedule, and the indigenous people were impressed and frightened. The son of Columbus, Ferdinand, wrote that the people:
” with great howling and lamentation they came running from every direction to the ships, laden with provisions, praying the Admiral to intercede by all means with God on their behalf; that he might not visit his wrath upon them ... “

Columbus went into his cabin to pray and timed the eclipse with his hourglass, and shortly before the totality ended after 48 minutes, he told the frightened indigenous people that they were going to be forgiven.When the Moon started to reappear from the shadow of the Earth, he told them that God had pardoned them.. They then kept Columbus and his men well supplied and well fed until a relief caravel from Hispaniola arrived on June 29, 1504. Columbus and his men returned to Spain on Nov. 7.

Ashes of Columbus