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Book Title: The Four Voyages of Christopher Columbus|
The author of the book: Cristoforo Colombo
Date of issue: February 5th 2004
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No gamble in history has been more momentous than the landfall of Columbus's ship the Santa Maria in the Americas in 1492 - an event that paved the way for the conquest of a 'New World'. The accounts collected here provide a vivid narrative of his voyages throughout the Caribbean and finally to the mainland of Central America, although he still believed he had reached Asia. Columbus himself is revealed as a fascinating and contradictory figure, fluctuating from awed enthusiasm to paranoia and eccentric geographical speculation. Prey to petty quarrels with his officers, his pious desire to bring Christian civilization to 'savages' matched by his rapacity for gold, Columbus was nonetheless an explorer and seaman of staggering vision and achievement.
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Read information about the authorChristopher Columbus (c. 1451–1506) was a Genoese navigator, colonizer and explorer whose voyages across the Atlantic Ocean led to general European awareness of the American continents in the Western Hemisphere. Although not the first to reach the Americas from Europe—he was preceded by the Norse, led by Leif Ericson, who built a temporary settlement 500 years earlier at L'Anse aux Meadows — Columbus initiated widespread contact between Europeans and indigenous Americans. With his four voyages of discovery and several attempts at establishing a settlement on the island of Hispaniola, all funded by Queen Isabella of Spain, he initiated the process of Spanish colonization which foreshadowed general European colonization of the "New World." (The term "pre-Columbian" is usually used to refer to the peoples and cultures of the Americas before the arrival of Columbus and his European successors.)
His initial 1492 voyage came at a critical time of growing national imperialism and economic competition between developing nation states seeking wealth from the establishment of trade routes and colonies. In this sociopolitical climate, Columbus's far-fetched scheme won the attention of Queen Isabella of Spain. Severely underestimating the circumference of the Earth, he estimated that a westward route from Iberia to the Indies would be shorter and more direct than the overland trade route through Arabia. If true, this would allow Spain entry into the lucrative spice trade — heretofore commanded by the Arabs and Italians. Following his plotted course, he instead landed within the Bahamas Archipelago at a locale he named San Salvador. Mistaking the North-American island for the East-Asian mainland, he referred to its inhabitants as "Indios".
Academic consensus is that Columbus was born in Genoa, though there are other theories. The name Christopher Columbus is the Anglicisation of the Latin Christophorus Columbus. The original name in 15th century Genoese language was Christoffa Corombo. The name is rendered in modern Italian as Cristoforo Colombo, in Portuguese as Cristóvão Colombo (formerly Christovam Colom), and in Spanish as Cristóbal Colón.
The anniversary of Columbus's 1492 landing in the Americas is observed as Columbus Day on October 12 in Spain and throughout the Americas, except that in the United States it is observed on the second Monday in October.
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