Who doesn’t know Christopher Columbus? The man who discovered America was born in Italy’s Genoa in 1451 to a wool merchant. He was a master navigator and admiral. His four transatlantic voyages had opened the way for the Europeans to explore and colonise America. He explored the West Indies, South America and Central America. For his achievements, he was awarded the title of Admiral of the Ocean Sea in April 1492.
But before achieving so much in his life, Columbus had survived a shipwreck in Portugal’s Cape St. Vincent in 1476 during the initial years of his career. He had started his career with the Portuguese merchant marine as a chart maker. Before his famous discovery of America, he had sailed to Iceland and Ireland. With the merchant marine, he went to Madeira to buy sugar and also married Felipa Perestrello e Moniz, a member of a noble Portuguese family.
It is said that while Columbus worked as a seaman, he became obsessed with the possibility of finding a western sea route to China, India and the gold, spice islands of Asia. During that time, the only sea route known to connect Europeans to southern Asia went through Egypt, but it was closed by the Ottoman Empire. Apart from the Red Sea, the Ottomans had also shut down several land routes for the Europeans.
Columbus approached King John II of Portugal and King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain to back his grand plan, but he was repeatedly rebuffed. However, after Spain won the Moorish kingdom of Granada in January 1492, they were overjoyed and so agreed to support his voyage.
Since Columbus and many other educated Europeans did not know that the Pacific Ocean existed, they miscalculated the direction of East Asia. In reality, North America lied in that direction and thus the famous discovery of America happened.
However, despite his tremendous accomplishments, he died a disappointed man on May 20, 1506, as he felt that his patron and King Ferdinand had mistreated him.