Who was the real Christopher Columbus?


The story of Christopher Columbus’ journey to the ‘New World’ has been repeatedly retold and rewritten. We examine if there’s any truth in the common tales.

Courageous hero?

In one telling of the story Columbus is painted as a tireless hero who befriended the tribes of the New World. In reality Columbus did make friends with some of the natives he found; the trinkets he carried easily swayed the Caribbean tribes. However, Columbus also captured many natives as slaves. As the trip was one of economy (he was looking for new trade routes), rather than exploration, Columbus needed something to show for it and believed demonstrating what excellent slaves the natives made would earn him some respect. When the Natives rebelled against Columbus, he quickly had them slaughtered.

Forward thinking explorer?

It is commonly believed that Columbus traveled to prove that the world was not flat – an idea he was heavily mocked for. But the theory that the world was flat was discredited 2000 years before Columbus’ time by the Ancient Greeks. What Columbus did prove is that the world is larger than most assumed. Columbus thoroughly believed he had found Asia, and created the theory that the world was shaped like a pear to prove this, but others began to realise that the new world discovered was just that – a NEW world, and Asia was much further away than originally assumed.

The man who discovered America?

During his various trips, Columbus landed on many Caribbean Islands, now known as the Bahamas, as well as exploring the South and Central American coasts, but he never actually set food in North America. To this day the United States commemorates Columbus with a federal holiday, but perhaps it is the Norse Viking Leif Eriksson who should be celebrated, as he is believed to have landed in Newfoundland around 1000 A.D.