Turmoil of Christopher Columbus in obtaining funds for his voyages

Turmoil of Christopher Columbus in obtaining funds for his voyages

            Christopher Columbus was born in Genoese in 1451 and was a Spanish Italian navigator and a colonizer. He was also an explorer who is believed to have been discovered the new world today known as the United States. As a child, his dream was to become a sailor. When he was14 years old, he started sailing and traveled far and his dream to find a shorter route through the sea started. However, the age at which he started sailing is still unclear as some reports say that Christopher was once heard saying that he had first been on the sea at the age of 10. Some historians also suggest that he was 22 years old when he officially started out on his mission. While working as a sailor, Christopher studied extensively on subjects like history, geography, different languages and mathematics. These were to aid him in his search for the shorter route to the peak of Africa and other parts so as to improve trade. While some believe that he was the first man to discover America, some dispute this saying that it was discovered about 500 years before Christopher reached the new world. History shows that the first explorers who discovered America were the Vikings from Scandinavia. These people are believed to have settled briefly in the northern American coast which Christopher named the new world and also in Canada. However, Christopher’s discovery had significant effects on the world. There are no known facts that Columbus received any formal training on sailing and navigation[1].

The anguish of Christopher Columbus in his quest to explore the seas

Some critics argue that he was the reason behind colonization and all other evils experienced even today. To carry out his mission of finding shorter routes through the sea, he needed funds which he obtained after several struggles. While he is credited to have discovered the new world, it was unintentional as history dictates. Christopher discovered the new world while on his voyage in 1492 while he was exploring for Spain his aim being to discover a new and direct route to sail to the far east. Columbus made four voyages in attempts to discover new sailing routes to Asia and China. He made his four journeys between the year 1492 and 1503. Christopher Columbus died in 1506 after returning to Spain from his fourth and last voyage[2].

To help a navigator to explore and seas routed in the 15th century, it was vital to gain royal sponsorship and Columbus was not exempted from this. The monarchs were the best people to approach since they could advance sovereignty as well as legitimize any discovery made thereof. They were also to help the explorer in conducting diplomatic relations and also in colonizing any discovered island during exploration. The monarchs were also in a position to help in protecting and defending any new colony and in overseeing all activities of exploiting the riches of the colony. Apart from discovering new routes to different parts, Columbus also had a craving of converting all the natives to Christian faith and having control of a colony was thus vital[3].

            Christopher Columbus started his mission on 1485 when he presented his plan to seek a route to sail to orient through Atlantic Ocean to the Portuguese authorities. His plan was presented to John 11 who was the then king of Portugal where Columbus requested the king to grant him three equipped ships and a year’s warranty. This warranty was to enable Columbus sail through Atlantic and to return. Christopher also requested the king to make him the ocean’s great admiral and also be appointed a governor for any land he had discovered. In his request, Columbus also wanted to be a tenth share of the revenues from the lands. This proposal was subjected to the kings who advised him to reject it on the ground that the proposed 2400 miles that Columbus intended to travel was too short and underestimated. The difficulties Christopher went through during this period are that the king and his experts of Portugal took too long to decide and Columbus was always in and out of courts and negotiations during this period. The period of waiting ended in desperation to him[4].

            In 1488 Columbus made an appeal to the Portugal’s court for the proposal which had been rejected. The king invited him for dialogue which was unsuccessful partly because another navigator by the name of Bartholomeu Dias had successfully returned to Portugal after being successful in rounding the tip of Africa from in the southern part. Portugal control of the new discovered eastern sea route discovered by this navigator and explorer lost interest in the search of a western route which Columbus was requesting funds for. This proposed western route was meant to go to Asia. In his search for funding, Christopher moved from Portugal and went to Genoa and even Venice but was not successful in both places. He had also sent a proposal through his brother to Henry the 7th of England to help fund his first voyage. The English monarch carefully studied the proposal but took too long to communicate to Columbus. By the time the king of England was extending invitation to him, Columbus had made a deal with the Spain thus turned down the invitation [5]

            In Spain, Christopher sought dialogue with Ferdinand 11 who was of Aragon and queen Isabella of Castile. These two monarchs had united a large part of Spain through their marriage and they were thus ruling together. In 1486 Columbus was granted permission to seek audience with the queen. He presented his plans to her which was in turn subjected to a committee. After quite sometime, the committee ruled like the Portuguese experts that the route to Asia was too short and that idea was almost impractical. However, unlike in the Portuguese case, the committee advised Queen Isabella to accept the proposal of Columbus. The passing on was meant to bar Columbus from taking the proposals elsewhere. To ensure this, Christopher was given an annuity of one year of 12000 maravedis. In 1489, Columbus was given a letter which mandated all the cities and towns in Spain to provide food as well as lodging facilities at no cost[6].

            After the granting of this letter, Christopher spent the following two years in Spanish courts lobbying and in negotiations. His efforts were rewarded in 1492. At this time the monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella had managed to conquer Granada which had a Muslim stronghold existing in Iberian Peninsula. This followed a welcome of Christopher in Cordoba which was in the alcazar castle. Just as about Columbus was about to receive funding, he was turned down by queen Isabella after the queen had been counseled by one of her confessors. Desperation set in for Christopher and he was about to leave that town on a mule. Ferdinand intervened however; he later claimed credit for the discovery of those two islands rightfully[7].

            The first funding for Columbus first voyage was done by private Italians whom he had already identified. The monarchs were financially broke due to the Granada campaign thus leaving the work of shifting funds from the different royal accounts to the royal treasurer on their behalf. Later, Christopher was to be elected as the seas admiral and was to be entitled to some part of profits made. The terms which were offered to him were very generous which is believed it was because the monarchs never expected that he could make it and return to the country.

            To get the funding for his first voyage, Christopher had to make different attempts to lobby the authorities to give him funding for the voyage. The main turmoil he underwent was that it was difficult to convince his own country’s authorities that the proposal of the voyage he was undertaking was worthwhile and beneficial to the country. The main reason behind the rejection of the funding proposal was because his estimations were far less than what the authorities considered the actual distance which turned out to be true. Convincing the authorities that the voyage was worth trying was the biggest task that Columbus faced which was only rewarded by rejection of the proposals.

            Another possible turmoil that faced Christopher in gaining support for his plans of the voyage was that during that time, the Europeans believed that the earth was somehow flat. Maritime navigation of that time was primitive and depended on stars and also the curvature of what was referred to be a spherical earth. Measuring the diameter of the earth at that time was done using an astrolabe which the navigators as well as the scholars had knowledge of. The spherical nature of the earth was a common knowledge in the ancient Greek. This view was held throughout the middle ages. By differing with the generally accepted view of his time and erroneously making arguments that the earth had a smaller diameter than was thought was not received so kindly. Columbus argued that since the diameter of the earth was smaller than was believed before, Asia could have been at a shorter destination by sailing west. The western route through Atlantic Ocean was what Columbus was proposing to explore. The difference of opinion made his proposals to be rejected thus funding was denied. Also Columbus miscalculations were attributed to his little knowledge in sea navigation[8].

            Despite the success in the funding for the first three voyages through which Columbus discovered many islands, funding the fourth voyage was almost lacking. While undertaking his earlier three voyages, Christopher Columbus had been made governor of Hispaniola according to the agreement he had made with King Ferdinand and queen Isabella of Spain. During his reign, complaints were amounted that he was ruling the native using tyrannical approach and was also ruthless. At this time also Christopher was also ailing with arthritis and the work of ruling Hispaniola was becoming much. This prompted him to seek to be given an assistance to help him rule the place. Instead of being given an assistant, another governor was appointed and had more powers than him. The native lodged their complaints with the new governor on the oppressive form of governance exhibited by Columbus. Together with his brothers, he was arrested and put in jail on the return from his third voyage where he stayed for six weeks. While in jail, he wrote to King Ferdinand who together with Isabella ordered their release. This followed another long wait before his fourth voyage could be funded. With lost authority, Columbus could not solicit gold from the natives of Hispaniola to fund himself and had to depend on these two people[9].

            Apart from the funding turmoil Christopher went through, there were other difficulties he faced during execution of his plans and during his voyage. He often lost his ships to storms while during his fourth voyage he lost some ships to sea worms. They were also faced with hunger after the native refused to give the food and access to some parts of the ocean was denied.

Conclusion

            One of the major challenges that Christopher faced in ensuring the success of the voyages was in the waiting period what he described as his anguish. He had to wait for long periods of time amounting to years which were characterized by lobbying in courts and negotiations which mostly ended in frustrations. Despite these struggles, his patience and persistence led to the discovery of the new world or today’s America. Christopher Columbus is credited for being among the first people who discovered America and aided with the conversion of most people to Christianity. Apart from his achievements, he is termed as the sole person who led to emergence of colonization and is also associated with the rise of slave trade in the world. He was a dictator and ruled by force.

Bibliography:

Chiarelli Michelle. Christopher Columbus-The Fearless Admiral. Retrieved on 24th December 2008 from,

http://www.cedarville.edu/academics/education/resource/stories/history/original/f99story/otherlands/columbus2.htm.

Columbus Christopher & Jane Lionel Cecil. The Four Voyages of Columbus: A History in Eight Documents, Including Five by Christopher Columbus, in the Original Spanish, with English Translations. Dover Publications, 1988

Irving Washington, Gorton G. W and Cummins James. History of the Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus. Lea & Blanchard, 1841

Tirado Thomas C. Christopher Columbus (2000), Retrieved on 24th December 2008 from,

http://www.millersville.edu/~columbus/columbus.html.

[1]Washington Irving, G. W Gorton and James Cummins. History of the Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus. (Lea & Blanchard, 1841), 13
[2] Washington Irving, G. W Gorton and James Cummins. History of the Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus. (Lea & Blanchard, 1841), 25
[3] Michelle Chiarelli. Christopher Columbus-The Fearless Admiral. Retrieved on 24th December 2008 from,

http://www.cedarville.edu/academics/education/resource/stories/history/original/f99story/otherlands/columbus2.htm. para 2
[4] Washington Irving, G. W Gorton and James Cummins. History of the Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus. (Lea & Blanchard, 1841), 57
[5] Thomas C. Tirado. Christopher Columbus (2000), Retrieved on 24th December 2008 from,

http://www.millersville.edu/~columbus/columbus.html., para 3
[6] Michelle Chiarelli. Christopher Columbus-The Fearless Admiral. Retrieved on 24th December 2008 from,

http://www.cedarville.edu/academics/education/resource/stories/history/original/f99story/otherlands/columbus2.htm. para 4
[7]Thomas C. Tirado. Christopher Columbus (2000), Retrieved on 24th December 2008 from, http://www.millersville.edu/~columbus/columbus.html, para6.
[8]Washington Irving, G. W Gorton and James Cummins. History of the Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus. (Lea & Blanchard, 1841), 100-110
[9] Michelle Chiarelli. Christopher Columbus-The Fearless Admiral. Retrieved on 24th December 2008 from,

http://www.cedarville.edu/academics/education/resource/stories/history/original/f99story/otherlands/columbus2.htm. para 9

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