|“||Let us in the name of the Holy Trinity go on sending all the slaves that can be sold.||„|
|~ Excerpt from Columbus's journal.|
Cristoforo Columbo, better known as Christopher Columbus (born October 31th, 1451 - died May 20th, 1506), was an Italian explorer and navigator known for his accidental discovery of the Americas. His voyage started when he was trying to search for the East Indies in an effort to trade with India. He was also credited for spreading the Christian religion to the inhabitants of the island upon which he thought were the East Indies. He is known as one of the greatest explorers of all time, and has a holiday (Columbus Day) named after him.
However, he also had a morally dark side. Columbus was charged with the torturing and the genocide of most of the natives in the Bahamas, and he was also believed to have initiated slave trading with other people involving the Natives of the Bahamas archipelago. He is seen by some as a brave hero and by others as a murderous villain.
Born in Genoa, Columbus became interested in exploring. Believing there to be a sea route to the silk and spices of Asia, Columbus petitioned to multiple monarchs in Europe. Eventually King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella agreed to support him, using borrowed Money, Columbus set off on his journey. He committed his first true act of villainy before arriving even arriving. The Monarchs of Spain offered a lifetime pension to the first man to spot land. Another sailor made it, but Columbus stole the discovery claiming he had spotted a light earlier, which must have been a fire so he got the reward. Arriving in the East Indies and finding gold, Columbus declared his discovery a success, he declared the island Spanish property and then he took around a hundred natives back to Spain, planning to sell all the natives into slavery to help repay his debts. However, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella forbid him from enslaving their new subjects. Likewise it soon turned out there was little gold on the island, as such his great achievement was lessened considerably. Columbus was infuriated by the lack of the gold in the Caribbean.
Not long after his first encounter with the indigenous peoples, Columbus wrote to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella that “they are meek and know no evil.” The Arawak-speaking tribes are without religion, he said, but neither is it accurate to describe them as “idolaters.” “They are very trusting,” Columbus continued, and “believe there is a God in Heaven".
Still, Columbus retained cordial relations with some indigenous tribes. There is one person in particular, a Chief Guacanagari, to whom Columbus felt especially indebted. On Christmas Eve of 1492, the Santa Marie ran aground off the shore of what is now Haiti. The locals helped the Europeans salvage their goods and afterwards they held a feast to celebrate the rescue. Gifts, lavish gifts, were exchanged and Guacanagari and his brother asked to visit Spain with Columbus when he returned.
Columbus didn't bring his new friends back with him, but he did leave 40 sailors behind under Guacanagari's protection. When he returned the following year, every sailor had been killed. The Chief said that an enemy tribe had attacked and the Chief himself had suffered a leg wound trying to protect the Spaniards. Even though the doctor with Columbus determined that no leg wound was visible, Columbus accepted the Chief's story.
Their friendship endured, with Guarcanagari's tribe frequently battling alongside the Spaniards against other Indian nations. At one point, upon seeing his ship, these Indians swam to Columbus to rescue them from the Caribs.
Columbus lamented that the indigenous peoples “give everything for a trifle.” He resolved to insure that they were treated fairly by the colonists in their exchanges, and as governor he didn't hesitate to arrest and execute those Spaniards who committed criminal offenses.
Nevertheless, Columbus was given support for a second voyage and was appointed Governor of this new colony. But upon arriving he abused his power, mistreated and slaughtered the natives, and ruled like a tyrant over the colonists. Angry at these crimes they complained back to Spain. Hearing these shocking reports of abuse and negligence the Monarch's recalled Columbus and stripped him of his titles, he was imprisoned for a short while. But he quickly built himself back into there favor and was allowed to go on two further voyages, however he never had his powers returned to him and was never a governor again. His fourth voyage proved to be a dismal failure. And after Queen Isabella's death he fell from favor, he never went on another voyage again and died in relative obscurity. Because of these accusations, he was relieved from his duties as the governor of the West Indies, and his job was then transferred to Henceforth Nicolas de Ovando y Caceres. When he arrived in what he wrongly believed to be India and the Orient in 1492, he thought the native people to be savages. Columbus died, believing he had found the east coast of Asia, and was not far from India, being on an island near Japan. Many other scholars and explorers soon realized he had found a completely new continent, but Columbus refused to believe it to his dying day. After his death, his descendants brought the matter of his inheritance to court and were allowed several of his titles back.