Christopher Columbus

Christopher Columbus * * * * (or ) * .}} (; between 25 August and 31 October 1451 – 20 May 1506) was an Italian}} explorer and navigator from the Republic of Genoa who completed four Spanish-based voyages across the Atlantic Ocean sponsored by the Catholic Monarchs, opening the way for the widespread European exploration and European colonization of the Americas. His expeditions were the first known European contact with the Caribbean and Central and South America.

The name ''Christopher Columbus'' is the anglicisation of the Latin . Growing up on the coast of Liguria, he went to sea at a young age and travelled widely, as far north as the British Isles and as far south as what is now Ghana. He married Portuguese noblewoman Filipa Moniz Perestrelo, who bore a son Diego, and was based in Lisbon for several years. He later took a Castilian mistress, Beatriz Enríquez de Arana, who bore a son, Ferdinand.

Largely self-educated, Columbus was knowledgeable in geography, astronomy, and history. He developed a plan to seek a western sea passage to the East Indies, hoping to profit from the lucrative spice trade. After the Granada War, and Columbus's persistent lobbying in multiple kingdoms, the Catholic Monarchs, Queen Isabella I and King Ferdinand II, agreed to sponsor a journey west. Columbus left Castile in August 1492 with three ships and made landfall in the Americas on 12 October, ending the period of human habitation in the Americas now referred to as the pre-Columbian era. His landing place was an island in the Bahamas, known by its native inhabitants as Guanahani. He then visited the islands now known as Cuba and Hispaniola, establishing a colony in what is now Haiti. Columbus returned to Castile in early 1493, with captured natives. Word of his voyage soon spread throughout Europe.

Columbus made three further voyages to the Americas, exploring the Lesser Antilles in 1493, Trinidad and the northern coast of South America in 1498, and the east coast of Central America in 1502. Many names he gave to geographical features, particularly islands, are still in use. He gave the name ''indios'' ("Indians") to the indigenous peoples he encountered. The extent to which he was aware the Americas were a wholly separate landmass is uncertain; he never clearly renounced his belief he had reached the Far East. As a colonial governor, Columbus was accused by some of his contemporaries of significant brutality and removed from the post. Columbus's strained relationship with the Crown of Castile and its colonial administrators in America led to his arrest and removal from Hispaniola in 1500, and later to protracted litigation over the privileges he and his heirs claimed were owed to them by the crown.

Columbus's expeditions inaugurated a period of exploration, conquest, and colonization that lasted for centuries, thus bringing the Americas into the European sphere of influence. The transfer of plants, animals, precious metals, culture, human populations, technology, diseases, and ideas between the Old World and New World that followed his first voyage are known as the Columbian exchange. These events and the effects which persist to the present are often cited as the beginning of the modern era. Columbus was widely celebrated in the centuries after his death, but public perception fractured in the 21st century due to greater attention to the harms committed under his governance, particularly the beginning of the depopulation of Hispaniola's indigenous Taínos, caused by Old World diseases and mistreatment, including slavery. Many places in the Western Hemisphere bear his name, including the South American country of Colombia, the Canadian province of British Columbia, the American city Columbus, Ohio, and the U.S. capital, the District of Columbia. Provided by Wikipedia
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