Christopher Columbus, Letter to Luis de Sant' Angel (1493)

Christopher Columbus, Letter to Luis de Sant' Angel (1493)...

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Christopher Columbus, Letter to Luis de Sant' Angel (1493) Born Cristoforo Colombo in Genoa in 1451, Christopher Columbus was a product of the revived classical learning of the Renaissance. A veteran sailor of several voyages along the West African coast, Columbus became convinced that one could sail west across the Atlantic to reach Cathay (China). Playing on Spain's rivalry with Portugal to discover a water route to Asia, Columbus convinced the Spanish monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella to give him two caravels, the Niña and the Pinta , as well as the Santa Maria , a square rigger. In the summer of 1492, Columbus sailed his three vessels from the Canary Islands west into the Atlantic Ocean. Determined to reach Cathay, Columbus concluded that he had encountered “islands of India” when he struck land in the Caribbean. Columbus addressed this 1493 letter to Luis de Sant’ Angel, treasurer of Aragon, who had given him substantial help in financing his expedition. As you read this letter, try to see the world as it would have appeared to an educated, veteran ocean navigator in 1492. Even Columbus’s mathematical calculations seemed to verify his beliefs that he had reached “islands of India.” Sir, As I know that you will have pleasure of the great victory which out Lord hath given me in my voyage, I write you this, by which you shall know that in [thirty-three] days I passed over the Indies with the fleet which the most illustrious King and Queen, our Lords, gave me: where I found very many islands peopled with inhabitants beyond number. And, of them all, I have taken possession for their Highnesses, with proclamation and the royal standard displayed; and I was not gainsaid. On the first which I found, I put the name Sant Salvador, in commemoration of His High Majesty, who marvelously hath given all this: the Indians call it [Guanhani]. The second I named the Island of Santa María de Concepción, the third Ferrandina, the fourth Fair Island, the fifth La Isla Juana; and so for each one a new name. When I reached Juana, I followed its coast westwardly, and found it so large that I thought it might be the mainland province of Cathay. And as I did not thus find any towns and villages on the seacoast, save small hamlets with the people whereof I could not get speech, because they all fled away forthwith, I went on further in the same direction, thinking I should not miss of great cities or towns. And at the end of many leagues, seeing that there was no change, . . .
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This note was uploaded on 11/14/2011 for the course MATH 201 taught by Professor Doolittle during the Spring '11 term at Hawaii.

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Christopher Columbus, Letter to Luis de Sant' Angel (1493)...

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