School of Distance EducationSocial and Cultural History of Britain (III Semester)Page 101On 3 August, 1492 Columbus sailed from the south-western Spanish port of Paloswith three ships- the “Pinta” the “Santa Maria”, and the “Nina”. They were manned by atotal of eighty seven men mostly experienced sailors from the small ports of the region.After completing a long and testing voyage across unknown regions of the AtlanticOcean, Christopher Columbus came within sight of land on 12thOctober 1492. On makingshore he was convinced that a westward sea passage to the mainland of Asia had beenfound and that the purpose of his exploration was realised. The purpose was to obtain alicence from the rulers of Japan and China to establish a private trade in gold and spicesunder the auspices of his patrons, the Catholic Monarchs of Spain. Asia was a fascinatingand mysterious continent for Europeans. It was known vaguely as the Indies, a name thatapplied not only to India itself, but also to Malacca, the Spice Islands, and to China andJapan.An ocean had indeed been crossed by Columbus, but this was not Japan or China;it was rather a small island in the Bahamas. Columbus called the Bahamas Island asSanSalvador, in honour of his Holy Saviour. He used the termIndianto distinguish thesepeoples from the Europeans. Columbus became too disappointed while seeing theinhabitant of the island. They were very primitive. This was not expected by Columbus:he wanted to reach Japan, and these people were too barbarous to be the subjects of apowerful king. Finding little on Bahamas (San Salvador) Columbus moved around otherislands in the Bahamas. He then arrived on the north coast of “colba” (later Hispanicisedas Cuba), which he hoped might be Japan; however, there was very little gold. Heobserved there that the people relaxed by puffing at a large, burning stick of rolled leaves,which they calledtobacos ,a habit the Spaniards eventually pick up and introducethroughout Europe.Next he sailed eastward to explore the northern coast of an island that he calledLaIsla Espanola (Hispaniola-the island which today comprises Haiti and DominicanRepublic).Natives of Hispaniola wore plenty of gold ornaments and were very welcoming.