Christopher Columbus

In 1492, Genoese mariner Christopher Columbus – sailing for Spain – became the first European to reach the Americas since the Vikings 500 years earlier. It is one of the most significant events in world history. Columbus would go on to make four voyages to the New World in his lifetime, and our 7-part series on him covers all his exploits. He is, arguably, the most famous explorer in history.


Christopher Columbus – Part 1 – Background
In the first part of our series, we examine Columbus’ early life, and then his attempts to find a backer for his scheme to sail west – into the unknown – as a way to reach the fabled eastern lands of China, Japan, India and the Spice islands.

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The Landing of Columbus by John Vanderlyn

Christopher Columbus – Part 2 – First Voyage
In August of 1492, Christopher Columbus set out on what would be the most important voyage of discovery in the history of the world. Part 2 in our series covers the events surrounding Columbus’ historic voyage – a voyage that will alter the physical and political landscapes of the world.

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Christopher Columbus – Part 3 – Second Voyage
In part 3 of our series on Christopher Columbus, the Genoese explorer sets out for the New World on his second voyage. This time, he has 17 ships and 1,200 men. Columbus will reach many new areas of the Caribbean, including Dominica, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, before returning to fortress of La Navidad – which he had established on his first voyage. However, he will soon find that governing a colony is far more difficult than he ever imagined.

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Christopher Columbus – Part 4 – Second Voyage continued
In part 4 of our series on Christopher Columbus, we follow the intrepid Genoese mariner as he sets out to find the Asian mainland. He will explore Cuba and Jamaica, before returning to Hispaniola. Back in La Isabella, Columbus will begin a campaign to subjugate the native population.

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Christopher Columbus – Part 5 – Third Voyage
In part 5 of our series on Christopher Columbus, the Admiral heads back to the New World. This time, he goes in search of lands that were rumored to be south of his previous discoveries. Columbus would survive the tropical doldrums and a tidal wave while becoming the first Europeans to reach the continent of South America. After his excursions around South America, Columbus would return to Hispaniola to find the island in open revolt against him and his brothers.

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Christopher Columbus – Part 6 – Fourth Voyage
Part 6 in our series on Christopher Columbus takes the Admiral back to the New World for a fourth time. However, instead of going to govern a colony, Columbus is on a voyage of discovery. The year is 1502, and Columbus has been tasked by the king and queen of Spain to find a route to Asia. He departs with four ships and sets out on what might be his greatest venture. The final voyage of Columbus will take him through hurricanes to the shores of Central America as he uncovers more of the emerging lands, including Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama.

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Christopher Columbus – Part 7 – Fourth Voyage continued
In this final episode, Columbus begins stranded on the island of Jamaica. He must survive the ordeal, plus orchestrate a rescue for him and his crew. We then wrap up the series, discussing the legacy of Columbus.

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This famous map of the world as depicted by astronomer Paolo dal Pozzo Toscanelli. It shows a much smaller world than reality – and would help convince Columbus that reaching Asia was possible by sailing west.
Columbus’ first voyage
Columbus’ second voyage
Third Voyage of Columbus
Columbus’ third voyage
Fourth Voyage of Columbus
Columbus’ fourth voyage


Select Resources

Christopher Columbus is one of the most written about explorers, thus, there are many wonderful sources to draw from – and I’ll just share some of the major ones that I have used for this podcast.

Columbus: The Four Voyages by Laurence Bergreen is an excellent biography of Columbus – and one of the more recent.

Admiral of the Ocean Seas: A Life of Christopher Columbus by Samuel Eliot Morison is one of the granddaddies of great explorer biographies. Morison retraced Columbus’ voyages in 1939-40 and wrote this expansive biography of the man.

The Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus was one of the most influential books about the navigator. Written in 1828, it is available for free online.

Writings of Christopher Columbus provides a collection of letters written by Columbus that have survived to this day. Available for free online.

Journal of Christopher Columbus details the Admiral’s first voyage. It is available for free online.

Wikipedia links:

Images courtesy of Wikipedia.