28 de febrero de 2009

Bolivar y Amestoz

Bolivar y Amestoz.

Entretanto la Providencia parecia proteger los dias del Libertador en Jamaica, alejando de su pecho el puñal traidor que habia de atentar contra ellos. Un español, pagado por Don Salvador Moxo, que había sustituido a Cevallos mientras un viaje de este a la Peninsula, logro seducir en Kingstown a uno de los sirvientes de Bolivar; y cierta noche, acercándose a la hamaca en que solia dormir, clavo su acero homicida en el corazon de la persona que alli estaba acostada. Al iay! lanzado por la victima Bolivar se levanto, hizo preso al criminal y lo entrego a la justicia, que oida la confesion del infiel servidor le condeno a sufrir la ultima pena.
Este incidente necesita una explicacion. El Libertador y un emigrado de Caracas amigo suyo, llamado Amestoz, acostumbraban dormir en la misma habitación. El primero se acostaba en una hamaca y el segundo en una cama. Pero aquel dia, en que el calor fue extraordinario, habiéndose retirado Amestoz mas temprano se acosto en la hamaca mientras volvia su amigo. Cogiole el sueño, y Bolivar a su llegada, por no molestarle, ocupo la cama que estaba vacia. Este cambio casual le salvo la vida. Sin embargo, el aguerrido soldado, el esforzado campeon de la independencia de Venezuela, si bien no pudo menos de lamentar el sangriento e inhumano fin de su querido amigo, no por eso se inquieto y siguio habitando en Kingstown hasta que sabedor de que el capitan propietario de la corbeta "Dardo", Luis Brion, habia marchado hacia Cartagena Colombia con algun armamento, y se hallaba en los Cayos de San Luis allegando gente y acopiando viveres para acudir al socorro de la plaza, volo a ofrecerle su espada, entusiasta como siempre, como siempre alentado por el mismo noble valor y la misma imperturbable esperanza.

23 de febrero de 2009


While Ferdinand and Isabella were at Santa Fe, the capitulation was signed, that opened the way to an extent of empire, compared with which their recent conquests, and indeed all their present dominions, were insignificant. The extraordinary intellectual activity of the Europeans in the fifteenth century, after the torpor of ages, carried them forward to high advancement in almost every department of science, but especially nautical, whose surprising results have acquired for the age, the glory of being designated as peculiarly that of maritime discovery. This was eminently favored by the political condition of modern Europe. Under the Roman empire, the traffic with the east naturally centred in Rome, the commercial capital of the west. After the dismemberment of the empire, it continued to be conducted principally through the channel of the Italian ports, whence it was diffused over the remoter regions of Christendom. But these countries, which had now risen from the rank of subordinate provinces to that of separate independent states, viewed with jealousy this monopoly of the Italian cities, by means of which these latter were rapidly advancing beyond them in power and opulence. This was especially the case with Portugal and Castile, [1] which, placed on the remote frontiers of the European continent, were far removed from the great routes of Asiatic intercourse; while this disadvantage was not compensated by such an extent of territory, as secured consideration to some other of the European states, equally unfavorably situated for commercial purposes with themselves. Thus circumstanced, the two nations of Castile and Portugal were naturally led to turn their eyes on the great ocean which washed their western borders, and to seek in its hitherto unexplored recesses for new domains, and if possible strike out some undiscovered track towards the opulent regions of the east.
The spirit of maritime enterprise was fomented, and greatly facilitated in its operation, by the invention of the astrolabe, and the important discovery of the polarity of the magnet, whose first application to the purposes of navigation on an extended scale may be referred to the fifteenth century. [2] The Portuguese were the first to enter on the brilliant path of nautical discovery, which they pursued under the infant Don Henry with such activity, that, before the middle of the fifteenth century, they had penetrated as far as Cape de Verd, doubling many a fearful headland, which had shut in the timid navigator of former days; until at length, in 1486, they descried the lofty promontory which terminates Africa on the south, and which, hailed by King John the Second, under whom it was discovered, as the harbinger of the long-sought passage to the east, received the cheering appellation of the Cape of Good Hope.
The Spaniards, in the mean while, did not languish in the career of maritime enterprise. Certain adventurers from the northern provinces of Biscay and Guipuscoa, in 1393, had made themselves masters of one of the smallest of the group of islands, supposed to be the Fortunate Isles of the ancients, since known as the Canaries. Other private adventurers from Seville extended their conquests over these islands in the beginning of the following century. These were completed in behalf of the crown under Ferdinand and Isabella, who equipped several fleets for their reduction, which at length terminated in 1495 with that of Teneriffe. [3] From the commencement of their reign, Ferdinand and Isabella had shown an earnest solicitude for the encouragement of commerce and nautical science, as is evinced by a variety of regulations which, however imperfect, from the misconception of the true principles of trade in that day, are sufficiently indicative of the dispositions of the government. [4] Under them, and indeed under their predecessors as far back as Henry the Third, a considerable traffic had been carried on with the western coast of Africa, from which gold dust and slaves were imported into the city of
Seville. The annalist of that city notices the repeated interference of Isabella in behalf of these unfortunate beings, by ordinances tending to secure them a more equal protection of the laws, or opening such social indulgences as might mitigate the hardships of their condition. A misunderstanding gradually arose between the subjects of Castile and Portugal, in relation to their respective rights of discovery and commerce on the African coast, which promised a fruitful source of collision between the two crowns; but which was happily adjusted by an article in the treaty of 1479, that terminated the war of the succession. By this it was settled, that the right of traffic and of discovery on the western coast of Africa should be exclusively reserved to the Portuguese, who in their turn should resign all claims on the Canaries to the crown of Castile. The Spaniards, thus excluded from further progress to the south, seemed to have no other opening left for naval adventure than the hitherto untravelled regions of the great western ocean. Fortunately, at this juncture, an individual appeared among them, in the person of Christopher Columbus, endowed with capacity for stimulating them to this heroic enterprise, and conducting it to a glorious issue. [5]
This extraordinary man was a native of Genoa, of humble parentage, though perhaps honorable descent. [6] He was instructed in his early youth at Pavia, where he acquired a strong relish for the mathematical sciences, in which he subsequently excelled. At the age of fourteen, he engaged in a seafaring life, which he followed with little intermission till 1470; when, probably little more than thirty years of age, [7] he landed in Portugal, the country to which adventurous spirits from all parts of the world then resorted, as the great theatre of maritime enterprise. After his arrival, he continued to make voyages to the then known parts of the world, and, when on shore, occupied himself with the construction and sale of charts and maps; while his geographical researches were considerably aided by the possession of papers belonging to an eminent Portuguese navigator, a deceased relative of his wife. Thus stored with all that nautical science in that day could supply, and fortified by large practical experience, the reflecting mind of Columbus was naturally led to speculate on the existence of some other land beyond the western waters; and he conceived the possibility of reaching the eastern shores of Asia, whose provinces of Zipango and Cathay were emblazoned in such gorgeous colors in the narratives of Mandeville and the Poli, by a more direct and commodious route than that which traversed the eastern continent. [8]
The existence of land beyond the Atlantic, which was not discredited by some of the most enlightened ancients, [9] had become matter of common speculation at the close of the fifteenth century; when maritime adventure was daily disclosing the mysteries of the deep, and bringing to light new regions, that had hitherto existed only in fancy. A proof of this popular belief occurs in a curious passage of the "Morgante Maggiore" of the Florentine poet Palci, a man of letters, but not distinguished for scientific attainments beyond his day. [10] The passage is remarkable, independently of the cosmographical knowledge it implies, for its allusion to phenomena in physical science, not established till more than a century later. The Devil, alluding to the vulgar superstition respecting the pillars of Hercules, thus addresses his companion Rinaldo:
"Know that this theory is false; his bark
The daring mariner shall urge far o'er
The western wave, a smooth and level plain,
Albeit the earth is fashioned like a wheel.
Man was in ancient days of grosser mould,
And Hercules might blush to learn how far
Beyond the limits he had vainly set,
The dullest sea-boat soon shall wing her way.
Men shall descry another hemisphere,
Since to one common centre all things tend;
So earth, by curious mystery divine
Well balanced, hangs amid the starry spheres.
At our antipodes are cities, states,
And thronged empires, ne'er divined of yore.
But see, the Sun speeds on his western path
To glad the nations with expected light." [11]
Columbus's hypothesis rested on much higher ground than mere popular belief. What indeed was credulity with the vulgar, and speculation with the learned, amounted in his mind to a settled practical conviction, that made him ready to peril life and fortune on the result of the experiment.
He was fortified still further in his conclusions by a correspondence with the learned Italian Toscanelli, who furnished him with a map of his own projection, in which the eastern coast of Asia was delineated opposite to the western frontier of Europe. [12]
Filled with lofty anticipations of achieving a discovery, which would settle a question of such moment, so long involved in obscurity, Columbus submitted the theory on which he had founded his belief in the existence of a western route to King John the Second, of Portugal. Here he was doomed to encounter for the first time the embarrassments and mortifications, which so often obstruct the conceptions of genius, too sublime for the age in which they are formed. After a long and fruitless negotiation, and a dishonorable attempt on the part of the Portuguese to avail themselves clandestinely of his information, he quitted Lisbon in disgust, determined to submit his proposals to the Spanish sovereigns, relying on their reputed character for wisdom and enterprise. [13]
The period of his arrival in Spain, being the latter part of 1484, would seem to have been the most unpropitious possible to his design. The nation was then in the heat of the Moorish war, and the sovereigns were unintermittingly engaged, as we have seen, in prosecuting their campaigns, or in active preparation for them. The large expenditure, incident to this, exhausted all their resources; and indeed the engrossing character of this domestic conquest left them little leisure for indulging in dreams of distant and doubtful discovery. Columbus, moreover, was unfortunate in his first channel of communication with the court. He was furnished by Fray Juan Perez de Marchena, guardian of the convent of La Rabida in Andalusia, who had early taken a deep interest in his plans, with an introduction to Fernando de Talavera, prior of Prado, and confessor of the queen, a person high in the royal confidence, and gradually raised through a succession of ecclesiastical dignities to the archiepiscopal see of Granada. He was a man of irreproachable morals, and of comprehensive benevolence for that day, as is shown in his subsequent treatment of the unfortunate Moriscoes. [14] He was also learned; although his learning was that of the cloister, deeply tinctured with pedantry and superstition, and debased by such servile deference even to the errors of antiquity, as at once led him to discountenance everything like innovation or enterprise. [15]
With these timid and exclusive views, Talavera was so far from comprehending the vast conceptions of Columbus, that he seems to have regarded him as a mere visionary, and his hypothesis as involving principles not altogether orthodox. Ferdinand and Isabella, desirous of obtaining the opinion of the most competent judges on the merits of Columbus's theory, referred him to a council selected by Talavera from the most eminent scholars of the kingdom, chiefly ecclesiastics, whose profession embodied most of the science of that day. Such was the apathy exhibited by this learned conclave, and so numerous the impediments suggested by dulness, prejudice, or skepticism, that years glided away before it came to a decision. During this time, Columbus appears to have remained in attendance on the court, bearing arms occasionally in the campaigns, and experiencing from the sovereigns an unusual degree of deference and personal attention; an evidence of which is afforded in the disbursements repeatedly made by the royal order for his private expenses, and in the instructions, issued to the municipalities of the different towns in Andalusia, to supply him gratuitously with lodging and other personal accommodations. [16]
At length, however, Columbus, wearied out by this painful procrastination, pressed the court for a definite answer to his propositions; when he was informed, that the council of Salamanca pronounced his scheme to be "vain, impracticable, and resting on grounds too weak to merit the support of the government." Many in the council, however, were too enlightened to acquiesce in this sentence of the majority. Some of the most considerable persons of the court, indeed, moved by the cogency of Columbus's arguments, and affected by the elevation and grandeur of his views, not only cordially embraced his scheme, but extended their personal intimacy and friendship to him. Such, among others, were the grand cardinal Mendoza, a man whose enlarged capacity and acquaintance with affairs raised him above many of the narrow prejudices of his order, and Deza, archbishop of Seville, a Dominican friar, whose commanding talents were afterwards unhappily perverted in the service of the Holy Office, over which he presided as successor to Torquemada. [17] The authority of these individuals had undoubtedly great weight with the sovereigns, who softened the verdict of the junto, by an assurance to Columbus, that, "although they were too much occupied at present to embark in his undertaking, yet, at the conclusion of the war, they should find both time and inclination to treat with him." Such was the ineffectual result of Columbus's long and painful solicitation; and, far from receiving the qualified assurance of the sovereigns in mitigation of their refusal, he seems to have considered it as peremptory and final. In great dejection of mind, therefore, but without further delay, he quitted the court, and bent his way to the south, with the apparently almost desperate intent of seeking out some other patron to his undertaking. [18]
Columbus had already visited his native city of Genoa, for the purpose of interesting it in his scheme of discovery; but the attempt proved unsuccessful. He now made application, it would seem, to the dukes of Medina Sidonia and Medina Celi, successively, from the latter of whom he experienced much kindness and hospitality; but neither of these nobles, whose large estates lying along the sea-shore had often invited them to maritime adventure, was disposed to assume one which seemed too hazardous for the resources of the crown. Without wasting time in further solicitation, Columbus prepared with a heavy heart to bid adieu to Spain, and carry his proposals to the king of France, from whom he had received a letter of encouragement while detained in Andalusia. [19]
His progress, however, was arrested at the convent of La Rabida, which he visited previous to his departure, by his friend the guardian, who prevailed on him to postpone his journey till another effort had been made to move the Spanish court in his favor. For this purpose the worthy ecclesiastic undertook an expedition in person to the newly erected city of Santa Fe, where the sovereigns lay encamped before Granada. Juan Perez had formerly been confessor of Isabella, and was held in great consideration by her for his excellent qualities. On arriving at the camp, he was readily admitted to an audience, when he pressed the suit of Columbus with all the earnestness and reasoning of which he was capable.
The friar's eloquence was supported by that of several eminent persons, whom Columbus during his long residence in the country had interested in his project, and who viewed with sincere regret the prospect of its abandonment. Among these individuals are particularly mentioned Alonso de Quintanilla, comptroller general of Castile, Louis de St. Angel, a fiscal officer of the crown of Aragon, and the marchioness of Moya, the personal friend of Isabella, all of whom exercised considerable influence over her counsels. Their representations, combined with the opportune season of the application, occurring at the moment when the approaching termination of the Moorish war allowed room for interest in other objects, wrought so favorable a change in the dispositions of the sovereigns, that they consented to resume the negotiation with Columbus. An invitation was accordingly sent to him to repair to Santa Fe, and a considerable sum provided for his suitable equipment, and his expenses on the road. [20]
Columbus, who lost no time in availing himself of this welcome intelligence, arrived at the camp in season to witness the surrender of Granada, when every heart, swelling with exultation at the triumphant termination of the war, was naturally disposed to enter with greater confidence on a new career of adventure. At his interview with the king and queen, he once more exhibited the arguments on which his hypothesis was founded. He then endeavored to stimulate the cupidity of his audience, by picturing the realms of Mangi and Cathay, which he confidently expected to reach by this western route, in all the barbaric splendors which had been shed over them by the lively fancy of Marco Polo and other travellers of the Middle Ages; and he concluded with appealing to a higher principle, by holding out the prospect of extending the empire of the Cross over nations of benighted heathen, while he proposed to devote the profits of his enterprise to the recovery of the Holy Sepulchre. This last ebullition, which might well have passed for fanaticism in a later day, and given a visionary tinge to his whole project, was not quite so preposterous in an age, in which the spirit of the crusades might be said still to linger, and the romance of religion had not yet been dispelled by sober reason. The more temperate suggestion of the diffusion of the gospel was well suited to affect Isabella, in whose heart the principle of devotion was deeply seated, and who, in all her undertakings, seems to have been far less sensible to the vulgar impulses of avarice or ambition, than to any argument connected, however remotely, with the interests of religion. [21]
Amidst all these propitious demonstrations towards Columbus, an obstacle unexpectedly arose in the nature of his demands, which stipulated for himself and heirs the title and authority of Admiral and Viceroy over all lands discovered by him, with one-tenth of the profits. This was deemed wholly inadmissible. Ferdinand, who had looked with cold distrust on the expedition from the first, was supported by the remonstrances of Talavera, the new archbishop of Granada; who declared, that "such demands savored of the highest degree of arrogance, and would be unbecoming in their Highnesses to grant to a needy foreign adventurer." Columbus, however, steadily resisted every attempt to induce him to modify his propositions.
On this ground, the conferences were abruptly broken off, and he once more turned his back upon the Spanish court, resolved rather to forego his splendid anticipations of discovery, at the very moment when the career so long sought was thrown open to him, than surrender one of the honorable distinctions due to his services. This last act is perhaps the most remarkable exhibition in his whole life, of that proud, unyielding spirit, which sustained him through so many years of trial, and enabled him at length to achieve his great enterprise, in the face of every obstacle which man and nature had opposed to it. [22]
The misunderstanding was not suffered to be of long duration. Columbus's friends, and especially Louis de St. Angel, remonstrated with the queen on these proceedings in the most earnest manner. He frankly told her, that Columbus's demands, if high, were at least contingent on success, when they would be well deserved; that, if he failed, he required nothing. He expatiated on his qualifications for the undertaking, so signal as to insure in all probability the patronage of some other monarch, who would reap the fruits of his discoveries; and he ventured to remind the queen, that her present policy was not in accordance with the magnanimous spirit, which had hitherto made her the ready patron of great and heroic enterprise. Far from being displeased, Isabella was moved by his honest eloquence. She contemplated the proposals of Columbus in their true light; and, refusing to hearken any longer to the suggestions of cold and timid counsellors, she gave way to the natural impulses of her own noble and generous heart; "I will assume the undertaking," said she, "for my own crown of Castile, and am ready to pawn my jewels to defray the expenses of it, if the funds in the treasury shall be found inadequate." The treasury had been reduced to the lowest ebb by the late war, but the receiver, St. Angel, advanced the sums required, from the Aragonese revenues deposited in his hands. Aragon however was not considered as adventuring in the expedition, the charges and emoluments of which were reserved exclusively for Castile. [23]
Columbus, who was overtaken by the royal messenger at a few leagues' distance only from Granada, experienced the most courteous reception on his return to Santa Fe, where a definitive arrangement was concluded with the Spanish sovereigns, April 17th, 1492. By the terms of the capitulation, Ferdinand and Isabella, as lords of the ocean-seas, constituted Christopher Columbus their admiral, viceroy, and governor- general of all such islands and continents as he should discover in the western ocean, with the privilege of nominating three candidates, for the selection of one by the crown, for the government of each of these territories. He was to be vested with exclusive right of jurisdiction over all commercial transactions within his admiralty. He was to be entitled to one-tenth of all the products and profits within the limits of his discoveries, and an additional eighth, provided he should contribute one- eighth part of the expense. By a subsequent ordinance, the official dignities above enumerated were settled on him and his heirs for ever, with the privilege of prefixing the title of Don to their names, which had not then degenerated into an appellation of mere courtesy. [24]
No sooner were the arrangements completed, than Isabella prepared with her characteristic promptness to forward the expedition by the most efficient measures. Orders were sent to Seville and the other ports of Andalusia, to furnish stores and other articles requisite for the voyage, free of duty, and at as low rates as possible. The fleet, consisting of three vessels, was to sail from the little port of Palos in Andalusia, which had been condemned for some delinquency to maintain two caravels for a twelvemonth for the public service. The third vessel was furnished by the admiral, aided, as it would seem, in defraying the charges, by his friend the guardian of La Rabida, and the Pinzons, a family in Palos long distinguished for its enterprise among the mariners of that active community. With their assistance, Columbus was enabled to surmount the disinclination, and indeed open opposition, manifested by the Andalusian mariners to his perilous voyage; so that in less than three months his little squadron was equipped for sea. A sufficient evidence of the extreme unpopularity of the expedition is afforded by a royal ordinance of the 30th of April, promising protection to all persons, who should embark in it, from criminal prosecution of whatever kind, until two months after their return. The armament consisted of two caravels, or light vessels without decks, and a third of larger burden. The total number of persons who embarked amounted to one hundred and twenty; and the whole charges of the crown for the expedition did not exceed seventeen thousand florins, The fleet was instructed to keep clear of the African coast, and other maritime possessions of Portugal. At length, all things being in readiness, Columbus and his whole crew partook of the sacrament, and confessed themselves, after the devout manner of the ancient Spanish voyagers, when engaged in any important enterprise; and on the morning of the 3d of August, 1492, the intrepid navigator, bidding adieu to the Old World, launched forth on that unfathomed waste of waters where no sail had been ever spread before. [25]
It is impossible to peruse the story of Columbus without assigning to him almost exclusively the glory of his great discovery; for, from the first moment of its conception to that of its final execution, he was encountered by every species of mortification and embarrassment, with scarcely a heart to cheer, or a hand to help him. [26] Those more enlightened persons whom, during his long residence in Spain, he succeeded in interesting in his expedition, looked to it probably as the means of solving a dubious problem, with the same sort of vague and skeptical curiosity as to its successful result, with which we contemplate, in our day, an attempt to arrive at the Northwest passage. How feeble was the interest excited, even among those who from their science and situation would seem to have their attention most naturally drawn towards it, may be inferred from the infrequency of allusion to it in the correspondence and other writings of that time, previous to the actual discovery. Peter Martyr, one of the most accomplished scholars of the period, whose residence at the Castilian court must have fully instructed him in the designs of Columbus, and whose inquisitive mind led him subsequently to take the deepest interest in the results of his discoveries, does not, so far as I am aware, allude to him in any part of his voluminous correspondence with the learned men of his time, previous to the first expedition. The common people regarded, not merely with apathy, but with terror, the prospect of a voyage, that was to take the mariner from the safe and pleasant seas which he was accustomed to navigate, and send him roving on the boundless wilderness of waters, which tradition and superstitious fancy had peopled with innumerable forms of horror.
It is true that Columbus experienced a most honorable reception at the Castilian court; such as naturally flowed from the benevolent spirit of Isabella, and her just appreciation of his pure and elevated character.
But the queen was too little of a proficient in science to be able to estimate the merits of his hypothesis; and, as many of those, on whose judgment she leaned, deemed it chimerical, it is probable that she never entertained a deep conviction of its truth; at least not enough to warrant the liberal expenditure, which she never refused to schemes of real importance. This is certainly inferred by the paltry amount actually expended on the armament, far inferior to that appropriated to the equipment of two several fleets in the course of the late war for a foreign expedition, as well as to that, with which in the ensuing year she followed up Columbus's discoveries.
But while, on a review of the circumstances, we are led more and more to admire the constancy and unconquerable spirit, which carried Columbus victorious through all the difficulties of his undertaking, we must remember, in justice to Isabella, that, although tardily, she did in fact furnish the resources essential to its execution; that she undertook the enterprise when it had been explicitly declined by other powers, and when probably none other of that age would have been found to countenance it; and that, after once plighting her faith to Columbus, she became his steady friend, shielding him against the calumnies of his enemies, reposing in him the most generous confidence, and serving him in the most acceptable manner, by supplying ample resources for the prosecution of his glorious discoveries. [27]
* * * * *
It is now more than thirty years since the Spanish government intrusted Don Martin Fernandez de Navarrete, one of the most eminent scholars of the country, with the care of exploring the public archives, for the purpose of collecting information relative to the voyages and discoveries of the early Spanish navigators. In 1825, Señor Navarrete gave to the world the first fruits of his indefatigable researches, in two volumes, the commencement of a series, comprehending letters, private journals, royal ordinances, and other original documents, illustrative of the discovery of America. These two volumes are devoted exclusively to the adventures and personal history of Columbus, and must be regarded as the only authentic basis, on which any notice of the great navigator can hereafter rest.
Fortunately, Mr. Irving's visit to Spain, at this period, enabled the world to derive the full benefit of Señor Navarrete's researches, by presenting their results in connection with whatever had been before known of Columbus, in the lucid and attractive form, which engages the interest of every reader. It would seem highly proper, that the fortunes of the discoverer of America should engage the pen of an inhabitant of her most favored and enlightened region; and it is unnecessary to add, that the task has been executed in a manner which must secure to the historian a share in the imperishable renown of his subject. The adventures of Columbus, which form so splendid an episode to the reign of Ferdinand and Isabella, cannot properly come within the scope of its historian, except so far as relates to his personal intercourse with the government, or their results on the fortunes of the Spanish monarchy.
[1] Aragon, or rather Catalonia, maintained an extensive commerce with the Levant, and the remote regions of the east, during the Middle Ages, through the flourishing port of Barcelona. See Capmany y Montpalau, Memorias Históricas sobre la Marina, Comercio y Artes de Barcelona, (Madrid, 1779-92,) passim.
[2] A council of mathematicians in the court of John II., of Portugal, first devised the application of the ancient astrolabe to navigation, thus affording to the mariner the essential advantages appertaining to the modern quadrant. The discovery of the polarity of the needle, which vulgar
tradition assigned to the Amalfite Flavio Gioja, and which Robertson has sanctioned without scruple, is clearly proved to have occurred more than a century earlier. Tiraboschi, who investigates the matter with his usual erudition, passing by the doubtful reference of Guiot de Provins, whose age and personal identity even are contested, traces the familiar use of the magnetic needle as far back as the first half of the thirteenth century, by a pertinent passage from Cardinal Vitri, who died 1244; and sustains this by several similar references to other authors of the same century. Capmany finds no notice of its use by the Castilian navigators earlier than 1403. It was not until considerably later in the fifteenth century, that the Portuguese voyagers, trusting to its guidance, ventured to quit the Mediterranean and African coasts, and extend their navigation to Madeira and the Azores. See Navarrete, Coleccion de los Viages y Descubrimientos que hicieron por Mar los Españoles, (Madrid, 1825-29,) tom. i. Int. sec. 33.--Tiraboschi, Letteratura Italiana, tom. iv. pp. 173, 174.--Capmany, Mem. de Barcelona, tom. iii. part. 1, cap. 4.--Koch, Tableau des Révolutions de l'Europe, (Paris, 1814,) tom. i. pp. 358-360.
[3] Four of the islands were conquered on behalf of private adventurers, chiefly from Andalusia, before the accession of Ferdinand and Isabella, and under their reign were held as the property of a noble Castilian family, named Peraza. The sovereigns sent a considerable armament from Seville in 1480, which subdued the great island of Canary on behalf of the crown, and another in 1493, which effected the reduction of Palma and Teneriffe after a sturdy resistance from the natives. Bernaldez postpones the last conquest to 1495. Salazar de Mendoza, Monarquía, tom. i. pp. 347- 349.--Pulgar, Reyes Católicos, pp. 136, 203.--Bernaldez, Reyes Católicos, MS., cap. 64, 65, 66, 133.--Navarrete, Coleccion de Viages, tom. i. Introd., sec. 28.
[4] Among the provisions of the sovereigns enacted previous to the present date, may be noted those for regulating the coin and weights; for opening a free trade between Castile and Aragon; for security to Genoese and Venetian trading vessels; for safe conduct to mariners and fishermen; for privileges to the seamen of Palos; for prohibiting the plunder of vessels wrecked on the coast; and an ordinance of the very last year, requiring foreigners to take their return cargoes in the products of the country.
See these laws as extracted from the Ordenanças Reales and the various public archives, in Mem. de la Acad. de Hist., tom. vi. Ilust. 11.
[5] Zuñiga, Annales de Sevilla, pp. 373, 374, 398.--Zurita, Anales, tom. iv. lib. 20, cap. 30, 34.--Navarrete, Coleccion de Viages.
[6] Spotorno, Memorials of Columbus, (London, 1823,) p. 14.--Senarega, apud Muratori, Rerum Ital. Script., tom. xxiv. p. 535.--Antonio Gallo, De Navigatione Columbi, apud Muratori, Rerum Ital. Script., tom. xxiii. p. 202.
It is very generally agreed that the father of Columbus exercised the craft of a wool-carder, or weaver. The admiral's son Ferdinand, after some speculation on the genealogy of his illustrious parent, concludes with remarking, that, after all, a noble descent would confer less lustre on
him than to have sprung from such a father; a philosophical sentiment, indicating pretty strongly that he had no great ancestry to boast of. Ferdinand finds something extremely mysterious and typical in his father's name of _Columbus_, signifying a _dove_, in token of his being ordained to
"carry the olive-branch and oil of baptism over the ocean, like Noah's dove, to denote the peace and union of the heathen people with the church, after they had been shut up in the ark of darkness and confusion."
Fernando Colon, Historia del Almirante, cap. 1, 2, apud Barcia, Historiadores Primitivos de las Indian Occidentals, (Madrid, 1749,) tom. i., tom. i. Introd., sec. 21, 24.--Ferreras, Hist. d'Espagne, tom. vii. p. 548.
[7] Bernaldez, Reyes Católicos, MS., cap. 131.--Muñoz, Historia del Nuevo- Mundo, (Madrid, 1793,) lib. 2, sec. 13.
There are no sufficient data for determining the period of Columbus's birth. The learned Muñoz places it in 1446. (Hist. del Nuevo-Mundo, lib. 2, sec. 12.) Navarrete, who has weighed the various authorities with caution, seems inclined to remove it back eight or ten years further, resting chiefly on a remark of Bernaldez, that he died in 1506, "in a good old age, at the age of seventy, a little more or less." (Cap. 131.) The expression is somewhat vague. In order to reconcile the facts with this hypothesis, Navarrete is compelled to reject, as a chirographical blunder, a passage in a letter of the admiral, placing his birth in 1456, and to distort another passage in his book of "Prophecies," which, if literally taken, would seem to establish his birth near the time assigned by Muñoz.
Incidental allusions in some other authorities, speaking of Columbus's old age at or near the time of his death, strongly corroborate Navarrete's inference. (See Coleccion de Viages, tom. i. Introd., sec. 54.)--Mr. Irving seems willing to rely exclusively on the authority of Bernaldez.
[8] Antonio de Herrera, Historia General de las Indias Occidentales, (Amberes, 1728,) tom. i. dec. 1, lib. 1, cap. 7.--Gomara, Historia de las Indias, cap. 14, apud Barcia, Hist. Primitivos, tom. ii.--Bernaldez, Reyes Católicos, MS., cap. 118.--Navarrete, Coleccion de Viages, tom. i. Introd., sec. 30.
Ferdinand Columbus enumerates three grounds on which his father's conviction of land in the west was founded. First, natural reason,--or conclusions drawn from science; secondly, authority of writers,--amounting to little more than vague speculations of the ancients; thirdly, testimony of sailors, comprehending, in addition to popular rumors of land described in western voyages, such relics as appeared to have floated to the European shores from the other side of the Atlantic. Hist. del Almirante, cap. 6-8.
[9] None of the intimations are so precise as that contained in the well- known lines of Seneca's Medea, "Venient annuis saecula," etc., although, when regarded as a mere poetical vagary, it has not the weight which belongs to more serious suggestions, of similar import, in the writings of Aristotle and Strabo. The various allusions in the ancient classic writers to an undiscovered world form the subject of an elaborate essay in the Memorias da Acad. Real das Sciencias de Lisboa, (tom. v. pp. 101-112,) and are embodied, in much greater detail, in the first section of Humboldt's "Histoire de la Géographie du Nouveau Continent;" a work in which the author, with his usual acuteness, has successfully applied the vast stores of his erudition and experience to the illustration of many interesting points connected with the discovery of the New World, and the personal history of Columbus.
[10] It is probably the knowledge of this which has led some writers to impute part of his work to the learned Marsilio Ficino, and others, with still less charity and probability, to refer the authorship of the whole to Politian. Comp. Tasso, Opere, (Venezia, 1735-42,) tom. x. p. 129.--and Crescimbeni, Istoria della Volgar Poesia, (Venezia, 1731,) tom. iii. pp. 273, 274.
[11] Pulci, Morgante Maggiore, canto 25, st. 229, 230.--I have used blank verse, as affording facility for a more literal version than the corresponding _ottava rima_ of the original. This passage of Pulci, which has not fallen under the notice of Humboldt, or any other writer on the same subject whom I have consulted, affords, probably, the most circumstantial prediction that is to be found of the existence of a western world. Dante, two centuries before, had intimated more vaguely his belief in an undiscovered quarter of the globe.
"De' vostri sensi, ch' è del rimanente,
Non vogliate negar l'esperienza,
Diretro al sol, del mondo senza gente."
Inferno, cant. 26, v. 115.
[12] Navarrete, Coleccion de Viages, tom. ii., Col. Dipl., no. 1.--Muñoz, Hist. del Nuevo-Mundo, lib. 2, sec. 17.--It is singular that Columbus, in his visit to Iceland, in 1477, (see Fernando Colon, Hist. del Almirante, cap. 4,) should have learned nothing of the Scandinavian voyages to the
northern shores of America in the tenth and following centuries; yet if he was acquainted with them, it appears equally surprising that he should not have adduced the fact in support of his own hypothesis of the existence of land in the west; and that he should have taken a route so different from that of his predecessors in the path of discovery. It may be, however, as M. de Humboldt has well remarked, that the information he obtained in Iceland was too vague to suggest the idea, that the lands thus discovered by the Northmen had any connection with the Indies, of which he was in pursuit. In Columbus's day, indeed, so little was understood of the true position of these countries, that Greenland is laid down on the maps in the European seas, and as a peninsular prolongation of Scandinavia. See Humboldt, Géographie du Nouveau Continent, tom. ii. pp. 118, 125.
[13] Herrera, Indias Occidentals, tom. i. dec. 1, lib. 1, cap. 7.--Muñoz, Hist. del Nuevo-Mundo, lib. 2, sec. 19.--Gomara, Hist. de las Indias, cap. 15.--Benzoni, Novi Orbis Historia, lib. 1, cap. 6.--Fernando Colon, Hist. del Almirante, cap. 10.--Faria y Sousa, Europa Portuguesa, tom. ii. part. 3, cap. 4.
[14] Oviedo, Quincuagenas, MS., dial. de Talavera.
[15] Salazar de Mendoza, Crón. del Gran Cardenal, p. 214.--Herrera, Indias Occidentales, tom. i. dec. 1, lib. 1, cap. 8.--Fernando Colon, Hist. del Almirante, cap. 11.
[16] Herrera, Indias Occidentales, dec. 1, lib. 1, cap. 8.--Zuñiga, Annales de Sevilla, p. 104.--Navarrete, Coleccion de Viages, tom. i. sec. 60, 61, tom. ii., Col. Dipl., nos. 2, 4.
[17] This prelate, Diego de Deza, was born of poor but respectable parents, at Toro. He early entered the Dominican order, where his learning and exemplary life recommended him to the notice of the sovereigns, who called him to court to take charge of Prince John's education. He was afterwards raised, through the usual course of episcopal preferment, to the metropolitan see of Seville. His situation, as confessor of Ferdinand, gave him great influence over that monarch, with whom he appears to have maintained an intimate correspondence, to the day of his death. Oviedo, Quincuagenas, MS., dial. de Deza.
[18] Fernando Colon, Hist. del Almirante, cap. 11.--Salazar de Mendoza, Crón. del Gran Cardenal, p. 215.--Muñoz, Hist. del Nuevo-Mundo, lib. 2, sec. 25, 29.--Navarrete, Coleccion de Viages, tom. i., Introd., sec. 60.
[19] Herrera, Indias Occidentales, dec. 1, lib. 1, cap. 8.--Muñoz, Hist. del Nuevo-Mundo, lib. 2, sec. 27.--Spotorno, Memorials of Columbus, pp. 31-33.--The last dates the application to Genoa prior to that to Portugal.
A letter from the duke of Medina Celi to the cardinal of Spain, dated 19th March, 1493, refers to his entertaining Columbus as his guest for two years. It is very difficult to determine the date of these two years. If Herrera is correct in the statement, that, after a five years' residence at court, whose commencement he had previously referred to 1484, he carried his proposals to the duke of Medina Celi, (see cap. 7, 8.) the two years may have intervened between 1489-1491. Navarrete places them between the departure from Portugal and the first application to the court of Castile, in 1486. Some other writers, and among them Muñoz and Irving, referring his application to Genoa to 1485, and his first appearance in Spain to a subsequent period, make no provision for the residence with the duke of Medina Celi. Mr. Irving indeed is betrayed into a chronological inaccuracy, in speaking of a seven years' residence at the court in 1491, which he had previously noticed as having before begun in 1486. (Life of Columbus, (London, 1828,) comp. vol. i. pp. 109, 141.) In fact, the discrepancies among the earliest authorities are such as to render hopeless any attempt to settle with precision the chronology of Columbus's movements previous to his first voyage.
[20] Ferreras, Hist. d'Espagne, tom. viii. pp. 129, 130.--Muñoz, Hist. del Nuevo-Mundo, lib. 2, sec. 31.--Herrera, Indias Occidentales, dec. 1, lib. 1, cap. 8.--Navarrete, Coleccion de Viages, tom. i., Introd., sec. 60.
[21] Herrera, Indias Occidentales, dec. 1, lib. 1, cap. 8.--Primer Viage de Colon, apud Navarrete, Coleccion de Viages, tom. i. pp. 2, 117.-- Fernando Colon, Hist. del Almirante, cap. 13.
[22] Muñoz, Hist. del Nuevo-Mundo, lib. 2, sec. 28, 29.--Fernando Colon, Hist. del Almirante, ubi supra.
[23] Herrera, Indias Occidentales, dec. 1, lib. 1, cap. 8.--Muñoz, Hist. del Nuevo-Mundo, lib. 2, sec. 32, 33.--Fernando Colon, Hist. del Almirante, cap. 14.--Gomara, Hist. de las Indias, cap. 15.
[24] Navarrete, Coleccion de Viages, tom. ii., Col. Diplomat., nos. 5, 6. --Zuñiga, Annales de Sevilla, p. 412.--Mariana, Hist. de España, tom. ii. p. 605.
[25] Peter Martyr, De Rebus Oceanicis et Novo Orbe, (Coloniae, 1574,) dec. 1, lib. 1.--Navarrete, Coleccion de Viages, tom. ii., Col. Diplomat., nos. 7, 8, 9, 10, 12.--Herrera, Indias Occidentales, dec. 1, lib. 1, cap. 9.-- Fernando Colon, Hist. del Almirante, cap. 14.--Muñoz, Hist. del Nuevo- Mundo, lib. 2, sec. 33.--Benzoni, Novi Orbis Hist., lib. 1, cap. 6.-- Gomara, Hist. de las Indias, cap. 15.
The expression in the text will not seem too strong, even admitting the previous discoveries of the Northmen, which were made in so much higher latitudes. Humboldt has well shown the probability, _a priori_, of such discoveries, made in a narrow part of the Atlantic, where the
Orcades, the Feroe Islands, Iceland, and Greenland afforded the voyager so many intermediate stations, at moderate distances from each other. (Géographie du Nouveau Continent, tom. ii. pp. 183 et seq.) The publication of the original Scandinavian MSS., (of which imperfect notices and selections, only, have hitherto found their way into the world,) by the Royal Society of Northern Antiquaries, at Copenhagen, is a matter of the deepest interest; and it is fortunate that it is to be conducted under auspices, which must insure its execution in the most faithful and able manner. It may be doubted, however, whether the declaration of the Prospectus, that "it was the knowledge of the Scandinavian voyages, in all probability, which prompted the expedition of Columbus," can ever be established. His personal history furnishes strong internal evidence to
the contrary.
[26] How strikingly are the forlorn condition and indomitable energy of Columbus depicted in the following noble verses of Chiabrera;
"Certo da cor, ch' alto destin non scelse,
Son l' imprese magnanime neglette;
Ma le bell' alme alle bell' opre elette
Sanno gioir nelle fatiche eccelse;
Nè biasnio popolar, frale catena,
Spirto d'onore, il suo cammin reffrena.
Così lunga stagion per modi indegni
Europa disprezzò l'inclita speme,
Schernendo il vulgo, e seco i Regi insieme,
_Nudo nocchier, promettitor di Regni._"
Rime, parte 1, canzone 12.
[27] Columbus, in a letter written on his third voyage, pays an honest, heartfelt tribute to the effectual patronage which he experienced from the queen. "In the midst of the general incredulity," says he, "the Almighty infused into the queen, my lady, the spirit of intelligence and energy; and, whilst every one else, in his ignorance, was expatiating only on the inconvenience and cost, her Highness approved it, on the contrary, and gave it all the support in her power." See Carta al Ama del Principe D. Juan, apud Navarrete, Coleccion de Viages, tom. i. p. 266.
See also: 1484-1492 ,The first voyage
The History of the Reign of Ferdinand and Isabella The Catholic, Vol. 2, by William H. Prescott

20 de febrero de 2009


The subsequent year Cabot made a second voyage, inspecting the American coast northward till icebergs were met, southward to the vicinity of Albemarle Sound. Possibly in his first expedition, probably in the second, John Cabot was accompanied by his more famous son, Sebastian.
For many years after the Cabots, England made little effort to explore the New World. Henry VII. was a Catholic. He therefore submitted to the Pope's bull which gave America to Spain. Henry VIII. had married Catherine of Aragon. He allowed Ferdinand, her father, to employ the skill and daring of Sebastian Cabot in behalf of Spain. It was reserved for the splendid reign of Elizabeth to show what English courage and endurance could accomplish in extending England's power.
See also: 1506-1513


In 1604 De Monts arrived on the coast of Nova Scotia and erected a fort at the mouth of the St. Croix, New Brunswick. He also made a settlement on the shore of the present harbor of Annapolis, naming it Port Royal, and the country around it Acadia. De Monts is famous largely because under him the Sieur de Champlain, the real father of French colonization in America, began his illustrious career. He had entered the St. Lawrence in 1603. In 1608 he founded Quebec, the first permanent colony of New France. The next year he explored the lake which perpetuates his name. In 1615 he saw Lake Huron, Le Caron, the Franciscan, preceding him in this only by a few days. Fired with ardor for discovery, Champlain joined the Hurons in an attack upon the Iroquois. This led him into what is now New York State, but whether the Indian camp first attacked by him was on Onondaga or on Canandaigua Lake is still in debate. These were
but the beginning of Champlain's travels, by which many other Frenchmen, some as missionaries, some as traders, were inspired to press far out into the then unknown West. We shall resume the narrative in Chapter VII of the next period. Champlain died at Quebec in 1635.
See also: 1570

18 de febrero de 2009

1497, 1515

Turn back now to Columbus's time. England, destined to dominate the continent of North America, was also practically the discoverer of the same. On St. John's day, June 24, 1497, thirteen months and a week before Columbus saw South America, John Cabot, a Venetian in the service of King Henry VII., from the deck of the good ship Matthew, of Bristol, descried land somewhere on the coast either of Labrador or of Nova Scotia. Cabot, of course, supposed this prima vista of his to belong to Asia, and expected to reach Cipango next voyage. So late as 1543 Jean Allefonsce, on reaching New England, took it for the border of Tartary.
Andre Thevet, in 1515, in a pretended voyage to Maine, places Cape Breton on the west coast of Asia. This confusion probably explains the tradition of Norumbega as a great city, and of other populous and wealthy cities in the newly found land. Men transferred ideas of Eastern Asia to this American shore.
See also: 1498, 1506-1513


How the French fought for foothold in Florida and were routed by the Spaniards has just been related. So early as 1504, and possibly much earlier, before Cabot or Columbus, French sailors were familiar with the fisheries of Newfoundland. To the Isle of Cape Breton they gave its name in remembrance of their own Brittany. The attention of the French Government was thus early directed toward America, and it at length determined to share in the new discoveries along with the Spanish and the English.
In 1524 Verrazano, a Florentine navigator, was sent by Francis I. on a voyage of discovery to the New World. Sighting the shores of America near the present Wilmington, North Carolina, he explored the coast of New Jersey, touched land near New York Bay, and anchored a few days in the harbor of Newport. In this vicinity he came upon an island, which was probably Block Island. Sailing from here along the coast as far north as Newfoundland, he named this vast territory New France.
In 1534 Cartier, a noted voyager of St. Malo, coasted along the north of Newfoundland, passed through the Straits of Belle Isle into the water now known as St. Lawrence Gulf, and into the mouth of the Saint Lawrence River. Erecting a cross, he took possession of the shores in the name of the king of France.
In the following year he made a second voyage, going up as far as the mouth of a small river which the year before he had named St. John's. He called the waters the Bay of St. Lawrence. Ascending this, he came to a settlement of the natives near a certain hill, which he called Mont
Royal, now modified into "Montreal." Cartier returned to France in 1536, only a few of his men having survived the winter.
In 1540 Lord Roberval fitted out a fleet, with Cartier as subordinate. Cartier sailed at once--his third voyage--Roberval following the next year. A fort was built near the present site of Quebec. Roberval and Cartier disagreed and returned to France, leaving the real foundation of Quebec to be laid by Champlain, much later.
See also: 1528-1540


Moreover, the Spaniards found their first American conquests too easy, and the rewards of these too great. This prevented all thought of developing the country through industry, concentrating expectation solely upon waiting fortunes, to be had from the natives by the sword or through forced labor in mines, Their treatment of the aborigineswas nothing short of diabolical. Well has it been said: "The Spaniards had sown desolation, havoc, and misery in and around their track. They had depopulated some of the best peopled of the islands and renewed them with victims deported from others. They had inflicted upon hundreds of thousands of the natives all the forms and agonies of fiendish cruelty, driving them to self-starvation and suicide, as a way of mercy and release from an utterly wretched existence. They had come to be viewed by their victims as fiends of hate, malignity, and all dark and cruel desperation and mercilessness in passion. The hell which they denounced upon their victims was shorn of its worst terror by the assurance that these tormentors were not to be there. Las Casas, the noble missionary, the true soldier of the cross, and the few priests and monks who sympathized with him, in vain protested against these cruelties."
To all these causes we must add the narrow colonial policy of Spain.
Imitating Venice and ancient Carthage instead of Greece, she held her dependencies under the straitest servitude to herself as conquered provinces, repressing all political or commercial independence. A similar restrictive policy, indeed, hampered the colonies of other nations, but it was nowhere else so irrational or blighting as in Spanish America.
See also: 1565

17 de febrero de 2009


But Spain claimed this territory, and Pedro Melendez a Spanish soldier, was in 1565 sent by Philip II. to conquer it from the French, doubly detested as Protestants. He landed in the harbor and at the mouth of the river, to both of which he gave the name Saint Augustine. Melendez lost no time in attacking Fort Carolina, which he surprised, putting the garrison mercilessly to the sword. The destruction of the French colony was soon after avenged by Dominic de Gourgues, who sailed from France to punish the enemies of his country. Having accomplished his purpose by the slaughter of the Spanish garrison he returned home, but the French Protestants made no further effort to colonize Florida.
Spain claimed the land by right of discovery, but, although maintaining the feeble settlement at Saint Augustine, did next to nothing after this to explore or civilize this portion of America. The nation that had sent out Columbus was not destined to be permanently the great power of the New World. The hap of first landing upon the Antilles, and also the warm climate and the peaceable nature of the aborigines, led Spain to fix her settlements in latitudes that were too low for the best health and the greatest energy. Most of the settlers were of a wretched class, criminals and adventurers, and they soon mixed largely with the natives.
Spain herself greatly lacked in vigor, partly from national causes, partly from those obscure general causes which even to this day keep Latin Europe, in military power and political accomplishments, inferior to Teutonic or Germanic Europe.
See also:1562

16 de febrero de 2009


Thus no settlement had as yet been made in Florida by the Spanish. The first occupation destined to be permanent was brought about through religious jealousy inspired by the establishment of a French Protestant (Huguenot) colony in the territory. Ribault, a French captain commissioned by Charles IX., was put in command of an expedition by that famous Huguenot, Admiral Coligny, and landed on the coast of Florida, at the mouth of the St. John's, which he called the River of May. This was in 1562. The name Carolina, which that section still bears, was given to a fort at Port Royal, or St. Helena. Ribault returned to France, where civil war was then raging between the Catholics and the Protestants or Huguenots. His colony, waiting for promised aid and foolishly making no attempt to cultivate the soil, soon languished. Dissensions arose, and an effort was made to return home. Famine having carried off the greater number, the colony came to an end. In 1564 Coligny sent out Laudonniere, who built another fort, also named Carolina, on the River of May. Again misfortunes gathered thickly about the settlers, when Ribault arrived bringing supplies.
See also:1528-1540


The disastrous failure of the expedition of Vasquez de Ayllon to Florida did not discourage attempts on the part of others in the same direction. Velaspuez, governor of Cuba, jealous of the success of Cortez in Mexico, had sent Pamphilo de Narvaez to arrest him. In this attempt Narvaez had been defeated and taken prisoner. Undeterred by this failure he had solicited and received of Charles V. the position of governor over Florida, a territory at that time embracing the whole southern part of what is now the United States, and reaching from Cape Sable to the Panuco, or River of Palms, in Mexico. With three hundred men he, in 1528, landed near Appalachee Bay, and marched inland with the hope of opening a country rich and populous. Bitterly was he disappointed.
Swamps and forests, wretched wigwams with their squalid inmates everywhere met his view, but no gold was to be found. Discouraged, he and his followers returned to the coast, where almost superhuman toil and skill enabled them to build five boats, in which they hoped to work westward to the Spanish settlements. Embarking, they stole cautiously along the coast for some distance, but were at last driven by a storm upon an island, perhaps Galveston, perhaps Santa Rosa, where Narvaez and most of his men perished. Four of his followers survived to cross Texas to the Gulf of California and reach the town of San Miguel on the west coast of Mexico. Here they found their countrymen, searching as usual for pearls, gold, and slaves, and by their help they made a speedy return to Spain, heroes of as remarkable an adventure as history records. These unfortunates were the first Europeans to visit New Mexico. Their narrative led to the exploration of that country by Coronado and others, and to the discoveries of Cortez in Lower California.
Ferdinand de Soto, eager to rival the exploits of Cortez in Mexico, and of his former commander, Pizarro, in Peru, offered to conquer Florida at his own expense. Appointed governor-general of Florida and of Cuba, he sailed with seven large and three small vessels. From Espiritu Santo Bay he, in 1539, marched with six hundred men into the country of the Appalachians and discovered the harbor of Pensacola. After wintering at Appalachee he set out into the interior, said to abound in gold and silver. Penetrating northeasterly as far as the Savannah, he found only copper and mica. From here he marched first northwest into northern central Georgia, then southwest into Alabama. A battle was fought with the natives at Mavila, or Mobile, in which the Spaniards suffered serious loss. Ships that he had ordered arrived at Pensacola, but de Soto determined not to embark until success should have crowned his efforts. He turned back into the interior, into the country of the Chickasaws, marched diagonally over the present State of Mississippi to its northwest corner, and crossed the Mississippi River near the lowest Chickasaw Bluff. From this point the general direction of the Spanish progress was southwest, through what is now Arkansas, past the site of Little Rock, till at last a river which seems to have been the Washita was reached. Down this stream de Soto and his decimated force floated--two hundred and fifty of his men had succumbed to the hardships and perils of his march--arriving at the junction of the Red with the Mississippi River on Sunday, April 17, 1542. At this point de Soto sickened and died, turning over the command to Luis de Moscoso. Burying their late leader's corpse at night deep in the bosom of the great river, and constructing themselves boats, the survivors of this ill-fated expedition, now reduced to three hundred and seventy-two persons, made the best of their way down the Mississippi to the Gulf, and along its coast, finally reaching the Spanish town near the mouth of the Panuco in Mexico.
See also: 1518-1520

15 de febrero de 2009

Brasil 1510-1521

Dá á costa na Bahia de Todos os Santos hum navio Portuguez. A maior parte da tripulação e passageiros morreo ou no naufragio ou ás mãos dos Indigenas. Diogo Alvares Corrêa porém consegue a sua salvação e até fazer-se respeitado e amado desses póvos anthropophagos por ter podido salvar comsigo huma arma de fogo, com a qual ajudou-os a debellar e vencer os seus formidaveis inimigos. Denominarão-o por isso o Caramurú, que quer dizer o homem de fogo.
João Dias Solis ao serviço da Hespanha percorre a costa do Brasil desde o Cabo de Santo Agostinho até o Rio da Prata, ao qual deo o seu nome (e, posto que este rio tivesse perdido o nome de Solis para receber o de Prata, comtudo ainda hoje ha o rio de Solis que nelle desagua, e que conserva immortal o nome deste illustre navegante). N'esta viagem descobre elle a Bahia de Nictherohy, depois chamada do Rio de Janeiro. (É grave questão quem tenha sido o descobridor desta Bahia, si Americo Vespucio, si Gonçalo Coelho, si Solis, si Magalhães e Falleiro, ou si Martim Affonso. Alguns AA. até querem que tivesse sido em 1501. (V. Pizarro, Memorias do Rio de Janeiro; e Varnaghen, Notas ao Roteiro de Pero Lopes)). Esta expedição deo lugar a questões de limites e a reclamações entre Portugal e Hespanha, sobretudo á vista da celebre decisão do Papa Alexandre 6. º. O Imperador Carlos 5. º, então Rei de Hespanha, attendeo a todas as reclamações, e até punio os implicados em semelhante expedição como quebrantadores da paz entre os dous Reinos.
Entrão na Bahia do Rio de Janeiro os celebres Portuguezes Fernando de Magalhães, e Ruy Falleiro, então ao serviço de Hespanha, os quaes se destinavão a fazer o primeiro giro á roda do globo (13 de Dezembro). Partem ao depois para o seu destino; e Magalhães dá o seu nome ao estreito que communica o Atlantico ao Pacifico no S. da America entre a Patagonia e Terra-do-Fogo.
Morre El-Rei D. Manoel (13 de Dezembro).--Durante o seu reinado toda a attenção estava absorvida pela India, cujas riquezas já de muito erão conhecidas na Europa; de sorte que, não merecendo cuidado o Brasil, apenas se enviarão a povoar e colonisar o paiz degradados, criminosos, prostitutas emfim a escória da sociedade. Taes forão por muito tempo os primeiros colonos!
Sóbe ao throno D. João III, filho e successor de D. Manoel.--Melhor informado que seu Pae, e por isso muito esperando das novas terras na America, leva este Rei sua attenção para as colonias em geral, e muito especialmente para o Brasil.

Leia também: Brasil 1500-1503

14 de febrero de 2009

Brasil 1500-1503


Reinando em Portugal El-Rei D. Manoel, parte de Lisboa huma esquadrilha sob o commando de Pedro Alvares Cabral com destino á India, cujo caminho pelo Cabo Tormentorio ou de Boa-Esperança havia sido descoberto por Bartholomeo Dias e Vasco da Gama; porém obrigado a descambar para O. afim de desviar-se das cóstas, é acossado pelos ventos e impellido cada vez mais para este rumo. Entregue assim á mercê da Providencia, avista elle terras da America Meridional em 22 de Abril. (Muito divergem os Historiadores sobre o dia do descobrimento do Brasil; porém a opinião mais geralmente seguida, ao menos até certa época, foi a de Ozorio, Barros, e outros que assignalão a este acontecimento o dia 24 de Abril, fundados talvez na relação de um piloto que vinha nesta expedição e por isso testemunha ocular. Nós porém assignalamos o dia 22, fundados na carta que a D. Manoel escreveo Pedro Vaz de Caminha, que vinha na expedição como Escrivão da armada, testemunha ocular, e digna de todo o conceito; carta que se vê publicada pelo P. Ayres do Cazal na sua insigne--Corographia Brasilica,--e mais accuradamente nas--Noticias Ultramarinas Tom. 4.º Além disto temos em nosso apoio as autoridades mui valiosas do mesmo Cazal, de Varnaghen, de Fr. Francisco de S. Luiz no seu Indice Chronologico e de outros Escriptores. Accresce que os proprios Autores que opinão ter sido o dia 24, nos ministrão armas para nos confirmarmos nesta nossa opinião: porque o mencionado piloto assevera ter sido o descobrimento na Quarta feira do oitavario de Pascoa, que he exactamente o mesmo que diz Caminha na carta citada. Estando pois concordes huma e outra testemunha ocular no dia da semana, alguma se engana no dia do mez. E com effeito, tendo sido neste anno o dia de Pascoa em 19 de Abril (V. Taboa Chronologica da Arte de verificar as datas), Quarta feira do oitavario não podia ser senão 22, como com toda a razão diz Caminha, e não 24 como menos exactamente affirma o piloto referido).--Ao primeiro monte avistado dérão o nome de monte Pascoal e á terra Terra da Vera Cruz (que depois chamárão de Santa Cruz, e mais tarde Brasil).--Desembarca Pedro Alvares Cabral no lugar denominado mais tarde Porto seguro. No dia 1.º de Maio planta a Cruz com o padrão das Armas de Portugal em signal de solemne posse do paiz para a Corôa Portugueza. Depois de despachar para Lisboa o Capitão Gaspar de Lemos a dar parte a El-Rei da inesperada e felicissima descoberta, faz-se de véla para o Cabo de Boa-Esperança e India seu primeiro destino.

Ao mando de Gonçalo Coelho chega ao Brasil a primeira expedição Portugueza para explorar as costas das novas terras. (N'esta expedição, segundo alguns escriptores, veio tambem o celebre Americo Vespucio em serviço de Portugal. E outros, como seja Fr. Francisco de S. Luiz no seu Indice Chronologico, dão a entender que esta expedição foi commandada por Americo, o qual não só percorreo toda a costa do Brasil até o Prata, como chegou á Patagonia: porém, a darmos crédito ás cartas do próprio Americo, lá temos nas Noticias Ultramarinas, Tom. 2.º, a sua 1.ª carta, da qual se deprehende que não era elle o Capitão da expedição).

Segunda expedição é enviada ao Brasil ás ordens de Christovão Jacques. (Alguns Escriptores dizem ter sido ás ordens de Fernão de Noronha, primeiro Donatario da ilha do mesmo nome). Descobre elle a Bahia de Todos os Santos (segundo Fr. Francisco de S. Luiz na obra já citada, foi esta bahia descoberta por Americo Vespucio em huma segunda expedição que fez por mandado do Rei); e funda huma Colonia em Vera-Cruz. Depois desta expedição começa a ser levado á Europa o páo brasil, donde veio a denominação que ora tem o paiz. (Segundo alguns Escriptores, Christovão Jacques explorando as costas foi plantando padrões nos lugares mais apropriados; porém, segundo outros, cabe este feito a Martim Affonso de Sousa).

Leia também: 1500-1507


If the ancient Chaldæans gave to the planetary conjunctions an influence over terrestrial events, let us remember that in our own time people have searched for connection between terrestrial conditions and periods of unusual prevalence of sun spots; while De la Rue, Loewy, and Balfour Stewart thought they found a connection between sun-spot displays and the planetary positions. Thus we find scientific men, even in our own time, responsible for the belief that storms in the Indian Ocean, the fertility of German vines, famines in India, and high or low Nile-floods in Egypt follow the planetary positions.

And, again, the desire to foretell the weather is so laudable that we cannot blame the ancient Greeks for announcing the influence of the moon with as much confidence as it is affirmed in Lord Wolseley’s Soldier’s Pocket Book.

Even if the scientific spirit of observation and deduction (astronomy) has sometimes led to erroneous systems for predicting terrestrial events (astrology), we owe to the old astronomer and astrologer alike the deepest gratitude for their diligence in recording astronomical events. For, out of the scanty records which have survived the destructive acts of fire and flood, of monarchs and mobs, we have found much that has helped to a fuller knowledge of the heavenly motions than was possible without these records.

So Hipparchus, about 150 B.C., and Ptolemy a little later, were able to use the observations of Chaldæan astrologers, as well as those of Alexandrian astronomers, and to make some discoveries which have helped the progress of astronomy in all ages. So, also, Mr. Cowell has examined the marks made on the baked bricks used by the Chaldæans for recording the eclipses of 1062 B.C. and 762 B.C.; and has thereby been enabled, in the last few years, to correct the lunar tables of Hansen, and to find a more accurate value for the secular acceleration of the moon’s longitude and the node of her orbit than any that could be obtained from modern observations made with instruments of the highest precision.

So again, Mr. Hind was enabled to trace back the period during which Halley’s comet has been a member of the solar system, and to identify it in the Chinese observations of comets as far back as 12 B.C. Cowell and Cromellin extended the date to 240 B.C. In the same way the comet 1861.i. has been traced back in the Chinese records to 617 A.D.

The theoretical views founded on Newton’s great law of universal gravitation led to the conclusion that the inclination of the earth’s equator to the plane of her orbit (the obliquity of the ecliptic) has been diminishing slowly since prehistoric times; and this fact has been confirmed by Egyptian and Chinese observations on the length of the shadow of a vertical pillar, made thousands of years before the Christian era, in summer and winter.

There are other reasons why we must be tolerant of the crude notions of the ancients. The historian, wishing to give credit wherever it may be due, is met by two difficulties. Firstly, only a few records of very ancient astronomy are extant, and the authenticity of many of these is open to doubt. Secondly, it is very difficult to divest ourselves of present knowledge, and to appreciate the originality of thought required to make the first beginnings.

With regard to the first point, we are generally dependent upon histories written long after the events. The astronomy of Egyptians, Babylonians, and Assyrians is known to us mainly through the Greek historians, and for information about the Chinese we rely upon the researches of travellers and missionaries in comparatively recent times. The testimony of the Greek writers has fortunately been confirmed, and we now have in addition a mass of facts translated from the original sculptures, papyri, and inscribed bricks, dating back thousands of years.

In attempting to appraise the efforts of the beginners we must remember that it was natural to look upon the earth (as all the first astronomers did) as a circular plane, surrounded and bounded by the heaven, which was a solid vault, or hemisphere, with its concavity turned downwards. The stars seemed to be fixed on this vault; the moon, and later the planets, were seen to crawl over it. It was a great step to look on the vault as a hollow sphere carrying the sun too. It must have been difficult to believe that at midday the stars are shining as brightly in the blue sky as they do at night. It must have been difficult to explain how the sun, having set in the west, could get back to rise in the east without being seen if it was always the same sun. It was a great step to suppose the earth to be spherical, and to ascribe the diurnal motions to its rotation. Probably the greatest step ever made in astronomical theory was the placing of the sun, moon, and planets at different distances from the earth instead of having them stuck on the vault of heaven. It was a transition from “flatland” to a space of three dimensions.

Great progress was made when systematic observations began, such as following the motion of the moon and planets among the stars, and the inferred motion of the sun among the stars, by observing their heliacal risings—i.e., the times of year when a star would first be seen to rise at sunrise, and when it could last be seen to rise at sunset. The grouping of the stars into constellations and recording their places was a useful observation. The theoretical prediction of eclipses of the sun and moon, and of the motions of the planets among the stars, became later the highest goal in astronomy.

To not one of the above important steps in the progress of astronomy can we assign the author with certainty. Probably many of them were independently taken by Chinese, Indian, Persian, Tartar, Egyptian, Babylonian, Assyrian, Phoenician, and Greek astronomers. And we have not a particle of information about the discoveries, which may have been great, by other peoples—by the Druids, the Mexicans, and the Peruvians, for example.

We do know this, that all nations required to have a calendar. The solar year, the lunar month, and the day were the units, and it is owing to their incommensurability that we find so many calendars proposed and in use at different times. The only object to be attained by comparing the chronologies of ancient races is to fix the actual dates of observations recorded, and this is not a part of a history of astronomy.

In conclusion, let us bear in mind the limited point of view of the ancients when we try to estimate their merit. Let us remember that the first astronomy was of two dimensions; the second astronomy was of three dimensions, but still purely geometrical. Since Kepler’s day we have had a dynamical astronomy.

See also:
Newtonian Dynamics and Gravitation


Juan de Grijalva explored the south coast of the Gulf of Mexico, from Yucatan toward the Panuco. Interest attaches to this enterprise mainly because the treasure which Grijalva collected aroused the envy and greed of the future conqueror of Mexico, Hernan Cortez.

In 1518, Velasquez, governor of Cuba, sends Cortez westward, with eleven ships and over six hundred men, for the purpose of exploration. He landed at Tabasco, thence proceeded to the Island of San Juan de Ulua, nearly opposite Vera Cruz, where he received messengers and gifts from the Emperor Montezuma. Ordered to leave the country, he destroyed his ships and marched directly upon the capital. He seized Montezuma and held him as a hostage for the peaceable conduct of his subjects. The Mexicans took up arms, only to be defeated again and again by the
Spaniards. Montezuma became a vassal of the Spanish crown, and covenanted to pay annual tribute. Attempting to reconcile his people to this agreement he was himself assailed and wounded, and, refusing all nourishment, soon after died. With re-enforcements, Cortez completed the conquest of the country, and Mexico became a province of Spain.
Vasquez de Ayllon, one of the auditors of the Island of Santo Domingo, sent two ships from that island to the Bahamas for Indians to be sold as slaves. Driven from their course by the wind, they at length reached the shore of South Carolina, at the mouth of the Wateree River, which they named the Jordan, calling the country Chicora. Though kindly treated by the natives, the ruthless adventurers carried away some seventy of these. One ship was lost, and most of the captives on the others died during the voyage. Vasquez was, by the Emperor Charles V., King of
Spain, made governor of this new province, and again set sail to take possession. But the natives, in revenge for the cruel treatment which they had previously received, made a furious attack upon the invaders.
The few survivors of the slaughter returned to Santo Domingo, and the expedition was abandoned. These voyages were in 1520 and 1526.

In connection with the subject of Spanish voyages, a passing notice should be given to one, who, though not of Spanish birth, yet did much to further the progress of discovery on the part of his adopted country.
Magellan was a Portuguese navigator who had been a child when Columbus came back in triumph from the West Indies. Refused consideration from King Emmanuel, of Portugal, for a wound received under his flag during the war against Morocco, he renounced his native land and offered his services to the sagacious Charles V., of Spain, who gladly accepted them, With a magnificent fleet, Magellan, in 1519, set sail from Seville, cherishing Columbus's bold purpose, which no one had yet realized, of reaching the East Indies by a westward voyage, After touching at the Canaries, he explored the coast of South America, passed through the strait now called by his name, discovered the Ladrone Islands, and christened the circumjacent ocean the Pacific.

The illustrious navigator now sailed for the Philippine Islands, so named from Philip, son of Charles V., who succeeded that monarch as Philip II. By the Tordesillas division above described, the islands were properly in the Portuguese hemisphere, but on the earliest maps, made by Spaniards, they were placed twenty-five degrees too far east, and this circumstance, whether accidental or designed, has preserved them to Spain even to the present time. At the Philippine Islands Magellan was killed in an affray with the natives. One of his ships, the Victoria, after sailing around the Cape of Good Hope, arrived in Spain, having been the first to circumnavigate the globe. The voyage had taken three years and twenty-eight days.

See also: 1506-1513

13 de febrero de 2009


Before the death of Columbus, Spain had taken firm possession of Cuba, Porto Rico, and St. Domingo, and she stood ready to seize any of the adjoining islands or lands so soon as gold, pearls, or aught else of value should be found there. Cruises of discovery were made in every direction, first, indeed, in Central and South America. In 1506 de Solis sailed along the eastern coast of Yucatan. In 1513 the governor of a colony on the Isthmus of Darien, Vasco Nunez de Balboa, from the top of a lofty mountain on the isthmus, saw what is now called the Pacific Ocean. He designated it the South Sea, a name which it habitually bore till far into the eighteenth century. From this time the exploration and settlement of the western coast, both up and down, went on with Little interruption, but this history, somewhat foreign to our theme, we cannot detail.

The same year, 1513, Ponce de Leon, an old Spanish soldier in the wars with the Moors, a companion of Columbus in his second voyage, and till now governor of Porto Rico, began exploration to the northward. Leaving Porto Rico with three ships, he landed on the coast of an unknown country, where he thought to find not only infinite gold but also the much-talked-about fountain of perpetual youth. His landing occurred on Easter Sunday, or Pascua Florida, March 27, 1513, and so he named the country Florida. The place was a few miles north of the present town of
St. Augustine. Exploring the coast around the southern extremity of the peninsula, he sailed among a group of islands, which he designated the Tortugas. Returning to Porto Rico, he was appointed governor of the new country. He made a second voyage, was attacked by the natives and mortally wounded, and returned to Cuba to die.

See also: 1498


As we have seen, Spain by no means deserves the entire credit of bringing the western continent to men's knowledge. Columbus himself was an Italian. So was Marco Polo, his inspirer, and also Toscanelli, his instructor, by whose chart he sailed his ever-memorable voyage. To Portugal as well Columbus was much indebted, despite his rebuff there.
Portugal then led the world in the art of navigation and in enthusiasm for discovery. Nor, probably, would Columbus have asked her aid in vain, had she not previously committed herself to the enterprise of reaching India eastward, a purpose brilliantly fulfilled when, in 1498, Vasco da Gama rounded the Cape of Good Hope and sailed to Calicut, on the coast of Malabar. Already before this Spain and Portugal were rivals in the search for new lands, and Pope Alexander VI. had had to be appealed to, to fix their fields. By his bull of May 3, 4, 1493, he ordained as the separating line the meridian passing through a point one hundred leagues west of the Azores, where Columbus had observed the needle of his compass to point without deflection toward the north star. Portugal objecting to this boundary as excluding her from the longitude of the newly found Indies, by the treaty of Tordesillas, June 7, 1494, the two powers, with the Pope's assent, moved the line two hundred and seventy leagues still farther west. At this time neither party dreamed of the complications destined subsequently to arise in reference to the position of this meridian on the other side of the globe.
The meridian of the Tordesillas convention had been supposed still to give Spain all the American discoveries likely to be made, it being ascertained only later that by it Portugal had obtained a considerable part of the South American mainland Brazil, we know, was, till in 1822 it became independent, a Portuguese dependency. Spain, however, retained both groups of the Antilles with the entire main about the Gulf of Mexico, and became the earliest great principality in the western world.

See also: 1500-1507

11 de febrero de 2009


As Columbus was ignorant of having found a new continent, so was he denied the honor of giving it a name, this falling by accident, design, or carelessness of truth, to Amerigo Vespucci, a native of Florence, whose active years were spent in Spain and Portugal. Vespucci made three voyages into the western seas. In the second, 1501, he visited the coast of Brazil, and pushed farther south than any navigator had yet done, probably so far as the island of South Georgia, in latitude 54 degrees.
His account of this voyage found its way into print in 1504, at Augsburg, Germany, the first published narrative of any discovery of the mainland. Although, as above noted, it was not the earliest discovery of the main, it was widely regarded such, and caused Vespucci to be named for many years as the peer, if not the superior of Columbus. The publication ran through many editions. That of Strassburg, 1505, mentioned Vespucci on its title-page as having discovered a new "Southern Land." This is the earliest known utterance hinting at the continental nature of the new discovery, as separate from Asia, an idea which grew into a conviction only after Magellan's voyage, described in the next chapter. In 1507 appeared at St. Die, near Strassburg, a four-page pamphlet by one Lud, secretary to the Duke of Lorraine, describing Vespucci's voyages and speaking of the Indians as the "American race." This pamphlet came out the same year in another form, as part of a book entitled "Introduction to Cosmography," prepared by Martin Waldseemuller, under the nom de plume of "Hylacomylus." In this book the new "part of the world" is distinctly called "THE LAND OF AMERICUS, OR AMERICA," There is some evidence that Vespucci at least connived at the misapprehension which brought him his renown—as undeserved as it has become permanent--but this cannot be regarded as proved.

See also: 1493-1500


The Aden-Abyan Islamic Army, most recognized for its involvement in the 2000 bombing of the U.S.S. Cole, is allegedly affiliated with Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda network. The Yemen-based group has been implicated in several acts of terror since the late 1990s.
Aden-Abyan was formed sometime in either 1996 or 1997 as a loose guerrilla network of a few dozen men—a mix of veterans of the Soviet-Afghan war and Islamists from various countries. In May 1998, it issued the first of a series of political and religious statements on Yemeni and world affairs. In December 1998, Aden-Abyan kidnapped a party of 16 Western tourists in southern Yemen, 4 of whom later died during a botched rescue by Yemeni security forces. The leader of the group, Abu al-Hassan al-Mihdar, was executed for his role in the kidnappings.
Numerous connections have been drawn between Aden-Abyan and the Al Qaeda network. After the 1998 attack on the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, Aden-Abyan claimed it was a “heroic operation carried out by heroes of the jihad.” Later, following an American raid on Osama bin Laden’s camp in Afghanistan, Aden-Abyan announced its support for him and asked Yemeni people to kill Americans and destroy their property. It is also believed that Aden-Abyan ran a training camp in a remote part of southern Yemen; when the government tried to close it, a bin Laden representative attempted to intervene.
In October 2000, two suicide bombers aligned with Aden-Abyan exploded their boat alongside the U.S.S. Cole, in port in Aden. Most experts agree that the attack was the combined work of Aden-Abyan and Al Qaeda. One day after the Cole incident, a bomb was lobbed into the British Embassy, shattering Windows at both the embassy and nearby buildings. Four members of Aden-Abyan were later sentenced for the embassy bombing.While the Yemeni government claims to have wiped out Aden-Abyan, it is likely that it still exists as a loose, less organized band of Yemenis and non- Yemenis. In general, though, foreign involvement in jihad activity in Yemen has been decreasing as a result of more stringent security forces. In the month after the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, President Bush included Aden-Abyan on the frozenassets list, a measure that could push Aden-Abyan into further inactivity.

10 de febrero de 2009


The admiral having failed to note its latitude and longitude, it is not known which of the Bahamas was the San Salvador of Columbus, whether Grand Turk Island, Cat (the present San Salvador), Watling, Mariguana, Acklin, or Samana, though the last named well corresponds with his description. Mr. Justin Winsor, however, and with him a majority of the latest critics, believes that Watling's Island was the place. Before returning to Spain, Columbus discovered Cuba, and also Hayti or Espagnola (Hispaniola), on the latter of which islands he built a fort.

In a second voyage, from Cadiz, 1493-1496, the great explorer discovered the Lesser Antilles and Jamaica. In a third, 1498-1500, he came upon Trinidad and the mainland of South America, at the mouth of the Orinoco.
This was later by thirteen months and a week than the Cabots' landfall at Labrador or Nova Scotia, though a year before Amerigo Vespucci saw the coast of Brazil. It was during this third absence that Columbus, hated as an Italian and for his undeniable greed, was superseded by Bobadilla, who sent him and his brother home in chains. Soon free again, he sets off in 1502 upon a fourth cruise, in which he reaches the coast of Honduras.

To the day of his death, however, the discoverer of America never suspected that he had brought to light a new continent. Even during this his last expedition he maintained that the coast he had touched was that of Mangi, contiguous to Cathay, and that nineteen days of travel overland would have taken him to the Ganges. He arrived in Spain on September 12, 1504, and died at Segovia on May 20th of the next year.
His bones are believed to rest in the cathedral at Santo Domingo, transported thither in 1541, the Columbus-remains till recently at Havana being those of his son Diego. The latter, under the belief that they were the father's, were transferred to Genoa in 1887, and deposited there on July 2d of that year with the utmost ecclesiastical pomp.
See also: 1484-1492


The war for Granada ended, Santangel and others of his converts at court secured Columbus an interview with Isabella, but his demands seeming to her arrogant, he was dismissed. Nothing daunted, the hero had started for France, there to plead as he had pleaded in Portugal and Spain already, when to his joy a messenger overtook him with orders to come once more before the queen.

Fuller thought and argument had convinced this eminent woman that the experiment urged by Columbus ought to be tried and a contract was son concluded, by which, on condition that he should bear one-eighth the expense of the expedition, the public chest of Castile was to furnish the remainder. The story of the crown jewels having been pledged for this purpose is now discredited. If such pledging occurred, it was earlier, in prosecuting the war with the Moors. The whole sum needed for the voyage was about fifty thousand dollars. Columbus was made admiral, also viceroy of whatever lands should be discovered, and he was to have ten per cent of all the revenues from such lands. For his contribution to the outfit he was indebted to the Pinzons.

This arrangement was made in April or May, 1492, and on the third of the next August, after the utmost difficulty in shipping crews for this sail into the sea of darkness, Columbus put out from Palos with one hundred and twenty men, on three ships. These were the Santa Maria, the Nina, and the Pinta. The largest, the Santa Maria, was of not over one hundred tons, having a deck-length of sixty-three feet, a keel of fifty-one feet, a draft of ten feet six inches, and her mast-head sixty feet above sea-level. She probably had four anchors, with hemp cables.

From Palos they first bore southward to the Canary Islands, into the track of the prevalent east winds, then headed west, for Cipango, as Columbus supposed, but really toward the northern part of Florida. When a little beyond what he regarded the longitude of Cipango, noticing the flight of birds to the southwest, he was induced to follow these, which accident made his landfall occur at Guanahani (San Salvador), in the Bahamas, instead of the Florida coast.

Near midnight, between October 11th and 12th, Columbus, being on the watch, descried a light ahead. About two o'clock on the morning of the 12th the lookout on the Pinta distinctly saw land through the moonlight.
When it was day they went on shore. The 12th of October, 1492, therefore, was the date on which for the first time, so far as history attests with assurance, a European foot pressed the soil of this continent. Adding nine days to this to translate it into New Style, we have October 21st as the day answering to that on which Columbus first became sure that his long toil and watching had not been in vain.

See also: Enterprise of the Indies


Reflecting on these things, studying Perestrello's and Correo's charts and accounts of their voyages, corresponding with Toscanelli and other savans, himself an adept in drawing maps and sea-charts, for a time his occupation in Lisbon, cruising here and there, once far northward to Iceland, and talking with navigators from every Atlantic port, Columbus became acquainted with the best geographical science of his time.

This had convinced him that India could be reached by sailing westward.
The theoretical possibility of so doing was of course admitted by all who held the earth to be a sphere, but most regarded it practically impossible, in the then condition of navigation, to sail the necessary distance. Columbus considered the earth far smaller than was usually thought, a belief which we find hinted at so early as 1447, upon the famous mappe-Monde of the Pitti Palace in Florence, whereon Europe appears projected far round to the northwest. Columbus seems to have viewed this extension as a sort of yoke joining India to Scandinavia by the north. He judged that Asia, or at least Cipango, stretched two-thirds of the way to Europe, India being twice as near westward as eastward. Thirty or forty days he deemed sufficient for making it. Toscanelli and Behem as well as he held this belief; he dared boldly to act upon it.
But to do so required resources. There are indications that Columbus at some time, perhaps more than once, urged his scheme upon Genoa and Venice. If so it was in vain. Nor can we tell whether such an attempt, if made, was earlier or later than his plea before the court of Portugal, for this cannot be dated. The latter was probably in 1484.
King John II. Was impressed, and referred Columbus's scheme to a council of his wisest advisers, who denounced it as visionary. Hence in 1485 or 1486 Columbus proceeded to Spain to lay his project before Ferdinand and Isabella.

On the way he stopped at a Franciscan convent near Palos, begging bread for himself and son. The Superior, Marchena, became interested in him, and so did one of the Pinzons--famous navigators of Palos. The king and queen were at the time holding court at Cordova, and thither Columbus went, fortified with a recommendation from Marchena. The monarchs were engrossed in the final conquest of Granada, and Columbus had to wait through six weary and heart-sickening years before royal attention was turned to his cause. It must have been during this delay that he despatched his brother Bartholomew to England with an appeal to Henry VII. Christopher had brought Alexander Geraldinus, the scholar, and also the Archbishop of Toledo, to espouse his mission, and finally, at the latter's instance, Ferdinand, as John of Portugal had done, went so far as to convene, at Salamanca, a council of reputed scholars to pass judgment upon Columbus and his proposition. By these, as by the Portuguese, he was declared a misguided enthusiast. They were too much behind the age even to admit the spherical figure of the earth.
According to Scripture, they said, the earth is flat, adding that it was contrary to reason for men to walk heads downward, or snow and rain to ascend, or trees to grow with their roots upward.

See also: 1470-1484


From 1470 to 1484 we find him in Portugal, the country most interested and engaged then in ocean-going and discovery. Here he must have known Martin Behem, author of the famous globe, finished in 1492, whereon Asia is exhibited as reaching far into the same hemisphere with Europe.
Prince Henry of Portugal earnestly patronized all schemes for exploration and discovery, and the daughter, Philippa, of one of his captains, Perestrello, Columbus married. With her he lived at Porto
Santo in the Madeiras, where he became familiar with Correo, her sister's husband, also a distinguished navigator. The islanders fully believed in the existence of lands in the western Atlantic. West winds had brought to them strange woods curiously carved, huge cane-brakes like those of India described by Ptolemy, peculiarly fashioned canoes, and corpses with skin of a hue unknown to Europe or Africa.
See also: Enterprise of the Indies

8 de febrero de 2009

1000, United States

There is no end to the accounts of alleged discoveries of America before Columbus. Most of these are fables. It is, indeed, nearly certain that hardy Basque, Breton, and Norman fishermen, adventuring first far north, then west, had sighted Greenland and Labrador and become well acquainted with the rich fishing-grounds about Newfoundland and the Saint Lawrence Gulf. Many early charts of these regions, without dates and hitherto referred to Portuguese navigators of a time so late as 1500, are now thought to be the work of these earlier voyagers. They found the New World, but considered it a part of the Old.

Important, too, is the story of supposed Norse sea-rovers hither, derived from certain Icelandic manuscripts of the fourteenth century. It is a pleasing narrative, that of Lief Ericson's sail in 1000-1001 to Helluland, Markland, and at last to Vineland, and of the subsequent tours by Thorwald Ericson in 1002, Thorfinn Karlsefne, 1007-1009, and of Helge and Finnborge in 1011, to points still farther away. Such voyages probably occurred. As is well known, Helluland has been interpreted to be Newfoundland; Markland, Nova Scotia; and Vineland, the country bordering Mount Hope Bay in Bristol, R. I. These identifications are possibly correct, and even if they are mistaken, Vineland may still have been somewhere upon the coast of what is now the United States.

In the present condition of the evidence, however, we have to doubt this. No scholar longer believes that the writing on Dighton Rock is Norse, or that the celebrated Skeleton in Armor found at Fall River was a Northman's, or that the old Stone Mill at Newport was constructed by men from Iceland. Even if the manuscripts, composed between three and four hundred years after the events which they are alleged to narrate, are genuine, and if the statements contained in them are true, the latter are far too indefinite to let us be sure that they are applicable to United States localities.