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


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