Mostrando las entradas de febrero 13, 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


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