When October rolls around, the United States celebrates Columbus Day, a celebration of all things Christopher Columbus. He might be one of the most famous explorers in history, but some of the stories regarding the adventures of Columbus seem more like lore than fact. To separate them from the fiction, here are some interesting facts about Christopher Columbus.
1. The Earth Is Not a Pancake
Columbus didn’t set sail because he wanted to prove to everyone that the world was round. The first theory that the world was round instead of flat dates back to the early days of the Greek empire. By the time 1492 rolled around and Columbus sailed the ocean blue, he knew it wasn’t flat like a pancake. If you were educated, you believed that already.
2. Columbus Discovered Something Already Discovered
Leif Eriksson Day happens around the same time as Columbus Day, but you’d never know it. In the 9th and 10th centuries, the Viking population was exploring as much as the Europeans were during the Age of Discovery. They established several colonies and it is believed at least one colony was in North America. The Celts might have sailed across the Atlantic before Eriksson and even some Biblical scholars believe that when Jonah was sailing away from God, he was going to a colony in North America.
3. Columbus Sailed On a Prostitute?
Many people know the story of Columbus in that there were three ships. The Santa Maria, the Nina, and the Pinta are part of the tale, but two of the three are wrong. The Nina was actually named the Santa Clara. As for the Pinta, well… that’s up for debate. Some say that the name La Pinta, or a slang term for a Prostitute, is probably a nickname. The actual name of it isn’t actually known.
4. Everyone Said Columbus Was Wrong
As Columbus lobbied for funding to explore, three countries refused to pay for his voyage. Their reasoning was simple. Columbus was trying to reach Asia to get a new trade route. Everyone believed his calculations were wrong and that his voyage would be longer than anticipated. They were right – Asia going across the Atlantic was quite far away. For Columbus, stumbling upon the Americas turned out to be a life saver.
5. Columbus Sailed 4 Times
By 1502, Columbus had four times sailed the ocean blue to the Americas. He went to the Caribbean, South America, and Central America. He even became the governor of Hispaniola, a brutal government that cut the hands off of natives who didn’t collect enough gold. He’d execute rebels at the gallows. Eventually Columbus was returned to Spain in chains. That’s when his fourth voyage was authorized, though his ruling abilities were eliminated.
6. A Lunar Eclipse Saved His Life
Tired, hungry, and abandoned by half his crew, the Winter of 1504 was tough for Columbus. Stuck in Jamaica, however, he knew that a lunar eclipse was coming. He approached the local population, told them that God was upset that they wouldn’t care for him, and that the moon would show God’s wrath. The eclipse came, turned the moon red, and the next day Columbus got provisions and desperate requests for prayer.