Christopher Columbus, an explorer and navigator of Italian origin, credited with discovering the “New World” (the Americas) although quite a number of people disagree because the so called “New World” was already being occupied by Native Americans who had lived there for thousands of years. He set off from the Port of Palos, Spain in 1942 and made a total of four voyages across the Atlantic. Columbus was known for bravery, inventing civilization and introducing commercialism.
Pros of Christopher Columbus
A lot could be said for his bravery; daring to succeed in the face of grave danger in the form of chartered waters, vile winds, relegating to the background, the fear for the unknown. He triumphed were others had failed as a lot of adventurers lost their lives trying to cross the Atlantic. This helped to open up the world in the area of communications and the establishment of trade routes that encouraged civilization in many parts of the world.
2. A Commercialist
Commercial activities was revolutionized, wealth and power belonged to the traders who plied the route chartered by Columbus. The Europeans now had access to condiments, remedies and crops they otherwise would not have known about. The exchange of language, food, animals and religion was certainly quite beneficial to the Europeans and Native Americans.
3. Investor of Modern Civilization
The accomplishments of Columbus brought to light the need for mutual exchange of ideas, laws, beliefs, and communication amongst territories.
Cons of Christopher Columbus
1. A Racist
Although he was a celebrated explorer and has come to be known as quite an important figure in the history of the Americas, he has also been labeled a villain by some historians due to the poor and sometimes inhumane treatments he subjected his hosts to. He drove a lot of the indigenes into forced slavery often transported them back to Spain to be sold off as slaves.
He also employed the use of violence in the conversion of natives to Christianity forcing them to accept beliefs and values that were alien to them. He used his position as governor of the Indies to put a stop to all forms of rebellion against him by the natives, often exhibiting racist tendencies in his dealings with them.
2. A Colonial Master
Sadly with this also came colonization and moral degradation of the indigenous occupants of the lands who first saw the arrival of Columbus as the arrival of superior beings and gods. Their territories were converted to vast plantations were a range of cash crops were grown and traded by their colonial masters. The natives were converted to poor laborers on their own lands while simultaneously lining the deep pockets of Christopher Columbus.
3. A Task Master
His wealth made him a hero to those who benefited from his expeditions unfortunately, as a result of his abuse and mal-handedness, the Indians lost their lives and identity as a nation, forced to accept Western beliefs and cultures with the death penalty as a consequence for refusal. Christianization was a phenomenon that reigned supreme even as many territories were brought under the rule of Spain.
Would we conclude that he was more of a villain than a hero? That depends on which side tells the story.