“In fourteen hundred and ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue….”
Today, Christopher Columbus is celebrated as a mythical hero by some – complete with songs, poems, and fictional tales about his great adventure across the Atlantic to explore the majestic land that would eventually be known as the Americas. There are fifty-four communities named after the explorer in the United States, including the District of Columbia. “Hail, Columbia” was the United States’ unofficial national anthem until 1931. A federal holiday, “Columbus Day,” is celebrated every second Monday in October.
Despite all of this, historians have begun to tear down the Columbus myth: That he discovered America. That he proved the world wasn’t flat. (That had been well-known for more than a millennium in Columbus’ time. In fact, scholars had a pretty good idea of what the circumference of the Earth was, which was part of the dissent against Columbus making his trip- Columbus thought Asia was bigger than it is and the world much smaller, leading one of the scholars commissioned by the monarchy to investigate the plausibility of Columbus’ journey succeeding to say, it was “impossible to any educated person”). That he came to America in the name of exploration. And, finally, that he came in peace.
Quite simply, most of these “facts” are unequivocally false or half-truths. Columbus sailed the ocean blue to look for wealth and, officially, in the name of Christianity. What he mostly did, though, was enslave and rape the natives he met, sold girls (as young as nine by his own account) into prostitution, and committed numerous acts so heinous that he was forcibly removed from power and sent back to Spain in chains. Christopher Columbus was brutal, even by the standards of his age, leading Bartolome de las Casa, who accompanied Columbus on one of his voyages, to write in his The History of the Indies, “Such inhumanities and barbarisms were committed in my sight as no age can parallel… My eyes have seen these acts so foreign to human nature that now I tremble as I write.”
In August 1492, Columbus departed Spain with three ships – the Santa Maria, the Pinta, and the Santa Clara (nicknamed “the Nina”). After two months on the high seas, land was spotted. Now, before they had left, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella had promised to whoever spotted land first a reward of a silken jacket and an annuity of ten thousand maravedis. The lookout on the Pinta was Rodrigo de Triana and he was the first to spot land. He shouted to the rest of the crew down below, and the Pinta’s captain announced the discovery with cannon fire. When it came time to receive the reward though, Columbus claimed he actually saw a light in the distance several hours prior to Triana’s shout, “but it was so indistinct that I did not dare to affirm it was land.” The reward reportedly went to Columbus.
Upon landing on the island, which he would call San Salvador (present-day Bahamas), Columbus immediately went to work finding gold and enslaving the native populations. Specifically, Columbus, upon seeing the Arawaks (the peoples of the region) come out of the forests frightened of the men with swords, but bearing gifts, wrote in his journal,
They do not bear arms, and do not know them, for I showed them a sword, they took it by the edge and cut themselves out of ignorance. They would make fine servants . . . with fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want.
As other European visitors would observe, the Arawaks were legendary for their hospitality and their desire to share. Again saying Columbus about the Arawaks, “are so naive and so free with their possessions that no one who has not witnessed them would believe it. When you ask for something they have, they never say no. To the contrary, they offer to share with anyone.”
Columbus quickly took advantage of this. Seeing that they wore gold studs in their ears, he rounded up of a number of Arawaks and had them lead him to where gold was. The journey took them to present day Cuba and Haiti (but Columbus thought it was Asia), where they found specks of gold in the river, but not the enormous “fields” Columbus was expecting. Nonetheless, he wrote back to Spain saying that, “There are many spices, and great mines of gold and other metals.” This report earned him financing for a second voyage, this time with 13 ships and twelve hundred men. While he never ended up filling up these ships with gold, he filled them with another “currency” and one that would have a horrendous effect on the world going forward – slaves.
In 1495, Columbus arrived back in the New World and immediately took 1500 Arawaks as prisoners. Of those 1500, he picked 500 to be shipped back to Spain as slaves (about two hundred died on the journey back), starting the transatlantic slave trade. The rest were forced to find what little gold existed in the region. According to noted historian Howard Zinn, anyone over 14 had to meet a gold quota. If they didn’t find enough gold, they would have their hands cut off.
Eventually, when it was realized there wasn’t much gold in the region, Columbus and his men just took the rest as slaves and put them to work on their newly established estates in the region. Many natives died and their numbers dwindled. In the 15th century, modern historians believe there were about 300,000 Arawaks. By 1515, there were only 50,000 left. By 1531, 600 and by 1650, there were no longer any full-blooded Arawaks left on the islands.
The way Columbus and his men treated the women and children of these populations was even worse. Columbus routinely used the raping of women as a “reward” for his lieutenants. For example, here’s an account from one of Columbus’ friends and compatriots, Michele de Cuneo, who accompanied Columbus on his second journey to the New World, on what Michele did to a native “Carb woman.” Michele wrote that,
While I was in the boat I captured a very beautiful Carib woman, whom the said Lord Admiral [Columbus] gave to me, and with whom, having taken her into my cabin, she being naked according to their custom, I conceived desire to take pleasure. I wanted to put my desire into execution but she did not want it and treated me with her finger nails in such a manner that I wished I had never begun. But seeing that (to tell you the end of it all), I took a rope and thrashed her well, for which she raised such unheard of screams that you would not have believed your ears. Finally we came to an agreement in such manner that I can tell you that she seemed to have been brought up in a school of whores…
Going further, Columbus wrote in a letter from 1500,
A hundred castellanos are as easily obtained for a woman as for a farm, and it is very general and there are plenty of dealers who go about looking for girls; those from nine to ten are now in demand.
As illustrated in a recently discovered 48 page report found in the Spanish archives written by Francisco De Bobadilla (charged with investigating Columbus’ rule at the behest of Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand, who were troubled by allegations of some of Columbus’ acts), a woman who verbally insulted Columbus’ family was stripped naked and made to ride around the colony on a mule. After the trip was done, her tongue was cut out by the order of Columbus’ brother, Bartolomé, who Columbus then congratulated for successfully defending the family’s honor. Needless to say, these and numerous other such acts ultimately resulted in De Bobadilla having Columbus removed from power and sent back to Spain in chains.
After Columbus came, and was forced out, the Spaniards continued his policy of enslavement and violence. In 1552, the Spanish historian and friar Bartolome de las Casas published multiple volumes under the title The History of Indies. In it, he described the collapse of the non-European population. Casas writes that when the men were captured and forced to work in mines looking for gold, rarely if ever returning home, it significantly impacted the birth rate. If a woman did give birth, she would be so overworked herself and malnourished, that she often could not produce enough milk for the baby. He even reported that some of the women “drowned their babies from sheer desperation.”
There are lot more examples, writings, and research that points to one fact – Christopher Columbus was a lamentable individual. Nobody’s perfect- if we restricted celebrated individuals to those who didn’t have any major flaws, we’d have few humans to celebrate- and it’s extremely important to view things in the context of the time individuals lived in. But even in his age, many of his acts were considered deplorable by his peers, which is in no small part why Columbus was arrested for his conduct in the New World. Combined with his truly historic and widespread impact being incidental to what he was actually trying to do (so a little hard to celebrate him for even that side of his life), maybe it is time that we let go of the myths we learned about Christopher Columbus in elementary school and stop celebrating Columbus, the man.
If you liked this article, you might also enjoy subscribing to our new Daily Knowledge YouTube channel, as well as:
- Not surprisingly, due to these many sexual encounters with the natives, STDs ran rampant in the region in Columbus’ time. Further, while it is still somewhat up for debate if Columbus and his crew brought syphilis to the New World or if they brought it from the New World to Europe (the latter generally being the favored theory), what isn’t argued is that Columbus inadvertently quickened and widen the spread of these dangerous diseases on both sides of the Atlantic. Syphilis became a huge problem, historians nicknaming it the “scourge of the Renaissance,” throughout the Americas and Europe. For more on this, see: Why Native Americans Didn’t Wipe Out Europeans With Diseases
Originally published on 2015-01-26
Author: Matt Blitz
Origins of images: Facebook, Twitter, Wikimedia, Wikipedia, Flickr, Google, Imageinjection, Public Domain & Pinterest.
Source: Today I Found Out
Read our Disclaimer/Legal Statement!
Donate to Support Us
We would like to ask you to consider a small donation to help our team keep working. We accept no advertising and rely only on you, our readers, to keep us digging the truth on history, global politics and international relations.
[wpedon id=”4696″ align=”left”]
March 16, 2017, was the 49th anniversary of the My Lai Massacre, located in Quang Ngai Province, Vietnam. It was Saturday morning, March 16, 1968, when approximately 115 U.S. Army soldiers of the Americal Division’s Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 20th Infantry, landed in helicopters just outside the village of My Lai 4. Over the course of the next four hours, these American soldiers, and their Military High Command, who were flying overhead in helicopters observing the massacre, took part in a horror show far beyond the human imagination. They took the term, “War Crimes,” and added a butcher shop to ...
It’s all over but the postmortems. Trump and Clinton are their parties’ presumptive nominees. Choice for voters in November amounts to death by hanging or firing squad. Democracy is pure fantasy. None whatever exists. Trump was the last GOP aspirant left standing after all others dropped out, an unlikely choice, a surprise winner, prevailing despite party bosses opposing him.Democrat power brokers chose Clinton before primary/caucus season began. The race was over before it started.Voters in November get to choose between a dirty business as usual billionaire racist, demagogue and a recklessly dangerous neocon racketeer, war criminal, Wall Street tool she ...
Long before Donald Trump successfully hung the “fake news” label on CNN, more discerning observers of the wars of the Yugoslav succession of the 1990s came to similar conclusions regarding the network’s news coverage of that tragedy. Headlined by Christiane Amanpour, CNN’s reporting, especially from Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo, showed a clear pro-Muslim, anti-Serbian bias, painting the conflict in stark black-and-white colors, where the Christian Serbs were always the “black hat” “aggressors,” perpetrators of “genocide” and such, while the Bosnian and Albanian Muslims were inevitably the “white hat” “victims,” in dire need of U.S. and Western “humanitarian” intervention to spare them from extermination at ...
Truth on the war in Euromaidan Ukraine in photos.The people of Donetsk sent a farewell message to ex-President of the US (POTUS) Barack Obama with proper photo evidence of the result of his policy in the region.See the truth not presented on any global Western corporate mass-media!Origins of images: Facebook, Twitter, Wikimedia, Wikipedia, Flickr, Google, Imageinjection, Public Domain & Pinterest.Read our Disclaimer/Legal Statement!Donate to Support UsWe would like to ask you to consider a small donation to help our team keep working. We accept no advertising and rely only on you, our readers, to keep us digging the truth on ...
Vladimir Putin has harmed no American. Russia has not stood in the way of any American’s dream. As for the billionaires though, those American and British money bags, the Russians are posing an insurmountable hurdle for their investments. And we all know nothing can stand in the way of their progress. Unfortunately for the human race, mediocrity cannot rule either. Here is a prophesy as real as any newsreel you will view today, the “end all” conclusion for American “exceptionalism”.Do you know where Crimea is? Seriously now, a gaff by presidential hopeful Gary Johnson the other day proved once and ...
For many years, and despite all evidence to the contrary, the Western media has forwarded the inane idea that Vladimir Putin ranks in the same club with some of history's most loathsome creatures, up to and including Hitler.The reality is that the Russian leader has done more to promote the cause of global peace and security than any other Western leader in recent times. That explains why he is the object of such intense scorn.Putin's rise as a statesman of the first magnitude began, oddly enough, with the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 on the United States. Since that day, ...
There was a speech that the smug Harvard neoconservative Graham Allison presented at the US aristocracy’s TED Talks on 20 November 2018, and which is titled on youtube as “Is war between China and the US inevitable?” It currently has 1,217,326 views. The transcript is here. His speech said that the US must continue being the world’s #1 power, or else persuade China’s Government to cooperate more with what America’s billionaires demand. He said that the model for the US regime’s supposed goodness in international affairs is The Marshall Plan after the end of World War II. He ended his ...
An inquiry by the EU has found “compelling indications” that ten Serb captives had their body organs harvested for illegal trafficking during the 1998-99 Kosovo war. However, it wasn’t widespread and there will be no trial, the lead investigator said.The chief prosecutor Clint Williamson, who led the investigation, said there was no evidence of widespread organ harvesting, but that the crime had occurred a number of times.“There are compelling indications that this practice did occur on a very limited scale and that a small number of individuals were killed for the purpose of extracting and trafficking their organs,” he told ...
Abstract: This paper sets out to examine and clarify the historical development of the ideological concept of Pan-Slavism, which was created by the writers of Dalmatia and Croatia at the time of the late Renaissance and early Baroque (from the end of the 15th century to the very beginning of the 18th century). The literary works of that time by many of Dalmatia’s and Croatia’s writers deal with the ethnolinguistic aspect of Pan-Slavic unity, solidarity, kinship and reciprocity. Their writings established an ideological framework for making both Pan-Slavic common national identity and program of the united single national state of ...
May 19, 1919 has different and even opposing meanings in Turkey and Greece, just as May 15, 1948, marks both the establishment of Israel and, for Palestinians, the start of the Nakba (“catastrophe”).In Turkey, this date marks the first step that led to the establishment of the Turkish Republic, while for descendants of Ottoman Greeks and Greece it marks the end of the centuries-long Pontic Greek presence on the shores of the Black Sea. Whereas Turks celebrate May 19, Greeks mourn it. Researcher Tamer Çilingir summarised the issue in a 2016 interview with the Turkish-Armenian daily Agos:“The Pontic Genocide is the ...
To Benjamin H. Freedman, who committed himself to finding and telling the facts about Zionism and Communism. and encouraged others to do the same. The son of one of the founders of the American Jewish Committee, which for many years was anti-Zionist, Ben Freedman founded the League for Peace with Justice in Palestine in 1946. He gave me copies of materials on the Balfour Declaration which I might never have found on my own and encouraged my own research. (He died in April 1984.)
The Institute for Historical Review is providing means for the better understanding of the events of our ...
The following article was written before the recent referendum in Venice and Lombardy. It remains relevant as far as, everything happening in Europe those days is becoming, more a more, a manifestation of extreme social “egotism”, of generalized destruction of any form of solidarity and adherence to more general projects. This is especially true after the strategic defeat and capitulation of the European Left on the Greek question. “Everybody for himself” seems to dominate the continent. It is the historic triumph of the neoliberal Europe, but it reminds somehow the triumphs of the cancer on living organisms. Europe will hardly ...
US foreign policy has for decades been predicated on achieving and maintaining global peace, security and stability. In reality, it has for over a century constituted an overreaching desire to achieve and maintain global hegemony.
And where US efforts focus on achieving hegemony, division and destruction follow. From the Middle East to Eastern Europe, and from Southeast Asia to the Korean Peninsula, US intervention politically or militarily all but guarantee escalating tensions, uncertain futures, socioeconomic instability and even armed conflict.
The Middle East and North Africa
US efforts in the Middle East since the conclusion of the first World War have focused ...
Tito’s policy in the 1970s of the so-called “encourage and suppress” for the sake to struggle against politically undesirable and threatening ethnic nationalisms especially the Croat and the Serb ones appeared to be incoherent one. In another words, while some ethnic nationalisms and their ideologies were considered to be dangerous to the system and, therefore, were suppressed and their advocates were jailed or banned from employment[i] (the case, for instance, of the Serbian dissident professors from Belgrade University), other nationalisms, supposed to be non-dangerous for the regime were encouraged by the local Communist elites (for instance, the Albanian nationalism in ...
Italian police broke up an alleged jihadist cell in Venice who had celebrated last week’s terrorist attack in London and planned to blow up the city’s famous Rialto Bridge in the hope of killing hundreds of tourists. In a series of overnight raids, anti-terrorism police arrested three suspects, all of them Kosovars who were living in Italy.
Fisnik Bekaj, 24, Dake Haziraj, 25, and Arian Babaj, 27, were allegedly admirers of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and were secretly recorded discussing how they were ready to die for the sake of jihad. A fourth person, an unnamed minor ...
Ever since 1948, the US Government’s foreign policies have been consistently focused upon breaking up the Soviet Union and turning its Warsaw Pact allies against the Soviet Union; and, then, once that would be (and was) accomplished, turning any remaining allies of Russia against Russia; and, then, once that will have been accomplished, conquering Russia. Since at least 2006, US ‘defense' policy has been that nuclear war will be an acceptable way to conquer Russia if lesser measures fail to do the job. (Since 2006, the concept that a nuclear war between the US and Russia would result in “mutually ...
More than 6,400 civilians have been killed and nearly 16,000 injured as result of criminal actions of Kiev regime during the conflict in Donbass, Chairman of the Russian Investigative Committee Alexander Bastrykin said on Thursday. Also, more than 10,000 residential infrastructure facilities have been fully or partially destroyed and burnt. Since last April, more than 1 million Russian-speaking residents of Lugansk and Donetsk regions had to flee their homes, and more than 110,000 people having a refugee status have applied for the Russian citizenship. The war has been continuing.
Ukrainian capital being wrapped in smoke due to a spate of regional ...
For the first time since WW II, overt fascists hold real power in Europe. Radicalized ultranationalists. Anti-Semites. Hate-mongers.
Cold-blooded killers. Whitewashing high crimes. A puppet regime. America’s newest colony.
Mocking democratic values. Violating fundamental rule of law principles. Unaccountably.
Western leaders won’t explain. Nor will the media. Hard truths are buried.
Ukraine’s government usurped power forcibly. Putschist rule has no legitimacy.
Especially regimes waging war on their own people. Murdering them in cold blood. Committing horrendous human rights abuses.
Tolerating no opposition. Ruling by intimidation. Force-feeding neoliberal harshness on impoverished people. Making life unbearable overall. More on this below.
On December 4, Wall Street Journal editors published ...
If Pentagon chief James Mattis was seeking to reassure the world of American restraint in the North Korea crisis, he clumsily did the opposite. The US Defense Secretary was speaking after intense discussions with President Trump and other senior military officials in the White House Situation Room following the sixth nuclear test carried out by North Korea on Sunday.Mattis emerged from the meeting to say that any threat from North Korea to the United States and its allies would be met with an «overwhelming military response». He then added – with a weirdly presumed ethical tone – that the US «was not looking to ...
Tyrants and despots have never required justification for their actions. In the 17th century, as political philosophers began to reject the classic Catholic doctrines of politics and ethics, The Prince was viewed as more relevant: truths are more important than ideals.
It is probably not an accident that The Prince has been misinterpreted for 300 years. Taken literally, there is no better justification for tyranny, whether political or economic, than the universal misinterpretation of The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli. This small pamphlet, written in 1513–1514, addressed to the new Medici prince, if taken literally, outlines the best practices to attain and ...
My Lai Massacre (Vietnam): 49 Years Later
“Democracy is Pure Fantasy”: Trump vs. Clinton
Angelina Jolie and CNN Perpetuate Srebrenica Fake News Narrative
Farewell Message from Donetsk to President Obama
The Empire of Mediocrity and the End of the World
Why Vladimir Putin Deserves a Nobel Peace Prize
How the US Created the Cold War
Western Intelligence Operation “Kosovo Liberation Army” Harvested Serbs’ Organs – The EU’s inquiry
The Idea of Pan-Slavic Ethnolinguistic Kinship and Reciprocity in Dalmatia and Croatia, 1477–1706
100th Anniversary of the Pontic Genocide
Behind the Balfour Declaration
Venice and Lombardy: Why is the Request for Independence Growing?
US Foreign Policy: Hegemony or Stability, not Both
The Collapsing of Yugoslavia (1981‒1990)
Kosovo Albanian Jihadists Planned to Attack Venice’s Rialto Bridge
US Foreign Policies Remain Unchanged since 1948
The Criminal Actions of the Kiev Regime in East Ukraine
Ukraine: Fascist Dictatorship Masquerading as Democracy
An Isolated Tyrannical Regime – Not Pyongyang, It’s Washington
Neoconservatives, Machiavelli and “The Prince”
FOLLOW US ON OUR SOCIAL PLATFORMS