Among the greatest European explorers and colonizers, the figure of Christopher Columbus reserves a special place. He is by right considered the pioneer of the era of great geographical discoveries, who initiated the most extensive European colonization of what later became known as the “New World”.
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Despite his immense significance to the historical process of the world, the personality and life of Christopher Columbus remained largely unexplored, which was a cause to continuous controversy and polemics. Not only his childhood and youth remain a mystery to a great extent, but there is also no certainty in the latest period of his life, in which Columbus took place as one of the most outstanding seafarers of all time.
Although there is no single opinion regarding what to consider a fatherland of Columbus, most of the scientists and historians believe the Republic of Genoa in northwestern Italy to be the homeland of a sailor. It is accepted to believe that Christopher was born on 27th of October 1451 in a prosperous and well-supplied family. His father, Dominic Columbus, who was considered a wealthy man, was a craftsman specialized in cloth weaving.
Columbus had four younger brothers and one sister. One of the brothers died in childhood, and the only sister was married off to an unknown merchant. Later, two of the brothers, with whom Christopher shared close friendship to the end of his days, took a significant part in his travels and achievements. Their names were Giacomo and Bartholomew.
When Columbus was ten years old, his father sent him to Pavia to obtain education. His studying did not last long: by the time he turned fourteen, he was already found to be employed on a ship. It appears from this that Christopher did not get to receive prestigious education, and he owed all his versatile knowledge and abilities to substantial self-education. These personal qualities led Columbus to a life full of adventures and fulfillments. And that is the reason why, contrary to the father’s will, he became a sailor.
It is known that, during his life, Columbus was married twice and had two sons, one from each wife. Family took a significant place in his life and always was very important to him.
Contemporaries described Columbus as a tall person with oval face and aquiline nose. He was modest and highly religious, with great wit and persuasive abilities. He represented a peculiar mixture of giftedness and lack of education. Life was his school that helped him develop invaluable qualities of an accurate spectator.
At the age of 33, destiny led Columbus to Portugal. During that time, Europe was at war with Turks, who invaded its southern cities. Christopher realized that the reason of constant and unpunished raids of Turkish pirates on the European shores was disagreement between its leaders and a lack of resources. That was the time when he became obsessed with the idea of East, the legends of which, based on tales of Eastern merchants and travelers like Marco Polo, drew Europeans to its wealth and riches.
On 20th of April 1488, after ten years spent in Portugal, Christopher Columbus arrived in Spain and introduced to some noblemen the concept of his project of sailing to India through the Atlantic Ocean. But it was not until 1492 when the queen of Spain Isabella approved his idea and provided assistance and funds for the enterprise.
It resulted in four expeditions during which the coasts of America were discovered. Though, till the end of his days, Columbus believed he found the new way to India. Thus, by founding settlements on a new continent, Christopher initiated a vast colonization of the “New World”.
On 19th May 1506, after following and less successful expeditions to the new continent, Columbus died. His death passed unnoticed, and his recognition reached him with delay.
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