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Columbus’ knowledge of an eclipse in 1504 ensured a steady supply of food.

11 Fascinating Facts About Columbus You Need to Know

  • Columbus was very religious and believed God had called him to make his voyages. Many of the names Columbus gave to the lands he discovered were religious ones. Later in his life, for reasons unknown, Columbus wore a plain Franciscan habit everywhere he went.
  • During his fourth voyage, Columbus was in intense pain. His eyes bled regularly, which left him blind for long periods of time. He could barely sit or stand due to the pain in his joints. Many historians believe he was suffering from Reiter’s Syndrome, which causes inflammation in the joints, eyes and bladder.
  • Calculating your current position using estimations of speed elapsed over time is known as dead reckoning. Columbus is considered one of the best “dead reckoning” sailors who ever walked the planet.
  • Until the day he died, Columbus did not believe he found a new world. He died believing he had found a new passage to India.
  • Columbus Introduced horses to the New World, which were was one of the first European exports to the Americas. They later spread to the mainland and became essential to the Plains Indians.
  • During his third voyage, Columbus became the first European to see the coast of South America.
  • In 1504, Columbus was having difficulties bartering for food with locals on the island of Jamaica. Knowing that a lunar eclipse was imminent, Columbus told the islanders that his gods were angry for refusing him food. After the eclipse, the frightened islanders gave Columbus as much food as he wanted.
  • Christopher Columbus’ remains have been transported between the Old and New Worlds so many times that many historians believe that his remains are scattered in both worlds.
  • Columbus’ first voyage into the Atlantic Ocean in 1476 almost cost him his life. French privateers off the coast of Portugal attacked the commercial fleet he was on. His shipped was burned and he had to swim to the Portuguese shore with the aid of a piece of driftwood.
  • Three countries refused to fund Columbus’ voyage: Portugal, England and France. They told him the Earth was much larger than he had calculated.
  • One reason Columbus estimated the distance around the Earth shorter than other navigators is that he had read Arab maps. As he read the maps, he used a shorter distance for a mile than the Arab map makers had used, causing him to estimate the circumference as being one-fourth less than the actual number of miles. Additionally, Marco Polo’s book, which Columbus relied on, estimated China as much larger than it really was, which also shrank the distance from Europe to Asia.