Christopher Columbus and the New World
Part 2: The Long First Voyage
Columbus knew of the great reputation of Portugal in exploration. Prince Henry the Navigator had been sending ships to explore Africa and the East for years. Columbus asked Portugal's King John II for money and ships for his voyage. King John refused, so Columbus went to Spain.
At first, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella also refused. Columbus tried for seven years to get them to accept his proposal, but they kept on saying no. Finally, he told them he would move to France and ask the French king for help. The Spanish king and queen finally said yes.
Columbus spent the early months of 1492 getting ready for the voyage. His three ships--the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria--set sail from Palos, Spain, on August 3. Columbus captained the Santa Maria. The captains of the other two ships were brothers, Martin Pinzon (Pinta)and Vicente Pinzon (Nina).
The voyage across the Atlantic Ocean was long and frightening to many of the sailors aboard Columbus's three ships. They threatened mutiny. Columbus himself was worried when they did not see land for many days. He promised his crew on October 10 that if they did not see land in the next three days, they would turn back.
On October 12, they saw land. They landed at San Salvador, in the Bahamas. They met friendly natives there and then sailed on to Cuba and to Hispaniola. There, the Santa Maria was wrecked. Columbus got his men ashore and onboard the Nina. Then, they headed back to Europe.
They arrived in Lisbon, Portugal, in March 1493. Columbus met with Portugal's King John, then traveled to Barcelona, Spain, to meet with King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. Each time, Columbus made the claim that he had reached islands very near Asia. He showed gold, artifacts, and even natives that he had brought back with him. Spain's king and queen were so excited that they almost immediately gave him money and ships for another voyage.
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