Like other sailors of his day, Columbus became engrossed with discovering a new route to the eastern countries. The existing trading routes being long, dangerous and expensive. The European Market for Eastern goods was increasing. However a group of merchants from Venice, Italy established a monopoly of the overland route. All traders had to sell their goods to the Venetian merchants who profited most from the spice trade. In addition the Turks who had established a vast empire across the trade routes of the Middle East also imposed and collected heavy duties and export taxes. Together these eroded the merchants' profits.
A sea route therefore, had great advantages, as it would break the Venetian monopoly and by-pass the Turks. These conditions gave Christopher Columbus a chance to explain his theories about the distance between Europe and Asia. He went to King John II, of Portugal to seek financial assistance for his exploratory voyage. However he was unsuccessful since the King had already financed a route around Africa. When Columbus approached him he was still awaiting news of his latest expedition.
In 1486 Columbus turned to Spain for assistance and in April 1492 Isabella Queen of Spain agreed to finance his voyage, arranging for him to receive 10,000 pesos and three ships for his expedition.
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After ten weeks of preparation he set sail with a crew of ninety men. They sailed for several weeks before spotting a great flock of migratory birds. This led Columbus to change his course in order to follow them. About 2:00 a.m. on October 12 the lookout on board the Pinta saw land. At daybreak they landed on an island Columbus named San Salvador. It was called Guanahani by the natives. Columbus found the brown skinned Lucayan people very friendly but there was no sign of the gold he so eagerly desired. With the help of a few natives and the promise of gold and spices on bigger islands they sailed on to discover Cuba and Haiti. The Santa Maria ran aground in Hispaniola and Columbus decided to leave the crew in a fort named La Navidad with instructions to locate the gold mines reported there.
Not finding the much sought after `treasures of the far east' he returned to Spain carrying a few natives and small quantities of gold. Columbus' news gave Spain the opportunity to acquire an extensive empire. From that time on discovery and settlement went hand and hand.
Columbus was named Admiral of the Ocean Sea and became Viceroy of the West Indies. He made three additional voyages to the West Indies and discovered other islands including Trinidad and Jamaica. However he never achieved his initial objective of finding and alternative route to Asia.
After his second voyage Columbus' fame was badly tarnished due to the fact that he had left the colony at Hispaniola demoralized and in disarray. His attempt to restore order during his third voyage led to the hanging of several Spanish colonists. This voyage ended with Columbus and his brother being sent back to Spain in chains. On his release six weeks later he requested complete restoration of his rights, proprieties, titles and offices. This was a hopeless request as he and his brothers had mismanaged the government at Hispaniola before their arrest. Columbus, however retained his now empty titles of Viceroy and Admiral and the right to sendt out an agent in Ovando's fleet to collect monies owed to him.
Columbus was fifty-one years old at the start of his fourth and last voyage to the New World. Which lasted for a long time due to shipwreck and marronage. Upon his return to Spain he was not allowed to visit the King and Queen since they were not pleased with the report he had forwarded. Columbus died not long afterwards on May 20, 1506. He was about 55 years old and was survived by his two sons Don Diego and Ferdinand.
Columbus Primary, a government owned school located on Collins Avenue on the island of New Providence is named in his honour.