Columbus and his voyages

The motives of Columbus's voyages
His basic idea was to reach the Indies or Asia, by sailing westward across Atlantic. He expected to get the riches of the East by trade or conquest. He reached the Americas purely by accident. After failing to gain support for his voyages from Portugal, Columbus convinced the Spanish Crown (King and Queen of Spain) to provide 3 ships for the voyages. (The Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria). Their majesties' motives for supporting Columbus were :
  • to get the riches of the Far East before their rivals, the Portuguese (GOLD)
  • to spread the Catholic religion (GOD)
  • for personal and national glory (GLORY)

Achievements of Columbus
His voyages proved that he was a courageous seaman with a good knowledge of navigation, winds and currents. He pioneered the trade winds route to and from the Caribbean. On his four voyages to the Caribbean he discovered and named most of the Caribbean islands and part of the coast of Central America. He established permanent contact between Europe and the Caribbean. The Crown initially promised that he would be governor of these lands.

However, Columbus was unsuccessful as a colonizer and administrator. Both of the settlements he attempted to establish were failures and his ruler ship of the Caribbean was revoked by the queen. Very little wealth was extracted from the islands as they had little gold. The genocide (mass extermination) of the Amerindians started with his enslavement of these people. The Spaniards had been promised the wealth of Asia but what they actually got twas the wealth of the Indies/ New World.

Related Past Paper Questions
1. Give one reason why Columbus wanted to go on a voyage.

2. State two ways in which the King and Queen of Spain helped Coumbus.

3. State two benefits that Spain received from the voyages of Columbus.