Monday, October 12, 2009

Cristóbol Colón (c. 1451-1506)

Posthumous portrait of Columbus
by Ridolfo Ghirlandaio

Sepulcro de Cristóbol Colón (Columbus' Tomb)
with coffin bearers representing the kings of
Castilla, Léon, Aragón, & Navarra
(Taken at Catedral de Sevilla, 1998)

Christopher Columbus was a navigator, colonizer and explorer whose voyages across the Atlantic Ocean led to general European awareness of the American continents in the Western Hemisphere. He made four voyages, all funded by Isabella I of Castile, to explore and several attempts at establishing a settlement on the island of Hispaniola, thus initiating the process of Spanish colonization, and the eventual general European colonization of the "New World."
Columbus was not the first person to reach the Americas from Europe. At least one other group preceded him: the Norse, led by Leif Ericson.

Columbus initiated widespread contact between Europeans and indigenous Americans. The term "pre-Columbian" is usually used to refer to the peoples and cultures of the Americas before the arrival of Columbus and other Europeans. Columbus himself was responsible for the deaths of millions of Native Americans, possibly between 1 and 3 million, in the first 15 years of his colonization of the Caribbean, including entire peoples' such as the Taino and the Arawak. He has the dubious distinction of being the founder of the practice of slavery in the Americas.

Columbus was probably born in Genoa, although there are other theories. The name Christopher Columbus is English for the Latin Christophorus Columbus. The original name in 15th century Genoese language was Christoffa Corombo. The name is rendered in modern Italian as Cristoforo Colombo, and in Spanish as Cristóbal Colón.

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