“You can never cross the ocean until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore” – Christopher Columbus
Cristóvão Colombo (República de Génova, 1451 — Valladolid, 20 de Maio de 1506) foi um navegador e explorador genovês, responsável por liderar a frota que alcançou o continente americano em 12 de Outubro de 1492, sob as ordens dos Reis Católicos de Espanha, no chamado descobrimento da América. Empreendeu a sua viagem através do Oceano Atlântico com o objectivo de atingir a Índia, tendo na realidade descoberto as ilhas das Caraíbas (Antilhas) e, mais tarde, a costa do Golfo do México na América Central.
Seu nome em italiano é Cristoforo Colombo, em latim Christophorus Columbus e em espanhol, Cristóbal Colón. Este antropónimo inspirou o nome de, pelo menos, um país, Colômbia1 e duas regiões da América do Norte: a Colúmbia Britânica no Canadá e o Distrito de Colúmbia nos Estados Unidos. Entretanto o Papa Alexandre VI escrevendo em latim sempre chamou ao navegador pelo nome de Christophorum Colon com significado de Membro e nunca pelo latim Columbus com significado de Pombo.
Christopher Columbus (Italian: Cristoforo Colombo; Spanish: Cristóbal Colón; Portuguese: Cristóvão Colombo; born before 31 October 1451 – 20 May 1506) was an Italian explorer, navigator, and colonizer, born in the Republic of Genoa, in what is today northwestern Italy.
Under the auspices of the Catholic Monarchs of Spain, he completed four voyages across the Atlantic Ocean that led to general European awareness of the American continents. Those voyages, and his efforts to establish permanent settlements on the island of Hispaniola, initiated the Spanish colonization of the New World.
In the context of emerging western imperialism and economic competition between European kingdoms seeking wealth through the establishment of trade routes and colonies, Columbus’s speculative proposal, to reach the East Indies by sailing westward, eventually received the support of the Spanish crown, which saw in it a promise, however remote, of gaining the upper hand over rival powers in the contest for the lucrative spice trade with Asia. During his first voyage in 1492, instead of reaching Japan as he had intended, Columbus landed in the Bahamas archipelago, at a locale he named San Salvador. Over the course of three more voyages, Columbus visited the Greater and Lesser Antilles, as well as the Caribbean coast of Venezuela and Central America, claiming them for the Spanish Empire.
Though Columbus was not the first European explorer to reach the Americas (having been preceded by the Norse expedition led by Leif Ericson in the 11th century), Columbus’s voyages led to the first lasting European contact with the Americas, inaugurating a period of European exploration, conquest, and colonization that lasted for several centuries. They had, therefore, an enormous impact in the historical development of the modern Western world. Columbus himself saw his accomplishments primarily in the light of spreading the Christian religion.
Never admitting that he had reached a continent previously unknown to Europeans, rather than the East Indies he had set out for, Columbus called the inhabitants of the lands he visited indios (Spanish for “Indians”). Columbus’s strained relationship with the Spanish crown and its appointed colonial administrators in America led to his arrest and dismissal as governor of the settlements on the island of Hispaniola in 1500, and later to protracted litigation over the benefits which Columbus and his heirs claimed were owed to them by the crown.