Author of the painting: Sebastiano del Piombo

Genoa, Republic of Genoa, c. October 31, 1451-Valladolid, Crown of Castile, May 20, 1506

Christopher Columbus is commonly recognized as the man who discovered America. This Genoese sailor was an explorer for most of his life, and made ​​his first commercial trips through the Aegean and the Mediterranean sea when still a teenager.

He participated in several expeditions to Africa and obtained information on the currents that circulate east and west of the Canary Islands. Later he began to devise a plan that would take him from Europe to the East Indies by sailing the Atlantic as this would be faster and safer. He also incorrectly calculated that the circumference of the Earth was much less than what was estimated.

Once plotted, he presented his plan to the monarchs of Portugal and England, without favorable results. He then went to the Kings of Spain Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile, who agreed to sponsor the trip.

Artist: Ridolfo Ghirlandaio

Artist: Ridolfo Ghirlandaio

On August 3, 1492 Columbus set sail from Spain with the ships La Niña, the Pinta and the Santa Maria. On October 12 of that year, the crew sighted land and landed on an island in the current Bahamas; Columbus believing that he was indeed in India, called the Native Americans “Indians”.

He returned triumphantly to Spain and the Crown named him “Admiral of the Seven Seas” and “Viceroy of the Indies” and governor of these. For several months he explored new territories and made three more trips from Spain visiting Cuba and The Hispaniola, now Haiti and the Dominican Republic. His third visit was marked by allegations of mistreatment of the indigenous people and mismanagement of wealth, so he was arrested and stripped of much of his titles and many of his riches.

Although America had already been visited, the voyage of Columbus established the contact between Europe and America and his discovery changed the course of history by opening the way for European colonization.