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EUROPEAN DISCOVERIES AND SETTLEMENTS.
FROM THE DISCOVERY OF AMERICA, IN 1492, TO THE CON
QUEST OF MEXICO, IN 1521.
CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS, a native of Genoa, having formed just idea of the figure of the earth, had several years entertained the design of finding a passage to India by the western ocean. He made his first proposal of attempting this discovery to the republic of Genoa, which treated it as visionary. He next proposed his plan to John II. king of Portugal, who, at that time, was deeply engaged in prosecuting discoveries on the African coast, for the purpose of finding a way to India. In this enterprise the Portuguese king had been at so vast an expense, with but small success, that he had no inclination to listen to the proposal. By the advice, however, of a favourite courtier, he privately gave orders to a ship, bound to the island of Cape de Verd, to attempt a discovery in the west ; but the navigators, through ignorance and irresolution, failing in the design, turned the project of Columbus into ridicule.
Indignant at this dishonourable artifice, Columbus left Portugal; and, having previously sent his brother Bartholomew into England to solicit the patronage of Henry VII, repaired to Ferdinand and Isabella, king and queen of Spain. It was not till he had surmounted numerous obstacles, and spent seven years in painful solicitation, that he obtained what he sought. "To the
1492. Honour of Isabella, and of her sex, the scheme of Columbus was
first countenanced by the queen. Through the influence of Juan Perez, a Spanish priest, and Lewis Santangel, an officer of the king's household, she was persuaded to listen to his request ; and, after he had been twice repulsed, to recall him to court. She now offered to pledge her jewels, to defray the expense of the proposed equipment, amounting to no more than two thousand five hundred crowns; but this sum was advanced by Santangel, and the queen saved from so mortifying an expedient.
On the 17th day of April, 1492, an agreement was made by Columbus with their Catholic majesties : That, if he should make any discoveries, he should sustain the office of viceroy by land, and admiral by sea, with the advantage of the tenth part of the profits, accruing from the productions and commerce of all the countries discovered; and these dignities and privileges were not to be limited to his own person, but to be hereditary in
his family. August 3.
On Friday, the 3d day of August, 1492, Columbus set sail Columbus from Palos in Spain, with three vessels and ninety men, on a sails from Spain.
voyage the most daring and grand in its design, and the most extensive and important in its result, of any that had ever been attempted. He, as admiral, commanded the largest ship, called Santa Maria ; Martin Alonzo Pinzon was captain of the Pinta; and Vincent Yañez Pinzon, captain of the Niña. Arriving at the Canaries, he on the 12th of August sent his boat ashore at Gomera, one of the most westerly of those islands, in the
hope of obtaining a vessel to take the place of the Pinta, Sept. 6.
which had been damaged in the passage from Palos. Not succeeding in this design, he refitted bis ships at the Grand Canary; and, having laid in provisions, he sailed from Gomera on the 6th of September, upon the voyage on the ocean. When
1 See NOTE II.
2 Life of Columbus, c. 44. Hazard's Historical Collections, i. 1–3. Muñoz, Hist. New World, b. 2. Memorials of Columbus, p. xlviii. and Documents II, III, by which it appears, that the Privileges and Prerogatives were granted and expedited” by the king and queen “in the town of Santa Fe, in the plain of Granada, the 17th day of April, A. D. 1492,” and completed at Granada on the 30th of the same month. Though the name of Ferdinand appears connected with that of Isabella in this compact, he refused to take any part in the enterprise, as king of Arragon. The whole expense of the expedition was to be defrayed by the crown of Castile ; and Isabella reserved for her subjects of that kingdom an exclusive right to all the benefits that should accrue from its success. Throughout this transaction the conduct of Isabella was magnanimous ; and though she did not, like the Tyrian queen, conduct the great enterprise in person, yet she is entitled to similar honour: Dux fæmina facti.
3 This may be accounted the first setting out” on the grand voyage. Life of Columbus, c. 18. One of the vessels had a deck; the other two, called caravels, had none. They are thus described by Peter Martyr: “Ex regio fisco destinata sunt tria navigia; unum onerarium caveatum, alia duo levia mercatoria sine caveis, quæ ab Hispanis caravelæ vocantur.” De Orbe Novo. This contemporary writer, and, since his time, Giustiniani and Muñoz, say that the whole