Monday, October 10, 2011

On Columbus

With each passing year he seemingly becomes a more reviled figure in the history of western civilization. Here's one assessment of a man for whom we celebrate today's holiday. He was just as human as anyone else, but also intelligent, devoted and courageous, going where no European man had gone before. As the writer states, it was the Europeans who 'discovered' the rest of the world in the middle ages; the inhabitants of the West Indies discovered Columbus--and the rest of the world they never knew existed--when he sailed up...
They [the crew] could stand it no longer. They grumbled and complained of the long voyage, and I reproached them for their lack of spirit, telling them that, for better or worse, they had to complete the enterprise on which the Catholic Sovereigns [Isabel and Fernando] had sent them. I cheered them on as best I could, telling them of all the honors and rewards they were about to receive. I also told the men that it was useless to complain, for I had started out to find the Indies and would continue until I had accomplished that mission, with the help of Our Lord.7
Columbus was in some ways the beginning of the enlightenment period, as his journey was like a capstone of the Reconquista of al-Andulusia and an end to the western expansion of the Muslim caliphate. Had Ferdinand and Isabella not come back to power when they did Columbus doesn't set sail and America--and maybe the world--is probably a different place today.

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