From ancient byways to modern highways, glimpses of faith are everywhere...

Monday, October 8, 2012

Christopher Columbus: What he did and didn't do

(Posthumous Portrait of Columbus)
These days, "hero" Christopher Columbus has fallen somewhat out of favor.  In fact, he is looked upon as more of a villain by many.

His notorious treatment of the Native Americans he encountered has become quite well known.  What is less known is the prejudice he displayed against Jews and reports that Columbus wrote these words in the prologue to his first-voyage journal:  YOUR HIGHNESSES [Ferdinand and Isabella], as Catholic Christians and Princes who love the holy Christian faith, and the propagation of it, and who are enemies to the sect of Mahoma [Islam] and to all idolatries and heresies, resolved to send me, Cristobal Colon, to the said parts of India to see the said princes…  with a view that they may be converted to our holy faith…  Thus, after having turned out all the Jews from your kingdoms and lordships… your Highnesses gave orders to me that with a sufficient fleet I should go to said parts of India…

Following Columbus' so-called "discovery of America," Pope Alexander IV issued a papal bull that "assigned" this "New World" to Ferdinand and Isabella.  Thereafter, Spanish conquistadors adopted a "Requirement" that forced Native Americans to accept "the Church as the Ruler and Superior of the whole world" or face dire consequences. 

All this is part of what Columbus did do.  What he didn't do (according to Christopher Wanjek of LiveScience) includes the following:  He didn't prove the world was round (this had already been proven by Pythagoras in the sixth century BCE, and by Aristotle in the fourth century BCE); He didn't discover
America (unless you discount the "millions of humans" who had been living there for centuries before Columbus' arrival – not to mention other explorers such as Leif Ericson); and he didn't die in poverty (although he wasn't rolling in gold, either)…


Copyright October 8, 2012 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

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