On This Day

Christopher Columbus

Explorer of the New World Christopher Columbus

Profession: Explorer of the New World


Biography: Columbus first landed in the Bahamas in 1492 sailing on behalf of the Spanish crown in a new attempt to find a western route to Asia.

He made four voyages to the New World including Antilles, Venezuela and Central America. He served as Governor in Hispaniola but was later dismissed on charges of tyranny for his harsh rule. When he returned to Spain he was imprisoned but later released by King Ferdinand, after which he completed his fourth and final voyage.

His discoveries and expeditions led to a period of exploration by European nations and directly to the founding of European colonies in the Americas, forming the modern Western world. His legacy as an administrator is controversial, especially his role in promoting slavery, destroying the Taino people and harsh punishments toward Spanish colonists.

Born: October 30, 1451
Birthplace: Genoa, Republic of Genoa
Star Sign: Scorpio

Died: May 20, 1506 (aged 54)

Articles and Photos

Historical Events

  • 1486-05-01 Christopher Columbus proposes his plan to search for a western route to India in an audience with Spanish monarch, Isabella I. Full support is granted 3 years later, in 1489
  • 1492-04-17 Christopher Columbus signs a contract with the Spanish monarchs to find the "Indies" with the stated goal of converting people to Catholicism. This promises him 10% of all riches found, and the governorship of any lands encountered.
  • 1492-04-30 Christopher Columbus is given royal commission by Spanish monarchs Isabella I and Ferdinand II to equip his fleet to the New World
  • 1492-08-03 Christopher Columbus sets sail on his first voyage with three ships, Santa María, Pinta and Niña from Palos de la Frontera, Spain for the "Indies"
  • 1492-08-12 Christopher Columbus arrives in the Canary Islands on his first voyage to the New World
  • 1492-09-06 Christopher Columbus' fleet leaves Gomera, Canary islands
  • 1492-10-07 Christopher Columbus misses Florida when he changes course
  • 1492-10-12 Christopher Columbus's expedition makes landfall on a Caribbean island he names San Salvador (likely Watling Island, Bahamas). The explorer believes he has reached East Asia (OS 21 Oct)
  • 1492-10-14 Christopher Columbus leaves San Salvador; arrives in Santa Maria of Concepcion (Bahamas)
  • 1492-10-16 Christopher Columbus' fleet anchors at "Fernandina" (Long Island, Bahamas)
  • 1492-10-19 Christopher Columbus sights "Isabela", now Fortune Island/Long Cay, Bahamas
  • 1492-10-28 Christopher Columbus sights Cuba and claims it for Spain under the name "Juana"
  • 1492-11-05 Christopher Columbus learns how to grow and harvest maize (corn) from Cuba's indigenous population
  • 1492-11-15 Christopher Columbus notes 1st recorded reference to tobacco
  • 1492-11-22 Pinta under Martín Alonso Pinzón separates from Christopher Columbus's fleet
  • 1492-12-05 Christopher Columbus discovers Hispaniola (El Espanola/Haiti)
  • 1492-12-25 Christopher Columbus' flagship the Santa María runs aground and sinks on the north coast of Hispaniola. The crew are left to found a colony as Columbus returns to Spain
  • 1492-12-26 1st Spanish settlement La Navidad in the New World is founded by Christopher Columbus (modern Môle-Saint-Nicolas in Haiti)
  • 1493-01-09 1st sight of manatees by Christopher Columbus
  • 1493-01-16 Christopher Columbus leaves the New World and sets sail for Spain
  • 1493-03-15 Christopher Columbus returns to Spain after his first voyage to the New World
  • 1493-04-15 -20/4] Columbus meets with the Spanish monarchs Isabella I and Ferdinand II in Barcelona
  • 1493-09-24 Christopher Columbus embarks on his second expedition to the New World, setting sail with a fleet of 17 ships
  • 1493-11-03 Christopher Columbus 'discovers' the island of Dominica, which was originally inhabited by the Kalinago
  • 1493-11-11 Explorer Christopher Columbus discovers Saba
  • 1493-11-19 Christopher Columbus discovers Puerto Rico, on his 2nd voyage
  • 1493-11-27 Christopher Columbus returns to La Navidad colony, finding it destroyed by the 1st native American uprising against Spanish rule. Taíno cacique Caonabo led his people to attack the settlement after the brutal treatment they received from the garrison who disobeyed Columbus's orders.
  • 1494-05-05 On 2nd voyage to New World Christopher Columbus sights Jamaica, landing at Discovery Bay
  • 1498-05-30 Christopher Columbus departs with 6 ships for 3rd trip to America
  • 1498-07-31 Christopher Columbus discovers the island of Trinidad on his third voyage
  • 1498-08-01 Christopher Columbus lands on "Isla Santa" (Venezuela)
  • 1498-08-14 Christopher Columbus landed at the mouth of the Orinoco River in what is now Venezuela
  • 1499-05-21 Francisco De Bobadilla appointed Governor of the Indies, succeeding Christopher Columbus
  • 1500-08-23 Governor Francisco De Bobadilla arrives in the Indies, soon after arrests and sends former Governor Christopher Columbus back to Spain in chains
  • 1500-11-25 Governor De Bobadilla of Santo Domingo captures Christopher Columbus
  • 1502-05-09 Christopher Columbus leaves Spain on his 4th and final trip to the New World
  • 1502-05-11 Christopher Columbus begins 4th & last trip to the "Indies"
  • 1502-09-18 Christopher Columbus lands at Costa Rica on his 4th & last voyage
  • 1503-05-10 Christopher Columbus discovers the Cayman Islands
  • 1504-02-29 Christopher Columbus uses a lunar eclipse to frighten hostile Jamaican Indians
  • 1506-05-19 Christopher Columbus selects his son Diego Columbus as sole heir
  • 1792-10-12 First celebration of Columbus Day in the USA held in New York
  • 1929-10-09 Part of lost Piri Reis World Map, compiled by Ottoman general Piri Reis in 1513, rediscovered in the Topaki Palace Library, Istanbul. Earliest map of Columbus's voyages.
  • 2020-06-10 Statues of Confederate figures and explorers become focus of #BlackLivesMatter protests, with many removed including of Confederate President Jefferson Davis and of Christopher Columbus in Richmond

Biographies and Sources

Famous Explorers