AUKSTAKALNIS SECONDARY SCHOOL
DISCOVERY OF AMERICA
Atliko: Tadas Jurelevičius 8F
DISCOVERY OF AMERICA
Christopher Columbus was the first recorded explorer to discover North America.
CHRISTOPHER’S COLUMBUS JOURNEY TO INDIA
Christopher Columbus was born in 1451 in Genoa, Italy. He went to sea as a young boy, and spent most of his life at sea.
Columbus wanted to find a new route to the Far East. In India, China, Japan and the Spice Islands he could get valuable silks and spices.
Columbus knew the world wwas round. He believed that by sailing west, instead of current route east around the coast of Africa, he would the East and the Spice Islands.
He moved to Portugal trying to get money to support his journey. He eventually got support from Ferdinand and Isabella, the king and queen of Spain.
In 1492 Columbus set sail from Palos, Spain with three ships: the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria. The crew of the Pinta was about 100, the crew of tthe Niña was about 50 and the crew of the Santa Maria was about 30 people.
Columbus was not actually looking for America. He was looking for a shorter route to the Far East. There he would find valuable silks and sspices.
After the difficult voyage that took about seventy days, they finally arrived at the American continent (a small island in the Bahamas which Columbus named San Salvador) on October 12, 1492. In those days, the American Continent was said to have monsters living there. But what Columbus saw were normal people. He stuck a cross in the ground and claimed all the lands for Spain. When he returned to Spain he took some of the natives back with him. After that he repeated to voyage three times and he even landed on the coast of the South American continent. He named the natives „Indians“ because he had believed that he arrived in East Indies, which he believed until he died.
The 17th century Europeans who colonized the “New World” carried an idea of the ‘Indians’ that strongly informed their perceptions upon contact. In large part these views were formed by the writings of the early explorers. Thus, the first and in many ways most paradigmatic ‘real’ descriptions of the new land and its peoples comes to us in the mail as letters from Columbus. In a letter dated October 12, 1492 he writes:
.in order that they might develop a vvery friendly disposition towards us, because I knew that they were a people who could better be freed and converted to our Holy Faith by love than by force, gave to them some red caps and to others glass beads, which they hung about their necks, and many other things of slight value, in which they took much pleasure.
They all go quite naked as their mothers bore them; and also the women, although I didn’t see more than one really young girl. All that I saw were young men, none of them more than 30 years old, very well built, of very handsome bodies and very fine faces. They ought to be good servants and of good skill, for I see that they repeat very quickly whatever is said to them.
From these docile ‘servants’ we quickly move to the more hostile Caribs–depicted here as the infamous „Cannibals.“ What follows is a portion of an account given not by Columbus himself, but by his aristocratic shipmate Michele de Cuneo, who provides a particularly intense and paradigm forming account of a meeting of bodies, if not of minds. In a letter from The Second Voyage, October 28, 1495 he ddescribes how he and his men have just attacked a small party of Caribs, and one of the Spaniards has been shot with an arrow. (Emphasis mine)
We captured this canoe with all the men. One cannibal was wounded by a lance blow and thinking him dead we left him in the sea. Suddenly we saw him begin to swim away; therefore we caught him and with a long hook pulled him aboard where we cut off his head with an axe. We sent the other Cannibals together with the two slaves to Spain. When I was in the boat, I took a beautiful Cannibal girl and the admiral gave her to me. Having her in my room and she being naked as is their custom, I began to want to amuse myself with her. Since I wanted to have my way with her and she was not willing, she worked me over so badly with her nails that I wished I had never begun. To get to the end of the story, seeing how things were going, I got a rope and tied her up so tightly that she made unheard of cries which you wouldn’t have believed. At tthe end, we got along so well that, let me tell you, it seemed she had studied at a school for whores. The admiral named the cape on that island the cape of the Arrow for the man who was killed by the arrow.
This account of abduction and rape is of particular interest in regards to the Pocahontas myth. For one, it represents the earliest example of captivity-tale, yet one opposite what would become a familiar North-American genre. In the latter, the White woman recounted a story in which she was captured by the heathen Indians, but through her faith in God was restored to Colonial society, while the Indians received the divinely mandated and humanly enforced punishment. Critics such as Richard Slotkin have called this genre representative of the North ...
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