Christopher Columbus has been credited with opening North and South America for future settlers, but did you know that he never realized that he had found two continents? He believed that he had landed in China. This makes sense since reaching Asia was the goal of his journeys.
Muslims controlled the trade routes from Europe to India and Asia, making it very difficult to travel to these places by land. Columbus thought that if he sailed west across the Atlantic, he could find a better, safer, faster way to reach the East.
Fun Facts About Christopher Columbus for Kids
- Christopher Columbus was born on October 31, 1451 in Genoa, Italy.
- He began sailing when he was just a teenager. He went on trading voyages around the Mediterranean Sea.
- He took his first voyage into the Atlantic Ocean in 1476. French privateers attached his ship and set it on fire. He survived by swimming to the coast of Portugal.
- Columbus settled in Lisbon and married Filipa Moniz Perestrelo. They had one son together. His wife died and Columbus moved to Spain.
- Columbus presented his idea of sailing west to find new trade routes to the Portuguese king who rejected it. He presented his ideas in Genoa and Venice, but the governments there said no too. He finally went to the Spanish monarchy. Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand initially refused, but later agreed to help him. They gave him the money to buy three ships – the Santa Maria, the Nina and the Pinta.
- Columbus set out in August of 1492 to find Asia. Instead, he landed on an island in the Bahamas after 36 days of sailing. There they met friendly natives who traded beads, spears and parrots with them.
- Columbus left 39 men behind to build a settlement on the coast of Hispaniola before returning to Europe.
- The king and queen of Spain were very happy and agreed to finance two more trips. When Columbus reached the settlement in Hispaniola, he discovered that the settlement had been destroyed – probably by native people, although we’re not sure. He made slaves of some of the people and forced them to search for gold.
- Columbus’ men complained of his poor management and harsh treatment. Columbus was brought before the king and queen and stripped of his title.
- When Columbus died in 1506, he still believed he had discovered a trade route through China.
Christopher Columbus Vocabulary
- Voyage: a journey, usually by sea
- Privateer: sailors given permission by a government to attack enemy merchant ships, usually during war time
- Native: someone who was born and raised in an area. In most cases, the family has lived there for generations
All About Christopher Columbus Video for Kids
Check out this cool video all about Christopher Columbus for kids:
All About Christopher Columbus Q&A
Question: Was Christopher Columbus a good guy or a bad guy?
Answer: That depends on who you ask. He paved the way for future explorations, which is a good thing if you came here from Europe. Columbus took foods, such as corn, potatoes and coffee, back to Europe. The corn and potatoes became important food crops there.
For the native people, though, Christopher Columbus’s explorations meant disaster. The small pox disease wiped out millions of native people. Future explorers, searching for gold and riches, killed or enslaved many people.
Question: Who discovered America?
Answer: Christopher Columbus was not the first European explorer to reach the Americas. He was preceded by the Norse expedition led by Leif Eriksson in the 11th century.
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