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Portrait of Christopher Columbus

Portrait of Christopher Columbus

H403/0153

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Credit

SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

Christopher Columbus (1451-1506), the Italian explorer who discovered America by mistake, think- ing he was in Asia. Columbus believed, wrongly, that Asia was only 5000km west of Europe, and proposed a trip there to the Portuguese king, John II. His project was rejected by royal geographers but in 1492 he received backing from Spain and set off that year with three ships and 120 men. On 12 October 1492 he landed on a small island in the Bahamas (San Salvador), believing he had found the Indies. Three more trips followed, resulting in the discovery of the American mainland and more islands in the Caribbean. He died in poverty in Spain, still believing he had reached Asia.

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