JEAN-LOUP CHARMET / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY JEAN-LOUP CHARMET / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Representation of the ships used by the Italian navigator and discoverer of the New World Christopher Columbus (1451-1506). Columbus believed, wrongly, that the Earth's circumference was about 29,000km and that Asia was only 5000km to the west of Europe. In the 1480s he proposed to the Portuguese king John II a westward trip to Asia but his project was rejected by the royal geographers. In 1492 the monarchs of Spain subsidised his project and he sailed towards Asia with the three small ships Nina, Pinta and the flagship Santa Maria. On October 12th 1492 he landed on a small island (San Salvador, the Bahamas) which he thought was in the East Indies. Illustration by J.L. Beuzon (1939).
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