Muslim Turks conquered Constantinople in 1453, cutting off the land trade routes from Europe to India and China, so Europeans sought new routes.
During Portugal’s golden age of sea power, Columbus sailed south along the African coast and then north to Iceland. He heard stories of Irish monk St. Brendan sailing in 530 AD to “The Land of the Promised Saints which God will give us on the last day” and of Leif Erickson’s voyage in 1000 AD to Vinland.
Columbus read 2nd century astronomer Ptolemy’s Guide to Geography, which described a spherical earth with one ocean connecting Europe and Asia. Columbus corresponded with Florentine physician Toscanelli, who suggested China was 5,000 miles west of Portugal. On OCTOBER 12, 1492, Columbus sighted what he thought was India. He imagined Haiti was Japan and Cuba was the tip of China.
Naming the first island “San Salvador” for the Holy Savior, Columbus wrote of the inhabitants:
So that they might be well-disposed towards us, for I knew that they were a people to be…converted to our Holy Faith rather by love than by force, I gave to some red caps and to others glass beads… They became so entirely our friends that…I believe that they would easily be made Christians.
The Moral Liberal contributing editor, William J. Federer, is the bestselling author of “Backfired: A Nation Born for Religious Tolerance no Longer Tolerates Religion,” and numerous other books. A frequent radio and television guest, his daily American Minute is broadcast nationally via radio, television, and Internet. Check out all of Bill’s books here.