It’s Columbus Day, but is it more than just a day for government workers to take off? For me, where I live, it means that the deer hunters who work for the government, or the banks, or someplace else that offers the furlough (with pay) are enjoying the White Tail Season will remain. in the area for one more day in large numbers.
I refer you first to our fellow blogger, Ed B.and his radio program, Your American Heritage. Ed’s guests are interesting and insightful each week. In this case, his interview: A discussion with Bill Federer: Who was Christopher Columbus and why do we care? is very much on point.
Bill Federer’s point is that the angst toward Columbus is “a case of misplaced blame”.
All those blaming Columbus for sailing west must turn one chapter back in the history books to find that it had been an Islamic jihad that disrupted the traditional caravan land routes from Europe to India and China that resulted in Columbus looking for a sea route.
Mr. Federer has written books on the subject and while I diverge from his thesis slightly, he does solid research.
The European conquest of the Americas, I argue, was inevitable. The disruption in the silk trade was motivation enough, but technology and motivation had arrived at the point where Europeans had the capacity to send large numbers of people who were in search of “free land”.
In what became British North America, the king forced himself and his taxes on people who fancied themselves as “free” and “equal”. The notion of common people placing themselves on par with their sovereign was odious to the king – who only had subjects.
And it’s running full circle, isn’t it? Are we subjects of Beltway Oligarchs or do we send representatives who are servants of the people?
But I digress…
(h/t WSF) Ancient Documents... suggest that there was a general understanding that there was “something” big out there if you sailed west. They didn’t know how far they needed to travel, but they had a very general sense of ocean current circulation, etc. The Vikings didn’t have the social momentum to settle in sufficient numbers AT THAT DISTANCE (when France and Britian were closer at hand) and to kill the locals in sufficient numbers.
Regardless though, Chiesa states, Cronica universalis “brings unprecedented evidence to the speculation that news about the American continent, derived from Nordic sources, circulated in Italy one and half centuries before Columbus.”
He adds: “What makes the passage (about Marckalada) exceptional is its geographical provenance: not the Nordic area, as in the case of the other mentions, but northern Italy.
“The Marckalada described by Galvaneus is ‘rich in trees’, not unlike the wooded Markland of the Grœnlendinga Saga, and animals live there.
What the Nordic people may have lacked in terms of social momentum, the Spanish and other Europeans did not. Stories of “Cities of Gold” turned out to be true, and they looted the place three ways from Sunday and brought it back home.
The question that we might all ask ourselves is whether we (assuming that this blog’s readership was all of the “exploring age” in our lives) would embark on rough and unknown oceans to seek new, strange, and exotic land and treasures had we the opportunity.
You can each as yourselves that question but I expect that most of you would say, “yes!!”
Thus when people are unkind to the memory of Columbus, I feel that the revisionist history that they spew is just wrong. The Incas, Aztecs, Toltecs, Olmecs, Cherokee Confederation, and so forth in the New World were no less kind in their own efforts at empire building than the Europeans were.
I am honored by the reference. Thank you.
Bill posted this right after our conversation.
I highly recommend subscribing to his newsletter.
Before listening to Bill on Columbus, I never knew his exploration was influenced by Jihad.
Everything was influenced by Jihad in the late 1490s. The treasure that paid for his voyages was funded out of the Reconquista of Spain from the muslims.
As to your question about exploring, after listening to the trials Columbus faced, including cannibals, a second trip would get a hard pass from me.
That makes him a hero.
Ritual cannibalism was practiced among the plains Indians/First People/Indigenous People, among the Japanese, who blanch when you point it out, and among a lot of cultures. The Donner Party must have paused before that first catered lunch, but I wasn’t there, can’t say. The point is that they usually ate their enemies to gather spiritual strength. Pacific Islanders ate each other as a way of life and to reduce the population on small islands with limited resources.
John Johnson (mountain man), also known as the Crow Killer, upon which the feature film, Jerimiah Johnson (Robert Redford, etc) was based, killed members of the Crow tribe and ate their livers — in large numbers — as a matter of revenge.
Colombus encountered the practice without a larger historical reference.
(joke) Did you hear about the cannibal who passed his friend in the jungle?
L-L, I knew this guy in Miz-sippi who said you had to screw your friends because they were the only ones who’d let you get close enough to get to them. Same theory, I presume.
Funny how the Left “hates” Columbus and worked to nullify him over the last few decades but don’t mind the day off for their weirdly named “Indigenous People Day”. Self-loathing must be in their DNA.
Me, explored as a kid and did the same as an adult, came West from the comfortable East to see what was over the horizon. So yes, I’d go, even though boats aren’t my favorite. Ask that same question to our current crop of Millennial’s who have a hard time driving a stick shift.
Need to grab a half hour and listen to EdB’s podcast, always enlightening.
It’s not just boats or camels, it’s space ships – maybe. Looking for the next great adventure is baked into our DNA. All mankind has had that built-in and it’s in large part what allowed us to survive and spread across the landscape (ok, maybe as a virus…). The Norse (sometimes Vikings, sometimes as traders) were the poster children for this practice. Where didn’t they go? They settled most of Europe, some in the Middle East and near Asia. The Rus (Russians) were Norse.
I had a discussion about pioneers recently. Those who came as settlers – LDS/Mormons who fled religious persecution, people heading to the gold and silver strikes to make their fortunes, buffalo hunters, were made of very stern stuff. Not just the men. The women walked the whole way. The wagon was for supplies. And a lot of those women were pregnant, lacking birth control of any sort. Bad water, bad food, no medical help to speak of, and an endless horizon.
I’ve always admired the LDS/Mormon pioneers and the culture that endures today in the smaller towns where they settled, despite having ancestors that lost much during the later “Mormon Wars”, having settled on the fringes of Deseret.
Living in Utah and working for two brothers (one a Stake President, the other a Bishop) and living in predominantly LDS neighbors, there were very few problems. Being thought of as a “good family man” was more important than being married to a staunch practicing Lutheran (who was accepted by her neighbors as a good wife and mother).
I’ve heard that there is a species of cultural erosion going on in Salt Lake City and we could argue causation elsewhere. (Bravo TV: Housewives of SLC – drunk sluts working hard to pass themselves off as respectable)
Inasmuch as the Italian exodus has been over for a hundred years and the “indigenous people” are coming across the southern transom in numbers sufficient to have invaded Poland in 1939, or Russia in 1941 for that matter, and with somewhat less resistance to overcome, it’s not surprising the Left has abandoned Columbus in favor of Santa Muerte. It’s just a business decision for the Left. Marketing to be precise.
LL- For me it manifests as never being satisfied in where I am in life (not greedily), pushing for the next idea to construct or learn, a new place to explore…God gave a portion of mankind that element. An urban, more compartmentalized existence would never do. Looking over the horizon – life’s big adventure – energizes the soul. Spice of life stuff.
WWW- The Left is as fickle as the wind, whatever works in the moment is what they promote, even if it contradicts yesterday.
Yup. They’re opportunistic as rats, a creature with which they share other attributes.
Berenson’s latest…the elite rats are all grifters with the inside track to millions/billions. Lockdown’s working in their favor, in spades. Should all be in prison.
Sad to say that so many today “adventure” mostly with the aid of electrons. (Yeah I know, said as I sit here typing this). I was most fortunate as a young lad to grow up in Amador County in the heart of the California gold rush country. Yes, we panned for gold, and used a home built sluice box and rocker. Good times. Also taught me why more folks got rich selling shovels than prospecting.
That last sentence made me laugh.
RHT is right, though it is funny. The miners were in need of everything. Every time I go to Colorado and see where some of those stalwarts mined, and how they got in and out, I marvel at the supply chain that had to follow them – to be paid in silver and gold pieces.
Levi Strauss did rather well, too.
I’ve always been told that I had “Natural Curiosity”, and ever since I can remember, I was asking not only “Why?”, but also “How?”. Read through the entire set of World Book encyclopedia several times, and was fascinated by this huge, old Atlas we had. Maps of the whole world!
The more things I learned, the more questions I had, leading to more learning.
And when I got older, I had a powerful fascination with “Seeing What’s Out There”, either by going myself, or using my radio and telescope to see and hear for myself.
And I still do it…..
It’s an itch that can only be scratched by exploration through whatever means.
Thanks for the mention. The political reasons President Roosevelt proclaimed Columbus Day a holiday in 1937 was intense pressure from Catholic organizations, much like MLK Day in 1983 was in response to political pressures.
Perhaps you shortchange the Norsemen. Frank Joseph has published several books about the ancient americas that details traces of the Norsemen. I’ve personally seen runes carved into stone at Picture Canyon, CO a few miles SW of Springfield, CO.
I’m aware many “scholars” deride Joseph’s conclusions but I’m not a scholar (or a gentleman, for that matter).
The Norse didn’t establish permanent colonies that lasted in the face of pressure from the locals and a lack of regular reinforcement from the homeland.
Could they have explored, portaged their ships, and found friends in the Americas? Given ALL that they did, who can discount anything? Chinese sailors had only to follow the landmass to arrive in the San Francisco Bay. I’m not suggesting that would be a small thing, but certainly possible. The Ra Expedition showed they could have come by raft from Egypt.
Didn’t help the Norse that the world was cooling by the time they got around to getting to the new world. It takes a warmer ocean to allow exploration and expansion.
Don’t let the Norse off the hook. They expanded locally, and who can blame them? England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, France, up and down the Volga, etc. Vineland was a long pull and the Skraelings didn’t have much in the way of treasure.
Hmmmmm… I left the Old Country looking for adventure and I found it, in a way. So maybe I’d have been on the ship. Mind you, running the Consistory Court system is time consuming, so there is that.
Cannibalism was pretty ubiquitous in the Americas. You can see why Cortez and the gang thought they’d run into a crew of devil worshipers.
I don’t think that you should allow the Consistory Court system to rule on matters of cannibalism. They have their hands full with vice.
More interesting than Columbus and his crew is why did some European countries at that time left the motherland and sailed into the unknown. The cause behind is never or seldom mentioned or understood. I think it is time to look at Columbus as a victim doing their best to get the products and raw materials they were in demand of.
I choose not to write the main cause since it is not PC and everyone learns more if they check themselves.
A clever man, intent on enriching himself with successful voyages to Cathay or a downtrodden mariner begging for scraps at the tables of great men?
One of the chief causes of the golden age of exploration was… MONEY!!!! And with it power and prestige. Combine those with the overpopulation and stagnation of the cultures due to the muslims shutting down any exploration or expansion eastwardly, and you get a festering pile of 2nd and 3rd sons being cut out of any inheritance, and what inheritances were being gotten were smaller and smaller.
Spices were a form of money. A couple casks and boxes of spice were enough to make a whole crew rich. A full cargo could literally devalue the economy of a kingdom. And there were silk fabrics, gems and jewels, gold and silver. Money, money, mooonnayyyy. And all the things that come with said money. Babes, land, prestige, power. The ability to continue one’s line past oneself.
In the 1500’s and 1600’s much money was made and trade and deals brokered in tea houses, coffee houses and hot chocolate houses.
With the right luck, a low-ranked person or a more-than-5th son could become the next trade magnate, power broker, could ‘retire’ to the country after one voyage.
You forgot ambergris: Solid barf produced in the digestive system of sperm whales and treasured by the crowned heads of Europe. Freshly produced ambergris has a briney, fecal odor.
FWIW, Polynesian mythology has fair haired blue eyed gods, and blue eyed, red haired islanders are not rare. Norse technology was capable of circumnavigating, ie. you can build another ship after going overland. The Polynesian tech could go the other way.
The Norse/Rus traded with the Byzantines, who were in touch with the Chinese, (red dot) Indians, and points further East. There is NOTHING that would suggest a limit to early exploration. In fact, the opposite is more likely the case.
Spanish claims of ownership required that Columbus be first so that’s what the books said.
Be safe and God bless.
I try to keep the blog real, LindaG
And then there’s the stupid “Columbus proved the world was round” lie our teachers taught us.
No. All Columbus proved was the mathematicians who said the world was 18,000 miles around were wrong and the ancient Greeks, Indians, Romans, Egyptians and anyone else who had decent math skills and said the world was around 25,000 miles.
Which is why Columbus thought he could sail west to the Orient. If the world was only 18K miles around then there’s a good chance one could make it without stopping for provisions.
And those who said the world was 25K around all hyothesised that there was some land between Europe and the Orient, just because that much emptiness has to have something somewhere.
Columbus, for all his supposed faults, was and is a hero.
Well said, Beans!
Yes, it was a bit more than a rounding error.
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