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Old March 4th, 2018, 11:23 AM   #1
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Lightbulb Why did Colombus sail west?


Hello!

As stated, i wonder what you think about what made Colombus sail west. Yuval Noah Harari goes in depth about it in his book Sapiens, which i of course read. Namely the chapter on the scientific revolution. Harari tells of something pretty interesting, the discovery of ignorance, and how the maps after this discovery showed vast empty spaces, contrary to the earlier maps filled with dragons and ****.

what do you guys think made Colombus set sail?


https://erenow.com/common/sapiensbriefhistory/
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Old March 4th, 2018, 11:28 AM   #2

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what do you guys think made Colombus set sail?
Short answer: Portuguese were already sailing South, and he tough that sailing West would be a easier way to reach the richness of the Indies and the Orient.

The Portuguese king dismissed him, because he knew that Columbus was wrong and we sold the idea to Castile. Castile bough the idea because it couldn’t sail south.
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Old March 4th, 2018, 11:37 AM   #3
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It was well known how to get to the Indies by traveling east. Columbus thought he had a short cut, but everyone knew that the earth was way to big.
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Old March 4th, 2018, 11:42 AM   #4
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It was well known how to get to the Indies by traveling east. Columbus thought he had a short cut, but everyone knew that the earth was way to big.
So what made him actually do it? if America wasnt there, the sailors would probably starve right? Was he just crazy?
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Old March 4th, 2018, 11:48 AM   #5

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So what made him actually do it? if America wasnt there, the sailors would probably starve right? Was he just crazy?
No, he was not crazy, not in that sense anyway. He just tough the Earth was smaller and that he could make the voyage. He made the wrong calculations about Earth’s diameter. There were also enough myths about lost islands, so he could easily think that he could find islands, as the Portuguese had recently (re)discovered the Azores. I suppose that you know that he lived in Porto Santo (in the Madeira Islands), he was married there with a Portuguese noblewoamn, and he sailed in the Coast of Africa until Mina, in Portuguese ships.
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Old March 4th, 2018, 11:53 AM   #6
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So what made him actually do it? if America wasnt there, the sailors would probably starve right? Was he just crazy?
Perhaps. But at that time it was not so difficult to get the wrong idea about the size of earth. It may be an exaggeration to say others "knew" better. They may have made a better guess.By the way: Not only are South America not close to East Asia and India, but parts of it are exactly opposite(Chile, Argentina/China, Mongolia, Siberia), or as far as they can be on earth.
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Old March 4th, 2018, 12:04 PM   #7
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Short answer: Portuguese were already sailing South, and he tough that sailing West would be a easier way to reach the richness of the Indies and the Orient.

The Portuguese king dismissed him, because he knew that Columbus was wrong and we sold the idea to Castile. Castile bough the idea because it couldn’t sail south.
I do not think that Joao II knew Columbus was wrong. I think that Portugal had so much invested in the Cape route to the East that the king and his court faction decided to press on in that enterprise. Bartolomeu Dias had rounded the Cape in 1488 so the Portuguese knew that it was possible to reach the ocean to the east of Africa.

Joao most likely did not want to start over. The Treaty of Tordesillas in 1494 was a diplomatic gambit to secure Papal approval of Portuguese "discoveries" in the East - discoveries of what they were pretty sure was already there. The Castilian Crown did not know what Columbus was going into. That was more of a gamble.
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Old March 4th, 2018, 12:25 PM   #8

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I do not think that Joao II knew Columbus was wrong. I think that Portugal had so much invested in the Cape route to the East that the king and his court faction decided to press on in that enterprise. Bartolomeu Dias had rounded the Cape in 1488 so the Portuguese knew that it was possible to reach the ocean to the east of Africa.

Joao most likely did not want to start over. The Treaty of Tordesillas in 1494 was a diplomatic gambit to secure Papal approval of Portuguese "discoveries" in the East - discoveries of what they were pretty sure was already there. The Castilian Crown did not know what Columbus was going into. That was more of a gamble.
Well, almost all the academics at the time had troubles to believe in Columbus measures. In the 15th century there were already ideas about the Earth Diameter, albeit it was still a matter of discussion.

Columbus reached D. Joćo II before Bartolomeu’s Dias voyage in 1488. Columbus left Portugal for Castile around 1485, if I am not mistaken. So the “no” by D. Joćo II was not due Bartolomeu’s Dias voyage. The olny explanation is because he didn’t believe in the measures. If he thought that he could to it quicker and cheaper, he would have bought the idea. Around that time, or a bit later, there were also Portuguese exploring the North Atlantic, sailing from Azores, the Corte-Real are the most know of those sailors, but there were also some Flemish working for the Portuguese Crown.

D. Joćo II was itself a quite intelligent man, and maybe one of the best Portuguese kings, he “invented” personally a kind of shot that the caravels could make to sink the enemy ships.

As to secure the discoveries in Africa and in the east, that was not problem with Castile. The Treaty of Alcįēovas (1479) already granted that, after the Castilian Civil War. The Treaty of Tordesillas (1494) was much more needed by the Castilians, to secure their new lands in America, so Portugal couldn’t ask for them at the light of the previous treaty. Even so D. Joćo II pushed the line to West after the popes’ bull. So there are historians that interpret that pushing the line of the treaty to West was a sign that he already knew that a land was there (Brazil, only officially discovered in 1500).

It is also curious that in 1488 Bartolomeu Dias just didn’t proceed with the voyage because he had a rebellion on board and he had to turn back. So, after the Portuguese best success in that century, with voyages every years to south, we had to wait 10 years to have sources of another voyage, the one of Vasco da Gama. Again, this 10 years hole leaves space to many interpretations.
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Old March 4th, 2018, 12:27 PM   #9
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I would not say that Columbus was crazy. He was notoriously stuborn. At the time there was a scientific basis for knowing the correct size of the Earth. Columbus just wasn't interested in hearing it because it contradicted his preconceptions. I'm not sure if Columbus thought the Earth was smaller or if he thought that Asia was bigger so that China was farther east. Maybe a little of both. His estimate on the size of Asia came from reading Marco Polo who apparently over-estimated his distances as he traveled overland to China in the 13th century.
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Old March 4th, 2018, 01:08 PM   #10
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At the time there was a scientific basis for knowing the correct size of the Earth.
What methods exactly did they have to make any measurements except with very high degree of uncertainty? Who did such measurements in those times, and did Columbus or those who decided have any knowledge about them? I have read about some made by greeks somewhat before "Common Era" (or B.C) - especially Erastosthenes.I have some doubts 15.th century european "science" knew much better.
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