Fact Checking Columbus

Oct 2014
153
California, USA
#11
I agree that Columbus should be judged by the standards of his own time. By those standards Columbus was an idiot! Go east by sailing west?? Really?? Not to mention that anyone can see the world is flat. If it were round all the water in the oceans would run off. It's not just a simple argument that it LOOKS flat. Given the evidence, it's amazing that Queen Isabella financed him when his native Genova (Genoa) gave him the finger.

BTW the Llanos Estacado in western Texas is so flat, one could almost believe the world is flat ( and some do).
Yeah, I didn't address the "everyone believed the earth was flat" myth. Most educated people of the time didn't believe that. What they believed was the ocean was too large to be crossed in that direction--that any ship would run out of supplies before reaching the other side.

But even if he was wrong about some things, what he did back then was both a major feat of navigation and an event that changed the world. I feel like I sort of left that part "assumed" and I shouldn't have, because that's been challenged of late.

He may not have been the first person to travel from Europe to the Americas...but to quote Las Casas again...

""Is there anything on earth comparable to opening the tightly shut doors of an ocean that no one dared enter before? And supposing someone in the most remote past did enter, the feat was so utterly forgotten as to make Columbus' discovery as arduous as if it had been the first time."

Las Casas, while he had some scathing criticism of Columbus in in regards to his failure to treat the native peoples rightly, before that he spent WHOLE CHAPTERS of his History of the Indies* praising his naval acumen, perseverance, character and intentions. It wasn't my original intention to JUST present the criticism. I'm going to need to go back and make some changes. (Alas, when you think you're finished with something and you realize you have so much more to do!)
 
Oct 2014
153
California, USA
#12
It is impossible to say better than John... so I am only to answer some questions:

Did Columbus Commit Atrocities Against Native Americans?

According to 2018 standars... yes... according to 15th Century Standar in Pagan territory... No.
Yes, that's true...BUT, I think it's notable that there WERE people of the time who were criticizing mistreatment of the native peoples, INCLUDING Queen Isabella.) It wasn't in any way based on a modern standard of equality, and today we might see some of it as patronizing.

For instance, she decreed this....

"In order to entice the cacique [tribal chief] and his men to work as freemen and not slaves, they must be given wages, they must be treated well (Christians should be treated better than non-Christians), allowing no one to harm or displease them in any way. etc."

Personally, I look at Columbus and see that in regards to his treatment of the natives, he was better than many of his time. But he seemed to go against some of HIS OWN previously stated goals and ideals. He himself said he would like to do better in regards to controlling some of the behavior of people under him.

I think we are wrong when we propagate false narratives that paint Columbus as a tirant worse than anyone even in his time (that's far from the truth). But I neither think it's wrong to look at the suffering of the native people and think...that was wrong...and than ask "What lead to that?"

Did Columbus Encourage Sex Trafficking?

Sex was not so taboo in old days... and Sex trafficiking didn´t exist before 20th Century because it is a prolongation of the Totalitarian Feminist movement. Not trafficking at all in 15th Century... If he sold or not... it is indifferent... He did what everybody...Was Alexander, Hannibal or Caesar pederast? Maybe Hadrian and his beautiful Antinoo? Trajan? Spartan?

Almogavares sold boys for the burdels in Egypt and Palestine.... and they didn´t have matched with Sex trafficking because in 1311.... that word or concept not even existed!!!
I was using the term "sex trafficking" because it is the term the many articles I was addressing who made this claim about Columbus--I know well it's history (it's very modern...wasn't even used a generation ago), because I've spent several years doing research on that topic. Yes, it's a modern term, but the concept behind that (forced prostitution and slavery for the purpose of sexual exploitation) has been around for a LONG TIME (as you mentioned).

But I would disagree sex was less taboo in the middle ages than it is today. In some places in Europe men were hung in cages and left to die for rape (the same punishment for murder), women were drowned for adultary (just two examples). And while raping or killing a slave or foreigner or person of the lower classes may not have been overlooked it was at least thought as sinful...that is clear from both the writings of Columbus and las Casas. And yes, people married younger and pedastry was a thing, but men going around seeking 9-10 year olds would have still raised a certain amount of disgust at the time (it's why Columbus points that out...in the letter he wrote criticizing the people who had laid charges against him). If you look through history, the time where women were thought ready for marriag (and sex) was generally was AFTER their first period, and 9 and 10 is pretty young for that. In Europe at least in some places it was illegal for a women to get married before 12 (for boys 14)...I'm not sure about Spain at the time. But I do know that 12 was actually younger than most women did get married (that's a myth), though they got betrothed (engaged) much younger than that. So talking about 9 and 10 year old girls being in high demand by the people who he was sent with was not a light insult.




How Do We Teach This History?

As the Economic and Political Power at the moment want to be taught...So it is very different the same fact as it is taught in 2018, 1988, 1978, 1968, 1938, 1908 or 1848....

That is the reason because I hate intepretations, or "lessons" from History... I am only interested in facts without any kind of interpretation.. any kind of manipulation...You know... June 6th, 1944: US, British and Canadian troops land in Normandy. Fact...without intepretation.
Well, I don't know if you noticed...but the post I wrote was on a homeschool blog. People reading it probably aren't going to be as concerned about how socieities teach history over generations as they are in practical matters related to teaching their own children, right now. I'm not against teaching bare facts, but if you've every attempted that with an elementary child...well, let me say, it's challenging. They need the "story" to keep them interested. And it's hard to tell that without any point of view.

I've never tried to make history a list of life lessons for my child--I actually really dislike history books and curriculum that does that. I do sometimes, in reading the life stories of people in the past, though, take away lessons--and I don't think there's anything wrong with that. Learning history is just a fun trivial pastime if it doesn't influence us at all. And even the bare facts can lead in that direction (though the writings of Las Casas, which was a large part of my research, are anything but bare facts--he definately had an opinion and a message). And I don't mind reading history that has an interpretation as well as they don't twist the underlying facts to get there.



By the way, if you ever get your hands on a translation "History of the Indies" it's a great read. Not bare facts, but it will lead you to some (cause man did that guy like to cite sources). If you've read de Casas "Brief Account of the Destruction of the Indies" ...this longer History it's much easier, enjoyable read than that. While the "brief account" was just a compact list of everything bad the Spanish had done to the "Indians," this contained that but was also much more of a full history of the times.
 
Last edited:

martin76

Ad Honorem
Dec 2014
6,638
Spain
#13
Yes, that's true...BUT, I think it's notable that there WERE people of the time who were criticizing mistreatment of the native peoples, INCLUDING Queen Isabella.) It wasn't in any way based on a modern standard of equality, and today we might see some of it as patronizing.

For instance, she decreed this....

"In order to entice the cacique [tribal chief] and his men to work as freemen and not slaves, they must be given wages, they must be treated well (Christians should be treated better than non-Christians), allowing no one to harm or displease them in any way. etc."

Personally, I look at Columbus and see that in regards to his treatment of the natives, he was better than many of his time. But he seemed to go against some of HIS OWN previously stated goals and ideals. He himself said he would like to do better in regards to controlling some of the behavior of people under him.

I think we are wrong when we propagate false narratives that paint Columbus as a tirant worse than anyone even in his time (that's far from the truth). But I neither think it's wrong to look at the suffering of the native people and think...that was wrong...and than ask "What lead to that?"



I was using the term "sex trafficking" because it is the term the many articles I was addressing who made this claim about Columbus--I know well it's history (it's very modern...wasn't even used a generation ago), because I've spent several years doing research on that topic. Yes, it's a modern term, but the concept behind that (forced prostitution and slavery for the purpose of sexual exploitation) has been around for a LONG TIME (as you mentioned).

But I would disagree sex was less taboo in the middle ages than it is today. In some places in Europe men were hung in cages and left to die for rape (the same punishment for murder), women were drowned for adultary (just two examples). And while raping or killing a slave or foreigner or person of the lower classes may not have been overlooked it was at least thought as sinful...that is clear from both the writings of Columbus and las Casas. And yes, people married younger and pedastry was a thing, but men going around seeking 9-10 year olds would have still raised a certain amount of disgust at the time (it's why Columbus points that out...in the letter he wrote criticizing the people who had laid charges against him). If you look through history, the time where women were thought ready for marriag (and sex) was generally was AFTER their first period, and 9 and 10 is pretty young for that. In Europe at least in some places it was illegal for a women to get married before 12 (for boys 14)...I'm not sure about Spain at the time. But I do know that 12 was actually younger than most women did get married (that's a myth), though they got betrothed (engaged) much younger than that. So talking about 9 and 10 year old girls being in high demand by the people who he was sent with was not a light insult.






Well, I don't know if you noticed...but the post I wrote was on a homeschool blog. People reading it probably aren't going to be as concerned about how socieities teach history over generations as they are in practical matters related to teaching their own children, right now. I'm not against teaching bare facts, but if you've every attempted that with an elementary child...well, let me say, it's challenging. They need the "story" to keep them interested. And it's hard to tell that without any point of view.

I've never tried to make history a list of life lessons for my child--I actually really dislike history books and curriculum that does that. I do sometimes, in reading the life stories of people in the past, though, take away lessons--and I don't think there's anything wrong with that. Learning history is just a fun trivial pastime if it doesn't influence us at all. And even the bare facts can lead in that direction (though the writings of Las Casas, which was a large part of my research, are anything but bare facts--he definately had an opinion and a message). And I don't mind reading history that has an interpretation as well as they don't twist the underlying facts to get there.



By the way, if you ever get your hands on a translation "History of the Indies" it's a great read. Not bare facts, but it will lead you to some (cause man did that guy like to cite sources). If you've read de Casas "Brief Account of the Destruction of the Indies" ...this longer History it's much easier, enjoyable read than that. While the "brief account" was just a compact list of everything bad the Spanish had done to the "Indians," this contained that but was also much more of a full history of the times.

I agree with you until a certain point. Colón committed abuses for the Spanish standars in 15th Century but "Genocide" is not a concept existed in 15th Century... he was not a genocide... or not more than other conqueror from past , present or future... Alexander the Great or Lord Kitchener...

I agree about sex tabboo... it is origined by the Jewish Moral and Christian religion.


Well, I don't know if you noticed...but the post I wrote was on a homeschool blog. People reading it probably aren't going to be as concerned about how socieities teach history over generations as they are in practical matters related to teaching their own children, right now. I'm not against teaching bare facts, but if you've every attempted that with an elementary child...well, let me say, it's challenging. They need the "story" to keep them interested. And it's hard to tell that without any point of view.
I understand to you... it is logic.. but I prefer a very boring non-manipulative History than a very nice-enjoyable-manipulative history. Personally I think History should be banned in School... it is used by the Power to manipulate the young minds.Please, I don´t say you are a manipulator.. What I say it is the Power uses the History as Propaganda and social cohesion tool. A history as false as a Marvell comic. The falsehood, the intoxication is supported by other media as TV and Movies...

I never taught History to my son... never. He is economist and knows nothing about history (literally he doesn´t know who is Hitler or in what century took place the WW2)...I have friends they don´t allow their children go to school.... the State manipulate the mind of the children... no thanks... one of my friends have a 12 yo boy never in his life was in School... and he speaks 5 languages and very good in physics and mathematics... Schools are good for nothing... well.. it is good as kindergarten for unworried parents and as a center for the manipulation of the mind...not only in Communist countries...
How do you think the 3ér Republique spreat their ideas in society?... throught compulsary education! (Republicanism-secularism etc etc)... and Also I am not a specialist in USA.... for sure.. School is used there for manipulation (Only I need to read here what many people write.. to know how much they were intoxicated)

Regards.
 
Oct 2014
153
California, USA
#14
I agree with you until a certain point. Colón committed abuses for the Spanish standars in 15th Century but "Genocide" is not a concept existed in 15th Century... he was not a genocide... or not more than other conqueror from past , present or future... Alexander the Great or Lord Kitchener...
I agree that Columbus didn't commit nor try to commit genocide....he was interested in exploiting the natives, not wiping them out completely. Whether or not the term "genocide" existed at the time is irrelevant. Some societies didn't have a concept of numbers over 10, but that doesn't mean we can't look at archeological records and suggest that they numbered in the thousands. Similarly, we can look to the past and label whether certain events were genocide, or human trafficking, or various other concepts we have today. What we can't do is assume that the people of the time understood those things the same way (in fact, in most cases, it's pretty safe to assume they didn't).
 

Edratman

Forum Staff
Feb 2009
6,694
Eastern PA
#15
Thank you so much for your thoughtful criticism. I think you're right. Originally I had intended to also address some of the recent claims against Columbus that belittle his accomplishments. That would have covered much of what you said, but I simply ran out of time if I was to get this posted before Columbus Day (which was my goal). I plan to remedy this. I'm not sure whether it would be better to try to add that this this post, or write about that in another post, and briefly mention it in this one, linking to the 2nd post and making it clearer that this post only addressing his treatment of the natives he encountered on his journey and while governing the colony of Hispaniola. I also agree that I could have addressed his character traits that "led to his achievements and failures" in more detail. I think that would be very relevant and would be worth spending time to add. In the meantime I might point people towards some other resources which deal well with that aspect of his story.
That sounds like a plan.

If I were making the changes, my process would be to combine everything into a single post. The reasoning is that if the report is well done, it probably will be read in its entirety regardless of the length. The requirement to click on a link to reach part 2 presents a hurdle that many will not attempt.
 
Likes: ecarian

martin76

Ad Honorem
Dec 2014
6,638
Spain
#16
I agree that Columbus didn't commit nor try to commit genocide....he was interested in exploiting the natives, not wiping them out completely. Whether or not the term "genocide" existed at the time is irrelevant. Some societies didn't have a concept of numbers over 10, but that doesn't mean we can't look at archeological records and suggest that they numbered in the thousands. Similarly, we can look to the past and label whether certain events were genocide, or human trafficking, or various other concepts we have today. What we can't do is assume that the people of the time understood those things the same way (in fact, in most cases, it's pretty safe to assume they didn't).
I agrew with you about Colón.. but not about the concept of genocide.... It is not possible to apply a 21st century concept to 15th century mental structure of thought
 
Oct 2013
14,533
Europix
#17
I agree that Columbus should be judged by the standards of his own time. By those standards Columbus was an idiot! Go east by sailing west?? Really?? Not to mention that anyone can see the world is flat. If it were round all the water in the oceans would run off. It's not just a simple argument that it LOOKS flat. Given the evidence, it's amazing that Queen Isabella financed him when his native Genova (Genoa) gave him the finger.

BTW the Llanos Estacado in western Texas is so flat, one could almost believe the world is flat ( and some do).

You reminded me one of the definitions of genius: "everybody knows that a thing is impossible, till someone that doesn't know it's impossible comes and does it"...
 

stevev

Ad Honorem
Apr 2017
3,454
Las Vegas, NV USA
#18
You reminded me one of the definitions of genius: "everybody knows that a thing is impossible, till someone that doesn't know it's impossible comes and does it"...
Yes, but the argument that oceans couldn't exist with a spherical earth is more sophisticated than the mere assertion that the earth is flat. It's not clear what the understanding of gravity was at this time in Europe. It was taken for granted that up and down were simply properties of space with the sky being up and the earth being down. Water runs downhill so the surface of a sphere could not hold water. The Greeks who first estimated the size of the the earth thought it was spherical and therefore must have assumed the existence of a force that held objects and water to its surface. The same thinking must have applied to educated contemporaries of Columbus, but it's hard to know what the pre-Newtonian concept of gravity actually was.
 
Oct 2018
1,209
Adelaide south Australia
#20
@Marttin 76 .

Christopher Columbus was looking for the Indies, and thought he had found them when he first made landfall on SanSalvador, in the Bahamas. That is why he called the inhabitants 'indios' He never set foot on the American mainland. He found 'the New world' by accident. This occurred because he had underestimated the circumference of the world.

However, I don't think his original intentions can diminish his quite amazing (in context of his times) accomplishments, of literally discovering 'a new world' . Who first 'discovered America is a pretty pointless argument to me. The Spanish were the first to exploit it in any systematic way. The destruction the Spanish caused to the indigenous peoples discovered has been dealt with in a great a great many books, often from a position of high self righteous indignation. .From our position, the Spanish empire of fifteenth century can be seen as pernicious, avaricious and brutal. I think that perspective is a bit simplistic .These events need to be assessed within the context of the times, and the people involved.


00000000000000

"I agree with u. Who attack Colombus (from the Hippies days)... mostly they are communist or manipulated by the communist."

Pretty sweeping generalisation. I tend to avoid the Communist bogeyman view of history.Be more than willing to change my opinion if you provide some proof of that claim.

As for an objective view of history. I've never actually come across such a creature in the last 40 odd years. Every historian brings some bias, it's a matter of degree: Our culture determines how we see the world. Language determines how we express ideas.
 

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