Fact Checking Columbus

martin76

Ad Honorem
Dec 2014
6,652
Spain
Perhaps, but it just seems inexplicable that Columbus genuinely thought he had arrived in the Indies when there was clearly not enough ‘hustle and bustle’ to be anything like what those or India and China were supposed to be like in their minds, as described by Europeans who had been there mostly by land, such as Marco Polo. There were also not nearly enough of or the right kind of spices to be anything like even the vague concept of what Europeans had of the Indies.

However, I also cannot accept the idea that Columbus was just a complete, lucky idiot because he was clearly and evidently very adept at many of the things he did. He was deluded and megalomaniacal in some ways, of course, but then so were Alexander and Napoleon who, like Columbus, also happened to be poor administrators but great at most everything else they set themselves to.
I agree with you Nuclearguy... My answer was not to you... because you have proved more than one time. you write knowing what you write (+1) ... It was for other people.. think in Ameria were Chinese, Polish, British, Irish, Swedish, Danish etc etc... Colón wanted to arrive to Asia... our dear Tulius is right.. word India in 15th-19th Century had different meaning.. not exaclty what "India" means from 20th Century.... Alaska, Idaho, Illinois were INDIES...as "Indies" as Calcutta, Bombay or Delhi.
 
May 2018
880
Michigan
Intellectual consistency is not a prevalent trait among historical commentators:

Caesar's Conquest of Gaul - good, heroic, historical fiction novels written
Columbus crossing the Atlantic - bad, because the 'evil legacy of colonialism' and modern day politics

I'm fairly certain Caesar murdered and enslaved far more Gauls than Columbus did natives to the Americas. I can see why no one is really condemning Gaius Julius Caesar for plundering Gaul: there are no cultural "Gauls" left with advocacy groups. If "Gallic Lives Matter" existed, they would probably try to get The Commentaries stricken from Latin classes on the basis of the document being a "recipe for genocide against the Gallic people!"

Unfortunately, i can't recall the source, but I remember reading that Columbus has been unfairly blamed for sexual exploitation of minors due to the misinterpretation of a letter where Columbus is in fact condemning the sexual exploitation of minors in the New World.
 

VHS

Ad Honorem
Dec 2015
4,662
Florania
Intellectual consistency is not a prevalent trait among historical commentators:

Caesar's Conquest of Gaul - good, heroic, historical fiction novels written
Columbus crossing the Atlantic - bad, because the 'evil legacy of colonialism' and modern day politics

I'm fairly certain Caesar murdered and enslaved far more Gauls than Columbus did natives to the Americas. I can see why no one is really condemning Gaius Julius Caesar for plundering Gaul: there are no cultural "Gauls" left with advocacy groups. If "Gallic Lives Matter" existed, they would probably try to get The Commentaries stricken from Latin classes on the basis of the document being a "recipe for genocide against the Gallic people!"

Unfortunately, i can't recall the source, but I remember reading that Columbus has been unfairly blamed for sexual exploitation of minors due to the misinterpretation of a letter where Columbus is in fact condemning the sexual exploitation of minors in the New World.
Thanks Sparky for sparking my limited poetic ability:

Let's try another poem:

Reviewing History

Conquests and empires, gores for glories,
what renders history attractive and dramatic?

Time traveling, alternative history,
why are we grumpy about our history?

Yesterday's glories, tomorrow's follies,
Are we certain about the meaning?

(Ok, let's stop at that. I call myself a lousy poet.)
 

Tulius

Ad Honorem
May 2016
5,969
Portugal
Caesar's Conquest of Gaul - good, heroic, historical fiction novels written
Columbus crossing the Atlantic - bad, because the 'evil legacy of colonialism' and modern day politics
Even if it isn't that trendy... there are historical fiction novels written about Columbus.
 
Aug 2018
337
America
Intellectual consistency is not a prevalent trait among historical commentators:

Caesar's Conquest of Gaul - good, heroic, historical fiction novels written
Columbus crossing the Atlantic - bad, because the 'evil legacy of colonialism' and modern day politics

I'm fairly certain Caesar murdered and enslaved far more Gauls than Columbus did natives to the Americas. I can see why no one is really condemning Gaius Julius Caesar for plundering Gaul: there are no cultural "Gauls" left with advocacy groups. If "Gallic Lives Matter" existed, they would probably try to get The Commentaries stricken from Latin classes on the basis of the document being a "recipe for genocide against the Gallic people!"

Unfortunately, i can't recall the source, but I remember reading that Columbus has been unfairly blamed for sexual exploitation of minors due to the misinterpretation of a letter where Columbus is in fact condemning the sexual exploitation of minors in the New World.
The Asterix comics (among the best-selling comics ever) completely refute your view that Caesar isn't condemned as an agent of mass genocide or at least brutal conquest. In fact, I find it amazing that you say this about Caesar since I would have thought that people hate it when Caesar gets compared to European colonisers, as I would readily do, and that this view is the result of the "PC" establishment to diminish Caesar.

Nor is it true Columbus is viewed mostly as a villain anyway. There are two major Hollywood productions, Ridley Scott's 1492: Conquest of Paradise and Marlon Brando's Christopher Columbus: The Discovery. Both movies portray him positively and heroically and this is very much the dominant view. It's the left-wing, mostly anti-imperialist leftist view that condemns him, and that view is actually marginalised.
 
May 2018
880
Michigan
The Asterix comics completely refute your view that Caesar isn't condemned as an agent of mass genocide or at least brutal conquest. In fact, I find it amazing that you say this about Caesar since I would have thought that people hate it when Caesar gets compared to European colonisers, as I would readily do, and that this view is the result of the "PC" establishment to diminish Caesar.
Caesar gets a pretty good reputation in the world. Napoleon revered him, his portrayal in Rome was largely positive, and he's usually played by "leading man" type actors such as Timothy Dalton (who also played James Bond). When is the last time a sexy A-list superstar played Christopher Columbus or Francisco Pizaro? (unless Gerard Depardieu counts as A-list).

Imagine if we had a film that portrayed Pizaro or Cortez as sexy warriors the way Caesar and Mark Antony are generally portrayed in most media. The amount of "woke outrage" would be so immense, Futurist would get unbanned.

The point is, we need to start evaluating our historical figures a bit more objectively. Why are Caesar and Antony heroic warriors while Cortez is an "evil imperialist colonizer" (which he was, but the term doesn't apply to other colonization)? This is another reason why I generally hold Scipio and Wellington above some of their more notorious contemporaries, Hannibal and Napoleon: Both were fighting defensive war(s), are still respected today for their compassion toward civilians and conquered enemies alike, and at least Wellington never did anything that could be construed as a war crime, even by today's standards. Scipio (granted, he owned slaves whereas Wellington was a quiet abolitionist) was immensely merciful to conquered Spanish tribes, even forgiving armed rebellion multiple times by the same individual. However, his wrath was well known too, and cities which had outright backstabbed Rome after the defeat of his father and brother were put to the sword.
 
Aug 2018
337
America
Caesar gets a pretty good reputation in the world. Napoleon revered him, his portrayal in Rome was largely positive, and he's usually played by "leading man" type actors such as Timothy Dalton (who also played James Bond). When is the last time a sexy A-list superstar played Christopher Columbus or Francisco Pizaro? (unless Gerard Depardieu counts as A-list).

Imagine if we had a film that portrayed Pizaro or Cortez as sexy warriors the way Caesar and Mark Antony are generally portrayed in most media. The amount of "woke outrage" would be so immense, Futurist would get unbanned.
But again, I already gave you an example of a major media piece - Asterix, which has sold literally dozens of millions of dollars and is such a big franchise it has its own theme park - that condemns Caesar and views him as a brutal conqueror, even of the specific atrocity (the Gallic genocide) you mention as if that wasn't enough. That refutes your view that he is viewed primarily as a good figure. Also, why do you cite Napoleon when outside of France he is a very divisive figure? He is viewed as a villain in the UK and even in France many leftists see him as practically a fascist figure.


The point is, we need to start evaluating our historical figures a bit more objectively. Why are Caesar and Antony heroic warriors while Cortez is an "evil imperialist colonizer" (which he was, but the term doesn't apply to other colonization)? This is another reason why I generally hold Scipio and Wellington above some of their more notorious contemporaries, Hannibal and Napoleon: Both were fighting defensive war(s), are still respected today for their compassion toward civilians and conquered enemies alike, and at least Wellington never did anything that could be construed as a war crime, even by today's standards. Scipio (granted, he owned slaves whereas Wellington was a quiet abolitionist) was immensely merciful to conquered Spanish tribes, even forgiving armed rebellion multiple times by the same individual. However, his wrath was well known too, and cities which had outright backstabbed Rome after the defeat of his father and brother were put to the sword.
You're now talking about Cortés, not Columbus when you were not talking about Cortés, and in any case, here's a thread whose OP has several articles, including articles referencing Mexican authors, that view Cortés as mostly positive, thus refuting your view that Cortés is viewed primarily as a villain and is not glamourised or heroised. The thread also points out how a major Hollywood production, "Captain of Castille", portrays Cortés heroically and with the same glamour you mention in regards to Caesar. One can also mention Mel Gibson's Apocalypto, which ends with Spanish conquistadors arriving heroically as if coming to save the savage natives with their superior civilisation.

Honestly, your complaints really ring hollow because both Columbus and Cortés still get portrayed mostly positive. Cortés may get lesser press - see for instance Dreamworks' Road to El Dorado which still has a couple of Spanish White Saviours as the main characters - but you disregard how strongly he is viewed as a hero both in the West and in Latin America You don't see Thanos get compared to Hernán Cortés, you see him get compared to Genghis Khan, for example, just to show you how people hardly see Cortés as a villain. The left-wing view of Columbus and Cortés, which is definitely the more correct one in my opinion, is rarely taken into account in both politics and popular culture and is definitely marginalised. Only in Western academia do we start seeing a more ambivalent view of them, but even then you find several academic historians outright worshipping those two. Even Jared Diamond, who is arguably the most famous modern-day academic to speak of Spanish conquistadors and explorers, has a rather positive view of the Spanish conquest, and attributes all the evils falling on indigenous peoples almost purely to illnesses.
 
May 2018
880
Michigan
But again, I already gave you an example of a major media piece - Asterix, which has sold literally dozens of millions of dollars and is such a big franchise it has its own theme park - that condemns Caesar and views him as a brutal conqueror, even of the specific atrocity (the Gallic genocide) you mention as if that wasn't enough. That refutes your view that he is viewed primarily as a good figure. Also, why do you cite Napoleon when outside of France he is a very divisive figure? He is viewed as a villain in the UK and even in France many leftists see him as practically a fascist figure.
Dude, no one cares about an obscure French comic. Walk down the street of Anytown, USA and say "Asterix" you are more likely to get a response of "What, the Roger Maris/Ford Frick controversy?" than "Oh yeah, the Asterix guy who was supposed to be Vercingetorix, or something." Most likely, no one knows/cares about Asterix. Most people have seen HBO's Rome, and if I say, "Antony and Cleopatra" almost anyone will have some idea of what I am talking about.

Honestly, your complaints really ring hollow because both Columbus and Cortés still get portrayed mostly positive. Cortés may get lesser press - see for instance Dreamworks' Road to El Dorado which still has a couple of Spanish White Saviours as the main characters - but you disregard how strongly he is viewed as a hero both in the West and in Latin America You don't see Thanos get compared to Hernán Cortés, you see him get compared to Genghis Khan, for example, just to show you how people hardly see Cortés as a villain. The left-wing view of Columbus and Cortés, which is definitely the more correct one in my opinion, is rarely taken into account in both politics and popular culture and is definitely marginalised. Only in Western academia do we start seeing a more ambivalent view of them, but even then you find several academic historians outright worshipping those two. Even Jared Diamond, who is arguably the most famous modern-day academic to speak of Spanish conquistadors and explorers, has a rather positive view of the Spanish conquest, and attributes all the evils falling on indigenous peoples almost purely to illnesses.
I don't know what alternate reality you are living in. Every Columbus Day, the internet is meme'ed to death by "the TRUTH about Columbus and his ATROCITIES." There are hundreds of articles published on mainstream sites along the lines of "Why Columbus Was Evil". So some academics in South America, who are probably not as detached from the affair in its entirety as they should be, are arguing about Conquistador legacy.
 
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Tulius

Ad Honorem
May 2016
5,969
Portugal
Dude, no one cares about an obscure French comic. Walk down the street of Anytown, USA and say "Asterix" you are more likely to get a response of "What, the Roger Maris/Ford Frick controversy?" than "Oh yeah, the Asterix guy who was supposed to be Vercingetorix, or something." Most likely, no one knows/cares about Asterix. Most people have seen HBO's Rome, and if I say, "Antony and Cleopatra" almost anyone will have some idea of what I am talking about.
Although I agree with somethings that you said, Asterix if far from being “an obscure French comic”. The world is not the USA. Asterix is on of the most known and successful comics of the French-Belgian school, even if, in my opinion, far from the best. And even if the French-Belgian school is not much known in the USA, and so it can be seen as obscure in the USA, that is not the case in Europe and many countries in Latin America. Usually what is obscure to us is a sign of our own ignorance. I already said in this forum some time ago that the American Civil War is quite obscure to me, and yet I don’t have the courage to say that it is an obscure war.

Every Columbus Day, the internet is meme'ed to death by "the TRUTH about Columbus and his ATROCITIES." There are hundreds of articles published on mainstream sites along the lines of "Why Columbus Was Evil". So some academics in South America, who are probably not as detached from the affair in its entirety as they should be, are arguing about Conquistador legacy.
Personally I don’t even understand why there is a Columbus Day in the USA, since the man never got there, but I think that there is recent trend to turn the man from an hero (that he never was) to a devil (that he often was, and at least he was a compulsive liar to the point that some parts of his life, told by him, are a lie or are particularly obscure), and I also have the idea, and you can correct me here if I am wrong, that this process is more on the internet and pop culture than in the Academia. And that process seems stronger in America (not only in South America), but most particularly and specifically in the USA, and not that much in Europe.

Anyway, the analogy between Caesar and Columbus is not fair. We are comparing a conqueror, a butchering one, in Gaul and previously in the Iberian Peninsula), with an explorer, a sailor, that in his way butchered half a dozen and was unable to manage well the lands that he begun to colonize. What made Caesar famous was not the fact that he enslaved thousands of Barbarians, but the fact that he was a notable general, politician, statesman and publicizer, and what made Columbus famous was the fact that he connected two worlds that were disconnected. They deserve to be relevant in the history records because of their achievements, and the way they changed the "things", not because they were heroes or good nice guys, since they weren’t.
 
Aug 2018
337
America
Dude, no one cares about an obscure French comic. Walk down the street of Anytown, USA and say "Asterix" you are more likely to get a response of "What, the Roger Maris/Ford Frick controversy?" than "Oh yeah, the Asterix guy who was supposed to be Vercingetorix, or something." Most likely, no one knows/cares about Asterix. Most people have seen HBO's Rome, and if I say, "Antony and Cleopatra" almost anyone will have some idea of what I am talking about.

The moment you said that Asterix is obscure is the moment you showed no one should take you seriously. The comic book is such a cultural phenomenon it has its own theme park (literally, look it up) and has sold several dozen million copies with several live action and animated adaptations. You literally don't know what you're talking about when you say Asterix is just "some obscure French comic no one cares about". But let's be charitable with you. Asterix is something of a case of football which is popular elsewhere in the world except in the US, so perhaps you want to argue Caesar gets good reputation in the US or the Anglosphere even if he has bad portrayals in the rest of the world. In that case, I can agree with that, except Cortés and Columbus have that same overblown reputation and glamour. I've already pointed out two major Hollywood films portraying Columbus as heroic. Your idea that there's a double standard going on here is false. In fact, Columbus is far more celebrated than Caesar in the Anglosphere thanks to the likes of Washington Irving and of massive celebrations every Columbus Day. There are several places named after Columbus in the US, and hardly any get complaints that they should change their names. Caesar doesn't have nearly as many places named after him in the US (or the world at large even, where there's an entire country, Colombia, named after Columbus) and there's literally no Caesar Day (I can imagine you saying that the month of July is named after him, but this is in the same level as saying Thor is widely worshipped figure because of Thursday).

Sorry, but your idea that the anti-imperialist leftist view of Columbus is somehow dominant is ridiculous. And if your argument is "the anti-imperialist left singles out Columbus unjustly and stupidly in comparison to Caesar" then that is also wrong because Columbus is singled out in celebration far more than Caesar. The condemnation of Columbus by the anti-imperialist left is proportional to the overblown rhetoric celebrating Columbus.



I don't know what alternate reality you are living in. Every Columbus Day, the internet is meme'ed to death by "the TRUTH about Columbus and his ATROCITIES." There are hundreds of articles published on mainstream sites along the lines of "Why Columbus Was Evil". So some academics in South America, who are probably not as detached from the affair in its entirety as they should be, are arguing about Conquistador legacy.
Yeah, you need to prove that the internet is "memed to death" with condemnations about Columbus. I'm not buying that. I also live in Latin America, so you don't get to tell me that you know how things are here, where I will remind you again there's an entire country offensively named after him (Colombia). Only the left and indigenous peoples condemns Columbus while the official and dominant media like CNÑ celebrate him. Even those media that present the leftist and indigenous view do so with contempt or ridicule. Speaking here of my own experience, whenever everyone brings the topic of Columbus, you get heated arguments from his defenders. The same with Cortés and his fellow conquistadors. Guatemala is plagued with statues celebrating Pedro de Alvarado. Of course, here in this forum, I'm getting dogpiled for attacking Cortés. You would also get dogpiled in other history forums like TW and Alternate History if you dare to say things like Cortés being a genocidaire, rather than people agreeing with you and assenting like puppies as you think.