Saturday, November 6, 2010

Where did Columbus Really Land?

"on October 12 land was sighted from the Pinta (though Columbus, on the Niña, later claimed the privilege for himself). The place of the first Caribbean landfall is hotly disputed, but San Salvador, or Watling, Island is currently preferred to Samana Cay, Rum Cay, the Plana Cays, or the Turks and Caicos Islands. Beyond planting the royal banner, however, Columbus spent little time there, being anxious to press on to Cipango, or Cipangu (Japan). He thought that he had found it in Cuba, where he landed on October 28, but he convinced himself by November 1 that Cuba was the Cathay mainland itself, though he had yet to see evidence of great cities. Thus, on December 5, he turned back southeastward to search for the fabled city of Zaiton, missing through this decision his sole chance of setting foot on Florida soil. Adverse winds carried the fleet to an island called Ayti (Haiti) by its Taino inhabitants; on December 6 Columbus renamed it La Isla Española, or Hispaniola. He seems to have thought that Hispaniola might be Cipango or, if not Cipango, then perhaps one of the legendarily rich isles from which King Solomon's triennial fleet brought back gold, gems, and spices to Jerusalem (1 Kings 10:11, 22); alternatively, he reasoned that the island could be related to the biblical kingdom of Sheba ( Saba'). There Columbus found at least enough gold and prosperity to save him from ridicule on his return to Spain."

-History.com

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