The discovery of america




Atliko: Tadas Jurelevičius 8F

2005, Utena


Christopher Columbus was the first recorded explorer to discover North America.

Christopher Columbus was born in 1451 in Genoa, Italy. He went to sea as a young boy, and spent most of his life at sea.
Columbus wanted to find a new route to the Far East. In India, China, Japan and the Spice Islands he could get valuable silks and spices.
Columbus knew the world was round. Hee believed that by sailing west, instead of current route east around the coast of Africa, he would the East and the Spice Islands.
He moved to Portugal trying to get money to support his journey. He eventually got support from Ferdinand and Isabella, the king and queen of Spain.

In 1492 Columbus set sail from Palos, Spain with three ships: the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria. The crew of the Pinta was about 100, the crew of the Niña was about 500 and the crew of the Santa Maria was about 30 people.
Columbus was not actually looking for America. He was looking for a shorter route to the Far East. There he would find valuable silks and spices.
After the difficult voyage that took ab

bout seventy days, they finally arrived at the American continent (a small island in the Bahamas which Columbus named San Salvador) on October 12, 1492. In those days, the American Continent was said to have monsters living there. But what Columbus saw were normal people. He stuck a cross in the ground and claimed all the lands for Spain. When he returned to Spain he took some of the natives back with him. After that he repeated to voyage three times and he even landed on the coast of the South American continent. He named the natives “Indians” because he had believed that he arrived in East Indies, which he believed until he died.


The 17th century Europeans who colonized the “New Woorld” carried an idea of the ‘Indians’ that strongly informed their perceptions upon contact. In large part these views were formed by the writings of the early explorers. Thus, the first and in many ways most paradigmatic ‘real’ descriptions of the new land and its peoples comes to us in the mail as letters from Columbus. In a letter dated October 12, 1492 he writes:
.in order that they might develop a very friendly disposition towards us, because I knew that they we

ere a people who could better be freed and converted to our Holy Faith by love than by force, gave to them some red caps and to others glass beads, which they hung about their necks, and many other things of slight value, in which they took much pleasure.
They all go quite naked as their mothers bore them; and also the women, although I didn’t see more than one really young girl. All that I saw were young men, none of them more than 30 years old, very well built, of very handsome bodies and very fine faces. They ought to be good servants and of good skill, for I see that they repeat very quickly whatever is said to them.
From these docile ‘servants’ we quickly move to the more hostile Caribs–depicted here as the infamous “Cannibals.” What follows is a portion of an account given not by Columbus himself, but by his aristocratic shipmate Michele de Cuneo, who provides a particularly intense and paradigm forming account of a meeting of bodies, if not of minds. In a letter from The Second Voyage, October 28, 1495 he describes how he and his men have just attacked a small party of Ca
aribs, and one of the Spaniards has been shot with an arrow. (Emphasis mine)
We captured this canoe with all the men. One cannibal was wounded by a lance blow and thinking him dead we left him in the sea. Suddenly we saw him begin to swim away; therefore we caught him and with a long hook pulled him aboard where we cut off his head with an axe. We sent the other Cannibals together with the two slaves to Spain. When I was in the boat, I took a beautiful Cannibal girl and the admiral gave her to me. Having her in my room and she being naked as is their custom, I began to want to amuse myself with her. Since I wanted to have my way with her and she was not willing, she worked me over so badly with her nails that I wished I had never begun. To get to the end of the story, seeing how things were going, I got a rope and tied her up so tightly that she made unheard of cries which you wouldn’t have believed. At the end, we got along so well that, let me tell you, it se
eemed she had studied at a school for whores. The admiral named the cape on that island the cape of the Arrow for the man who was killed by the arrow.
This account of abduction and rape is of particular interest in regards to the Pocahontas myth. For one, it represents the earliest example of captivity-tale, yet one opposite what would become a familiar North-American genre. In the latter, the White woman recounted a story in which she was captured by the heathen Indians, but through her faith in God was restored to Colonial society, while the Indians received the divinely mandated and humanly enforced punishment. Critics such as Richard Slotkin have called this genre representative of the North American mode of contact with the Indians. We can only assume that de Cuneo thought he was acting under divine mandate as well–though he shows less interest in converting his ‘maiden’ to his captain’s (Columbus) “Holy Faith” than transform her into an object of his pleasure.

In the same letter we see the Indian woman occupy a point in a “Sedwickian triangle”– a construction that Susan Fraiman describes as a geometry in which the woman “foster[ed] a positive conjunction between men- -in bringing them together as affines, political allies, economic partners and, in Sedgewick’s formula, cohorts of a ‘potentially erotic’ kind.”

In 1500, Cabral who was from Portuguese made a mistake on the course to India and drifted ashore in South America where Brazil is today. He claimed it for Portugal. After that, an Italian guy whose name was Vespucci and who had sailed with Columbus on his fourth voyage, went on an expedition to South America and explored it. It became clear to him that the place where Columbus had landed was not a part of the Asian continent. That is why the continent was named “America,” after Amerigo Vespucci’s first name. So we can say that Christopher Columbus discovered America by an accident.

The first Europeans who arrived in America were Vikings

In 986AD Bjarni Herjulson sailed west of Greenland when he suddenly saw an unknown coastline appear in the distance, he approached it and then sailed alongside it to take a closer look but he did not leave his ship, without knowing that he had just written history by discovering a new continent he left and years later he told the story to Leif Eriksson, who was the son of Erik the Red (the man who discovered Greenland).

Leif Eriksson decided to see this for himself and he sailed westwards, via the islands Helluland (Flatstoneland) and Markland (Forestland) he reached the land that Bjarni Herjulson had described to him; he stepped ashore and in 1002AD Leif Erikson was the first European to set foot on the continent of America; 5 centuries before Columbus.
After the landing Leif Eriksson and his men explored the new land and they discovered wild grapes, therefore they called the new land “Vinland” (pronounce: Wín-lànd), which means Wineland, it is not entirely sure where the later name “America” is derived from, some theories suggest a Spanish origin but others claim it is derived from the Old Norse word “omme-rike” which means “remote land”.
Because it was too late to return to Greenland Leif Erikson decided to stay in Vinland and spend the winter there, they stayed in a small camp near the coast for about half a year before they sailed back to Greenland.

Some time later Leif returned and brought his brother Thorwald with him to show him the new land, together they explored more of the land but on one of those trips they encountered strange people who attacked them and killed Thorwald; although the Norse were excellent warriors they were hugely outnumbered and had to retreat; the first encounter between Europeans and the inhabitants of the new land was not very peaceful.
The Norse named this people “Skrælingar”, which means something like “uglies”, this people were probably members of the Native American Algonkin tribe, the area that they had called “Vinland” was Newfoundland, this is where they first landed and founded at least one settlement near the modern Canadian city of L’Anse aux Meadows, “Markland” must have been Baffin Island.

The 3rd planned journey to America was undertaken by Leif’s other brother Thorstein, but this expedition failed because Thorstein died during the long and dangerous travel over the Atlantic Ocean.
Thorstein’s widow Gudrun remarried with Thorfinn Karlsefni and together they undertook the 4th expedition to America; they arrived safely and stayed for a while; their son Snorri was the first European child to be born in the new land.
After some time the Norse founded some permanent settlements in Vinland that were probably used to supply Greenland with wood, but eventually most settlements were abandoned.

There have been many debates on how far the Norse have penetrated into America, but that they have discovered America before Columbus is no longer considered speculation but a proven fact; they have undertaken expeditions to America for hundreds of years and parts of America are even listed in the Landnàmabòk, the Graenlendinga Saga and Erik’s Saga also describe the exploration of America and many archeological findings have proven the presence of Norse settlements in America as well.
Many findings have been proven authentical though some findings are still controversial like the Vinland map and the Kensington rune stone, another problem is that there have been many people who forged Norse artefacts for their own personal agendas, messages about the more controversial artefacts appear almost every month in the newspapers; sometimes I read that the Kensington runestone is a forgery, a few months later another source tells me that it has proven to be authentical, I guess we will never know for sure about some of this artefacts.

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