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Columbus letter on his first voyage, 1493
Christopher Columbus wrote a letter to the king Ferdinand and Queen Isabella who had assisted him to finance his exploration trip (Buckley, Veronica, and John, 2015). Columbus wrote the letter on 15th march of the year 1493 upon his arrival from his return journey from the Caribbean. The author was not administrative personnel but a missionary explorer. By his description of the nature of the inhabitants of the regions he visited as being timid indicates that he was a learned person. In fact, an explorer has to be educated enough so that he is capable of determining the routes and recording the encounters in his diaries.
Columbus wrote the letter to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella as the primary audience, though some of the people had access to read the letter. In his letter, he used a more formal language in Spanish where it was later sent to Italy for translation to Latin. The king could not be able to read in Latin, and therefore this necessitated Christopher Columbus to make efforts for translation. The main reason behind writing the letter to the king was due to the debt owned for financing his journey, his success to subdue the native people that he found on the islands as well the thrilling environmental nature of the region. The area was full of rich indigenous culture with the people know neither possessing weapons. The matter amazed Columbus and saw this as an opportunity to show allegiance to the king through taking control of the area and converting the people to Christianity.
The storyline behind the letter is Columbus’ letter to the king with detailed accounts of what he witnessed during his journey to the Caribbean. He tells of how the people in the regions are fearful and timid and how they become friendly after realizing that there was no harm to them. He continues to narrate how he exchanged items with rifles and to sometimes nothing in return claiming that the people were so generous. In an attempt to convince the king, Columbus says that the people had a potential to obey the king and serve him without questioning and even love the king’s people.
The document was written due to the necessity to acknowledge the king’s effort to finance the voyage and therefore, as a matter of fact, a subject must show allegiance to his master. It is in this quest that Christopher Columbus wrote the letter to the king immediately after his return from the voyage. The king together with the queen had interests in the exploration journey, and therefore it was a necessity for them to be notified of the success of the crew. Columbus had to report whatever he saw and anything that was of value to the kingdom. All these made him write the letter immediately after his return as it was like an exam although he was so much excited about his success of subduing the indigenous people. The letter is more of a scholarly thesis as it was more of research than just a mere trip.
The letter is more of a political document though to some extent it might be seen as a private letter. The reason as to why it can be regarded as a political letter is due to Columbus claim that the area and its people could pay allegiance to the king and thus somehow indicates that there was some economic along with political motives (Graziano, 2017). Furthermore, the letter says that the people could easily be converted to Christianity a religion which proves the letter to be more political due to exploitation. On the other hand, the letter may be deemed to be private; this is because the king and the queen were the personnel behind the financing of the voyage and thus a special finding could be directly addressed to them just like Columbus deed indication the king’s and queen’s name on the letter. The inclusion of the names may, therefore, proof the letter to be more private.
In the letter, Columbus made no assumptions. He wrote the letter in Spanish and sent it to Italy to be translated into Latin. He knew the king and the queen could not be able to read the Spanish language and could need a translator prompting him to translate the letter in advance before it reached to the king. Yes, I can believe the document as it is the original document written in Spanish making me believe that Columbus was the original writer also his address to the king and the queen are present. Furthermore, the letter is written in the first person singular.
The letter indicates that the people from Columbus region were opportunists who took advantage of the weaker people making them their subjects forcing them to adopt their culture (Olwell, Robert, and Alan, 2015). The people were used to slavery as Columbus took several individuals with him along his return journey were on some made it through. Just a few individuals making it to Spain indicate that they were subjected to torture that threatened their existence. It is also evident that the Spanish people were Christian and therefore were in the urge to make colonies and convert the inhabitants to Christianity.
Columbus’ letter is an important document in history as it indicates the pioneers of exploration and confiscation as well (Winsor, 2018). Though it might not be of much relevance in today’s political activities, it can be used as a reminder of the indigenous culture and how people used to conduct their daily lives. It is through such documents that we come to realize how the world was viewed during the past days in history by inhabitants of the areas. The document is important to me; this is because it has an original data, a letter showing a method of communication by then. Also, the contents of the letter are of much value to historians as they get to know the events that happened in the past and to which evidence may be lacking thus act as a bridging gap. The letter is also important to me as it is an original script written by a famous historian and explorer who in many aspects influenced the lives of many individuals.
Buckley, Veronica, and John Middleton. “A LASTING LEGACY.” Lifelines in World History:” The Ancient World”,” The Medieval World”,” The Early Modern World”,” The Modern World” (2015): 241.
Graziano, Manlio. In Rome We Trust: The Rise of Catholics in American Political Life. Stanford University Press, 2017.
Olwell, Robert, and Alan Tully. Cultures and Identities in Colonial British America. JHU Press, 2015.
Winsor, Justin. Christopher Columbus. BoD–Books on Demand, 2018.
Columbus letter on his first voyage, 1493 – Nursing Lib