Talk:Christopher Columbus

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Estimated trip distance[edit]

The current "Geographical considerations" section only discusses the Earth's circumference along the equator rather than Columbus's route, and it doesn't give a source for its Eurasian span estimate, which doesn't match its trip distance. Someone please replace the last three paragraphs of that section with what I've written below. I'd do it myself, but I can't, as the article is protected, and I'm not a registered user. This revised version adds the circumference along his route, adds a second span estimate (with a source) which does match the current trip distance, and adds a trip distance for the first span estimate.

From Pierre d'Ailly's Imago Mundi Columbus learned of Alfraganus's estimate that a degree of latitude (or a degree of longitude along the equator) spanned 562/3 miles, but did not realize that this was expressed in the Arabic mile rather than the shorter Roman mile with which he was familiar (1,480 m).[1] He therefore would've estimated the circumference of the Earth to be about 30,200 km at the equator and 26,200 km at 30 degrees north (around where he was sailing), whereas the correct value is 40,000 km at the equator and 34,700 km at 30 degrees north.

Furthermore, most scholars accepted Ptolemy's estimate that Eurasia spanned 180° longitude, rather than the actual 130° (to the Chinese mainland) or 150° (to Japan at the latitude of Spain). Columbus, for his part, believed an even higher estimate, leaving a smaller percentage for water. Some people have suggested he followed the estimate of Marinus of Tyre, which put the longitudinal span of the Eurasian landmass at 225°.[citation needed] Other people have suggested he followed Esdras's statement that "six parts [of the globe] are habitable and the seventh is covered with water."[2] He also believed that Japan (which he called "Cipangu", following Marco Polo) was much larger, farther to the east from China ("Cathay"), and closer to the equator than it is, and that there were inhabited islands even farther to the east than Japan, including the mythical Antillia, which he thought might lie not much farther to the west than the Azores. In this, he was influenced by the ideas of Florentine astronomer, Paolo dal Pozzo Toscanelli, who corresponded with Columbus in 1474[3] and who also defended the feasibility of a westward route to Asia.[2]

Columbus therefore would've estimated the distance from the Canary Islands west to Japan to be about 9,800 km or 3,700 km, depending on which estimate he used for Eurasia's longitudinal span. The true figure is now known to be vastly larger: about 20,000 km.[4][a] No ship in the 15th century could have carried enough food and fresh water for such a long voyage, and the dangers involved in navigating through the uncharted ocean would have been formidable. Most European navigators reasonably concluded that a westward voyage from Europe to Asia was unfeasible. The Catholic Monarchs, however, having completed an expensive war in the Iberian Peninsula, were eager to obtain a competitive edge over other European countries in the quest for trade with the Indies. Columbus's project, though far-fetched, held the promise of such an advantage.[citation needed]

- (talk) 12:27, 30 April 2019 (UTC)


  1. ^ Morison (1942, pp. 65, 93).
  2. ^ a b Samuel Eliot Morison, Admiral of the Ocean Sea: The Life of Christopher Columbus, (Boston: Atlantic-Little, Brown, 1942). Reissued by the Morison Press, 2007. ISBN 1-4067-5027-1
  3. ^ Journal article: Christopher Columbus. An address delivered before the American Catholic Historical Society
  4. ^ Phillips, Jr & Phillips 1992, p. 110.
 Done NiciVampireHeart 12:36, 9 May 2019 (UTC)

Another World (not India)[edit]

Columbus wrote to the court of Spain that he had found "otro mundo", another world and thus it could not be India.

auspices of the Catholic Monarchs of Spain[edit]

On the first sentence it says "under the auspices of the Catholic Monarchs of Spain" this is confusing and not true. It was just under the auspices of Isabella I of Castile. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:38, 19 June 2019 (UTC)

Do you have a source for that? My understanding is that while the funding came from Isabella, the agreement (including resulting titles) was with both monarchs. Tarl N. (discuss) 18:08, 19 June 2019 (UTC)

Semi-protected edit request on 13 August 2019[edit]

Please change

was an Italian explorer, navigator, and colonist


was an explorer, navigator, and colonist of Italian origin PolasBear (talk) 17:52, 13 August 2019 (UTC)

Not done. That's wordier with no apparent gain in meaning. –Deacon Vorbis (carbon • videos) 17:58, 13 August 2019 (UTC)

There is gain in meaning. He is known by his achievements as explorer, navigator and colonist, and being Italian is just secondary information. He worked as explorer... first for the Portuguese and then for the Spaniards, where he spent all his life until his dead, so emphasizing that he was Italian in the first place can lead to the error that he did it working for Italy, when he really never did it. Therefore it is more correct to indicate that its origin is Italian, in the second place.

 — Preceding unsigned comment added by PolasBear (talkcontribs) 18:13, 13 August 2019 (UTC) 
Disagree that the present wording and the proposed change mean anything different to the average reader. Strebe (talk) 18:58, 13 August 2019 (UTC)
Also, the article is abundantly clear whom he was working for and where he was living, when. Strebe (talk) 18:58, 13 August 2019 (UTC)

Columbus was Genoese, not Italian[edit]

Why is he described as Italian? He was from the Republic of Genoa, Italy as a country was not even remotely close to existing. Therefore his nationality is Genoese.

According to Wikipedia's rules, artists such as Leonardo Da Vinci, Titian, etc ... They should be called Italian according to Wikipedia criteria because there is a convention in the History of Renacentist Art to call them Italians. But Christopher Columbus is not a Renaissance artist, therefore it should not be called Italian, that is a historical anachronism, it was not of Italian nationality.

The most correct way is to call him Genoese.

I accept explanations and arguments against and in favor before proceeding to modify it if there is no response. Jacob34T (talk) 02:27, 18 August 2019 (UTC)

This is how he is most often described by reliable sources, and Wikipedia editors are required to follow sources. Here is a list of supporting sources compiled by another editor. Many are not quality sources, and after ten years there are a lot of dead links there, but Googling reliable sources today returns similar results. Ewulp (talk) 04:01, 18 August 2019 (UTC)
The fallacy here is to talk about “nationality”. The article does not claim that Columbus’s nationality was Italian. It simply describes him as Italian, which was true both then and now. Italy did not exist as a nation then, but it existed as a culture, a region, and a concept. You can see “Italy” on maps of that period and on maps all the way up to the establishment of the nation of Italy. The same is true of “Germany”, for example. The word, the culture, the language, the concept, the designation on maps existed long before the nation. In 1492, if someone was called “Italian” or “German”, the meaning was clear and the utterance would have been perfectly normal. There is no anachronism. Strebe (talk) 08:44, 18 August 2019 (UTC)

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