For years Columbus had asked Spain’s king and queen Ferdinand and Isabella to support his plans to reach Asia by sailing west instead of going around Africa. However they were more concerned with matter taking place at home. In 1492 Columbus once again asked Ferdinand and Isabella to support his voyage of exploration. He promised them great wealth and new lands, he also promised to take the Catholic faith to the people of Asia. This time the king and queen agreed. On August 3, 1492 Columbus set forth with 89 sailors and three ships- the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria. After two months of sailing Columbus’s crew finally spotted land. Columbus and the natives traded items with each other. Columbus called this new land San Salvador. This is near Cuba, not Asia.
Amerigo Vespucci challenges Columbus
Not everyone in Europe believed that Columbus had made it to Asia, Amerigo Vespucci in 1499 sailed to a place south of where Columbus landed. In 1501 Vespucci sailed down the coast of South America from Venezuela to Argentina. On these voyages Vespucci looked for signs that he had reached Asia as Columbus had believed the land to be. Vespucci found no proof that the lands were Asia; they did not look like how Asia had been described. Vespucci also realized that the Earth was larger than people thought and Asia was smaller than it was drawn on maps. If Asia was as far west as Columbus claimed it would cover half the earth. Using better instruments to measure distance Vespucci realized that Columbus had not reached Asia but a new land. This new land was called America in his honor. A Spanish explorer named Vasco Nunez de Balboa discovered the Isthmus of Panama which connects North and South America and saw the Ocean that would be called the Pacific Ocean. This added further proof Columbus could not have reached Asia as he thought.
On a September day in 1519 five ships and 242 sailors set out rom Spain into the Atlantic. Ferdinand Magellan a Portuguese explorer led the fleet. Magellan hoped to find a way to reach Asia by sailing west around the Americas. Magellan sailed along the coast of South America looking for a river that might connect to the ocean on the other side, finding none he kept sailing. After battling fierce storms Magellan and his crew found a way around South America. Through the Strait of Magellan, near the tip of South America. Magellan now found himself in the same ocean Balboa saw, Magellan named this ocean the Pacific because it was so peaceful compared to the Atlantic Ocean. For more than three months the ships sailed that Pacific. Food was dangerously low and the sailors were forced to eat rats, sawdust and leather. Some died of hunger others died of Scurvy a sickness caused by not enough vitamin C. In September 1522, three years after the 242 sailors set out the 18 who were left returned to Spain after making it to Asia. One of Magellan’s ships sailed around the world. What Columbus had dreamed of was true; you could reach Asia by sailing west. This was a very long and dangerous trip.