Columbus' Scandalous Treatment of Native Peoples Reaped Wrath of Spain
Columbus’ Scandalous Treatment of Native Peoples Reaped Wrath of Spain

Columbus’ Scandalous Treatment of Native Peoples Reaped Wrath of Spain

Donna Patricia Ward - October 17, 2017

Columbus’ Scandalous Treatment of Native Peoples Reaped Wrath of Spain
Death of native inhabitants. Public Domain

The native inhabitants suffered as well. Measles and smallpox, carried unwittingly by the Europeans, ravaged the native populations. Europeans used rape as a tool to instill fear and complacency among native men. Through inaction, governmental officials sanctioned the violent acts. In an odd twist, some of the native inhabitants suffered from a sexually transmitted disease that was then transmitted to their rapists. When those men returned to Europe, they passed the disease along. Soon syphilis was rapidly traveling through Europe, causing its victims to slowly go crazy and die.

The new settlements in Hispaniola were in disarray. Violence was everywhere and hunger was becoming a serious issue. Columbus continued to explore and even embarked on a third voyage while he was Viceroy and Governor, leaving his family members in charge. In 1499, the inept governor sent a dispatch to the King and Queen of Spain, requesting more assistance for governing the new settlement in Hispaniola.

His plea arrived too late. By 1500, word of the tyrannical ways in which Columbus and his brothers governed had reached Ferdinand and Isabella. They removed the Columbus family from their governmental positions and ordered them back to Spain. Upon their arrival, the men were imprisoned. The monarchs stripped Columbus of his rank of Admiral of the Ocean Sea, his Viceroy and Governorship, and refused to provide him with any of the agreed-upon monetary claims. King Ferdinand released the men after six weeks. Upon his release from prison, Columbus petitioned King Ferdinand for a fourth voyage of exploration of the New World, which was granted.

In April 1502, Columbus once again set sail for a voyage across the Atlantic. This voyage was treacherous. His ship washed ashore in present-day Jamaica during a hurricane. A year passed before he and his remaining crew were rescued. By this time, Columbus was suffering from debilitating arthritis caused by a bacterial infection or sexually transmitted disease. His eyes were inflamed and often bled and he could hardly move. He returned to Spain and died there in 1504.

Spanish administrators recorded almost everything. Their records, and those of Columbus, provide a wealth of information about Christopher Columbus and his voyages. While he did not single-handedly slaughter thousands of native inhabitants in the New World, he is credited with being the first European to successfully navigate the Atlantic. This first success opened the door for others to explore the New World. Through the confidence and arrogance of Christopher Columbus, he initiated a chain of events that doomed entire native empires at the hands of the Spanish conquistadors.

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