Maritime Myths – 6 Fallacies from the Age of Discovery
Maritime Myths – 6 Fallacies from the Age of Discovery

Maritime Myths – 6 Fallacies from the Age of Discovery

Patrick Lynch - November 2, 2016

Maritime Myths – 6 Fallacies from the Age of Discovery
The Imaginative Conservative (Christopher Columbus)

6 – Columbus was the First European to Discover America

Yes, there are still some people who believe this myth despite an overwhelming amount of evidence to the contrary. The story goes something like this: Columbus sailed from Spain with three ships called the Pinta, Santa Maria and Santa Clara (also known as the Nina). The expedition began in August 1492 and within two months he had discovered America.

First and foremost, Viking sailors had ‘discovered’ America centuries earlier. Led by Leif Ericson, they set up a colony in Greenland in 982 which lasted until 1500. They spent quite a lot of time on expeditions down south and came across what they would call ‘Vinland’ which was probably the east coast of North America. Some historians believe the Vikings made their way as far as modern day North Carolina.

The Vikings even made an attempt to settle in North America and established a very short-lived colony in 1005. It lasted all of two years before the Native Americans showed their displeasure and kicked the Vikings out of their country in a hail of arrows. Sources suggest that Ericson’s brother Thorvald was the leader of the settlers and was killed by an arrow to the chest.

The second part of the myth is the notion that Columbus discovered what is now known as the United States. On his 1492 voyage, he actually came across the Bahamas archipelago and an island known as Hispaniola which is now split into the Dominican Republic and Haiti. While he did discover Central and South America, he didn’t land in the United States. What he did do was enslave the native people he came across on his voyages and he was renowned for his cruelty to those he had enslaved along with any members of his crew who defied him. Unfortunately, Columbus didn’t die in abject poverty as you may have heard. He was actually pretty wealthy when he died.

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