Painted portrait of Italian navigator Christopher Columbus.

Christopher Columbus

(1451 - 1506)

On his first voyage in 1492, Christopher Columbus made landfall in Hispaniola and was appointed “Admiral of the Ocean Sea” by his patrons Ferdinand II and Isabella I; on the second he began to colonize the island, leaving two brothers in charge of the settlement; on his third voyage he and his brothers were held responsible for mismanagement and sent back to Spain in chains. Having convinced Ferdinand and Isabella to release him, Columbus embarked in 1502 on his fourth and final voyage, suggesting to them that he hoped this journey “may yet turn out to be my noblest.” He died on May 20, 1506.

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Tomato, potato, corn, beans, zucchini, squash, avocado, bell pepper, chili, and pineapple are among the foods that Christopher Columbus brought back to the Old World. Onion, garlic, wheat, barley, olives, and lettuce are among the foods he introduced to the New. 


Llamas, alpacas, guinea pigs, turkeys, and ducks were among the animals indigenous to the New World that Christopher Columbus encountered on his second voyage there in 1493. On that trip he introduced from the Old World horses, pigs, cattle, sheep, and goats. “A large whale was taken betwixt my land, butting on the Thames and Greenwich,” wrote London dweller John Evelyn in his diary on June 3, 1658. “It was killed with a harping iron, struck in the head, out of which spouted blood and water by two tunnels, and after a horrid groan, it ran quiet on shore and died.”

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