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Christopher Columbus (in Spanish, Colon; in Italian, Cristoforo Colombo, which is his real name), one of the greatest men mentioned in history, was born in Genoa, about 1435, and not, as some assert, at Cuccaro, in Montferrat. His father, Domenico Colombo, a poor woolcomber, gave him a careful education. He soon evinced a strong passion for geographical knowledge, and an irresistible inclination for the sea, and, at 14 years of age, he began to navigate in the Mediterranean. We afterwards find him in command of a vessel, in a squadron which a relation of his had fitted out against the Mohammedans and Venetians. In one of his engagements with the Venetians, the vessel which he commanded took fire, and Columbus saved his life by swimming ashore. Portugal, at that time, at tracted the attention of Europe by her maritime expeditions, and Columbus repaired to Lisbon, where he found relations and countrymen. Here he married the daughter of Bartolomeo de Palestrello, a distinguished navigator, who had participated in the discovery of Porto Santo, and had left many charts and nautical instruments. Columbus made use of these materials, and his opinion that the other side of the globe contained land, belonging to Eastern Asia, and connected with India, which was, as yet, little known, became more and more fixed. Whilst the Portuguese were seeking for it by a southeast course round Africa, he was convinced that there must be a shorter way by the west. Read more...
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