Number 8

The Oriental Tower: (Las Yndias)

What project did Columbus present to the different Crowns? From 1484/1485 the future Admiral introduced the idea that it was possible to sail westwards, turn around and touch the coastlines of the Asiatic borders, arriving in Cathay (China) and the island of Cipango (Japan). A king of kings (Great Khan) was the objective of this traveling ambassador. Discovering America was not the agreed target, rather to gain the friendship of this Lord of Asia with the idea of forming a strong army as its ally to defeat the infidel who had taken over Jerusalem.

 The reality of the West Indies, as Columbus had begun to call them, never made him change his original project, as he agreed to do so in April 1492. He wanted to believe that he was close to Asia when he read maps, books and heard conversations that caught his attention. He hadn’t mistakenly converted the distance, but considered Asia to be much closer to the West. On his fourth voyage, in search of spices, The Kings asked hime to respect the Portuguese if he were to come across them as they were by that time sailing on the opposite route. The measurement of the degree of longitude was always a problem due to the lack of reliable mechanical instruments that allowed calculating the time traveled.

 Columbus was not inspired by Marco Polo other than from the answers he had found after his first trips to the Caribbean. Although the plants, animals and natives that he first came across seemed to be from Paradise for him, they were completely different to those described in the writings of the ancient travelers to Asia. Nor to the first Spanish settlers on the Island La Española did it seem like the closest thing to earthly Paradise.

 For the First Admiral of the West Indies this was his business project and he paid for it with his health.  He eventually fell into disgrace for defending this monopoly that he believed to have invented after signing the Capitulations of Santa Fe with the Kings.  He served them faithfully until death and they protected him as far as they could. However, the interests of their kingdom and those of Columbus were never compatible.