The Letter to Santangel by Christopher Columbus Essay

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In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue. However, even after centuries later, little is truly known of the mysterious voyage and findings of the new world.1 By examining “Letter from Columbus to Luis Santangel”, one can further contextualize the events of Columbus' exploration of the New World. The letter uncovers Columbus' subtle hints of his true intentions and exposes his exaggerated tone that catered to his lavish demands with Spain. Likewise, The Columbian Voyage Map read in accordance with the letter helps the reader track Columbus' first, second, third, and fourth voyage to the New World carefully and conveniently. Thus, the letter and map's rarity and description render invaluable insight into Columbus' intentionality of the New …show more content…
From Spain and Portugal's viewpoint, these published writings were exactly what the Royal Highness' desired to have promulgated. In the letter, Columbus hints that the “innumerable” souls to be conquered from the trip to these islands were to be used only for the service of the Catholic Church: “but they [the natives] all understand each other, which is a thing of singular advantage for what I hope their Highnesses will decide upon for converting them to our holy faith”. Earlier in the letter he explains his overflowing “affection” to the natives upon his first arrival, but the proselytizing is quite clear: “I gave gratuitously a thousand useful things that I carried, in order that they may conceive affection, and furthermore may become Christians.” The opportunity for additional converts to the Catholic Church would have undoubtedly pleased the Pope. Interestingly enough, the encouragement of this letter to reap souls like a harvest ultimately permitted Pope Alexander VI to extend a Papal Bull relinquishing Spanish Rights to the conquered area. Conquering in the name of Christianity was not uncommon in Columbus' day. In fact, it was probably one of the most common excuses for plundering- “The conversion of those called heathens and infidels served more often than not as a means to a more selfish end- from building empires to acquiring new resources and markets.” Ultimately,…

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