Christopher Columbus First and Fourth Voyage Letters Essay
After reading the First Letter to Luis de Santangel and the Letter to Ferdinand and Isabella regarding the fourth voyage, I have compared the two letters. They seem to be written by different people because of the change of environments. The First Letter to Luis de Santangel was written on February 17, 1493. Ten years later, July 7, 1503, the Letter to Ferdinand and Isabella was composed. Within this ten year gap, so much turmoil was caused by Christopher Columbus’s discoveries. His curiosity led him to discover so much of what the world has to offer.
In his First Letter to Luis de Santangel, he seemed very joyous, energetic, and grateful for his ability to conquer and secure many small islands and their villagers, in Asia. He explains how he gave each island a new name such as, Isla de Santa Maria, Fernandina, and Isabella. After a while, he started to notice villages scatter when they saw his fleet. While exploring each new island, he welcomed learning about his new environments. Surprisingly, the villagers he captured were his teachers. To me, he started to sound greedy when you could tell he grew bored of all his victories and small islands.
He desired to find a bigger, more complex island when he states, “And from that point I sent two men inland to learn if there were a king or great cities. They traveled three days’ journey and found an infinity of small hamlets and people without number, hut nothing of importance. For this reason they returned” (from First Letter to Luis de Santangel, pg. X,). Well, after traveling many “leagues”, he came upon “Espanola”. This island was colossal compared to the others. Lastly, he requests, from his hierarchy, to grant him another expedition to the Indies.
Even though they have a ten year gap, Christopher Columbus’s tone has completely changed. He went from riches to rags. The beginning of the letter seems to make him feel guilty and pained. The economy of the islands he possessed has greatly fallen and he feels he is to blame. There is talk amongst the villagers that he is the enemy and a bounty was posted. He explains how he and his brothers were taken captive and stripped of everything they owned. He claimed to have high hopes that he would be rescued by his royal court, but that day had yet to show its face.
He appears to be baffled by his situation. After many years of service and management, he was betrayed. In the end of the letter, he threatens to soil the royal name if he is not rescued. It took ten years for a man to crumble and resort to blackmail saying, “I humbly pray Your Highnesses that if it please God to bring me forth this place, that you will be pleased to permit me to go to Rome and to other places of pilgrimage. May the Holy Trinity preserve your life and high estate, and grant you increase of prosperity” (from First Letter to Luis de Santangel, pg. X). Desperation can change all of us.