And to establish a new trade-route to Asia. The part about the trade-route is correct, but it is commonly held that Columbus had difficulty securing funding for his famous voyage because he had difficulty convincing people that the Earth was round.

Actually, very few educated people believed that the Earth was flat since before the birth of Christ. Indeed, the science of navigation by Columbus’ day had long since relied on the fact that the Earth was round. The tools and techniques used were different to those that would have been used if the Earth had been thought to be flat.

Sailors spreading stories about sailing off the edge-of-the-earth were largely in the same class as stories about mermaids and sea-monsters.

Columbus did have difficulty getting funding for his voyage, however, not because of any erroneous assumption about the Earth’s shape, but because his plans relied on the Earth being much smaller than it was generally accepted to be.

Common wisdom at the time had nothing but empty ocean between Europe and Asia, and Columbus believed (given his own estimates about the size of the Earth) to be achievable with the assistance of the Trade Winds, which would significantly shorten the voyage Westwards.

Columbus was wrong about the size of the Earth, and everyone was wrong about the oceanic expanse being uninterrupted. He got just enough funding for his voyage after several false starts, and encountered The Bahamas, Cuba, and Hispaniola.

For his return voyage, he kidnapped a number of peaceful natives, and returned with those that survived, and apparently also with syphilis, which spread through the Europe in 1495, killing an estimated five million people.

Fun trivia: More people today believe that the Earth is flat than did in the time of Columbus.

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