Started conversation Apr 30, 2003
historians who study the life of columbus (and have terribly little to go by) claim that he knew perfectly well that what he had discovered was something new, and that he never set out to discover a shorter route to india (or japan or wherever) in the first place.
I don't remember the details, but allegedly, this whole idea about columbus thinking that he had discovered india or something was some political scheme thought up by someone to gain god-knows-what.
Posted May 1, 2003
There are also questions surrounding the "India" and "Indies" country names which would support Columbus not being as horribly incompetent as people have recently perceived him to be.
The "East Indies" were part of the Buddhist kingdom of Sri Vijaya through the late 13th century. Then power shifted to Java, where the Hindu kingdom of Majapahit had arisen; for two centuries it held sway over Indonesia and large areas of the Malay Peninsula. A gradual infiltration of Islam began in the 14th and 15th centuries with the arrival of Arab traders, and by the end of the 16th century Islam had replaced Buddhism and Hinduism as the dominant religion.
I'm having trouble finding what the name of the "East Indies" was in 1492, but I would guess that it wasn't generally referred to as "The Indies" by Western Europe at that time. (Anyone who can find a decent reference to prove this wrong, please feel free to.)
Under this argument, the name "Indian" derives not from the islands of what were later called the "Indies", but from the Italian "In Dio" or the Spanish "En Dios" which becomes "In God" in English, and which makes them the "People of God" not "The people we mistakely believe are from the Indies" and perhaps credits the once venerated and recently lambasted historical figure of Columbus with just a tincy-wincey bit of intelligence.
Posted May 1, 2003
Posted Nov 16, 2011
I believe that Ptolemy's Almagest, which was recognised by everybody for a thousand years as the definitive work of science on the subject of the earth and the heavens, gives a value for the circumference of the Earth which is much smaller than the actual figure, and this was the one Columbus was using. So he wasn't just deluded, he was using the universally accepted knowledge of the ancients.