After reading The Four Voyages I’ve really tried to understand his thoughts, and why he continuously avoided the truth that he had discovered a new land for the Spaniards. While of course his main goal was to arrive to the Indies, deliver letters to the Grand Khan, and acquire spices and other goods, the discovery of a new land should not be an event to shy away from like Columbus did. It makes almost no sense to me, and it also leads me to the conclusion that Columbus was not an explorer.
Columbus’s goal was not to see foreign lands, and explore for the sake of discovery, his goal was to increase the wealth for those who hired him. In this way, he was a mercenary. If he had been an explorer, he would’ve acknowledged his obvious discovery of new territory, and he would’ve reported it rather than try to cover it up. Ultimately Columbus only puts himself in increasingly uncomfortable positions, in which he has to make deals with his crew, and furthermore lie and hide the truth to his employers and himself. It makes almost no sense to me why he would put himself through this ridiculous search for the indies rather than realize the fact that he had not landed on the indies, he had landed on a completely foreign and undiscovered land for Europeans.
Perhaps I think all of this because as a child, when learning about Columbus he was always made out to be the best of explorers. I saw Christopher Columbus as a man who ventured into new lands with gusto. Instead as I grew up, little by little my perception of Columbus changed. With The Four Voyages my perception of Columbus has completely been flipped. He wasn’t brave enough to see his discovery, he cowered behind his lies and excuses. He didn’t accept the natives, he saw them as a means to find gold. And perhaps worst of all for me, I see him no longer an explorer, I see him as a mercenary.
I say this because any man could’ve been hired to embark on a similar journey, and the Spanish Royalty would’ve gotten the same results, with perhaps being lied to a little less. After reading The Four Voyages I just can’t see Christopher Columbus the same anymore. While of course his discovery shouldn’t be undermined, as he did broaden the scope of exploration for Europeans, his motivations and actions make him a mercenary like any other man the Spaniard’s could’ve found.