Cristoforo Colombo, an Italian sailor from Genoa, traveled to many courts in Europe seeking support for his theory that the fastest way to reach Asia was to sail due west. Everyone rejected Columbus because they knew that sailing west would result in the death of Columbus and anyone else foolish enough to go with him. Going east to Asia was a long and costly voyage, but going west was impossible.
You were probably taught in school that Columbus’ theory was rejected because people believed the Earth was flat. THIS IS WRONG. I am sorry if this upsets you, but the fact is people had known the Earth was round for thousands of years. The first globe was created in 1492 in Germany before Columbus left Europe. Some isolated and backward individuals might have believed in a flat Earth but the intelligent and educated knew the Earth was round.
Columbus’ radical theory was that the Earth was only two-thirds the size scholars believed. People rejected Columbus not because they thought he would fall off the edge of the Earth, but because he would run out of food and water long before he made it halfway to China. Ships had limited space for food and water, and China was too far away. It is the same reason man has not travelled to Mars. We know where it is and how far away, and we know that right now we cannot survive the journey.
Columbus used some theories of other scholars as well as his own calculations, and determined that the Earth was not as big as commonly believed. He removed the extra third out of the Atlantic Ocean, making Asia only six weeks away, which was the limit for food and water. Before 1492, no one wanted to waste money on a doomed mission.
Editors Note: Travis Childs is a history instructor at Cameron University in Lawton, Okla. He is a graduate of Midway High School and lives in Bluegrove. He is currently president of the Clay County Historical Society.