11 Christopher Columbus Facts That Everyone Gets Wrong

Published October 9, 2017
Updated January 16, 2018
Published October 9, 2017
Updated January 16, 2018

Over the years, many Christopher Columbus facts have been misinterpreted while others have been just plain made-up.

Nina Pinta Santamaria
Columbus Declaring His Discovery
Ferdinand And Isabella
Map Of Four Voyages
11 Christopher Columbus Facts That Everyone Gets Wrong
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"In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue..."

Just about everyone knows the story. The Italian explorer Christopher Columbus sailed from Spain to the Americas in 1492, thinking he'd discovered a shortcut to the East Indies. Upon arrival, he pillaged the villagers, looted their resources, and infected them with syphilis, typhoid, and smallpox.

For the most part, these Christopher Columbus facts are true. Columbus did sail from Europe to the Americas, and once he got there, he was a ruthless leader, driven by greed and possessing a pirate-like mentality. But, at a time when imperialism was at an all-time high, and every power in Europe was driven by economic competition, Columbus was merely one in a sea of many as ruthless as he was.

Due to his less-than-spotless reputation, countless Christopher Columbus facts and trivia tidbits have been misconstrued and misattributed to the famed explorer over the years.

For example, his name. Though we know him as Christopher Columbus, that's just an Americanized version. The explorer's real name was Cristoforo Colombo, and he wasn't quite Italian. He was born in the Republic of Genoa, which though it now lies in Italy, was its own region then. The country of Italy wasn't established until after Columbus's death.

Though he's gone from explorer to monster, and from governor to pariah, one thing can be said about Columbus-- he was responsible for bridging the gap between the New World and the Old World, and bringing international attention to the Americas.

Enjoyed these Christopher Columbus facts? Check out Edward Curtis's photos of Native American culture in the early 20th century. Then, read about the Native American genocide, and its everlasting legacy.

Katie Serena
Katie Serena is a New York City-based writer and a staff writer at All That's Interesting.