Columbus as a Villain

“Columbus was the first to discover America.”  Wrong!!

One reason many people think we should celebrate Christopher Columbus day is because they believe he was the first to discover America.  However, this statement is undoubtedly false, as the Vikings were here long before Columbus’ arrival.  A book by William Howarth sums up this statement nicely: “It was not ‘wonderful’ that Columbus found America, for how on earth could he miss it?” (Howarth).  This quote highlights an idea that Columbus’ stumble upon America is nothing impressive, after all, people did already live there.

“Columbus’ achievements while in America are something worth celebrating.”  Yes, please- let’s celebrate slavery, massacre and torturous conditions!

When people think of Columbus, they assume he was a good guy with good intentions.  However, this is not the case.  Columbus exhibited actions of slavery against the Vikings, a group of people who had already inhabited the land.  The interactions between Columbus and the Vikings were nothing but smooth, as Columbus treated them very poorly: “When [Columbus] got to the Americas he did everything he could to get those resources — that meant massacres and torture. That really resulted in about 80 percent annihilation of indigenous people and set the tone for the African slave trade” (Sanders).  This quote shows that Columbus was not kind to the Vikings, and he took advantage of them by whatever means necessary in order to get what he wanted.

“Columbus was a good man.”  If your definition of a “good man” includes someone with an untamable temperament, manipulative, and ignorant, then yes, Columbus was a great man.

he had an implacable temperament which could never be satisfied, and an unremitting ambition which could never be assuaged” (Fernandez-Armesto).  Basically, Columbus had a bad temper that nobody could calm.  This could and probably did result in very poor treatment of the Vikings.  Also, Columbus didn’t speak the same language, therefore, he was unable to communicate with the Vikings.  As explained in an article written by Cristoforo Colombo, Columbus knew that the natives did not speak the same language as the Spaniards, making it very easy for Columbus and his men to cheat them. They took advantage of their innocence and made the worst possible deals with them. He took advantage of their kindness and robbed them of all their wealth. (Colombo).



Howarth, William. “Putting Columbus in His Place.” Southwest Review pg 153-165.  Literary Reference Center. Web. 16 Feb. 2018

Sanders, Alexandra. “Christopher Columbus: Hero or Villain?.” New Haven Register (CT), 09 Oct. 2012. EBSCOhost, Web. 16 Feb. 2018

Fernandez-Armesto, F. “Columbus–Hero or Villain?.” History Today, vol. 42, no. 5, May 1992, p. 4. EBSCOhost, Web. 16 Feb. 2018

Colombo, Cristoforo, and Clements R. Markham. The Journal of Christopher Columbus (during His First Voyage, 1492-93) and Documents Relating to the Voyages of John Cabot and Gaspar Corte Real. Cambridge Univ. Press, 2010.  Web. 13 Feb. 2018.