30 December 2023
Christopher Columbus was born about the year 1435, in the city of Genoa, Italy, and followed the life of a mariner. Hearing of the discoveries made by Marco Polo, a Venetian, during his journey
eastward, overland, in the twelfth century, in eastern and central Asia, and his navigation on the Pacific Ocean, and along the shores of India, and of the discoveries made in Africa by the Portuguese King Henry, coupled with his correspondence with Toscanelli, a learned cosmographer, led Columbus to believe the earth a sphere. He formed the conclusion that if Marco Polo reached India, the Kingdom of the Grand Khan of Tartary, by traveling eastward, he could certainly reach the opposite coast of India, by sailing westward. Page 10.
Columbus, after waiting seven years, and suffering great disappointments succeeded in having his theory discussed at a meeting of prelates and learned men, at the convent of St. Stephens, at Salamanca, but his theory of the world’s being a sphere was condemned.
They ridiculed the theory of antipodes, with their heads hanging downwards, it being contrary to the belief of their theologians and philosophers, and in violation of their sacred scriptures. They argued that if the world was round, then a vessel attempting to make the ascent of the sphere would fall off into space. They also argued that the earth was a flat surface, bordered by the waters of the sea, on the yielding support of which rested the crystalline dome of the sky, and the sun, moon and planets, were a subordinate nature, their use being to give light to man who was elevated to supreme importance. The Patristic Geography had governed the Christian church for twelve centuries, and was its authority for rejecting the theory of the sphericity of the earth. Columbus defended his theory nobly and with religious fervour, the decision was unfavourable to him.
The ancient philosophers and astronomers introduced various theories regarding the sphericity of the earth and the manner of its revolution. The Heliocentric theory, taught by Pythagoras, (Priest of Zarathustra) about five hundred and fifty years, B. C, placed the sun as the centre round which, with the other planets, the earth revolved, in circular orbits, each supposed to rotate on its axis as it revolved round the sun. This theory was accepted by Aristarchus of Samos, about three hundred and fifty years. E. C, and was superseded by the Geocentric system of Ptolemy, about one hundred and fifty years, A. D., which system placed the earth in the centre, fixed in space, the sun and the other planets revolving round it, thus giving the earth the position of superiority. This theory was accepted by a large portion of the inhabitants of the earth for fourteen centuries. No advancement was made toward establishing the theories of the ancients, or the Geography of the earth, or the science of Astronomy, until the advent of Columbus and his discovery of America in 1492, and the circumnavigation of the earth by Magellen in 15 21, which proved its sphericity, and whose circumference is about twenty-five thousand miles. Page 11-12.public-gdcmassbookdig-discoveryofameri00newy-discoveryofameri00newy
Books of Interest