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Christopher Columbus Discovers the New World *

Christopher Columbus heads to France to convince the King to finance his voyage across the Atlantic but Queen Isabella of Spain brings Columbus back. She funds him but only at the bare minimum. She presses three ships into service against the will of the owners: two 50 foot caravels (the Niña, and the Pinta) and a 68 foot carrack (the Santa Maria) which Columbus captains. They stop at the Canary Islands and on September 6th they begin. The Trade Winds carry them across in 5 weeks. On October 12th Columbus spots land but so does the lookout on the Pinta. Exactly which island it is will be lost to history. They continue to San Salvadore, Cuba and then Hispanola (Haiti and Dominican Republic) where the Santa Maria will run aground. The two caravels don't have enough room to take them all back so Columbus leaves a number of his men on shore to begin a colony. Columbus turns north and makes a classic clockwise use of the Atlantic's winds. He returns with parrots and samples of the wares and presents these to the King and Queen. Isabella is delighted. In a few months she will send him back with a much larger and better financed expedition. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
All the experts said he couldn't sail all the way to China... AND THEY WERE RIGHT, but no one knows it yet. This first voyage is fairly straight forward. It gets worse next year when Columbus returns, and all he will find of those men he left behind will be a few pieces of cloth. He didn't totally abandon them. The local tribe was reasonably tolerant of these strangers on their land. The problem was that the OTHER tribe was not very friendly. It was called the Cariba tribe which is why we call that region "the Caribbean." Christopher Columbus gave a different name to the tribe: Canibalis. This is also where we get the English word... "cannibals".[11] [12]

Sherry and the Lackeys of Granada

On January 2nd, the last Moorish/Muslim stronghold in Spain surrenders to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. A silver cross is placed on the Alhambra palace of the last Sultan of Granada. The Sultan goes into exile but the rest of the captive Muslims are used as servants. The Spanish call their new servants "alacayos" [ah-lah-KYE-yos] which jokingly suggests a "chief." In English the same word is distorted into "lackey," meaning a footman, servant or "toady".

Also, the nearby town of Xeres [SHEH-rish] begins exporting their wine to England, but the name, "sherries," sounds plural, so they drop the 's' and call it "Sherry". It is fortified with distilled grape alcohol. In the modern day the alcohol content is 15.5% by volume. That translates into 31.0 proof using the USA formula or 27.125 proof using the UK formula. [13] [14] [15] [16] [17] [18] [19]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
"Sherry" is much better than the original name, "sack," which means "extraction" from the Spanish "saca". In the modern day (at least in Europe) the name "Sherry" refers to wine originating from the "Sherry Triangle," a region in southern in Spain. A similar restriction applies to Roquefort dressing (a blue cheese salad dressing) beginning in 1961. The same rule applies to Champagne, the sparkling wine, although the monk, Dom Pérignon, was still trying to get rid of the bubbles from his wine in 1718 when his wine-making methods were published. [20] [21] [22]

The Jews Are Expelled from Spain

The Spanish Inquisition has made life in Castile and Aragon extremely oppressive for anyone not toeing the full Christian line. The previous Pope was pressured by Queen Isabella to establish an Inquisition to find insincere Jews who had falsely converted to Christianity. Pope Innocent the 8th (who will die this year) wrote the Inquisition a blank check to find these bad converts, heretics and witches. Before this time the Jews would move to Muslim Granada where they could depend on a more tolerant treatment but Granada has surrendered to Spain this year. Now any Jews left in Spain who have not converted are to be expelled. Most will move to Portugal and the smartest will move on to North Africa immediately. Portugal won't tolerate Jews much longer and where can a Jew go from Portugal? [23]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Firstly, some Jews were bad converts here, keeping a few Jewish practices even into the modern day. They are called crypto-Jews. Secondly, there may be a reason for the Inquisition suddenly to give the Jews the boot. I've always wondered what the Spanish Inquisition thought when they uncovered the Jewish kabbalists. Those Jewish mystics must have looked like the Christian heretics called the Gnostics. (Think of "The Da Vinci Codes.") The Inquisition must have freaked! Finally, I am mentioning this expulsion NOT to beat up on Christians but because the expulsion of 1492 is a well remembered event in Jewish history. If I didn't say something I'd look like an ass because I would be one.

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1492, Wikipedia.

See Also


* The asterisk in the section header indicates that it was read on the podcast.
  1. Avalon Project - Privileges and Prerogatives Granted by Their Catholic Majesties to Christopher Columbus (1492), avalon.law.yale.edu. 1492
  2. Christopher Columbus: Extracts from Journal (1492). Internet History Sourcebooks Project, fordham.edu, 1492.
  3. Columbus, Christopher (1492). Colombus Notes on Marco Polo's 'Le Livre des Merveilles' (15th century) - CosmoLearning History. Retrieved on 2 November 2014.
  4. Toscanelli, Paolo (1474). Map of Atlantic Ocean according to Toscanelli (1474) - CosmoLearning History. Retrieved on 2 November 2014.
  5. Caravel - Wikipedia (2014). Retrieved on 1 January 2015.
  6. Carrack - Wikipedia (2014). Retrieved on 1 January 2015.
  7. Santa María (ship) - Wikipedia (2014). Retrieved on 1 January 2015.
  8. Pinta (ship) - Wikipedia (2014). Retrieved on 1 January 2015.
  9. Niña - Wikipedia (2014). Retrieved on 1 January 2015.
  10. 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created (BOOK), Knopf. ISBN 9780307265722. “The king and queen of Spain, Fernando (Ferdinand) II and Isabel I, backed Colón's first voyage grudgingly. Transoceanic travel in those days was heart-stoppingly expensive and risky--the equivalent, perhaps, of space-shuttle flights today. Despite relentless pestering, Colón was able to talk the monarchs into supporting his scheme only by threatening to take the project to France.” 
  11. (1968) "Cannibal", Words from History (PDF), Books on Words, Boston: Houghton Mifflin. “"When Christopher Columbus made his famous voyage across the Atlantic Ocean in 1492, he explored the islands we call Cuba and Hispaniola. (The latter now contains the nations of Haiti and the Dominican Republic.) There he heard of a group of Indians who called themselves "Calina" meaning 'the strong ones.' They occupied the various smaller islands of the West Indies together with parts of the mainland shores of Central and South America. The gentler natives of Cuba and Hispaniola were terrified of them. The Indians of Cuba distorted their name to 'Caniba'; those of Hispaniola to 'Cariba.' What was most frightening about 'the strong ones' was that, having defeated and captured their enemies, they then ate them."” 
  12. Canibal - definition of Canibal by. The Free Dictionary (2014). Retrieved on 26 December 2014. “From Spanish Canibalis, name (as recorded by Christopher Columbus) of the allegedly cannibalistic Caribs of Cuba and Haiti, from earlier Carib karibna, person, Carib.”
  13. (1968) "Sherry", Words from History (PDF), Books on Words, Boston: Houghton Mifflin. “"In southern Spain, just north of Cadiz, is a town called Jerez de la Frontera ('Jerez on the frontier'), because for a number of years prior to 1492 it was on the frontier of the last Moorish kingdom in Spain. It, too, dates back to a Roman settlement named Caesarea, and the final distortion is very similar in appearance to the English one, though the Spaniards pronounced it 'heh-rayz'. An older spelling of the name is 'Xeres,' pronounced 'sheh'rehs.' The city is in a region of vineyards and a light wine produced there was called 'sherris' in England, after the town. The word with its final 's' seemed a plural to English ears, so it was made into a singular by dropping that 'S.' Thus it became sherry."” 
  14. Jerez de la Frontera (Xeres) - Wikipedia (2014). Retrieved on 26 December 2014.
  15. Granada - Wikipedia (2014). Retrieved on 26 December 2014.
  16. Alcohol proof - Wikipedia (2014). Retrieved on 26 December 2014.
  17. (1968) "Lackey", Words from History (PDF), Books on Words, Boston: Houghton Mifflin. “"The Moorish word 'al-kaid' meant 'the chief' and was applied to military commanders. As the Moors went from defeat to defeat, their captured soldiers were forced to act as servants to the conquering Spaniards. They were called 'alacayo,' the Spanish distortion of 'al-kaid,' in a kind of grim joke, for the Chieftains had become servants."” 
  18. (2009) Medieval Siege and Siegecraft (BOOK), New York: Skyhorse Publishing, 35-36 quote="After eight hard-fought months the siege was over The bishop of Avila entered in solemn procession and encountered the fallen king, who saluted him with the words, ”Enter and occupy the fortress which Allah has bestowed upon you as punishment to us for the sins of the Moors.” Meanwhile, to the horror of the Muslims, the silver cross of Christ was being raised above the Alhambra Boabdil, with an escort of fifty horsemen, rode on to meet the Spanish monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella who greeted him honorably and delivered back his son who had been their hostage during the siege.". ISBN 9781602396333. 
  19. Muhammad XII of Granada - Wikipedia (2014). Retrieved on 26 December 2014.
  20. Roquefort - Wikipedia (2014). Retrieved on 26 December 2014.
  21. Champagne - Wikipedia (2014). Retrieved on 26 December 2014.
  22. Dom Pérignon (monk) - Wikipedia (2014). Retrieved on 26 December 2014.
  23. Alandete, David. La oferta de nacionalidad a sefardíes satura los consulados españoles en Israel. EL PA&Igrav;S, politica.elpais.com, 2014 [last update]. Summary: Spain offers citizenship to the Jews expelled in 1492 under certain conditions such as the ability to speak Ladino (a Medieval form of Spanish mixed with Hebrew).

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