Monday, Oct. 10, 2011

He Was Something of a Social Climber

Many accomplished men play down their achievements and shy away from glory: Christopher Columbus was not one of those guys. He seemed more the type who would, say, refer to himself in the third person. In a letter he wrote before his first voyage, this part of his character shines through. He expresses thanks that his royal Spanish patrons, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, "took thought to send me, Christopher Columbus, to the said parts of India," and then imagines his splendid future, writing, "and for this accorded me great rewards and ennobled me so that from that time henceforth I might style myself 'Don' and be high admiral of the Ocean Sea and viceroy and perpetual Governor of the islands and continent which I should discover ..."

After realizing that he had claimed "another world" for Spain, he regularly asked his lieges for more recognition. According to Kirkpatrick Sale's work Christopher Columbus and the Conquest of Paradise, Columbus collected 44 documents (in quadruplicate) that proved he deserved all the titles and rewards he desired.