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There is no doubt that the expeditions of Christopher Columbus not only resulted in the discovery of the "New World" but also gave rise to a completely different world in the full sense of the word: geographic, political, social, cultural and even natural. They set in motion the great process of European colonization of the Americas and numerous globally significant changes, the effects of which are still assessed as controversial, not to say dramatic ... because how else can we look at the murder of the indigenous peoples of the Western Hemisphere and the collapse of several pre-Columbian civilizations. Nevertheless, these pioneering expeditions of Columbus were global in nature and resulted in sustained interaction and integration of the Old with the New World, initiating discoveries and relationships that were both groundbreaking and symbolic. The history of Christopher Columbus' expeditions and his legend have remained both "white" and "black" to this day. Each subsequent generation evaluates it more skeptically and looks for new facts, the interpretation of which more and more often exposes the accepted as the only true version of the events, intentions and merits of the undoubtedly great sailor.
What was it really like, where was Columbus actually going, why, on whose behalf and in whose interest? Today historians, geographers, publicists and even clergymen are looking for answers to these questions. Reading the entries in the Journal that remained after his expeditions, it is clear that some data do not make sense and that what we were taught in schools is not entirely true. Add to this the rudimentary information about Columbus' childhood, youth, and origins in general, and it amazes us to conclude that, being a frequent visitor to the courts of the most eminent families, who would not let anyone in, he must have been more than we were taught. He certainly could not have been the son of an ordinary Genoa weaver. 
Historical sources show more and more clearly that Christopher Columbus was not necessarily the first European to reach the shores of America. However, there is no doubt that it was his journey in 1492 that marked and consolidated as the date of the discovery of America. Much of the facts of Columbus' life are still uncertain or suspicious. It is not known why his past and his early life have not been studied well. The information allegedly based on the statements of Columbus himself that he came from Italy from Genoa, today raises many doubts. The Columbus Expedition Journal itself, according to Dr. Manuel Rosa, a Portuguese-American historian, lecturer at Duke University in the US and author of the successful book "Columbus - Unknown History", are deliberate lies mixed with truthful information. The sum total of the notes creates a picture full of contradictions and inspires reflection on the actual history of Columbus and his expeditions. In order to find out the truth, to distinguish between what in the Journal is false and what is not, research is needed based on completely new assumptions. 

Christopher Columbus' Journal - a manuscript by Bartolomé de Las Casasa

Christopher Columbus

Discovery of the New World

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I.    Columbus Logbook in jewelry bindings, adorned with 8 Colombian Copals and 1 Larimar Stone. Bindings in goat leather with original gold hand-stamping. Fascimile technology: paper sculpturing, manual aging. 
II.    Columbus Letter to Spanish Monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella of Catalonia, binded in goat leather and hand colored paper, adorned with the original coat of arms. Full manual process of facsimile preparation and binding.
III.    Columbus’ Mappa Mundi. Double sided, prepared on pergamenata, hand cut and aged manually.
IV.    Juan de la Cosa World Map. Prepared on pergamenata, hand cut and aged manually. As original bound in aged calfskin.
Accessories:   Exclusive wooden and glass chest, dedicated leather tube, commentary book, gloves, hand-numbered notary certificate.
Edition:  Limited to 399.

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Columbus' Expeditions and an introduction to his Journal   

"In nomine domini nostri Ihesu Christi – in the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ"

- with these words begins the Journal, the facsimile of which we present here.

The Journal describes the first trip to the New World in which Christopher Columbus went and it should be emphasized that, just as he is the most important source of knowledge about the discovery of America, it is also probably the most famous ship's log of our civilization. To this day, its original has not been found, and what we have is only an outline of a copy of the lost original, made by the greatest Spanish historian of this era - Bartolomé de Las Casas.

A volumes of dissertations were written on the authenticity and importance of the Journal to prove whether it was in fact the work of Columbus or merely a hoax by Las Casas, who deliberately made a copy of a document that never existed. The history of the Journal is as confusing as many other stories related to the figure of Columbus and his expeditions. However, there are data that make us lean towards the theory that the Journal actually existed, and what is left of it is a faithful copy written by Bartolomeo Las Casas, who sympathized with Columbus.

The existence of the original Journal may be confirmed by letters from the rulers of Spain to Columbus, mentioning the need to make a copy of the Journal (probably the one from which Las Casas made the outline) and the recommendation that Columbus include maps of his first journey. Columbus himself also left clues confirming his existence in his correspondence. In a letter dated February 1502 addressed to Pope Alexander VI, he writes that he would like to appear before him with his documentation of the discovery, which is quoted as "I am carrying out on the first day of the trip".
 

After we assume that the Journal did exist and Las Casas created a copy of it, the question arises how faithful the copy is. Official investigators have questioned that the copyist was faithful to the original content. Although in many descriptions you can feel the spirit of Columbus, in others the researchers have the impression that the content of the copy has been edited to idealize the author of the original, who, according to Las Casas, was not such a cruel conquistador as his enemies painted him. The extent to which the copy reflects the original will not be confirmed until the original is found. Today we only know for sure that Las Casas was very conducive to Columbus and has often proclaimed that the admiral's cloaks were controlled by the heavens. Since the copyist was a staunch defender of the rights of the indigenous peoples of the new lands, and at the same time, despite his radical views, he remained faithful to the Church all his life, we know that his perception of reality was not entirely objective - in his opinion, Columbus was an instrument of heaven, and all those who moved his in their footsteps in search of gold, they disgraced the cross and the sacred mission of Columbus. Wherever the copy emphasizes the sanctity of Columbus' mission to evangelize, one can find an over-interpretation of Las Casas, who, after all, crossed the ocean thirteen times to proclaim his views and expose new evidence of cruelty towards the Indians.

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On February 15, 1493, while returning from his first voyage of discovery, while still aboard the La Niña caravel, Christopher Columbus wrote a letter that played a key role in spreading knowledge about his journey. Columbus' Letter was the first known document to report the discovery of the "islands of India". After arriving in Lisbon on March 4, 1493, Columbus probably sent two copies of his letter to the Spanish court: one to the Spanish monarchs Ferdinand II of Aragonese and Isabella I of Castile, and the other to the main supporter of financing his expedition, an Aragonese official - Luis de Santángel.

Columbus' letter to the rulers of Spain

Two manuscript versions and multiple first editions

Somehow, Columbus letter to Santángel ended up in the hands of the publishers, and so its content was disseminated within weeks of Columbus' return to Spain. This is how the Spanish version of the letter was printed in Barcelona and the Latin version in Rome. Soon, almost immediately after Columbus' arrival in Spain, printed editions of the letter began to appear all over Europe.

The first version was published in April 1493 in Barcelona. The next, just a month later, a Latin version was released in Rome. Latin translations were published many times during the year of Columbus' return to Europe - in Basel, Paris and Antwerp. In four years, Columbus' Letter had 15 known editions in 10 European cities: seven Latin editions, Italian paraphrase reissued five times, one German and another Spanish in Valladolid in 1497.

This version of the manuscript differs in several significant descriptions from the version on which the letter of Columbus was printed. It more closely reflects the personality of Columbus. Nevertheless, in each version, Columbus' letter (especially the Latin edition) gave rise to a perception of the newly discovered lands. Until the discovery of Columbus Journal, first published in the nineteenth century, this letter was the only known record of Columbus' experiences on his first voyage in 1492.

Columbus Letter - its content

In his letter, whatever the version, Christopher Columbus claims to have discovered and owned a series of islands on the edge of the Indian Ocean in Asia. It describes the islands, especially Hispaniola and Cuba, exaggerating their size and wealth. He suggests mainland China is likely nearby. It also gives a brief description of the native Arawaks (whom he called "Indians"), highlighting their docility and the prospects of mass conversion to the Christian faith.

In the letter he also briefly describes the physical characteristics of the natives, noting only that the natives have straight hair and "are not black like those of Guinea". He writes that their food is highly spiced. In the Libro version, Copiador Columb adds that they are eating red hot chili pepper.

Columbus claims that the Indians practice monogamy "every man is satisfied with only one wife" except for rulers and kings, who may have as many as twenty wives. He confesses that he is not sure if they have the concept of private property, and in a more detailed passage describes their oar-powered canoes comparing them to European.

At the end of the letter, Columbus writes that if the Catholic monarchs did not withdraw their promise to provide a larger fleet for the next voyage, he would bring back lots of gold, spices, cotton, mastic, aloe, slaves and possibly rhubarb and cinnamon, which he heard about here.

Columbus concludes with a letter summoning their Majesties, the Church and the people of Spain to thank God for having allowed him to find so many hitherto lost souls ready to convert to Christianity and for eternal salvation. He also urges them to thank them in advance for all temporal goods in the possession of the Indians that will soon be made available to Castile and the rest of Christianity.

The facsimile of the letter of Columbus, which we have prepared for you, was based on an incunabula printed in Latin in 1494 in the Basel printing house of Johannes Bergmann de Olpe. This well-preserved 72-page incunabula is adorned with 6 woodcuts by master Haintz Narr showing:

  • portrait of King Ferdinand II of Spain with the coat of arms of Castile and Leon,
  • landing in Hispaniola (Haiti),
  • an imaginary map of islands discovered by the great sailor,
  • construction of the La Navidad fort,
  • coat of arms of Castile,
  • ship under full sail in the ocean.

While the nearly full-page woodcuts show a rather stylized view of the Bahamas and the Caribbean islands and their inhabitants, they remain spectacularly important as the first European representations of the New World.

Unlike all other published editions of the Letter of Columbus, the Basel edition was printed in conjunction with Verardus' second text, Historia Baetica, a historical drama in Latin prose that praises the Spanish monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella for the capture of Granada. In the second part, on 15 pages, starting on page 58, there is the text of Columbus' letter, which is entitled: "De insulis nuper in mari Indico repertis" (from Latin "On the recently discovered islands in the Indian Sea").

The original is kept at the Royal Library in Copenhagen. In 2017, the original Basel incunabula at a Bonhams auction was sold for $ 751,500.

In 1925, at the meeting of the International Congress of Geographers in Cairo, the famous French historian of exploration and cartography Charles de La Ronciere presented with great enthusiasm a sailing map, originally acquired by the French National Library in the 19th century, the authorship of which he attributed to Christopher Columbus. Since then, it has been subjected to research, and the discussion whether Columbus actually committed it seems to be endless. Although Columbus and his brother Bartolomeo were excellent mapmakers, scientists cannot conclusively say whether or not the map was created by them.

On the main body of a large sheet of parchment is a nautical map of the known world - from the Congo River in Africa in the southwest to the Tanais River (now the Don) north of the Black Sea to the northeast. Here you can also see Iceland and the Red Sea. In the upper left corner of the parchment is a circular Mapamundi (world map) with Jerusalem in the center surrounded by celestial spheres and with two texts taken from Pierre d'Ailly's Imago Mundi describing the composition of the universe. These blue rings then symbolize the generally accepted geocentric concept of the universe.

Map of Christopher Columbus

Map of the World made in 1500 by Juan de la Cosa - a Spanish cartographer and traveler, companion of Christopher Columbus in the first expedition, for which he rented his own ship - La Gallega, renamed Santa María. Juan participated as a pilot in both Columbus' first and second expeditions.

Juan de la Cosa was an eyewitness of Columbus' first and second expeditions, therefore his map attached to the Christopher Columbus Logbook has a special value. Although some historians believe that the map of Zuane Pizzigano, where you can see the Antilles, or the map of Vinland with a fragment of North America, is older than this map, it is likely that de la Cosa is the oldest map on the which the American continent is marked.

It presents the outline of the Americas discovered by the end of the 15th century by Castilian, Portuguese and English expeditions, and not a small part of the Old World. It also includes information about Vasco da Gama's trip to India in 1498.

It was made on two sheets of parchment, 93 × 183 cm in size, joined together and bound in calfskin. Although its parts are uneven and the upper part has rounded edges, the rich decorations suggest that it was drawn at the request of a wealthy person, perhaps someone from the royal court.

Nevertheless, in 1987, the Technical Documentation Bureau of the Prado Museum in Madrid confirmed, after several analyzes, that the pigments on the parchment date back to 1500, which gives a strong basis to say that it is a map of Juan de la Cosa.

Juan de la Cosa World Map