To discover a direct water route west from Europe to Asia.
The Spanish Empire (1492-1504)
Admiral and Governor of the New World
• Entrusted by the world’s largest sea-faring nation to travel the far ends of the earth in search of new trade routes to China, India and Japan, where I was empowered to gather gold and convert heathens to Christianity.
• Conducted four monumental voyages. By guile, guts, and going the wrong way, discovered the New World in 1492 when I landed in Waitling Island in the Bahamas. In subsequent trips in 1493, 1498, and 1502 I also discovered South America and Central America.
• Managed a crew of 90 sailors, Arabic interpreters (who, it turns out, we did not need), barrel makers, caulkers and carpenters to fix the ships, and a surgeon. On my second trip, supervised 17 ships and 1,500 men.
• Conceived and established new, catchier name for the natives: Indians.
• Excelled at labor relations: On my maiden voyage, I kept two logbooks to avoid mutiny. In one logbook, I recorded the actual distance the ships traveled each day. In the second book, I recorded fake numbers, reducing the daily distance by many miles. This was the book the crew was allowed to see.
• Demanded and secured gold tributes from the natives (or Indians, as I like to call them) by employing a stick and carrot approach: Every adult would supply a certain quota of gold dust. If they did, they were given a token to wear around their necks. If they did not, they had a hand chopped off.
• Brought horses to the new world
• Introduced slavery to the New World with the enslavement of the Taino people of Haiti.
Master Mariner (1477-1484)
Sailed to Iceland in the north, and south to the Gold Coasts of West Africa.
Mapmaking and Book Collecting Shop, Lisbon (1477)
Co-owned with my brother Bartholomew
Freelance Sailor (1466 – 1476)
Traveled often to the Greek Islands, where I learned navigational techniques.
Dad’s Wool Workshop, Genoa (1465)
RELEVANT SKILLS AND ACCOMPLISHMENTS
• Proficient in cartography: Experienced map-maker.
• Excel in Astronomy: Expert on the stars and lunar cycles.
• Skillful story telling: In 1504, confronted with angry Jamaicans, I used my extensive knowledge of astronomy to spin a yarn about the coming lunar eclipse, angry Gods, and reprisals. After the eclipse, the frightened islanders begged for my forgiveness.
• Navigational genius: In setting sail from the Canary Islands, I took advantage of the westerly trade winds and the Canary Current, a fast-moving river of oceanic water, to propel my ships across the Atlantic. I can navigate by the flights of birds, the smell of the sea, and the color of the sky.
• Adept at bargaining: Negotiated with he Spanish monarchy for a highly desirable 10 percent stake in everything that would be “bought, traded, discovered or obtained” in the lands I discovered.
• Inveterate trader: Brought small pox, measles, and influenza to the new world, while bringing syphilis back to Europe.
• Accomplished swimmer: In 1476 I swam six miles to Portugal after my ship was sunk by French privateers.
• Gifted persuader: Managed to talk myself out of prison after the monarchy learned of the deplorable conditions the “Indians” were forced to live in while I was governor.
• Isabella I of Castile, Queen of Spain
• Father Perez, who helped persuade King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella to finance my trips
• The natives of the New World. On second thought …
Sources: Fast Company, facts.randomhistory.com, livescience, factfile.org