To obtain help in the form of ships and men, Columbus laid his maps and plans before the king of Portugal, who deceived him and secretly sent out an expedition to find if the East could be reached as proposed by Columbus. The secret expedition returned and reported the plans of Columbus unsound. After several years of delay and disappointment, Columbus left Portugal to lay his plans before Ferdinand and Isabella, the rulers of Aragon and Castile (later in 1516 united as Spain) . Here, too, he was at first received with disfavor. These rulers felt that their country, because of many other expenditures, was unable to finance such an expedition. For many years these monarchs had been engaged in a bitter and costly war against the Moors. Columbus laid his plans before the Council of the king and queen but received no encouragement from them. After several years of delay and disappointment he decided to leave Spain and place his plans before the king of France. As he was slowly making his way toward the Pyrenees, no doubt wondering how his plans would be received by the French king, a messenger overtook him and bade him return, for Queen Isabella had decided to support the great adventure. There were several reasons why she should do so.
There was a chance that the adventure might succeed and bring glory and profit to her country. If the adventure succeeded, there would also be a glorious opportunity of carrying the Christian faith to the people of the newly discovered land. Finally the many years’ struggle against the Moors was brought to a successful close by the battle of Granada (1492), in which the power of the Mohammedans was crushed. The Spanish monarchs could now devote their attention and financial resources to Columbus’s proposed undertaking. The Voyage to America. The important decision having been made by the Spanish monarchs, plans and preparations were then made for the voyage which Columbus was to direct. In these preparations Columbus received help and encouragement from Martin Pinzon, one of the most important men in the maritime affairs of Palos, Spain. Pinzon, as chief captain, together with his two brothers, accompanied Columbus on his western trip. Three small vessels, the Pinta, the Nina, and the Santa Maria, were prepared and set sail from Palos, on August 3, 1492, with crews consisting, all together, of about one hundred anxious sailors. Favorable winds and mild weather aided in starting the venture with high hopes for success. But long days of hope changed to weeks and weeks of disappointment. Many of the sailors lost their courage and felt that they were headed for certain destruction. Possessed by fear, they were ready to rise against their leader and threatened to throw him overboard.
But at lastsuccess came. Land was discovered which is now known as an island in the Bahama group. Columbus named it San Salvador. On Friday, October 12, 1492, he and some of his men landed, and with solemn ceremony took possession of the island in the name of Ferdinand and Isabella. After visiting some of the other islands, Columbus sailed along the coasts of Cuba and Hispaniola. He did not find large cities, nor were there jewels, spices, silks, and drugs, which were reported to exist in the Indies in abundance. Instead of these he found only rude villages and naked savages. Columbus thought that these villages might be merely some of the outlying parts of Cathay, and sent two envoys into the interior of Cuba, hoping that they would find the ruler of China and deliver a message to him.
After several weeks of exploration of the islands, Columbus, leaving a garrison of thirty-seven men on Hispaniola, started on the return voyage. After many stormy weeks he arrived at Palos in March, 1493. He appeared before Ferdinand and Isabella and told of the great discovery. He had brought with him from the islands several copper-colored men, a few strange animals, a number of brilliantly colored parrots, and some gold.