10.12.2011

Was Christopher Columbus on a religious crusade?

Two recent books argue that the Basque explorer Christopher Columbus and da Gama which is closer to Christian crusader mercenaries and adventurers eager audience. Other historians, however, remain skeptical.

The book was published in the week before Columbus Day (Oct. 10), a statement of the reasons famous sailors looking for a direct route to trade with India to destroy Islam.

"I think historians will know about it, but not seriously," says Carol Delaney, author of Delaney, a retired anthropologist, is currently a researcher at the University of "Columbus and the quest of Jerusalem . "Brown.

Delaney book argues that Columbus wanted to find gold fund a new movement to regain Jerusalem from the Muslims, the belief that Jerusalem should be in the hands of Christians before the second coming of Jesus.

"People do not usually look at Columbus in the context of religion in his day, which is very strong," says Delaney.

Nigel Cliff, author of a new book on Portuguese contemporary Basque da Gama, Columbus, agreed that the explorers to see through the lens of religion Historians in the 19th century "change of emphasis." Tends to regard regard Columbus as a heroic figure who started the "intellectual adventure interested," while in the 20th century tended to "focus on the economy, to the exclusion of much more," he said.

Cliff said the economic benefits alone is not a medieval concept.

"Faith is a matter of burning a big push Portugal (navigational) campaign 80 years ago," says Cliff, a writer and amateur historian.

Da Gama became the first person to reach India by sailing directly from Europe around Africa in 1498, six years after Columbus discovered America for the king and queen of Spain.

Cliff was a book, "Holy War", said Da Gama is coming to East is the defining moment of the supremacy of Christianity in the Islamic world trade as part of a course of "clash of civilizations. "

However, other historians say claims new book "dare to be supported by a grant from the poor. Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, a historian at the University of Notre Dame, who has written extensively about Columbus, condemned the book in The Wall Street Journal.

According to him, Cliff Delaney and "do the truth and authenticity of the sources of uncertainty, author and date are not reliable" and that the error in Columbus on his word even though it is well known fake.

Sanjay Subrahmanyam, UCLA historian who has written about da Gama da Gama said that the religion of the browser is more interested in "personal development" and ensure "meaningful, but not the only reason." Trade route that is controlled by the Portuguese nobility than the crown.

Fernandez-Armesto Cliff called the theory of "clash of civilizations" between Christianity and Islam ", a product of the imaginations of contemporary" Subrahmanyam said it was "great story for those with connection with timely events. "

According to Subrahmanyam, "no evidence whatsoever" that da Gama want to recover Jerusalem and prepare for the coming of Christ, although there is some evidence that Columbus may be their ambitions.

For example, Delaney points to the mysterious "Book of Prophecy," a compilation of biblical statements about all that seemed divine the meaning of the voyage of Columbus. The book should be drafted by Columbus himself.

Fernandez-Armesto also noted that the Spanish judge who commissioned the voyages of Columbus has long been obsessed with the idea of ​​Jerusalem.

However, "there is no evidence that Columbus particular religion ... until he consulted with God after failure of worldly ambition, "he said. Columbus died a disappointed man because he can not find the quantity of gold and part in India he asked.

At least, the debate about the books show that Columbus remains a controversial figure, more than 500 years after he sailed the ocean blue. "Everyone seems to have a personal interest in their version of Columbus," says Delaney.

Knights of Columbus, the world's largest Catholic fraternal organization, named after the explorer. Pat Korten, a spokesman for the Knights, said that the piety of Columbus is a "significant" reason for the name of the group.

"The Knights of Columbus was always seen as a major religious man, no doubt about it," says Korten.

Another factor is the strong anti-Catholic, when Knight was founded in 1882. When you connect better with the popular figure of Columbus, said Korten, the Knights sent the message, "We are as American as you we got here first!"

Despite the popularity of Columbus fell during the 20th century, the Knights are not "ashamed" of his name, says Korten. I have not heard the theory that Columbus would finance a crusade to recover Jerusalem.

If a wrong theory is that they spread, Subrahmanyam blaming "commercial (edit) press" not to submit their manuscripts to the same rigorous peer review and feedback of academic publishers.

Fernandez-Armesto, meanwhile, blame the writer.

"If you take refuge in other disciplines in the belief that history is easy, without bothering to do basic work," he wrote, "deserve to fail."

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