Home » History » How Did Christopher Columbus Frighten the Indigenous People of Jamaica?

How Did Christopher Columbus Frighten the Indigenous People of Jamaica?

Recognized either as a hero or a villain, Christopher Columbus remains one of the most notorious explorers up to this date. When he arrived in Jamaica, Christopher Columbus had found himself using his advanced knowledge of astronomy to fool the local natives. 

When Christopher Columbus and his men became stranded in Jamaica, Columbus used the incoming lunar eclipse to frighten the natives and their leader into providing food for them. 

The Beginning of Christopher Columbus’ Ventures

Long labeled by American schoolbooks as a heroic and celebrated explorer, the mention of Christopher Columbus triggers numerous debates regarding his role in history. Untruthfully recognized as the first discoverer of the New World of the Americas, Columbus was significant in opening-up America to Europe. 

Before his expeditions, the Asian islands near China and India already intrigued Columbus. As these unknown places were famous for their gold and spices, they became an attractive destination for Europeans.

During that time, Muslims and their control of trade routes through the Middle East made venturing difficult. Columbus took on the challenge and conceived a way to sail west across the Atlantic to reach the rich Asian islands. He thought of the Earth as a sphere and estimated the distance between the Canary Islands and Japan to be not less than 2,500 miles, but in reality, it was 12,200 statute miles.

Many nautical experts disagreed with Columbus on distance, but despite that, they all agreed that voyaging westward from Europe would be an uninterrupted water route. With that, Columbus lobbied European monarchs to fund his expensive venture for nearly ten years.

From the years 1492 to 1504, Columbus made four voyages to the Caribbean and South America. (Source: Biography

Christopher Columbus and His Savior, the Lunar Eclipse

Columbus spent the majority of 1502 traveling the coasts of Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama. And by the end of June 1503, Columbus eventually reached Jamaica. Columbus and his crew of men remained stuck in Jamaica for a year as Hispaniola’s governor made no effort to save him.

The natives were very hospitable, but when Columbus’ sailors started to steal and cheat them, they rightfully became mad and hindered the food supply they were providing for Columbus and his men.

Columbus read Abraham Zacuto’s astronomy almanac he brought with him and noted the appearance of a lunar eclipse occurring on February 29, 1504. From there, he strode over to the tribal leader and warned him that God was angry with the indigenous peoples’ treatment of Columbus. Columbus stated that God would make his anger evident in the sky by making the full moon inflamed with wrath.

Christopher Columbus’ sneaky trick worked. When the natives saw the eclipse, they immediately provided Columbus with fresh provisions, pleading with him to pray to his God for protection. Columbus entered his ship’s cabin to pretend to pray. When totality was approaching its end, Columbus then stated that his God had forgiven them, and the moon soon started to reappear.

The indigenous people cared for Columbus and his crew for many months until their rescue. (Source: Journey Homeschool Academy

Leave a Comment