Privileges and Prerogatives Granted by Their Catholic Majesties to Christopher Columbus

(1492)

The Privileges and Prerogatives Granted by Their Catholic Majesties to Christopher Columbus was a document issued by the Spanish monarchy to Christopher Columbus in 1492, granting him titles and privileges in connection with his exploration and conquest of the New World. Columbus (1451–1506) was an Italian sailor and navigator who had taken part in voyages on the Mediterranean Sea and along the Atlantic European coast, possibly as far as the Irish coast. His activities aligned with the European quest to find an easy sea route to Asia. The ultimate aim was to have direct access to Asian markets and be able to import spices, silk, and other commodities without the need to cross Turkish-held lands or rely on Arab middlemen.

The Portuguese, especially under Prince Henry the Navigator and King John II, surveyed the shores of Africa, seeking a way around the African continent. Later, in 1488, the Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias would discover the Cape of Good Hope, giving...

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“The Landing of Christopher Columbus" by David Edwin (Yale University Art Gallery)

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