Even when we have all the potential and ability in the world, we often need the support of others to accomplish our goals.  Without their assistance, we are destined to fail.  Christopher Columbus (before 31 October 1451 – 20 May 1506), who was a self-educated man, had a dream of sailing to the Atlantic to search for a Western route to the Orient.  After several failed attempts to get a sponsor.  Queen Isabella I and King Ferdinand finally financed Columbus voyage in April 1492.  On October 12, 1492, he made landfall in the Americas and landed in an island in the Bahamas.  For his successful voyage and discovery of America, some of us celebrate Columbus Day.  This October 12th will mark the 526th anniversary of Columbus discovery of America.

Not only was Columbus an experienced sailor, he was also a learned man.  Columbus taught himself Latin, Portuguese and Castilian.  He also read books about astronomy, geography and history.  With his knowledge, he was ready to advance his career as a maritime explorer.

Since he was ambitious, he was now ready to make his greatest and riskiest journey.  All he needed was financial support.  In 1485, Columbus discussed his plans with King John II of Portugal.  He wanted King John to give him three strong ships, so he could search for a western route to the Orient.  Unfortunately, King John rejected his proposal.  In 1488, he tried again to convince King John to sponsor his journey.  Unfortunately, his attempts were in vain.  He even traveled to his native homeland of Italy to the provinces of Genoa and Venice, but they did not grant his wishes either.

As a tenacious man, Columbus did not give up hope.  He asked the monarchs Ferdinand I and Isabella I of Castile for financial support to make his voyage.  Even though they rejected him, they still supported his proposal.  The Spanish royals even gave him an allowance.  In 1489, the Spanish monarchs wrote a letter that mandated all cities and towns, under their domain, to give Columbus free food and free lodging.

In April 1492, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella I gave Columbus financial support for his voyage.  If he was successful, he would receive benefits from the Spanish royals.  Under the “Capitulations of Santa Fe,” King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella promised Columbus that he would receive the rank of Admiral of the Ocean Sea.  He would also become Viceroy and Governor of all the new territories that he could claim for Spain.

When Columbus sailed with the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria, some people thought that the Earth was flat and that Columbus would fall when he got to the edge.   However, educated men knew that the Earth was round.

Columbus 1492 voyage was a dangerous one, but he had all the courage and experience to help him survive and succeed.  The “easterlies,” which are trade winds, pushed Columbus ships for five weeks from the Canary Islands to the Bahamas.  On October 12, 1492, he discovered America.  Even with his victory, now he faced the difficult task of getting back home to Spain.  The trade winds, known as, the “westerlies”, curved southward towards the Iberian Peninsula.  These winds helped Columbus return to Spain safely.  By sailing during hurricane season, God certainly blessed Columbus expedition.  If he would have reached a lack of wind or a tropical cyclone, his voyage would have been a disaster.

When he came back to Spain in 1493, he showed King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella that his journey was indeed successful.  More than just a maritime explorer, now he was a distinguished man.  He was awarded with the title of Admiral of the Ocean Sea.  He also became the first Governor of the Indies from 1492 to 1499.

After his discovery of America in 1492, Columbus made three other successful journeys.  He was responsible for the earliest European expeditions to the Caribbean, Central America and South America.  These journeys led to the permanent colonization of Europeans in the Americas.

For his discoveries, Columbus has received worldwide recognition.  In Spain, Columbus Day is called, “Fiesta Nacional de Espana y Dia de la Hispanidad. In Latin America, it is named, “Dia de la Raza.”  In the United States, Columbus Day is celebrated the second Monday in October.  All across America, there are many statues honoring Columbus and the legacy that he left us.

Queen Isabella I of Castile is pictured above. [Featured image by Luis de Madrazo (1825-1897) /Wikimedia Commons]

 Queen Isabella I also left us a legacy, but she has never received the recognition of Christopher Columbus.  As a lady ahead of her time, she aided Columbus voyage that led to his discovery of America.  Like Columbus, she was also courageous and one of the greatest leaders Spain has ever known.

Queen Isabella I (born April 22, 1451 died November 26, 1504) was the Queen of Castile from 1474 until her death.  The union of Queen Isabella and her husband Ferdinand II united various provinces in the Iberian Peninsula.  They both ruled the kingdoms well together.

As a powerful lady, Isabella had her own voice and ideas that transformed Spain into a strong nation.  When she came to the throne in 1474, Henry IV, her brother, had left Spain in debt due to his lavish spending.  He also did not implement the laws of the kingdom.

In addition to eradicating Spain’s debt by making the affluent pay their fair share of taxes, she also appointed a police force, La Santa Hermandad (The Holy Brotherhood) top the crown.  It was the first time the royals used a police force in Spain.  They restored order to Spain and punished the criminals.

Not feeling superior to the people even though they held a royal title, Isabella and Ferdinand held meetings for the people every Friday. Citizens would come with their complaints.  They would resolve the matters in a civilized way.

Born to take risks, Queen Isabella I approved Columbus 1492 voyage.  The chance that she took empowered Spain.  Columbus discoveries made Spain lead Europe and many parts of the world for more than a century.  For serving the Lord as well as her homeland, the Vatican gave her the title, “Servant of God” in March 1974.

When I think about Columbus Day, I also feel that the legacy of Queen Isabella I should be honored as well.  There are many statues of Columbus here in America, but there are no statues of Isabella.  While I am proud to have 38% ancestry from Europe South, that includes some Italian heritage, I feel that 33% of my ancestry from the Iberian Peninsula should also be a part of the Columbus Day celebrations.  By believing in Columbus, when other monarchs did not, Queen Isabella I also opened the doors to the New World.