Columbus Day marks the annual remembrance of
Christopher Columbus’s voyage to open east-west trade
routes. As the day is observed, the diversity behind the
voyage’s success is often overlooked.
Arranging for the voyage was a long process for Columbus
as he tried to find funding in Portugal, Italy, and Spain. The
journey was planned by a committee in Lisbon, Portugal.
Led by Joseph Diego Mendes Vezinho, a Jewish scientist
that later converted to Christianity, a nautical plan was
developed using newly created star charts and maps
developed by Muslim navigators.
Man other cultures helped with the trip. Columbus sought
finances from several sources eventually finding success
with King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain. They did
not agree to fund the trip until Luis de Santangel developed a
successful plan. King Ferdinand had ordered all Jews and
Muslims convert to Catholicism or leave Spanish soil.
Santangel, a Jew, converted under this decree. He
compiled the funds using an endowment, uncollected
penalties owed by the City of Palos, and his own personal
funds. The monarchy agreed as it involved little of their own
With the plan, maps, and funds in hand, Columbus still
needed a hand with the navigation. The most expert of all
navigators at the time were the Muslim people. Ibn Battutah
had invented the sextant in the prior century, which had
proved to be extremely successful in all forms of navigation.
Its use by the Muslim navigators gave Columbus the tool and
knowledge of its use to stay on course for his journey.
The synergy of cultures and people that made the initial trade
journey to North America possible is a viable force today that
opens doors to success of equal impact to Columbus’s
historical trip. As nations and religions came together then,
nations and religions are coming together today to provide
successes in health care, industry, technology, and many
other vital areas.
Inspirational stories are great to illustrate many
points in workshops, coaching sessions, or during
personal reflection. To see more inspiration, click
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