CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS is a hero to some, a villain to others, and the rightness or wrongness of what he accomplished, of what he began but could never have foreseen, will always be left to the differing judgments of those whose lives he enhanced and those whom he made miserable. Can we expect a Jew who has escaped Europe's pogroms, or a southern Italian who has found relief in America from the crushing poverty of the hill towns, to have real empathy with the Indian whose ancestors were extirpated to make salvation possible? And with what, other than bitterness, can the Indian look upon the successes of the Italian or the Jew? The legacy of Columbus is one of triumph and tragedy, and no one will ever sort one from the other to universal satisfaction. - From 'Columbus and the Age of Discovery'
IT is falsely supposed that one purpose, and certainly one result, of Columbus's voyage was to prove to medieval, European skeptics that the earth was round. In reality there were no skeptics. All educated people throughout Europe knew the earth's spherical shape and its approximate circumference. This fact has been well established by historians for more than half a century.... The courage of the rationalist confronted by the crushing weight of tradition and its cruel institutions of repression is appea ling, exciting - and baseless.
- From 'Inventing the Flat Earth: Columbus and Modern Historians'
ALL except tiny Portugal conceived their struggles as lying within Europe, where every acre of contested land was deemed to be worth a battle. Yet continents could be secured by the daring of a single intrepid individual. A dozen explorers won the world for rulers who themselves perspired over trivial sovereignties within this imperiled Christian promontory hanging over the ledge of Asia.
- From '1492: The Decline of Medievalism and the Rise of the Modern Age'
LOOKING back on the Spanish incursion, we can take the measure of the horror and assert that we will not be bound by it. We can say, yes, this happened, and we are ashamed. We repudiate the greed. We recognize and condemn the evil. And we see how the harm has been perpetuated. But, 500 years later, we intend to mean something else in the world.
- From 'The Rediscovery of North America'