Episode 127: Christopher Columbus: Rape, Slavery and Genocide

On this episode of the Sofa King Podcast, we look back in time at the life and legacy of Christopher Columbus. Once considered a national hero by ignorant Americans, this explorer is actually one of the worst mass-murderers of his age and left a trail of misery and genocide in the wake of his ships. To start with, he operated on the incorrect assumption that he could get to Asia more easily by sailing west from Spain. He spent years trying to convince various royal courts of this to get funding for his expedition, but every royal navigator told him he was wrong. In fact, the measurement of the earth that everyone used was well-established and had been since the second century in Greece.

Eventually, he convinced King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain to fund his trip, and his famous voyage of the Niña, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria set sail in 1492. Thirty-six days later, he landed in the Bahamas, and the world would never be the same again. Seeing flecks of gold on the native Taino and Arawak peoples, he returned to Spain to get more soldiers and return to cash in. When he went back the second time, she started slavery of the native peoples (in spite of the Queen’s desire to not use slavery). Through an era of warfare, slavery, forced labor, starvation, and the spread of disease, he killed potentially millions of natives in the Caribbean and Americas.

And even then, he went back home and lied about his success, leaving his brothers in charge. When the queen finally sent someone to inspect the islands, the brutality and lies about gold and spices got Columbus and his two brothers locked in shackles and sent back to Spain where their titles were taken from them, and their wealth was stripped away.

So how did this man come to get a national holiday named after him? How many people, exactly, did he kill? What good came from the Columbus Exchange? What relative of his started the process of African slavery? Listen, Laugh, Learn.

Our Sponsors