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Two Senses of Making History

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William Nelson

HISA01 Sept. 19 Columbus and the Indies When Columbus looked at the Americas, he “peered through tightly woven filters of expectation from the past.”  Ex. Naming of the „Indies‟. o Thought he‟d found India because he was looking for new trade routes to India and he had no idea that he hadn‟t actually found India. We have our own assumptions and ideas about Columbus. Secret Life of Columbus  Columbus thought the world was round.  In Columbus‟ accounts, he wrote that in the Caribbean Sea, he „saw mermaids‟. o “sighted three mermaids who came quite high out of the water”, judging them “not as pretty as they are depicted, for somehow in the face they look like men”. How did Columbus see mermaids?  Not a huge understanding of biology?  Integrating himself in antiquity?  Drunk? Why did he write that he saw mermaids? At the time, Europe was being influenced by Mandeville’s Travels. In fact the entire image that Europe had of the East was based on this book and the accounts of Marco Polo.  Mandeville‟s account was much more popular than Polo‟s accurate account.  Columbus read both accounts. o It may be that these two books were actually on his ship while he was sailing to the Americas. Mandeville’s Travels:  Published mid-14 century.  Story of an Englishman travelling in the East.  Popularized the idea of circumventing the Earth in a boat.  Helped create an expectation of the East HISA01 Sept. 19 o Mystical beasts o Fabulous, f
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