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tv   [untitled]    May 31, 2012 11:00pm-11:30pm EDT

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small. nonetheless for spain there's something in it for them here. if they can outmaneuver their portuguese rivals and get to the east, that's something they're very interested in. however, at this particular moment, 1491, 1492 the spanish have something else that is consuming them at this particular moment. king ferdinand, queen is beabel are concerned about what? spain has been at war with the moores with hundreds of years. hundreds of years. the moores conquered the iberian peninsula, and then gradually the various christian kingdoms on the ebeiberian pushed the mos back and back and back until by the late 15th century, 1492, the
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moores are confined to only one kingdom in the south of spain. grena grenada. this is the end of what's called the red conquista. the spanish crown, ferdinand and isabella, want to finish this story. they need to finish this. they tell columbus, our brother, the moment is not propicious. we're not saying no. and then what happens wyatt? >> well, he's back on the drawing board. >> not columbus. what happens in spain? >> in spain? >> in 1492. >> they finally reconquer the iberian peninsula. >> yeah, yeah. the fall of grenada marks the end of this centuries, centuries
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long struggle. here's spain now sort of riding hi high, conquered the iberian peninsula. this strong sense, this urge, missionary zeal. this militant catholicism that infused the country. the opportunity to thrust out to get to china, the sort of thing that columbus offers, is very aattractive. it fits into the skiky of the nation at that time. it fits into the political and strategic motives of ferdinand and isabella, vis-a-vis the portuguese rivals. if this italian navigator can find a route to the east we can dominate, good news. and so columbus is called back. i love this painting. isabella looks somewhat
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disinterested in all of this. looks like she's half asleep. ferdinand looks like he's looking at the ceiling. here's columbus, again, we don't know what he really looked like, but as good as any, making his pitch. ferdinand and isabella agree to support his venture. she didn't have to pawn her jewels. queen isabella did not have to pawn her jewels to finance this expedition. columbus is given a contract by the crown. he will be admiral of the ocean seas and vicviceroy of all the lands he discovered. he would be admiral of ocean seas and viceroy of all the land he discovers. they didn't know what they were giving away. they tell columbus, we want you
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to go to the port of palos, which is in southern spain. again, for reasons they're not quite clear, it would seem that the people of palos had done something to offend ferdinand and isabella and they were being punished. the way to punish the people of palos was to force the community to give columbus three ships. that was the punishment, three ships that he would use for his voyage. so columbus goes to the port and makes arrangements. well, think. fellow shows up in town, the italian fellow, speaking spanish but i suspect it might not have been the best spanish. now he recruits a crew for three ships. where are you going? oh, i'm sailing out on a vast ocean there to get to the east.
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has anyone done this before? no. have you done it before? >> no, no. there wasn't a line to sign up. people weren't rushing to sign on board columbus's ships. so columbus turned to get some local help. he got local help from the pinzon brothers, the pinzon brothers. you they were sort of ship brokers, personnel recruiters, whatever you wanted to describe to them. they're the locals, so it's the pinzon brothers that help columbus recruit his crew and prepare his ships for the voyage. columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492 with sailing ships that numbered three, the anyonina, w
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pinta, the santa marie. maybe sort of. not quite. the nina and the pinta were small caravelles, the kind we saw a few moments ago. the santa maria was a carak, which is a larger vessel. here you see the santa maria and in the misty background the nina and the pinta. this is a very romantic view of the departure of christopher columbus. whether it was as ceremonial as this, who knows. it might have been get on board and get out. this indicates some great ceremony at which this admiral of the ocean sea with his three vessels is now bound for the indies. columbus had a view of the world that if he sailed to the canary
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islands, just off the coast of spain, portugal, and then headed due west he would bump into japan in about 2400 miles. that was his estimate. if you look at a globe, if you look at the latitude -- we talked about latitude the other day -- that the latitude of the canary islands in the atlantic and the latitude of the japanese islands in the pacific within a few degrees are roughly comparable. we have a couple degrees difference, but roughly comparable. from that point of view, columbus probably had a decent idea. i'll go to the canary islands, i'll pick up the latitude. remember, he can measure latitude with his astrolade. he figures if he goes to the canary islands and picks up that attitude and sort of head west,
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2400 miles later i'll bump into japan. that's the plan. he leaves palos the 2nd of august and does, indeed, sail with his vessels to the canary islands. they're at the canaries and they take on more stores, freshwater, et cetera, and then they begin to head west along the latitude that columbus feels would bring him to japan. well, the voyage takes -- they're at sea for about five weeks, which might seem a long time to us, but in this age and in the 15th century, a five-week voyage was not all that far. what do you think the crew is most nervous about sailing west? if you were aboard, what would you be most nervous about as a crew member sailing west? >> maybe weather, unexpected weather. >> weather is pretty good, though. columbus -- we'll come back to that in a moment. weather is not bad.
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>> not finding land. >> not finding land would be a problem. >> encountering over civilizations. >> think in the very simple, simple concerns of a sailor? >> the exact location, how did he know where he was? >> good question there, how did columbus know where he was? remember, we talked about latitude and how they measured latitude. the inability to really get any kind of real fix on longitude, so what columbus did is estimated everything, used that hourglass, turning the hourglass to measure time and the length of how far the vessel moved that length of time. that's how he did it. very crude and quite wrong. when you look at columbus's log, his log is quite wrong. quite wrong. so he didn't really know where he was except for the latitude. so he wasn't there. what would -- what would you worry about? >> rough waters. >> rough waters.
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>> coming home. >> coming home. we talked about this with the portuguese going down to africa. this is great. what a great day for sailing. wow, great. then we have to come home, and that's what they worried about. every day the farther they went, the farther to go home. that was their concern. then the crew began to murmur, began to murmur. well, fortunately, fortunately columbus continued on. he was if not the world's best navigator, he was certainly a courageous seaman, and this is columbus aat the rail of santa maria. this might look familiar to you. this painting look familiar to you? how about that face? >> is that george washington? >> yes, that's george washington. this is columbus crossing the delaware. this particular artist, you know, who else columbus, must have looked like washington.
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yes, it's washington crossing the delaware or columbus crossing the atlantic. take your pick. in any case, he's a brave and persistent sailor and a good commander. a good commander. he keeps order among his men and among the three vessels under his command. here you see the first voyage. he makes four voyages. the first voyage was at the top here in the yellow. sailing west. boy, was columbus lucky. he's sailing in august and september across this part of the world that's not quite the south atlantic. what does columbus avoid? he's blessed. hurricanes. think about it. he didn't know. columbus didn't know it was the hurricane season, but he sailed in the hurricane season. no hurricanes, at least he didn't encounter any. very lucky.
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there's another wise thing, too. as they're sailing west they begin to see stuff in the water. again, birds occasionally, so like the vikings, they said, well, it there must be land somewhere near. columbus is on a course nearly due west. due west. then he decides, because he has seen stuff in the water, that seems to come coming up from the south, so he veers course. instead of heading due west, he veers slightly to the south. that's a great move, too, even though he doesn't know it. what might have happened had columbus continued on a due west course? what would he have encounted that probably would have caused him some difficulty? >> new civilization. >> what's the great river that flowed out of the gulf of mexico and up along the coast, the gulfstream.
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the gulfstream is a powerful body of water. if columbus continued on the western coast he would have bumped into the gulfstream and his veefls would not encountered the gulfstream. he would have went up north past bermuda and if he was lucky, probably back to europe. by turning south, making that alteration in course, of course, he avoided the gulfstream. on the night of october 11th, the lookout and santa maria calls down to the deck, tiara, tiara, land, land. he had seen apparently some distant fire or something like that. the next morning october 12th columbus is on deck. he sees land, and he had offered -- the queen and king
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offer aed a prize to the first person to sight land. columbus then asserts it's me. the lookout last night was seeing something imaginary. i saw land. nlts the most generous fellow, but it is oblctober 12th, colums day, and there is land. there is land. it is one of the great moments in history. do you have a question? guess what? columbus had estimated that he had sailed how many miles from the canaries at this point? >> 2,000. >> yep, roughly 2400 miles. he was on the right latitude. it's got to be japan. it has to be the outlying islands of the indianes becauset fits my calculations. right latitude and distance, it's the indies. an incredible moment in world
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history. completely misunderstood by those participating. by an incredible moment, and then comes the landing of course. i love all the depictions of columbus landing. you can imagine swords and decorations whim be worn. put auto your fanciest one. the vessel is off there coming ashore columbus claiming their land for the majesties for ferdinand and isabella. they're holding the flag. the men in prayer. this is one of my favorites. i don't know if you have been to the bahamas, the rockbound coast of the bahamas. there aren't any rocks in the bahamas, but here is columbus stumbling ashore amidst all the rocks. >> is that why he called the natives the indians, because he thought he was in the indies? >> precisely. the peoples that he encounters now, he calls them indians, because we're in the indies.
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>> had he been to japan prior to in? >> no, not as far as we know. i'm pretty sure about this. had never been in asia, never. unlike the portuguese. some of the portuguese had certainly, but columbus had not. >> he assumed it was 2400 miles away. >> that was his calculations, you know. that's what i calculated on the chart, 2400 miles. because he shrank the size of the globe and knew nothing about north america or latin america it seemed to him perfectly -- here it was confirmed. i'm here, i'm here. this is my favorite, of course. here is columbus with all the pink flamingos flying around, and by the way, here he is in -- he looks don quioxe to me. you catch the flavor of all the depictions of this really phenomenal moment.
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here's one that's mystical, the mystery of christopher columbus. well, columbus on his first voyage now sails about. he goes from island to island now, and every place he goes he does encounter native peoples. as he encounters these native people, he inquires of them. you can imagine the difficulty in communication. many of these native peoples have small, gold ornaments. just trifling little things. when the spaniards see gold, it immediately flashing into their minds that we have discovered this immense potential rich civilization. truth the matter was that the gold they saw among the natives were gold traded from the mainland frshgs the mexican platts toe, but it took generations for the gold trinkets -- there wasn't a gold mine over the next hill.
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of course, whenever columbus or his associates would ask the natives in how they would do it where did these riching come from, the answer was always the next village over. they were always anxious about it. you want to go to the next village over. as they went to the next village over, it was disappointment upon disappointment. they didn't find the great con. they didn't find people speaking chinese. they didn't see the fine silks and tees, everything they were looking for. none of it. none of it. on christmas day 1492, the santa maria is shipwrecked on the island of hispaniola on the northern coast of the island of hispaniola. columbus puts the crew of the santa maria ashore and tells them, establish a town. we'll be back for you. the town becomes known as navidad, christmas. columbus with the nina and pinta
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returns to spain. this is columbus returning to spain to visit the court. ferdinand and isabella receiving their admiral of the ocean seas. this is columbus's greatest moment, his greatest moment, because it is at this moment that everyone believes he's found the route to the east. now, it's a little disappointing, of course, when he brings back coconuts and rare tropical birds and kidnapped a few natives. don't worry. send me back. send me back, and i'll find the court of the great khan. columbus makes a second voyage. on his second voyage he returns again, but this is a little disappointing now. wait a minute, you've been out there twice now, and he comes back and you still haven't given us any evidence that you have
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discovered the route to the east. again, tropical birds and exotic plants and that sort of thing. where's the gold? where's the silk? columbus is begin a coat of arms for his accomplishments. this is the coat of arms. the lion on the ramparts and the anchors to symbolize his sea-going and the islands, the indies. christopher columbus, admiral of the ocean sea. he goes on a third voyage. getting a little frustrating now. takes his young son diego with him on the third voyage. explores more. he's setting footd on other islands. in fact, by this time he set foot roughly on the coast of venezuela. columbus has set foot in the western hemisphere, not just the islands of cuba and hispaniola. again, the results are very disappointing. very, very disappointing.
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he'll make a fourth voyage, and then he'll return with more charts and more islands. there's no evidence at all. what is this, people ask. what this that columbus has found? they're not sure. at this point they're simply not sure. they want to believe it's the islands off the coast of japan and china. the evidence is getting pretty slim. he doesn't make his last voyage. he retires to a monastery. he's a man really in disgrace. great hopes, great plans but at this point nothing, very little. very, very little. he firmly believes he's found the route to the indies.
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columbus dies in 1506, a broken, unhappy mangin feeling somehow he has failed and others think he has failed as well. when he dies in 1506, he's buried in the city in italy. some years later his son, diego, who had been made governor of the island of hispaniola, thinks that his father's remains should be removed to hispaniola, to the city of santo domingo today in the dominican republic. columbus's remains are moved to the cathedral there and on it. in 1795 in one of those european treaties, the islands of santo
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domingo is turned over to the french. well, we don't want a spanish hero, even though he's italian, buried on french territory, do we? so they exhume the body and move columbus to havana. well, that's good to about 100 years until 1898. okay? the cuban revolution, spanish american war and cuba becomes a free country. well, you can't have columbus in havana, can we? no. so they exhume him again and move him to saville. this is the tomb of columbus in saville buried in great pomp and grand dur. aah, but wait a minute. did we get the right guy? in an archaeological dig around
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the cathedral in santo domingo, archaeologists find a box. it's labeled, columbus. this isn't good. this isn't good. so this controversy now, this big controversy in santo domingo that erected this monument lighthouse. this is where they now claim columbus is buried, because that box is asserted that when they exhumed the body in 1795 they got the wrong guy. what do you think we do in the 21st century to settle this argument? we all watch "csi." what do we do? is this or is this not christopher columbus? >> dna test. >> of course, dna. the solution to everything. we do have the remains -- we know where the remains of his family are, some of his sons to
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get accurate information. they do a dna analysis with the remit nants of the body, the remains in saville. turns out that in saville it would appear to be columbus, the dna. the authorities in the dominican republic have yet to permit a dna analysis of the remans here. so they still assert that's where columbus is. so you have your choice. saville or santo domingo, where is christopher columbus buried? ? given all the things he did and didn't do that even in death, even in death columbus is a mysterious figure. good-looking guy here. columbus, 1492, we know today
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has found the route to north america, and that wasn't his goal. this guy achieves his goal. this is an explorer. he looks pretty ferocious. i don't think i'd want to sail under his command. in 1498, following that portuguese route down along the coast of africa, round the tip of cape of good hope into the indian ocean, he reaches india in 1498. he finds the water route to the east and begins the great development of the portuguese empire in the east. what about columbus? what's he done? well, we don't really know that for certain until 1519-20 when
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this fellow, portuguese, ferdinand sets sail sets sail, passes under latin america through the straits that bear his name today, straights of ma gel lan. sails through the straights of ma gel lan into the pacific ocean. it's a vast oceanic world. it is ma gel lan who crosses the pacific, rises in the philippines. in the philippines is an endounter with native people and ma gel lan is actually killed in the philippines chls but his crew and his ship continue their voyage and get home. it is magellan's voyage that establishes now, oh, my heavens,
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it's a new world. it's not part of china. it's not part of asia. it is, in fact, a new world. it is magellan or his men who establish that dlum bus has, in fact, accomplished an extraordinary feat. highw how do we emphasize how to change the world? that becomes known now. columbus died 13 years before completely unaaware what he accomplished and feeling himself to be a failure. by 1500 others have come in now, spanish, the island of hispaniola and cuba, puerto rico, more spanish are coming. you see here is the difference between columbus and the vikings. people knew what columbus had done and people came after him.
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one of the things to consider that in columbus's world that they had in the world that they didn't have in the world of vikings to spread information, what's the most effective method that they had to spread information that the vikings didn't have, what is it? not the internet. bha? what was available in 1500 in the year 1,000 that could spread information? >> printing? >> printing, gutenberg. remember that? yes. think about that. we think of books today so ordinary. everything is online, but the point is now information can spread very rapidly, relatively rapidly, and it does. so columbus's experience now is shared, and here you see -- the spanish have yet by 1500 have yet to get to the mainland. that will come later, but they're probing about,


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