He none the less saved Western Civilization.
From a previous year's post on Christopher Columbus
"The great book Admiral of the Ocean Sea : A Life of Christopher Columbus by Admiral Samuel Eliot Morison describes the situation pre and post-Columbus in Europe as so
At the end of 1492 most men in Western Europe felt exceedingly gloomy about the future. Christian civilization appeared to be shrinking in area and dividing into hostile units as its sphere contracted. For over a century there had been no important advance in natural science and registration in the universities dwindled as the instruction they offered became increasingly jejune and lifeless. Institutions were decaying, well-meaning people were growing cynical or desperate, and many intelligent men, for want of something better to do, were endeavoring to escape the present through studying the pagan past. . . .
Yet, even as the chroniclers of Nuremberg were correcting their proofs from Koberger’s press, a Spanish caravel named Nina scudded before a winter gale into Lisbon with news of a discovery that was to give old Europe another chance. In a few years we find the mental picture completely changed. Strong monarchs are stamping out privy conspiracy and rebellion; the Church, purged and chastened by the Protestant Reformation, puts her house in order; new ideas flare up throughout Italy, France, Germany and the northern nations; faith in God revives and the human spirit is renewed. The change is complete and startling: “A new envisagement of the world has begun, and men are no longer sighing after the imaginary golden age that lay in the distant past, but speculating as to the golden age that might possibly lie in the oncoming future.”
Christopher Columbus belonged to an age that was past, yet he became the sign and symbol of this new age of hope, glory and accomplishment. His medieval faith impelled him to a modern solution: Expansion.Most importantly he ensured Western European ideals, specifically and ironically English-ideals, survived. Ideals of a separation between religion and State (the Catholic states had this compared to Islamic Caliphate and Sultanates where secular and religious offices were one in the same), the rights of individuals apart from being property of the state, and check-and-balances in governments were threatened by the Ottoman horde. Fortunately, New World gold supplied the Hapsburg Empire with enough money to build an army and navy which could stop the Ottomans. Trade of New World goods destroyed the Ottoman's economy which was based on controlling the old trade routes. The stopping of the Ottomans and appeal of New World resources encouraged France, the English, and others to colonize. These colonies brought ideas of freedom to the New World.
Columbus' drive led to the opening of the New World. Western ideals of limited government and personal freedoms grew in the New World. While New World governments have not been perfect, sometimes failing miserably, in putting these ideals into practice, there is a constant drive to make a more perfect system. The New World also led the charge for the establishment of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Meanwhile, the former Ottoman world suffers somewhere between troubled democracy and dictatorship."
Elsewhere, CBS News has a list of five major myths about Christopher Columbus
- Columbus wanted to prove the world was round: The origin of this myth is anti-religious propaganda by Washington Irvin.
- Columbus discovered America: The American Indians and only much later the Vikings get credit for this.
- Columbus introduced syphilis to Europe: The disease already was hitting Europe.
- Columbus died unknown in poverty: He died without what Spain promised him but he was not poor.
- Columbus did nothing significant: Two words- New World.