Here's a mnemonic rhyme sent by Barbara Martin (9/00) for recalling the year that the Italian explorer Christopher Columbus "discovered" the Americas for Spain:

" In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue. "

Christopher Columbus (or Christobal Colon) commanded the first known crossing of the Atlantic Ocean in 1492, and discovered the New World. He was a Genoese navigator who persuaded Queen Isabella of Spain to finance an expedition in search of a westward route to the "Indies", the Indian ports and islands of the far east.

In the 1400s Europe relied heavily on great quantities of spices imported overland at great expense from the Spice Islands (now the Moluccas) for preserving and flavouring meat in winter. On August 3rd 1492 Columbus set sail with the small flagship Santa Maria and two other vessels, and within discovered a new group of islands which he called the Indies (now the West Indies), believing them to be his goal.

Columbus also discovered Trinidad and the South American mainland on his third voyage in 1498 but never realised he had found a whole new continent, even after Amerigo Vespucci explored the coast of Brazil and reported that this must be so in 1502, four years before Columbus died. A German map-maker then named the new continent America in 1507 after Amerigo as the "discoverer".


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