Summary of Discoveries made by the Spaniards and Portuguese, from the Era of Columbus, in 1492, to the year 1555.
In the year 1492, when Don Ferdinand king of Castile was engaged in the siege of Granada, he sent one Christopher Columbus, a Genoese, with three ships, for the discovery of Nova Spagna. This Columbus had first offered his service lot a western discovery to John king of Portugal, who refused to employ him. Being sufficiently furnished for his enterprize, Columbus set out from the town of Palos on the third of August 1492, having with him, as captains and pilots, Martin Alionzo Pinzon, Francis Martinez Pinzori, Vincent Yannes Pinzon, and Bartholomew Columbus his brother with an hundred and twenty other persons in the three ships. Some persons affirm, that this was the first voyage which was ever conducted by the observation of latitudes. They took the Canaries in their way, whence shaping their course for Cipango, or towards Japan, they were much amazed to find the sea all full of weeds, and with great fear arrived at the Antilles on the tenth day of October; the first island they descried, called Guanahany by the natives, they named San Salvador. This island is in 25 deg. N. latitude. After that they found many islands, which they called the Princes. The savages of those parts call these islands by the name of Lucaios, having indeed several names for them, and they stand on the north side of the line, almost under the tropic of Cancer. The island of St James, or Jamaica, lies between the 16th and 17th degrees of northern latitude. Thence they went to the island which the natives call Cuba, named Ferdinando by the Spaniards, after the king, which is in 22 degrees; from whence they were conducted by the Indians to another island called Hayti, named Isabella by the Spaniards, in honour of the queen of Castile, and afterwards Hispaniola, or Little Spain.
In that island the admirals ship was wrecked, and Columbus caused a fort to be constructed of her timbers and planks, in which he left Roderigo de Arana with a garrison of thirty-eight men, to learn the language and customs of the country. Columbus then returned to Spain, carrying with him samples of gold and pearls, and other productions of the country, with ten Indians, six of whom died on the voyage; the rest were brought to Spain and baptized. On their way home, Columbus touched at the Acores; and on the fourth of March 1493, entered the port of Lisbon. This discovery gave much discontent to the king of Portugal. Immediately on his arrival, Columbus went into Castile, where he informed the king of his discoveries and of the dissatisfaction of the king of Portugal. On this he and his queen Isabella sent word of the recent discovery to Pope Alexander VI, at which information he and all the Italians were much astonished, as they marvelled that there should be any land besides what had been known to the Romans. Alexander made a grant of all these countries to the crowns of Castile and Leon, under condition that they should labour to extirpate idolatry, and establish the holy faith of Christ among the natives.