12 Atrocities Committed By Christopher Columbus

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Christopher Columbus is popularly known as the Italian who created the first landing party of Europe in the Americas. However, on the occasion of Columbus Day, we wish to share some of the most horrendous horrors committed by Columbus on America’s indigenous people, from rape to pillage. The following list speaks of Christopher Columbus and his atrocities. 

1. Christopher Columbus caught hold of a Carib woman and gave her away to rape

According to Bergreen, who quoted Michele de Cuneo, a participant in Columbus’ second expedition to the Americas, Christopher imprisoned a beautiful Carib woman on the boat. Even though she showed reluctance, he attempted to satisfy his desire. Additionally, he used to whip her with a rope and spoke about her “incredible” screams. He also mentions that Columbus thought she studied in a “school for whores”.

A picture of Christopher Columbus' Portrait
Christopher Columbus

2. Almost 200 Indians died a painful death in the Atlantic ocean

Columbus seized thousands of Indians. He let 400 of them go and condemned 500 to be sent to Spain. Additionally, he employed 600 of them as slaves for the Spanish on the island. Out of the 500 Indians shipped to Spain, 200 were thrown out of the ship by the invaders and died in the Atlantic ocean.

3. Columbus ordered to cut off the ears of the natives who did not comply with him

After attacking over 2000 Indians, Columbus ordered his crew member, Alonso de Ojeda, to publicly behead three Indian leaders. Ojeda then ordered his men to cut off the ears of the Indians in a nearby village if they did not comply with them.

A painting of the Queen of Spain and Columbus
The Queen of Spain and Columbus

4. His army didn’t even untie the beheaded Indians

Benjamin Keen, a historian who studied the Americas’ conquest by the Spanish, says that they chained several Indian carriers’ necks. Moreover, the Spaniards beheaded them and didn’t even bother to untie them later.

5. They killed innocent natives for “fun”

Columbus and his army did not hesitate to slice bodies of the Indians into tens and twenties. The cruel reason they did this was to check the sharpness of their blades and swords. Another instance of their cruelty was that one day, they met two Indian boys carrying parrots. They took away the parrots for fun and beheaded the boys.

6. The invaders cut off the Indians’ hands if they didn’t bring gold

Columbus craved for both slaves and gold from Cicao on Haiti. His team ordered the natives to collect gold from there every three months. Whoever failed to do so would face severe consequences, such as their hands being brutally cut off! However, the natives barely found any gold making it a hard task. Additionally, they only found small dust of gold in the streams. 

A picture of the Christopher Columbus Monument in Baltimore
Christopher Columbus Monument in Baltimore

7. Columbus ordered the natives to wear a symbol of shame on their necks

Columbus ordered every Indian over the age of 14 to give the Spanish a large amount of gold. Failure to do so would result in their execution. If the regions didn’t own much gold, they were to give cotton instead. As part of the system, the Indians had to wear a stamped brass or copper token around their necks, which became a symbol of shame.

A picture of A statue of Columbus
A statue of Columbus

8. Several Indians committed mass suicides

At first, the Indians decided to fight the invaders; however, they couldn’t match the Europeans’ fighting force. Hence, they resorted to the last measure – mass suicides. The situation became so horrific that the Indians destroyed their shops so both themselves and the invaders wouldn’t eat the bread. They jumped off cliffs, poisoned and starved themselves to death to not have to comply with Columbus’ system. As the Spanish took hold of everything that they had, the Indians could not tend to their fields and provide care to the children, sick and elderly. So, to avoid any more sorrow and sharing of land and women with the Christians, they committed mass suicides.

9. The population of natives dropped from 300,000 to 500

Although the population count is not precise, an estimate of 300,000 Indians lived in Hispaniola in 1442. Between 1494 and 1496, around 100,000 of them lost their lives to mass suicides. By 1508, the population came down to almost 60,000 and by 1548, it was just around 500. Some Indians fled to the mountains; however, Columbus’ troops sent dogs to track them down.

A picture showing The arrival of Christopher Columbus to America, 1492
The arrival of Christopher Columbus to America, 1492

10. Columbus would sell young girls into sexual slavery

In a letter to Doña Juana de la Torre, an acquaintance of the Queen of Spain, Columbus admitted to having sold young girls as young as nine and ten into sexual slavery.  

11. He tortured the Spanish too and would order tongues to be chopped off

The atrocities of Columbus were not just limited to the Caribs and the Indians; he was brutal to the Spanish as well. He ordered at least a dozen of them to be whipped in public, bound together by feet and tied by the neck when they traded gold so as to feed themselves. During one instance, a woman’s tongue was chopped off for speaking badly about the Admiral and his brothers. Another was stripped, placed on the back of a donkey and whipped for faking her pregnancy. Moreover, when the Spaniards stole bread, they were hanged.

12. They whipped men for silly mistakes

Columbus and his crew gave out harsh punishments for silly mistakes, some punishments included chopping off ears and noses and being whipped and banished from the island. In one instance, a cabin boy’s hand was nailed in public for pulling a trap from the river to catch fish. In another one, inhabitants were beaten up for minor wrongdoings. Moreover, Columbus would order a hundred lashes for lying and stealing sheep. In another harsh instance, a man named Juan Moreno got a 100 whippings for not getting enough food from the pantry.

Enjoyed the above article? You may also enjoy 26 Fun Facts about the famous Norse explorer Leif Erikson



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