Christopher Columbus Question and Answers

Christopher Columbus

Revealing the Existence of the Americas to Europe

Vocabulary Development:

As you read the text, record five words you do not understand.  Below, write the word, the definition that goes along with it, and the sentence it was used with in the text.

Word Definition Sentence from the Text
Knots A unit used for measuring speed for sailing. “ Wednesday 10 October, Saild WSW at about eight knots…”
Leagues A unit of measurement “…Sixty-two and a half leagues in twenty-four hours…”
Pinta The name of a ship “On the Pinta…”
Indies The Land of India “… having set out for the Indies…”
Maravedis A currency “…10,000 maravedis promised by Your Majesties.”


Comprehension Questions

Answer the following questions below.  You do not have to answer these in complete sentences; bullet format is fine.

Question Answer
1 Where was Columbus heading?
  • Asia – India/China
2 What signs did they have on October 11 that they were nearing land?
  • A cane
  • a stick
  • a piece of wood which seemed to have been worked with an iron tool
  • piece of cane
  • a plant that grows on land
  • a little board
  • thorn-branch filled with red fruits freshly cut


3 What did Columbus promise the first man to see land?
  • Silk doublet
  • 10,000 maravedis
4 Which of Columbus’ ships spotted land first?
  • The Pinta


5 What flags or banners did the crew carry onto the island first?
  • Green crossed banners with the letters F and Y on them.


6 What did the Europeans give the islanders?
  • Red bonnets
  • Glass Beads
  • Many other things of small value
7 Describe the physical appearance of the men and women on the island.
  • Naked
  • Looked poor
  • Young
  • Most below thirty
  • Well built
  • Handsome
  • Coarse hair
  • Short hair at front
  • Long hair at back
  • Some painted themselves with
    > Black
    > same color as Canary Islanders
    > White
    > red
    > with whatever color they could find.
  • Some had only face painted
  • Some had whole body painted
  • Some only the eyes and nose
  • About the same size
  • Good stature
  • Dignified
  • Well formed
  • Some had scars
  • Seem like good servants
  • Seem intelligent
  • Tall
  • Large eyes
  • Broad heads
8 Why did Columbus think the islanders were intelligent?
  • They quickly repeat everything said to them


9 How many islanders did he want to take with him?  Why?
  • He wanted to take 6 islanders
  • He thought they would convert to Christianity easily
  • He thought they could learn Spanish
10 How did the islanders travel out to the ship?
  • Using a boat made from a tree trunk


11 What did the island look like geographically?
  • Green
  • No animals
  • Trees
  • flat


12 What kind of animals did Columbus’ men see on the island?
  • Parrots
  • Snakes
  • Wild birds
  • dogs


13 What was the weather like on the island?
  • Tropical
  • Humid
  • Warm
14 On November 6th, what kind of place did the Europeans find?
  • A village
  • 50 houses
  • 1000 inhabitants
  • Houses like big camping tents
15 What did the islander women do to the Europeans?  Why?
  • They came and sat around them
  • Kissing and touching their hands and feet to see if they were flesh and blood
  • Gave cooked roots


Analysis Questions

Answer the following questions using complete sentences.  Use specific examples from the text.  This is practice for your coming summative task.

Question Your Analysis
1 What evidence is there that Columbus was very religious? The evidence that shows that Columbus was very religious is that he believed he could convert the islanders to Christianity and believed he should do it. This can be seen when he writes “I believe they would readily become Christians; it appeared to me that they have no religions. With God’s will, I will take six of them with me for Your Majesties when I Leave this place, so that they may learn Spanish,” in his journal
2 What kind of leader does Columbus seem to be? Columbus was a strong leader who was determined and did not let his crew lose hope in him. He was also a kind and encouraging leader. This can be derived from his journal when he says, “ I encouraged them as best I could, trying to raise their hopes of the benefits they might gain from it. I also told them that it was useless to complain; having set out for the Indies, I shall continue this voyage until, with God’s grace, I reach them.”
3 How did they ‘take possession’ of the land they first found? They put a flag into the ground and had witnesses that say they have taken possession of the land. A testimony was also written that they now owned the land. In his journals, Columbus states “ I called to the two captains to jump ashore with the rest, who included Rodrigo de Escobedo, secretary of the fleet, and Rodrigo Sánchez de Segovia, asking them to bear solemn witness that in the presence of them all I was taking possession of the island for their Lord and Lady the King and Queen, and I made the necessary declarations which are set down at greater length in the written testimonies.”
4 What was Columbus’ main intention with the islanders who he (they) met? His main intentions were to convert them to Christianity and also to make use of them as servants. Columbus says this in his journal “ They must be good servants, and intelligent, for I can see that they quickly repeat everything said to them. I believe they would readily become Christians…”
5 What were Columbus’ first impressions of the character of the islanders? (See the October 11 entry) Columbus thought that the islanders were poor and would prefer friendship with the Europeans rather than being enemies. He also thought they could be converted to Christianity from friendship rather then force. He says in his journal entry of 11th October “ Soon many of the islanders gathered round us. I could see that they were people who would be more easily converted to our Holy Faith by love than by coercion… However the appeared to me to be very poor people in all respects.”
6 In the journal entry for October 14th, what do you think Columbus is most interested in? He is interested in taking resources from the island for the King and Queen. He is also interested in the gold he found some of the natives wearing and wanted to investigate but did not want to waste time so he decided to set sail for the next island.
7 What particularly impresses Columbus about the islands? Something that particularly impresses Columbus are the different colored fish of the island, the beauty of it and also the resources it has to offer.
8 How are the Europeans treated by the islanders? (November 6) The islanders treated the Europeans as someone holy that came from the havens and offered them many things. This can be derived from Columbus’ Journal where he states “The people kept touching them and kissing their hands and feet in amazement, thinking they had come from Heaven, and so they gave them to understand.”



Answer the following questions in one paragraph by using at least three quotations from the text.  Highlight each quotation in your answer so I can easily identify it.

What was Columbus’ attitude toward the islanders?  In other word: How exactly did Columbus view the islanders?  Did they impress him?  Does he respect them?  Is the critical of them?  What are his motives for being there? 

Columbus’ attitude to the islanders is friendly so that they can be converted to Christianity. This is also one of his motives for being there. This can be seen when he states in his journal “ I could see that they were people who would be more easily converted to our Holy Faith by love then coercion.” They also impress him because he says, “ They must be good servants, and intelligent, for I can see that they quickly repeat everything said to them.” The fact that he thinks they are intelligent shows that he is impressed with them. But he also says “ They must be good servants…” and this shows that he thinks lowly of them and doesn’t think they have the right to be equals with the Europeans.

 Columbus perceived the Native Americans by…


Columbus perceived the Native Americans as intelligent people who were not as advanced as the Europeans and so thought they were different then them. He thought they were lower then the Europeans and would make good servants because in his journal he states, “ They must be good servants…” He also perceived them as uneducated and gullible because they thought the Europeans came from Heaven and they continued to trick the islanders that they did. This can be derived from Columbus’ journal entry when he says, “ The people kept touching them and kissing their hands and feet in amazement, thinking they had come from Heaven, and so they gave them to understand.” Another place where Columbus mentions something like this is when they trade, “ … They even bargained for pieces of broken plate and broken glass. I saw them take three Portuguese ceotis, the equivalent one Castilian Blanca, for sixteen balls of cotton which must have contained more than an arroba of thread.”