Readings > Christopher Columbus, Journal of the First Voyage, 1492-1493

Preface
I left the city of Granada on Saturday, 12 May 1492, and traveled to the port of Palos, where I prepared three vessels well suited for such an enterprise. I left that port, amply furnished with provisions and well crewed with seafaring men, on Friday, 3 August, sailing for Your Majesties' Canary Islands in the Ocean Sea, intending to set my course from there and to sail until I reach the Indies, where I will convey Your Majesties' embassy to those rulers and so carry out my orders.

With this in mind I have resolved to set down each day full details of everything I do and see and experience on this voyage.... Moreover, My Sovereign Lord and Lady, as well as describing every night the events of the day, and recording each day the distance run in the night, I intend to make a new chart in which I will set out the whole of the Ocean Sea, with sea and land properly laid out with true positions and courses.... Above all, I must have no regard for sleep, but must concentrate on the demands of navigation; all of which will be no small task.

Sunday, 9 September
We sailed sixteen and a half leagues. I have decided to log less than our true run, so that if the voyage is long the crew will not be afraid and lose heart. In the night we sailed ninety-five miles at eight knots, making thirty-two leagues. The helmsmen steered badly, letting the ship fall off a point to W by N, and sometimes even to WNW; I had to reprimand them many times.

Saturday, 15 September
We maintained our course W, something over twenty-eight and a half leagues. Early in the night we saw a marvellous bolt of fire fall from the sky into the sea about four or five leagues away. These various things are disturbing and depressing the men, who are interpreting them as signs that we have taken a dangerous course.

Sunday, 16 September
We continued on course W. Ran about forty-own leagues; I logged only thirty-eight.... The voyage is growing long and we are far from home, and the men are beginning to complain about the length of the journey and about me for involving them in it. When they saw these great rafts of weed in the distance they began to be afraid that they were rocks or submerged ground, which made them even more impatient and outspoken in their complaints against me. Having seen the ships sailing through the weed, however, they have lost their fear somewhat, though not entirely. Everyone thought we were near some island, but I do not think it is the mainland, which by my reckoning is much further on.

Monday, 17 September
...We saw large numbers of dolphins, and they killed one from the Nina. These signs are coming from the west, where I trust that the great God in whose hands all victory lies will give us a landfall. This morning I saw a tropical bird, a white bird which does not normally spend the night at sea.

Wednesday, 19 September
The pilotos gave me their calculated positions: the Ninas has us 466 leagues from the Canaries; the Pinta's makes it 445; my own man makes it 424. I have been going around encouraging the men, always giving them the lower figure so as not to depress their spirits. The further we sail from Spain the greater grows their distress and unrest; they complain more every hour. They have been paying more and more attention to the signs we see, and although they took some heart from the birds, now that no land has appeared they believe nothing they see, and think that the absence of signs means that we are sailing to a new world from which we will never return.

Saturday, 22 September
Sailed about thirty-two leagues, generally WNW, with some variation either way. Very little weed. We saw some petrels and another bird. I needed this contrary wind,; the crew were very restless, thinking that these waters never produce the wind to blow them back to Spain....

Monday, 24 September
I am having serious troubles with the crew, despite the signs of land that we have....In fact, the more...signs that we are near land, the more their impatience and inconstancy increases, and the more indignant they become against me. All day long and all night long those who are awake and able to get together never cease to talk to each other in circles, complaining that they will never be able to return home. They have said that it is insanity and suicidal on their part to risk their lives following the madness of a foreigner. They have said that not only am I willing to risk my life just to become a great Lord, but that I have deceived them to further my ambition.... I am told by a few trusted men...that if I persist in going forward they will throw me into the sea some night. They will then affirm that I fell overboard while taking the position of the North Star with my quadrant. Since I am a foreigner, little or no account will be asked of the matter.... I know that Mart地 Alonso [captain of the Pinta] cannot be trusted. He is a skilled mariner, but he wants the rewards and honors of this enterprise for himself.... I must use him, for his support is too great among the men. I am also confident that if I lose command, the fleet will never reach the Indies and will probably never get back to Spain.

Wednesday, 10 October
Sailed WSW at about eight knots, sometimes up to nine and a half, occasionally only five and a half. Sixty-two and a half leagues in the twenty-four hours; I told the men only forty-six and a half. They could contain themselves no longer, and began to complain of the length of the voyage. 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.

Thursday, 11 October
When everyone aboard was together for the Salve Regina, which all seamen say or sing in their fashion, I talked to the men about the grace which God had shown us by bringing us in safety, with fair winds and no obstacles, and by comforting us with signs which were more plentiful every day.... I warned them to keep a good lookout in the bows and told them that I would give a silk doublet to the man who first sighted land....

I was on the poop deck at ten o'clock in the evening when I saw a light. It was so indistinct that I could not be sure it was land.... the light appeared once or twice more, like a wax candle rising and falling.

Then the Pinta, being faster and in the lead, sighted land and made the signal as I had ordered.... The land appeared two hours after midnight, about two leagues away. We furled all sail[s]...and jogged off and on until Friday morning, when we came to an island. We saw naked people, and I went ashore in a boat with armed men.... I took the royal standard, and the captains each took a banner with the Green Cross....

When we stepped ashore we saw fine green trees, streams everywhere and different kinds of fruit. I called to the two captains to jump ashore with the rest,...asking them to bear solemn witness that in the presence of them all I was taking possession of this island for their Lord and Lady the King and Queen....

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, and wishing them to look on us with friendship I gave some of them red bonnets and glass beads which they hung around their necks, and many other things of small value, at which they were so delighted and so eager to please us that we could not believe it. Later they swam out to the boats to bring us parrots and balls of cotton thread and darts, and many other things, exchanging them for such objects as glass beads and hawk bells. They took anything, and gave willingly whatever they had.

However, the appeared to me to be a very poor people in all respects. They go about as naked as the day they were born, even the women.... They carry no weapons, and are ignorant of them; when I showed them some swords they took them by the blade and cut themselves.... I believe they would readily become Christians; it appeared to me that they have no religion. With God's will, I will take six of them with me for Your Majesties when I leave this place....

I kept my eyes open and tried to find out if there was any gold, and I saw that some of them had a little piece hanging from a hole in their nose. I gathered from their signs that if one goes south...there is a king with great jars full of it, enormous amounts. I tried to persuade them to go there, but I saw that the idea was not to their liking..... [T]he gold they wear hanging from their noses is...from the island, but so as not to waste time I wish to set off to see if I can reach the island of Cipango.

Sunday, 14 October
I gave orders at daybreak for the small boat of the Santa Maria and the boats of the two caravels to be got ready, and went along the coast to the northeast to examine the eastward part of the island.... The people kept coming down to the beach.... Some brought us water, some food; others, seeing that I did not wish to go ashore, swam out to us, and we understood them to be asking if we had come from Heaven....

These people have little knowledge of fighting, as Your Majesties will see from the seven I have had captured to take away with us so as to teach them our language and return them, unless Your Majesties' orders are that they all be taken to Spain or held captive on the island itself, for with fifty men one could keep the whole population in subjection and make them do whatever one wanted....

The islands are very green and lush, with sweet breezes, and there may be many things here which I do not know about, because rather than lingering I wish to explore and investigate many islands in search of gold....

Tuesday, 16 October
.... The fish here show amazing difference from our own. Some are like cocks, with the handsomest colouring in the world; blue, yellow, red, all colours; others are marked in a thousand different ways. No man could look at them without amazement and delight, the colours are so beautiful.

Friday, 19 October
At daybreak I weighed anchor and sent the caravel Pinta off to the ESE and the Nina SSE, and I in the Santa Maria steered SE. I gave orders than they should stay on these courses until noon and then come about and sail back to rejoin me. After less than three hours' sailing we sighted an island to the E.... I have named it Isabela.... I have called the cape here at the western end Cabo Hermoso....for beautiful it is...so green and fair, like all the land and everything else on these islands; I do not know where to go first, and my eyes never weary of seeing such marvellous vegetation, so different from our own.

I have not doubt there must be many plants and trees which would be valuable in Spain for tinctures and medicinal spices, but I am very sorry to say that I am unfamiliar with them. As we neared this cape we were met by the soft, balmy smell of the trees and flowers ashore, the sweetest fragrance in the world.

Before I sail tomorrow I shall go ashore to see what there is on the cape. The village is not here, but further inland; the men I have with me say the king lives there, and wears a lot of gold.... I do not wish to explore too much in detail, for I could not do it in fifty years; I wish to see and discover as much as I can, so as to return to Your Majesties, with God's grace, in April. If I find any quantity of gold or spices, I shall, of course, linger until I have gathered as much as I can; at present I can only keep moving until I come across them.

Sunday, 21 October
I reached this headland of the islet at ten o'clock and dropped anchor.... I should like to fill all our water containers while we are here, and the, if I have time, I shall set off to sail round this island until I find and talk to the king, and see if I may obtain from him some of the sold which I am told he wears. Then I shall set off for another, very large island which I think must be Cipango, judging by the indications given me by these Indians I have on board.... But I am still determined to continue to the mainland, to the city of Quinsay, and to give Your Majesties' letters to the Great Khan and return with his reply.

Sunday, 28 October
I sailed SSW for the nearest point of the island of Cuba.... I never saw a lovelier sight: trees everywhere, lining the river, green and beautiful. They are not like our own, and each has its own flowers and fruit. Numerous birds, large and small, singing away sweetly.... It is a joy to see all the woods and greenery, and it is difficult to give up watching all the birds and come away. It is the most beautiful island ever seen....

The Indians tell me that there are gold mines and pearls on this island, and I saw a likely spot for pearls, with clams, which are a sign of them. I understand that large vessels belonging to the Great Khan come here, and that the passage to the mainland takes ten days. I have called this river and harbour San Salvador.

Sunday, 4 November
Immediately after daybreak I went ashore in the boat to catch some of the birds I saw yesterday. On my return Martin Alonso Pinzon brought me two pieces of cinnamon, and told me that a Portuguese sailor on his ship had seen an Indian with two big bundles of it....but when I went to look I found that they were not....

I...showed [the Indians] gold and pearls, and some of the old ones told me that in a place called Bohio there are endless quantities of gold, and the people wear it around their necks and arms and legs and in their ears, and pearls too. I also understood them to say that there are large ships and a trade in goods, all to the SE, and that a long way away there are men with one eye, and others with noses like dogs who eat human flesh; when they capture someone they cut his throat and drink his blood and cut off his private parts.

Monday, 12 November
....Yesterday...I thought it a good idea to take some of the people from the river to convey them to Your Majesties, so that they may learn our language and tell us what there is in their country, and learn our customs and matters of the Faith, and interpret for our people when they return, for I can see from my own observations that these people have no religion, nor are they idolators. They are gentle, and do not know the meaning of evil, nor killing, nor taking prisoners; they have no weapons and are so timid that one of our men can frighten away a hundred of them, just as a joke, They are ready to believe; they acknowledge that there is a God in Heaven, and are convinced that that is where we have come from, and they are quick to recite any prayer we tell them to say, and to make the sign of the cross.

Your Majesties should therefore determine to convert them to Christianity, for I believe that once this is begun a host of peoples will soon be converted to our Holy Faith, and great domains and their wealth and all their peoples will be won for Spain, for there is no doubt that these lands hold enormous quantities of gold....

On the river Mares, which I left last night, there is certainly a great amount of mastic, and it could be increased if more were wanted, for these trees take easily if re-planted and there are plenty of them... One could also obtain great quantities of cotton, which I think could very well be sold here (rather than taking it to Spain) in the cities of the Great Khan....

A canoe came alongside us yesterday with six young men. Five of them came aboard, and I ordered them to be seized and have brought them away with me. I then sent men to a house on the west side of the river, and they brought back seven females, some young and some adult.... I did this because men behave better in Spain when they have women of their own land with them than when they are deprived of them. Men have often been taken from Guinea to Portugal to learn the language, and given good treatment and gifts, and when they were taken back with a view to employing them in their own country they went ashore and were never seen again....

Friday, 16 November
I am leaving a cross planted everywhere I land in these island and territories. I therefore went ashore in the boat at the channel leading into these harbours, and on a spit of land I found two large timbers, one longer than the other, lying across one another in the shape of a cross, as precisely as any carpenter could have placed them. We knelt before them in prayer, and I have ordered a great high cross to be made using the two timbers.

Saturday, 17 November
Today the two eldest of the six young men I captured on the river Mares escaped. I had transferred them to the Nina.

Tuesday, 20 November
Today Martin Alonso Pinzon has sailed away on his own in the Pinta without my permission, moved by greed. He believes that an Indian I ordered him to take aboard his ship will give him a lot of gold. He went without waiting, not through stress of weather but because he chose to. He has gone against me in word and deed many times before.

Tuesday, 27 November
....After sailing half a league across the bay I sighted a most excellent harbour.... We anchored, and...[g]oing in the boats to the south of the harbour mouth, I found a river which a galley could row into comfortably.... The beauty and freshness of the river, so clear that we could see the sand on the bottom; all the various sorts of palm tree, taller and more beautiful than any I have encountered before; the endless variety of other trees, so tall and green; the birds; the greenness of the level ground-all this made me want to stay here forever.

The loveliness of this country, Your Majesties, is so marvellous; it surpasses all others in amenity and beauty as daylight exceeds night. I have said repeatedly to my men that, whatever efforts I make to tell Your Majesties about it, my tongue could not tell the whole truth, or my hand set it down. Truly, I was dumbfounded by the sight of so much beauty, and find myself unable to describe it adequately. I have already written everything I could about the other places, their trees and fruits, their plants, their harbours and all their splendours, without doing them justice. Everyone has said that nowhere else could be more beautiful. I will write no more now; I hope that other men will see it and wish to describe it in writing, and do rather better....

I have written earlier of the site for a town and fortress on the river Mares, with its fine harbour and surroundings. All that I said was true enough, but there is no comparing the river Mares or the Mar de Nuestra Seora with this place. There must be large settlements inland here, with hosts of people, and things of great profit. For if Christendom is to enter into trade with all the places I have discovered so far, and hope to find before I return home, how much more, I say, must Spain, to whom it must all be subject. And Your Majesties, in my opinion, should not allow any foreigner to do business or gain a foothold here, but only Catholic Christians, for that is the beginning and end of the whole enterprise; it should be for the growth and glory of the Christian faith, and you should allow no one but good Christians to come here....

Monday, 3 December
.... I made the men row the boat to the shore where the Indians were standing, a great crowd of them, all painted red and as naked as the day they were born, some of them with plumes on their heads, and other feathers, and all carrying bunches of assegais. I went up to them and gave them a few scraps of bread and little brass ring to others, a few small beads to others. In this way I calmed them down and they all came down to the boats and gave us everything they had in exchange for whatever we chose to give them. The sailors had killed a turtle and the shell was in pieces in the boat, and the ship's boys were giving a piece the size of a fingernail and receiving a handful of spears from the Indians.

They are like the other people I have seen, with the same beliefs; the thought we had come from Heaven. They will give you whatever they have, straight away, in exchange for anything at all, never saying that it is not enough, and I think they would do the same with spices and gold if they had them....

Sunday, 16 December
....Rest assured that this island and all the others are as firmly in your possession as Castile; whatever you wish. I, with my small company, could walk all over these islands unmolested, for I have already seen three of my seamen go ashore and a whole multitude of Indians flee from them without being threatened. They have no weapons or fighting skills, and all of them are naked. They are very timid; three men could put a thousand of them to flight, so they could easily be commanded and made to work, to sow, and to do whatever might be needed, to build towns and be taught to wear clothes and adopt our ways....

Friday, 21 December
I explored the harbour with the boats. I have never seen a harbour to equal it. I have said such fine things about the earlier ones that it is difficult to find words to convey the excellence of this one properly, and I fear I may be condemned for exaggerating things beyond the truth. In my defence, I have old sailors in my company who say the same and will confirm it, and any seafarer will agree: my fine descriptions of the earlier harbours were true, and it is also true that this one is much better than all the rest. I have been a seafarer for twenty-three years, never staying ashore for any length of time worth mentioning; I have seen all the Levant and all the countries of the west; I have made passages north to England and south to the Guinea coast, and nowhere in all those lands could a man find harbours as perfect as on these islands, where we have found every one better than the last....

These people...are naked as the day they were born, men and women alike. Elsewhere, on Juana and some of the other islands, the women wear a little cotton ting in front to cover up their private part, the size of the flap on a man's breeches, especially when they are over twelve years old, but here neither girls nor women wear anything. Also, in the other places the men hide their women from us because of jealousy, but not here, and some of the women are very fine-bodied, and they were the first to come and give thanks to Heaven for our arrival and to bring us whatever they had.... I have given the men orders not to take anything from them against their will, so they have paid them for everything. I cannot believe that any man has ever met a people so goodhearted and generous, so gentle that they did their utmost to give us everything they had, and ran to bring it to us as soon as we arrived....

Saturday, 22 December
Set sail at daybreak to pursue my course in search of the islands which the Indians tell me are rich in gold, some being more gold than earth....Before setting sail...I sent six men to a very large village three leagues away to the west, the chief of which came yesterday and told me he had certain pieces of gold. When the men arrived the chief took my secretary by the hand. I had sent my secretary to prevent the rest from doing anything untoward to the Indians, for they are so generous and my men so extremely greedy that they are not satisfied with getting whatever they want from the Indians for a lace end or even a piece of glass or pottery or other useless thing, but want to get everything with no payment at all, which I have always forbidden; though with the exception of the gold much of what they get is of trifling value. Considering the generosity of heart of the Indians, who would and do give a piece of gold for half a dozen glass beads, I have given orders that nothing shall be accepted without some payment....

Tuesday, 25 December: Christmas Day
Last night, while sailing in light breezes from the sea of Santo Tomas to Punta Santa, and with my ship a league off the point at the end of the first watch, around eleven o'clock, I decided to lie down to sleep, for I had not slept for two days and a night. Seeing it was calm, the helmsman gave the helm to an apprentice seaman and went off to sleep....

It was the Lord's will that at midnight, knowing that I had lain down to sleep, and seeing that the sea was like water in a bowl, a dead calm, everyone lay down to sleep and the helm was left to the boy, and the currents took the ship very gently onto one of the banks, which could be heard and seen a good league away even at night. The boy, feeling the rudder grounding and hearing the noise of the sea, cried out, and I heard him and got up before anyone else had realized that we were aground. Then the master, who was officer of the watch, came on deck. I told him and the others to get into a boat we were towing, take an anchor and drop it astern. He jumped into the boat with a crowd of others, and I thought they were obeying my orders, but all they did was row off to the caravel half a league to windward.

When I saw my own men fleeing in the boat, the sea falling and the ship now in danger, I had no alternative but to cut away the mainmast and lighten ship as much as we could to see if we could float her off. However, with the tide ebbing all the time there was no help for her; she took a list, her seams began to open, and she filled up from below the waterline.

Seeing no way of saving her, I transferred to the caravel, taking all the men with me for their safety. There was still a light offshore wind and much of the night was already gone, so not knowing our way out of the banks I sailed off and on until daybreak, when I returned to the ship along the landward side of the reef. Before that I had sent...the Marshal of the Fleet...to tell the king what was happening and to say that because of my wish to accept his invitation to go to his harbour to visit him, as he requested last Saturday, I had lost my ship on a reef on my way to his village, a league and a half away.

He burst into tears when he heard the news of our misfortune, and sent all his people from the village in numerous large canoes. With their help we began to unload everything from the ship. We received such help from the king that she was unloaded and everything cleared from the decks in no time. He supervised things himself with his brothers and relatives, both on the ship and in guarding what was taken ashore, making sure that all was safe. From time to time he sent one of his relatives to me in tears to console me and tell me not to be distressed or downcast, for he would give me everything he had.

I swear to Your Majesties that nowhere in Castile could everything have been better looked after; not a lace point went missing. The kind had all our things put together beside his palace while they cleared several of the houses which he wanted to give us to store everything under guard, and he ordered two armed men to keep watch all night.

The king and all his people kept weeping as if deeply affected by our loss. They are of such a loving disposition, free from greed, friendly and willing to do anything; I swear to Your Majesties, I believe there can be no better people, nor a better land, anywhere on earth. They love their neighbours as themselves, and their speech is as gentle and kindly as can be, always with a smile. Men and women, it is true, go about as naked as they were born, but I assure Your Majesties that their behaviour among themselves is above reproach. The king is held in great majesty, and has a stateliness of bearing delightful to see. They remember things well, and are eager to learn about everything; their curiosity makes them ask about this and that, to find the cause and effect of it all.

Wednesday, 26 December
The king came to the Nina at daybreak to look, and almost in tears told me not to be downhearted, because he would give me everything he had. He told me he had given the men ashore two large houses and would give them more if necessary, and as many canoes as I might want to load and unload the ship and ferry people ashore, as indeed he did yesterday without a crumb of bread or anything else being lost, for these people are so loyal and uncovetous, especially this most virtuous king.

As I was talking to him a canoe arrived from another village with some pieces of gold which they wanted to barter for a hawk bell, for they love the bells above all else. Even before the canoe was alongside they were holding up pieces of gold and shouting chuque chuque, which is what they call the bells; they go almost mad for them. Afterwards, when the canoes from the other places were leaving for home, they called me and asked me to have a bell kept for them for another day, for they would bring me four pieces of gold as big as a man's hand....

These people look on things made of brass as more valuable than anything else, so for a lace end they will readily give whatever they have in their hands. They call it turey, meaning 'from Heaven,' for turey is their word for sky. They sniff it as soon as they take it, as if they know by the smell that it comes from Heaven, and by the smell they value it very highly....

The king was very pleased to see me in better spirits, and saw my interest in gold. He told me by signs that he knows a place near here where there is a large quantity, and that I should be of good cheer, for he will give me all the gold I want.... He stayed aboard to eat with me, and then we went ashore together, where he treated me with great honour and gave me a feast....

After our meal he took me to the beach. I sent for a Turkish bow and a handful of arrows and ordered a good archer from among the ship's company to do some shooting. Not knowing about weapons, since they neither use nor possess them, the king was most impressed. This arose out of our conversation about the Caniba people, whom they call 'Caribs', who come to capture them with bows and arrows. Their arrows are not tipped with iron. None of these lands seems to have any knowledge of iron or steel, or of any other metal except gold and copper; not that I have seen much copper. I used sign language to the king that the King and Queen of Castile would send men to destroy the Caribs and hand them all over to him with their hands tied.

I ordered a lombard and spingard to be fired. The king was astonished by their power and penetration, and when the people heard the noise they all fell down. They brought me a great mask with large pieces of gold in the ears and eyes and elsewhere; the king gave it to me, and he also put some other golden decorations on my head and round my neck. He gave many similar things to the men I had with me.

The sight of all these things was a great joy and comfort to me, and my misery at losing the ship has been somewhat tempered. I can see that Our Lord caused her to go aground with the purpose of establishing us here, for various things have come together so handily that it has been a piece of good fortune rather than a disaster. Certainly, if we had not run aground I should have gone on my way without anchoring...and I should not have left anyone here on this voyage. Even if I had wanted to leave them, I should not have been able to leave them so well found nor with so much equipment and stores and materials to build a fort. Truth to tell, many of the men I am leaving here had asked me, directly or through another, to give them permission to stay.

I have decided to build a fort.... This tower should be built, and built properly, being so far away from Your Majesties, to show the people the skills and abilities of your subjects, so that the people will love, fear and obey you....

Not a thing from the ship has been lost...not a single plank or nail....And I trust in the Lord that when I return from Castile, as is my intention, I shall find a great barrel of gold for which the people I am leaving here will have bartered, and that they will have found the gold mine and the spices, and all in such quantities that Your Majesties will be able to make your preparations to go to recover the Holy Sepulchre, for Your Majesties may remember my request to you that all the proceeds of this voyage of mine should be used for the conquest of Jerusalem. Your Majesties laughed and agreed, and told me that such was your ambition in any case.

Wednesday, 2 January
I went ashore this morning to take my leave of King Guacanagari and to depart in the name of God....

I have left thirty-nine men in the fort on this island of Espaola.... I have left them all the barter goods which Your Majesties ordered me to buy...so they can exchange them and barter for gold.... They have biscuits for a whole year, wine, and plenty of artillery....

When I was ready to leave I gathered them all together and addressed them. I told them first that they should consider the great mercies which God has granted them and me so far, for which they should always give thanks; that they should put their trust firmly in His goodness and mercy, taking care not to offend Him....

Secondly, I asked them and commanded them in Your Majesties' name, as I trusted in their goodness and loyalty, to obey their [new] captain as they would obey me.

Thirdly, I told them to pay great attention and reverence to King Guacanagari, his caciques and...lesser dignitaries, and to avoid like death committing any annoyance or grievance towards them, considering all we owe to him and to them, and how important it is to keep them happy, remaining as the men are in his country and under his rule; that they should, indeed, make every effort to earn his goodwill by pleasant and honest conversation and to preserve his love and friendship....

Fourthly, I ordered and begged them not to cause offence or injury to any of the Indians, male or female, and not to take anything against their will. I especially told them to avoid committing any insult or violence against the women which might cause outrage, or give a bad example, or bring us into disrepute among the Indians, who are sure that we have all come from Heaven and are ambassadors of the heavenly virtues.

Friday, 4 January
At sunrise I weighed anchor in a light breeze [and set off for Spain].


Editor's Note: When the Spanish returned to the island, they found the fort at Navidad destroyed and all the men within it slaughtered.

For more information on Columbus's journal, consult John Cummins, The Voyage of Christopher Columbus: Columbus' Own Journal of Discovery Newly Restored and Translated (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1992)