After years of negotiations to get the funds to make his journey, Christopher Columbus sets out on three ships, the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria, to find a westward passage to the Indies under the auspices of Queen Isabella I of the Iberian Peninsula
Rodrigo de Triana, a crew member of the Pinta, sight the land of the Americas in the Bahamas. This was the first of four voyages Christopher Columbus would make under the patent of the Spanish and Isabella I of Castile. It began the period of Spanish colonization of the New World. Columbus called the Bahaman site, San Salvador. He would also explore the islands of Cuba and Haiti on this trip, but not the continent of North America itself.
June 7, 1494 - The Treaty of Tordesillas, between Spain and Portugal, attempted to ratify and clarify ownership of the lands outside Europe and who could claim them. This was an attempt to resolve questions arising from the return of Columbus. This treaty, and a subsequent treaty on April 22, 1529, the Treaty of Zaragosa, would only further confuse the issue beyond the two nations Spain and Portugal. Both these treaties had been predated by the Peace Treaty of Alcacovas-Toledo in 1479, which had been the first attempt at dividing the world amongst the discovers and the nations and courts which sponsored them.
King Henry VII signs agreement with John (Giovanni) Cabot to explore the western hemisphere under the flag and authority of England. It is thought likely that the British King was in disagreement with the Treaty of Tordesillas, as well as a prior Papal decision, to effectively split the riches and exploration of the New Worlds between Spain and Portugal. He would attempt a first voyage with one ship, but be unsuccessful, and turn back. Above image of John Cabot by Giustino Menescardi, 1762.
Columbus began his second trip to the American colonies with seventeen ships and 1,200 men. These men were meant to colonize the land found and claimed during the journey beyond the few left in the Americas after the first voyage. He would arrive in the New World again on November 14, 1793 and explore more of the islands in the Caribbean, including Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.
The Spanish court, after the founding of the nation of Spain as a unified state around this time, as well as the Portuguese court, would be instrumental in the colonization and European discovery of the Americas. Painting above right, Columbus Before the Queen, by Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze, 1843.