Every year when Columbus Day rolls around, a lot of questions come up about Christopher Columbus and his travels. What did he actually do? Why does he have his own holiday? Sure, you probably know the rhyme “In 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue,” but what else do you know? Test your history knowledge with this quick Christopher Columbus quiz.1. True or false: Columbus set out to prove the Earth was round.
False. Columbus was not interested in proving the Earth was round, in fact, that was old news by Columbus’ time. Most people knew this fact thanks to the ancient Greeks—specifically the Greek mathematician Pythagoras, who lived in the 6th century B.C., and later Aristotle, who backed him up with astronomical observations. Later in his life, though, Columbus became obsessed with the idea that the Earth was pear-shaped, which would have explained his miscalculations in trying to reach Asia.
2. Which of the following was not the name of a ship that Columbus brought on his first voyage in 1492?
A. The Nina
B. The Pinta
C. The Santa Maria
D. The Santa Clara
The correct answer is the Nina. While Spanish ships were traditionally named after saints in Columbus’ time, sailors often bestowed them with nicknames. Nina was actually the nickname for the Santa Clara, dubbed so in honor of the ship’s owner, Juan Nino.
3. True or False: Columbus never set foot on mainland North America.
True. All of his voyages brought him to the Caribbean Islands, South America and Central America.
4. Which job didn’t Columbus hold in his lifetime?
D. Wool worker
The correct answer is priest. When he first left school as a young boy, Columbus worked as an apprentice for his father, who was a wool worker. Before he went on expeditions to the New World, he worked as a privateer and attacked Moorish ships. After his expeditions he was granted governorship of Hispaniola by the King and Queen of Spain. Quite the resume!
5. True or False: Columbus was the first European to cross the Atlantic Ocean.
False. Well, there goes his claim to fame. Historians believe that Celtic people were crossing the Atlantic more than five centuries before Columbus set out! They are quite certain that Norse Viking Leif Eriksson landed in present day Newfoundland around 1,000 A.D. which would mean that he also wasn’t the first person to “discover” the Americas.
6. When was the last time Columbus crossed the Atlantic?
The correct answer is 1542. Columbus died in 1506 and was buried in Spain, but at the request of his family, his remains were moved to a cathedral in Santo Domingo, in present day Dominican Republic. But if you chose 1502, his last living voyage, we’ll give you half credit.