The Holy Quest of Columbus

   Posted by: rring   in Events

A public talk and book signing by the author

Wednesday, November 7, 3:00pm

The Watkinson Library


By situating Columbus in the cultural context of his times, my talk discusses the little known reasons behind his voyages. He did not set out to prove the earth was round (most of his contemporaries already knew that), nor did he expect to discover a new world. In a number of extant writings, he clearly stated the ultimate purpose of his voyages: to sail to Asia to obtain gold through trade with the Grand Khan of Cathay in order to finance a crusade to wrest Jerusalem from the Muslims. This was a necessary precondition for Christ’s return before the end of the world. Columbus, like many of his contemporaries, keenly felt that the end was imminent, and he was prepared to play his part in the unfolding apocalyptic drama. Because the religious ideas that motivated Columbus have resurfaced in a very different and more dangerous world, I believe his story can be read as a parable for our times.

Dr. Carol Delaney is Emerita Professor, Cultural and Social Anthropology at Stanford University & an Invited Scholar at the John Carter Brown Library, Brown University.

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