88—On Columbus—Robert Royal
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The debate over Christopher Columbus’s legacy tends to go back and forth from cartoonish demonization to glossing over the man’s real faults. Robert Royal, in his book Columbus and the Crisis of the West, does neither of those things, instead giving a nuanced picture of Columbus’s motives, worldview, faults and achievements. Columbus was neither a genocidal maniac nor a saint; while he did not “discover” America, he did discover the world—as much for Native Americans as for Europeans.
The book goes beyond Columbus himself, however, examining the overall significance of the encounters between cultures that occurred in the Age of Exploration, how we do history, and how the West idealizes and instrumentalizes native peoples for its own purposes of self-hatred.
[2:19] Reason for a new edition
[7:00] The evolution of Columbus’s legacy before recent decades
[13:16] Columbus’s motives: God, glory and gold, and their misrepresentation
[16:33] A breakdown of Columbus’ unprecedented achievements
[21:28] Did Columbus discover America?
[26:33] Relations with the natives on Columbus’s first visit to America
[34:32] Did Columbus intend to be a conqueror? His failures as a governor
[43:11] Columbus did not establish the Atlantic slave trade; slavery in every culture
[47:45] No institutional structure by which Columbus could fight abuse of natives
[51:38] Spain’s role in the development of international law and universal human rights
[56:29] How we celebrate complicated historical figures
Columbus and the Crisis of the West https://www.sophiainstitute.com/products/item/columbus-and-the-crisis-of-the-west
Free Columbus Day seminar with Robert Royal, Christopher Check and Wilfred McClay https://engage.thomasmorecollege.edu/rediscovering-columbus43042020
The Catholic Thing https://www.thecatholicthing.org/
Theme music: “Franciscan Eyes”, written and performed by Thomas Mirus. Download the Catholic Culture Podcast soundtrack.
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