Colombus an Italian among the Spanish

A Real Motley Crew

Christopher Columbus’ crew on the first voyage were from small towns in from Andalucia, and nearly all experienced seamen. The Spanish Sovereigns offered amnesty to convicts who signed up for the voyage, but only four men took up the offer: one who had killed a man in a fight, and three of his friends who then helped him escape from jail.

Of the four voyages of Columbus, only the crew of the first voyage is completely known. Alice Bache Gould spent decades combing various archives in Spain, eventually accounting for each of the 87 crewmen of the Niña, Pinta, and Santa Maria. She spent four decades in Spain, tracing the data.

Crew of the Santa Maria:

* Cristobal Colon (Christopher Columbus), captain-general
* Juan de la Cosa, owner and master
* Diego de Arana, master-at-arms
* Pedro de Gutierrez, royal steward
* Rodrigo de Escobedo, secretary of the fleet
* Rodrigo Sanchez, comptroller
* Diego de Salcedo, servant of Columbus
* Luis de Torres, interpreter
* Rodrigo de Jerez
* Alonso Chocero
* Alonso Clavijo
* Andres de Yruenes
* Antonia de Cuellar, carpenter
* Bartolome Biues
* Bartolome de Torres
* Bartolome Garcia, boatswain
* Chachu, boatswain
* Cristobal Caro, goldsmith
* Diego Bermudez
* Diego Perez, painter
* Domingo de Lequeitio
* Domingo Vizcaino, cooper
* Gonzalo Franco
* Jacomel Rico
* Juan, servant
* Juan de Jerez
* Juan de la Placa
* Juan Martines de Acoque
* Juan de Medina
* Juan de Moguer
* Juan Ruiz de la Pena
* Juan Sanchez, physician
* Lope, joiner
* Maestre Juan
* Marin de Urtubia
* Pedro de Terreros, cabin boy
* Pero Nino, pilot
* Pedro Yzquierdo
* Pedro de Lepe
* Rodrigo Gallego, servant

This is the crew of the main boat. Columbus was Italian, the crew Spanish. I wonder how they felt about him. If it were not for the lure of gold they would have thrown him overboard.

Was gold found? No they returned from the New World with some slaves and fruits of the Islands. I often wonder how Columbus got a second voyage. I also wonder how many of the crew on the first voyage went on the second. The lure of gold is a strong incentive. Two of the areas leading families, Pinzón and Niño, headed the expedition. The crews were not the faint-hearted landlubbers and criminals of legend who became frightened during a long expedition and who threatened mutiny until calmed by Columbus. There was no mutiny. These were men with years of shared experience, knowledge of the sea, and confidence in their abilities. As Professor Carl Sauer noted in The Early Spanish Main: “Columbus had originated and promoted the idea of the voyage; Spanish seamen made it possible and carried it through.”

I wonder how many Spanish people can trace their ancestors back to the original motley crew?


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