Christopher Columbus & the Lunar Eclipse in Jamaica

This post is about Christopher Columbus & the Lunar Eclipse in Jamaica in 1504.

Dates of Our Past - February 29, 1504 Lunar Eclipse

During Christopher Columbus' fourth and final voyage to the New World, Columbus and his crew found themselves stranded on the island of Jamaica after their ships had become severely damaged.

As time passed, relations between the indigenous people and Columbus' crew deteriorated. Realizing the dire situation they were in, Columbus consulted an almanac that he had brought along on the voyage.

In it, he found predictions of a lunar eclipse on the night of February 29, 1504. Using his knowledge of celestial events, Columbus warned the indigenous leaders that if they did not cooperate and continue to provide his crew with provisions, he would make the moon disappear as punishment from his Christian God.

According to Columbus, the moon started to darken, supposedly much to the astonishment and fear of the indigenous people. They allegedly had no explanation for this celestial event and became increasingly fearful of Columbus and his supposed ability to control the heavens. Columbus claimed that the indigenous people were afraid.

Columbus instructed the natives that he would make the moon reappear if they agreed to continue providing provisions to his crew. When the eclipse ended and the moon reemerged, the indigenous people were relieved and grateful according to Columbus.

They resumed providing food and supplies to Columbus and his crew until they were eventually rescued.

The lunar eclipse of 1504 is remarkable not only for its role in Columbus' survival but also for its demonstration of the power of manipulation in the context of intercultural encounters during the Age of Exploration.

Drawing of Columbus and Jamaicans, page 273 of "The Romance of Spanish History with Illustrations" by John Stevens Cabot Abbott, 1869.

This post was about Christopher Columbus & the Lunar Eclipse in Jamaica in 1504.

By Melissa Ramnauth, Esq. | This content is copyright of West Indian Diplomacy, LLC and may not be reproduced without permission.

She runs West Indian Diplomacy, a Caribbean blog aimed at promoting West Indian history and business in the global marketplace. Melissa has been an attorney for over 10 years. She currently focuses on trademark registration, trademark searches, and office actions. She also has extensive legal experience in the areas of trademarks, copyrights, contracts, and business formations. She owns her own Trademark Law Firm that is virtually based out of Fort Lauderdale.

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