Monday, February 11, 2008

Lunar Eclipse Saved Columbus

Did You Know - According to Spanish accounts, during Christopher Columbus' fourth and final voyage in 1504, the admiral saved his starving and shipwrecked crew by using an elaborate plan designed to deceive Jamaican Taino into feeding them. Columbus predicted his Christian god would make the moon "inflamed with wrath" and "do evil things to them" if his men were not fed. A lunar eclipse appeared, making his prediction come to pass. Columbus was able to accomplish this rouse thanks to Johannes Regiomontanus, a German scientist who published an almanac that charted solar and lunar eclipses during 1475-1506. Studying the almanac, Columbus learned that a total eclipse of the moon would happen on Feb. 29, 1504. Columbus and his crew were shipwrecked in Jamaica on June 25th 1503. Local Taino initially welcomed him and provided the castaways with food and shelter. However, after being stranded for more than six months, at least half of Columbus’ men mutinied - robbing and murdering several Taino. After this horrific turn of events, the Taino refused to assist Columbus any longer and planned to do away with the crewmen. Seeing his situation as desperate and armed with the knowledge contained in the almanac, he called a meeting with a local Taino kasike (chief) to share an "ominous prediction" before the scheduled eclipse. He announced to the kasike that the Christian god was “angry” because the Taino “were no longer supplying his men with food.” Columbus then stated in “three nights” he would all but obliterate the rising full moon, making it appear "inflamed with wrath;" a signal that “evils” would soon be inflicted upon all the islanders. When the moon turned an "eerie red" as he had "predicted," the reportedly “terrified” Taino brought food to Columbus' men, and allegedly pleaded with him to return it to normal. Columbus announced he would privately confer with his god, and when he returned he said the moon would revert back to its natural state, and it did. The Taino continued to provide supplies for Columbus and his men until they left Jamaica when a relief ship from Hispaniola finally arrived on June 29, 1504. – UCTP Taino News © 2008