What Was Christopher Columbus' Childhood Like?

Columbus was born in the Italian republic of Genoa as the son of a wool weaver, and little is known about his childhood. He may have attended school, but very little is known as his parents were not wealthy enough nor notable enough to keep records.

While the exact date of his birth is unknown, he was likely born during August or September 1451. As the oldest son of Susanna Fontanarossa and Domenico Colombo, Christopher often helped his father with the family's wool-weaving and tavern business. There are no historical records of his educational path, although it was likely scant due to his time spent working for his father. As a teenager, Columbus began working on the trade ships that passed through his hometown. These ships carried a variety of goods and he started his career in exploration by working for these small trading companies.

In the 1470s, Columbus married a woman named Felipa Perestrello Moniz and she gave birth to their son, Diego, in 1480. The family continued to live in Lisbon until Felipa died in 1485. The father and son then moved to Spain. After the move, Columbus furthered his explorations.

In 1492, Columbus finally received the grant he was seeking from the Spanish monarchs. He set sail on August 3rd of that year with three ships and 104 men in tow. The first stop was the Canary Islands and the voyage took a total of five weeks. During the voyage, many crew members died. On October 12, 1492, Columbus and his men reached the present-day Bahamas. He named the area San Salvador.