King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain sponsored Christopher Columbus's first voyage in 1492. Under the terms of the sponsorship, Columbus would become viceroy of all lands discovered and keep 1/10 of all valuables found.
Columbus was a Spanish-Italian maritime explorer born in Italy. Columbus believed that the world was actually 25 percent smaller than thought at the time. His calculations led him to believe that sailing west across the Atlantic Ocean would reveal a shorter route to Asia.
Columbus first petitioned the King of Portugal to sponsor his expedition across the Atlantic. When the Portuguese Royal Maritime Commission refused to do so, Columbus moved to Spain. Following two years of negotiations, he eventually won the support of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella in 1492.
Spain's sponsorship helped Columbus secure three ships: the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria. He also secured 90 men for his crew. Setting sail on August 3, 1492, Columbus reached the Bahamas on October 12. The expedition headed back to Spain in March of 1493 after landing on the islands of Cuba and Espanola. Columbus sailed across the Atlantic three more times during his lifetime. He maintained that the lands he discovered were part of Asia, despite contrary evidence. Although Columbus did not reach the North American mainland, his voyages spurred European exploration of the continent and its southern neighbor.