The Catholic Culture Podcast: 88 – On Columbus


Oct 10, 2020

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The debate over Christopher Columbus’s legacy tends to go back
and forth from cartoonish demonization to glossing over the man’s
real faults. Robert Royal, in his book Columbus and the Crisis
of the West
, does neither of those things, instead giving a
nuanced picture of Columbus’s motives, worldview, faults and

The book goes beyond Columbus himself, however, examining the
overall significance of the encounters between cultures that
occurred in the Age of Exploration, how we do history, and how the
West idealizes and instrumentalizes native peoples for its own
purposes of self-hatred.

Columbus was neither a genocidal maniac nor a saint; while he
did not “discover” America, he did discover the world—as much for
Native Americans as for Europeans.


[2:42] Reason for a new edition

[7:11] The evolution of Columbus’s legacy before recent

[13:16] Columbus’s motives: God, glory and gold, and their

[16:25] A breakdown of Columbus’ unprecedented achievements

[20:56] Did Columbus discover America?

[25:38] Relations with the natives on Columbus’s first visit to

[33:26] Did Columbus intend to be a conqueror? His failures as a

[41:25] Columbus did not establish the Atlantic slave trade;
slavery in every culture

[45:40] No institutional structure by which Columbus could fight
abuse of natives

[49:17] Spain’s role in the development of international law and
universal human rights

[53:38] How we celebrate complicated historical figures


Columbus and the Crisis of the West

Free Columbus Day seminar with Robert Royal, Christopher Check
and Wilfred McClay

The Catholic Thing

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