Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus
Airdate October 3, 2004
Remake: October 8, 2018
Curriculum Social Studies

Christopher Columbus is a BrainPOP Social Studies video which launched on October 3, 2004.


Tim and Moby go to Columbus, Ohio, and tour many sites before answering a letter about Christopher Columbus.

After talking about Columbus, Tim and Moby race each other to German Village.



  • As shown in the video, Tim and Moby go to the following locations in Columbus, Ohio:
    • a "Welcome to Columbus" sign.
    • Ohio Stadium.
    • Columbus Museum of Art (they look at "The Soda Jerk" by Norman Rockwell).
    • Columbus Zoo.
    • Ohio Statehouse.
    • German Village.




Personalities Edit


King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella

While most people know that King Ferdinand (1452-1516) and Queen Isabella (1451-1504) of Spain sponsored Columbus on his voyages, their knowledge usually stops there. Here’s a closer look.

The marriage of Ferdinand and Isabella marked the beginning of Spain’s transformation from a collection of small medieval kingdoms into a more modern nation-state. She was heir to the throne of Castile and Leon, while he was the heir to the kingdom of Aragon. Together, they were known as “the Catholic Monarchs,” a title bestowed upon them by the Pope.

The highlight of their reign was the end of a centuries-long war between Catholic Spaniards and the Moors, a society of North African Muslims that invaded Spain in the 8th century. The Moors ruled over the entire Iberian Peninsula for a while, but were gradually pushed out by Spanish forces. By Ferdinand and Isabella’s time, they controlled only the southern province of Granada, and that territory finally fell to Spain in 1492.

Unfortunately, the monarchs’ success came with a price. To protect their kingdom from the influence of non-Catholics, Ferdinand and Isabella had launched the Spanish Inquisition in 1478. Jews and Muslims were given the choice to convert to Catholicism or leave Spain. Meanwhile, those who had converted were often arrested, tortured, and even murdered on suspicion of secretly practicing non-Christian customs.

Like Columbus’s voyage, Ferdinand and Isabella’s reign was a mixed bag. On one hand, they created a strong, united Spain — but on the other hand, their rule could be oppressive, intolerant, and violent.

Unsolved Mysteries Edit


You might have heard that Christopher Columbus was Italian. After all, Columbus Day is often celebrated as a day to commemorate Italian cultural heritage. But as Tim mentions in the movie, Columbus's place of birth isn't known for an absolute fact.

Many history books say that Columbus was Italian. A Cristoforo Colombo from Genoa almost certainly existed around the same time as Columbus (Latin for “Colombo”). But experts can’t conclusively say that this was the same Columbus who sailed the ocean blue. In fact, some evidence suggests he was older than this Colombo would have been. Plus, Columbus was never known to communicate in Italian, even with his Italian friends.

Another theory says that Columbus was from Catalonia, a former kingdom in what is now the northeastern region of Spain. Columbus (“Colom” in Catalan) took many Catalan sailors with him on his voyages, and he kept books in Catalan. Some experts even believe his writing style suggests that Catalan was his first language.

Still other historians hold that Columbus was Portuguese; that he was born on the Mediterranean island of Mallorca, the son of a Spanish Prince; or that he was of Jewish heritage from mainland Spain. So who’s right?

To solve the mystery, history now turns to DNA, the genetic blueprint that’s passed from generation to generation. Recently, scientists have been collecting and analyzing DNA samples from people with the last names of Colombo, Colom, and (the Spanish) Colón, as well as from others who are thought to be related. Comparing this genetic material with DNA from Columbus himself, we may soon know the truth behind Columbus’s origins!

Trivia Edit

  • Christopher Columbus was one of the first Europeans to realize that a compass needle points to the North Magnetic Pole, not to “true north,” or the Geographic North Pole. His crew was alarmed when their compass needles shifted during the voyage across the ocean, but Columbus calmed them down by explaining that the needles pointed to a spot on Earth, not to the north star.
  • A whole lot of stuff is named after Columbus, including the nation of Colombia, the state capitals of Ohio and South Carolina, the District of Columbia, Columbia University, the Columbia River, and Columbus Circle in New York City.
  • After he died, Columbus’s body continued to travel the world. It was first buried in Seville, Spain, then transferred to Santo Domingo in the present-day Dominican Republic. After the French took over the Dominican Republic in 1795, the body was sent to Cuba. And after Cuba won its independence in the Spanish-American War, the body was sent back to Seville in 1898.
  • On his fourth voyage, Columbus used his knowledge of an upcoming lunar eclipse to convince some natives that he had supernatural powers.
  • In 1909, Columbus’s family chapel was moved from Spain to Boalsburg, Pennsylvania. It’s open to the public, so stop in for a visit.
  • Good news: Columbus introduced the hammock to Europe on his return from the Americas. Bad news: He also introduced tobacco.

Did You Know Edit


Contrary to popular belief, Christopher Columbus wasn’t the first European to visit the Americas. That honor belongs to a crew of Vikings, or Scandinavian sailors, who visited the eastern coast of Canada in the 10th and 11th centuries.

Their stories are written in the Sagas of Icelanders, prose histories that document the exploits of different Viking families. According to these sagas, a Viking named Erik the Red established a colony in Greenland around 985. Soon, settlers began moving there from Iceland.

On one trip over, a merchant got blown off course and sighted land to the west. The merchant told Leif Eriksson, son of Erik the Red, what he’d seen. Ten years later, Leif bought the merchant’s ship, rounded up a crew of 35 guys, and set sail for North America. 

Leif explored territories he called “Land of the flat stones” (possibly Baffin Island) and “Land of the forests” (probably part of present-day Labrador). He also established a colony at a place he called Vinland, which either meant “Land of the meadows” or “Land of grapevines.”

Unfortunately for Leif, the Vinland colony did not survive. The Vikings wound up fighting with native people, one of whom even killed Leif’s brother Thorvald. The Vikings left after a just few years.

In 1960, the remains of a Viking settlement were discovered in L’Anse aux Meadows, at the northern tip of Newfoundland. It might be Vinland itself, or it might be a smaller camp. Either way, it provides definitive evidence that Europeans visited the Americas before Columbus.

Language Edit


The Niña was Columbus’s favorite of the three ships he took on his first voyage. Its real name was the Santa Clara — the name “Niña,” or “Little Girl,” came from its owner, Juan Niño.

The Pinta, which means “painted one,” was the fastest of the three ships, and the one from which the Americas were first sighted.

The Santa Maria was the largest of the three vessels, and it served as the flagship. Its real name was the Gallega, or “Galician,” since its wood came from a forest in the Eastern European region of Galicia. The Caribbean island of Marie-Galante (“Gallant Mary”) is taken from the ship’s nickname.

The Caribbean island of Dominica, Latin for “Sunday,” received its name because Columbus discovered it on a Sunday.

La Navidad, Spanish for “Christmas,” was a settlement Columbus founded in present-day Haiti. The Santa Maria ran aground there on Christmas 1492, and the settlement was built out of the ship’s timbers.

The island of Trinidad was named by Columbus after the Holy Trinity of Catholicism.

The island governed by Columbus was given the simple name Hispaniola, meaning “the Spanish Island.” Today, Hispaniola (pictured) contains the modern countries of Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

FYI ComicEdit

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