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Christopher Columbus, the first European to discover the Americas after the Vikings colonized parts of Newfoundland and Greenland, died not knowing that he had discovered a whole new continent. He also did not die during one of his sea voyage adventures, but fairly comfortable, although miserable, at home in Spain.

Christopher Columbus

Christopher Columbus And His Illness

Christopher Columbus died on May 20, 1506 at only 55 years of age due to heart failure. His condition was called gout at the time, but modern doctors suspect that it was rather Reiter’s Syndrome, a reactive arthritis caused by bacterial intestinal infections or sexually transmitted diseases. He might have acquired this infection on one of his voyages due to food poisoning. His first “gout” attack happened when he was 41, and after that he struggled with fevers, prolonged gout attacks and bleeding from the eyes. This condition kept him bedridden for months at a time and finally caused his death, 14 years later.

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Unhappy Last 18 Months

After his fourth sea voyage, Christopher Columbus went home and waited for his patrons, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, to summon him to court. They, however weren’t all too sure about his mental state of mind and did not want to grant him any official position. Christopher Columbus stayed with his family, agitated about the money, prerogatives and official recognition that was promised to him by the King. He even struggled to Segovia to try and speak to the king, but Ferdinand didn’t want to make any promises. Christopher Columbus died unhappy and unrecognized, and never knew that what he discovered and thought was just a part of Asia, was actually a whole new continent.


Christopher Columbus has undoubtedly left quite a legacy, albeit, a controversial one. For many, he was the heartless mass murdering maniac who stole land that rightfully belonged to the Native Americans. However, for many more, he was an indispensable part of this nation’s founding and someone to who the people of the United States owe a great debt of gratitude.

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