Imagine this PR campaign:
Records show that Christopher Columbus arrived in the Bahamas – the New World – on October 12, 1492. What’s fun about this story about a top-notch navigator is that he thought he was claiming territory for King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella in Asia.
According to Christopher Klein, author of 10 Things You May Not Know About Christopher Columbus, there’s more. Here are two:1. Three countries refused to back Columbus’ voyage.
For nearly a decade, Columbus lobbied European monarchies to bankroll his quest to discover a western sea route to Asia. In Portugal, England and France, the response was the same: no. The experts told Columbus his calculations were wrong and that the voyage would take much longer than he thought. Royal advisors in Spain raised similar concerns to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. Turns out the naysayers were right. Columbus dramatically underestimated the earth’s circumference and the size of the oceans. Luckily for him, he ran into the uncharted Americas.
2. A lunar eclipse may have saved Columbus.
In February 1504, a desperate Columbus was stranded in Jamaica, abandoned by half his crew and denied food by the islanders. The heavens that he relied on for navigation, however, would guide him safely once again. Knowing from his almanac that a lunar eclipse was coming on February 29, 1504, Columbus warned the islanders that his god was upset with their refusal of food and that the moon would “rise inflamed with wrath” as an expression of divine displeasure. On the appointed night, the eclipse darkened the moon and turned it red, and the terrified islanders offered provisions and beseeched Columbus to ask his god for mercy.
All of this just goes to prove that there’s more to a story than one thinks. What kind of public relations campaign do you think would have best promoted his feats, failures, and accomplishments?