Christopher Columbus and Cabeza de Vaca were two known adventurers, one being an explorer and the other as a treasurer. Both men had great reputations, which led to positions of high status. Cabeza de Vaca became the treasurer on an expedition to explore the Gulf coast as a young nobleman and Christopher Columbus went on many expeditions to explore lands of treasure and jewels of all sorts. Both men explored in a time in which the lands were controlled by church and state and because of this, pressure of enormous amounts were placed on the shoulders of these men. The misfortunes these men encountered on their expeditions led them to choose a side in which they tried to disguise their true outcomes. Cabeza de Vaca and Christopher Columbus used the power the church possessed and embellished in the writings as a means to escape ridicule and or conviction from the state.
One can get a sense from the works of Cabeza de Vaca that he went through hardship when captured by the Indians. In addition you can a sense that he uses much imagery of his men being killed and picked off one by one because he knew that the state and church would read his writings. My opinion of chapter seven is very skeptical because I feel that Cabeza de Vaca wanted to show the state and church that life over in the New World was very troubling and full of challenges so great no man can bare. He embellishes his writings in purpose of being forgiven for the money and manpower spent
on the expedition. In chapter seven Cabeza de Vaca shows in his writings how he was
attacked numerous times, The day following, others came against us from a town on the opposite side of the lake, and attacked us as the first had done, escaping in the same way,
except one who was also slain (pg. 130). He keeps showing the reader that he was
attacked numerous times but yet the Indians escaped the same way as the first did. These accounts could show the church that Cabeza de Vaca was strong in his encounters with harsh conditions and that these experiences made him feel closer to God. Cabeza de Vaca continues to remind the highnesses that he was attacked on numerous occasions proving that he can survive, the Indians making continual war upon us, wounding our people and horses at the places where they went to drink, shooting from the lakes with such safety to themselves that we could not retaliate (pg.131). Cabeza de Vaca shows that he could not have retaliated or even injured them because they were hidden in places where they could not be seen.
As Cabeza de Vaca continues, his encounters seemingly becomes harsher and he starts to relate these outcomes to God. Cabeza de Vaca also relates the losses to not only the surprising attack of the Indians and their camouflage within the surroundings but also to weaponry they used and the way they used them, The bows they use are as thick as the arm, of eleven or twelve palms in length, which they will discharge at two hundred paces with so great precision that they miss nothing(pg.131). In chapter eight of Cabeza de Vaca log is where you start to see the experiences are in the name of God. Cabeza de Vaca starts to describe the land and the troubles of it including the harsh conditions of resources not being available, I cease here to relate more of this, because any one may suppose what would occur in a country so remote and malign, so destitute of all resources, whereby either to live in it or go out of it; but most certain assistance is in God,
our lord on whom we never failed to place reliance(pg132). This passage would show the church that while over there in the New World nothing positive grew out it. The land itself according to Cabeza de Vaca was pour in resources and no one could live in an area such as that. After all that he says in the passage he then ends by saying he puts the outcomes and his own faith in the hands of God. I sense that the church would be very pleased with this outcome because it would seem that through all of the struggles Cabeza de Vaca still seemed to have faith in God.
My position holds true in the third voyage of Christopher Columbus but does not resemble Cabeza de Vacas approach. Christopher Columbus was a man of exploration and lived his life to the end with that mind set. I feel that Columbus also used the church to his advantage because of his failed attempts to find the Indies. After all these voyages taken by Christopher Columbus, I feel it is at that time when he decided he needed to find another cause or motivation for future voyages and to also escape the ridicule of his failed attempts. The beginning of the third voyage he writes about how the ship is stuck with no wind for days and that he reports how exhausted he is but still has faith, I remained in a state of exhaustion until the lord gave me a fair wind and the desire to sail westwards(pg. 126). The beginning of the voyage does not refer to God as much as towards the end because of the fact the voyage is not what was planned. I feel that Columbus started to find alternative reasons why the voyage was a success and one reason he used would be a huge benefit to the church and probably everyone. Columbus also written a passage in which he somewhat gave purpose to this voyage that was
different then the rest. To make the voyage even more valuable, Columbus credited the church and state for his new findings, No one had ever entered it or gone in search of it until now when your highnesses commanded me to explore and discover these seas and lands(pg. 127). The real finding he suggested he found was later in the voyage that would probably be very crucial to the church. Because of this importance it seems as though he would be praised for such a finding rather than looked down upon, For I believe that the earthly paradise lies here, which no one can enter except by Gods leave. I believe that this land which your Highnesses have commanded me to discover is very great, and that there are many other lands in the south of which there have never been reports(pg.128). He also tells the highnesses that there are many other lands to be explored and that there are no reports. I feel he incorporated this statement with the hoping he will return to explore because he feels that the third voyage did not find riches and other valuable items.
Both men used the church to somewhat cover up the unsuccessful expeditions and voyages that occurred. I feel that the writings were intentional in the fact they were not only made to keep accounts but also to show the church that they are still skilled as before they left. They also write with a manner in which they want to be rewarded somehow for their findings or misfortunes they encountered in such harsh conditions.
Columbus, Christopher. The Four Voyages of Columbus. Trans. J.M. Cohen
Cabeza de Vaca, Alvar Nunez. Relation of Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca. Trans.
Buckingham Smith. 1871.
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