1504 Columbus was a Dick… Again

I know you will be shocked by this one. On this day in 1504 Columbus used a lunar eclipse to frighten Jamaican natives into submission.

The eclipse was visible at sunset in the Americas and during the following day in Europe, so it is sometimes called the March 1504 Eclipse, even though I’m sure you noticed that today is still February. (Happy Leap Year!)

Columbus, using the very basic astronomic knowledge he had as a sailor and navigator, knew that an eclipse was coming and so he predicted that it would appear, making himself seem like a powerful sorcerer to the natives of Jamaica, who had recently stopped provisioning him and his men.

Perhaps instead of tricking the natives into feeding him, he could have treated them as trading partners and equals? No? Slavery was the way to go? OK, well, I guess that is an option for you – if you are a dick.

Unsurprisingly, H Rider Haggard used this moment as the inspiration for the sequence in King Solomon’s Mines where Quartermain, also a dick, fools the Africans into supporting his choice for leader.

Basically, don’t try to use your knowledge of the natural world to impress people into doing your bidding. That makes you a dick.


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