"Vanessa found out about Operation Cowboy by accident. What has been the most surprising/intriguing piece of historical research you’ve found out when you least expected it?"
Then copy your answer to me at firstname.lastname@example.org so I can contact you if you win.
Closing date: September 7th
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I still want to answer this, even though I can't win cause I'm in the US. So, when I was planning to teach about Columbus as part of our homeschool, I started to do a bit of research first because I knew he was a controversial figure.
So, I started reading some of those "myths about Columbus" articles. Many mentioned a Spanish priest named Bartolome de las Casas which wrote about wrongs against the native peoples of the Americas (things many of these articles were saying Columbus had done).
He seemed fascinating, so I decided to learn more about him (his story is inspirational, really...it's encouraging to know that even in those times there were people standing up against the wrongs that were occurring).
And I found out something else. Many of these articles said that Bartolome had sailed with Columbus on his first voyage...but he hadn't! His father did. Bartolome only came to America just as Columbus was leaving. And in fact, when I read his "A Brief Account of the Destruction of the Indies" (a harrowing read where he details the atrocities against the native peoples of South America), I found this quote....
"But here is is observable, that the desolation of these Isles and Provinces took beginning since the decease of the most Serene Queen Isabella, about the year 1504, for before that time very few of the Provinces situated in that Island were oppressed or spoiled with unjust Wars, or violated with general devastation as after they were, and most if not all these things were concealed and masked from the Queens knowledge (whom I hope God hath crowned with Eternal Glory)..."
Columbus' voyages in the new world ALL took place before 1504. (His departed the new world, never to return, in April 1504. Queen Isabel departed this world 7 months later.)
While Columbus certainly did some horrible stuff (enslaved people, got in some wars with some groups, killed and maimed people for not bringing him enough gold), the massacres and atrocities Bartolome witnessed (things including slaughter of whole groups of people, torture including pouring boiling soup down people's throat, cutting off fleeing children's legs, and throwing children to dogs to be torn apart). Anytime you hear of genocide that was not Columbus, but those who came after him, because Columbus intended to exploit the native people's for their labor and thought they were essential to the survival of the colonies, while future leaders of the Colonists had no issue with wiping them out. But I've found many, many articles...on places from amature blogs to sites as well known as the Huffington posts, saying that Bartolome de las Casas said these things about Columbus, not those who came after him.
As a youngster and early teen I was horse mad, spent more time helping at my local stable than on any homework. I was so focused on getting a horse having one reading about them and riding them, any book only needed a horse head in the picture and I read it, I did end up reading a very wide selection of history, but the one bit that really stuck in my head was numbers. I found out that by the 1980's there were more horses and ponies in the UK than at any time prior to it, not the Victorian times, not the middle ages, horses cost too much and were too important but by the 80's they were an accessory every teen girl and her horse-mad mum had to have.
I will add I am not sure if that is per head or total figures, my mind only took the main point and gripped it hard, most horses ever! As a librarian, I have looked for the source and while I haven't tried awfully hard I haven't found the original figures but the general figures still pan out!
This blew my mind as an early teen, my horse love and facts! amazing!
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